Origin and History
The regiment was created in 1584 from the old Bandes de Montferrat. On March 6, 1597, it became part of the regular French Army. In 1598, the regiment was reduced to a single company (company of the mestre de camp) but was soon re-raised for the War in Savoy. It was disbanded twice (1601 and 1604) before being re-raised on February 16, 1610. From then on, it has been a permanent regiment of the French Army. Until February 1, 1673, it would be a gentleman regiment bearing the names of its successive colonels.
In 1615, the regiment was part of the army of the Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin who covered Paris, laid siege to Creil-sur-Oise and then marched to Poitou. In 1616, the regiment was part of the Army of Picardie. In 1617, it campaigned in Champagne.
During the Huguenot rebellions (1620–1628), in 1620, the regiment joined the King's Army at Tours. In 1621, it took part in the sieges of Saint-Jean d'Angély, Clérac and Montauban. When the siege of Montauban was lifted, the regiment along with Piémont Infanterie and Normandie Infanterie covered the retreat of the army and then took part in the siege of Monheurt. In 1622, it was at the sieges of Tonneins and Saint-Antonin. At the end of 1624, it was transferred to Savoy where it took part in the capture of the town and the castle of Gavi, at the capture of Cairo and at the siege of Verrua. In 1626, it returned to France. In 1627, it took part in the siege of La Rochelle. After the capture of the place, the regiment garrisoned La Rochelle till 1630.
In 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628–31), the regiment rejoined the Army of Piedmont.
From 1632 to 1639, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Casale.
During the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), in January 1639 still serving in Italy, the regiment took part in the attack on the Spanish entrenchments at Cencio and, in August, to the failed attack on Turin. During winter, it took part in the capture of the castles of Busco, Dronnero and Brodel. On April 29 1640, it distinguished itself in the attack of Casale. It then took part in the siege and capture of Turin. In 1641, it was at the sieges of Ivrea, Ceva and Coni; in 1642, at the sieges of Nice and of the Castle of Tortona; in 1643, at the capture of Trino and of the Citadel of Asti. In 1644, the regiment was transferred to Catalonia and took part in the attack of Tarragona. In 1645, it took part in the capture of Camaras, in the passage of the Segre, in the Battle of Llorens (June 22) in the siege of Balaguer and in the relief of Flix; in 1646, in the storming of the Castle of Alcaras and in the first siege of Lérida; in 1647, in the second siege of Lérida; in 1648, in the capture of Vildecone and in the capture of Tortosa; in 1649, in the defence of Barcelona.
In 1652, during the ongoing troubles caused by the Fronde (1648-1653), the regiment was recalled to the Province of Guyenne in France. Soon afterwards, the regiment returned to Catalonia. In 1654, it took part in the capture of Puycerda and Urgell; in 1655, in the storming of Cap de Quiers.
In 1663, the regiment was sent to Italy but soon returned to France.
The fact that Bourbonnais Infanterie, La Tour-du-Pin Infanterie and Auvergne Infanterie were all created during the same year gave rise to endless argumentations about their respective ranking. In 1666, Louis XIV had to edict a regulation stating that each regiment would alternate for the 7th, 8th and 9th ranks on a yearly basis.
In 1667, at the beginning of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment campaigned in Flanders, taking part in the sieges of Berghes, Furnes, Courtrai, Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Oudenarde and Lille.
In 1672 at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was increased to two battalions, each of 16 companies. It took part in the sieges of Orsoy, Burich and Zütphen. Seventeen companies garrisoned Wesel.
On February 1 1673, the regiment took the name of the Province of Bourbonnais.
In 1673, the regiment took part in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1675, it was at the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg. In 1676, it took part in the defence of Maastricht which it then garrisoned till the end of the war in 1678.
In 1684, the regiment was assuming garrison duty in Longwy when it was instructed to send a battalion to the siege of Luxembourg.
In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the capture of Philippsburg, Mannheim, Frankenthal, Kaiserlautern, Kreutznach, Neustadt, Oppenhiem, Worms, Speyer and Mainz. In 1689, the first battalion worked at the fortifications of Landau while the second defended Mainz. In 1690 and 1691, the regiment served on the Rhine. About this time, the regiment was increased to three battalions. In 1692, it was transferred to Flanders where it took part in the capture of Namur. Its third battalion was then sent to Calais while the two other battalions fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment took part in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. In 1695, it was at the bombardment of Bruxelles.
In 1699, the regiment was sent to Neuf-Brisach to work at its fortifications.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was stationed in Strasbourg.In 1702, it operated on the Upper-Rhine, distinguishing itself in the attack of the bridge of Huningue and took part in the Battle of Friedlingen. In 1703, it took part in the siege of Kehl, in the maran across the Black Forest, in the engagement of Munderkirchen and in the Battle of Höchstädt; in 1704, in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim and in the retreat towards Alsace; in 1705, in the re-establishment of the bridge on the Rhine at Kehl; in 1706, in the relief of Fort-Louis and in the attack of the Lines of Weissembourg, Drusenheim and of the Marquisat Island; in 1707, in the victory of Seckingen, in the capture of Laufen and Mannheim, in an attack of the entrenchments in the defiles of Lorch and in the capture of Pfaffenhofen. In 1708, the regiment joined the Army of Flanders and fought in the Battle of Oudenarde and in a combat on the Scheldt. In 1709, it took part in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1711, in the attack on Arleux; in 1712, in the capture of Saint-Amand, in the sieges of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain; and in 1713, in the siege of Landau, in the attack of Vaubonne's entrenchmen and in the capture of Freiburg where it was left as garrison.
Finally, in 1759, Bourbonnais Infanterie obtained precedence over La Tour-du-Pin Infanterie and Auvergne Infanterie. However, the conflict persisted and a new regulation, dated July 15 1761, reintroduced alternating ranks with Auvergne receiving the 7th rank for 1761 while Bourbonnais got the 8th and Boisgelin (the new name of La Tour-du-Pin) was 9th.
Bourbonnais Infanterie was the first French regiment to be designated as "Petits Vieux" because they pretended to trace back their origins to the old bands of the XVIth century.
By the time of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 4 battalions and had prévôté (provostship).
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- from August 17, 1747: Chevalier de Valence
- from February 20, 1761 to January 3, 1770: Marquis de Miran
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was at the camp of Calais where it was assigned to the protection of the French Coasts between Calais and Ostende.
By August 1, 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Dunkerque in Flanders.
In 1760, the regiment was sent to Germany along with Alsace Infanterie and Normandie Infanterie. By May 23, the regiment was part of the left reserve of the first line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of Saint-Germain. On July 31, the regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg, where it was initially deployed en potence at the extreme left of the first line. At 1:30 p.m., when the British grenadiers began to file through Ossendorf, the regiment retired without firing. However, when it was realized that the British grenadiers were aiming at a steep hill overlooking the French positions, two battalions of the regiment turned back and marched off to occupy the hill. A fierce struggle for the hill ensued but the French were finally driven back. After the defeat, the regiment retired to Cassel. In November, it was at the action near Oldendorf. By December 30, the regiment had taken up its winter-quarters in Gilserberg.
At the beginning of February 1761, the regiment was posted in the region of Marburg. On February 13, the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the regiment entered into Marburg. The Allies led by General Breitenbach launched an assault on the town but were repulsed. By March 18, the regiment was posted at Friedberg. By mid-April, it was posted in Kassel and Ziegenhain. On July 16, during the Battle of Vellinghausen, a detachment of volunteers of the regiment distinguished itself by capturing the village twice.
In March 1762, the regiment formed part of the Army of the Upper Rhine, under the Prince de Soubise, and was stationed at Melsüngen in the area of Göttingen. On June 19, it joined the army at Kassel. On June 24, it took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal, where it was deployed in the second line of the infantry centre. On July 1 near Felsberg, the regiment momentarily contained the Allied cavalry and forced it to retire making some British prisoners. By July 12, it was posted on the Schwalm River under Rochambeau. On November 20 Louis XV issued his instructions regarding the French armies serving in Germany, specifying which units should return to France right away and which should stay in Germany till the final evacuation; the regiment was among those which remained in Germany.
In 1763, the regiment was stationed in Strasbourg.
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
The drummers of the regiment wore the Royal Livery: blue coat lined red; red cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; laced with the braid of the small Royal Livery.
Colonel colour: white field with a white cross
Ordonnance colours: a white cross with violet and sky blue opposed cantons. The ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1584 to 1791.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 3, pp. 290-312
Chesnaye des Bois (de la), Aubert: Etrennes militaires, Paris, 1756, 1758, 1759
Evrard, P.: Praetiriti Fides
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Louis XV: Ordonnance du Roy portant règlement pour l’habillement de l’Infanterie françoise, 19 Janvier 1747
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé a website which is unfortunately not online any more
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris 1882
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757, Service Historique de l'armée de terre
Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar