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Thread: France: Naval Troops

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    Default France: Naval Troops

    The aim of this thread is to provide an accessible note on the naval troops of Napoleon. It will cover ships' crews, naval artillery, costal artillery, & artificers.
    Any errors are mine alone, and any corrections/clarifications are welcomed (& will be repped).

    To produce the note I will draw on: John R Elting “Swords Around a Throne”; Rene Chartrand & Francis Back “Napoleon’s Sea Soldiers”; Delauney & Guittard “Historique de l’Artillerie de la Marine”; Otto von Pivka “Navies of the Napoleonic Era”; Paul Lecene “Les Marins de la Republique et de l’Empire, 1793-1815”; Eugene Pacini “La Marine”; Alain Pigeard “L’Artillerie de Marine sous le Premier Empire” (Tradition magazine); Vice-Amiral Krantz “Historique artillerie de la marine”; Leon Hennet "Les milices et les troupes provinciales"; J.R.M. Malaize “Essai Historique & Chronologique sur les Troupes de la Marine, Depuis leur origine jusqu’a nos jours..”; Philip J Haythornthwaite “The Napoleonic Source Book”; Correspondance de Napoleon avec le ministre de la marine”; “Correspondance de l’Empereur Napoleon Ier”; Charles Pauly “Etude sur l’inscription maritime”; & La Garde Chauvin website.

    Entry for Ships’ Crews (Equipages)now posted below.

    The French Napoleonic navy had no equivalent to the British marines. Regular infantry performed that function – for example the 2nd, 16th, 67th, 70th, 79th, & 93rd line Line infantry regiments had detachments serving with Villeneuve’s fleet at Trafalgar.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; March 31, 2012 at 07:16 PM. Reason: Ships’ Crews (Equipages) entry added
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Coastal Artillery (Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes)

    On 13 December 1778 the Milices Gardes-Côtes were renamed Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes. Their job was to man the coastal batteries and to maintain the battery’s infrastructure e.g. repairing the parapets etc. They were organised in companies of 50 men. The coastal batteries were ordered to be disarmed from the start of 1783.

    The Legislative Assembly suppressed the Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes and militias on 9 September 1792. However on the same day they authorised commanders of maritime departments to requisition troops from the gardes nationaux to guard the maritime frontiers & other places by the sea including forts, redoubts, chateaux, etc. They were strengthened with artillerymen, veterans & volunteers.

    The 8 January 1796 edict of the Directory called for their suppression. The finance law of 10 September 1799 authorised 130 companies of Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes Volontaires (each of 70 men). 3 battalions of Grenadiers Gardes-Côtes were also authorised – HQ 17 personnel; each battalion comprised 9 companies totalling 895 personnel. On 16 June 1802 the Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes Volontaires were suppressed – those that met the height restrictions went into the army’s artillery - the remainder into the infantry. This did not apply to the 4 battalions (each had 800 men in 5 companies) that had been formed on 23 March 1802 from 56 companies of Gardes-Côtes. The battalions were destined for San Domingo but were incorporated into the Légion de Loire (ex- Légion de Saint-Domingue) and Légion Expéditionnaire (ex-Légion du Cap).

    The 30 June 1802 decision numbered the battalions: No 1 for the battalion formed at Brest on 1 January 1802 with the title d’expéditionnaire; No2 to the other Brest battalion formed on the same date; No 3 to the battalion constituted at Toulon on 21 April 1802, and No 4 to the battalion formed in may at Rochefort. Each battalon had a flag.

    The law of 28 May 1803 reformed the Gardes-Côtes with 100 companies of 121 personnel (recruited from those aged between 25 and 45 and at least 5 feet tall). 28 companies of Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes Sedentaires were also formed (in effect national guard – the members could not change their residence without permission).

    On 10 February 1808, two companies (1st at L’Orient and 2nd at Aix) were organised with the name compagnies des cannoniers des colonies from young volunteers who wanted to go to the colonies.

    On 22 January 1814, Napoleon instructed the Gardes-Côtes to provide27 companies of mobile artillery. They were attached to each of the army’s foot artillery regiments. The companies took the designation: 29th, 30th and 31st in each of the foot artillery regiments. 21 companies fought with the Grande Armée and the other 6 fought with the Army of Lyon.

    On 20 April 1814 the mobile companies were disbanded; the remainder of the corps suffered the same fate on 4 June 1814. Upon Napoleon’s return, his decree of 21 April reformed 80 companies of Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes and 10 companies of Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes Sedentaires. They were finally disbanded on 11 October 1815.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; March 25, 2012 at 10:03 AM. Reason: Coastal Artillery (Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes) added
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Naval Artillery (Artillerie de la Marine)

    The naval artillery was reactivated in 1795, when 7 demi-brigades were formed.

    In 1802 separate battalions were formed - on 20 June for Martinique and on 20 July for Guadeloupe. Both battalions were decimated by yellow-fever.

    In May 1803 Napoleon converted the demi-brigades into 4 regiments – the 1st and 2nd regiments each had a HQ of 15 personnel; 4 battalions of six companies (each of 204 personnel). The 2nd regiment gained a fifth battalion in June 1805. The 3rd and 4th regiments each had a HQ of 9 personnel and 2 battalions. In addition there were 4 companies of ouvriers (each of 153 personnel) and 4 companies of apprentis-cannoniers (apprentice gunners) each of 141 personnel. Service in the artillerie de la marine was by voluntary enrolment.

    On 6 October 1803 three new compagnies d’apprentis-cannoniers were created for the ports of Dunkirk, Lorient and Ostend.

    On 9 November 1804 the artillerie de la marine received the title Corps Impérial Artillerie de la Marine.

    In 1805 the compagnies d’apprentis-cannoniers were reduced to 6 – 2 at Brest; and 1 each at Toulon; Rochefort; Lorient; & Dunkirk.

    On 7 May 1805 a 5th compagnie ouvriers de la marine was created to serve Antwerp (Anvers) & Boulogne. On 11 June 1805 a 6th compagnie ouvriers de la marine was created to serve Genoa. At this time the battalions of the regiments of artillerie de la marine were deployed:

    1st regiment: 4 battalions at Brest;
    2nd regiment: 1st battalion at Genoa; 2nd & 4th battalions at Brest; 3rd & 5th battalions at Toulon.
    3rd regiment: 2 battalions at Rochefort.
    4th regiment: 2 battalions at Lorient.

    From December 1806 recruitment for the artillerie de la marine was no longer voluntary; it now followed the same system of conscription as for the land army.

    From 27 May 1807 until 20 June 1809, one battalion from Brest was detached to Concarneau to guard the ship Veteran commanded by Jerome Bonaparte, which had been blockaded in that port by a British squadron.

    From 26 November 1807 until 10 November 1808 a battalion of the artillerie de la marine was with General Junot’s Corps that invaded Portugal. They were tasked to arm, refit & provision 9 abandoned Portuguese ships at Lisbon. The battalion returned to France under the terms of the Convention of Cintra.

    From 1809 to 1812 the artillerie de la marine was required to provide manpower to the Equipages.

    A provisional battalion was deployed at Belle-Isle from 1809 until 1811.

    In 1811 Artillery parks were created to serve the ports of Amsterdam & Rotterdam. There were also temporary artillery parks at Calais, Flessingue (Flushing); Hamburg & La Spezia. Also the same year the compagnie ouvriers de artillerie de la marine at Genoa was split into two – one part went to Cherbourg. A detachment from the artillerie de la marine of 3 officers and 120 men were sent to Spain to serve with the land artillery until 1814.

    The decree of 29 February 1812 increased the strength of each company of the artillerie de la marine to 250 men. The regiments were stationed as follows:

    1st regiment: 4 battalions at Brest;
    2nd regiment: 1 battalion at Genoa; 2 battalions at Toulon; 1 battalion at Lorient; & 1 battalion at Rochefort.
    3rd regiment: 2 battalions at Cherbourg.
    4th regiment: 2 battalions at Anvers (Antwerp).

    In 1812 thirteen officers of the artillerie de la marine served with the Grande Armée in Russia.

    The decree of 24 January 1813 transferred the 4 Regiments from the Ministry of the Navy to the Ministry of War with effect 1 February. (The Ministry of the Navy retained 500 men from the artillerie de la marine for service with the fleet.) The regiments were formed as follows: 1st at Brest; 2nd at Toulon; 3rd at Cherbourg; & 4th at Antwerp. The Regiments were reorganised into battalions of 6 companies of 140 men each; battalion HQ of 4 personnel; regimental HQ of 4 personnel. The Regiment mobilised battalions as follows: 1st - 8 battalions; 2nd - 10 battalions; 3rd & 4th - each 4 battalions. 6 battalions remained in the ports and 20 (1st Rgt – 6 battalions; 2nd Rgt – 8 battalions; 3rd & 4th – each 3 battalions) joined Napoleon in Germany to serve in an infantry role in Marmont’s VI Corps. 6 battalions were left in Mayence (Mainz) to act as cadres for reinforcements for the Regiments, while most of their men were used to reinforce the other field battalions. As a result the Regiments took the field as follows: 1st - 4 battalions; 2nd - 6 battalions; 3rd & 4th - each 2 battalions. They fought at Lutzen and Bautzen.

    During the Armistice the ports sent 4 battalions to their parent formations in Saxony – 1 battalion remained at Brest & 1 at Toulon. On recommencement of hostilities on 18 August the Regiments comprised: 1st - 5 battalions; 2nd - 7 battalions; 3rd & 4th - each 3 battalions. They took part in the battles of Dresden, & Leipzig. During the retreat to the Rhine the 1st & the 2nd Regiments respectively left 350 & 734 men to defend Erfurt; also 300 newly arrived reinforcements from Cherbourg were left at Erfurt. The Régiments artillerie de la marine fought at Hanau.

    The decree of 17 July 1813 established an artillery park at Cherbourg. During 1813-14 officers from the Regimentswere employed in the defence of Erfurt & Torgau, others at Danzig, Antwerp, Dresden, Mayence, Genoa etc.

    Of the 17,338 men sent to Germany, 2,412 were killed, 7,291 remained in German hospitals, 2,319 were prisoners or in rear areas, 571 were transferred to the Guard artillery, 1,084 left at Erfurt (this excludes the 300 reinforcments). On 7 November 1813 the regiments were reorgnaised and their effective strengths were: 1st: 557 men in 2 battalions; 2nd 1,897 men in 4 battalions; 3rd: 632 men in 3 battalions & 4th 575 men in 3 battalions. Brest & Toulon continued to act as depots for the 1st & 2nd Regiments; Valognes became the depot for the 3rd, and Abbeville for the 4th. All Regiments were supposed to comprise 5 battalions (the 5th acting as the depot battalion).

    In January 1814 the regimental depots were ordered to send cadres to Paris, where they formed the 2nd Division of the Corps de Réserves de Paris. Marmont’s Corps fought at Vauchamps (capturing 1,000men), Champaubert, & Montmirail. Others from the artillerie de la marine fought in the defence of France. By 5 May there remained just 695 effectives.

    L’artillerie de la marine was reorganised on 1 July 1814 with the name Corps Royal des cannoniers de la marine. The Corps comprised a HQ of 2 personnel, 3 Regiments (1st had 3 battalions & the other two had 2 battalions each. All of the battalions had 6 companies each of 124 personnel. In times of war the battalions were to be raised to 10 companies each of 207 personnel), 5 compagnies d’ouvriers each of 132 personnel, 6 compagnies d’apprentis cannoniers each of 139 personnel and a number of officers who were employed as necessary in the 6 directions maritime (the 5 great ports plus Dunkirk), 4 founderies, 3 forges and 1 quality control workshop? (atelier de perfectionnement).

    The Regiments were deployed as follows:
    1st regiment: 1st battalion at Cherbourg; 2nd & 3rd at Brest.
    2nd regiment: 2 battalions at Toulon.
    3rd regiment: 1st battalion at Lorient; 2nd battalion at Rochefort.

    One compagnie d’ouvriers was deployed at each port. Two compagnies d’apprentis cannoniers were deployed at Brest and 1 in each of the 4 other ports. 16 officers were detached to the foundries & workshops.

    Details of the Regiment during the 100 days is fairly scant. Upon Napoleon’s return 2 battalions (2nd of the 1st Regiment & 3rd of the 3rd Regiment) were sent to Paris and 1st battalion of the 2nd Regiment was sent to Lyon to put both places into state capable of being defended. A 4th battalion was mobilised and sent to La Vendée.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; March 26, 2012 at 03:36 AM. Reason: Naval Artillery (Artillerie de la Marine) added
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Ships’ Crews (Equipages)

    In the days before Colbert, the French navy like its British counterpart relied on a form of impressment. He introduced a système des classes, later renamed inscription maritime, which established a system of standards for recruitment, pay & benefits. It clearly defined the crews’ job description, length of service, eligibility requirements & the possibility of state benefits.

    Men were recruited through a system called the rôle des gens de mer (list of seamen). All men aged 18 upwards who resided in or near coastal towns were required to enlist for naval service. The lists included all men currently employed as crewmen and officers of all commercial vessels, regardless of their hometown. They were divided into three, four or five classes depending on the size of town. Each class was called in turn to serve on the royal vessels. As an incentive to register the state provided many privileges e.g. tax exemptions, military pensions, fishing rights, free education and life insurance for the families of lost seamen.

    The Orderof 31 October 1784 suppressed the system of classes, and instead instituted a the system that the levy would be through parish lists of individualroles. Men were divided into: 1) Singlemen and 2) Married men. They were levied by taking the top candidates in the list and continued until the number required had been raised or the lists had been completely exhaustion. Singlemen were required to serve one third more time than a married man. All were expected to serve until the age of 60.

    During the revolution the maximum age was lowered to 50 years. In 1795, a new regulation was applied, keeping the base of 1784 and giving the class system the name inscription maritime. Sailors aged up to 50 years were enrolled and divided into four categories: 1) Single; 2) Widowers without children; 3) Married men without children; and 4) Fathers of families. Each category was subject to the levy only after exhaustion of the previous category. There were abuses, married men were favoured over others, and men married early to avoid call-up.

    Napoleon turned the historical system of enlisting men for a single cruise (season) upside down by insisting on permanent ships’ crews. To compound this further he put his sailors into uniform in 1804 and had them learn infantry drill and musketry.

    On 11 February 1808 Napoleon instructed Vice-Admiral Decrès, Minister of the Navy, to draw up a plan to form 30 Euipages each of 500 men (8 at Flushing, 6 at Brest, 3 at Lorient, 3 at Rochefort & 10 at Boulogne), and stated his intention to have 100 Euipages. He also decreed that a 74 ship of the line should have a crew of 700 men, comprising 500 sailors (assuming that 50 would always be sick), supplemented by 150 recruits & 100 men from the garrison (infantrymen).

    On 2 March 1808 Napoleon ordered the formation of 50 "Bataillon de la Marine Imperiale" (Imperial Naval Battalion) to man either a ship of the line (or two frigates). A bataillon comprised 498 men, divided into 4 companies each of 120 men (plus staff), and were designed to accommodate 150 conscripts as apprentice sailors. Formation was slow. In April 1808 the crews of gunboats were formed into "Bataillon de Flotille" (Flotilla Battalion).

    In 1810 the Bataillon were renamed "Equipage de Haut-Bord" (roughly equates to "crew of the high-side” which meant in practice “ship of the line crew") & "Equipage de Flotille" (Flotilla crew). The 43rd and 44th Equipages accompanied Massena to Spain. The 44th were detailed to guard the army’s hospital while the battle of Busaco was taking place. Colonel Trant’s Portuguese militia and irregulars fell upon them & the Equipage was forced to surrender when it ran out of ammunition.

    1811 there were 63 Equipages de Haut-Bord and 22 Equipages de Flotille.

    1812 there were 76 Equipages de Haut-Bord and 24 Equipages de Flotille.

    In March 1813 the Equipages de Flotille were to be disbanded and their personnel incorporated into the Equipages de Haut-Bord (this was not completed) - Equipages reached 110 in number (and were to number between 700 & 900 men each).

    In January 1814 each Equipage was required to send 120 men to serve with the army.

    Following his return in 1815, Napoleon decreed on 24 April the formation of 40 Equipages de Haut-Bord. Each was to consist of 6 companies (4 of Fusiliers and 1 each of Grenadiers & Voltigeurs). Two Equipages were to form a Regiment but many were never raised by the time of Waterloo.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; March 31, 2012 at 05:29 PM. Reason: Equipages/Ships' Crews added
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Entries for Naval Artillery (Artillerie de la Marine) & Coastal Artillery (Cannoniers Gardes-Côtes) now added.

    Others will follow.....


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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Ships’ Crews (Equipages) entry now posted.
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    I will make a list of Admirals for the French with what they did in battle. Soon that is...

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Thanks for your excellent work, Plus Rep!!
    Ordoprinceps
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    Thanks for the excellent and accurate work my friend, it is very much apprecaited by this former US Marine!
    Ordoprinceps
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

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    Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar 大信皇帝
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    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    I've compiled a list of French naval battles throughout the entire war and whether they won or lost.
    I really want to talk about the admirals the French had, with some research I also want to find out whether Villeneuve really was the best that the French had at sea.

    "Famous general without peer in any age, most superior in valor and inspired by the Way of Heaven; since the provinces are now subject to your will it is certain that you will increasingly mount in victory." - Ōgimachi-tennō

  13. #13

    Default Re: France: Naval Troops

    POE,
    I just had to give you more Rep for your excellent work!
    Ordoprinceps
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