Champagne Infanterie

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Origin and History

The regiment was created in 1558 from the Vieilles Bandes Françaises.

On May 29 1569, the regiment received an official status.

The fact that Champagne Infanterie, Navarre Infanterie and Piémont 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 of these regiments would alternate for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranks on a yearly basis.

Champagne Infanterie was among the six French regiments known as Vieux Corps.

The regiment counted four battalions and had prévôté (provostship).

In 1749, the Maréchal de Belle Isle, the future Minister of War during the Seven Years' War, bought the regiment for his son, the Compte de Gisors, for the sum of 75,000 livres.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since February 1 1749: Louis-Marie Foucquet, Comte de Gisors
  • from June 3 1758: Marquis de Juigné (formerly colonel of the Grenadiers de France)
  • from December 1 1762 to 1778: Comte de Seignelay

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was stationed in Normandy.

In 1757, the regiment went to Metz to join the Army of the Lower Rhine, placed under the command of the Maréchal d'Estrées, for the planned invasion of Hanover. The regiment was then sent half to Neuss, half to Düsseldorf. At the end of June, the entire regiment was at the camp of Bielefeld with d'Estrées' Main Corps. On July 26, the regiment was at the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was deployed on the right wing under d'Armentières. It attacked a strong redoubt, containing 8 guns and 2 howitzers, at the outskirt of a forest. The regiment lost 63 men, 1 captain, 2 lieutenants and 92 wounded in this battle. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven on September 8, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed in the centre of the second line. In December, the regiment took its winter-quarters in Osnabrück, in the fourth line of the French army.

At the end of February 1758, the regiment still was at Osnabrück when the Allies launched a winter offensive in Western Germany. The regiment retreated behind the Rhine with the rest of the French army. It took its quarters at Krefeld. In April, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment remained at Krefeld. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by an Allied Army led by Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed in the centre of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the first line under Lorges. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine under Contades, recrossed the Rhine to launch an offensive in Westphalia. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the infantry left wing of the first line.

On April 11 1759, the regiment was part of a corps of 14 bns and 4 sqns detached from the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières under the command of the Comte de Saint-Germain to reinforce the Duc de Broglie who was threatened by the advance of the Allied army. Saint-Germain marched towards the Lahn River and arrived at Königstein on the evening of April 13, too late to take part in the Battle of Bergen. On April 14, he effected a junction with Broglie's Army. In June, during the French offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the first line, on the left wing of the infantry centre. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry left wing under the command of Guerchy. On September 20, during the Allied counter-offensive in Western Germany, the regiment formed part of a force who took position on the heights of Wetzlar to prevent the Allies from passing the Lahn.

By January 3 1760, the regiment had taken position at Weilburg. By the end of January, it had taken its winter-quarters in the first line of the French army. By mid March, the regiment was billeted in Limburg an der Lahn, in the first line of the French army. By May 23, the regiment was part of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of the Prince de Croy. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Oberzwehren and Niederzwehren.

On February 15 1761, the regiment was at the Combat of Langensalza. On July 16, it was at the Battle of Vellinghausen. It also took part in the defence of Göttingen.

On June 24 1762, the regiment was at the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. It also took part in an action at Grebenstein.

In 1763, the regiment was stationed in Cambrai.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf from an illustration by Lucien Mouillard
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires 1756 and 1758 and Etats militaires 1759
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade (white cockade as per Taccoli)
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
towards 1759, bearskins became increasingly common among grenadiers of the French Army
Neck stock black
Coat white with yellow buttons down to the waist on the right side; 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none (white from 1759)
Shoulder Strap white fastened with a small yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets on each side (6 yellow buttons on each single pocket)
Cuffs white, each with 4 yellow buttons
Turnbacks none (Taccoli's work published in 1760 shows white turnbacks)
Waistcoat red with a single row of small yellow buttons; horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Waist-belt natural leather (white as per Taccoli)
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard black with white metal fittings


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.

Officers

n/a

Musicians

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.

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: Jocelyne Chevanelle

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

French Royal Livery - Source: reconstruction based on a sample from Jean-Louis Vial's collection


Colours

Colonel colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance colours: green field with a white cross. The ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1569 to 1791.

Colonel Colour - Source: Kronoskaf
Ordonnance Colour - Source: Kronoskaf

References

Chesnaye des Bois (de la), Aubert: Etrennes militaires, Paris, 1756, 1758, 1759

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

Manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I", Musée de l'Armée, Paris

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

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

Rohan Chabot, Alix de: Le Maréchal de Belle Isle ou la revanche de Foucquet, Perrin, Paris, 2005

Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23

Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760

Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.