Orléans Infanterie

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

Origin and History

Ensign of Orléans Infanterie circa 171 - Source: adapted from Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française

The regiment is of Italian origins. It initially belonged to the Cardinal Mazarin who, at the beginning of 1642 during the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), had charged the Comte Degli Oddi to raise a regiment for the expedition in Roussillon. The new regiment took part in the siege of Perpignan. In February 1643, 600 men of the regiment took part in the relief of Poligny; the regiment then took part in the siege of Thionville. In 1644, it participated in the capture of several small places in the Duchy of Luxembourg, in the relief of Freiburg, and in the capture of Philisbourg, Worms, Spires and Mainz; in 1645, in the siege of La Mothe. On 11 July of the same year, the regiment was officially incorporated in the French Army under the name of “Mazarin-Italien”. It then took part in the victorious Battle of Nördlingen By 19 May 1646, the regiment counted 9 companies for a total of about 1,450 men. The same year, it took part in the siege of Longwy, in the capture of Mardyk and Dunkerque; in 1647, in the occupation of Câtelet; in 1648, in the siege of Ypres and in the Battle of Lens.

At the end of 1648, the regiment was recalled to France to quench the troubles of the Fronde (1648-1653). In 1649, it took part in the capture of Brie-Comte-Robert and in the siege of Condé; in 1650, in the defence of Mouzon and in the capture of Château-Porcien. In 1651, Mazarin increased his Italian regiment with 3 Corsican companies. Shortly afterwards, Mazarin had to leave France and the regiment was given to Philippe de France, Duc d'Anjou, Louis XIV's brother and, on 24 April, took the name of “Anjou-Étranger”. From then on, the unit started to recruit in France (ten years later there remained hardly a trace of its Italian origins). The same year (1651), the regiment campaigned in Lorraine, participating in the siege of Chasté. In 1652, it was sent to Berry to submit places who had aligned with the Prince de Condé, and captured Montrond.

In 1653, the regiment was transferred to Catalonia where it took part in the siege of Girona and suffered heavily in the Combat of Bordilly. In 1654, it was re-established to 20 companies and participated in the siege of Villefranche and in the capture of Puycerda. In 1655, it took part in the capture of Cap de Quiers; in 1656, in the storming of the Castle of Boraçan; in 1657, in the relief of Urgell. It then continued to serve in Catalonia until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.

In 1660, Philippe de France became Duc d'Orléans and, on 12 April, “Anjou-Étranger” was merged with another regiment raised in 1647 and belonging to Philippe de France and received the title of “Orléans”, a name that it retained during the entire “Ancien Régime”.

During peacetime, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Villers-Cotterets. In 1663, it was reduced to 6 companies. In 1666, it took part in the training camp at Compiègne.

In 1667, when the War of Devolution (1667–68) broke out, the regiment campaigned in Flanders where it took part in the siege of Lille. In 1668, it entered into Franche-Comté and captured Salins

In 1671, the regiment was increased to 30 companies.

In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment campaigned in Holland where it took part in the capture of Zutphen. In 1673, it participated in the reduction of Unna, Kamen and Altena, and in the siege of Maastricht; in 1674, in the conquest of Franche-Comté, in the sieges of Besançon and Dôle, in the Battle of Seneffe, in the combat of Ensheim where it greatly distinguished itself, in the affair of of Mulhausen; in 1675, in the Battle of Turckheim, in the storming of Neuburg, in the Combat of Offenburg, in the Battle of Altenheim, and in the relief of Haguenau and Saverne; in 1676, in the sieges of Condé and Bouchain, in the capture of the Castle of Bouillon and of Marche, and in the relief of Zweibrücken; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Saint-Omer, in the Battle of Cassel, in the affair of Morville, in the Combat of Sainte-Barbe near Metz, in the Battle of Kokersberg, and in the siege and capture of Freiburg; and in 1678, in the storming of the entrenchments at Seckingen, in the Combat of Offenburg, in the storming of Kehl.

After the peace, the regiment was reduced to 10 companies and was stationed in Alsace. In 1679, it took part in the affair of Minden.

By 1681, the regiment was assuming garrison duties in Brisach. It participated in the occupation of Strasbourg. In 1684, it was at the siege of Luxembourg.

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment campaigned in Palatinate. In 1689, the regiment was increased to two battalions and took part in the defence of Mainz. In 1690, it participated in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the siege of Mons and in the defence of the Lines of Espierres; in 1692, in the conquest of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the capture of Huy, in the siege of Château-Picard, in the Battle of Landen, in the siege of Charleroi; and in 1695, in the bombardment of Bruxelles.

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

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the nominal command of the Duc d'Orléans.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was under the effective command of its successive colonels-lieutenant:

  • since 25 July 1699: Louis-Antoine, Marquis de Brancas
  • from 1 January 1706 to 20 November 1722: Joseph de Lesquen, Marquis de La Villemeneust

Service during the War

In mid-February 1701, the regiment was sent to occupy Louvain in the Spanish Netherlands. By mid-March, it was stationed in Venlo in Upper-Guelderland. By 20 July, it was attached to the army of the Maréchal de Villeroy. By October, it was back to Upper-Guelderland. It took its winter-quarters in Kayserwerth.

In 1702, the regiment defended Kayserwerth during 59 days of open trench, one of nicest title of glory of the regiment, distinguishing itself in several sorties. On 21 April, it attacked the sector occupied by the Dutch, killing 200 men and destroying most of their works. While retiring towards the place, the regiment was attacked by the Allied cavalry. The Colonel-Lieutenant Marquis de Brancas received this cavalry fiercely and entered into the place after losing only 3 officers and 50 soldiers during the sortie. On 21 May, the regiment made another successful sortie but suffered more serious losses: Lieutenant-Colonel Lefebvre was dangerously wounded. Finally, the exhausted garrison decided to surrender the place. The regiment was sent to Venlo in Upper-Guelderland to re-established itself. By 10 September, it counted only 500 men in two battalions. In December, it took its winter-quarters in Aire.

After the defence of Kayserwerth, an officer of the regiment who had distinguished itself during the defence of the place, asked to receive the Croix de Saint-Louis. “But you are very young” said Louis XIV. “Sir, one does not live old in your regiment of Orléans” answered the officer who finally obtained his decoration.

In 1703, the regiment was initially posted in Flanders. On 30 June, it took part in the Battle of Ekeren. It was then attached to the corps that M. de Pracontal brought to the Moselle to observe the movements of the Allied army of the Prince of Hesse-Cassel who wanted to force the French to raise the Siege of Landau. On 15 November, the regiment fought in the victorious Combat of Speyerbach. It then took part in the capture of Landau. In December, the regiment set off from Landau to march to Spain where the Duc de Berwick was leading 20 of the best French battalions.

In February 1704, the regiment finally arrived on the frontier of Portugal where it took part in the rapid conquest of Salvaterra, Segura, Idanha-Nueva, Portalegre and Castel de Vide.

In 1705, a detachment of the regiment took part in the unsuccessful siege of Gibraltar. At the end of the year, the entire regiment followed the Duc de Berwick in his march to the Alps where he laid siege to Nice.

In the first months of 1706, the regiment was recalled to Spain where it took part in the siege of Barcelona. On 22 April, after a stubborn combat, it drove a sortie of the garrison back the covert way and took an entire British regiment (Queen's) prisoners after cutting its line of retreat. In this affair, Colonel-Lieutenant La Villemeneust of the regiment was grievously wounded at the head. When the Franco-Spanish raised the siege, the regiment remained in the camp of Espinosa for a while. It then contributed to the capture of Cartagena

On 25 April 1707, the regiment took part in the Battle of Almansa where its two battalions formed the extreme left of the second line behind those of La Couronne Infanterie. During the charge executed against the centre of the Allies, these battalions were taken in flank by a Dutch brigade and forced back. However, this retreat was momentary and the Duc de Berwick came to the rescue with four squadrons. While he was attacking the Dutch on one side, the regiment advanced against the other, penetrated into enemy ranks and hacked them to pieces. Nassau Infantry, who had the reputation of being the best Allied regiment was virtually annihilated. In October, the regiment took part in the siege of Lérida where it shared with Auvergne Infanterie the honour of the sole feat of arms of the siege. Indeed, on 11 October, the grenadiers of these two regiments, supported by Orléans Infanterie, launched an assault in which Captain Dadoncourt was wounded.

In 1708, the regiment contributed to the submission of several small places and then took part in the siege of Tortosa. On 12 June, before the opening of the trench, it stormed with Auvergne Infanterie the entrenched post around the Capucine Monastery. During the siege, it repulsed two sorties and lost 1 captain and 1 lieutenant.

In 1709, there were no significant event on the Spanish theatre of operation and the regiment was sent to Dauphiné.

In 1710, the regiment passed the Rhine and took position in the Lines of the Lauter. It took it winter-quarters in Saverne.

In 1711, the regiment served once more with the Army of the Rhine and was cantoned in Franche-Comté for winter.

On 7 May 1712, the regiment set off for Brisach from where it detached one battalions to guard the Neubourg Island.

In 1713, hostilities intensified on the Rhine and the regiment greatly distinguished itself in the siege of Landau. In the night of 2 to 3 August, it seized a position that the defenders were still occupying in the gorge of the lunette; the garrison made a sortie to recapture this position but was driven back with heavy losses. At this moment a mine exploded, almost burying the regiment and Saintonge Infanterie. Nevertheless, the Colonel-Lieutenant La Villemeneust rapidly assembled the survivors and engaged In hand to hand fighting with the enemy, driving them back to the ditch. In this action, the regiment lost 40 men killed and 10 officers and 118 soldiers wounded. Later the same year, the regiment participated in the defeat of Vaubonne's forces and in the capture of Freiburg.

In 1714, while most units of the French Army were enjoying the newly signed peace, the regiment returned to Catalonia where it took part in the siege of Barcelona. On 11 September, it suffered heavily during the general assault of the place: all its officers to the exception of five were killed or wounded. Among the dead were the Baron de Châtelaillon and Major de Montbrun; M. de La Villemeneust was seriously wounded.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Lemau de la Jaisse, Susane, Rousselot, Lienhart & Humbert, Marbot, Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced gold with a white or black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced gold with a white or black cockade
Neck stock white
Coat grey-white with grey-white lining, copper buttons on the right side and 1 copper button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps grey-white fastened with a copper button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 copper buttons (in the form of an escutcheon with 7 copper buttons in 1720 as per Marbot)
Cuffs red, each with 4 copper buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with copper buttons
Breeches grey-white (red in 1720 as per Marbot)
Stockings red 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

n/a

Officers

n/a

Musicians

Drummers wore the livery of the House of Orléans: red background lined blue, with two white and blue braids bordered by white and red chequered pattern.

Colours

Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross.

Ordonnance Colour: a white cross and blue and feuille morte (dead leaf) opposed quarters. The ordonnance colours remained unchanged from 1660 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 5, pp. 156-173, 183

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. 110

Lienhart, Constant; Humbert, René: Les Uniformes de l'Armée Française de 1690 à 1894, Vol. III, Leipzig 1899 – 1902

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)

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.