Tuesday, 26 January 2016

1/63e Regiment de Ligne

The heritage of the 63eme Regiment de Ligne can be traced back to the founding of the Swiss Regiment d'Ernest on February 17th 1672 under it's then colonel Jean Jaques Baron d'Erlach.

One of several Swiss units that served in the army of the Kingdom of France, the regiment would change its name with each new colonel:

1694 - 1701 Regiment de Manuel
1701 - 1728 Regiment Villars Chandieu
1728 - 1739 Regiment de May
1739 - 1751 Regiment de Bettens (two battalions were present at the Battle of Fontenoy)
1751 - 1762 Regiment de Jenner
1762 - 1782 Regiment d'Erlach
1782 - 1791 Regiment d'Ernst

Colonel Jean Jaques Baron d'Erlach

In 1791 the regiment was retitled the 63eme Regiment d'Infanterie but was returned to the Swiss army the following year.

In 1796 the French revolutionary authorities formed a new corps bearing the number 63e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne, formed from the following units:
14e Demi-Brigade de bataille (2/7e Regt. de Inf., 1er and 2e Bn. du Gard)
22e Demi-Brigade de bataille (2/11e Regt. de Inf., Bn., Vol. de Martigues and 2e Bn. Vol., de Marseilles)
51e Demi-Brigade de bataille (1/26e Regt. de Inf., 3e and 5e Bn. Vol. des Hautes-Alpes)
1er Bataillon, 66e Demi-Brigade de bataille.

With the rise of Napoleon the regiment was retitled the 63e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne under Colonel Marc Antoine Come Damien Jean Christome Laucee who would be killed on February 7th 1807 during the Eylau campaign in Poland.

In 1808 the regiment would enter Spain with significant recent combat experience at Golymin in 1806, and Eylau and Friedland in 1807, with Friedland added to its battle honours. They would be under the command of Colonel Regis-Barthelemy Mouton-Duvernet and under whose command they would be at Talavera.

Colonel Mouton-Duvernet picture later in his career as a General de Division

There are several illustrations of the 63e Ligne in the years leading up to 1809 that give a good impression of the regimental distinctions of the unit that might have still been carried at Talavera.

Originally in 1807 the Grenadiers appear to have carried a lower white band on their red grenadier plumes, with red tape on the upper and lower bands on the shako. together with a "V" shaped arrangement

Grenadiers (Officer and Soldier) of the 63e Ligne pictured in Hamburg in 1807

Bucquoy suggests that the red and white plume had given way to a more traditional red only plume and with less red tape on the shako when they entered Spain. He then has an interesting illustration of a Grenadier NCO seen in the second picture below with rather distinctive shako chords and epaulettes.

Grenadier and Voltigeur Officers - 1808
Grenadier NCO 1807 - Bucquoy 
The three company distinctions of Grenadier, Voltigeur and Fusilier are captured by Bucquoy for the period 1808 covering the regiments time in Spain leading up to Talavera.

The key distinctions that I will include on my depiction of the regiment are the reversed "yellow/green" tipped voltigeur  plumes, instead of the more standard green tipped yellow, yellow topped epaulettes and the white chords on the grenadier shakos.

Bucqouy also includes a great illustration of the pioneers and drummers of the regiment with very distinctive orange/red facings

My 1/63e Ligne are composed of figures from the AB range and the Eagle standard is from GMB flags.

Sources used in this post on the 63e Regiment de Ligne;
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.
Les Uniformes du Premier Empire, Cdt Bucquoy.

Next up with the French line infantry project now standing at 66% completed I will take a slight intermission to finish off some 28mm Rogers Rangers for Steve M's growing French Indian collection. 

In addition I am off to "Crusade 2016", the Penarth and District Wargames club show, this weekend 

and as it is the first time of going, I will be looking forward to sharing my impressions and highlights from the day.


  1. Nice to see another one up Jonathan, always a good read .
    Regards Gavin .

    1. Cheers Gavin, just three more regiments to do!

  2. Excellent brushwork and I enjoy seeing some of the those great color uniform illustrations.

    1. Thanks Jonathan, the regimental distinctions really help kindle the enthusiasm to create a lot of French line infantry in one go. I am on a research journey with each regiment and it has become another fun aspect of the hobby for me.

  3. How the hell do you face that much blue Mr Jones ?

    Just as well you are a Francophile.


  4. Francophile moi!
    I'm inspired by the thought that once these 24 battalions are done I probably won't need to paint another French line battalion ever, possibly.

  5. Once again excellent job, great details on them...

    1. Thanks Phil, as with the British battalions this project has developed my knowledge of the French army and its units for this period hugely due to the regimental histories. I think it is another fascinating aspect of the hobby.

  6. Excellent looking regiment. Love the illustrations too.

    1. Cheers Dean. It can be quite fun attempting to discover the regimental distinctions that you can include to help slightly differentiate one regiment from another. Fortunately the regiments in Victor's corps had plenty of illustrations made of them just prior to the Spanish campaign.