French Colonels and Colonels-in-Chief (1789): Foreign Infantry
By Stephen Millar
In 1789, 23 of the 107 infantry regiments in the service of King
Louis XVI were recruited from outside
. There were eleven Swiss regiments, eight German regiments, three
Irish regiments and one Liegeois regiment (from a city in modern-day
). Two ‘Italian’ regiments – Royal-Italien and
Royal-Corse – had been disbanded by King Louis XVI in 1788.
Only the German, Irish and Liegeois regiments possessed a colonel-in-chief.
The remaining 11 Swiss regiments had ‘field’ colonels.
Separate Swiss and Scottish companies were also attached to the
households of members of the royal family:
a) the ‘Compagnie des Cent Gardes-Suisses’ (commanded
by Louis-Hercule-Timoleon de Cosse, 9th duc de Brissac)
and the ‘Compagnie Ecossoise’ (commanded by Jean-Paul-Francois
de Noailles, duc d’Ayen) were part of the Garde du
b) the ‘Compagnie des Suisses de Monsieur’ (commanded
by Louis, prince de Saint-Mauris) was attached to the household
of Louis-Stanislas-Xavier, comte de
c) the ‘Compagnies des Suisses d’Artois’ (commanded
by the vicomte de Monteil) was attached to the household of Charles-Philippe,
comte d’Artois – who also held the rank of ‘Colonel-General
des Suisses et Grisons’.
Eleven Swiss regiments (Numbers 65, 66, 67, 68, 71, 78, 87, 88,
98, 100, 103):
65. Regiment Suisse d’Ernst
Beat-Rodolphe d’Ernst (born 1722); colonel of Infantry Regiment
Nr. 65 from 1782; died 1818.
66. Regiment Suisse de Salis (-Samade[n])
Rodolphe-Gustave-Hubert de Salis-Samade[n] (born 1732); colonel
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 66 from 1785; died 1807.
67. Regiment Suisses de Sonnenberg
Antoine-Theorin de Sonnenberg; colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr.
67 from 1768.
68. Regiment Suisse de Castella
Lieutenant-General Rodolphe, comte de Castella (born Fribourg 21.11.1705);
colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr. 68 from 1756-1792; Inspector-General
of Swiss Troops 1759-1762; died in
71. Regiment Suisse de Vigier
Francois-Robert-Joseph-Guillaume Vigier de Steinbrugg (born 1730);
colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr. 71 from 1781; died 1794.
78. Regiment Suisse de Chateauvieux
Jacques-Andre Lullin, marquis Lullin de Chateauvieux (born 13.06.1728);
colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr. 78 from 1783-1792; Battle of Fontenoy
11.05.1745; died in
87. Regiment Suisse de Diesbach
Francois-Philippe-Nicolas-Ladislas de Diesbach, comte de Belle-Roche
(born 05.10.1747); colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr. 87 from 24.04.1785-1792;
promoted to lieutenant-general 1816; died in Saint-Germain-en-Laye
88. Regiment Suisse de Courten
Lieutenant-General Antoine-Pancrace, comte de Courten (born 06.10.1720);
entered French service 1743; colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr. 88
from 1766; died in Sierre 27.11.1789.
98. Regiment Suisse de Salis (-Grisons)
Baron de Salis-Marschlins (born 1731); colonel of Infantry Regiment
Nr. 98 from 1762; died 1815.
100. Regiment Suisse de Steiner
Hans-Jakob Steiner (born 1725); colonel of Infantry Regiment Nr.
100 from 1782; died 1808.
103. Regiment Suisse de Reinach
Antoine, baron de Reinach-Hirtzbach (born 1741); colonel of Infantry
Regiment Nr. 103 from 1786; died 1815.
Eight German regiments (Numbers 54, 63, 79, 91, 96, 99, 101, 102):
54. Regiment Allemand d’Alsace
Maximillian, comte de Rappolstein (born 27.05.1756); son of count-palatine
Friedrich, herzog zu Zweibrucken-Birkenfeld; colonel-in-chief of
Infantry Regiment 54 from 1782; Konig von Bayern from 1806; died
63. Regiment Allemand de Salm-Salm
Konstantin-Alexander-Josef , prinz zu Salm-Salm (born 22.11.1762);
colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment Nr. 63 from 13.03.1783; died
79. Regiment Allemand de La Marck
Auguste-Marie, prince d’Arenberg [known as the ‘comte
de La Marck’] (born 30.08.1753); brother of Louis-Engelbert,
3rd duke of Arenberg; colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment
Nr. 79; died 26.09.1833.
91. Regiment Allemand de Royal Suedois
Hans-Axel, comte de Fersen (born 04.09.1755) colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 91 from 1785; killed
Stockholm 10.06.1810. Ferson was a favourite courtier of Queen
96. Regiment Allemand de Royal Hesse-Darmstadt
Ludwig, Landgraf zu Hesse-Darmstadt (born 15.01.1719); colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 96 from 15.04.1780; died 13.05.1790.
99. Regiment Allemand de Nassau
Generalleutnant Ludwig-Heinrich, prinz zu Nassau-Saarbrucken (born
Saarbrucken 03.01.1745); colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment
Nr. 99; in the service of Prussia
101. Regiment Allemand de Bouillon
Godefroid-Charles de La Tour-d’Avergne, 6th duc
de Bouillon (born 26.01.1728) colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment
Nr. 101 from 1757; died 03.12.1792.
102. Regiment Allemand de Royal Deux-Ponts
Lieutenant-General Christian, marquis de Deux-Ponts and comte de
Forbach (1752-1817); son of Christian, duc-palatin de Deux Ponts
and comte-palatin de Birkenfeld (House of Wittelsbach); colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 102 from 07.03.1788.
Three Irish regiments (Numbers 89, 90, 94):
89. Regiment Irlandois de Dillon
Lieutenant-General Arthur, comte de Dillon (born 03.09.1750), colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 90 from 01.06.1788; former colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 89 (26.04.1775-01.06.1788); guillotined
in Paris on 13.04.1794.
90. Regiment Irlandois de Berwick
Jacques-Charles Fitz-James, 5th duc de Fitz-James (born
26.11.1743); colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment Nr. 90 from 1783;
94. Regiment Irlandois de Walsh
Charles-Antoine-Augustin Walsh, comte de Serrant; colonel-in-chief
of Infantry Regiment Nr. 94 from 01.06.1788.
One Liegeois regiment (Nr. 104):
104. Regiment Allemand de Royal Liegeois
Cesar-Constantine-Francois de Honsbrock, Prince-Bishop of Liege,
was the colonel-in-chief of Infantry Regiment Nr. 104 from 1787.
He appointed Joseph-Clement de Sallier, comte de La Tour (1741-1822)
as the regiment’s ‘mestre de camp proprietaire’.
prince de Saint-Mauris (guillotined 1794) was the son of Alexander-Marie-Leonor
de Saint-Mauris, prince de Montbary, a former Minister of War 1776-1780.
duchy of Bouillon was a sovereign state on
’s north-eastern border.