Gardes Lorraines

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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 numbering 30 companies, it joined the court which 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 eight 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 ten 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 colours. 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 the order to increase his regiment to 16 companies. The prince proposed to M. de Sallières to incorporate his own colonel company into 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 July 18, 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.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), 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 1702, the field battalion was sent to Northern Italy where it took part in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1703, it participated in the expedition in Tyrol; in 1704, in the capture of Vercelli and Ivrea and in the very difficult siege of Verrua; in 1705 in the combat of Moscolino and in the Battle of Cassano; in 1706, in the Battle of Calcinato, in the siege of Turin, in the Battle of Turin and (only a detachment) in the Battle of Castiglione; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde and in the Engagement of Wijnendale; in 1709, in the Battle of Malplaquet; in 1711, in the attack on Arleux; in 1712, in the relief of Landrecies and in the capture of Douai, Le Quesnoy and Bouchain; and in 1713, in the siege and recapture of Landau and Freiburg.

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

In 1744, Perche Infanterie was disbanded and amalgamated into the newly raised Gardes Lorraines Regiment (raised by the king of Poland on April 6, 1740) as its first battalion. By this amalgamation, the new regiment inherited the rank of the former Perche Regiment. During peace time, the regiment was attached to the service of the king of Poland but during wartime, it was in the French service.

In 1744, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment served in the Alps and took its winter-quarters in Aix-en-Provence. In 1745, a battalion of the regiment took part in the capture of Montezemoto and then remained at Millesimo to protect the left flank of the French Army which had launched an offensive on the coasts of Provence and Genoa. At the beginning of 1746, the regiment was present at the Siege of the Fortress of Alexandria in Italy. On March 5, it quitted Alexandria to make a junction with Maillebois' Corps. On March 19, the regiment was at Pozzol-Formigaro and counted 952 men. On June 16, it suffered heavy losses (8 captains and 3 lieutenants wounded; 75 soldiers killed and 107 soldiers wounded) at the Battle of Piacenza. On August 10, the regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Rottofreno, suffering heavy casualties once more 1 officer killed, 12 wounded and 5 taken prisoners; 280 soldiers missing and 187 wounded). On August 23, the French Army crossed the Apennine Mountains near Voltaggio. By November 24, the regiment was in Grasse, counting only 361 men. From May 20 to 22 1747, the regiment left its winter-quarters in Montpellier and Nîmes to join a French force on the Var River on June 8. On September 20, an ordonnance prescribed the creation of a third battalion which was raised at Vienne on October 24. On November 6, exchanged prisoners arrived at Vienne to form the backbone of this new battalion. On March 1 1748, the three battalions of the regiment assembled at Vienne. On April 23, the two first battalions then marched to join the French army of Italy in June. Meanwhile, on June 4, the third battalion marched from Vienne towards Toulon where it arrived on June 22. At the end of the war, the third battalion was disbanded.

On January 2, 1749, the regiment arrived at Lunéville where it acted as guards at the court of King Stanislas.

On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted two battalions and had prévôté (provostship).

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment ranked 30th and was under the nominal command of:

  • from February 26, 1746: Prince de Beauvau
  • from September 14, 1760 to March 20, 1774: Louis-Bruno de Boisgelin, Comte de Cucé

In 1763, the regiment returned to Lunéville and Metz.

On February 23, 1766, after the death of Stanislas Leczinski King of Poland, the regiment took the name of the province of Lorraine.

Service during the War

Private of the Gardes Lorraines - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

On March 4, 1757, four companies of Royal Roussillon Infanterie were sent to Lunéville to guard the King of Poland. They were replacing the detachment of Gardes Lorraines who joined the rest of the regiment at Metz in the army of the Lower Rhine. At the end of June, the regiment was encamped at Bielefeld with d'Estrées' main corps. After the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, it followed the main body, led by the Maréchal de Richelieu, which encamped at Halberstadt from September 28 to November 5. In this camp, the regiment was placed in the centre of the first line. At the end of the year, it took its winter quarters in the third line of the French Army in Hoya.

On January 10, 1758 at 11:00 p.m., the Chevalier de Beauvau at the head of 400 men (including the 2 grenadier companies of his regiment) drove back a Hanoverian outpost in the village of Ritterhude, located at 2.5 km from it own quarters in Burgdamm. On January 16, the regiment took part in the occupation of Bremen. On January 24, it left Bremen and marched to Hoya. By February 1, the regiment could field 54 officers and 826 soldiers; meanwhile 3 staff officers, 81 officers (including 12 captains), 13 lieutenants and 20 soldiers were on furlough; and 385 soldiers were at hospital. In February, during the winter offensive of Ferdinand of Brunswick, the regiment guarded the bridge on the Weser at Hoya asssisted by the grenadiers and 100 fusiliers of Bretagne Infanterie, and 100 men of Mestre de Camp Général Dragons. On February 23, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick launched an attack on Hoya. The Gardes Lorraines suffered heavy losses. By the end of February, the remnants of the regiment had taken refuge in Nienburg and counted 6 captains, 2 captains in second, 2 aides-majors, 8 lieutenants, 7 sergeants, 102 men and 3 colours. On March 2, these troops entered into Minden, which was soon attacked by an Allied Corps led by General Kilmansegg. On March 15, the garrison of Minden surrendered without opposing any serious resistance. However, the captured battalion was soon exchanged. In April, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was placed in the third line at Gooch. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by Ferdinand's army on May 31, the regiment did not join Clermont's Army at Rheinberg but was rather sent back to Thionville to replenish its ranks. By June 12, the regiment was at Saarburg and by June 14 at Sierck, reaching Thionville on June 15. On October 6, it arrived in Nancy. On October 7, a detachment assumed once more the guard of the King of Poland in Lunéville.

On March 18, 1759, the regiment was sent to the coasts of Normandy. Once more, four companies of Royal Roussillon Infanterie replaced them as guards at Lunéville. The regiment assumed garrison duty at Le Havre. On July 4, along with the III./Corps Royal de l'Artillerie – de la Pelleterie, the regiment endured the bombardment of Le Havre by a British squadron,

From 1761 to 1763, the regiment served once more in Germany under the Prince de Soubise.

By June 1, 1761, the regiment was attached to the Army of the Lower Rhine. On July 4, the grenadiers and chasseurs of the regiment took part in the attack against the mill and castle of Schafhausen. On July 17, the regiment was present at the Battle of Vellinghausen. By July 25, it had been allocated to du Muy's Corps.

For the campaign of 1762, the regiment was allocated to the Army of the Upper Rhine. By June 21, it had been allocated to a corps under the command of Prince Xavier to cover Witzenhausen and Münden and prevent Allied incursions into Hesse. By July 12, the regiment was posted in Deiderode. In mid-December, when the French army evacuated Germany, the regiment was directed on Landau.



Uniform in 1758 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
Etat militaire 1758, 1760 and 1761,
La Chesnaye in 1759 and Abrégé du Dictionnaire Militaire 1759
Musketeer black tricorne laced silver with a black cockade
Grenadier black tricorne laced silver with a black cockade
Neckstock black
Coat blue laced and lined white
Collar blue laced white
Shoulder Straps white aiguillette
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs blue, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat white
Breeches white
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box natural leather
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard n/a

Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Fusiliers carried a sword (brass hilt) while the grenadiers had a sabre.




Drummers of this regiment wore the livery of the duke de Lorraine and Bar, one of the titles of king Stanislas Leczinski since 1736. This livery consisted of a yellow field with a lace of a similar pattern to the King's livery. The lace itself was black bordered white with yellow patterns over the black background. The cuffs and turnbacks were black.


The colonel flag was white with a white cross. The ordonnance flags worn by the company of the colonel in second had a white cross with a royal crown in the centre and five eaglets on each branch, its 1st and 4th quarters were yellow and its 2nd and 3rd quarters black.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Ordonnance Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf


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

Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a very interesting website which has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Mouillard, Lucien: Les Régiments sous Louis XV, Paris 1882

Pajol, Charles P.V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Vial, J.L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

V., General: L'infanterie lorraine sous Louis XV - I. - Régiment des Gardes Lorraines, in Les Carnets de la Sabretache, Vol. 2, 1894, pp. 40-48, 128-140, 193-202, 445-455, 575-590