french Navy infantry
companies first appeared under Louis XIII and Richelieu, from
1622 to 1627, but were not maintained.
the mid-17th century
a few Marine regiments were raised by the french Navy. Unfortunately,
the Army also needed troops... and, for the bureaucrats sitting
in offices in Paris, the sea has never been a priority ! So all
these nice new Marine regiments were sent far away from the coasts,
in north-east France or elsewhere, and were lost for sea service
Navy continued to raise
troops, but desperately tried to hide them. The idea was to raise
independant companies, not organized in regiments, and thus less
tempting for the Army : the "Compagnies Franches de la
Marine" (= "Navy free companies") were created
1685, to hide them a
bit more, they were called "escouades de soldats-gardiens"
(= "squads of guardian soldiers") . But from 1688 the
War of the League of Augsburg made clear that France actually
needed Marine troops : in December 1690 the Compagnies
de la Marine were reorganized, and their naval role was not
threatened any more.
1685 ordinance describes
their uniform : "a
great justaucorps of grey-white cloth, new, lined
blue reveche (wool), garnished with pewter buttons
serge d'Aumale (serge wool) breeches lined with
socks the same, a hat bordered by lace facon argent,
pair of new shoes, two shirts, two cravats, a belt facon
and a sword".
1690 ordinance tells
wants the soldiers to practice, when they will be at sea, everything
related to the ship's service". The Compagnies de la Marine
also took their
share in the guard of the navy harbours, together with line infantry
units and coastal militias ; and of course they took parts in
naval attacks on the coasts of enemy countries.
to the 1690 text,
each company should be composed of three navy officers (one lieutnant
and two ensigns) and 100 men : one captain of arms (senior sergeant),
4 sergeants, 8 corporals, 2 drummers, one fife, and 84 soldiers.
companies are created,
and garrisoned in the most important navy harbours of the kingdom:
Brest, Port-Louis, Rochefort, Toulon, Le Havre, Dunkirk, "and
in the neighbouring towns and parishes".
The french marines recreated...
Two Marine soldiers taking part in the maritime festival "Brest 2004"
(recreated by "Sans-Pareil 1690")
de la Marine" were a completely different corps ; but
they deserve to be mentioned here, as they took parts in many
actions together with the Marine infantry from the 1680s-1690s
1682-1683 were created
"galiotes a bombes"(ships carrying naval mortars),
the french Navy needing them to attack and besiege enemy harbours
and naval strongholds. To man these boats and mortars, volunteer
sailors began to be instructed in Toulon.
In 1692, two companies of 50 men each were created : one in Brest and one in Toulon. A third company was created in Rochefort in 1694.
Bombardiers de la
Marine wore a red coat with blue facings :
Huchehault along the
of various periods)
Louis XIV period