Bourbonnais Infanterie

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

Origin and History

The regiment was created in 1584 from the old Bandes de Montferrat. On 6 March 1597, it became part of the regular French Army. In 1598, the regiment was reduced to a single company (company of the mestre de camp) but was soon re-raised for the War in Savoy. It was disbanded twice (1601 and 1604) before being re-raised on 16 February 1610. From then on, it has been a permanent regiment of the French Army.

In 1615, the regiment was part of the army of the Maréchal de Bois-Dauphin who covered Paris, laid siege to Creil-sur-Oise and then marched to Poitou. In 1616, the regiment was part of the Army of Picardie. In 1617, it campaigned in Champagne.

During the Huguenot rebellions (1620–1628), in 1620, the regiment joined the King's Army at Tours. In 1621, it took part in the sieges of Saint-Jean d'Angély, Clérac and Montauban. When the siege of Montauban was lifted, the regiment along with Piémont Infanterie and Normandie Infanterie covered the retreat of the army and then took part in the siege of Monheurt. In 1622, it was at the sieges of Tonneins and Saint-Antonin. At the end of 1624, it was transferred to Savoy where it took part in the capture of the town and the castle of Gavi, at the capture of Cairo and at the siege of Vérue. In 1626, it returned to France. In 1627, it took part in the siege of La Rochelle. After the capture of the place, the regiment garrisoned La Rochelle till 1630.

In 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628–31), the regiment rejoined the Army of Piémont.

From 1632 to 1639, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Casale.

During the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), in January 1639 still serving in Italy, the regiment took part in the attack on the Spanish entrenchments at Cencio and, in August, to the failed attack on Turin. During winter, it took part in the capture of the castles of Busco, Dronnero and Brodel. On 29 April 1640, it distinguished itself in the attack of Casale. It then took part in the siege and capture of Turin. In 1641, it was at the sieges of Ivrea, Ceva and Coni; in 1642, at the sieges of Nice and of the Castle of Tortona; in 1643, at the capture of Trino and of the Citadel of Asti. In 1644, the regiment was transferred to Catalonia and took part in the attack of Tarragona. In 1645, it took part in the capture of Camaras, in the passage of the Segre, in the Battle of Llorens (22 June) in the siege of Balaguer and in the relief of Flix; in 1646, in the storming of the Castle of Alcaras and in the first siege of Lérida; in 1647, in the second siege of Lérida; in 1648, in the capture of Vildecone and in the capture of Tortosa; in 1649, in the defence of Barcelona.

In 1652, during the ongoing troubles caused by the Fronde (1648-1653), the regiment was recalled to the Province of Guyenne in France. Soon afterwards, the regiment returned to Catalonia. In 1654, it took part in the capture of Puycerda and Urgell; in 1655, in the storming of Cap de Quiers.

In 1663, the regiment was sent to Italy but soon returned to France.

The fact that Bourbonnais Infanterie, Leuville Infanterie and Auvergne 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 regiment would alternate for the 7th, 8th and 9th ranks on a yearly basis. Bourbonnais Infanterie was the first French regiment to be designated as "Petits Vieux" because they pretended to trace back their origins to the old bands of the XVIth century.

In 1667, at the beginning of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment campaigned in Flanders, taking part in the sieges of Berghes, Furnes, Courtrai, Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Oudenarde and Lille.

In 1672 at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was increased to two battalions, each of 16 companies. It took part in the sieges of Orsoy, Burich and Zütphen. Seventeen companies garrisoned Wesel.

Until 1 February 1673, the regiment remained gentleman regiment bearing the names of its successive colonels it then took the name of the Province of Bourbonnais.

In 1673, the regiment took part in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1675, it was at the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg. In 1676, it took part in the defence of Maastricht which it then garrisoned till the end of the war in 1678.

In 1684, the regiment was assuming garrison duty in Longwy when it was instructed to send a battalion to the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1688, at the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment took part in the capture of Philippsburg, Mannheim, Frankenthal, Kaiserlautern, Kreutznach, Neustadt, Oppenhiem, Worms, Speyer and Mainz. In 1689, the first battalion worked at the fortifications of Landau while the second defended Mainz. In 1690 and 1691, the regiment served on the Rhine. About this time, the regiment was increased to three battalions. In 1692, it was transferred to Flanders where it took part in the capture of Namur. Its third battalion was then sent to Calais while the two other battalions fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the regiment took part in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. In 1695, it was at the bombardment of Bruxelles.

In 1699, the regiment was sent to Neuf-Brisach to work at its fortifications.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted three battalions.

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

  • since 15 January 1700: Louis de Brichanteau, Marquis de Nangis
  • from 1 January 1709 till 1 July 1727: Louis-Antoine de Gramont, Comte de Lesparre

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was stationed in Strasbourg.

At the beginning of 1702, the regiment was still posted at Strasbourg. In September, it was attached to Villars' Corps who operated on the Upper-Rhine. The regiment distinguished itself in the attack of the bridge of Huningue. Its grenadiers were detached to the siege of Huningue. On 14 October, the regiment took part in the Battle of Friedlingen where its brigade was in first line along with Champagne brigade. It lost 300 men in this engagement. It then took its winter-quarters in Neuenburg.

In February 1703, the regiment, as part of Villars' Corps, took part in the siege of Kehl. Villars then marched through the Black Forest to make a junction with the Bavarian Army, capturing the castles of Hasslach and Hornberg on his way and engaging the enemy at Munderkirchen. On 30 September, the regiment fought in the Battle of Höchstädt as part of Usson's Corps who charged prematurely. Forced to retire, Usson abandoned the regiment and Perri Infanterie in the village of Bohrstadt. These brave regiments would have been decimated by the charge of 30 Imperial squadrons if Villars had not appeared at this moment in the rear of the Imperialists.

In January 1704, the grenadiers of the regiment forced the enemy to abandon the quarters that they were occupying beyond the Danube. This success allowed the French to capture Vedelinghen. The regiment then returned to Bavaria where, on 13 August, it took part in the Battle of Blenheim. Marsin had replaced Villars as commander of the French army. The regiment was posted on the left wing of this army, entrenched with Champagne Infanterie in the village of Oberglau. They offered a stubborn resistance, allowing the remnants of Tallard's Corps to retire. They then orderly retreated in column per battalion. They formed the rearguard of the defeated army and sustained another heavy engagement near Halstadt. Back to Alsace, the regiment was cantoned at Saltz and Gueweiler. In November, it totally defeated 800 cuirassiers and hussars who had tried to surprise them.

At the beginning of 1705, the regiment went to Metz for recruitment. In August, it returned to the Rhine and took part in the re-establishment of the bridge at Kehl.

In 1706, the regiment relieved Fort-Louis and distinguished itself in the attack of the Lines of Weissembourg, Drusenheim and of the Marquisat Island.

In 1707, the regiment took part in the victory of Seckingen, in the capture of Laufen and Mannheim; and, with Navarre Infanterie and Champagne Infanterie, it attacked General Janus' entrenchments in the defiles of Lorch. It then entered into Pfaffenhofen.

In 1708, the regiment left Pfaffenhofen to join the Army of Flanders. On 11 July, it was at the Battle of Oudenarde where it was deployed to the left of the infantry and was not involved in combat, protecting the retreat of the defeated army. Soon afterwards, its brigade covered itself with glory in a combat on the Scheldt behind which the French Army of Flanders had retired. The Allies tried to pass the river near Meldert but were delayed by the regiment, giving enough time to outposts to retire. From August to December, during the siege of Lille, the regiment remained at the camp of Saulsoy with the Duc de Bourgogne.

On 11 September 1709, at the Battle of Malplaquet, the regiment fought against the “Cadets de Hollande” which it maltreated so badly that they were unable to serve for the rest of the war. It captured several of their colours. During this sanguinary battle, the regiment lost 300 men killed or wounded, among which Lieutenant-Colonel d'Aiguille who was wounded. The regiment then retired to Sedan.

In 1710, the regiment remained at Hesdin for the entire campaign.

In 1711, the regiment was stationed in Abbeville and took part in the attack on Arleux.

On 24 July 1712, the regiment was part of the corps who made a diversion on Landrecies while the main army attacked the Allies in the Battle of Denain. On 25 July, the regiment made itself master of Saint-Amand. It was then present at the sieges of Douai and Le Quesnoy. In the night of 6 to 7 September, its grenadiers distinguished themselves in the attack of the covert way and lunettes of Douai. As soon as the signal for attack was given, they dashed forward. The breaking of the three bridges did not slow them down and they made themselves master of the covert way, of the lunettes and of a demi-lune. The regiment later took part in the siege of Bouchain and took its winter-quarters at Valenciennes.

In 1713, the regiment covered the siege of Landau. Only its grenadiers took an active part in the siege, losing half of their men in the attack of the covert way. The regiment then took part in the attack of Vaubonne's entrenchments, where Lieutenant-Colonel d'Aiguille was wounded once more, and in the capture of Freiburg where it was left as garrison.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Lemau de la Jaisse, Susane, Funcken, Marbot
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade
Neck stock white
Coat grey-white with yellow buttons on the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps grey-white fastened with a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets vertical pockets, each with 6 yellow buttons arranged 2-2-2
Cuffs grey-white, each with 4 yellow buttons (as per Susane)
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat grey-white with yellow buttons
Breeches grey-white
Stockings white fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Gaiters none at the beginning of the war, white later
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt natural leather (often whitened with pipe-clay) with a brass buckle
Waist-belt 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.

Other interpretations

Funcken indicates a black cockade to the tricorne and a red waistcoat.

Marbot indicates only 3 yellow buttons on each cuff.

NCOs

n/a

Officers

n/a

Musicians

Drummer wearing the Royal Livery - Source: adapted from Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française

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.

Please note that in the accompanying illustration, the drummer carries a drum at the arms of Navarre. The drum barrel should be royal blue decorated with golden fleurs de lys.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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: a white cross with quarters alternatively violet and sky blue. Violet was used on the flags in sign of mourning for the death of King Henry IV on the year of creation of the regiment. These ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1610 to 1791.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Ordonnance Colour - Copyright: 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 3, pp. 290-312, 325

Other sources

Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891

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. 105

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