Perche Infanterie

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

Origin and History

This Piedmontese regiment initially served as auxiliary in the French Army until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in November 1659. It had been raised in April 1644 by Thomas Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy, prince of Carignan. It was known as “Carignan” and counted 1,000 men.

In 1645, the regiment took part in the siege of Vigevano and in the combat of Mora; in 1646, in the expedition of Orbitello. In 1647, it remained stationed in Trino in Piedmont. In 1648, it was sent to Casale.

In 1649, the regiment was recalled to France to face the troubles of the Fronde (1648-1653). It served in Guyenne where it remained until 1652. In 1652, then counting 30 companies, it joined the court who had taken refuge behind the Loire River. Under the command of Turenne, it accompanied Louis XIV to Paris and took part in the Battle of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. In October the 8 first companies returned to Piedmont soon followed by the 22 others. The entire regiment took its winter-quarters in Dauphiné.

In 1653, in the continuation of the Franco-Spanish War, the regiment took part in the combat of La Roquette on the Tanaro and had its winter-quarters in the Saint-Martin Valley. In 1655, it was at the siege of Pavia; in 1656, at the siege of Valencia; and in 1658, at the siege of Mortare.

After the Treaty of the Pyrenees, in November 1659, The Prince de Carignan gave his regiment to Louis XIV. The unit thus officially joined the French Army but was reduced to 10 companies.

In May 1665, the ten companies of the regiment (a total of 1,000 men) were sent to La Rochelle to embark for Canada along with a German regiment known as “Balthazard”. The Prince de Carignan did not accompany his regiment to Canada and the troops taking part in the expedition were placed under the command of M. de Balthazard. In fact, these troops were assembled in a sort of temporary unit known under the name of “Carignan-Balthazard” who kept two colonels coulours. The colonel company issued from “Carignan Infanterie” ranked first. M. de Balthazard died the same year and was replaced by M. de Sallières, formerly first captain of “Balthazard Infanterie”. The composite unit was thus renamed “Carignan-Sallières”. This regiment became the first regular regiment in the pay of the state to cross the Atlantic and to campaign in America.

Upon its arrival in Québec, the regiment was immediately involved in an expedition against the Iroquois tribes of Lake Champlain. Under the supervision of Captain La Mothe, men of the regiment erected Fort Sainte-Anne in an island on the lake. In October 1666, 600 men of the regiment joined a force under M. de Tracy, also including 1,200 colonists and Algonquin Indians. This expedition set off from Fort Sainte-Anne to destroy Iroquois villages. It sailed southwards on Lake Champlain and before entering into Lake Saint-Sacrement (present-day Lake George), it built a small fort near the falls separating the two lakes. M. de Sallières was left behind in this fort with four companies of the regiment. Meanwhile, the expedition continued its advance through dense forests, destroying Iroquois villages. By 5 November, the expedition was back to Québec. In June 1668, the two colonel companies (each of 60 men) arrived at La Rochelle while the soldiers of the other companies remained in Canada and joined the colonists.

From 1668 to 1671, the two colonel companies were maintained independently.

In 1671, as war with the Dutch Republic looked unavoidable, the Prince de Carignan received to order to increase his regiment to 16 companies. The prince proposed to M. de Sallières to incorporate his own colonel company in the regiment and to assume the charge of colonel-commandant. M. de Sallières accepted the offer and the regiment adopted the name of “Carignan-Sallières Infanterie”. Until 1718, this regiment exceptionally carried two colonels colours.

In 1672, at the outbreak of the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment assumed garrison duties in Courtrai until 1674, when a few companies were sent to Sicily where they took part in the defence of Castellazo. In 1675, the bulk of the regiment was transferred from Courtrai to Huy. In 1676, it evacuated Huy after razing the fortifications and went to Philippeville to assume garrison duties. On 18 July 1676, the regiment became the property of Louis-Thomas de Savoie, Comte de Soissons, a nephew of the Prince de Carignan and father of the famous Prince Eugène de Savoie. The regiment took the name of “Soissons Infanterie”. M. de Sallières, resigned from his charge of colonel-commandant. In 1677, the regiment took part in the sieges of Valenciennes, Cambrai and Saint-Ghislain. In 1678, it was at the capture of Ghent and Ypres before taking the road towards Alsace where it participated in the conquest of Kehl. In 1679, it campaigned on the Rhine.

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

In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine and participated in the capture of Philisbourg, Mannheim and Frankenthal. In 1689, it campaigned in the Netherlands and fought in the combat of Walcourt and in the combat of Gerpines. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. In December of the same year, Louis XIV, displeased with the Comte de Soissons, took away his regiment and changed its name to “Perche Infanterie”. In 1691, the grenadiers of the regiment distinguished themselves at the siege of Mons and their sergeants obtained the privilege to carry forks. The same year, the regiment took part in the bombardment of Liège before being transferred to the Rhine. In 1692, it campaigned once more on the Rhine. In 1693, it was transferred to the Army of the Alps where it fought in the Battle of Marsaglia. It later took part in the attack on the Castle of Martignana. In 1696, it participated in the siege of Valencia and was then transferred to the Army of the Rhine.

At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since 31 December 1690: Joseph de Robert, Marquis de Lignerac
  • from July 1705: N. Cotteron
  • from 27 October 1706 until 15 March 1718: Claude, Marquis de Céberet

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was increased to two battalions. However all order of battles mention only one battalion, the second battalion might have assumed garrison duties somewhere. In May, this battalion was attached to the Army of the Rhine under the command of the Maréchal de Villeroy. In June, this battalion formed part of the corps destined to the Moselle. It took its winter-quarters in Toul.

In January 1702, one battalion of the regiment was sent to Northern Italy where it was attached to an observation corps under the command of the Prince de Vaudémont. On 15 August, it took part in the Battle of Luzzara where it fought alongside Piémont Infanterie. It was nearly annihilated during the fourth charge of the Imperialists. M. de Lignerac, it colonel received a severe wound at a shoulder.

In 1703, the regiment was attached to Vendôme's Army for its expedition in Tyrol. However, on the way, the regiment was left at Desenzano to guard the magazines and protect the lines of communication. In July, an order of battle specifies that the battalion serving in Italy was the first battalion, reinforcing the hypothesis that the second battalion had been left in garrison somewhere in France or in the Spanish Netherlands. The first battalion took its winter-quarters in the region of Monferrato.

In 1704, the regiment took part in the capture of Vercelli and Ivrea and in the very difficult siege of Verrua which lasted till April 1705.

In 1705, after the capitulation of Verrua, the regiment was attached to the corps under the command of the Grand-Prieur de Vendôme. On 31 May, the regiment distinguished itself, along with Limousin Infanterie at the combat of Moscolino where it lost 2 officers and 27 soldiers killed or wounded. It then joined the main army prior to the Battle of Cassano, fought on 16 August. In this battle, the regiment was placed in the centre of the line where Prince Eugène made his main effort, thus inflicting heavy casualties to the regiment. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters at Rivoli d'Isorflo.

On 19 April 1706, the regiment distinguished itself in the Battle of Calcinato where it formed part of the reserve behind the right wing who, alone, supported the shock of the enemy. The French cavalry of the right wing was broken and put to flight by the charge of the Imperialist squadrons. The right flank of the French army was now wide open. Suddenly, Perche Brigade, under the command of Colonel Cotteron, advanced in the open against the Imperialist cavalry, stopping it and allowing the Duc de Vendôme to rally his broken squadrons and to launch a charge. The regiment then joined the French forces besieging Turin where it was posted between the Doire and the Stura. On 7 September, it fought in the disastrous Battle of Turin where his colonel, M. de Cotteron was killed in action. On 8 September, a detachment of the regiment took part in the Battle of Castiglione. Now reduced to only 336 men, the regiment repassed the Alps.

In March 1707, the regiment was transferred to the Army of Flanders and remained cantoned around Commines for a while.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, covering the retreat of the Gendarmerie. It was then attached to the corps of the Comte de La Mothe. On 28 September, the regiment distinguished itself in the Engagement of Wijnendale. A few days later, it attacked 1,600 men encamped at Hondscoote, driving them back in an enclosed field where they were forced to surrender. In this action, the regiment captured 1 general officer, 80 officers, 12 colours and 6 standards.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment took part in the Battle of Malplaquet where its brigade was among the three brigades led by Villars in an attempt to re-establish his left wing. During the assault, Villars was wounded. The regiment then retired in good order, covering the retreat of the artillery.

In 1710, the regiment campaigned in Flanders once more.

In 1711, the regiment took part in the attack on Arleux.

In 1712, the regiment came to the relief of Landrecies which had been invested by the Allies. It then took part in the siege and capture of Douai and in the capture of Le Quesnoy and Bouchain.

In 1713, the regiment was sent to the Rhine. It first took part in the siege and recapture of Landau where it took part in the assault on the counter-guards. It then marched on Freiburg. The Imperialist General Vaubonne was covering the approaches of Freiburg from his entrenched camp on the heights of Roscoff. The brigade of the regiment was charged to attack the strongest side of these entrenchments. The Colonel de Céberet stormed the barricades at the head of his grenadiers. When Freiburg surrendered, the regiment was assigned to the garrison of the place. On 25 December, it was sent to Württemberg where it stormed an entrenched camp before returning to Freiburg with 400 prisoners, harassed by the Imperialist light cavalry.

In 1714, the regiment evacuated Freiburg and returned to France where it was reduced to a single battalion.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1710 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Susane, Rousselot, Lienhart & Humbert, Marbot, Funcken
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced silver with a white or a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced silver with a white or a black cockade
Neck stock white
Coat grey-white with red lining; pewter buttons on the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps grey-white fastened with a pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets double vertical pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons (single vertical pockets in 1720)
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat red with pewter buttons (grey-white as per Lienhart & Humbert)
Breeches red (grey-white as per Lienhart & Humbert)
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

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 (exceptionally, this regiment carried two such colours, one in each of its most senior companies).

Ordonnance Colour: a white cross; each canton subdivided in a red and a blue triangles.

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 5, pp. 236-249, 254

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"‎

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

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