Thursday, December 30, 2010

Volontaries de Bretons

Voluntaries de Bretons

Created by order of October 30, 1746 at the initiative of a Breton gentleman "with only the cape and sword" without a family fortune from the region of Leon, Olivier de Kermellec Penhouët. He served in 1712 as second lieutenant at Denain, then served in a Regiment of the French Royal Navy until 1743 (foreign posting or fortress?). During this time he became lieutenant colonel. Two years later he is the head of a regiment of the Royal Grenadiers. His family had a great history of serving with the French guard.

He applies the methods of Prussian discipline and "dressing" of troops to his commands, in 1746 he wrote to the Minister of War "this way to serve looked a little rough in the beginning, it was a little murmur, one begins to make itself and the board is made there that to support it. " In September 1746 he made the following request to the Minister: "the approval to raise a regiment of light infantry half horse half foot under the title of lost children ... or a regiment of grenadiers, like the German princes, it would be composed of deserters, with an amnesty for deserters who enlisted, which would be lifted in two months and that would be the terror of the enemy."

It was decided at Versailles that the regiment would be composed solely of Britons. In principle, the regiment is composed as follows:

2 grenadier companies of 50 men each.
8 rifle companies of 100 men each.
6 companies of hussars of 50 men each.
A total of 900 infantry and 300 cavalry.

The grenadier companies were composed of: a Captain in first, second captain, two lieutenants, two sergeants, three corporals, three lance-corporals, one drummer and forty grenadiers.

For the rifle companies, two captains, three lieutenants, four sergeants, two cadets, a coxswain, six corporals, four men, six lance-corporals, two drums, seventy-five riflemen.

Companies Hussars: a captain, a lieutenant, an ensign, a sergeant, three sergeants, a trumpet, and forty five hussars.

The Staff consisted of a Colonel, a Lieutenant Colonel, a Major, Major-2 assists, a chaplain and a surgeon.

The regiment was also comprise a carriage of ammunition and two guns at the "Swedish".

The King awarded Kermellec 100 Francs for the raising of the regiment, then 300 Francs for clothing and equipment of infantry; weapons to be provided free by the Royal Stores. The order states that "the regiment is to be always ahead of the army without tents or crew, nor any recourse to military hospitals.”

Many records of the Regiment have disappeared, and it is difficult to give the proportion of Brittany members incorporated into the regiment, but what is certain is that the Kermellec repeatedly made use of force to get men. Thus volunteers Britons were supplemented by hired German bounty men whose exercises created incidents with the Austrian recruiters operating in the territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Some officers were also recruited from the Rhine region.
The regiment was ready in Spring 1747 and sent to the army in Flanders under the command of Marshal Saxe, who commanded the French light troops. After the review of 13 June, "Kermellec Legion” as they are called, are assigned to the Earl of Lowendal’s command whose mission is to capture of Bergen-op-Zoom in July 1747.

The "Kermellec Legion" commence daily skirmishes in which they act bravely. They participate in the service of their trenches with grenades while the rest of the regiment guarded the body of the saps providing many skirmishes with the enemy. The Count of Lowendal wrote: "they have 5 or 6 wounded or killed, the enemies have 40". During the combat at Wouda, the "Kermellec" lose 52 killed, 82 wounded, and 2 officers M le Chevalier Pons and M Gadeville. In this case Voluntaries Britons had supported 70% of total French losses, 74 killed and 122 wounded which gives an idea of the part taken in battle by the Britons. On 17 September after a successful assault Berg-Op-Zoom fell. The Bretons pursued the remnants of the garrison that fled to Steenberg. Following this coup, on October 30, the King decides to increase the strength to 1,500 men by increasing the companies to 100 fusiliers and four companies of 50 Hussars.

Royal satisfaction came too late to reward Mr. de Kermellec, he was killed by a bullet from Croatian skirmisher on October 30 1747, he perished along with 12 of his men, defending a artillery convoy from enemy light troops.
During the campaign the Britons Volunteers suffered heavy casualties and the regiment was sent to Saint-Ghislain for replenishment, it receives its new Colonel Antoine Joseph de Neufville, Baron Blaisel who was then Lieutenant Colonel of Arquebusiers de Grassin now commands the light troops, his appointment is on November 3, 1747. Replenished during the winter, the regiment was sent to Mons in April 1748. It remains on the Denner, opposite Breda to watch the enemy, while Marshal Saxe prepares investment Maestricht. They remain there until the war ends and peace was signed October 14, 1748.

It should be noted that already on September 1 the number of volunteers Breton had been reduced by 1,500 men to 980 men. On 10 October, a second reform leads to 640 men and 1 December, the number is no more than 340 men. The Bretons are the third brigade (two infantry companies of forty men each and two of cavalry, under the command of M. De Saint Marsaud).
The body was removed on 1 August 1749 from the French establishment. Men are paid into the Voluntaries de Flandres, the Arquebusiers de Grassin and Voluntaries de Morliere.

Headdress: black Mirliton flame the same colour, yellow trim and tassels, brush and white, cockade, brass button. Officers’ tricorne, silver lace, black cockade

Hair: natural-wrapped black.
Stock: black.
Shirt: White
Jacket: royal blue (lighter than it is today). Lace: Ventre de biche (light tan),brass buttons.
Fusilier justaucorps: ventre de biche (a mid tan colour) blue lace
Barrel sash: fawn and red.
Trousers: royal blue, yellow lace.
Boots: black leather, black laces.
Pelisse: fawn, royal blue amenities.
Harness: Black or brown leather (leather scorched).
Metal fittings and buttons: brass
Sabre: branch brass guard, leather handle, brass handle reinforcement.
Scabbard and bayonets: brown leather, brass sleeve reinforcements.
Belts: Buff.

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