Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


Organization of the Savoy-Piedmont-Sardinian Armies 1792-1815

Part II: The French Alliance (May 1796 – December 1798)

By Ludovic Isnard


After the Cherasco's armistice and Paris peace treaty, the Kingdom of Piemont-Sardinia recognised its military defeat against the revolutionary France. According to the accords the Duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice were to be annexed to France and the army of the kingdom was to be reduced a little.

These troops had to repel the assaults of the Levant's army (from the Cisalpine Republic) and of the Ligurian army, attacks that were guided by the Directoire in Paris, who had finally to commit French troops to annex Piemont.

Line and Light Infantry

National Regiments:

All of them are kept, 11 regiments composed now of 2 battalions, 116 men in total, the only exception being the Guard Regiment who had 1500 men.

Regiments recruited in the county of Nice changed their name:  La Marine became Oneglia and Nice became Cuneo (changing its status to provincial regiment)

The Chablais Regiment (referring to the Duke of Chablais, brother of the king and not to Chablais, the border province with Geneva canton) became Alessandria.

It is to be noted that the Savoy Regiment doesn't refer anymore to the province but now to the name of the King's dynasty.

The joint grenadiers and chasseurs battalion were dissolved and each unit returned to its original regiment.

Provincial Regiments

On 18th October 1796, the provincial regiments were reduced to 10 regiments of a single battalion of 762 men:


 The 2 Savoyard's regiments were logically dissolved (Genevois and Maurienne) and the Lombards regiments (Tortone and Novare) numbers were transferred to the national regiment of Alessandria.

The soldiers of the 2 provincial elite's regiments were to be transferred to national troops regiments:

Royal Grenadiers are suppressed and men transferred to the Guard Regiment

The pioneers and sappers formed a single battalion attached to the Royal Corps of Engineers.

Foreign Regiments

Almost all of the foreign regiments were kept. Chablais (composed of national officers and both French and Piemontese troops) became a national regiment:  Alessandria (French troops were to be replaced by men of the disciplinary battalion, men of the Domerego free company and by chasseurs of the Tortone and Novare Regiments.

They were 3 foreign regiments (all Swiss):

Valaisan (Streng becoming Bellomont)
Bernois (Rockmondet becoming Ernst)
Grison (Christ becoming Belly)

and 4 battalions:

Peyer-im-Hoff (all Swiss)
Brempt (German)

Battalion Schimdt was sdisbanded, mainly due to the massive desertion of the men, left to enlist in an English regiment recruited in Corsica.

Light Infantry

The light regiments were disbanded and created in their place were:

 a regiment of light troops of 8 companies
A Royal Piemontese Chasseur battalion (in fact a disciplinary corps, where pardoned deserters had to serve for a 16 year period) that will be later disbanded, the soldiers being transferred in their original corps.

Artilley and Engineers

Artillery was reduced:

2 battalions (one of which is classed as provincial troops):  896 men (national) and 420 men (provincial, in fact the former gunners of the provincial troops)
It comprised 12 gunners companies, one "bomber" company (Bombisti), one worker company, one sapper company (zappatori) and one miner company.
A Sardinian company of 87 men

For the engineers:

An engineer battalion of 5 pioneers companies and a bridgebuilding company.

Milita, Free Corps and Miscellaneous Troops

In May 28th 1796 the King ordered the disbanding of the militia, the general headquarters, logistic services (notably the "Dragoni di provianda")

The numbers of various free corps company were to be transferred in national regiments:

Free Company















La Reine




Two regiments were disbanded:  Aoste Cavalry and Chablais's dragoons as well as the 2 Sardinian dragoons serving on the main land.

Only 6 regiments were left (all national), comprising 4 squadrons of 106 men (87 horsemen only)

King's Dragoons
Queen's Dragoons
Piemont's Dragoons
Savoy Cavalry,
His Majesty's Chevau-légers

Still in existence were the:

Gardes du corps (180 men)
Sardinian Dragoon regiment  (226 men; 106 horsemen)


Now comprise:

Swiss Guard (113 men)
Arquebusier's guards of the Palace (260 men)
Hunt's dragoons (107 men)
Royal Sardinian Hallbardiers (25 men)

On 25 February 1797, an offensive and defensive alliance was signed between France and Piemont. Piemont was to provide France with a division of 7000 infantrymen, 1000 horsemen and 40 guns against a possible maritime attack along the Mediterranean Sea. Such an auxiliary division was eventually formed under the command of Baron Fontanieux, former brigadier of the Chablais Regiment.

Its composition was:

1st Infantry Brigade (3711 men): Avogadro di Ronco (commanding Regiment la Marine)

Garde (502 men)
La Marine (496 men)
Alessandria (458 men)
Saluce (482 men)
Lombardie (478 men)
Brempt (286 men)
Zimmerman (175 men)
Peyer-im-Hoff (157 men)
Bachmann (216 men)

2nd Infantry Brigade (2735 men):  Baron de Bellemont

Savoie (461 men)
Aoste (454 men)
Piémont (504 men)
La Reine (405 men)
Christ (445 men)
Streng (466 men)

 Cavalry Brigade (1058 men):  d'Oncieu de Chaffardon (commanding the King's Dragoons)

King's Dragoons (266 men)
Piemont's Dragoons (131 men)
Queen's Dragoons (132 men)
His Majesty's Chevau léger (262 men)
Piemont Royal Cavalry (130 men)
Savoy Cavalry (134 men)

Miscellaneous Units (1492 men):

Pioneers (313 men)
Light regiment (731 men)
Free company (145 men)
Artillery (303 men)
Artillery train (303 men) with 691 horses, 10 guns, 4 obusiers.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2006


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