Monday 28 September 2015

1/54e Regiment de Ligne

The 54e Regiment de Ligne could trace its lineage back to May 25th 1657 with the raising of a regiment of infantry in Perpignan in Roussillon, by Cardinal Marazin and was named the Regiment Catalan-Marazin.

The first part of the regiment's name originates from the area of France, Roussillon, ceded to the French under the Treaty of the Pyrenees, it being formerly part of the Spanish province of Catalonia, and which ended twenty four years of warfare between Spain and France in 1659.

With the death of Cardinal Marazin in 1661 the King renamed the regiment "Royal Catalan" and then in 1667 it was renamed "Royal Roussillon".

With the changes caused to the army brought about by the French Revolution, the Royal Roussillon became the 54e Regiment d'Infanterie in 1791.

By 1793 it was retitled the 54e demi-brigade de bataille formed from the:
2e bataillon, 27e Regiment d'Infanterie
1er bataillon, Volontaires du Pay-de-Dome
1er bataillon, Volontaires de l'Indre

With the rise of Napoleon, the regiment was retitled in 1803, 54e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne under the command of Colonel Armand Phillipon who as its colonel would be wounded at Talavera. Colonel Phillipon would have an eventful career seeing him as the commander of the fortress city, Badajoz at its fall in 1812 after a skilfull and bloodily hard fought defence. After his capture and transfer to the UK, he broke his parole and escaped back to France serving through the Russian campaign and later being captured by the Allies at Dresden in 1813.

Colonel Phillipon

The details of the uniform of the 54e Ligne are less clear than those of the other regiments completed so far and I have shown the two references I have in my own library. The first illustration shows the only picture of a member of the regiment depicted in the Otto Manuscript from 1807 and that is of a sapper with rather unusual light infantry style leggings shown by the more standard white apron.

The other is from Windrow and Embleton's "Military Dress of the Peninsular War" showing a Chef de bataillon in 1811 when the regiment fought at Barossa. The habit is described as being piped red with the collar and cuffs piped white and voltigeurs in traditional yellow collars. The cuff slash in Embleton's illustration shows a blue three button arrangement and that is what I have chosen as my distinguishing feature from what appears a very standard looking French regiment.

As far as the musician's are concerned I have discovered no definite description and so working on the theory that the regiment would pay homage to its Royal Rossillon antecedents decided on a blue jacket with red facings trimmed white.

My 1/54e Ligne is composed of AB figures from Fighting 15's and the Colour is from GMB Flags. As a variation on a theme I have composed the regiment with advancing figures rather than the more traditional sloped arms, so they should make a nice variation on the table.

References used in this post:
Napoleon's Line Infantry, Osprey Men at Arms - Philip Haythornthwaite, Bryan Fosten
French Napoleonic Line Infantry - Emir Bukhari
Napoleon's Soldiers, The Grande Armee of 1807 (The Otto Manuscript) - Guy C Dempsey Jr
Military Dress of the Peninsular War - Martin Windrow & Gerry Embleton


  1. A fine looking regiment. Great to see you bringing the same historical attention and lovely painting to the French. Col. Phillipon was quite the soldier. I was interested in the fact that he rose from the ranks, one of many in that remarkable army who rose by merit.

    1. Thank you Michael.
      Well I like to wargame with Napoleonics at the battalion level and I think the war within a wider war that characterised the Peninsular War warrants a greater attention to the character of the individual units that took part as the same units kept on confronting each other over the six years of the conflict. I don't look at my table top units as just generic French infantry, but rather in terms of the historic units they represent and C&G facilitates that characterising and just adds to the fun.
      Phillipon is but one of a group of middle ranking French officers that achieved notoriety through their efforts during the Peninsular War, particularly those appointed to command the fortresses left in the wake of French forces. I think it is interesting that the British were still fighting the war under the terms of old 18c rules around sieges and breaches and officers giving their parole, whilst the French were clearly fighting under a totally different code that allowed them to break parole and return to the war, or ignore a breach in the wall and fight to the death on the breach but still expect terms for their soldiers in defeat.

      I reckon there is a subject for a future post there somewhere!

  2. Great stuff, I always enjoy the history that accompanies your wonderfully painted figures.

    1. Hi IG, thank you. I write this stuff for my own pleasure along side the creating of the units and playing the games, so it's really great to hear when someone else is enjoying it as well.

  3. These really do look great. I assume your figures are based for NaW. The guys I game with have large 15mm armies and are great painters as well so. I got drgged into their group to expand the pool of players. I seem however to have seduced them into the wicked ways of 6mm and corps level gaming. Lokking at your beautifuly painted figures gets a brief flutter of butterfly wings but I really don't have the patience for painting 15mm any more.

    1. Thank you Robert. Yes the NaW basing system works for me and I had fingers crossed for a version two of the rules, but it looks like that won't be happening soon. The basing works equally well for C&G and other battalion level rule sets.

      Well I love 18mm as a scale for Napoleonics as a compromise between characterful units to please the eye but a scale that still allows me to play Corps level actions. When the Talavera collection is done early next year we will have two French corps and a cavalry division on the table fielding these size of battalions. I don't think I could paint a 6mm figure these days, the eyes wouldn't take it; if anything I am headed to 28mm for future projects and will keep painting for as long as the "peepers" hold out.

  4. Excellent as always, another great post!

  5. Beautiful work on these!

    Question: what size are your bases?