Organization of the Savoy-Piedmont-Sardinian Armies 1792-1815
Part I: War in the Alps (September 1792- May 1796)
Line and Light Infantry
Theoretically, each regiment counted 1385 men, closer to 1000 practically; Each battalion had 4 fusiliers companies (123 men), 1 grenadier company (123 men), 1 chasseur company (55 men) and a reserve company (136 men in the depot) plus a regimental headquarters.
The recruits were volunteers that serve for a period of 6 to 8 years:
Between 1792 and 1793, the following units were recruited:
These new regiments cost double compared to the national regiments, were always uncompleted and never reached the qualities of the national troops according to Pinelli, a XIXe Century Piemontese who wrote the history of the Piedmont's army history.
The battalion comprised 4 fusiliers companies, a grenadier company and a volunteer company.
The chasseurs companies of these provincial regiments were recruited progressively: in 1793, Maurienne and Novare; in 1794, Mondovi, Ivrée, Asti, Vercelli ; and finally in 1796 Genevois and 2 new companies for Asti.
These regiments were filled with "volunteers" in fact designated by the local parish or village and they had to serve in the regiment for 12 to 16 years. During peacetime they had to attend a yearly review of 14 days, all the officers were nobles and some under officers were free willing volunteers.
In 1792 the provincial infantry consisted of 14 war battalions (684 men each), 14 garrison battalions (380 men), 14 reserve companies (270 men) and 448 gunners.
Reorganised in 1793, it comprised then 32 fusiliers battalions (of 400 men), 28 grenadier companies (100 men), 9 chasseur companies (60 men), 14 reserve companies (270 men) and 448 gunners organised in 16 platoons.
Provincial Elite Troops (Engineers):
The " Légion des campements" (Camps legion) were created in 1775. Its task was to prepare yearly instruction camps for the provincial regiments, to act as pionneers, engineers and flank guard for the army in campaign. It took its numbers from all the provincial regiments that provided men for each speciality. The battalions were initially based in Chieri (main depot) Chivasco, Chersaco (Piedmont) and Rumilly (in Savoy)
It comprised 1640 men in 1792:
In 1793 this legion was broken up and its men formed 2 new foot regiments:
The men of the Cavalry regiment were given to the line Cavalry regiments
In 1793, the usual practise of regrouping the grenadier and chasseur companies of the line regiments was officially put on paper. These joint formations were frequently used before, and this just gave the practice formal recognition
In March 1796, these 2 battalions were grouped under the command of the Colonel marquis Colli-Ricci
Apart for the line regiments, the army organisation dating from 1775 brought to existence a light unit whose tasks was primarily the frontier guard and smuggling control:
"Légion légère", Light Legion with 4 battalions and a depot company, around 2200 men.
In April 1795, the Light legion was dissolved and formed 2 new units instead:
Regiments with 2 battalions: 4 fusiliers companies, 1 of grenadier, 1 of chasseur.
The garrison corps (740 men) was formed in the last month of 1792 to train the militia. Formed with retired soldiers, it will have 2 new companies in 1793
Militia and Irregular Corps
After the loss of Savoy and Nice in 1792, the king decided the levy of the militia, mainly to support the troops for garrison service. Each militia company should have 48 troopers at most or 36 at least (plus the headquarters), 2 companies formed a "century" (100 men) and 6 companies a virtual battalion whose officers were to be chosen by the army headquarters.
Each century had 100 men, except where indicated otherwise:
Total: 391 centuries and 35,602 men
To this total we should also add the urban militia of Torino, comprising 2500 men.
In the following years, other militia were recruited in the same regions to replace some of these levies that were incorporated in some provincial regiments.
For the 2 provinces of Savoy and the Nice county, occupied by the revolutionary French armies, the government did not have time to levy militia troops. Instead, irregular free corps ("corps francs") and volunteers took arms and formed good troops that fought side by side with the regular troops (particularly in the Nice county).
Theses free corps were used to harass enemy communication line and to make partisan attacks but also fighting with the regular troops in many fights.
A free company already existed before the start of the war against France. In 1792 it had 800 men divided in 2 corps:
At the end of 1792, the count Malabailo di Canale, former officer of the guard regiment, created a "century" (that is 2 companies) of chasseur-carabineers (337 men). In 1793, the Canale's Chasseur-Carabineers became a battalion. Recruitment included sometimes bandits, smugglers, and the like. They had a bad reputation but their behaviour on the battlefield show much courage and energy
In March 1793, Filippo del Carretto, marquis of Camarana, commanded a second "corps franc" made up of pardoned deserters (2 companies) rapidly joined by French émigrés. This corps became the chasseurs commanded by the French émigré de Bonnaud in 1793 and reached 2 companies. They were used for various dangerous missions (in the Gilette fight near Nice in 1793 for example).
From 1794, the "corps francs" are getting more and more numerous and they became organised in a greater "Corps francs" structure comprising 13 companies (2133 men):
To insure a better discipline among these various free companies, their were finally regrouped under the command of a unique man in 1795. This commander was Borgarelli D’Isone and the free corps comprised then 11 companies of 160 men each:
Notably, the Radicati's Niçois chasseurs stayed out this structure (they were formed then of 2 battalions of 4 companies, 1500 men) because they were already considered elite troops due to their excellent fighting capacity.
Cavalry regiments were made up of 4 squadrons of 2 companies each. A squadron had 93 men of whom 64 horsemen before the start of the war, as we see their strength was weaker than regiment of other European nations. Tt the start of the war in 1792, cavalry regiments could only mobilised 16 squadrons (each of 132 men of whom 100 were mounted), the other 16 squadrons (109 men each) serving in garrison.
Since 1786 and the army reorganisation, each cavalry regiment had an elite company: chasseur à cheval d'élite for the heavy cavalry regiments and horse grenadiers for the dragoons regiments.
In 1794, the company level, as the basic administrative unit, was suppressed and the regiments were split in squadrons who had always been the standard tactical formation on the field. Since 1775, the cavalry was in fact split into two wings of two brigade each:
At the top of the list of fighting Cavalry units came the:
Life guards: "Gardes du Corps" with 3 companies (120 men): 1st made up of Savoyards, 2nd made up of Piemontese and the 3rd composed of Sardinians.
The Sardinian's dragoons were not part of the dragoon wing and was garrisoned in Sardinia with its own organisation. It was one the units used (together with local militia) to repel the French revolutionary landing attempt on this island in 1792.
Artillery and Engineers
Household and Miscellaneous Troops
These were not fighting units
The disabled ex-servicemen company
In 1792 a single unit of 1000 men was in charge of the supply of the troops, the Dragoni di provianda.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2006
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