Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Royal-Bombardiers
Origin and History
In 1676, Louis XIV raised two permanent companies of Bombardiers to serve bombards and siege pieces. Similarly, in 1679, a first company of miners (Le Goulon) was created. All these companies were part of the artillery but were not attached to any regular regiment.
On 28 August 1684, Louis XIV created the “Royal-Bombardiers” regiment, the first real artillery regiment of the French army. It consisted of the two companies of bombardiers of Vigny and Camelin and of ten other companies taken from Piémont Infanterie, Navarre Infanterie, Champagne Infanterie, La Marine Infanterie and Fusiliers du Roi who all contributed two companies.
In 1686, the new regiment was increased to 15 companies.
In 1688, at the outbreak of the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment took part in the sieges of Philisbourg, Mainz, Mannheim and Frankental. In 1689, it was at the defence of Mainz; in 1690, at the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, at the siege of Mons; in 1692, at the siege of Namur and the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, at the siege of Charleroi; and in 1697, at the siege of Ath.
By 1695, the regiment consisted of 15 companies, each of 55 men. A second miner company (Esprit) was raised.
In 1699, the company of miners previously belonging to Le Goulon became the property of M. de Vallière.
By 1701, the unit counted 1 battalion of 10 companies, each of 50 men; and 2 additional companies of miners, each of 55 men.
In November 1705, a third company of miners (Mesgrigny), which had been formed as an independent company in 1673, was incorporated in the regiment.
In February 1706, the regiment was increased to 2 battalions for a total of 26 companies. Furthermore, a fourth miner company was created during the siege of Turin. Each of the 4 companies of miners counted between 60 and 120 men.
By 1710, the regiment counted 80 officers and 1,300 soldiers, excluding the 20 officers and 340 men of the companies of miners.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, King Louis XIV was the nominal colonel of the regiment but its effective commanders (colonel-lieutenant) were:
- from 28 August 1684: Jean-Baptiste de Vigny
- from 1706: Louis Camus, Chevalier Destouches
The unit was disbanded on 5 February 1720 and incorporated in Royal-Artillerie.
Service during the War
In 1701, the regiment was attached to the army serving in the Low Countries. At the beginning of October, it was posted at Tirlemont. It took its winter-quarters in Malines.
By 22 April 1702, the regiment was stationed in Upper Guelderland. As of September 10, it counted 540 men. It took its winter-quarters in Douai.
In 1703, the regiment served once more in the Low Countries.
From 1706, the first battalion served in Flanders and on the Rhine, while the second campaigned in Italy and Spain.
The blue uniform was adopted only in 1722.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced white with a white cockade|
|Coat||grey-white with blue lining; white buttons on the right side and 1 white button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||red with white buttons|
|Stockings||red fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap|
|Gaiters||none at the beginning of the war, white later|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt).
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.
Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross spangled with golden fleurs de lys.
Ordonnance Colour: white cross spangled with golden fleurs de lys; each canton composed of red and blue triangles
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. 178-201
- Susane, Louis: Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française, J. Corréard, Paris, 1849-1856, Tome 8, pp. 214-215
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Jean-Pierre Loriot for the initial version of this article