Royal Marine Infanterie
Origin and History
On December 24, 1669, Louis XIV created two regiments (each of 2,000 men) from Compagnies franches de la Marine (marine free companies) for the security of his vessels. The regiment “Royal de la Marine” was one of these. It was attached to the “Ponant Fleet” serving on the Atlantic ocean and assembled in Bretagne in 1670 under the Marquis de Lavardin. In August 1670, 6 companies embarked at Brest for service with Duquesne's Fleet in an expedition to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. On March 11, 1671, these companies returned to Brest. Meanwhile the rest of the regiment had campaigned in Lorraine in 1670, contributing to the capture of Épinal and Chasté.
In 1671, the regiment went to Amiens where an army was assembling. Thus, circumstances led this regiment to assume service with the army instead of the navy.
In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was at the capture of Orsoy and Rheinberg, at the passage of the Rhine, at the submission of Utrecht and Doesburg. In 1673, it took part in the conquest of part of the Electorate of Brandenburg; in 1674, in the battles of Sinzheim, Ensheim, Mulhausen and Turckheim, in the storming of the churchyard of Germersheim, in the retreat on Altenheim, in the combat to pass the Rhine and in the relief of Haguenau and Saverne. In 1676, the regiment took part in the sieges of Condé and Bouchain and in the Combat of the Kokersberg; in 1677, in the combat of Cassel and in the siege of Freiburg; in 1678, in the attack of the entrenchments of Seckingen, in the capture of Kehl and in the blockade of Strasbourg. A detachment also served with the Army of Flanders and fought in the combat of Saint-Denis. In 1679, the regiment served on the Rhine and was at the combat of Minden.
In 1683, the regiment took part in the training camp of Bouquenom on the Sarre.
In 1684, the regiment covered the siege of Luxembourg.
In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the capture of Philisbourg, Mannheim and Frankenthal; in 1689, in the combat of Walcourt; in 1690, in the storming of Waldkirch near Offenburg. In 1691, it was transferred to the Alps where it took part in the capture of Nice, Villefranche, Montalban, Veillane, Carmagnola and Montmélian. In 1692, it returned to the Meuse and participated in the siege of Namur. In 1693, it campaigned on the Rhine. In 1694, it was back in the Alps. In 1697, it campaigned on the Meuse.
On 30 December 1698, the regiment incorporated Sézanne Infanterie, initially raised in 1695 from militia.
In 1701, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was initially allocated to the Army of the Rhine. At the beginning of July, its three battalions were selected to be sent to the Army of Italy as reinforcements. In 1702, the regiment took part in the capture of Luzzara and Borgoforte; in 1704, in the passage of the Secchia, in the capture of Bastiglia and Bomporto and in the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua; in 1705, in the siege of Chivasso and in the Battle of Cassano; in 1706, in the siege and battle of Turin. It then recrossed the Alps and went to serve on the Rhine where it conducted raids in Swabia and Franconia. In 1708, the regiment was transferred to the Army of Flanders and fought in the Battle of Oudenarde. In 1709, it took part in the relief of Marchiennes and in the Battle of Malplaquet. In 1710, the remnants of the regiment were brigaded with Champagne Infanterie. In 1711, the regiment was brigaded with Piémont Infanterie and took part in the attack on Arleux. In 1712, it took part in the Battle of Denain, in the recapture of Douai Le Quesnoy and Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was transferred to the Rhine and served in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.
In 1733, during the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine and took part in the siege of Kehl. In 1734, it participated in the attack of the Lines of Ettlingen and in the siege of Philisbourg; and in 1735 in the Battle of Klausen.
In 1736, the regiment was stationed at Brest.
In 1741 and 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was employed in the observation corps posted on the frontier of Flanders. In 1743, it was sent to the Rhine where, on June 27, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen. In the winter of 1743-44, the regiment was sent to Aire to join the corps assembling for an expedition in Scotland which was finally canceled. The regiment then returned to Flanders where it contributed to the sieges of Menin, Ypres and Furnes. In 1745, it took part in the siege of Tournai, in the Battle of Fontenoy, in the capture of Oudenarde, Termonde and Ath; and in 1746, in the investment of Bruxelles, in the Battle of Rocoux. On October 27 of the same year, the regiment was increased to two battalions. In 1747, it fought in the Battle of Lauffeld. In 1748, it took part in the siege of Maastricht.
In 1754, the regiment took part in the training camp at Gray.
On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted two battalions.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 44th and was under the king's nominal command. However, the lieutenant-colonels who effectively commanded the regiment were:
- from February 1, 1749: Louis-Marie-François Gaston de Lévis, Marquis de Mirepoix
- from July 28, 1759: Louis-Marie de Chapelle, Comte de Jumilhac
- from December 1, 1762 to June 22, 1767: Charles-Emmanuel Chevalier de Saint-Mauris
Service during the War
In 1755, the regiment was at the camp of Gray.
In 1756, the regiment took part in the amphibious expedition against Minorca and in the capture of the Fortress of St. Philip where it was at the head of the second attack on the right directed against the south-west lunette and Fort St. Charles. Captain de Caradeuc was wounded during the attack of June 27. The regiment then garrisoned the Fortress of St. Philip till 1763.
- N.B.: the Sommaire des forces armées Françaises à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur de la France - 1er Août 1757 indicates that, by August 1 1757, the regiment was garrisoning Montpellier in Languedoc.
In January 1763, the regiment returned to France and was immediately sent to Lorient. In May, it embarked for Martinique Island where it would serve until 1768.
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
Officers had silver button loops on the sleeves, the collar and the waistcoat.
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.
The colonel flag was white with a white cross decorated with 48 golden fleurs de lys. Ordonnance flags had their first and fourth quarters blue and their second and third "aurores" (light orange) with a white cross and 48 golden fleurs de lys. Ordonnance flags remained unchanged from 1669 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 6, pp. 93-107
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (an interesting 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
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,
Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar