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Régiment d'Armagnac
6éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Armagnac)
Rég d Armagnac 1776.png
Regimental colours from formation in 1776 till 1791.
Active 1776–1794
Country  Kingdom of France
 First French Republic
Allegiance King of France
French Nation
Branch  France Army
 France Army
Type Line Infantry
Size 3 Battalions – 2 Line + 1 Militia
Headquarters + Depot Auch, Armagnac
Nickname(s) fr:"Diabolicum" en:"Diabolical"
Engagements

Anglo French War

War of the First Coalition

The Régiment d'Armagnac (Regiment of Armagnac) was an infantry regiment of the French Royal Army which served during some of the major campaigns of the War of the First Coalition until being disbanded in 1794 as a result of the reorganisation of the army the previous year. The regiment's successor, the 6éme Régiment d'Infanterie would see service during the Napoleonic Wars, Conquest of Algeria, June Rebellion, Franco-Prussian War, First World War, Second World War, and Algerian War before disbanding shortly after the later.

Formation[edit | edit source]

When Louis XV reviewed the French Royal Army after the end of the disastrous Seven Years' War, he insisted all regiments be equipped and organised the same way. As a result, all infantry regiments of more than two battalions, with some notable exceptions, were divided. The 1st and 3rd battalions disbanded and reformed the old regiment while the 2nd and 4th battalions formed a new provincial regiment and granted a number of precedence just below the former.[1]

Uniform of the Régiment d'Armagnac under the 1776 uniform regulations, as shown in Digby Smith's Uniforms of the American War of Independence.

One example of a regiment selected to split was the Régiment de Navarre, which itself had just disbanded and reformed the same day to form a new Navarre regiment. The 2nd and 4th battalions of that regiment then separated to form the new Régiment d'Armagnac, named after the historic province part of the modern departments of Gers, Landes, and Lot-et-Garonne.[2]

On formation, the regiment adopted the following uniforms published on 21 May 1776: White jacket, black tricorne with white trim and a bourbon white bow tie, sky blue facings, sky blue lapels, aurora collars, sky blue cuffs, and white buttons.[3][4]

Anglo-French War[edit | edit source]

Caribbean[edit | edit source]

On formation, the Armagnac regiment was already prepared for the upcoming Anglo-French War with the 2nd battalion based in Guadeloupe. The 1st battalion had gone to Calais in June 1776, it then passed from there to Dinan and Saint-Servan in October, in September 1777 to Brest, and there on 9 October embarked for the West Indies and colonies. On 18 December 1778, the two battalions joined together for the first time and took part in the terrible Capture of St. Lucia, where Captain de Villers was killed, Lieutenant Colonel Feydeau de Saint-Christophe, Lieutenant de Servilange, and Second Lieutenant des Ecure

s were wounded.[2]

Siege of Savannah[edit | edit source]

Towards the later end of 1779, the Continental forces were eager to re-take Savannah, Georgia, which was a launch point for many of the British raids in the area. In communication with the Continental Commander, Southern Department/Army Benjamin Lincoln a large raid was to be conducted against the city. As the Jean-Baptiste Charles, Comte d'Estaing arrived with his squadron, a small French ground force joined them. This force consisted of personnel many infantry and colonial regiments, along with a small detachment of artillery. As the squadron neared the city, it was required to stay away due to the local naval batteries and possible heavy artillery, therefore most of the troops disembarked some 5 miles away and marched to join their new American allies.[2][5]

On 15 September the first trenches were dug, and on 24 September they vigorously repulsed an attempted exit by the British. On 9 October they were again attacked, but after a fierce battle, Lieutenants Molard and Nairne de Stanlay were killed, and the French were repulsed and force to re-embark for the West Indies again. Captains Voulan, Grillières, and Bonnier had been seriously wounded also during the course of the short siege.[2]

South Indies[edit | edit source]

After its terrible expedition to Georgia, in 1780, part of the regiment boarded ships of the squadron of Lieutenant Général des Armées Navales Luc du Bouëxic, Comte de Guichen, which had orders to immediately set sail for the West Indies. On 17 April to the leeward of Martinique, the fleet met a force under Admiral George Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, which led to the Battle of Martinique, and ended in a French victory. The squadron then saw two inconclusive actions on 15 May and 19 May 1780, with the battalion still acting as marines. In mid 1780, the squadron was ordered back to France, but the battalion disembarked in Martinique and remained there on garrison duties.[2][4][6]

In 1781, 150 grenadiers and chasseurs embarked on 8 May on with the squadron of the Comte de Grasse, and took part in the successful Invasion of Tobago. Captains Tarragon and Ristainy stood out during the invasion especially.[2]

Battle of the Saintes[edit | edit source]

French and British ships during the Battle of the Saintes, where a detachment of the Armagnac regiment served as marines.

In 1782, an important turn of events unfolded, and a detachment embarked from the first days of the year with Armand, Comte de Kersaint's squadron during the recapture of the Dutch colonies of Demerara (1 February) and Essequibo (5 December). A second detachment under the Comte de Grasse fought during the imfamous Battle of the Saintes of Dominica. Lieutenant La Brosse and Colour-Bearer Dumarchais were wounded on the Languedoc; the Second-Lieutenant Tenneguy on La Couronne, and Captain d'Aymard de Villé was very seriously wounded on the Diadème.[2]

Sainte-Christophe[edit | edit source]

The main part of the regiment contributed to the French Invasion of Saint Christophe, where among those brilliantly cited, included Colonel de Livarot, Lieutenant Colonel Feydcau, Captains Tarragon and de Grillières, Lieutenants Dumont, des Ecures, Charpy, and Descressonnières.[2]

Hudson Bay[edit | edit source]

During the summer of 1782, the renowned French Admiral Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de Lapérouse was preparing a secret, and daring expedition into the heart of British Canada. This small expedition consisted of a ship of the line (74 gun Sceptre), 2 frigates (36 gun ships l'Astrée and the Engageante), along with some 250 elite men from the Régiment d'Armagnac and Auxerrois regiments, along with 40 gunners of the Régiment de Metz (artillery). Fortunately, the expedition arrived in the Hudson bay on 17 July 17, but scarcely had it entered the bay when it was surrounded by ice. The expedition eventually arrived inland on 8 August in-front of the Prince of Wales Fort. in 1782. The fort was manned by only 39 (non-military) men at the time, and the fort's Governor, Samuel Hearne, recognised the numerical and military imbalance and surrendered without a single shot being fired. The French partially destroyed the fort, but its mostly-intact ruins survive to this day.[2][7]

After capturing the Prince of Wales Fort, the expedition re-embarked bound for York Factory, the capital of the Hudson's Bay Company in the area. On 21 August they disembarked yet again, and after suffering incredibly from fatigue it approached the fort and walked through the gates, which were left open and caused from 2 million pounds of damage (equivalent to almost 179 Million in today's currency). On 1 September the expedition re-embarked and remained in the area under the Peace of Paris in 1783, when the forts were handed back to the British.[2][7][8]

Revolution[edit | edit source]

Grenadier of the Régiment de Navarre and Fusilier of the Régiment d'Armagnac in 1789 following the 1779 uniform regulations, just before the French Revolution.

After making a name for itself during the wars in the Colonies, the Armagnac regiment returned to France with an overwhelming sense of pride. On 21 July 1783, they landed in the Lorient, and immediately sent to Thionville to re-train, re-equip and recruit back to its full establishment. Because the regiment had been overseas when the 21 February 1779 ordnance was issued, it didn't gain its new uniforms until it landed back in France in 1793. This new ordnance grouped most of the line regiments into 10 "classes" of six regiments each. The exceptions were the Royal regiments, Regiments of the Princes, and the Régiment de Picardie. Each class was divided further into two "divisions", each of three regiments. In the case of the Armagnac regiment, it was part of the 1st series and 2nd division, and uniformed as follows; white jacket, sky blue facings, sky blue lapels, white cuffs, and white buttons.[2][3][4][9]

They then went to Saarlouis in October 1785, which it left after a few days to move to Saint-Lô and Valognes, where it remained for another two years. On 1 January 1788 they arrived in Lille and formed part of the Saint-Omer camp in September. In June 1789, as the Storming of the Bastille and beginning of the French Revolution occurred, the regiment moved as far of Soissons to help restore order in Paris before it was stopped, and didn't move until May 1790, it was sent to Condé. In October, it moved to Givet and spent the winter there before moving in 1791 to Longwy to assist in the new fortifications being built there. It was here, on 1 April 1791 the regiment was renamed as the 6éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Armagnac), although unofficially the Armagnac title remained until its disbandment in 1794.[1][2][9]

Following the French Revolution, the provisional regulations of 1 April 1791 grouped all regiments minus the foreign regiments into the same uniform category, and the uniform became; white jacket, black facings,black lapels, black cuffs, black trimmed epaulettes, and a black bicorne with the bourbon cockade and white plume.[3][9]

War of the First Coalition[edit | edit source]

On 1 May 1792, the regiment arrived back in Thionville, but only stayed for a short time, for as the War of the First Coalition broke out, the regiment moved to Metz and detached its grenadiers from the 1st battalion to join the new Army of the Ardennes Armée des Ardennes.[2]

1st Battalion[edit | edit source]

The grenadiers of the 1st battalion, now in the Armée des Ardennes, took part in on 23 May during the Battle of Hamptinne, Battle of Florenne, and Battle of Saint-Aubin. After the retreat of the Prussians, the whole of the 1st battalion passed to the Army of the North Armée du Nord and contributed to the decisive Siege of Lille. It then served during the Flanders campaign and the Battle of Neerwinden. In April 1793, the regiment entered the garrison at Condé-sur-l'Escaut, where it was captured following preceding Siege of Condé on 13 July. The regiment was eventually exchanged in 1795, where it then joined the Home Army Armée du Home where the discussion of a new constitution began in Paris leading to insurrection. Under the new constitution, all royalist lineages and attachments were lost, though the 1st battalion was able to escape being amalgamated as the 11éme Demi-Brigade only existed on paper.[1][2][9]

The next year, in 1796, the 1st battalion was finally disbanded when it amalgamated as part of the second round of amalgamations with the 183rd Demi-Brigade, 4th Lot-et-Garonne Volunteers, 6th and 9th Volunteers of the Reserves, 1st Battalion of Manche Volunteers and 4th Battalion of Meuse Volunteers to form the 28éme Demi-Brigade de Deuxième Formation. This demi-brigade would eventually reform the old 28th Infantry, the Régiment de Maine.[1]

2nd Battalion[edit | edit source]

When the 1st battalion joined the Armée du Nord, the 2nd battalion was left in Metz in 1792, but joined in the Defence of Thionville, where Lieutenant Colonel Berthaut was seriously wounded by a bomb on 6 September.[2]

Palatinate Campaign[edit | edit source]

The battalion also contributed to General Adam Philippe, Comte de Custine's Army of the Rhine Armée du Rhin and its conquest of the Palatinate and was garrisoned in Mainz after this successful campaign. After the admirable Defence of the City later that year, the battalion joined remained in the city until the capitulation of the garrison the next year. The Prussians carelessly paroled the garrison on the promise not to fight against the Coalition armies for one year. It was noted that the terms did not prevent the troops from being used to fight the Vendeans, so the parolees were hurried west. These 14,000 well-disciplined soldiers became the unofficially named Army of Mayence under Jean-Baptiste Annibal Aubert du Bayet. They were soon fighting with the Army of the Coasts of Brest under Jean Baptiste Camille Canclaux near Nantes.[2][10]

The battalion remained in the area until the end of the year when it was transferred to the Vendée as the Vendée Insurrection began to explode.[2]

Burning of Granville, Manche, the battle which took place is widely considered the first step in the fall of the Vendée Revolt.

War in the Vendée[edit | edit source]

The battalion arrived in Nancy on 4 August after being transferred from the Rhine, and joined the new Army of the West Armée du l'Oest under François Séverin Marceau. On 23 August the battalion arrived in Saumur and immediately sent in pursuit of the Vendeans who had just crossed over the right bank of the Loire. The regiment then found itself involved in the Battle of Granville, Battle of Pontorson, Battle of Entrames, and Battle of Dol, where it distinguished itself during these actions over its volunteer counterparts. On 12 December the regiment was involved in the Battle of Le Mans and the Légion Germanique couldn't hold the town, but soon reinforced by the Armagnac and Aunis regiments.[2]

Eventually, on 2 January 1794 the battalion took part in the decisive Battle of Machecoul where the Army of Charette Armée de Charette was almost completely destroyed and the vendéens put into a complete route by the republicans. The battalion would continue the pursuit and hunt for the remnants of the Charette army until on 22 April 1792 it amalgamated with the 9th and 12th Manche Volunteer Battalions to form the 12éme Demi-Brigade.[1][2][9]

Eventually in 1796, the 12th Demi-Brigade amalgamated, as part of the second round of amalgamations, with the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 32nd Infantry (Bassigny), depots of the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 37th Infantry (Marécchal de Turenne), 1st battalion of the 82nd Infantry (Saintonge), and 1st Battalion of the Seine Inferieure Volunteers to form the 81st Demi-Brigade de Deuxième Formaiton. This demi-brigade would eventually, in 1803, reform the old 81st Infantry Regiment, formerly the Régiment de Conti.[1]

Garrison Battalion[edit | edit source]

On formation of the Armagnac regiment, there was a Bataillon de Marmande, which formed the garrison of the Armagnac Province. This garrison battalion was composed of militia, and organised into five companies, with its grenadier company separating in 1778 to join the Régiment des Grenadiers Royaux de la Guyenne.[11]

Further Lineage[edit | edit source]

As part of the second round of amalgamations in 1796, the 6éme Demi-Brigade de Deuxième Formation was formed through the amalgamation of the following (in English titles); 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 6th Demi-Brigade, 196th Demi-Brigade, part of the 3rd Paris Battalion of Second Formation, 7th and 10th (Battalion of the Museum) Paris Battalions of Second Formation, 4th Battalion of Volunteers of the Sarthe, and 3rd Battalion of Volunteers of the Eure-et-Loir. In 1803, this demi-brigade was transformed into the 6éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne, and took over the lineage of the old Armagnac regiment.[1]

In 1814, after the first Bourbon Restoration, the regiment was transformed into the 78éme Légion de Tarn, and in 1820 transformed into the 57th Infantry Regiment. On that same date, the 6th Infantry reformed from the old 12éme Légion de Bouches-du-Rhône, and the lineage continued.[1]

Uniforms[edit | edit source]

Regimental uniforms throughout the regiments' history included:

Colours[edit | edit source]

A typical regiment consisted of (until 1791) two colours; Regimental Colours Drapeau d'Ordonnance and the Colonel's Colours Drapeau de Colonel, which the later normally consisted of the bourbon flag (pure white) with a light grey trimmed cross imposed throughout. The Armagnac being from a historic province with strong ties to the monarchy were able to maintain their own distinctive colonel's colours. Their colours were the normal bourbon white cross, but with golden Fleur-de-lis (golden lilles) throughout the cross.

Commanding Officers[edit | edit source]

Unknown officer of the Régiment d'Armagnac in 1779.

Commanding officers of the regiment included:[2]

  • 1776–1779 François Xavier, Comte de Lowendhal
  • 1779–1788 Louis Nicole, Marquis de Livarot
  • 1788–1791 Jean-Baptiste Antoine Marie Hilarious Pacôme, Chevalier de Grimaldi
  • 1791–1791 Jean Baptiste Marie Joseph Florimond de Cappy
  • 1791–1792 Jacques Thomas Lhuillier de Rouvenac
  • 1792–1794 Pierre Clédat

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Susane, Volume I, pp. 306–307, 338, 365, 398, 400, 403.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 Susane, Volume III, pp. 84–91.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lienhart & Humbert, pp. 37, 41, 43.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Smith, Uniforms of the American War of Independence, pp. 174–181, 232.
  5. Savas & Dameron, p. 14.
  6. Hannay, p. 686.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Parks Canada Agency, Government of Canada (2017-03-28). "index - Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site". https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/mb/prince/index. 
  8. "Currency Converter, Pounds Sterling to Dollars, 1264 to Present (Java)". https://www.uwyo.edu/numimage/currency.htm. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Smith, Uniforms of the Napleonic Wars, pp. 42–46.
  10. Phipps, pp. 20–22.
  11. Susane, Volume VII, pp. 280, 292, 302–306.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Louis Susane, Historie de l'Ancienne Infanterie Français, Volume I, 1849 Naval and Polytechnical Military Library of Paris, Paris, France.
  • Louis Susane, Historie de l'Ancienne Infanterie Français, Volume III, 1851 Naval and Polytechnical Military Library of Paris, Paris, France.
  • Louis Susane, Historie de l'Ancienne Infanterie Français, Volume VII, 1853 Naval and Polytechnical Military Library of Paris, Paris, France.
  • Dr. Constance Lienhart & Réne Humbert, The Uniforms of French Armies 1690–1894; Volume 3: The Infantry, Originally published in 1906, re-printed in 2020, Zanica, Italy. ISBN 978-8893275255.
  • Digby Smith, Kevin E. Kiley, and Jeremy Black, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Uniforms of the American War of Independence, 2017 Lorenz Books, London, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-0-7548-1761-1.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Hannay, David (1911) "Guichen, Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, Comte de" in Chisholm, Hugh Encyclopædia Britannica 12 (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press pp. 686, 687 
  • Theodore P. Savas & J. David Dameron, The New American Revolution Handbook, 2010/2011 Savas Beatie LLC, New York City, New York, United States. ISBN 978-1932714937.
  • F. Valentin, Voyages et aventures de La Pérouse. 1839, re-printed 2007, La Rochelle: La Découvrance. ISBN 978-2-84265-513-6.
  • Digby Smith & Jeremy Black, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars, 2015 Lorenz Books, London, United Kingdom. ISBN 978-0-7548-1571-6.
  • Ramsay Weston Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic: Volume III: The Armies in the West 1793 to 1797 and, the Armies in the South 1793 to March 1796, Pickle Partners Publushing, United States of America. ISBN 978-1-908692-26-9.

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