Origin and History
Up to the reign of Louis XIV, to the exception of the Gardes Suisses, no Swiss regiment had been maintained on a permanent basis in the French Army. They usually served for four years before being sent back home and replaced by new units. In 1671, Louis XIV charged Pierre Stuppa, a captain in his Gardes Suisses, to negotiate with the Swiss Cantons the creation and cession of four regiments. Contracts were signed on 14 August of the same year. The four regiment arrived in France at the beginning of 1672 and were admitted in the French service on 17 February. The present regiment had been raised in the cantons of Bern, Schwyz, Luzern, and Graubünden/Grisons.
In 1673, during the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the new regiment took pat in the siege of Maastricht. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1676, it took part in the sieges of Bouchain and Aire; in 1677, in the sieges of Valenciennes and Cambrai; and in 1678, in the sieges of Ghent and Ypres.
In 1684, the regiment covered the siege of Luxembourg.
In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment fought in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. In 1691, the four battalions of the regiment took part in the siege of Mons where one battalion was then left in garrison while the three others fought in the Combat of Leuze. In 1692, the entire regiment participated in the siege of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque and in the bombardment of Charleroi; in 1693, in the capture of Huy, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. In 1696 and 1697, it was stationed at Deynse.
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:
- from 30 September 1692: François de Reynold
- from 25 June 1702 to 4 August 1722: François-Nicolas-Albert de Castellas
In 1715, the regiment returned to Provence where it was reduced to two battalions.
Service during the War
In 1702, the regiment was present at the affair of Nijmegen. It then garrisoned Liège where most of the regiment became prisoners of war in November and was sent to Holland.
At the beginning of 1703, most of the prisoners managed to escape and, in May, the regiment was re-established in Cambrai. It then went to Antwerp where it received arms.
In the winter of 1703-1704, pikes were suppressed in Swiss regiments. Pikemen, who had heretofore wore Swiss uniforms, adopted the same uniforms as the rest of the regiment.
In 1704, the regiment took part in the sieges of Huy and Liège. It then formed part of the camp of Tirlemont before taking position in the Lines of Namur.
In 1705, the regiment spent the year in the Lines of Namur.
On 23 May 1706, the regiment took part in the Battle of Ramillies where it lost 2 officers killed and Lieutenant-Colonel de Bettens wounded.
In 1707, the regiment began the campaign at the camp of Gemblours in Flanders. It was then sent to Provence which had been invaded by the Allies. Upon arrival, it was thrown into Toulon and the siege was lifted ten days later. The regiment followed the retreating Allies up to Nice where it wintered.
In 1708, part of the regiment was stationed at Briançon while the rest operated in the Alps, contributing on 15 August to drive the Allies out of Exiles and of the Argeville Pass.
The regiment remained on this frontier until 1712 under the command of the Maréchal de Berwick, defending the mountain passes from Grenoble to the Var.
At the end of 1712, most of the regiment was at Colmar when it received orders to leave for Catalonia where Girona was seriously threatened.
In January 1713, the regiment contributed to the relief of Girona and then campaigned in Catalonia under the command of the Comte de Fiennes, skirmishing against the migueletes.
In 1714, the three battalions of the regiment took part in the siege of Barcelona where it lost its major and 5 officers killed; and 4 officers wounded. The Lieutenant-Colonel de Bettens, even though seriously ill, asked to be carried to the breach on the day of the final assault.
The 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. 333- 337
Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris, 1882
Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, pp. 198-199