La Fère Infanterie

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), on October 21 1654 by the Cardinal Mazarin who also assumed colonelcy. It was formed with 16 companies taken in existing units and received the name of “Mazarin-Français” which had previously been worn by the regiment now known as Bretagne Infanterie before the forced exile of Mazarin. At the time of the creation of the regiment, the Spaniards occupied part of the provinces located to the north of Paris and it became very important to keep the places still obeying the king. The regiment was assigned to the guard of the town of La Fère.

In 1655, the regiment took part in the siege of Landrecies, Condé and Saint-Ghislain. In 1656, it was almost annihilated at Valenciennes when the Prince de Condé forced the French lines. It was on this occasion that Roger de Bussy-Rabutin offered to Mazarin four companies from an old unit raised in 1652 by his father who formed part of the garrison of La Fère. In 1657, the regiment took part in the siege of Montmédy, in the capture of the Castle of La Tour, near Virton in Luxembourg; in 1658, in the conquest of Dunkerque, Berghes, Dixmude, Furnes, Gravelines, Oudenarde, Menin and Ypres.

After the war, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Dixmude which it evacuated on 24 February 1660 to return to La Fère. On March 25 1661, Mazarin being dead, the regiment adopted the name of the town of La Fère. A name which it kept until the Revolution.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment took part in the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille; in 1668, in the first conquest of Franche-Comté.

After the war, the regiment was reduced to two companies (colonel and lieutenant-colonel). All other companies were incorporated into Champagne Infanterie.

In 1671, in preparation for the incoming Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was re-established at 16 companies. In 1672, it took part in the capture of Wesel, Emerich, Rees and Deudecum and in the passage of the Rhine; in 1673, in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the definitive conquest of Franche-Comté and in the Battle of Seneffe.; in 1675, in the defence of the bridges of Altenheim and in the relief of Haguenau and Saverne; in 1676, in the campaign in Lorraine, in the protection of the sieges of Bouchain and Aire, in the capture of Bouillon, Marche en Famène, in the relief of Zweibrücken and in the combat of Kokersberg; in 1679, in the combat of Sainte-Barbe near Metz and in the siege of Freiburg; in 1678, in the combat of Rheinfeld, in the attack upon the entrenchments of the bridge of Seckingen, in the capture of Kehl, in the blockade of Strasbourg and in the siege of Castle of Lichtenberg; and in 1679, in the combat of Minden.

After the war, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Freiburg.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the siege of Philisbourg and in the occupation of Mainz, Mannheim and Franckenthal; in 1689, in the defence of Mainz and Bonn. It continued to serve on the Rhine until 1692 when it was transferred to the Spanish Netherlands where it took part in the siege of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque before being transferred to the Moselle. In 1693, it garrisoned Landau. From 1694 to 1696, it actively campaigned on the Rhine. In 1697, it went to Flanders where it took part in the siege of Ath.

In 1700, on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment (one battalion) was sent to Northern Italy. On February 1 1701, it received a second battalion who served in the Low Countries. Meanwhile, its first battalion took part in the campaign in Northern Italy. In January 1702, 300 men from the second battalion were sent to Italy where they would be incorporated into the fist battalion. In 1703, the first battalion took part in the expedition against Trento, in the campaign in Piedmont, and in the combat of Stradella; meanwhile the second battalion operated in the Low Countries. In 1704, the first battalion took part in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; meanwhile the second battalion was at the camp of Saint-Trond, it then assumed garrison duties until 1708. In 1705, the first battalion took part in the combat of Moscolino, in the Battle of Cassano and in the attack upon the entrenchments of Gumbetto; and in 1706, in the Battle of Calcinato. In 1707, the first battalion left Italy and retired to France, marching to the relief of Toulon. It finished the campaign in Dauphiné. In 1708, the first battalion marched to Flanders where it joined the second battalion, serving on this frontier since its creation. On July 11, the entire regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. In 1709, the regiment fought in the Battle of Malplaquet. In 1710, it took part in the gallant defence of Douai; in 1711, in the attack upon Arleux; in 1712, in the recapture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was not involved in the campaign on the Rhine.

In 1714, the regiment was reduced to a single battalion.

In 1727, the regiment participated in a training camp on the Meuse.

In 1733, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served on the Rhine in and took part in the siege of Kehl. In 1734, it was at the siege of Philippsburg; and in 1735, in the Battle of Clausen.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia, in the combat of Sahay and in the defence of Prague. The remnants of the regiment then retreated towards France and took post at Longwy. In 1744, the regiment was sent to Flanders, taking part in the sieges of Menin, Ypres and Furnes. In 1745, it fought in the Battle of Fontenoy and was at the sieges of Tournai, Termonde, Oudenarde and Ath. In 1746, it participated in the sieges of Mons, Charleroi, and in the Battle of Rocoux. On October 19 1746, the regiment was re-established at two battalions. In 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, it was at the siege of Maastricht

In 1754, the regiment was encamped in Alsace.

On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted two battalions and had prévôté (provostship).

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 35th and was under the command of:

  • from May 12 1743: François-Louis de Salignac, Marquis de Fénélon
  • from February 10 1759 to August 4 1771: Christophe, Marquis de Beaumont

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was sent to Provence as part of the Reserve Corps for the army charged with the conquest of Minorca. However, the reserve did not embark and remained on the Mediterranean Coast.

By August 1 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Cannes, Valauris et Le Canet in Provence. It remained cantoned on the Mediterranean Coasts during the entire war.

In 1762, the regiment was transferred to Vannes.

In 1763, the regiment was initially transferred to Collioure and Mont-Louis, and later to Perpignan.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etrennes militaires 1758,
La Chesnaye in 1759 and Etat militaire 1761
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade

towards 1759, bearskins became increasingly common among grenadiers

Neck stock black
Coat grey-white
Collar red
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red
Breeches grey-white
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard n/a


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

The colonel flag was white with a white cross. Ordonnance flags had yellow, red, blue and violet cantons with a white cross.

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

References

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 5, pp. 356-368, 371

Other sources

Evrard, P.: Praetiriti Fides

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a great website which seems to have 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

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