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Origin and History
The regiment was created as per a commission dated 1 March 1674, at the moment when a Dutch fleet threatened the coasts of Guyenne. It was raised at Bayonne by César Phébus Duc d’Albret and Maréchal de France, who was also Governor of Guyenne. The unit would remain a gentleman’s regiment until 1762, being known by the names of its successive colonels.
In 1674, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the regiment initially garrisoned Bayonne. In 1675, it was transferred to Thionville on the border with Germany. In 1676, the Duc d’Albret ceded his regiment to his nephew Charles Amanjeu, Marquis d’Albret. In 1678, the regiment was sent to Freiburg and took part in the attack of the entrenchments of the Kinzig, in the combat of Offembourg and in the failed attempt to capture Strasbourg.
On 9 August 1678, the regiment was bought by Louis Potier de Gesvres, Marquis de Gandelus (1660-1689), He would later be promoted colonel-lieutenant of Royal Vaisseaux Infanterie (in royal regiments, the king is always colonel and the effective commander is colonel-lieutenant); then in 1687, Inspector-General of the infantry; brigadier in August 1688. He would die from wounds received at the siege of Oberkirch in 1689.
On 19 April 1679, the Marquis de Gandelus sold his regiment to Philippe de Palluau, Marquis de Clérambault.
In 1690, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment, under the name of Clérambault, took part in the capture of Cahours, Barges and Suze, and in the Battle of Staffarda; in 1691, in the sieges of Suze, Villefranche, Montalban, Nice, Veillane, Carmagnola and Montmélian; in 1692, in the relief of Pinerolo and Susa; in 1693, in the Battle of Marsaglia and in the resupplying of Casale. In 1694 and 1695, the regiment garrisoned Pinerolo. In 1697, it campaigned on the Rhine. The same year, it took the name of Mirabeau.
By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted only one battalion but, on 1 February 1701, it was increased to two battalions.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was commanded by:
- from 11 April 1697: Jean-Antoine Riquet (aka Riquetti), Marquis de Mirabeau (severely wounded at the Battle of Cassano in 1705, promoted to brigadier on 19 June 1708, retired in 1711 due to his numerous wounds)
- from 7 April 1711 to 10 March 1734: Gilles Gervais de La Roche-Lomagne, Marquis de Gensac (former colonel of Gensac Infanterie)
Service during the War
In 1701, the battalion was sent to Italy. On 1 September, it took part in the Battle of Chiari where it formed part of Vaudrey’s Brigade. It then garrisoned Cremona.
On 15 August 1702, the battalion was at Battle of Luzzara and, a few days later, at the capture of Luzzara. It then took part in the capture of Borgoforte.
In 1703, the battalion took part in the Combat of Stradella. It then participated in the French offensive in South Tyrol and was at the Affair of Castelnuovo de Bormia and at the capture of Nago and Arco. It later took part in the capture of Asti and Villanova d’Asti.
In 1702, the battalion was sent to Italy. Upon arrival, it was placed in Mantua. In December, its grenadiers participated in the capture of Governolo where the Marquis de Mirabeau was wounded.
In 1703, the battalion remained cantoned at Bozzolo, Marcaria, Canetto and Gozzolo.
In 1704, the two battalions served at the sieges of Vercelli, Ivrea and Verrua.
In 1705, after the capture of Verrua, the regiment was attached to the corps of the Grand-Prieur de Vendôme and encamped at Moscolino. On 29 May, Captain de Narbonne with the grenadiers was charged to occupy a large farmstead between the Naviglio and the mountain. On 31 May, he was attacked by all the grenadiers of the Imperial army, supported by four Brandenburger battalions. Narbonne remained unshaken at his post until La Marine Infanterie came to his rescue. On 16 August, the regiment fought in the Battle of Cassano where it was among the units which suffered the most; his colonel, the Marquis de Mirabeau was wounded and taken prisoner at the very beginning of the action, Shortly afterwards, the first battalion took up its winter-quarters at Acqua-Negra; and the second battalion at Canetto.
On 19 April 1706, the regiment took part in the Battle of Calcinato as part of Anjou Brigade. At the end of May, 500 men of the regiment, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel de Narbonne, courageously defended themselves in the Castle of Reggio but were forced to surrender as prisoners of war. The rest of the regiment was employed at the siege of Turin. On 9 September, it took part in the victorious Battle of Castiglione. However, the disaster at Turin forced the French army to retreat to France.
In 1707, the regiment took part in the defence of Toulon. It then went to Dauphiné.
In 1708, the regiment operated in Savoie and in the Maurienne, and took part in the attack on Césanne.
In 1709, the regiment served once more in the Alps.
In 1710, the regiment was transferred to the Army of Flanders where it was brigaded with Alsace Infanterie.
In 1711, the regiment, now designated as Gensac, was at the attack on Arleux.
On 24 July 1712, the regiment fought in the Battle of Denain where its new colonel was wounded.
In 1713, the regiment was transferred to the Rhine where it took part in the sieges of Landau and Freiburg.
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. 417-422
Jean-Louis Vial for additional information on the successive colonels of the regiment.