La Marine Infanterie

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

Origin and History

Soldier of La Marine Infanterie circa 1720 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

The regiment already existed since 1621 when troops were raised during the blockade of La Rochelle. However, it became a regular regiment of the French Army only on 26 September 1635 when the Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu persuaded the King to integrate it into his regular units. It initially counted 18 companies and was known as "Cardinal-Duc". At its creation, the regiment, who should have received the 106th rank, took the 16th rank.

In January 1636, at the beginning of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the regiment joined the army of the Comte de Soissons on the Meuse. On 31 May, this army defeated Taraski's 4,000 Polish Cossacks at Ivoy. Then, 400 men of the regiments were sent to the relief of Colmar. While the rest took part in the recapture of Corbie. At the end of the year, the regiment was renamed "La Marine", a title which it retained throughout its history. In 1637, the regiment took part in the capture of Bohain, in the sieges of Landrecies and La Capelle, and in the defence of Maubeuge; in 1638, in the siege of Saint-Omer; in 1639, in the siege of Hesdin and in the combat of Ruminghem. It was then sent to Caudebec to quench a peasants' revolt. In 1640, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Arras; in 1641, in the sieges of Aire, La Bassée and Bapaume; in 1642, in the defence of Bapaume.

After the death of the Cardinal de Richelieu, on 4 December 1642, the Cardinal Mazarin succeeded him as owner of the regiment on 13 February 1643. He used his influence to include it among the Vieux Corps, changing its rank from 16th to 6th.

In 1643, the regiment took part in the battle of Rocroi, in the capture of Landrecies, Barlement, Émery, Maubeuge and Binch, and in the siege of Thionville. In 1644, protestations against the promotion of the regiment to the sixth rank of the infantry were so serious that it was sent to Catalonia where it was at the siege of Tarragona and at the capture of Gramont. In 1645, it took part in the siege of Roses; in 1646, in the siege of Lérida; in 1647, in the second siege of Lérida; in 1648, in the siege of Tortosa before being sent back to Guyenne because of the Fronde (1648-1653).

In 1649, the regiment quenched the revolt of Bordeaux. In 1650, it was sent to reinforce the Army of Flanders but was soon sent to Saint-Quentin to assume garrison duty. It was, along with Sault Infanterie, sent to the relief of Mouzon. It later took part in the capture of Rhétel. In 1651, the regiment returned to Flanders where it was brigaded with Picardie Infanterie to avoid any contestation of its rank. In 1652, the regiment took part in the siege of Étampes; in 1653, in the sieges of Bellegarde, Mouzon and Sainte-Ménehould; in 1654, in the siege of Stenay, in the relief of Arras and in the capture of Le Quesnoy; in 1655, in the siege of Landrecies and in the capture of Condé and Saint-Ghislain; in 1656, in the siege of Valenciennes; in 1657, in the sieges of Montmédy, Saint-Venant and La Mothe-aux-Bois and in the relief of of Ardres; in 1658, in the siege of Dunkerque, in the Battle of the Dunes and in the capture of Berghes, Dixmude and Furnes.

After the peace with Spain, in 1660, the regiment occupied the city of Avesnes retroceded to France.

In 1663, the regiment took part in the capture of Marsal. In 1664, the regiment was part of the French army sent to Italy. It reached Modena but returned to France after the Treaty of Pisa and assumed garrison duty in Hesdin.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment was increased to 70 companies and campaigned with Turenne. Its first battalion took part in the relief of Woërden and in the raid in Holland. In 1673, the same battalion took part in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, the entire regiment took part in the combat of Ensheim. Two battalions then garrisoned Brisach while the third was posted in Trier. In 1675, the third battalion took part in the capture of Limbourg while the two others fought in the combats of Mulhausen, Turckheim and Altenheim, and took part in the defence of Haguenau. In 1676, the regiment took part in the combat of Kokersberg and in the defence of Philippsburg; in 1677, in the siege of Fribourg, in 1678, in the storming of Seckingen and in the sieges of Kehl and Lichtemberg; in 1679, in the combat of Minden.

After the war, the regiment was sent to Saint-Étienne in Forèz and then to Bayonne. In 1681, it was stationed in Dauphiné but was sent to Pinerolo and then occupied Casale. In 1682, the first battalion was transferred to Alsace. In 1684, the first battalion, soon joined by the second, took part in the siege of Luxembourg.

At the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1688, the first battalion joined Boufflers' Corps and was at the bombardment of Koblenz. In 1689, the same battalion occupied Mont-Royal; the other battalions took part in the capture of Kockheim. In 1690, the entire regiment joined the army of the Dauphin assembled at Landau. In 1691, the regiment was sent to Valence and campaigned in Piémont where it took part in the sieges of the Castle of Veillane and Carmagnola, in the capture of Montmélian, in the combat of the Pass of La Fenêtre and in the relief of Suze. In 1692, the second battalion took part in the defence of Embrun. In 1693, the regiment was initially stationed at Orange. It then passed the Alps and took part in the defence of Pinerolo and in the battle of La Marsaglia. At the end of 1694, the regiment was sent to Nice. In 1695, it was stationed at Antibes, Villefranche and Monaco. In 1696, the regiment took part in the siege of Valence in Italy. In 1697, it was transferred to Catalonia and took part in the siege and capture of Barcelona.

After the Treaty of Riswick, the regiment was stationed in Roussillon.

La Marine 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 1694: Louis-Jean-Charles, Marquis de Talleyrand
  • from 26 June 1702: Pierre Le Guerchois de Sainte-Colombe
  • from 30 June 1709 to August 3 1716: Michel Chamillard, Marquis de Cany

Service during the War

On 2 January 1701, the regiment left Bayonne and marched to Toulon where they embarked for Italy. On 9 July, it was present at the Combat of Carpi but was not involved in any combat. On 1 September, it also took part in the Battle of Chiari.

In 1702, the regiment was initially attached to the corps of the Comte d'Albergotti who captured Reggio, Modena, Coreggio and Carpi. On 15 August, it fought in the Battle of Luzzara where its first and third battalions were charged with the defence of the dyke extending from Luzzara to San-Benedetto while the third garded Philip V at Castelmaggiore. The Imperialists, driven back on the left, tried to make themselves master of the dyke but the two battalions of the regiment held their position. At 7:00 p.m., M. de la Boulière, commanding the second battalion, estimated that the two other battalions were suffering heavy losses, asked to Philip V for the authorisation to join them. This unexpected reinforcement rekindled the courage of the regiment who drove back a new charge, capturing 2 guns. Combat ceased only one hour after midnight. In this battle, the regiment lost captains Saint-Barthélémi, Burianne, Darreau, Saint-Benoit, Chantegris, Valdurand, Beauville and several lieutenants killed in action. Among the wounded were captains La Boulière, Castelnau and Lioux. The remnants of the regiment then took part in the sieges of Guastalla and Borgoforte. In December, they were at the capture of Bondanella.

On 13 January 1703, the regiment drove an Imperialist detachment (2,000 men) out of its entrenchments near Bondanella. Captain du Buisson of the grenadiers was wounded in this action. In the spring, the regiment was attached to Vendôme's Corps who marched through Tyrol in an attempt to make a junction with the Army of Bavaria. This manoeuvre failed because of the defection of the Duke of Savoy but the regiment distinguished itself at the capture of Nago and Arco and at the battle of Santa-Vittoria. Back to Lombardy and later in Piedmont, the regiment took part in the combat of San-Benedetto and in the capture of Asti and Villanova d'Asti.

In 1704, the regiment took part in the siege of Vercelli, where Captain Isnard was wounded, and in the sieges of Ivrea and Vérue. On 6 November, it drove the enemy out of the entrenchments defending the approaches to Vérue. On 8 December, the first grenadier company distinguished itself in the attack of the covert way, losing 50% of its men and Captain de la Bassarderie. On 26 December, the grenadiers under Captain Sardini repulsed a sortie made by 3,000 men and them to take refuge into Vérue.

On 1 March 1705, the regiment took part in the attack of Fort de l'Ile which was a decisive operation for the success of the long and difficult siege of Vérue who capitulated shortly afterwards. It then joined Vendôme's army at the camp of Moscolino behind the Chiesa. The grenadiers of the regiment under M. de La Tour-Fraguier played an important role in the defence of the cassine of Boulina. Attacked by superior forces and isolated from the rest of the army by the Naviglio River, they were forced after 20 hours of combat to take refuge in the upper stories of the house and would have been forced to surrender if reinforcements had not timely come to their help. In this affair, the grenadiers lost Captain Coquet and 62 grenadiers killed and 11 officers (captains de Villars, de Beaucorroy, de Lique, Saint-Froy and Rouhaut; lieutenants Beaumont, Gallant, Basiostre, Lamotte, La Soze and Soulier) and 97 grenadiers wounded. On 16 August, the regiment took part in the battle of Cassano where it had been charged with the defence of the bridge of Ritorto where Prince Eugène deSavoie directed his main attack. The grenadiers of the regiment stubbornly defended the bridge. Outflanked on all sides by Imperialist troops who had passed the river elsewhere, the colonel and a large part of the regiment were taken prisoners. The rest of the regiment under M. La Tour-Fraguier managed to sufficiently delay the advance of the enemy to allow Vendôme to assemble infantry and dragoon regiments and to drive back Eugène's attack. In this glorious action, the regiment lost 53 officers dead or wounded. Among the dead were captains de Fontenay, Montviel, La Garde, Lionse, Saint-Benoit, Saint-Surin, Descordes and Dauqueville. Colonel Le Guerchois and the major were among the wounded. On 16 October, the regiment distinguished itself in the storming of the entrenchments of Gumbetto. At the end of the campaign, it took its winter-quarters in Mantua.

On 19 April 1706, the regiment was at the battle of Calcinato but was not directly involved. It was then sent to Alessandria to defend it against a potential Imperialist attack. When the latter chose to attack the Maréchal de La Feuillade, who was besieging Turin, the regiment was sent to his help. On 7 September, at the battle of Turin, the regiment was posted with its right against the Stura where the first shock took place. The Imperialists charged the regiment thrice unsuccessfully but they finally managed to turn its flank and to force it to retire. The defeated army retreated to France and the regiment, then reduced to 725 men, took its winter-quarters in Provence.

In 1707, Prince Eugène passed the Var. The regiment, who had been placed in observation in the Barcelonette Valley, gradually retired on Toulon where it was placed in the entrenched camp on Sainte-Anne Height. The Imperialists then invested Toulon. On 15 August, the regiment took part in the recapture of Sainte-Catherine Height. In this action, it lost Captain Savary and 69 men killed in action. On 23 August. Eugène abandoned the siege of Toulon and repassed the Alps.

In 1708, the regiment was attached to the Army of Dauphiné under Maréchal de Villars who put a stop to an attempt by the Duke of Savoie to pass the Alps. The regiment guarded the passage in the Barcelonette Valley. Its grenadiers took part in the capture of Césanne.

In 1709, Colonel Le Guerchois ceded the regiment to the son of the recently disgraced Minister Chamillard. The regiment continued to served in Dauphiné till 1712.

In December 1712, the regiment was transferred from Dauphiné to Catalonia where it took part in the relief of Girona. It then returned to Provence to take its winter-quarters.

In 1713, the regiment was sent to join the Army of the Rhine. Two of its battalions took part in the siege of Landau. On 26 June, the relieved Navarre Infanterie in the trenches. On 8 July, it drove back a sortie. On 8 August, one of its grenadier companies captured a defensive work. On 11 August, the regiment made itself master of the covert way. After the capture of Landau, the regiment ook part in the siege of Fribourg. On 14 October, two of its grenadier companies, led by captains La Marguerine et Dumont, were completely annihilated in the attack of the covert way. The regiment took its winter-quarters on Roussillon.

In June 1714, the regiment was part of the auxiliary corps that Louis XIV sent to Philip V to assist him in the siege of Barcelona. The regiment served as escort to the Maréchal de Berwick to pass the Pyrenees and arrived in front of Barcelona at the beginning of July. On 12 September, the regiment took part in the general assault where it was charged to attack the courtine linking the Santa-Clara bastion to the Llevant bastion. Signal was given at 4:00 a.m. and the courtine was rapidly taken. The regiment then assisted other troops assaulting thr Llevant bastion and penetrated into the city who surrendered in the evening. The regiment remained in the city for three weeks before going to the camp of Tarragona.



Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Susanne, Funcken, Lemau de la Jaisse and Marbot
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 horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs grey-white (black around 1720 as per Marbot), each with 3 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.


Sergeants were distinguished by black cuffs.


Officers wore uniforms quite similar to those of privates (made of better quality cloth) with the following differences:

  • black cuffs, each with 3 yellow buttons
  • grey-white waistcoat with yellow buttons


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


Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance Colour: blue and green opposed cantons (first and fourth cantons blue, second and third green) with a white cross. These ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1636 to 1791.

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


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. 235-268, 280

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. 104

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