Navarre Infanterie

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

Origin and History

A Protestant unit was created in 1558 from the old Bandes de Guyenne who were recruited in the region of the Garonne River. It was initially named after his colonel: M. du Tilladet. In November 1562, at the death of the King of Navarre, Antoine de Bourbon, the regiment was assigned to guard his son, Henri de Navarre. Somewhere between 1568 and 1570, it became known as the Garde du Roi de Navarre (King of Navarre's Guards).

This regiment took rank in the French army only in 1589 when Henri de Navarre was crowned King of France as Henri IV. However, it was desiganted by the name of its colonel. It's only on 22 March 1594 that the regiment took the name of "Navarre". In 1591, it was at the sieges of Chartres and Rouen. In 1594, it accompanied Henry IV when he entered into Paris and then marched to the relief of La Capelle and took part in the siege of Laon. In 1595, the regiment served in Burgundy, taking part in the siege of the Castle of Beaumont and of Dijon and in the combat of Fontaine-Française. Recalled in Picardie, in November it was at the blockade of La Fère. In 1596, it was at the siege of La Fère. In 1597, it took part in the unsuccessful attack on Arras. In 1598, it followed the king at Nantes and took its winter-quarters in Flander. In 1600, the regiment served in Savoy and took part in the capture of Bourg-en-Bresse.

In 1610, during the War of the Jülich Succession (1609-1614), a detachment of the regiment took part in the expedition against Jülich. In 1611, the regiment left Bourg-en-Bresse after dismantling its fortifications.

During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), in 1620, the regiment captured the Castle of Vendôme and then accompanied Louis XIII to Béarn. In 1621, it took part in the sieges of Saint-Jean-Angély, Nérac, Clérac, Montauban and Monheurt. In 1622, it participated in the expedition against Riez Island and then in the sieges of Sainte-Foy, Négrepelisse and Saint-Antonin. The regiment was then sent to Languedoc and took part in the sieges of Bédarieux and Montpellier. The regiment was not involved in any campaign until 1627 when it joined the army destined to lay siege to La Rochelle. In 1629, the regiment served in Savoy where it took part in the storming of the entrenchments of Pas-de-Suze. In 1630, it campaigned in Piedmont where it took part in the capture of Saluces Castle and in the attack on the entrenchments of the bridge of Carignan.

In 1631, twelve companies were sent to Compiègne to guard the queen-mother. In 1632, the regiment was sent to Languedoc. In 1633, it campaigned in Lorraine. In 1634, it took part in the capture of La Mothe and then marched to the relief of Heidelberg. In 1635, it captured of Speyer. In 1636, it was at the siege of Dôle. In 1637, it took part in the sieges of La Capelle and Damvilliers. In 1638, it served in Flander, taking part in the storming of the Castle of Saint-Pol, in the siege of Saint-Omer, in the capture of Renti. It was then transferred to Lorraine. Where it took part in the captures of Blamont and Lunéville. In 1639, the regiment was at the siege of Thionville. In 1640, it was at the investment of Arras. In 1641, it took part in the siege of Aire. In 1644, it was at the siege of Gravelines. In 1645, it took part in the sieges of Cassel, Mardyk, Lencke, Bourbourg, Béthune and Saint-Venant. In 1636, it was at the sieges of Courtrai and Dunkerque and in the capture of Berghes and Mardyk. In 1647, a detachment of the regiment took part in the defence of Armentières. The regiment then was at the siege of Lens. In 1648, it was at the siege of Ypres and took part in the Battle of Lens.

During the Fronde (1648-1653), in 1649, the regiment took part in the attack on Charenton and in the siege of Brie-Comte-Robert. It finished the campaign in Picardie. In 1650, it campaigned in Bourgogne and was at the siege of Bellegarde. In December, it fought in the battle of Rhétel. In 1651, it served in Lorraine and was at the siege of Chasté. It then returned to Bourgogne where the town of Bellegarde had revolted once more.

In 1653, during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the regiment served in Piedmont where it fought in the battle of the Tanaro. In 1654, it took part in the attack on Castella. In 1656, it took part in the siege of Pavia. In 1656, it covered the siege of Valenza. In 1657, it was at the capture of the Castle of Non and at the siege of Alessandria. In 1658, it was at the capture of Casalmajore, at the storming of Castelléone and at the siege of Mortare.

In 1659, after the Peace of the Pyrenees, the regiment returned to France. In 1663, 20 companies of the regiment took part in an expedition to Africa.

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

In 1667, during the War of Devolution (1667–68), the regiment took aprt in the sieges of Berghes, Furnes, Courtrai and Oudenarde.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regimen took part in the siege of Wesel; in the captures of Arnheim, Nijmegen and Utrecht; and in the relief of Wörden. In 1673, it was at the siege of Maastricht and took part in the expedition against Tongres and in the combats of Vizet and Inderdam. In 1674, it fought in the battle of Seneffe where it suffered heavy losses, in the battle of Entzheim and in the combat of Mülhausen. In 1675, it fought in the battle of Turckheim and took part in the siege of Liège and covered the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg. In 1676, it campaigned in Waasland, taking part in the sieges of Condé, Bouchain and Aire, in the relief of Maastricht and in the defence of Philippsburg. In 1677, the regiment was at the sieges of Valenciennes and Saint-Omer, fought in the battle of Cassel, took part in the relief of Charleroi and captured Saint-Ghislain. In 1678, it took part in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres and in the battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1684, the regiment took part in the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1688 at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the first battalion of the regiment served on the Sarre while the second battalion remained in Strasbourg. In 1689, the regiment took part in the incursion in Württemberg. In 1690, it initially campaigned on the Moselle but was transferred to Flander in June and fought in the battle of Fleurus. In 1691, the regiment took part in the siege of Mons. In 1692, the regiment received a third battalion. Its two first battalions took part in the siege of Namur and in the battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, the three battalions of the regiment fought in the battle of Landen (aka Neerwinden) and took part in the siege of Charleroi. In 1694, the regiment was at the camp of Wignamont near Liège. In 1695 and 1696, it saw no major action. In 1697, it took part in the siege of Ath.

In 1698, the regiment was at the camp of Compiègne and went to Metz. In 1699, it was sent to Neuf-Brisach to work at the fortifications.

Navarre 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 14 November 1696: François-Édouard Colbert, Marquis de Maulevrier
  • from 4 April 1706: Gilbert de Chabannes, Marquis de Pionsac
  • from 16 February 1709 till 6 March 1719: Jean, Marquis de Gassion

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was part of the corps assembled at Neuf-Brisach.

In 1702, the regiment campaigned on the Rhine and took its winter-quarters in Strasbourg.

On 25 February 1703, the regiment opened the trenches in front of Kehl. On 6 March, its grenadiers played a decisive role in the success of the assault. Captain Colombet, charged to lead the head of the assault column, seeing enemy fire slackens, seized the occasion and marched to the breach with the grenadiers of Navarre Infanterie and Vermandois Infanterie. They successfully stormed all entrenchments and established themselves in the breach. The fort capitulated the same day and the regiment occupied it. The regiment then retired to Fort-Louis on the Rhine. In August, it joined the army of the Duc de Bourgogne who laid siege to Breisach. On 24 August, the regiment opened the trenches. On 7 September, it occupied Breisach. In October, it was sent to take part in the siege of Landau where, on 17 October, it opened the trenches. On 13 November, during an attack against Landau, the regiment remained under enemy fire for three hours. On 14 November, it was attached to the force who marched against the relief force led by the Prince of Hessen-Kassel. On 15 November, it took part in the Battle of Speyerbach where it was deployed on the right, facing the elite of the Hessian troops, the Gardes du Prince. Lieutenant-Colonel de Pionsac seeing the magnificently dressed troops while his own soldiers were only dressed with smocks (the regiment was waiting for new uniforms) told to his men “Children, let's dress yourself”. The regiment then charged at the point of the bayonet and almost annihilated the Hessian Gardes. After the victory, the regiment returned to the siege of Landau who soon capitulated.

In 1704, the regiment served in Tallard's Corps and suffered greatly at the crushing defeat of Blenheim where it was deployed in the village of Blenheim on the Danube at the extreme right of Tallard's positions. Marlborough concentrated all his efforts on this village. The regiment was captured almost entirely (32 captains, 34 lieutenants, 37 sub-lieutenants, 1,029 sergeants and men). Seeing everything lost, the Lieutenant-Colonel Comte de Pionsac ordered to break all arms, to destroy the drums and to tear and bury all colours. The remnants of the regiment assembled at Nancy and formed two weak battalions.

In 1705, the two weak battalions were sent to Dôle and then to Saverne till the establishement of the camp of Sierk by Marshal Villars. The regiment then participated in Villars' incursions in Germany where he captured the castles of Seltz, Rodern and Hatten. After an exchange of prisoners, the regiment was re-established at its normal strength of 3 battalions and assigned to the garrison of Strasbourg. In November, the three grenadier companies of the regiment were detached and sent to reinforce Berwick who was besieging Nice. These three companies spent winter in this region.

At the beginning of 1706, the regiment was entirely assembled at Strasbourg and attached to Villars' Army. By 7 July, the regiment was at Lauterbourg but it was soon sent to relieve Fort-Louis. It then took part in the storming of the entrenchments of Drusenheim and in the capture of the Marquisat Island. For this latter operation, the regiment was sent in advance to Offenburg. In the night of 19 to 20 July, Lieutenant-Colonel de Barberey embarked with 300 grenadiers distributed in 8 boats. They passed under the fire of the entrenchments of Dalunden Island before reaching Fort-Louis. There, reinforced with 500 grenadiers from various regiments, Barberey disembarked on the small island separating Fort-Louis from the Marquisat Island. Navarre brigade closely followed the grenadiers and after a rude combat they captured the Marquisat Island. Captain Valernot swam across the canal with his grenadiers to establish a bridgehead on the opposite bank. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Lauterbourg.

In 1707, the regiment marched against the Lines of Stollhofen. On 22 May, these lines were forced. On 21 June, it took part in the attack on the entrenchments at Lorch. On 22 June, it fought in an action near Gemunden. On 8 August, the regiment was ordered to march to Provence which had been invaded by Prince Eugène de Savoie. On his way, at Dôle, it received counter-orders and returned to Strasbourg.

In 1708, the regiment campaigned in Flander. On 11 July, it was at the Battle of Oudenarde but was not involved in any combat. During the retreat, it escorted the artillery. On 28 July, the regiment was detached towards Cadzand Island. Taking advantage of the low tide, it penetrated into the island and seized two forts, destroyed Dutch entrenchments, captured 1,200 horses and brought back hostages. In October, the grenadiers of the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Leffinghem. During the siege of Lille by the Allies, the regiment remained at the camp of the Comte de La Mothe and later took its winter-quarters in Berghes.

On 4 July 1709, the regiment, along with Charost and Laonnais regiments, captured the town of Warneton on the Lys. On 11 September, the regiment took part in the bloody Battle of Malplaquet where its brigade was posted on the right wing of the second line where it engaged combat twice after the defeat of the Gardes Françaises. This brave brigade, along with Royal Brigade, managed to drive back the enemy, almost annihilating the regiment of English Guards, and to reach an Allied battery of 12 pieces. They captured 11 colours. However during this time, the French left had yielded and it became necessary to retreat. Navarre acted as rearguard without being molested.

The regiment continued to serve in Flander until 12 June 1711 when it was transferred to the Army of the Rhine.

In 1712, the regiment was recalled to Flander. On 24 July, it took part in the Battle of Denain where it captured 9 guns and stormed an Allied redoubt. Prince Eugène made an unsuccessful attempt to retake the redoubt. The regiment then took part in the sieges of Douai and Le Quesnoy.

In 1713, the regiment was transferred once more to the Army of the Rhine. On 25 June, it opened the trenches in front of Landau. On 2 July, assisted by Auxerrois and Brendlé Suisse, the regiment repulsed a sortie of 200 horse and 400 grenadiers supported by 5 battalions and pursued them to the walls of Landau. The Allies opened a devastating fire on the pursuers, killing captains Pressac, Germanaud, Roshepot and Ladue; and lieutenants Poittiers, Branatant, Saint-Cosme and Machinot. Lieutenant-Colonel de Barberey and many officers were wounded; and 300 men killed of wounded. On 1 August, the grenadiers of the regiment stormed three lunettes. On 22 August, Landau capitulated and the regiment entered into the place. It then covered the siege of Fribourg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Susane and Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced yellow with a white cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced yellow with a white cockade
Neckstock white
Coat white with copper buttons on the right side and 1 copper button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets in the shape of a large escutcheon, each with 9 copper buttons
Cuffs white, each with 5 copper buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with copper 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

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


Colors

Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross sown with golden fleurs de lys and carrying the Arms of Navarre in its centre and at the end of each branch.

Ordonnance Colour: silken feuille morte (dead leaf) field with a white cross sown with golden fleurs de lys and carrying the Arms of Navarre in its centre and at the end of each branch.

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


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. 1-66, 80

Other sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred; Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle