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Régiment du Comte de La Marche
Régiment de Brie
24éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Brie)
Rég de Brie 1775.png
Regimental colours from formation in 1775 till 1791.
Active 1649–1650
Country  Kingdom of France
France Kingdom of France (1791–2)
 First French Republic
Allegiance King of France
French Nation
Branch Kingdom of France Kingdom of France
France Kingdom of France (1792–2)
France French Republic
Type Line Infantry
Size 3 Battalions – 2 Line + 1 Militia
Headquarters + Depot Brie-Comte-Robert

The Régiment de Brie was a line infantry regiment of the French Royal Army which was originally formed in 1649, disbanded the next year, reformed in 1684, disbanded in 1762, and later reformed in 1775. After its third formation, it served during the American Revolutionary War/Anglo-French War, and later the French Revolutionary Wars until amalgamating with two volunteer battalions to form a new demi-brigade. The regiment's successor, the 24éme Régiment d'Infanterie would serve in the modern French Army until 1997 when it was disbanded following the end of the Cold War. It was then reformed as the Bataillon de Réserve Île-de-France, and forms part of the Commandement de la Logistique or Logistics Command as the only fully reserve unit of the French Army.

First Formation (1649)[edit | edit source]

On 10 February 1649 the Régiment de Brie was formed under N. de Jouy but disbanded the next year on 20 January 1650. The regiment was raised, but doesn't seem to have served in the Franco-Spanish War (1635–1659).[1]

Second Formation (1684)[edit | edit source]

Engraving of the Battle of Friedlingen

Reunions & Nine Years' War[edit | edit source]

On 18 September 1684 from companies of the Régiment de Picardie, Colonel Armand de Béthune, Marquis de Charost raised the Régiment de Brie for service in the War of the Reunions. The regiment joined the garrison of Calais in 1687 and took part the next year in the Conquest of the Palatinate during the Nine Years' War.[1]

On 19 July 1690, the Marquis of Charost retired and replaced by the Marquis of Raffetot. The regiment then served in the Rhineland until 1693, and the Army of Italy from 1694 to 1696, then the Army of the Meuse in 1697.[1]

Spanish Succession[edit | edit source]

In 1702, as the War of the Spanish Succession was declared, the regiment took part in the Battle of Friedlingen, and later the Siege of Neuf-Brisach, Siege of Landau, and the Battle of Speyerbach in 1703. In 1704 it transferred to the Army of the Alps and took part in the Siege of Nice in 1705, and the Siege of Turin in 1706. Then, in 1707 took part in the Siege of Toulon, and the next year transferred back to the Army of the Rhine, where it would remained until 1713.[1]

In 1709 the regiment transferred to the command of the song of the previous colonel, N. de Raffetot, and the regimental title remained. In 1726 the regiment's colonel again changed, and placed under the Count of La Marche, and the regimental title became the Régiment du Comte de La Marche while Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume, Marquis de Bellai de La Courbe stood in for a short time as de facto commanding officer until the Colonel came of age.[1]

Polish & Austrian Successions[edit | edit source]

As part of the wider re-organisation of the army in 1727, the regiment gained its permenant title named after its respective province to become the Régiment de Brie. In 1733 as the War of the Polish Succession started, the regiment joined the Army of the Rhine and the next year took part in the Siege of Philippsburg. In 1735 the regiment fought at the Battle of Klausen and in 1739 the Count of Agénois took over as the new colonel.[1]

Engraving of the Battle of Saint Cast, showing the large French force holding off the English invaders.

In 1742 as the War of the Austrian Succession started. the regiment joined the Army of Bavaria under Maurice, Comte de Saxe (Saxony) and took part in the relief of Braunau. In 1743 they participated in the Defence of Egenfeld, and the next year moved back to the Rhine, and in 1744 joined the Army of the Alps where the colonel was seriously wounded during the Battle of Château Dauphin. During the Defense of Asti, the regiment were taken as prisoners of war on 4 March 1746. In June 1747 the regiment was exchanged and recovered their numbers in La Seyne-sur-Mer, moved to Genoa, and remained there until the peace.[1]

On 1 January 1748 the Chevalier of Polignac took over as colonel.[1]

Seven Years' War[edit | edit source]

During the majority of the Seven Years' War, the regiment remained on coastal defence duties in Brittany. In 1758 it took part in the Battle of Saint Cast and the colonel was mortally wounded there, and replaced by the Marquis of Coislin, the final colonel of the regiment. Finally, on 25 November 1762 following the large-scale reduction of the active force, the regiment was disbanded and its traditions and lineage ended.[1]

During the second formation of the regiment, the ordnance flag was of five ordnance sections with red and a diagonal yellow bar in each square. The uniform was a white coat and breeches, red collar, facings, and jacket, small yellow buttons, long pockets with nine three-by-three goose feet buttons, three buttons on the sleeves, and the black tricorne edged in gold.[1]

Third Formation (1775)[edit | edit source]

In 1775, King Louis XVI published the Ordnnance du Roi, concernant l'infanterie Française du 16 Avril 1775, which announced the splitting of seven four battalion regiments into 14 two battalion regiments, 7 of those new. These new regiments would be granted the number of precedence immediately after their predecessor, and their uniform similar until a new ordnance is published. Another one of the major changes was the establishment of a uniform structure of battalions which consisted of; a company of grenadiers (senior company, on the far right of the line), 8 companies of fusiliers, and an independent company of chasseurs assigned to battalion headquarters (placed on the far left).[2][3]

One of the new regiments formed as a result of this ordnance was the Régiment de Brie, which was formed from the 2nd and 4th battalions of the old Régiment Royal and organised in Strasbourg. Eventually, on 2 September 1775 a new uniform ordnance was published, the regiment granted 14th in precedence, and gained the following uniform; black tricorne with an iron grey trim, white collar, white jackets, white breeches, black gaiters, black boots, white with iron grey trimmed pockets, iron grey facings, and white buttons.[4][5]

In 1776, the regiment was organised into the following structure:

  • Regimental Headquarters and Regimental Depot, in Brie-Comte-Robert, Brie
  • 1st Battalion (Regular Line)
  • 2nd Battalion (Regular Line)
  • (3rd Battalion) Bataillon de Laon (Militia/Garrison)

The regiment's 3rd militia/garrison battalion was the Battalion of Laon Bataillon de Laon, which was formed following the 1776 ordnance, and commanded 4 fusilier companies, a grenadier company, and the two depots of the 1st and 2nd battalions. In theory the 'militia battalions' were attached to the regiment of the affiliated province, but in-fact acted independently, and only joined these regiments if mobilised. In 1778, the grenadier company of the provincial battalion was separated and joined the Régiment des Grenadiers Royaux de la Champagne. If mobilised, the garrison battalion would become the 3rd battalion officially and form part of its respective provinces' garrison along with providing drafts to the front-line battalions. The battalion was only mobilised once after the declaration of war against the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. During this time, the battalion served as part of the garrison in Brie and provided drafts to the regiment to replace the detachments serving in the navy.[2][6]

The officers of the (3rd) militia battalions served on average some five years or more in the regular battalions, and therefore were able to provide many of the troops in these battalions a lot of experience driven training. This is one of the reasons why when these battalions were disbanded in 1789, the first of the National Volunteers were mostly the old provincial troops, which had years of military training and were thus of a much higher calibre as apposed to the later volunteers.[6]

Anglo-French War[edit | edit source]

Fusilier of the Régiment de Brie and Officer (seems like a Major) of the Régiment Royal in 1789.

In 1775, the regiment moved to Phalsbourg, from where in 1776 it moved to La Rochelle, and then to Antibes and Monaco in November 1777. During the late 18th century, the French Royal Navy La Marine Royale had no marines on the model of either the Royal Marines or Continental Marines. They did have naval infantry, l'infanterie de la Marine, and the naval artillery, Les Bombardies de la Marine, but these mostly defended the naval bases and manned the coastal artillery respectively. However, during the war the shortage of suitable troops to serve as marines was taken up by the infantry, and these detachments known as the Garnisons or Garrisons. During the entirety of the Anglo-French War, some 23 regiments provided garrisons for ships during the war, and even more provided smaller detachments which served in smaller actions.[4][7]

On 21 May 1776 a new uniform ordnance was published, and the regimental uniform only slightly changed into: black tricorne with a iron grey trim, iron grey collar, white jackets, white breeches, black gaiters, black boots, white with iron grey trimmed pockets, iron grey facings, and white buttons.[5]

The regiment provided some detachments for the garrison (marines) of ships during the American Revolutionary War, and these detachments took part in the Battle of Fort Royal near Martinique, and in the Invasion of Tobago, and also later the Capture of Saint Christophe in 1782. Lieutenant Bardin de La Salle was wounded in combat during the Battle of Chesapeake Bay, between Lieutenant Général des Armées Navales François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse et Marquis de Grasse-Tilly and Admiral Thomas Graves, 1st Baron Graves. The main body of the regiment had moved to Neuf-Brisach in December 1778, then to Phalsbourg in December 1779, and in Saint-Pol-de-Léon in November 1781.[4]

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 4th series and 2nd division, and uniformed as follows; black tricorne, white jacket, steel grey facings, steel grey lapels, white cuffs, white lapels with steel grey piping, and white buttons. There was also a re-organised in the company uniforms, the most notable change was the complete removal of bearskins from the grenadier companies and replaced by a tricorne with a large red pom-pom. This removal was largely ignored though, and all regiments continued to maintain their bearskins well into 1796. The chasseurs maintained a green pom-pom in their cocked hat, and fusilier companies as such: 1st in dark blue, 2nd in aurora, 3rd in violet, and 4th in crimson. The companies also had different turnbacks, the grenadiers with a flaming grenade, fusilier companies with a fleur-de-lis (lille), and chasseurs with a hunting horn.[5][7]

Peacetime[edit | edit source]

Jean-Baptiste Gabriel, captain in the Régiment de Brie, taken sometime between 1776 and 1779, showing the iconic iron grey facings and grey collar.

After the Peace of Paris in 1783, the regiment was in Lille, then moved to Berghes, and to Gravelines in April 1786, in Thionville in May 1788 and in September joined the camp in Metz and in September 1789 moved to Condé-en-Brie. During the 1790 Lille riots, the battalion was part of the garrison which replaced the old garrison en-masse due to their revolt., and moved to the citadel after order was re-established.[4]

Revolution[edit | edit source]

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; black bicorne, white jacket, violet facings, violet lapels, violet cuffs, white lapels with violet piping, and white buttons. Another change was the renaming of the old regiments to became their precedence number, thus the regiment became the 24éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Brie). Although gaining their new numbered title, most regiments including the Brie regiment maintained their new titles until the fall of the monarchy in mid 1792.[5][8]

War of the First Coalition[edit | edit source]

At the start of the war in 1792, the 1st battalion joined the new formed Army of the Centre Armée du Centre and the 2nd battalion remained in Lille for a while.[4]

1st Battalion[edit | edit source]

The 1st battalion distinguished itself during its first official action during the Battle of Jalin and formed part of the defence of the Argonne. After taking part in the decisive Battle of Valmy, the regiment took part in the pursuit of the Prussians back across the border, and later back to the Rhine before settling in Mainz (Moselle). In 1793 it took part in the Army of Custines which later became the Army of the Moselle Armée de la Moselle during the First Siege of Mainz in 1792 and later the Second Siege of Mainz in 1793.[4]

In May 1794 the battalion had a day of full glory when the Prussians attacked the frontier posts of Hochspeyer, Pirmasens, and Fischbach near Dahn and routed the republican battalions guarding those posts. According to the army report, the battalion which occupied the farm on the road to Landstuhl and Ramstein-Miesenbach, made the most resistance, then withdrew on the road to Schopp, tore hands from the enemy many volunteers and several caissons; but, abandoned to himself and having to do with too superior forces, it was forced to retire to Ratelbein.[4]

2nd Battalion[edit | edit source]

Grenadier of (what might be) the Régiment de Brie in 1786.

When the 1st battalion moved east, the 2nd battalion remained in Lille and took part in the events which lead to the massacre of General Théobald Dillon, Comte de Dillon. On 22 June, lead by Lieutenant Colonel Lamarche, the battalion attacked a castle belonging to the rebellious Bishop of Tournai, located near Néchin and between Tournai and Courtrai (Kotrijk) and seized some 10 cannons and ammunition there. The battalion then took part, rather gloriously, in the following Siege of Lille. On 16 October, after the lifting of the siege, the battalion moved to the frontier post of Mouvaux, and almost immediately attacked by 3,000 Austrians. The battalion then executed an organised retreat to Pont-à-Marcq and lost only two men, while many Austrians were killed in a small rearguard action.[4]

When General Charles-François du Périer Dumouriez crossed into the Austrian Netherlands again, the battalion accompanied him, and was placed on the wing and fought during the Battle of Jemappes, and contributed to the capture of the Citadelle d'Anvers, and remained there on garrison. After the Battle of Neerwinden, the battalion returned to the frontier and found itself involved in the Battle of Hondschoote and Battle of Fleurus.[4]

Disbandment[edit | edit source]

The years following the Revolution saw great changes for the French Army: the old royalist infantry regiments were to serve as the stiffening for the tens of thousands of new volunteers who answered the patriotic Levée en masse. In the First Amalgamation of 1794, each old royalist battalion was put together with two new volunteers battalions to become new Demi-Brigade de Bataille or Demi-Brigade of Battle.[8]

On 10 April 1794, the battalion amalgamated with the 1st Battalion of the Calvados and 1st Battalion of the Bouches-du-Rhône to form the new 48éme Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie. This new demi-brigade served during the Flanders Campaign and later the French Invasion of Holland, and was the only demi-brigade in 1796 which underwent no modifications from that year's amalgamations.[4][8]

Finally, on 17 July 1795, as a result of the 1793 re-organisations, the 1st Battalion amalgamated with the 4th Battalion of the Deux-Sèvres and 9th battalion of the Côte-d'Or to form the 1st battalion of the new 47éme Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie, which continued to serve in the Army of the Rhine and Moselle Armée du Rhin et Moselle.[3][4][8]

Uniforms[edit | edit source]

Regimental uniforms throughout the regiment's 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 regiment's colours was divided into four segments, the upper left and bottom right being deep purple, and the upper right and bottom left being a leather brown.

Commanding Officers[edit | edit source]

First Regiment[1]

  • 1649–1650 N. de Jouy

Second Regiment[1]

Third Regiment[4]

  • 1775–1784 Jean Gabriel de La Roque, Comte de Podenas
  • 1784–1791 Jean Gabriel René François, Marquis de Fouquet d'Auvillars
  • 1791–1791 Jean Baptiste de Solémy
  • 1791–1792 Amable Henri Delaage
  • 1792–1794 Pierre Henri du Puy Beyrès d'Argence

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Susane, Volume VIII, pp, 183, 232–234.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ordonnance du Roi, Concernant l'Infanterie Français du 26 Avril 1775 de Par le Roi.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Susane, Volume I, pp, 306–307, 310, 314, 342.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Susane, Volume IV, pp, 177–180.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Lienhart & Humbert, pp, 34, 37, 41, 43.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Susane, Volume VII, pp. 280, 292, 305, 310.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Smith, Kiley, & Black, pp, 178–179, 232–233.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Smith, Uniforms of the Napleonic Wars, pp. 42–46.

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 IV, 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.
  • Louis Susane, Historie de l'Ancienne Infanterie Français, Volume VIII, 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, 1906, Leipzig, German Empire.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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