Du Roi Infanterie

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

Origin and History

Ansepessade of Du Roi Infanterie circa 1720 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

This regiment was raised on 2 January 1663. The king wished that the sons of the most illustrious families of France would make their first arms in this regiment. It initially counted only 20 companies whose officers came from the Mousquetaires. It was soon brought to 50 companies.

Soon after its creation, in September 1663, the regiment went to Lorraine and took part in the reduction of Marsal.

In 1667, at the outbreak of the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment joined the Army of Flanders and took part in the sieges of Tournai, Douai and Lille before garrisoning Oudenarde. In 1668, it returned to Saint-Germain where, during a review, the king decided to add 4 grenadiers to each company of his regiment, a measure soon extended to the other infantry regiments.

At the end of 1669, when the old Lorraine Infanterie (occupying the 14th rank of seniority) was integrated into Du Roi Infanterie, the latter regiment inherited from the rank of the former.

In 1671, the regiment became the 12th of the army and acquired the privilege to be considered as the 6th of the Petits Vieux regiments. The regiment soon became a school where all improvements in discipline and tactic were initially introduced.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment took part in the siege of Doësbourg where its colonel-lieutenant was killed. It was also at the siege of Orsoy on the Rhine and took part in Turenne's expedition in the estates of the Elector of Brandenburg and in the storming of the Castle of Berckhembaum. In 1673, the regiment took part in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the sieges of Limbourg, Besançon and Dôle, and in the Battle of Seneffe; in 1675, in the sieges of Liège, Dinant, Huy and Limbourg; in 1676, in the siege of Condé and in the protection of the siege of Bouchain; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai, and in the capture of Saint-Ghislain; in 1678, in the sieges of Gand and Ypres, in the Battle of Saint-Denis near Mons, and in the blockade of Strasbourg. In 1679, the regiment took part in the sieges of Homburg and Bitch, and in the engagement of Linden.

In 1680, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Lille. In 1683, it took part in the sieges of Courtrai and Dixmude, and in the bombardment of Oudenarde. In 1684, it was with the army who covered the siege of Luxembourg.

At the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97) in 1688, the regiment followed the Dauphin who laid siege of Philisbourg. It then took part in the capture of Mannheim, Spires, Worms, Trier, Frankenstein and Mainz. In 1690, it fought in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, it took part in the siege of Mons, in the capture of Halle and in the Combat of Leuzes; in 1692, in the siege of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque where it suffered heavy losses, and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the sieges of Huy and Château-Picard, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi; in 1695, in the sieges of Dixmude and Deynse and in the bombardment of Bruxelles; in 1697, in the siege of Ath.

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

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the nominal commander of the regiment was King Louis XIV and its successive colonels-lieutenants were:

  • since 4 April 1693: Louis-Charles d'Hautefort, Marquis de Surville
  • from 6 January 1706: Louis Prévost, Marquis du Barail
  • from 26 January 1711 until 16 December1719: Louis-Armand de Brichanteau, Marquis de Nangis

After the war, the regiment returned to Marly.

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment left its quarters at Versailles and Saint-Germain to occupy various places in the Spanish Netherlands in the name of the new king of Spain Philip V.

In 1702, during the campaign in the Low Countries, the regiment was among the first infantry brigade arriving at the combat of Nijmegen already engaged by the cavalry. His four battalions deployed by platoons on the glacis of the place near the Kleve Gate and killed several Dutch officers. The regiment was also present at the cannonade of Peer.

In April 1703, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Rhine commanded by the Duc de Bourgogne. It then took part in the Siege of Alt-Breisach where it opened the left trench. It also participated in the Siege of Landau where its grenadiers stormed the counterguard covering the bastions. During the siege, an Allied relief force came to the rescue. On 15 November, this relief force was defeated in the Combat of Speyerbach where the regiment, with its battalions each reduced to some 300 men, formed the infantry left wing. It was facing 7 large Hessian battalions which he broke. During the fight, Lieutenant-Colonel du Barail had a wrist broken. On 16 November, Landau surrendered and the regiment took its winter-quarters in Colmar.

In 1704, the regiment was once more attached to the Army of the Rhine placed under the command of the Maréchal de Tallard. When he marched to the relief of the Bavarian Army, the regiment was the only unit of his army who was left on the Rhine. It passed the campaign in the lines at Lauterbourg.

In 1705, the regiment started the campaign between the Rhine and the Moselle. In June, it went to Flanders. On 15 July, it arrived in the Lines of Bruxelles. Captain La Roque at the head of 200 grenadiers drove 800 men out of the Florival Abbey where he entrenched his detachment and maintained this posts despite all the efforts of the Allies.

On 23 May 1706, the Elector of Bavaria was assisting at a mass when the Duke of Marlborough attacked him in the Battle of Ramilies. Thus was a disastrous day for the regiment who, while retiring in the plain between Ramilies and Judoigne, its soldiers scattered to get back their haversacks left behind at Judoigne despite the fact that a large cavalry corps was literally on their heels. The regiment was decimated and only a nearby wood allowed part of the regiment to rally and to retreat. This lack of discipline was in a large part for the defeat. The regiment then went to Dunkerque to replenish its ranks.

In 1707, the regiment saw no action.

On 11 July 1708, at the Battle of Oudenarde, the regiment along with Poitou Brigade sustained the first shock. After a resistance of five hours, seeing itself surrounded on all sides, the regiment took advantage of night to retire behind the left of the French army. During the siege of Lille by the Allies, the regiment remained in the camp of Potte with the Chevalier de Croissy.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment took part in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet. It was deployed on the left in Sart Woods. When the fog lifted, the Allies engaged combat with a salvo from their mortars who put 300 men of the regiment out of combat. Villars, seeing the Allies master of the Sart Woods and forming in the plain, gathered the brigades of du Roi, de La Reine and Perche, and, interdicting to fire, marched himself to the enemy at the head of this force. Villars was soon wounded at a knee but despite the deadly fire of the British infantry his three brigades resumed their advance, driving the British back to the woods at the point of the bayonet and contained them there. Despite this success, fault committed in the centre of the line transformed this potential victory into a defeat.

In 1710, the regiment did not see action. However, one of its captain, M. de Beaulieu, who had volunteered to defend Douai, distinguished himself in several sorties undertaken by the garrison during the siege. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Amiens.

On 18 April 1711, the regiment set off from Amiens to take post at Miraumont. It later took part in the attack on Arleux.

On 24 July 1712, the regiment was at the Battle of Denain. It later took part in the capture of Marchiennes, Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain.

In 1713, the regiment served on the Rhine where it took part in the capture of Spires, Worms, Kayserslautern and Landau. On 20 September, it was at the attack on the Lines of General Vaubonne, and completed this long and terrible war by the capture of Freiburg where it stormed the lunette at the head of the covert way.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Rousselot, Marbot, Lemau de la Jaisse, Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade (maybe a red and white cockade)
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a white cockade (maybe a red and white cockade)
Neck stock white
Coat grey-white with royal blue lining and with 7 equidistant copper buttons (9 arranged 3 by 3 as per Funcken and Marbot) on the right side; 7 aurore (light orange) laced buttonholes on each side; 1 copper button on each side in the small of the back; and 3 aurore laced buttonholes on each side on the basques
Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 copper buttons (only 3 as per Funcken and Marbot) and 4 aurore laced buttonholes
Cuffs royal blue, each with 6 copper buttons (only 3 as per Funcken and Marbot) and 6 aurore laced buttonholes
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat royal blue edged with an aurore braid; copper buttons and aurore laced buttonholes
Breeches royal blue
Stockings royal blue 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

NCOs wore a uniform similar to those of the privates with the following differences:

  • for the anspessade: 6 copper buttons and 6 aurore laced buttonholes arranged 2 by 2 on each cuff
  • for the anspessade: 8 copper buttons and 8 aurore laced buttonholes arranged 2 by 2 on each cuff
  • sergeant:
    • 3 gilt buttons and 3 gold laced buttonholes on each cuff
    • 3 gilt buttons and 3 gold laced buttonholes on each pocket
    • royal blue waistcoat edged gold

Officers

Officers had more lace on their uniform:

  • gold laced tricorne with a white plumetis
  • gilt gorget
  • 10 gilt buttons on the right side of the coat
  • 10 gold laced buttonholes on each side of the coat
  • 5 gilt buttons and 5 gold laced buttonholes on each cuff
  • 4 gilt buttons and 4 gold laced buttonholes on each cuff
  • 3 gold laced buttonholes on each side on the basques of the coat
  • royal blue waistcoat edged with a golden braid and decorated with gold laced buttonholes

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 charged with 48 golden fleurs de lys.

Ordonnance Colour: a white cross charged with 48 golden fleurs de lys; the first and fourth cantons were red and the second and third cantons green.

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 4, pp. 90-113

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. 106

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

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

Rousselot, Lucien: Infanterie française (1720-1736) (II)