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FOREIGN UNITS IN THE NAPOLEONIC ARMY: ELEMENT OF GLOBAL STRATEGY OF THE GREAT EMPIRE

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  • FOREIGN UNITS IN THE NAPOLEONIC ARMY: ELEMENT OF GLOBAL STRATEGY OF THE GREAT EMPIRE

    FOREIGN UNITS IN THE NAPOLEONIC ARMY:
    ELEMENT OF GLOBAL STRATEGY OF THE GREAT EMPIRE
    Jean-François Brun
    Lecturer in history at the University of Saint-Etienne, he specializes in economic and military history. Reserve Lieutenant-Colonel, former IHEDN auditor, he participated three times in external operations in Kosovo.

    Foreign soldiers in the Napoleonic forces were unevenly studied, to date. Most often, the particular history of their units was developed without one considers the phenomenon in its statistical entirety. This article is intended to complement previous approaches by deepening the reflection within a logic, both quantitative and structural. Therefore, the theme can be valued on a dual lighting. We should mention the units of the French army made ​​up of non-nationals and at the same time to address the issue of contingents provided by allied states in the context of strengthening the imperial armies. Implicitly, the engagement of these soldiers raises a number of questions, all of which refer to a strategic dimension of military thinking of Napoleon. This is to ask how the integration, in the conduct of the war, of significant numbers of foreign soldiers of different nationalities, registered in a specific intent of geopolitical reorganization of Europe.

  • #2
    An oldmilitary practice

    The land forces of the ancient regime had approximately 12% of non-nationals in times of peace, 20% in times of war1, out of a total of about 160’000 men2. The service is doing in favor of the king, the incarnation of the State, no legal difficulty in terms of nationality was on the use of foreign troops. This conception was also general in Europe3. But from the late eighteenth century, the principle of recruiting mercenary shocked philosophers, followers of Rousseau, as well as proponents of the new military doctrines expressed by Guibert. Nevertheless, always pragmatic, the Council of War, at the end of the ancient regime, believes that extra national corps should be kept as natural deposit of foreign prisoners and deserters4. Revolution, by substituting the sovereignty of the nation to dynastic legitimacy, blurs the rules. By deepening the reasoning, it becomes clear that the millennial ban of murder cannot be violated in the name of the upper interests of the national community of belonging5. The decisions of the first parliamentary assemblies reflect the uncertainties as to applications. The law of 28 February 1790, which aims to standardize the army, dissolved the Royal military Household and removes the foreign corps. The desire to maintain the workforce, however, generates the decree of August 18, 1790 which states that the proportion of foreign troops cannot exceed, without a vote of the Legislature, 26’000 men, on the planned 150’848 (17.2%). In an effort to harmonize the texts, the law of 19-21 July 1791 transforms, for its part, foreign bodies in French regiments, with the exception of the Swiss, whose military agreements (the "capitulations"), reaching their term, should not be renewed.

    The Revolutionary War, which has obvious ideological dimension (the principle of equality undermines the whole European social construction), changes the situation. The fall of the monarchy, August 10, 1792, leads to the removal of all Swiss units, on the 27th of the same month6. Inversely, the conflict causes the appearance of foreign legions, formed by extra national volunteers who adhere to the principles of 1789 and want to fight alongside the Army of the Republic, or in the case of the Poles, continue the fight against the powers that have shared their lands. Thus appears, from the Legislative to the Directoire, the Batavian, Swiss, German,, Belgian, Liege, Polish, Greek, Italic legions7. Homogeneous in its recruitment (the language constituting in this regard the primary criterion), grouping infantry and cavalry units or even artillery, they are integrated into the French army and in addition to some special corps, set up at random campaigns, with professional soldiers looking for an employer or prisoners of war who preferred to switch sides.

    In short, in November 1799, at the time of the “coup d’Etat of Brumaire”, foreign troops represent slightly more than 47’000 men (6.5% of the total forces of the Republic)8, heterogeneity of the recruitment hinting the hazards that led to the various creations9. Moreover, the administrative classification of these formations as " off line corps " (that is to say do not obey the normal rules of recruitment based almost exclusively on conscription10)leads logically to the fact that, by definition, the sovereign power that uses extra national corps, devoid of any institutional control over the territory of origin of future soldiers, can count only on volunteering to fill the workforce. This will be one of the nodes of the issue throughout the Napoleonic period.

    1 [BELY (L.) (dir.), Dictionary of the Ancient Regime, article "Mercenaries", p. 818.]

    2 [There are 12 Foreign Regiments (German, Irish, Lieges) in the Infantry, plus the 4 Battalions of Swiss Guards of the King's Military House and the 11 Swiss Regiments of the Royal Army, making a total of 50 Battalions of Infantry (Military Dictionary, p. 2430)]
    3 [Hence General Bardin's definition: "Foreign body: a sort of regimental body held here as a compound of auxiliaries ready to fight for the cause of the government that pays them. "(Army Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 1670)]
    4[BARDIN (E.), Army Dictionary, t. 2, p. 1670.]

    5 [Logically, the defense of the national community appears to be an obligation. The conscription principle has just been born, its definitive organization intervening however only with the law Jourdan-Delbrel of 19 fructidor year VI (September 5, 1798) which, being based on article 9 of the Declaration of the duties of the citizen and the article 286 of the Constitution, affirms (title first, article first) that "all French are soldiers and owe to the defense of the fatherland".]
    6 [The Swiss units (like the Royal Lieges) were dissolved because they were suspected of being counter revolutionary.]
    7 [On August 1, 1792, a law was passed allowing the creation of a foreign free legion composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery, recruiting mainly Dutch volunteers.]
    8 [See Annex 1.]
    9 [See Annex 2.]
    10 [The Consulate and the Empire raised nearly 2 million conscripts (compared to around 52,000 volunteers between 1800 and 1815).]
    ​​​​​​​
    Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 06:37.

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    • #3
      Towards a quantitative approach to the problem

      The detail of the foreign units of the French army ranges from 1800 to 1814 based on successive territorial aggrandizement (103 departments in 1800, 134 in 1812), which alter the legal conditions for recruiting11. Paradoxically, the proportion of the latter is relatively stable12 : after reaching a lower threshold of 2% in the year XIV (a consequence of Amiens and Luneville treaties and who provided few years of peace), they represent 7,4% of the entire Army in 1809, 7,3% in 181213.

      However, if we go beyond the strictly national plan in favor of a European point of view (which amounts to taking into account all the forces at the disposal of Napoleon), the question changes its meaning. France indeed organizes and then directs a geopolitical construction of satellite states and allied countries14. However, as in any situation of this nature (League of Delos as well as Warsaw Pact or NATO), integrate foreign contingents into a overall military system has an obvious political dimension15 . The table below16 summarizes this phenomenon, from the year XIII (1804-1805), when peace broke down, to the year 1812, marked by the turning point of the Russian campaign.
      Tableau1.png

      This summary undoubtedly reveals the preponderant role of the French army within the Napoleonic "federative system" which was set up from 180718. The Allied forces, still a small minority, are around 10% of the total force in peacetime, 20% in wartime. Their permanence can also be interpreted as an indication of the beginning of effective integration of the various territories within a global European geopolitical reality (characterized economically by the application of the rules of the continental blockade or, in the legal field, by the more or less complete dissemination of the principle of equality and the Civil Code). However, these data do not represent strictly identical realities since the sample retained changes over the years, at the rate of the French annexations. Thus, the Piedmontese, Ligurian, Italian (in part), Dutch, Hanseatic, Albanian or Illyrian troops change status on the occasion of their territorial attachment to the Empire. We also remain unable to count recruits of foreign origin (Germans, Poles or others) who have individually joined the ranks of a French unit, at random from a campaign or a cantonment of the imperial army.


      11 [The chronology of the territorial annexations is thus established: 09 March 1801, official reunion of the 4 departments of the left bank of the Rhine; 11 September 1802, Piedmont reunion (6 departments); 04 June 1805, reunion of Genoa and Liguria (4 departments); 24 May 1808, reunion of Parma, Piacenza and Tuscany (3 departments); 25 December 1809, organization of the Illyrian Provinces; 17 February 1810, reunion of the Pontifical States (2 departments); 16 March 1810, reunion of the Dutch territories located south of the Waal River; 09 July 1810, reunion of the Kingdom of Holland (6 departments); 10 December 1810, reunion of the Hanseatic cities, part of the kingdom of Westphalia and the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (5 departments); 10 December 1810, reunion of the Republic of Valais (1 department); 13 December 1810, senatus-consulte bringing the number of departments of the Empire to 130; 26 January 1812 reunion of Catalonia (4 departments).]
      12 [See Annex 1.]

      13 [If we remove from the total foreign troops the 20,000 Illyrians, Croats and Albanians from territories attached to the Empire (Illyrian Provinces, Ionian Islands).]
      14 [The Italian peninsula is entirely under French control through the French departments of Italy, the kingdom of Italy of which Napoleon is sovereign, and finally the kingdom of Naples, ruled by his brother Joseph and then his brother-in-law Murat. For their part, the Illyrian Provinces constitute a veritable military march against Austria and the Ottoman Empire. France also established on its eastern and northern borders a protective glaze of buffer states (Swiss Confederation and Confederation of the Rhine). Finally, further east, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw represents both an outpost and a potential base of operations against Russia or Prussia.]
      15 [A letter from Napoleon to Talleyrand is perfectly revealing in this respect: "Monsieur the Prince of Benevento, it is necessary that M. de Hohenzollern [the prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen who, according to the treaties, was to supply a contingent of 93 soldiers integrated into Nassau's troops] formed a company of 140 mounted dragons, all Germans. As all the efforts he will make do not agree with his means, you will tell him that in secret I will give him the necessary subsidy. You will let him know that my real motive is to provide the house of Hohenzollern with the means to show itself in this circumstance ». (Correspondence from Napoleon I, letter no. 10,857 of September 22, 1806).]
      16 [SHD/DAT, 1 M 2121]
      17 [CORVISIER (A.) (dir.), Military history of France, t. 2, p. 319.]

      18 [The victorious campaigns of 1805-1807 made it possible to set up the Confederation of the Rhine, which amounted to replacing in Germany the Austrian influence by the French influence.]
      Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:45.

      Comment


      • #4
        This table, however, makes sense when compared to the way the Emperor uses foreign contingents, which he integrates into his overall defense system. The various territories (kingdom of Italy, of Naples, States of the Confederation…) are protected in priority by their national armies19 . In addition to the system are a certain number of French units and troops from other States of the Napoleonic ecumene. Thus, in 1808, the (French) army of Germany, under the orders of Marshal Davout, included detachments from the Confederation of the Rhine20. Likewise, the garrisons of the Illyrian Provinces or the Ionian Islands mixed indigenous, French and Italian regiments. These practices also reveal a relative regionalization of the military effort, the German units participating in the device in Germany, the Italian units receiving an assignment in Adriatic. In addition, the establishment of French regiments in the kingdom of Italy21 or the presence of French units ready to intervene on Neapolitan territory indicate a logic of control of the satellite States similar to that which will prevail 150 years later, during of the Cold War.

        The allies are not, however, confined to missions of operational defense of the territories. They also form a (minority) part of the field armies. Italian, Neapolitan, German or Polish units are present in the fighting forces in Spain. But the most striking aspect of the increasing participation of the various States in the military effort appears when we compare the Grand Army of 1805, the Army of Germany of 1809 and the Grand Army of 1812. All three have in common to constitute the military tool with which Napoleon tries to directly resolve the conflict in which he is engaged. Their quite different composition, on the other hand, reflects the evolution of imperial Europe22.

        In 1805, the Grande Armée included an infantry battalion of the Italian Royal Guard (integrated into the Imperial Guard), 12 Infantry Battalions, 4 Cavalry Squadrons and 10 Companies of Batavian Artillery (which constitute part of the 2nd Corps of Army from Holland), and finally the Bavarian, Baden and Wuerttemberg Corps which are not integrated into the general organization chart and act as small auxiliary armies before being regrouped, on October 1, 1806, within a new Corps created on this occasion. In 1809, the functional links were strengthened, in particular through the Confederation of the Rhine which precisely determined the supply of military contingents. Consequently, the forces operating against Austria under the orders of the Emperor include the Guard, two French Army Corps, a French Army Corps reinforced with German units (4th AC), a Bavarian Army Corps (7th AC), a German-Wuerttemberg Army Corps with a French Brigade (8th AC), a Polish-Saxon Army Corps (9th AC) and a Dutch-Westphalian Reserve Army Corps. In 1812 finally, in addition to the Guard, Napoleon had 11 Army Corps among which the 4th was Franco-Italian, the 5th Polish, the 6th Bavarian, the 7th Saxon, the 8th Westphalian, the 10th Franco-Prussian, while the four Corps of Cavalry are reinforced with allied regiments. The Austrian contingent, for its part, forms part of the southern wing of the overall system. The army of "twenty nations" crossing the Niemen in 1812 thus represents an expeditionary force where the units of various origins are almost all integrated into the same structural unit. Some figures allow us to illustrate this development.
        Tableau 2.png

        The "Great Nation" carrying revolutionary ideals has well turned into an empire23in which French troops constitute the backbone of warlike power but where military effort must, in a political vision, be shared by all. The participation of the States of imperial Europe in the operations carried out on the various theaters therefore logically responds to the constant presence of French units in all the ecumene territories.



        19 [The army of the kingdom of Italy increases from 27,000 men in 1805 to 47,000 in 1808. In addition to the territorial defense of the kingdom, its units supply the field troops which ensure the protection of the Illyrian Provinces and the Ionian Islands, fighting in Spain or enter the composition of the army of Italy in 1809, of the 4th Army Corps in 1812, of the Italian Observation Corps in 1813-1814.]
        20 [The army of the Rhine, under the orders of Marshal Davout, represented on October 18, 1808 (including the Hanseatic cities entrusted more particularly to Marshal Bernadotte) 94,448 French soldiers, 7,803 Dutch soldiers, 3,274 Polish soldiers and 1,992 Saxon soldiers , to which should be added 20,121 Poles and 4,215 Saxons stationed in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. The whole forms a defense mechanism over which Paris has direct authority (SHD / DAT, C2 664).]
        21 [AN, AF * IV 863. The call books reveal that several French units (9th, 13th, 35th, 53rd, 84th, 92nd, 106th Line Infantry Regiments, 2nd Foot Artillery Regiment, 4th Regiment of Artillery on horseback, 7th Battalion bis of the Artillery Train as well as a Company of artillery workers), supplied by conscripts from the various departments of the Empire, have their depot (their "mother garrison" in some so) inside the kingdom of Italy.]
        ​​​​​​​
        22 [SHD / DAT, C2 604 (calls of the Grande Armée of 25 fructidor year XIII - September 14, 1805 and of 15 vendémiaire year XIV - October 7, 1805), C2 * 679 (call of the armies of Germany and Italy joined together of 15 September 1809), C2 700 (call of the Grande Armée of June 15, 1812).].
        23 [Which still promotes a different ideology from that of the Europe of the Ancient Regime.]

        Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:45.

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        • #5
          Foreign troops of the French army: a set of special cases

          In addition to the question of allied contingents (depending on their own sovereign state), there is that of the French army troop corps made up of foreign nationals. An approach through the chronology proving to be irrelevant, it seems preferable to establish a classification based on the double criterion of the homogeneity of the geographic origins and the more or less great grip of the Empire on their territory of recruitment. .

          Heterogeneous recruitment units: foreign battalions and regiments

          Initially, the foreign corps were all organized according to a particular geographical origin (including the battalions or companies of foreign deserters). Then, in 1805, two special infantry units were formed. The “Isembourg Regiment” welcomes volunteers (often prisoners of war who have chosen to change sides) from Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia… At the same time, the “La Tour d'Auvergne Regiment” receives volunteers from Germany or diverse origin, officered by emigrants or former chouans. The following year, the "Prussian Regiment" incorporated deserters and prisoners of war previously serving Berlin. For its part, the "Irish legion", formed in 1803, was reinforced by 1,800 Poles in 1806, then prisoners of war of various nationalities from 180924 . Finally, in 1811, the appellations were standardized: La Tour d 'Auvergne becomes the "1st Foreign Regiment", Isembourg the "2nd Foreign Regiment", the Irish legion the "3rd Foreign Regiment", the Prussian regiment (which integrates on this occasion part of the Hanoverian legion, which has become very international years before being dissolved in 1811) the "4th Foreign Regiment". On the eve of the Russian campaign, however, these units represented only a quarter of the extranational Corps of the French Army (excluding Illyrian troops), the majority of foreign units respecting identity of geographic origin.

          24 [This example of the transition from homogeneous recruitment to heterogeneous recruitment is not unique since it is also the case of the Portuguese legion, which proves clearly that the methods of recruitment adapt to the weight of the circumstances.]
          Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:44.

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          • #6
            Homogeneous recruitment units: remarkably diverse cases

            Resulting from concrete situations sometimes quite different from each other, these foreign Corps can be divided into five categories, based on the control by the Empire of the territories of origin (which conditions the regularity of the recruitment flows).

            Troops later became French by annexation

            These are the Corps whose recruitment area is, within a variable period, annexed to the Empire. These territories, which have become departments, are then administered like the rest of France, which results in the creation of territorial units (departmental reserve companies, possibly coastguard gunner companies) but above all by the application of laws on conscription. Recruits are now able to serve in any regiment of the French army25 and existing units integrated into it (with or without transformations to adapt to the structural model in force). Thus, on February 28, 1802, the Piedmontese hussars became 26th hunters on horseback. The process was identical in 1810 for the Dutch regiments26. The annexation of the Hanseatic cities and the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg provides a case study. It resulted in the creation of three new departments, which will form the 32nd military division. The infantry units (reinforced with the part of the Hanoverian legion which does not enter the composition of the 4th Foreign Regiment) form the 127th, 128th and 129th regiments of line infantry. For its part, the 30th horse hunters was set up on February 3, 1811 by amalgamation of Hamburg dragons, horse hunters of the Hanoverian legion and conscripts of the 32nd division, under the guidance of instructors from the Grand-Duchy of Warsaw (the colonel and his second being French speaking German officers).

            Sometimes also, the extra-national Corps represent only one element of the transition process capable of making the new military obligation be accepted in better conditions. Thus, the Piedmontese patriots of the year VIII are replaced by the Po Battalion organized in 180327 from volunteers, before the young Piedmontese were subjected to conscription operations (the Po battalion being integrated in 1811 in the 11th light infantry regiment)28. The Catalonia regiment (3 infantry battalions) remains chronologically the last example of such a practice, the French defeats in the peninsula having granted it only an extremely long life brief, from February to November 1812.

            25 [This application is done gradually. Thus, for example, the senatus-consulte of February 3, 1811, which activates 80,000 conscripts of 1811, also prescribes the raising of 1,000 conscripts of 1810 in the departments of Rome and Trasimeno resulting from the annexation of the Papal States in 1810 (Bulletin des lois, 1811).]
            26 [See Annex No. 4.]
            27 [The annexation of Piedmont dating from September 1802.]
            28 [The 11th Light was formed on February 28, 1811 from four units of volunteers from more or less recently French territories, and whose existence materializes this transition phase: the Corsican Battalion, the Valais Battalion, the Tirailleurs of the Po and the 1st Battalion of the Legion du Midi (Piedmontese). The depot of this regiment is fixed at Wesel (on the Rhine).]
            Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:44.

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            • #7
              Foreign troops from territories under direct Empire control

              The case of zones in the process of integration into the Empire is similar to the previous examples. First comes the Grand Duchy of Berg and Cleves, intended to serve as a model for other states of the Confederation. Created from scratch for Murat, administered by French officials who take their orders in Paris, it saw its army (recruited by means of engagement and, above all, conscription) grow steadily. Its three departments ultimately supplied, in 1812, a force of around 12,000 men, a Division of combined arms which maintained war units both in Spain (from 1808) and in the Grande Armée.

              The conditions of evolution of the Adriatic area are somewhat different, with two zones and therefore two separate military commands. From 1805, France obtained sovereignty over Istria and Dalmatia29, to which were added in 1809 Carinthia, Carniola, Illyria and part of Croatia. The whole then forms a single territorial entity directly attached to the Empire, the Illyrian Provinces, where conscription and the Civil Code are gradually being introduced, that is to say the French structures. Militarily, Napoleon ensured its protection through French and Italian units which supported the local formations. These offer multiple faces. Some, with disparate armaments, small numbers and rudimentary training, are kept in their traditional functions of policing and territorial defense (this is the case for example of the pandours). Others, newly organized (for example the Illyrian Light Regiment30through voluntary service, then conscription, represent the beginning of a real upgrading to imperial military standards. Finally, six Croatian border-regiments, made up of sedentary peasant-soldiers established in the zone of military confines (the "Kordun"), were ceded by Austria to France in 1809. Their specificity (a permanent mobilization within a precise legal framework is used to constitute field forces (3 Infantry Regiments, a Regiment of Hussars) for the benefit of the Grande Armée. But this enormous effort exhausted their lively substance and aroused a deep resentment which explains the revolts of summer 181331.

              The Ionian Islands, for their part, represent a tiny autonomous sector. Occupied from 1797 to 1799, lost then found back in 1807, partially taken over by the English two years later, they are mainly organized, for the portion remaining French, around the garrison of Corfu. Napoleon, too, tried to develop local military participation to relieve the Franco-Italian defense forces by the same amount, creating a "septinsular Battalion" (made up of Neapolitan, Italian, Dalmatian volunteers and Austrian prisoners) , a squadron of "Ionian Horse Chasseurs", two artillery Companies, a Company of sappers, a Company of veterans and a Company of gendarmerie32.

              Finally, the whole of the Illyro-Ionian forces represented, on 1 January 181333, a little more than 16,000 men, which remains insufficient to ensure an effective defense (since only a small part of the Croats is under arms). A more detailed study of the call booklets34shows that in reality, the protection of the Illyrian Provinces is entrusted to 21,084 men (63.5% of Illyrians, 11% of Italians and 25.5% of French) , that of the Ionian Islands with 10,634 soldiers, French (68%), Illyrian and Ionian (20%) and finally Italian (12%). However, the French army (and to a lesser extent its Italian counterpart) supplied most of the specialized units, in this case the artillery and engineering Companies. In terms of general military policy, there is above all a mobilization effort and a start to normalization in terms of French structures, which is part of the overall process of integration of the Illyrian Provinces, but is conducted in an extremely pragmatic way, by superimposing new formations on already existing units, gradually transformed or regrouped rather than brutally suppressed.

              29 [This makes it possible to resolve a recruitment problem. By January 1802, the Consulate had indeed transformed the "Greek" and "cophte" legions into a "Battalion of Chasseurs of Orient" (or "Battalion of Greek Chasseurs on foot"), confined to Toulon. From 1806, this unit garrisoned in Ragusa, in order to facilitate the recruitment of Albanian volunteers.]
              30 [Established in 1810, this unit receives a composite officering. The Croatian Regiments thus supply a part of the non-commissioned officers, while the Corps of officers is made up of a third of French and two thirds of Belgians or soldiers previously in the service of Austria.]
              )
              31 [BRUN (J.-F), "The failure of French military colonies (1809-1813)", Revue historique des armées, no 248.]
              32 [Knowing that the appellations remain misleading compared to the usual volume of French units. Thus the septinsular Battalion has only 88 soldiers (including 20 officers!), Ionian Horse Chasseurs, 4 officers and 60 non-commissioned officers or horsemen (call of January 1, 1813, AN, AF * IV 863).]
              33 [AN, AF * IV 863.]
              34 [AN, AF * IV 863, call book of January 1, 1813.]

              Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:43.

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              • #8
                Troops from sovereign states supplying a specified number of recruits

                This particular section only concerns Swiss units. Renewing in 1798 with the practices of the Ancient Regime, the Directory had concluded the provision, for the benefit of the French army, of a contingent of 18,000 soldiers equipped and paid by the Republic, the signatory cantons committing to their side to permanently maintain this full workforce. The treaty of alliance of September 27, 1803, which incorporates most of these provisions, provides for the establishment of four Infantry Regiments (16 Battalions, 4 regimental Artillery Companies), or 16,000 volunteers engaged for 4 years (with possibility of re-engagement for 2, 4, 6 or 8 years) fully supervised by Swiss officers35 . The system works perfectly, the annual quota (provided monthly by 1 / 12th) amounting to 2,000 men until April 1, 1813, at 3,000 from this date36. In addition, these troops prove usable without restriction in all theaters37 . We can also add to these regiments the Battalion of Valais (created in 1805 then integrated in 1811 into the 11th Light Infantry Regiment, the canton having become French the previous year) and the Battalion of Neuchâtel, organized in 1807 in the principality of which Marshal Berthier received sovereignty.

                35 [Apart from the function of colonel general, a remunerative sinecure taken over from the Ancient Régime, which consists of commanding the Swiss troops stationed in Paris and supervising the other regiments affected in the rest of the territory. This job will be held by Marshals Lannes, from 1807 to 1809, then Berthier, from 1809 to 1814.]
                36 [AN, AF IV 1119.]
                37 [Which led, in particular to Baylen, in 1808, the Swiss of the Empire (white pants, red jacket) to fight the Swiss of the Spanish camp (white pants, blue jacket). This case represents a completely new scenario, the agreements signed between cantons and "employer" states explicitly providing for a real "right of withdrawal", in order to avoid fratricidal clashes between Swiss mercenaries.]

                Last edited by daddut roger; 27 Apr 20, 05:42.

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                • #9
                  Troops from areas become allied states

                  The Polish volunteers are mainly mentioned here who, after the last partition of their country in 1795, decided to continue the fight. A legion, created on January 9, 1797 (and soon doubled by a second), strengthened the Lombard Republic, then the Cisalpine Republic. Another set up in September 1799 (known as the "Legion of the Danube") joined the French army. Transformed in December 1801 into three infantry demi-brigades, they were then dispersed in 1802-1803. Two of them became the 113th and 114th French half-brigades38, the last going to the service of the Italian Republic in 1802, then of the kingdom of Naples in 1806. The creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw then made it possible to freely dispose of the recruiting area. Polish units serving in the French army now form a parallel branch, in the direct service of Napoleon, of the troops of the Grand Duchy39. Two legions, raised in September 1806, joined the military forces of the new state the following year. A third, organized in April 1807, integrated the detached units into the Neapolitan army. Initially in the service of Westphalia, it passed in March 1808 in the French army, under the name of "legion of the Vistula", then merged in June 1812 with a second legion of the Vistula constituted in 1809. Finally, when begins the Russian campaign, the Poles in direct service of the Empire represent three Cavalry Regiments (1st Lancers of the Guard, 7th and 8th Light Horse)40and four Infantry Regiments (only three of which actually exist). The Russian campaign made it possible to expand these units by recruiting from the new province of Lithuania (which also organized its own army with the support of instructors from the Grand Duchy)41another Regiment of Lancers (with only two Squadrons) and a Squadron of Tatars transferred into the Imperial Guard.

                  38 [Which is not an innovation. In November 1793, in fact, the foreign free legion created the previous year (see note 7) had been transformed into the 31st half-brigade of Light Infantry and 13th Regiment of Chasseurs on horse of the French army.]
                  39 [At the beginning of 1812, the army of the Grand Duchy was made up of 17 Infantry Regiments (54 Battalions), 16 Cavalry Regiments (64 Squadrons), 2 Artillery Regiments, as well as Train and Engineers units required.]
                  40 [The 1st Lancers entered the Imperial Guard in 1807, the 7th and 8th Light Horses were set up in 1811 with the squadrons of the Vistula legion.]
                  41 [The Lithuanian army was to eventually include 6 Infantry Regiments, 4 Cavalry Regiments, 2 Battalions of the National Guard and a gendarmerie. However, at the time of the withdrawal of the Grand Army, only one Infantry Regiment, the Lancers of the Guard and the Tatar Squadron, had been set up.]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Troops from territories that the Empire strives to conquer

                    The latter category includes the Spanish and Portuguese contingents. Under the Treaty of Sainte-Ildefonse of 1796, Spain, an ally of France, assembled in the summer of 1807 a division of 15,000 men (identified by the name of its leader, the Marquis de La Romana) to fight with the Grande Armée. The unit entered Denmark in March 1808. But the confiscation of the throne of Madrid by Napoleon soon leads to the rupture between the two states. With the help of the Royal Navy, 8,000 Spaniards manage to leave Denmark. The others, de facto prisoners, have the choice between captivity or rallying to the new king, Joseph Bonaparte. A minority adopted this latter solution and in 1809 formed the Infantry Regiment "Joseph-Napoleon"42, doubled in February 1812 by a Battalion of sappers, these two units now appearing likely to supplement their strength thanks to Spanish nationals, choosing the French side or prisoners wishing to recover their freedom43.

                    The case of the Portuguese remains relatively similar. After the invasion of 1807, then the defeat of the French, the majority of the military (augmented by civilians of combat age) took service in the Anglo-Portuguese army which opposed the Napoleonic forces44. Nevertheless, a small fraction integrates the imperial camp (probably like their Spanish counterparts both by conviction and by opportunity). In May 1808 is therefore organized a Portuguese legion, authorized to recruit, from February 1809, Prussian and Spanish prisoners of war and German and Austrian deserters (which places it, from this moment, in the Corps with heterogeneous recruitment)45. Keeping the initial strength nevertheless proved impossible and, in May 1811, the Division of combined arms (Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery) was reduced to a large Infantry Brigade (3 Regiments and a Battalion depot in Grenoble).

                    42 [AN, AF IV 1185. The Joseph-Napoleon Regiment represented around 3,100 men at the start of 1813.]
                    43 [The influx of Spanish captives led Napoleon to create, by the decree of February 23, 1811, 30 Battalions of pioneers (composed of prisoners of war) which will be used, for half, for fortification works, for the other half directly by the “Ponts et Chaussées” (Bridges and Roads). Then, in April 1811, 8 new Battalions were formed "for the maritime works of ports, basins and harbors". As also provided for by the decree of 13 Floréal year VII (May 3, 1799), the pioneers receive half of the pay of the French units (knowing that they are likely to supplement this "fixed salary" by the gains obtained as workers). Finally, in 1811, a Company of pioneers and a Company of veterans were organized to receive the soldiers of the Joseph-Napoleon Regiment, dismissed for indiscipline or too old to provide war service.]
                    .
                    44 [Lord Beresford recreated, from 1808, a Portuguese Army whose active forces numbered 108,000 men in 1812. BARDIN (E.), Army Dictionary, t. 3, p. 3543.]
                    45 [The Portuguese element even becoming a minority since the 2,817 soldiers who reach France are mixed, from February 1809, with 4,503 non-Portuguese. PIGEARD (A.), Dictionary of the Grande Armée, p. 373.]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Reasoned use of foreign contingents

                      The integration into the French army of Corps recruited from outside the country gave rise to a certain number of specific behaviors, even precautions. All these units (except the Swiss) include a variable proportion of French soldiers, sometimes simply a part of the officers, sometimes also a portion of the troops (notably through conscripts intended to increase the number, or Companies or Battalions juxtaposed with foreign volunteers within the framework of a new regiment)46. On the other hand, the use of these formations hardly differs from that of other units of the French army. The nationality of origin can however prove to be an asset, by avoiding (or prohibiting) any collusion with the population or, conversely, leading to restrictions of use. It is thus necessary, at the southern tip of the Illyrian Provinces, to replace the garrisons of Orthodox Croats with Roman Catholic Croats47, in order to avoid any rapprochement with the Montenegrin agitators (supported by Russian officers) of the Cattaro region.

                      The question of Allied contingents presents itself in a slightly different way, and first of all in terms of command. When they act within the framework of a "classic" alliance between States having signed, on an equal footing, a text excluding any formal subordination, the troops are led by their own leaders. This is particularly the case of the Wuerttemberg, Baden or Bavarian Corps in 1805, the Austrian Corps and the Danish Division in 1812, which therefore retain a certain latitude of action and choice. The latter is reflected for example by the extreme slowness of movement of the Austrians in November 1812, which led to weakening the overall structure of the Grande Armée after the passage of the Bérézina, illustrating on this occasion the structural weakness of the coalition armies. On the other hand, the existence of strict military agreements (such as those binding the States of the Confederation of the Rhine to Paris) makes it possible to place under French command the allied detachments of a Corps or Division level48. The contingents of a smaller volume (Brigade, Regiment, Battalion) are generally integrated into large French units.

                      The major fact, as far as the allies are concerned, remains their participation in the overall military system. It seems particularly important, in the process of building an imperial Europe, to see them fighting in all theaters of operations (Spain, Germany, Russia) or, more simply, contributing to the overall security of their geographic area (hence the Italian detachments in the Illyrian Provinces, the German contingents within the Davout army or even the permanence of Franco-Polish-German garrisons in the occupied Prussian fortresses)49. General remark that could be illustrated by precisely following the fate of each of the contingents. However, only one example will be mentioned, that of the four duchies of Reuss, whose 450 men served successively in Spain (1808), Tyrol (1809) and then in Russia (1812) before participating in the defense of Danzig (in 1813).
                      This global vision finally explains that the extra-national Corps of the French army could have changed "employer" from the moment Paris decided. This is reflected in the successive assignments of certain Polish units, or the fact that the black pioneers (3 Companies in 1802, 1 Battalion in 1803) became in 1806 the Royal African, serving Naples, while in the same year , a Dalmatian legion is integrated into the Italian army50.
                      Loyalty to France is also a fundamental variable, both in terms of foreign Corps from the Imperial Army and the Allied contingents. The unfailing confidence in the Poles is opposed by distrust of the Croatian border-regiments, traditionally in the service of Austria and of which an increasing number of soldiers desert, mutiny, and even fight the French from August 1813, when Vienna again goes to war with Paris. Similarly, the involvement of units from other states depends on the geopolitical situation at the time. Thus, the Prussians, forced allies of the Empire in 1812, gradually turned around, from December 1812 to February 1813, until they became the declared adversaries of France. Confederation troops experience an identical diversity of feelings. The regiment of the Duchies of Saxony was weakened during the siege of Colberg by many desertions because its soldiers did not want to fight the Prussians, their allies of the previous day. On the other hand, the Hessians were the last to abandon Napoleon in 1813 and did not separate from the Grande Armée until Erfurt, on the orders of the Emperor.

                      Concretly, the use of Allied contingents has evolved over the years. In 1805, numerically unimportant, these troops served as auxiliaries in maneuvers in the theater orchestrated by Napoleon, then in the overall peacetime system. The turning point came in 1809. Part of the French units being in Spain, the Emperor was forced to use the Confederation Regiments on the front line. The German corps therefore maneuvered and fought fully alongside French or Italian detachments, this trend only increasing in 1812.

                      As we have seen, the strictly military use of extranational or allied contingents is coupled with geopolitical concerns. Thus, the La Tour d´Auvergne Regiment was partially supervised by noble officers who had fought the Republic. That of Belgian Light Horses, set up in 1806, receives officers from noble families who have never served France. This is a way to rally the clans of notables (like the distribution of posts in the prefectural administration, diplomacy or the Court) to the Empire, while being certain that after a few campaigns, the new came will be fully accepted by the army51. The reasoning is pushed to its end when the Belgian Light Horses welcome in 1807 a fifth squadron, made up of Germans from the Duchy of Arenberg, the regimental command then returning to the Duke of Arenberg, engaged to a cousin of the Empress Josephine. Then, after having chased the partisans of Schill, this Corps becomes, in May 1808, the 27th Chasseurs on horseback (French) which fights in Spain, in Saxony and in France, feeding from this moment its ranks with conscripts often of Belgian origin or German.

                      It is, however, within the Guard, a showcase for the Grande Armée, that we most easily find examples where the symbolic aspect covers political concerns. Until 1807, his recruitment remained exclusively French, with the exception of the Company (or Squadron depending on the period) of Mamluks, formed in 1801 with indigenous auxiliaries from the Egyptian army. However, over the years, the proportion of French, Albanian or Illyrian soldiers has continued to grow. In 1814, only 18 Mamelukes are still from the Middle East. Here, however, the foreign element is not aimed at tangibly increasing the number of fighters. Equipped and dressed in an oriental style, these horsemen constitute the living memory of the military-scientific expedition which remains one of the foundations of the cultural aura of the new regime. Their existence is above all based on a logic of prestige, especially during the Emperor's triumphal entries. Similarly, the presence of the Infantry Battalion of the Italian Royal Guard in the Imperial Guard during the campaign of 1805, or the integration of elite Dutch units52 respond to Napoleon's concern to concretely mark the political belonging of these territories to its area of sovereignty. Equally interesting is the case of the two Battalions of Royal Velites, made up of sons of Dutch soldiers who died in service, orphans and found children. Incorporated into the Guard in January 1811, in March they became the nucleus of the Pupil Regiment, which welcomed adolescents drawn from the hospices of the Empire and which ended up counting, in 1812, 9 Battalions, or 8,000 young Dutch, Belgians, Italians, Germans and French, partly versed, in 1813, in the Regiments of Tirailleurs.

                      The elite Corps, however, fully play their role of vector of integration with the Light Horse Lancers from Poland and Berg. The 1st Light Horse (Polish) is indeed integrated almost immediately after its formation, while the military capabilities of its members are far from justifying such an honor. But, recruited from the “owners or sons of owners”, required to provide their horse, their harness and their uniform, they come from this world of notables whose membership is essential to the Napoleonic construction53. The reasoning turns out moreover identical with regard to the Berg Light Horses, also made up of well-to-do volunteers who, after having fought in Spain, were attached to the Guard in December 1809. In 1812, the Regiment of Light Horses and the Tatar Squadron recruited in Lithuania follow a similar logic. In short, in all cases, membership in the Guard reflects the importance given to the territory of origin. From this point of view, the creation of the two Velite Battalions of Turin and Florence follows a comparable pattern since the Italian recruits who compose them are supervised by officers and non-commissioned officers from the Old Guard.

                      The Russian campaign, which saw the weight of the foreign element growing in the Grand Army, was also bringing about a number of changes within the elite Corps. But these modifications seem to arise, at first, from functional reasons. Six Polish Battalions thus reinforce the Young Guard in October. However, the reception of foreign elements was mainly the result of military disaster. At the end of the retreat to the west of Niemen, the Roguet's Division gathers the debris of all the Regiments of the Guard into a small unit of 7,144 fighters54 capable of maneuvering in the open countryside and covering the regrouping of other corps of the Army. We can thus note in its ranks, alongside the French survivors, the presence of velites from Turin and Florence, survivors of the Italian Guard, the equivalent of two Hessian Companies and finally a detachment of 1,550 Neapolitans intended for make number.

                      The reconstitution of the Grand Army in the first months of 1813 was the occasion for mergers. The two new Regiments of Foot Grenadiers integrate French and Dutch fighters from the three Regiments that have left for Russia. The two Polish Lancers Regiments are now only one, which also hosts the Tatar Squadron. Finally, the Dutch Lancers are reinforced with the Dragoons of the Paris Guard and 500 old soldiers from the French Regiments55. However, it was not until the second Saxon campaign (August-October 1813) that a process of internationalization of the Old Guard, the only one that really has symbolic value, was truly noted. A second Infantry Division of the Old Guard was created, which included, alongside French Regiments, the Velites from Turin and Florence, a Polish Battalion (organized on September 14, practically destroyed at the end of October) and the "Leibgrenadiers" Saxons. In short, the waning Empire strives to promote its multinational image.

                      46 [The case of the 11th Light Infantry Regiment has already been mentioned. But it also happens that a unit gradually changes status. Thus, the free Battalion of Elba Island stopped recruiting foreigners in 1810 for the benefit of French conscripts. But the previously incorporated extranationals continue to serve in its ranks.]
                      47 [SHD / DAT, C6 6, letter from General Bertrand, governor of the Illyrian Provinces, to the Minister of War, June 17, 1811.]
                      48 [That is to say the large first or second rank units serving as operation pawns. The Corps wholly or partially formed by the contingents of the Confederation will thus be directed, in 1809, 1812 or 1813 by a Frenchman (with the exception of the Polish contingent whose loyalty does not make such precaution necessary).]

                      49 [Stettin, Cüstrin, Glogau, and of course Danzig.]
                      50 [But there is also the reverse example. The kingdom of Spain of Joseph Bonaparte thus sets up, in 1812, an Infantry Regiment, the Royal-Foreigner, with international recruitment, but whose nucleus is formed of ex-French prisoners of war from the army of General Dupont, who had capitulated at Baylen in 1808 and whom Napoleon, for this reason, no longer wants to see under his flags.]
                      51 [What had not been the case with the gendarmes of ordinance, quickly dissolved because they reminded too much the veterans of the revolutionary wars of the privileged Corps of the King's House.]
                      52 [See Annex 4.]

                      53 [Another example of this forced involvement of the notables, the honor guards, raised from April 1813 among the elites of the Empire or their sons, and who, required to equip and mount at their expense, formed four Light Cavalry Regiments which fought effectively during the second Saxon campaign and then distinguished themselves in 1814 "following" the imperial guard.]
                      54 [AN, AF IV 1651-B, report by Eugène de Beauharnais of February 10, 1813.]
                      55 [AN, AF IV 1173, decision of March 4, 1813.]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Towards a virtual disappearance of foreign units

                        Delays and betrayals (January-October 1813)

                        The opening of the Russian campaign had quantitatively marked the peak of the use of Allied units, particularly with the presence of the Prussian and Austrian contingents. Nevertheless, Napoleon essentially relies, for the capture of Moscow (which he hopes decisively), on the French, Franco-Italian and Polish Corps, entrusting the German, Prussian and Austrian troops, mixed with French units, the lines of communication and the wings of the general device. He thus used his national forces, in which he had full confidence, without taking advantage of the undeniable charisma which he nevertheless exercised on the Allied formations, notably those of the Confederation. The retreat from Moscow to Niemen fundamentally changes the situation. At the end of December, the Prussians signed a neutrality agreement with the Russians, before joining their ranks a few weeks later. For their part, the Austrians acted as a neutral power from January 30, 1813. While the debris of the French army led what is worth the delaying maneuver which led them to the Elbe in mid-April 1813, the Emperor, eager to resume operations in the spring, reconstitutes from Paris new forces with all available resources, units drawn from France, Italy, Spain or the Illyrian Provinces and, above all, newly raised conscripts. Confronted with the same disaster, the kingdoms of Italy and Naples, but also the States of the Confederation lead a similar approach and know difficulties identical to that of France (in particular as for the cavalry and the trains because the demand in horses exceeds immediate opportunities for remounting), despite the return from Spain of some of their experienced officers. To this is often added a certain wait-and-see attitude before the vacillations of French power. From January 1813, seditious movements agitated the kingdom of Westphalia, the Grand Duchies of Frankfurt and Berg. On March 25, Russia proclaimed the dissolution of the Confederation of the Rhine, its declaration receiving a large echo in the German States worked by the patriotic societies. Then Mecklenburg-Schwerin, delivered from the Napoleonic tutelage by the French retreat, sided with the coalition. Bavaria began informal negotiations with the allies and moved its troops out of the theater of operations, while the kingdom of Saxony joined the neutral camp on April 20. Finally, Denmark, while negotiating with England and Russia, awaits clarification of the facts of the problem. The Empire itself is touched by riots in Holland, in the Belgian departments and especially in the region of Hamburg, whose garrison must fall back on Bremen.

                        It is understandable, under these conditions, that the participation of the various states linked to the Empire was reduced56. In June 1812, the Grand Army had 322,167 Allied soldiers for a total strength of 678,080 men. As of April 25, 1813, the troops capable of entering the field represented only 200,360 potential combatants, including 23,474 allies. In short, both in absolute and relative terms, the contraction of foreign reinforcements, in terms of workforce, turns out to be obvious. In addition, their internal distribution has changed considerably. The kingdom of Italy is now carving out the lion's share (67.1% of the Allied forces against 7.9% in June 1812). As a result, the participation of the Confederation decreases in comparable proportions (27.7% against 69% in 1812). Finally, allied sovereign powers not entering, unlike the Confederation, under strict military agreements, only Denmark, Austria and Prussia have now left the French camp. The composition of the armies of Spain, on the other hand, is not subject to major changes, even if the foreign units decrease slightly, following the loss of a certain number of officers, non-commissioned officers and experienced soldiers recalled in their States of origin to supervise new recruits. Likewise, there has been no significant change in the defensive system of Italy and the Illyrian Provinces.

                        The victories of the first campaign in Saxony enabled Napoleon to regain control of the German territories, and therefore the Confederate contribution. So that on August 15, 1813, at the break of the Pleiswitz armistice, the Grande Armée aligned 53,5 Infantry Divisions and 331 Cavalry Squadrons, of which 10 and 120 respectively were made up of Allied contingents57. However, the system begins to seize up, including for extra-national units58. Then the defeats of the second Saxon campaign bring about the progressive withdrawal of the Confederation States. Bavaria signs a separate armistice on September 17 and the Saxons change parties in the middle of battle in Leipzig. Forced to retreat to Erfurt, Napoleon, who has now lost all control over Germany, frees the last contingents of the Confederation before opening a path to the Rhine, defeating the Bavarians who tried to cut off the road. When the debris of the Grande Armée reached Mainz, at the very beginning of November, only the Poles and the Italo-Neapolitans remained alongside the French army, in terms of allied contingents59.

                        56 [BRUN (J.-F.), L’économie militaire impériale à l’épreuve des guerres de la VIe coalition (1812-1814), (military economics put to the test of the wars of the 6th coalition), doctoral thesis in history, p. 780 and 781.]
                        57 [BRUN (J.-F.), Imperial military economics put to the test of the wars of the 6th coalition ..., p. 905, 920 and 921.]
                        58 [SHD / DAT, C2 706 and C2 708, the forecasts of April 15, 1813 envisaged the participation, within the Italian Observation Corps, of 12 Battalions and 2 Artillery Companies from foreign regiments, and 4 Croatian Battalions. However, on August 15, only 3 foreign and 2 Croatian Battalions could be assembled.]
                        59 [The German princes gradually joined the coalition by means of alliance treaties concluded essentially in October and November 1813 (October 3 for Bavaria, November 24 for the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg).]


                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Partial dismissal and reorganization of foreign troops (November 1813-January 1814)

                          In as much as the recruiting areas of Allied units and extra-national Corps of the Imperial Army overlap in part, the question of foreign contingents forms a whole. In this regard, the failure of the second Saxon campaign somewhat simplifies the situation. The Napoleonic territorial construction then resembles, from November 1813, a besieged fortress. In addition to the protection of Italy and Illyria, it is now necessary to organize a line of resistance at the level of the Pyrenees with the army of Spain which, hustled in June in Vittoria, failed in October in its attempt to counter-offensive and definitively lost control of the Iberian Peninsula. However, its troops still count 4,999 Confederation soldiers60, 509 officers, 9,647 non-commissioned officers and Spanish soldiers of King Joseph61 and finally the Italian and Neapolitan contingents (around 9,000 men)62. But recent developments in the diplomatic situation has profoundly modified the status of some of these combatants, to the point of causing Napoleon himself to make this observation63 : “We are in a moment when we cannot count on any foreigner. This can only be extremely dangerous for us.

                          Returning immediately the Italian and Neapolitan formations previously in the Grande Armée and in Spain to the Italian peninsula to strengthen their defense, the Emperor undertook to settle the question of the allies in the aggregate by the decree of November 25, 181364, including article 16 prescribes that "the Westphalian troops, as well as those of Baden, Würzburg, Frankfurt and Nassau who are in the army of Spain, will be disarmed and sent into the interior as prisoners of war". But the reactions of the French command turned out to be too slow and, on the night of December 10 to 11, three Battalions of the Confederation deserted to the enemy65. Articles 10 and 11 suppressed Spanish units, including soldiers are henceforth prisoners of war or versed in the pioneer Battalions, excluding the French officers and soldiers of the former Royal Guard and the Joseph-Napoleon Regiment who join the Imperial forces. The Portuguese, finally, (an Infantry Battalion and a Cavalry Depot)66 suffered an identical fate.

                          The decree of 25 November also addresses the case of the offline Corps of the French Army. The Illyrian Regiment is abolished, the French, Poles and Irish who served there joining the Imperial Infantry, the Illyrians and Germans, the colonial Battalions. For their part, foreign Regiments and Battalions are restructured. Russians, Germans, Swedes and, more generally, all the soldiers whose homeland of origin is at war with France, are versed in the Battalions of pioneers. At the same time, French, Irish, Polish and Italian, passing from one Corps to another, constitute three Regiments likely to be supplemented with conscripts of the class 1815.

                          There remain Corps organized by nationality, which is the subject of various solutions. The situation of the Swiss remains unchanged. On the other hand, the Empire, having lost control of the Illyrian Provinces, reduced on November 6,67, the Albanian Regiment to two Battalions (instead of the six theoretical), and formed in Corfu a depot of Albanian refugees, Paris taking charge of the disbursements at the rate of one franc per day for any man or male child over ten years old, sixty cents for a boy under ten years old and only fifty cents for women and girls. The Croatian units present in France or in Italy are disarmed and transformed into pioneer Battalions68. Napoleon specifies however, with regard to the Illyrians, that "if there are these young people who want to enter the service, abandon their country and who speak French and seem attached to the cause of France, they can be used in French Regiments 69.

                          The restrictions affecting Berg's troops turned out to be less severe than for the rest of the Confederation, given the particular situation of the Grand Duchy. On November 1,70, France was home to two war Battalions, a regimental Artillery Company, and two Depots (one for Infantry, the other for Cavalry). The units present in the Grande Armée, on the other hand, no longer exist, while the barracks in Düsseldorf are empty because all the men have "returned home calmly"71. So that, on November 20, was created with the presents an Infantry Regiment with two Battalions, mounts and cavalry equipment being ceded to the Guard72.

                          The Poles, for their part, had a special destiny. Shaken in February-March 1813 by the Russian advance, the army of the Grand Duchy transited through Austrian territory (neutral) and joined the Emperor only at the time of the armistice in June. Its 12,000 men73, divided into a few large units74, were then involved in all the fighting. Gathered on the Rhine in November, cut off from their country of origin, the survivors now represent a finished stock (in the demographic and mathematical sense of the term). Incorporated into the French army, they therefore served in the Guard (1st Light Horse and 3rd Scout Regiment), in the Line (8th Light Horse reinforced by survivors of the 7th, deleted) or in the organized Polish Corps , like the old legion of the Vistula, like a real army in reduction (2 Infantry Battalions, 4 Squadrons of Lancers, 5 Artillery Companies, 1 Company of sappers)75.

                          Overall, the decisions of November and December 1813 resulted in the definition of three different statutes. Most of the former Allied troops (mainly Spanish) are now prisoners of war, as are the enemy combatants captured during previous operations. Another part, as well as the offline Corps of the Imperial Army whose loyalty was not assured (the Croats for example), was disarmed and transformed into pioneer Battalions (organized militarily and always paid by Paris). But these palliative solutions could not be applied within the besieged garrisons of Germany, so that the troops of foreign origin (Spaniards, Croats or Germans of the ex-Confederation) create enormous problems with the governors of the places until their exit more or less negotiated. In addition, on French territory, all of the disarmed Allied units and prisoners of war formed a mass of 120,000 men76 likely to create unrest (as demonstrated by the Croatian mutiny of the 2nd Colonial Battalion in Bastia in April 1814 )77. Hence the introduction of strict security and surveillance measures at a time when it is important to pool all the country's resources to face the invasion.

                          What remains of the offline Corps, restructured on a case-by-case basis and dispersed over all theaters of operations, is numerically equivalent to a small Army Corps whose loyalty is not really questionable, but whose reduced manpower cannot compensate for the weakness of the imperial forces78. In short, in the first days of 1814, from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, only French troops operate, augmented by a few foreign units in the direct service of Napoleon (representing a little less than 5% of the total strength)79, while the kingdom of Italy continues, quite logically, to be defended by a Franco-Italian army (without the participation of the Neapolitan contingent since Murat began a diplomatic rapprochement with Austria, and therefore the coalition.).

                          Furthermore, new fact, the reliability of conscripts must be measured in terms of their geographic origin. So that the Emperor took, from November 1813, a certain number of preventive measures, in connection with the loss of control of the Dutch and Belgian departments. On the 25th, he ordered the removal of the 12th and 13th Voltigeurs marching for Brussels "all the Belgians and the Dutch who would be in these two regiments"80. A few days later, a decree81 enjoined to dismantle, disarm and imprison " all the honor guards of the 32nd Military Division and Holland”. Notables or sons of notables, they will (at least we hope) respond to the French arrested and retained in these same territories by the insurgent powers. In fact, at a more critical moment than ever, Napoleon was forced to resort only to the old provinces, to the exclusion of his own annexations (except of course Italy).

                          60 [AN, AF * IV 1577, call of the armies of Spain on November 1, 1813.]
                          61 [AN, AF * IV 1577, call of the armies of Spain on November 1, 1813 and AN, AF * IV 879, summary of the troops present in the interior of the Empire on November 1, 1813.]
                          62 [AN, AF * IV 880, officers from the Grande Armée and AN, AF * IV 1577, officers from the armies of Spain and Catalonia.]

                          63 [Note dictated by Napoleon to Count Daru, Saint-Cloud, November 15, 1813 (Correspondence from Napoleon I, letter no 20 893). This theme will be taken up in a letter to General Clarke on November 25 (Correspondence from Napoleon I, letter no. 20,940).]
                          64 [Decree of 25 November 1813 (AN, AF IV 829 and Bulletin des Lois, 1813).]
                          65 [AN, AF * IV 1578.]
                          66 [AN, AF * IV 879, call of November 1, 1813.]

                          67 [AN, AF IV 824, decree of November 6, 1813.]
                          68 [Articles 8 and 9 of the decree of 25 November 1813.]
                          69 [Letter No. 20 987 from Napoleon to General Clarke, Paris, December 8, 1813, Correspondence from Napoleon I.]
                          .
                          70 [AN, AF * IV 879, call of November 1, 1813.]
                          71 [AN, AF IV 828, testimony of the imperial commissioner of Düsseldorf, November 3, 1813.]

                          72 [AN, AF IV 828.]
                          73 [AN, AF IV 1650. Exactly 12,070 presents at the call of July 29, 1813.]
                          74 [The Grande Armée appeal booklet of August 15, 1813 (SHD / DAT, C2 708) indicates that the Poles are divided between the Guard (7 Squadrons), the 1st AC (4 Battalions, 8 Squadrons, 1 Artillery Company ), the 8th AC (10 Battalions, 6,5 Squadrons, 8 Artillery Companies) and the 4th Cavalry Corps (24 Squadrons, 2 Artillery Companies).]

                          75 [Decrees of December 4 (AN, AF IV 837), December 13 (AN, AF IV 837), December 18 (AN, AF IV 838) and December 20, 1813 (AN, AF IV 839).]
                          76 [Note dictated to Count Daru, Saint-Cloud, November 15, 1813 (Correspondence from Napoleon I, letter no 20 893). The war administration initially planned to maintain 59,000 prisoners of war in 1813 (NA, AF IV 1185). Events have therefore led to a doubling of this figure.]
                          77 [SHD / DAT, XL 30.]
                          78 [The whole is summarized as follows: foreign Regiments: 8 Battalions, 2 Depots; Albanian: 2 Battalions; Grand Duchy of Berg: 2 Battalions, 1 Company of sappers; Poles: 2 Battalions, 10 Squadrons, 5 Artillery Companies, 1 Company of sappers; Swiss: 17 Battalions, 3 Depots.]
                          79 [This approximation (very exactly 4.9%) is probably an overestimation. It is obtained by relating the total theoretical strength of foreign units (33,060 men) to the total strength of the Napoleonic armies (672,841 present) at that time. BROWN (J.-F.), Imperial military economy ..., p. 1079).]
                          80 [Letter no 20 943 from Napoleon to General Clarke, Paris, 25 November 1813, Correspondence from Napoleon I.]
                          81 [AN, AF IV 835, decree of December 7, 1813.]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As a conclusion

                            The fall of the Empire brought about a certain normalization. Foreign units (as well as most conscripts from departments attached to France since 1792) returned to their country of origin82. The First Restoration, however, retained four Foreign Regiments83. as well as the Swiss augmented by units recreated within the Military House of the King84 (which the Emperor will suppress in March 181585, demonstrating there that foreign recruitment remains dependent on internal or external political developments). Returning to power during the Hundred Days, Napoleon recalled the demobilized soldiers and welcomed a number of extranational volunteers who, mixed with existing foreign units, ultimately formed eight "Foreign Regiments" with relatively uniform recruitment86.

                            The 1815 campaign saw soldiers who, in the recent past, fought side by side. The French troops collide in particular with the Belgian units or that of Nassau. After Waterloo, in September 1815, the Second Restoration reorganized (and further reduced) the French Army. On this occasion, it dismissed the Foreign Regiments (replaced by the Hohenlohe Legion alone)87 and strengthened the recruitment of the Swiss who now form a quarter of the Infantry of the Royal Guard88. Waterloo also marked the entry into the 19th century, that of the nation-states where the part of foreign soldiers becomes a minority, or even disappears completely from the military organizational charts of the various countries. In France, the July Monarchy (which has just replaced the Restoration) dismissed the Swiss troops from August 11, 1830, transformed the Hohenlohe Regiment into the 21st Light Infantry Regiment on January 5, 1831 and finally created, on March 10, the Foreign Legion, intended to accommodate all extra-national volunteers wishing to serve in the French Army.

                            In retrospect, the participation of non-French contingents in the Napoleonic war effort poses the question of the imperial dynamic, which strives to build a nation-State in a process radically opposite to that of the State-nation, for lack of what the centrifugal forces will burst the new political construction. The parallel with the role of auxiliary troops or the recruitment of Gallic or German legionaries in the Roman armies immediately comes to mind. In fact, the French army seems to play an integrating role similar to that held, in everyday life, by the Civil Code, the Commercial Code and the Customs Laws resulting from the continental blockade. Likewise, the senators and members of the Legislative Assembly from the united departments respond to senior or general officers from these same territories. But, as in all other areas, defeat breaks this assimilating dynamic. The recourse to the allied element (718,000 men out of a little more than 3 million combatants approximately, from 1800 to 181489, that is to say a quarter of the total force over the whole of the period considered) turns out to be a true marker of the geopolitical power of France (whose postures of strength or weakness translate into the yardstick of foreign contingents). The unifying efforts of Napoleon collide here with the antagonistic idea of nationality, which ends up prevailing, both among its declared adversaries and in the Germany of the Confederation, thus translating the new geopolitical deal resulting from the social upheavals of the Revolution.

                            82 [The decree of April 23, 1814 (Bulletin des Lois, 1814) dissolves the Corps of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Croatian and Illyrian pioneers. A second decree of the same day dismissed the Dutch officers and artillerymen. In addition, the royal ordinance of May 12 (Bulletin des Lois, 1814) specifies that "officers born in countries which, at peace, will no longer be part of France" will be free to leave the French army or to continue to serve there, which implies that non-commissioned officers and soldiers of foreign origin, still present under arms, remain in the French regiments. In addition, 109 Polish Lancers accompanied Napoleon to the Elba Island before forming, in the Hundred Days, the 1st Squadron of the Regiment of Light Horse Lancers of the Guard which fought in Waterloo.]
                            83 [The royal ordinance of December 16, 1814 (Bulletin des Lois, 1814) reorganizes the 3 Foreign Regiments and creates the "Foreign Colonial Regiment" in order to welcome the Spanish and Portuguese who served France and cannot (or do not want) return to their country]
                            84 [The Compagnie des 'Cent-Suisses' (Hundred-Swiss) and the Swiss Guard units are reconstituted on the model of 1789.]
                            85 [Imperial Ordinance of March 13, 1815 (Bulletin des Lois, 1815).]

                            86 [The 1st Regiment is Piedmontese, the 2nd Swiss, the 3rd Polish, the 4th German, the 5th Belgian, the 6th Hispano-Portuguese, the 7th Irish, the 8th Italian. The transformation, on May 20, of the 1st Foreigner into the 31st Light, which fully assimilates it to French units, has obvious political significance.]
                            87 [Royal Ordinance of September 6, 1815 (Bulletin des Lois, 1815).]
                            88 [The Royal Guard lost, in 1815, a certain number of prestige units and became a veritable elite army corps, whose weight increased proportionally within a reduced French army. From 1815 to 1830, the French army included in its ranks the Cent-Suisses, 6 Swiss Infantry Regiments (including 2 in the Guard), the Hohenlohe Regiment, as well as some foreign soldiers from the Imperial Army, who serve individually in the Departmental Legions (new and provisional name of Infantry Regiments) during the first years of the Restoration. CORVISIER (A.), Military history of France, t. 2, p. 435.]
                            89 [Colonel Carles summarized precisely the participation of the Allied contingents: 84,800 Poles, 121,000 Italians, 30,000 Neapolitans, 110,000 Bavarians, 66,100 Saxons, 48,700 Wurtemburgers, 52,500 Westphalians, 29,000 Badois, 13,200 soldiers from the Great-Duchy of Berg and 60,500 from small German states, 15,000 Spanish, 17,000 Dutch, 24,000 Danes, 30,000 Austrians and 17,000 Prussians. See: CORVISIER (A.) (dir.), Military history of France, t. 2, p. 319. The strength of the French armies results from the addition of soldiers from the armies of the Revolution (around 350,000), the 52,000 volunteers and the 2 million conscripts raised from 1800 to 1814.]

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                            • #15
                              Annex 1
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