Champagne Infanterie

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

Origin and History

Ensign of Champagne Infanterie circa 1700 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

From 1521, the Bandes de Champagne became progressively distinct from the Bandes de Picardie. By 1552, after the conquest of Metz and of the Évêchés, the organisation of the Bandes de Champagne was completed. From October 1552 to January 1553, they took part in the defence of Metz against the Imperialists. In 1556, twelve companies followed M. de Guise in an expedition against Naples. By 1558, they were back in France where they took part in the actions at Calais and Thionville. Between 1558 and 1568, companies of the Bandes de Champagne were at the origin of Normandie Infanterie.

In 1568, 10 companies of the Bandes de Champagne joined the army of the Duc d'Aumale and took part in actions at La Neuville and Saint-Quirin. In February 1569, they repulsed an assault of the Imperialist at Saint-Jean near Saverne. On 12 March, they fought at Silly. On May 29 1569, the regiment received an official status. Indeed, 26 companies of the Vieilles Bandes Françaises (including many from the Bandes de Champagne) were grouped into a new regiment who would later become Champagne Infanterie. The same year, the new regiment took part in the Battle of Moncontour (3 October) and in the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Angély. In 1572 and 1573, the regiment took part in the sieges of La Rochelle and Sancerre. In 1574, it served in Normandy and took part in the storming of Saint-Lô and in the siege of Fontenay. In 1575, it fought in the combat of Dormans. In 1580 it was at the siege of La Fère.

In 1585, the regiment was renamed Champagne Infanterie.

From 1585 to 1598, the regiment took part in the "War of the Three Henrys", seeing action in countless engagements and sieges.

In 1600, the regiment was at the siege and capture of Bourg-en-Bresse and in the submission of several towns of the province of Bresse.

In 1610, the regiment took part in the War of the Jülich Succession (1609-1614). In August, it entered into the town of Jülich and then returned to France where it garrisoned Verdun.

In 1619, at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the regiment took part in the capture of the castkes of Dreux and Anet and distinguished itself at the combat of Pont-de-Cé. In 1621, it was at the attack on Taillebourg where it suffered heavy losses. It then took part in the siege and capture of Monheurt. In April 1622, it was at the siege and capture of Royan. The regiment was then sent to blockade La Rochelle. It then garrisoned Fort-Louis near La Rochelle. In 1625, the regiment took part in the conquest of Ré Island which it occupied till 1629 when it was sent to campaign in Montferrat. In 1630, it campaigned against the Duchy of Savoy, contributing to the capture of Saluzzo. In 1631, it returned to France and took its quarters on the border of Lorraine. In 1633, the regiment took part in the capture of Reving and Fumay. In 1634, it garrisoned Nancy. In 1635, it campaigned in Alsace, storming Altkirch in January, taking Marche (18 May, fighting at Avein (20 May) and taking part in the siege of Louvain. In 1637, the regiment was at the siege of Landrecies and stormed Solre. It was then assigned to the defence of Maubeuge. In 1638, it was at the sieges of Saint-Omer and of the Castle of Renti; and at the capture of Catelet. In 1639, the regiment was at the siege of Lilliers and at the capture of Hesdin. In 1640, it was at the siege and capture of Arras which it then garrisoned. In 1641, it was at the sieges of Aire and Bapaume. In 1642, the regiment was sent to Roussillon where it took part in the siege and capture of Collioure and then in the siege of Perpignan where it rested a few days after its capture. In 1643, it served in Languedoc where it took its winter-quarters.

In 1644, it was sent by sea to Catalonia to take part in the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59). In August, it took part in the siege of Tarragona. In 1645, the regiment covered the siege of Roses. On 22 June, it fought at the Battle of Llorenç del Penedès. It then took part in the relief of Flix. In 1646, it was at the siege of Lérida where it was almost annihilated by the Spanish relief force. In 1647, the regiment took part in a second (unsuccessful) attempt against Lérida. In 1648, it was at the siege and storming of Tortosa. In 1649, the regiment entered into Barcelona threatened by the Spaniards. In 1650, it was decimated by plague and then the Spaniards laid siege to Barcelona who capitulated on 12 October 1652 after a siege of 15 months. The regiment was allowed to leave Barcelona with the honours of war, retiring to Perpignan. It was then sent to Guyenne where it distinguished itself in the defeat of Miradoux. In 1653, the regiment took part in the capture of Bourg, Sarlat and Libourne and took its winter-quarters in Roussillon. In 1654, it was at the capture of Villefranche, at the relief of Roses and at the siege and capture of Puigcerdà. In 1655, the regiment was at the capture of Cap de Tiers and Castillon before taking part in the relief of Solsonès. It then wintered in Languedoc. In 1656, it returned to Catalonia where a detachment stormed the Castle of Boraçan.

In 1659, after the Peace of of the Pyrenees, the regiment returned to France where it was stationed in Bourbonnais.

In 1661, the regiment was transferred to Lorraine. In 1665, it was attached to a French corps sent to the support of the Dutch Republic attacked by the Bishop of Münster. The regiment took part in the siege of Lochem and wintered at Emmerich. In 1666, on its return to France, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Metz.

In 1667, at the beginning of the War of Devolution (1667-68), the regiment campaigned in Flander and was at the sieges of Charleroi, Tournai, Douai, Courtrai, Oudenarde and Lille, before returning to Metz. In 1668, it took part in the conquest of Franche-Comté.

In 1670, the regiment took part in the conquest of Lorraine and in the capture of Épinal.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment joined the army of the Prince de Condé near Liège. It then took part in the sieges and captures of many Dutch cities. The regiment suffered heavy casualties during the siege of Nijmegen. It then took its winter-quarters in Utrecht. In 1673, the regiment served in Germany under Turenne. In 1674, it captured Germersheim and seized the defile of Burghausen, before taking part in the Battle of Sinsheim (16 June). It then retired to Philippsburg. On 4 Octiber it distinguished itself at the Battle of Ensheim. On 5 January 1675, the grenadiers of the regiment stormed the town of Turckheim. On 4 July, a detachment stormed Dachstein. On 24 July the regiment fought in the combat of Offenburg. On 1 August, the regiment bravely held the bridge of Altenheim to cover the retreat of the French army. In 1677, a detachment captured the Castle of Dabo. On 7 October 1677, the regiment was at the combat of Kokersberg where it guarded the artillery. In November, it took part in the capture of Fribourg. In 1678, the regiment served on the Rhine taking part in the storming of the entrenchments of Seckingen, in the combat of Offenburg, in the storming of Kehl and in the siege of the Castle of Lichtemberg.

In 1679, the regiment was sent to Languedoc where it worked to the construction of the canal.

On 17 October 1683, a grenadier company of the regiment distinguished itself in the defence of Grevemakeren. In 1684, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Luxembourg.

At the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1688, the regiment took part in the sieges of Philippsburg, Mannheim, Kaiserlautern, Kreutnach, Neustadt, Oppenheim, Worms, Speyer, Mainz and Frankenthal. In 1689, it campaigned in Flander where it took part in the attack of the Castle of Walcourt. In October, it went to Lille where it wintered. In 1690, the regiment took part in the Battle of Fleurus (1 July). In 1691, it was at the siege of Mons. It wintered in Dinant where a third battalion was created. In 1692, the regiment covered the siege of Namur and fought at the Battle of Steenkerque (3 August). In December, it took its winter-quarters in Saint-Omer. In 1693, it took part in the siege of Furnes and wintered at Strasbourg. In 1695, the regiment initially served in Germany before being transferred to Flander and then to the Moselle. It took its winter-quarters in Nancy. In 1696, it served on the Meuse and wintered in Dinant. In 1697, the regiment covered the siege of Ath.

After the Peace of Ryswick, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Valenciennes.

The fact that Champagne Infanterie, Navarre Infanterie and Piémont 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 of these regiments would alternate for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th ranks on a yearly basis.

Champagne Infanterie was among the six French regiments known as Vieux Corps.

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 11 July 1690: Jules-Armand Colbert, Marquis de Blainville
  • from 5 April 1702: Marie-Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay
  • from 27 February 1712 till 24 September 1731: René-François de Froulay, Chevalier de Tessé

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was among the French troops who occupied Limbourg for King Philip V of Spain.

In 1702, the regiment was attached to the Army of Germany under the command of Marshal Catinat. From September, it served under Marshal Villars. Its three grenadier companies were charged with the guard of the bridge of Huningue where they repulsed an Imperialist attack before occupying Neuenburg. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Friedlingen. Its brigade was the first to debouche from the bridge of Huningue. It immediately advanced to the enemy infantry and engaged them on the heights of Tulich, driving them back and capturing a few guns. In this victorious battle, the regiment lost captains Lasalle and Duret and 12 lieutenants and NCOs. Villars then brought back his army to Saverne to cover Phalsbourg and Lorraine. The regiment ended the campaign in the camp of Saverne and took its winter-quarters in Strasbourg.

In February 1703, the three battalions of the regiment were at the siege of Kehl. On 26 February, they stormed a redoubt erected on a small island on the Rhine. After the surrender of Kehl (9 March), the regiment re-established the bridge on the Rhine and returned to Strasbourg. On 12 April, it passed the Rhine once more and took part in the attack of the Lines of Stollhofen. It then entered into the Kinzig Valley and seized the posts of Gegembach, Biberach, Hasslach and Husen. On 1 May, the regiment stormed the town of Hornberg. On 16 June, as part of Villars' army, it effected a junction with the army of the Elector of Bavaria at Dillingen after a march where it constantly served in the vanguard. By September, the regiment was attached to the corps of the Marquis d'Usson charged to observe the movements of the army of Count Styrum. On 30 September, the regiment took part in the Battle of Höchstädt. In December, it opened the trenches in front of Augsburg. After the capture of this city, it took its winter-quarters in Ulm.

On 13 August 1704, the regiment took part in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim where it was posted on the extreme left wing of the French contingent anchored on the village of Oberglau. It did not engage the enemy but was decimated by their artillery. Along with Bourbonnais Infanterie, the regiment covered the retreat of Tallard's corps by occupying Oberglau. These two regiments then retired in columns by battalions. They then followed Tallard's corps in its retreat to Haguenau. The regiment was then sent to Strasbourg to replenish its ranks.

In 1705, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Rhine but saw little action. In August it passed the Rhine to reconnoitre in the direction of Stollhofen. At the end of the year, the three grenadier companies of the regiment were sent to reinforce Berwick's army besieging Nice.

In April 1706, the regiment was part of the army assembled by Villars to force the Lines of Stollhofen. He first forced the Imperialists to lift the blockade of Fort-Louis where the grenadiers of the regiment stormed a redoubt defending a temporary bridge on the Rhine. They assault was so brisk that they captured all defenders. These grenadiers distinguished themselves at the storming of the entrenchments of Drusenheim, Lauterbourg and Haguenau. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Wissembourg.

In 1707, the regiment took part in the attack of the Lines of Stollhofen which were forced on 22 June. In the following days, it entered into Württemberg and captured Pforzheim and Schorndorf near Stuttgart. On 22 July, the regiment engaged and defeated an Imperialist corps defending the gorges of Lorch. On 17 August, it was at the cannonade of Durlach. After the campaign, it escorted the artillery to Kehl and then entered into Strasbourg.

In July 1708, after the crushing defeat of Oudenarde, the regiment was recalled from the Rhine to reinforce the Army of Flander. On its arrival, it was immediately thrown into Mons threatened by a siege. The regiment then took part in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve Lille. When the city surrendered, it retired to Cambrai.

In 1709, the regiment was at the camp of La Bassée under the command of Villars. On 11 September, it took part in the bloody Battle of Malplaquet where its brigade was deployed in the centre of the first line. Three Allied columns attacked this sector and the regiment managed to attack their flank and to charged them at the point of the bayonet. After some initial successes, the Allies progressing on the right, it was forced to retire which he did in good order, taking refuge in Valenciennes. In this battle, the regiment lost more than half of its strength, including 50 officers (captains d'Estouilly, Bottereaux, La Condamine, de Lige, d'Aunay and Grenant were killed in action) but it had captured nine colours to the Allies. The regiment took its quarters at Sédan.

In 1710, the regiment was stationed in Abbeville and did not see any action.

On 19 April 1711, the regiment marched from Abbeville to Bucquoy. It later took part in an attack on Arleux. At the end of the campaign, it retired to Amiens where it participated in the filling in of the Canal of the Deuille.

On 24 July 1712, the regiment took part in the Battle of Denain where it passed the Scheldt, advanced under a lively fire on the Allied entrenchments without firing a shot and stormed them. It then took part in the sieges of Marchiennes and Douai. After the capitulation of Douai, the regiment fought at the siege of the Quesnoy where Captain d'Estouilly was buried with hald his company by the explosion of a mine. The regiment then covered the siege of Bouchain and before taking its quarters in Sédan.

In 1713, the regiment passed the Rhine. Its grenadiers took part in the siege of Landau. The regiment then participated in the capture of Fribourg. Before being sent to Trier.

In 1714, after the Peace of Rastatt, the regiment went to Saarlouis where it incorporated the remains of three disbanded regiment (La Londe, du Roure, Bugey).

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Susane, Marbot, Funcken, Rousselot
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced yellow with a white cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced yellow with a white cockade
Neckstock 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 none
Lapels none
Pockets vertical double pockets on each side (6 yellow buttons arranged 2-2-2 on each single pocket)
Cuffs white with 5 yellow buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with yellow buttons
Breeches white
Stockings white fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap
Gaiters none at the beginning of the war, white later
Leather Equipement
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

Officer of Champagne Infanterie circa 1710 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library


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 Colour: green field with a white cross. These ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1569 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. 92-150, 163