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Dillon's Regiment
The flag of Dillon's Regiment, Irish Brigade of France.
Active 1688 - 1793
Country France
Allegiance  Kingdom of France/King James II
Branch French army
Type infantry
Size One regiment of battalion strength (ca. 685 men)
Motto(s) In hoc signo vinces (In this sign you will conquer)
Colors red, black facing

Nine Years War
War of the Spanish Succession
War of Austrian Succession

American Revolutionary War

Theobald Dillon, 7th Viscount Dillon
Dillon Colonels of the Regiment in France
(1) 1690-1728: Arthur Dillon, ’’Comte de Dillon’’
(2) 1728-1741: Charles, 10th Viscount
(3) 1741-1743: Henry Dillon, 11th Viscount Dillon,
(4) 1743-1745: James, killed at the Battle of Fontenoy
(5) 1745-1747: Edward, killed at the Battle of Lauffeld
hiatus 1747-1767
(6) 1767-1792: Arthur Dillon (1750–1794)

Dillon's Regiment (French: régiment de Dillon) was first raised in Ireland in 1688 by Theobald, 7th Viscount Dillon, for the Jacobite side in the Williamite War. He was then killed at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691.

The regiment went to France in May 1690 as part of Lord Mountcashel's brigade, in exchange for some veteran French regiments. After the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, the regiment remained in the service of the kings of France under its present name.[1] It was next commanded in France by Theobald's younger son, Colonel Arthur Dillon, until 1733.[2] The formation continued to recruit from the Wild Geese Irish exile community. By 1757, its uniform was the Irish Brigade's red coats (a carry over from its Jacobite origins), with the black facings indicating the regiment. A member of the Dillon family remained hereditary colonel-proprietor of the regiment up to 1747. Three caretaker commanders led the regiment until the last Dillon commander was old enough to take over in August 1767, as Louis XV wanted to maintain the link with the family which had given so much service.

File:Dillon 90RI 1786.PNG

Uniform of the Dillon Regiment in 1786

As a part of the Irish Brigade, the regiment covered itself in glory at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745, but suffered heavy losses. It was reinforced by a merger with the régiment de Lally in 1762 and with the régiment de Bulkeley in 1775. From 1777 to 1782, the Dillon regiment fought as part of the French expeditionary force in the American Revolutionary War, capturing Grenada in 1779. It was also involved in the failed Franco-American siege of British-held Savannah in that year.

The Irish Brigade remained loyal to the King at the beginning of the French Revolution and this led to its dissolution in 1791. The constituent regiments lost their traditional titles and uniforms at this time. Along with the other non-Swiss foreign units, the Dillon Regiment was transferred into the regular French Army as line infantry, and given the designation of 87th Line Infantry Regiment before being dissolved as a separate entity in 1793. The second battalion had been destroyed in Saint-Domingue in 1792 and its survivors absorbed into the British Irish Brigade operating in the Caribbean. Its first battalion then became the 157th Line Infantry Regiment and the reconstituted second battalion the 158th Line Infantry Regiment. Arthur Dillon, the last colonel of the French regiment was guillotined in 1794 during the Reign of Terror.

Shadow formations[edit | edit source]

(Henry) Dillon's Regiment: Émigré elements of the French regiment passed into William Pitt's British Catholic 'Irish Brigade' in 1794. These consisted of the greater part of the officers who had emigrated from France, and a new raising on the Dillon lands in Ireland. Henry Dillon, a brother of Arthur Dillon was given command of the regiment. However on campaign in Jamaica and Haiti, it had such losses, mainly due to the unhealthy climate, that it was disbanded in 1798. The flags and ensigns were returned to Charles, Lord Dillon, head of the Dillon family in Ireland.[3]

(Edward) Dillon's Regiment: (Edward) Dillon's Regiment of Foot was raised in northern Italy in 1795, by Col. Edward Dillon, formerly of the Irish Brigade in France, to fight for the English in the Mediterranean.[4] It consisted of various foreign troops, and French emigre officers. It was at Minorca (1799–1801), fought with distinction in Egypt (1801), and was then stationed on Malta (1805–1808). At that stage the regiment consisted mainly of 450 Spaniards and Sicilians. Later serving in the Peninsular War, it was part of a provisionally named Roll-Dillon battalion, and consisted predominantly of Swiss troops who refused to serve the French Republic. They served in the Anglo-Italian Division: under General William Clinton at the Battle of Castalla in 1813. This regiment was disbanded in 1814.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Flag of the régiment de Dillon Regimental flag
  2. Burke's Peerage (2003) p.1148, on the Dillon family.
  3. La Marquise de La Tour du Pin, Recollections of the Revolution and the Empire. London: Jonathan Cape, (1921) pp.420-422, on the Dillon Regiment.
  4. René Chartrand, Patrice Courcelle Émigré & foreign troops in British service (1), 1793-1802 (Men at Arms Series). Osprey Publishing, (1999), pp12-13.

See also[edit | edit source]

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