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Régiment de Royal–Deux–Ponts
99éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Deux–Ponts)
Rég de Roy Deux-Ponts.png
Regimental Colours Drapeau d'Ordonnance of the regiment until 1791.
Active 1757–1795
Country  Kingdom of France
 First French Republic
Allegiance King of France
French Nation
Branch  France Army
 France Army
Type Line Infantry
Size Largest at 4 Battalions, later 2 Line and 1 Depot/Garrison Battalion
Headquarters & Recruiting Area Zweibrücken
Engagements

The Régiment de Royal–Deux–Ponts was one of the most famous French infantry regiments to serve during the Ancien Régime. After gaining much fame during the American Revolutionary War, the regiment would be disbanded after the French Revolution and the lineage continued into the 99th Infantry Regiment.

Seven Years' War[edit | edit source]

Saxon Service[edit | edit source]

By virtue of a commission on 1 April 1757, the Régiment de Royal–Deux–Ponts was raised by the Duc de Deux-Ponts on his estate, and termed a Princes' regiment.[Note 1] In August the regiment joined the Army of Saxony, commanded by Charles de Rohan, Prince de Soubise who took-over that same month. On 5 November the regiment received its baptism by fire during the Battle of Rossbach, where captains Geyer and Stuart were killed and the majority of the French force destroyed or captured. The winter was then spent in Hanau, but the regiment later moved to Sondershausen on 23 July of the following year. The 1st and 2nd battalions left for Kassel, while the 3rd remained in Sondershausen to defend it in the event of invasion.[1]

German Campaign[edit | edit source]

In September 1758 the regiment moved north-west to take part in the ill-fated Expedition to Hanover. The regiment contributed to the capture of Klausthal and on 10 October the of Lüzelberg. The regiment then spent the winter in Frankfurt, and in 1759 the regiment was grouped with the Régiment Royal–Suédois during the Battle of Bergen. The campaign ended and the regiment returned to Frankfurt to take up winter quarters. In 1760 the regiment's establishment was expanded to four battalions, and on 8 July the entire regiment took part in the action at Corbach. The next day, the entire regiment was committed to the battle, and for the remainder of the campaign provided recce parties and strike groups.[1]

In 1761 a large army began to assemble in Frankfurt and shortly after moved to Bergstadtdisambiguation needed where they forced Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick to leave Bündingen and reorganised in Lich. On 21 March, during the Battle of Stangeorde, the Colonel-Commandant the Comte de Glozen was shot in the arm and severely wounded. The regiment then passed to command of the Marquis de Poyanne, and on 6 June along with the Carabininers de Monsieur moved to Erwete and later took part in the Battle of Lippstadt.[1]

Map of the Battle of Villinghausen and the surrounding area (French troops to the North of the river in yellow).

Régiment de Royal–Deux–Ponts Chasseur during the Yorktown campaign (1779 ordnance uniform here). Chasseurs were placed on the far left flank, and termed 'Compangie de Chasseurs'.

Battle of Villinghausen[edit | edit source]

On 15 June, the regiment returned to command of the Marquis de Clozen, who was subsequently appointed Field Marshal Maréchal de Camp and formed the right column during the Battle of Villinghausen. During the battle, the regiment with the greatest vigor, despite stubborn resistance, captured the castle and continued to push the enemy beyond the abatis until they reached the front of the enemy camp. The regiment then took over the positions and held the redoubt before flanking and almost destroying the allied army. The force under John Manners, Marquess of Granby charged several times until the regiment was finally removed from their positions, and the entire French brigade, its commander, and supporting elements were captured.[1]

It wasn't until nightfall when the Régiment du Roi and Régiment du Dauphin were finally able to gain the position back and rescue the remainder of the regiment. The regiment was able to continue in action, after being saved, to hold their positions until 10pm when the regiment was exhausted by so many attacks. By this time, the regiment was relieved by the Régiment d'Aquitaine and Régiment de Rouergue. Besides the many soldiers, Colonel-Commandant de Scheidt distinguished himself leading the regiment from the front.[1]

End of the War[edit | edit source]

On 19 August 1761, while the regiment was on its way to camp in Fürstenburg, it was attacked near Olden by a corps of English grenadiers, but were able to topple the enemy force within a matter of hours. On 2 September the regiment cleared the forest of Sababurg, and the next day cleared the castle of the same name, and took the entire garrison prisoner. On 10 October, the regiment imposed the same fate on the Wolfenbüttel garrison. The regiment continued to serve in smaller actions in Germany in 1762, and was reduced to two battalions on 21 December.[1]

Uniform of a Royal Deux Ponts Grenadier (left) and drummer from a line company (right), as provided in Digby Smith's Uniforms of the American War of Independence. The use of the 1779 ordnance in-use.

Peacetime[edit | edit source]

On returning to France, the regiment settled in Thionville, then moved to Zweibrücken in May 1763, at Longwy in August 1765, and at Sedan in November 1766, then separated between Sedan and Mézières in June 1767, and finally in Strasbourg in August 1767. On 21 December 1762, the first official uniform regulations were published, which classed the infantry into three separate groups; French Infantry, Foreign (Étranger) Infantry, and Provincial troops, which the Deux-Ponts formed the German Étranger contingent. By 1760 the regimental uniform consisted of; white light blue coat, red cuffs, red facings, white elongated buttons, white breeches, and a black with white trimmed (and bourbon white cockade) tricorne.[1][2]

The regiment left Compiègne camp in 1769, then returned to Strasbourg, white it didn't leave until October 1771, when it moved to Sélestat. In October 1774 to Dunkirk, Lille in October 1775, Saarlouis in October 1776, Metz in November 1778, to Montvilliers and Harfleur in May 1779, to Landernau and Saint-Pol-de-Léon in December 1779.[1]

The Ordnance of 2 September 1775 changed the regimental uniform into the more well known look as; Light blue coat, light blue lapels, gold buttons, yellow facings, and a black with white trim tricorne. Another ordinance came the next year on 21 May 1776, and the regiment uniform was only slightly changed into; light blue coat, crimson trimmed pockets, crimson lapels, crimson facings, and a pure black tricorne. Yet another ordinance came just before embarking for America, the Ordinance of 21 February 1779 was announced, and the regiment's uniform changed to what became possibly their most well known uniform consisting of; light blue coat, yellow facings, yellow lapels, yellow buttons, no pockets, and a black tricorne with the bourbon white cockade.[1][2][3]

American Revolution[edit | edit source]

Infantry of the Royal Deux-Ponts and Bourbonnais storming Redoubt No.9 during the Siege of Yorktown. (Colonel-Commandant Forbach seen in the background to the rear right of the flag bearer)

When the regiment arrived in Brest on 4 April 1780, it was assigned to what became known as Expédition Particulière, lead by Général Jean-Baptiste de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau. On 8 April 1780 the convoy embarked for the United States, and on 11 July 1780 arrived in Newport, Rhode Island.[1][4][5]

Arrival and Movements[edit | edit source]

After arriving in Newport, the regiment took up quarters in the town and remained there through the winter, it was only in June 1781 (one year later) that the army was concentrated and united with the Continentals. Later, the armies made their way to the town of Yorktown as Nathanael Greene's Southern Campaign came to an end. On 21 July, around 2,500 men of the army, consisting of troops from the Bourbonnais, Royal–Deux–Ponts, and a battalion of the Soissonnais fought a reconnaissance battle in Kingsbridge, New York, which forced the British troops back into the city. On 15 August after excessive marching through extreme heat they arrived in Philadelphia, and were greeted with kisses, applause, and flowers and the American civilians knew who they were immediately, and what they were there for. As the regiment arrived towards the city centre, flags of the two countries were flown and they marched passed congress.[1][4][6][6]

Siege of Yorktown[edit | edit source]

In October 1780 the regiment arrived in the area of Yorktown just as the siege began, and was placed on the centre-left of the line between the Régiment de Bourbonnais and Régiment de Soissonnais. The regiment greatly distinguished itself at the siege especially the 400 men led by Guillaume Deux-Ponts in the attack on the British redoubts on 15 October, in cooperation with a similar movement by Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette on the right, and where it rivalled in valour with the Régiment de Gâtinais. It formed the centre of the column of attack, the Gâtinais, in the vanguard, commanded by Estrade, and rear by Rostaing.[1][4]

The Comte de Forbach was the regiment's colonel-commandant and had to the glory and honour to be the first to penetrate the entrenchments of the British. After reaching the top of the parapet, he extended his hand to a grenadier in-order to assist him to mount the works, but fell to his feet, mortally wounded as the colonel extended his hand to another with the greatest composure. The brave officer, who had been slightly wounded, after the surrender arrived at Brest on the frigate Andromaque, charged by the American Congress to bear as homage to the King some of the flags taken from the Army of Lord Charles Cornwallis.[1][4][7]

Revolution[edit | edit source]

Uniform of a Sergeant in 1757 after formation, and a grenadier colour-bearer in 1789, just before the revolution.

During the crossing, Sergeant Nicolas Brendley, embarked with ten men of his section were on a commissioned merchant vessel when they were captured, where it was then taken to Antigua. He was offered 50 guineas to remain with his detachment in British service, but he elected to remain a prisoner. The regiment returned to Europe in July 1783 and landed in Brest, capturing the most regimental colours out of all regiments during the entire siege. There were later presented to the king, where the Colonel-Commandant was rewarded and the regiment honoured. In September 1783 the it moved to Landau, Phalsbourg in March 1788, Bélfort and Huningue in July 1788, Neuf-Brisach in November 1788, Metz in April 1790, and finally Verdun in March 1792.[1]

Following the French Revolution, the provisional regulations of 1 April 1791 changed the uniform to become; revolutionary blue coat, black facings, white buttons, horizontal pockets, no cuffs, black bicorne with the 'revolutionary' cockade of France, and black collar/cuff flaps. Another thing which changed was the loss of provincial titles, therefore the regiment became the 99éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne (Deux–Ponts), although most regiments didn't take well to the new change, and maintained the provincial titles well into 1796.[1][2][8]

War of the First Coalition[edit | edit source]

Austrian troops after the end of the Battle of Neerwinden.

When War of the First Coalition started, the 1st battalion moved to join the Army of the North Armée du Nord, the grenadiers of the 2nd battalion joined the Army of the Ardennes Armée des Ardennes, and the remainder of the 2nd battalion was stationed in Philippeville.[1]

1st Battalion[edit | edit source]

The 1st battalion was ordered, on 27 October, to march with the 1ére Bataillon d'Aisne under Colonel Wisch to occupy the posts of the 2 legions du Condé. The grouped in-fact found the outpost occupied by 4,000 Austrians and two canons. The two battalions numbered just barely 900 men, however the colonel ordered a charge. Both battalions claim the honour of being the first into battle and defeat the enemy, but this feat wasn't on the agenda of the Armée de Beurnonville.

Picture of the General Staff of the French Army of the North during the later stages of the battle.

The battalion then took part in the Flanders Campaign, where it distinguished itself at the Battle of Jemappes and the Battle of Neerwinden the following year. A charge was executed by the right wing of the army under general Charles François Dumouriez on the village of Neerwinden, and the regiment penetrated the town and after a bitter struggle, lost some 300 men. Attacked by grapeshot and his troops being literally crushed and obliterated, the battalion moved back 100 paces when they were saved at the last moment by a charge from the Régiment de Zeschwitz Cavalerie and Régiment de Nassau Cavalerie, and the battalion continued the charge and captured the Austrian guns and completely annihilated the Austrian cavalry. The battalion was heavily criticised after the battle, but after testimonies of colonel the Duke of Chartres, they were cleared of all problems, even though the battalion had been reduced to just 150 men.[1]

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. In 1794 the regiment served in the Army of the Sambré, but on 1 May 1795 it amalgamated with the 1st Battalion of Upper Rhine Volunteers and 3rd Battalion of Lower Rhine Volunteers to form the 177éme Demi-Brigade de Bataille., thus ending the royalist lineage.[1]

2nd Battalion[edit | edit source]

On mobilisation, the 2nd battalion (minus the grenadiers) were stationed in Lippeville when the Prussians invaded the Champagne region, where it contributed to the Battle of Valmy and the Germans' subsequent defeat. The regiment continued with a pursuit of the Germans as far as the Rhine, where it joined the Army of the Moselle. On 20 December 1794 the battalion amalgamated with the 6th Battalion of Northern Volunteers and 7th Battalion of Lower Senine Volunteers to form the 178éme Demi-Brigade de Bataille, thus ending the royalist lineage.[1]

Regimental Uniforms[edit | edit source]

Regimental uniforms throughout the 18th century included:

Regimental Colours[edit | edit source]

The colonel's colours and regimental colours were very elaborate compared to the other regiments:

Commanding Officers[edit | edit source]

Commanding officers of the regiment before 1793 included:[1]

External links[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Princes' regiments were those which were raised and payed for by prince, count, or duke, as apposed to a royal regiment which was funded by the King (government).

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 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Susane, Volume VII, pp. 348–354.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lienhart & Humbert, pp. 32, 36, 40, 42, 43.
  3. Smith, American War of Independence, pp. 174, 178–181.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Keim, pp. 572–574.
  5. Smith, American War of Independence, p. 174–81.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Susane, Volume III, pp. 290—331.
  7. Les Combattants Français, pp. 268–269.
  8. Smith, Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars, pp. 42–46.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Louis Susane, History of the Ancient French Infantry, Volume I, 1849 Naval and Polytechnical Military Library of Paris, Paris, France.
  • Louis Susane, History of the Ancient French Infantry, Volume III, 1851 Naval and Polytechnical Military Library of Paris, Paris, France.
  • Louis Susane, History of the Ancient French Infantry, 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.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Les Combattants Français de la Guerre Américaine 1778–1783, 1903 Paris, France.
  • Deborah Randolph Keim, Rochambeau A Commemoration by the Congress of the United States of America of the Services of the French Auxiliary Forces in the War of Independence, Congress/Pennsylvania Historical Society, Washington 1907.
  • 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.
  • Digby Smith, Napoleon's Regiments: Battle Histories of the Regiments of the French Army, 1792–1815, 2000 Greenhill Books, London, United Kingdom. ISBN 1-85367-413-3.

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