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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 Solothurn, Aargau, Fribourg and Grisons/Graubünden.
In 1672, at the beginning of the Franco-Dutch War (1672-78), the new regiment immediately joined the Army of the Netherlands and took part in the siege of Doesburg, in the combat of Woerden and in the capture of Utrecht where he remained in garrison. In November 1673, the regiment left Utrecht for Nijmegen and Wesel. In 1674, it fought in the Battle of Seneffe. In 1675, it took part in the capture of Liège and in the covering of the sieges of Dinant, Huy and Limbourg; in 1676, in the sieges of Landrecies and Condé and in the covering of the sieges of Bouchain, Saint-Ghislain and Aire; in 1677, in the siege of Cambrai and Saint-Omer, in the Battle of Cassel and in the capture of Saint-Omer and Saint-Ghislain; and in 1678, in the siege of Ghent and Ypres and in the Battle of Saint-Denis.
In 1684, the regiment covered the siege of Luxembourg.
In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the first battalion of the regiment fought in the Combat of Walcourt. In 1690, the entire regiment took part in the Battle of Fleurus; in 1691, in the siege of Mons; in 1692, in the siege of Namur, in the Battle of Steenkerque and in the capture of Furnes; in 1693, in the capture of Huy, in the Battle of Landen and in the siege of Charleroi. After the capture of Charleroi, the four battalions of the regiment were posted at Landrecies, Valenciennes, Maubeuge and Charleroi. In 1695, the regiment defended the Fort La Knocque and took part in the siege of Dixmude and in the bombardment of Bruxelles. In 1696, it was sent to Amiens and Abbeville to protect the coast of Picardie. In 1697, it returned to Flanders where it participated in the capture of Ath.
In 1698, the regiment took part in the training camp of Compiègne and was later reduced to three battalions.
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 17 February 1672: Pierre Stuppa (promoted colonel of the Gardes Suisses in 1685, he kept his regiment which was commanded by the lieutenant-colonel)
- from 17 January 1701 to 13 April 1738: Jost Brendlé
Service during the War
In 1701, the regiment was sent to the Spanish Netherlands. It worked on the Lines of Antwerp and took up its winter-quarters in Roermond.
In 1702, the regiment was present at the cannonade of Peer and at the siege of Trarbach, and then was placed in garrison at Bruges.
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 was sent to Tirlemont and joined d’Artagnan’s Corps (5 Swiss regiments) at the camp of Neerhespen. In May, this corps joined the army of the Marquis de Bermar at Sint-Truiden.
In 1705, the regiment served at the siege of Huy. It was later detached from the Army of Flanders to join the Maréchal de Villars at the camp of Sierck on the Moselle. However, it was soon recalled to the Netherlands where it guarded the lines from Alzème to Namur. It spent the winter at Namur.
At the beginning of 1706, the regiment was sent to the relief of Fort-Louis on the Rhine. When it returned to Flanders, its 1st and 3rd battalions were thrown into Mons and its 2nd battalion into Ath; furthermore, 200 men were detached from Mons to guard Termonde. This detachment as well as the 2nd battalion were taken prisoners by the Allies. Captain Iseling and Lieutenant Husy had been killed while defending Ath. The 2nd Battalion was reorganised in Landrecies the same year.
In 1707, the regiment was detached from the Army of Flanders to relieve Toulon, besieged by the Allies. At Montélimart, the commander of the regiment was informed that the Allies had raised the siege of Toulon. His regiment was then sent to the Lines of Lauterbourg.
In 1708, the regiment campaigned in Flanders and, on 11 July, it took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. It remained at the camp of Meldert during the siege of Lille and took up its winter-quarters at Mons.
On 11 September 1709, the regiment fought bravely in the Battle of Malplaquet where it supported the efforts of the Piémont Brigade and protected the retreat of the Maison du Roi, acting as rearguard of the army. Captain Geschwind was killed during this retreat. The regiment retired to Douai.
In 1710, the regiment took part in the unsuccessful defence of Douai and then went to Arras.
In 1711, the regiment distinguished itself at the storming of the Fort of Arleux. It was then posted in Valenciennes where it spent the following winter.
On 24 July 1712, the regiment fought in the Battle of Denain and took part in the sieges of Marchiennes, Douai and Le Quesnoy. It then returned to Valenciennes for the winter.
In 1713, the regiment served at the siege of Landau. On 2 July, along with Navarre Infanterie, it drove back a sortie of the defenders. Captain Wickhart and Lieutenants Horner and Ze-Rhym were killed in this action. During the siege of Freiburg, the regiment remained on the left bank of the Rhines in the Lines of the Lauter. After the piece, it was placed in garrison in Metz.
|Coat||garance red with blue lining; pewter buttons on the right side. Blue trimmed buttonholes on the left side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||blue with 12 pewter buttons arranged 2-2-2-2-2-2|
|Stockings||white 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) while the grenadiers had a sabre.
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The following colours were used from 1701 to 1738.
Colonel Colour: white field with a white cross; motto “Te Certa Per Salus” in the branches of the cross; centre device consisting of a Madonna carrying her son
Ordonnance Colour: a white cross; each canton carrying 7 flames (red, yellow, white, red, white, yellow, red).
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. 320- 327
Lemau de la Jaisse, P.: Abregé de la Carte Générale du Militaire de France, Paris, 1734, p. 115
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