Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


French Colonels and Colonels-in-Chief (1789): Foreign Infantry Regiments

Appendix 1: Regiment Royal-Liegeois

(The following information was kindly provided by Frank Whitney, an enthusiast of the 101st Infanterie de Ligne.)

The Royal-Liegeois Regiment was authorized by a convention, signed at Versailles on Nov. 18, 1787, between the Prince-Bishop of Liege and King Louis XVI. According to Article Two of the agreement,  the Prince-Bishop of Liege would be the perpetual proprietor of the new regiment and have the right to propose to the King of France a subject to represent him in the position of mestre de camp proprietaire.

The individual chosen for this position was Joseph-Clement de Sallier, comte de La Tour (1741-1822), a cosmopolitan Savoyard aristocrat. At the age of 26, Sallier passed from the service of the King of Sardinia to that of the Elector of the Palatine. In 1773 (at the age of 32) he was promoted to the rank of major.

In 1777, Sallier married Baroness Frederique-Elizabeth von Weichs, the widow of his late Colonel, Francois-Joseph, comte de Hoensbroech – the older brother of the man who became Prince-Bishop of Liege in 1784. In 1786, thanks to the effort of his ‘pseudo’ brother-in-law, the Prince-Bishop, Sallier was named a Chevalier of the Order of Malta.

As one might expect, Sallier, as a foreigner, was thoroughly disliked by most members of the Liege nobility. Moreover, unlike most officers of his stature and position, he took an active role by commanding the regiment in person.  In August 1790, Sallier, with a battalion of the Royal-Liegeois, was part of Bouille's force that put down the insurrection of Royal troops at Nancy.

He was also with the regiment two months later at Belfort – the scene of a highly controversial incident. After a night of disturbances, Sallier was placed under arrest, along with the regiment's major; later both men fled across the border to avoid transfer to Paris for prosecution. Following ‘l’affaire de Belfort’, command of the Royal-Liegeois  was given to Jean, Chevalier de Ternant, who subsequently restored order.

At the time of its raising, the Royal-Liegeois had been assigned the number 107 on the roll of infantry units. On March 17, 1788, in the reshuffling of unit designations following the abolition of the Royal-Italian, Royal-Corse and Montreal regiments, the Royal-Liegeois took the number 104.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2007


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