The army of the Duchy of Savoy is designated under several names in the literature. We've retained the term “Savoyard Army”. This army can also be designated as the “Savoyan Army” or the “Piedmontese Army”. In the case of the latter term, it is quite limitative since Piedmont was only a part of the estates of the Duke of Savoy. This army was almost entirely recruited in the region of Piedmont.
In Italian, this army is interchangeably designated as the “Armata Sabauda” or “Esercito Piemontese.”
At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, the theoretical force of the Savoyard Army consisted of 14,742 men (of which 2,864 where cavalry). These figures should be diminished by about 25% to take sickness and desertion into account. So the real strength was more around 12,000 men.
Several regiments were captured by the French at San Sebastiano on 29 September 1703. At the end of 1704, the hastily rebuilt army could already field 12,000 foot and 3,685 horse! The latter being in an even better condition than in 1703 when it counted only 2,864 men.
Guardie del Corpo (4 companies in 2 sqns)
Archibugieri della Porta
In 1701, the line infantry of the Reggimenti d'Ordinanza Nazionale comprised:
Piedmontese Battalion (1667-1703)
The Piedmontese Battalion was a militia raised by Duke Carlo Emanuele of Savoy in 1667. Despite its name, it comprised 12 regiments raised among peasants and villagers.
In 1703, the Piedmontese Battalion was reorganised in Provincial Militia. Each of the 12 regiments consisting of a single battalion.
Reggimenti di Milizia Scelta (1704- )
In 1704, the Provincial Troops (except Tarantasia which would be disbanded in 1705) were reorganised in 8 regiments (each consisting of a single battalion of 11 fusilier coys of 50 men each, and 1 grenadier coy of 50 men) who took the name of their respective colonel. These regiments were designated as Reggimenti di Milizia Scelta (regiments of picked militia). In fact, despite their designation as militia, they were actually real infantry regiments, well equipped, dressed and drilled and not a simple militia. They gathered annually for 15 days to practice drill.
After the capture of most veterans of the Savoyard Army by the French at San Sebastiano on the Po on 29 September 1703, the Duke of Savoy enforced a general conscription (something very new for the epoch, some 180 years before the levée en masse of the French Revolution). All male between 18-60 years old had to join the army for a period of 4 years! With these measures the duchy reconstituted the Reggimenti d'Ordinanza Nazionale (line infantry) as well as the Reggimenti di Milizia Scelta (militia). Both types of units had the same level of drill. The army suffered from a huge desertion rate, but the Piedmontese part of the Duchy answered very proudly to the call of Victor Amadeus II. Furthermore, a large number of the prisoners taken at San Sebastiano managed to escape from the Spanish prisons in the Duchy of Milan and to rejoin the army. As per a miracle, by 1704, the Savoyard Army had been completely reconstituted.
Foreign Infantry Regiments
The Reggimenti di Ordinanza Straniera (foreign regiments) consisted of:
- Reggimenti di Fanteria Svizzera (Swiss Infantry Regiments)
- Reggimenti di Fanteria Alemanna (German Infantry Regiments)
- Schulembourg Infantry
- Fridt Infantry
- Desportes Infantry a mixed regiment consisting mainly of French deserters
- Reggimenti di Fanteria Religionaria (Protestant Infantry Regiments)
- Dumeyrol Infantry
- Cavalier Infantry
- Valdese Battalion (Waldensian Infantry), raised in 1703
In 1701, the cavalry of the Reggimenti d'Ordinanza Nazionale comprised:
Amoretti, Guido: Il Ducato di Savoia dal 1559 al 1713, Tomo II
Boeri, Giancarlo, Roberto Vela and Robert Hall: The Army of the Duke of Savoy - 1688-1713, 2012
Boeri, Giancarlo and Roberto Vela: Le prime uniformni dei dragoni dell'esercito del Duca di Savoia 1683-1706 in Annales Sabaudiae no. 2, Edizioni Gioventura Piemonteisa, 2005
Bona, Federico: Bandiere e uniformi Sabaude
Brancaccio, Nicola: L'esercito del Vecchio Piemonte 1560-1859, Rome: Stabilimento Poligrafico del l'Amministrazione della Guerra, 1922
Brignoli, Marziano: Savoye Bonnes Nouvelles – La Storia del Reggimento Savoia Cavalleria 1692-1975, Edizioni Mursia
Cavalieri, Giorgio: Uniformi Piemontesi 1671- 1798, L'Arciere - 2004 - Riva di Chieri (Torino)
Cerino Badone, G.: Le aquile ed i Gigli, Torino: Omega Edizioni, 2007
Fiorenti, Fabio: A me i miei dragoni, Gaspari Editore, Udine, 2006
Mola di Nomimaglio, Gustavo with Roberto Sandri Giachino, Giancarlo Melano, Piergiuseppe Menietti: L'esercito ducale sabaudo nel 1706. Organizzazione, uniformi, bandiere., Turin: Centro Studi Piemontesi, 2006
Pelet and Vault: Mémoires militaires relatifs à la Succession d'Espagne sous Louis XIV, Vol. 1 pp. 596-602
Puletti, Rodolfo and Franco dell'Uomo: Piemonte Cavalleria, Reggimento "Piemonte Cavalleria" - 1992
Puletti, Rodolfo: Caricat! Tre secoli di storia dell'Arma di Cavalleria, Bologna: Edizioni Capitol, 1973
Puletti, Rodolfo: Genova Cavalleria 1683–1983, Padova: Editoe Giuseppe de Stefano, 1983
Ricchiardi, Enrico: Bandiere e Stendardi dell'Esercito Sardo 1713 - 1802, Regione Piemonte 2006
Il Reggimento di Cavalleria Nizza (1690–1890), Milano: Editore Hoepli, 1890
Michele Savasta Fiore for information on the Savoyard Army