Bourbon Infanterie

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Bourbon Infanterie

Origin and History

Ensign of Bourbon Infanterie circa 1725 - Source: adapted from Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française

The regiment was initially raised on 8 July 1635 by the young Duc d'Enghien, who would later be known as the “Grand Condé”. In 1636, it served in Franche-Comté, taking part in the siege of Dôle. In 1637, it took part in a combat in Bresse near the castles of Cornaud and Vaugrigneuse, in the siege of Lons-le-Saulnier, in the storming of Clerval and in the capture of Saint-Laurent de la Roche and Bletterans. In 1638, it was transferred to the Army of Guyenne and took part in the passage of the Bidassoa, in the capture of the Figuier, of the harbour of Passage and of Fontarabie. And in the siege of Gattari. In 1639, the regiment served in Roussillon where it took part in the capture of the Castle of Hautpoul, and in the sieges of Salces and Tantavel. In 1640, it served in Guyenne. In 1641, it returned to Roussillon, occupying Canet and taking part in the siege of Elne. In 1642, it fought in a combat near Perpignan and took part in the siege of Collioure and in the capture of Perpignan. In 1643, it participated in the relief of Mirabel and in the siege of Flix. In 1644, the regiment rejoined the Duc d'Enghien, its owner, in Champagne and contributed to the capture of several small places in Luxembourg. It was then sent to reinforce the Army of Germany and took part in the combats around Freiburg, and in the capture of Philisbourg, Germesheim, Speyer, Worms, Mainz and Landau. In 1645, it fought in the Battle of Nordlingen and later garrisoned Philisbourg where it remained in 1646.

At the end of 1646, at the death of his father, the Duc d'Enghien became Prince de Condé and the property of the regiment was transferred to the new Duc d'Enghien, Henri-Jules de Bourbon, still a child.

In 1647, the regiment was sent to Catalonia and took part in the siege of Lérida. In 1648, it was transferred to Flanders where it occupied Saint-Quentin and Guise, fought in the Combat of Lens and participated in the investment of Furnes. In 1649, it took part in the capture of the town of Condé.

At the end of 1649, during the troubles of the Fronde (1648-1653), the regiment followed the Prince de Condé in his revolt and retired to Burgundy. On 20 February 1650, the regiment was officially disbanded. After a brief reintegration in the French Army, from 26 February 1651 to 13 September 1651, the regiment fought against France until the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659). In 1652, part of the regiment took part in the affairs of Bléneau and Étampes, in the Battle of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and in the defence of Marennes; in 1653, in the combat of Saint-Robert and in the defence of Sarlat where it surrendered. Meanwhile, the other part of the regiment had taken part in the capture and defence of Sainte-Ménehould. After the capitulation of Sainte-Ménehoud, the remnants of the regiment took refuge in Cambrai where they remained until the signature of peace.

In 1659, the regiment was reintegrated into the French Army. It was then ranked according to this date but was not really re-established before 26 October 1667.

In 1668, during the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment took part in the conquest of Franche-Comté and was afterwards reduced to only four companies.

In 1672, on the eve of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was increased to twelve companies. It then took part in the conquest of Holland, contributing to the capture of several places and taking part in the passage of the Rhine. In 1673, it took part in an expedition in Holland, in the occupation of Culemborg and Ameiden; in 1673, in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the final conquest of Franche-Comté and in the Battle of Seneffe; in 1675, in the sieges of Liège, Dinant, Huy and Limbourg and in the relief of Haguenau and Saverne; and in 1676, in the combat of Kokersberg. From 1677, its first battalion served in Flanders, its second on the Rhine. The same year, the first battalion took part in the capture of Valenciennes, the Battle of Cassel and the capture of Saint-Omer; meanwhile, the second battalion took part in the siege of Freiburg. In 1768, the first battalion took part in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres, in the blockade of Mons and in the Battle of Saint- Denis; meanwhile the second battalion fought in the Combat of Seckingen and took part in the capture of Kehl and Lichtenberg. In 1679, the second battalion campaigned in Germany.

In April 1683, the regiment was at Saverne when one of its battalion was ordered to join the army assembling on the frontier of Luxembourg while the other rejoined the Army of Roussillon. In 1684, one battalion took part in the siege of Luxembourg; and the other, in the combat of Ter and in the siege of Girona.

In 1686, at the death of the “Grand Condé”, the new Prince of Condé ceded the regiment to his son Louis Henri, Duc de Bourbon. As per an ordonnance dated 28 December, the regiment, who had been known as “Enghien Infanterie” since its creation, was renamed “Bourbon Infanterie”.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the siege of Philisbourg and in the occupation of Manheim and Franckenthal; in 1689, in the defence of Mainz and Bonn. In 1690, the regiment was transferred to the Alps and took part in the reduction of Cahours and in the Battle of Staffarda. In 1691, it participated in the capture of Nice, Villefranche, Montalban and Montmélian. In 1692, it was transferred to the Spanish Netherlands and took part in the siege of Namur before assuming garrison duty at Calais and later at Philippeville. In 1693 and 1694, it remained in Philippeville. In 1695, it participated in the bombardment of Bruxelles. In 1696, it campaigned on the Meuse; in 1697, in Flanders.

On 30 December 1698, the regiment incorporated the disbanded La Mothe Infanterie, raised in 1695.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion but was soon (1 February 1701) increased to two battalions.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since 4 November 1690: Guillaume-Alexandre, Marquis de Vieuxpont
  • from 26 October 1704: N., Comte de Vieuxpont
  • from 1705 until 6 March 1719: Guy-Claude Roland, Comte de Montmorency-Laval

Service during the War

On 1 February 1701, the regiment was increased to two battalions. The same year, the first battalion of the regiment campaigned in Flanders, brigaded with Picardie Infanterie. By 20 July, this battalion was attached to Rosen's Army. By 3 October, it was encamped at Argenteau. In December, it took its winter-quarters in Liiège.

By 21 January 1702, the first battalion of the regiment was attached to the Army of Flanders. By 17 April, it was still in its quarters at Liège. At the end of April, it was sent to reinforce the Army of the Rhine under the command of the Maréchal de Catinat. By 3 June, it was deployed in the second line of the infantry centre in De Vieux-Pont's Brigade.

The same year (1702), by 10 March, the second battalion formed part of the garrison of the Fortress of Landau. From June to September, it took part in the defence of Landau. On 10 September, when the fortress finally surrendered, its garrison was allowed to leave the fortress with the honours of war with flying colours and at the sound of the drums. On 12 September, M. de Melac delivered Landau to the Margrave of Baden and the garrison was escorted up to Billigheim and Weissenburg by one infantry battalion and 300 horse.

In 1703, the first battalion of the regiment served under the command of the Maréchal de Villars. In February and March, it took part in the Siege of Kehl. It later accompanied Villars in his march to Bavaria, taking part in the combats of Hornberg and Munderkirchen. On 20 September, it fought in the Battle of Höchstädt. It then occupied Ulm and Augsburg.

On 13 August 1704, serving under Marsin, the first battalion of the regiment fought in the Battle of Blenheim where Grenadier Captain de Ricousse received a musket shot through the body. After the rout of the Franco-Bavarian army, the regiment returned to Alsace and assumed garrison duty at Schlestadt and later at Kehl where it was rejoined by the second battalion.

On 3 July 1705, the entire regiment took part in the attack of the Lines of Weissembourg. It then set off for Dauphiné where it contributed to the capture of Soncino and Montmélian. In December, it took an active part in the siege of Nice. During this siege, the Colonel-Lieutenant Comte de Montmorency-Laval was severely wounded by a cannonball which passed between his body and one of his arms. He did not die from this terrible wound and would later (1747) became maréchal de France.

On 4 January 1706, Nice capitulated and the regiment marched to Piedmont. On 7 September, it was at the disastrous Battle of Turin. It then returned to France.

In 1707, the regiment contributed to the relief of Toulon. It was then transferred to the Army of the Rhine.

In July 1708, after the defeat of Oudenarde, the regiment was sent from Germany to reinforce the Army of Flanders. From August to December, during the Siege of Lille, the regiment formed part of the troops assembled at the camp of Meldert under the command of the Marquis d'Hautefort.

In 1709, the regiment took part in the defence of Tournai where it stubbornly defended the hornwork of Sept-Fontaines during 18 days. On 18 July, its major was killed by a shrapnel while another one crushed the left hand of its colonel. On 11 September, the regiment took part in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet where Captain de La Brunie was wounded.

In 1710, the regiment served in Flanders.

In 1711, the regiment distinguished itself in the attack on the Fort of Arleux where it captured many prisoners. It then garrisoned Valenciennes.

On 10 July 1712, the regiment made a sortie from Valenciennes against a foraging party, coming from the Allied camp at Denain, who had made itself master of the village of Beuvrage. The Allies (3,000 men), entrenched in the gardens and in the cemetery of Beuvrage were driven back and the regiment took 250 prisoners. After the French victory at Denain, the regiment took part in the siege of Marchiennes, in the Siege of Douai where it stormed the gorge of a demi-lune, and in the siege and capture of Le Quesnoy where it then assumed garrison duty.

In 1713, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Rhine and took part in the submission of Speyer, Worms and Kayserslautern. It also served at the Siege of Landau where it stormed the “Pâté” and captured the counter-guard covering one of the bastions. On 20 September, it took part in the victory over General Vaubonne. It then served at the Siege of Freiburg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Susane, Lienhart & Humbert, Marbot, Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced silver with a white or a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced silver with a white or a black cockade
Neck stock white
Coat grey-white with pewter buttons on the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps grey-white fastened with a pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets on each side (9 pewter buttons arranged in patte d'oie on each single pocket)
Cuffs red, each with 5 pewter buttons (3 as per Lienhart & Humbert, Funcken and Marbot)
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with pewter buttons
Breeches white (red in 1720 as per Marbot and Funcken)
Stockings white fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Gaiters none at the beginning of the war, white later
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Footwear black shoes with a brass buckle


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

NCOs

n/a

Officers

n/a

Musicians

Arms of the House of Bourbon Condé - Source: WikiMedia Commons

Drummers wore the livery of the House of Bourbon Condé: chamois yellow laced and lined red. The arms on the drums had an azure field with three golden fleurs de lys couped by a small red baston (de France au bâton péri en bande de gueules).

Colours

Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance Colour: blue, red, feuille morte (dead leaf) and black cantons. The ordonnance flags remained unchanged from 1667 to 1791.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Gilbert Noury
Ordonnance Colour - Copyright: Gilbert Noury


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 6, pp. 21-34, 43

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle, p. 55

Lemau de la Jaisse, P.: Abregé de la Carte Générale du Militaire de France, Paris, 1734, p. 113

Lienhart, Constant; Humbert, René: Les Uniformes de l'Armée Française de 1690 à 1894, Vol. III, Leipzig 1899 – 1902

Marbot, Alfred de and E. Dunoyer de Noirmont: ‎Les uniformes de l'armée française, T1 "1439 à 1789"‎

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