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Origin and History
Up to the reign of Louis XIV, to the exception of the Gardes Suisses, no Swiss regiment had been maintained on a permanent basis in the French Army. They usually served for four years before being sent back home and replaced by new units. In 1671, Louis XIV charged Pierre Stuppa, a captain in his Gardes Suisses, to negotiate with the Swiss Cantons the creation and cession of four regiments. Contracts were signed on August 14 of the same year. The four regiment arrived in France at the beginning of 1672 and were admitted in the French service on February 17. The present regiment had been raised in the cantons of Bern, Schwyz, Luzern, and Graubünden/Grisons.
In 1673, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the new regiment took pat in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1676, it took part in the sieges of Bouchain and Aire; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai; and in 1678, in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres.
In 1684, the regiment covered the siege of Luxembourg.
In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment fought in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, the four battalions of the regiment took part in the siege of Mons where one battalion was then left in garrison while the three others fought in the Combat of Leuze. In 1692, the entire regiment participated in the siege of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the capture of Huy, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. In 1696 and 1697, it was stationed at Deynse.
By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted three battalions.
In 1702, during the the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was present at the affair of Nijmegen. It then garrisoned Liège where most of the regiment became prisoners of war in November and was sent to Holland. At the beginning of 1703, most of the prisoners managed to escape and, in May, the regiment was re-established in Cambrai. In 1704, it took part in the sieges of Huy and Liège. In 1705, it was posted in the Lines of Namur. In 1706, it took part in the Battle of Ramillies. In 1707, it was transferred to Provence where it took part in the defence of Toulon and then wintered at Nice. From 1708 to 1712, the regiment was posted in the Alps where it defended the mountain passes from Grenoble to the Var. At the end of 1712, it was transferred to Catalonia. In 1713, it took part in the relief of Girona and fought the migueletes. In 1714, it took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona.
In 1715, the regiment returned to Provence where it was reduced to two battalions.
In 1719, the regiment joined the Army of Spain and took part in the capture of Fuenterrabía, Castelléon and San Sebastian and in the siege of Roses.
In 1725, the regiment was at Strasbourg when the future Queen Marie Leszczyńska arrived there.
From 1733 to 1735, during the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment campaigned on the left bank of the Rhine.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was initially stationed at Saint-Omer. In 1743, it was sent to Palatinate where, along with the Gardes Suisses, it guarded the bridge at Rhein-Emkheim near Worms. It was then sent to Landau which was threatened by the Allies. In November, two of its grenadier companies and two piquets took part in a raid on the Austrian magazines at Ettingen. In 1744, the regiment continued to garrison Landau and then took part in the siege of Freiburg. In 1745, it was transferred to Flanders where it participated in the siege of Oudenarde. In 1746, it took part in the sieges of Bruxelles and Mons. It was also present at the Battle of Rocoux but was not engaged. In 1747, it contributed to the capture of Sluys and Saas van Ghent, fought in the Battle of Lauffeld and took part in the siege of Berg-op-Zoom. It then force marched to Calais which was threatened by a British fleet. In 1748, it campaigned in Normandie with its main quarters at Caen.
In 1754, the regiment was at the training camp in Alsace.
The regiment counted two battalions.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 51st and was under the command of:
- from March 20, 1756 to July 1, 1763: Antoine Baron de Reding de Frawenfeld
Service during the War
In March 1757, the regiment marched by Liège and Stokkem to join the Army of the Lower Rhine for the planned invasion of Hanover. On April 11, one of its battalion joined the troops occupying Wesel. From April 27 to June 17, the regiment was part of the Reserve under the Prince de Soubise. On July 26 at the Battle of Hastenbeck, the regiment was brigaded with Salis Infanterie. This brigade was part of the reserve of the right wing, it covered the edge of the woods to support the attack of the Champagne Brigade on a strong redoubt at the outskirts of a forest. In this battle, Captain Biltner and one lieutenant were wounded. The regiment then followed the Maréchal de Richelieu in his invasion of Hanover, contributing to the capture of Minden and Hanover. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven on September 8, the regiment followed Richelieu's main body who encamped at Halberstadt in Prussian territory from September 28 to November 5. The regiment was placed in the centre of the second line. However, on October 7, the regiment was detached from Richelieu’s Army and sent to reinforce the Franco-Imperial army operating in Thuringia. On November 5, the regiment was at the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Planta Infanterie in the first line of the centre. In this battle, the regiment lost Lieutenant Muller, killed; and among the numerous wounded, Captains Reynold, Montaudon, Schatzel, Wiltz and 6 lieutenants. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in the third line of the French army at Minden.
In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was assigned to the garrison of Wesel where it remained even during the Allied campaign on the west bank of the Lower Rhine in June. On August 5, the regiment formed part of Chevert's Corps and took part in the Combat of Mehr where its brigade formed the left flank. It did not behave very well and was broken. By August 20, the regiment was operating as part of an independent detachment with Jenner Infanterie and Lochmann Infanterie under La Chenelars. It then returned to Huningue in France to receive recruits.
At the end of May 1759, when the French Army of the Rhine launched its offensive in Western Germany, the regiment remained on the Rhine as part of the corps of the Marquis d'Armentières. By October 25, still attached to d'Armentières's Corps, the regiment was at the main camp at Bochum.
By May 23 1760, the regiment was part of the Reserve of the second line of Broglie's Army, placed under the command of M. d'Auvet. On June 15, Saint-Germain had assembled the Army of the Lower Rhine near Düsseldorf, the first battalion of the regiment was part of d'Auvet's Division who was sent to the right bank of the Rhine along with his 2 artillery brigades and 15 pontoons; while the second battalion garrisoned Wesel. On June 16, the first battalion remained in Mettmann, awaiting to escort a convoy. By June 21, the first battalion had taken position at Elberfeld to protect Saint-Germain's lines of communication. On July 4, as part of d'Auvet's Division, the first battalion reconnoitred the area of Arnsberg. By December 30, the regiment had taken its winter-quarters in Giessen.
The following description has been verified against the manuscript "Troupes du Roi, Infanterie française et étrangère, année 1757, tome I" and Taccoli's book published in 1760.
|Coat||garance red lined blue with pewter buttons down to the pockets on the right side and blue trimmed buttonholes on both sides
|Waistcoat||blue with two rows (one row as per Taccoli) of small pewter buttons; horizontal pockets, each with 5 small pewter buttons|
|Breeches||blue (surprisingly, Taccoli illustrates red breeches)|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
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Colonel colour: white cross; each canton consisted of 4 white flames.
Ordonnance colours: white cross; each canton consisted of 4 flames (red, white, green, yellow).
N.B.: the Manuscript of 1757 depicts a different ordonnance colour where each cantons has 8 flames (slate, white, red, yellow, slate, white red, yellow).
The 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 6, pp. 333- 340
Anon.: 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, pp. 198-199
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service historique de l'armée de terre, Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757
Taccoli, Alfonso: Teatro Militare dell' Europa, Part 1, vol. 2; Madrid, March 1760
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.