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french - 4the infantry

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french - 4the infantry

Postby jrdrury » July 23rd, 2017, 9:42 am

hi all
am trying to trace the movements of the 4th french infinity around the 19th july 1808 and also the movement of any prisoners taken around that time through to september 1810
any tips or pointers much appreciated
james
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby Senarmont198 » July 23rd, 2017, 11:33 am

Do you mean the 4th Ligne or the 4th Legere? I don't believe the 4th Ligne was in Spain, but the 4th Legere was part of the second army of invasion after the Baylen disaster, which invaded Spain in November 1808.

It should also be noted that there were quite a few infantry regiments numbered '4th' including the two named above. There were two Italian infantry regiments, the 4th Ligne and the 4th Legere, and there was also a 4th Swiss Regiment, and a 4th Regiment of the Vistula-all of which went into Spain with the second invasion.

You might want to try a search on Google Books for any reference to the 4th Ligne, especially the regimental history. The same for the 4th Legere.

It should also be noted that the regiments were scrambled by the Bourbons somewhat in the 1814 reorganization and all the infantry regiments were disbanded by them and reformed into 'legions' after the second restoration.

The lineage of all the French infantry regiments, ligne and legere, can be found in the excellent Avantages d'un Bonne Discipline by JB Avril which begins with the French infantry just before the Revolution and ends up with the Bourbon mess post-Waterloo. The author traces all of the regiments evolution during the Revolution and Empire and that might be a start for your research.

The information I have on the 4th Ligne to hand has it being formed as the 4th Demi-brigade in 1796, formed from the old Regiment de Blaisois. It was later renamed the 4th Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne in 1803. The regiment was assigned to Soult's IV Corps from 1805-1808 and was in the Army of Germany in 1809. The regiment served in Russia with Ney's III Corps and was in the II Corps in 1813. It served in the campaign in France and was in the II Corps in Belgium in 1815.

I have not looked in Avril's book but I most certainly will if you need the information in that volume.
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby Andrew » July 23rd, 2017, 12:05 pm

James,

the regimental history of the 4th Line can be found at, Historique du 4 Regiment d'Infantrie by Henri Charles-Lavauzelle (Paris and Limoges: Imprimerie Librairie Militaire, 1895). It is available as a modern reprint on abe books or similar and is not too expensive. Obviously, it is in French!

However, these regimental histories are generally very brief and this is the case with the 4th. In fact, it does not mention any service in Spain during the period you mention! It says that it fought at Eylau (Feb 1807) and Heilsberg (Jun1807) and after the peace of Tilsit,

'the regiment recrossed onto the left bank of the Vistula, then in January 1808, went into cantonments in the area of Stettin where it remained until June. In October [no mention of what it did between June and October!] it left for Berlin, from where it returned to France via Mayence and Oppenheim. It arrived at Nancy on the 3rd February 1809 and was soon directed to Spain with its division to the support of King Joseph Bonaparte. The Fifth Coaltion formed by Austria against France stopped the division of Carra-Saint-Cyr. Recalled in all haste it reached Ulm by forced marches and came to retake its place in the 4th Corps under the command of Messena; the 4th [Line] formed Cosson's briagde with the 46th.'

There is no mention of what it did, where it went or any actions in Spain in the regimental history, but Martinien's book of officer casualties lists Major Blanc of the 4th being wounded on the 28th June 1808 during the [abortive] attack on Valenca; he died of his wounds on the 1st July. General Moncey's attack on the city is covered in Oman's A History of the Peninsular War, Volume I, it does not mention the 4th Line; but neither does David Gates in his history of the Peninsular War, The Spanish Ulcer.

It then took part in the Austrian campaign and fought at Aspern (21 May 1809). During this battle, the history says,

'Sergeant of voltigeurs Couzinie noticed a few paces from him a group of officers of the Austrian headquarters. He fell on them with the bayonette and made Field Marshal Webel a prisoner. He was nominated sous-lieutenant. Lieutenant Gourat particularly distinguished himself. Sergeant Delorme was also remarkable there and was wounded by a shot to his right hand.'

The regiment went on to fight at Wagram. The regiment had an amazing thirty officer killed or wounded [including all three chef de bataillon] at Essling and forty five [including the colonel (Boyeldieu) and all three chef de bataillon (one of whom had been previously wounded at Essling)] at Wagram!

After the armictice of Znaim (12 July 1809) the regiment moved into cantonments around Wurzberg in January 1810. In July it returned to France and on the 1st Oct was at Boulogne, Dunkirk and Calais. The next entry covers its incorporation into the army for the invasion of Russia in 1812.
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby jrdrury » July 23rd, 2017, 12:18 pm

hi
thank you so much for the reply

I'm researching a specific man caller so i have a prison record for him stating he was:

captured - 19th july 1808 (battle of Bailen i assume)
by - spanish patriots
town - 'cordina? (in think) 4th Regiment infantry
time received into custody - 11 july 1810 ( am assuming i was in-prisoned on a prison hulk in cadiz till this point)
from what ship or where whence received - 'Rodney tt Assistance'

have traced the 'Assistance' former 'Royal Oak' as a prison hulk in portsmouth.
the rodney i know was a new ship of the line launched in 1808 and in 'early summer' 1810 was in plymouth before sailing to join the med fleet - its first stop was cadiz.

am trying to put together why/how this prisoner might get onto the rodney ? as a ship of the line
also how he was transferred to the Assistance in portsmouth.
am trying to find if the rodney returned to portsmouth/plymouth at any point - i know she went form cadiz to gibraltar before october 1810.

i knows some of the prisoners were taken form the hulks in cadiz to the island of canberra, but i don't think he was so want to fill the void.

many thanks for the useful info - ill try and dig deeper
thanks again ... .
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby Senarmont198 » July 23rd, 2017, 12:30 pm

The French units at Baylen with the designation '4th' were the 4th Legion of the Reserve (1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions) and the 2d Battalion of the 4th Swiss Regiment.
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby Andrew » July 23rd, 2017, 12:44 pm

James,

it does indeed seem as if your man was captured at Bailen. In this case he was not serving with the 4th Line, but had been drawn from its depot to serve in either the 6th Provisional Regiment or one of the Legions of Reserve which made up the bulk of Dupont's infantry. The provisional regiment and 'Legions of Reserve' were made up from surplus conscripts drawn from the regimental depots; they were poorly trained and all relatively young and inexperienced. I suspect because of their temporary existence and informal organisation, you might find it difficult to find the level of detail you are looking for; good luck!

If you do manage to paint a full picture, I'm sure there are many of us who would be interested if you would share with us what you have found.

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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby jrdrury » July 23rd, 2017, 1:03 pm

many thanks :-) will keep looking my knee interest at the moment is the period leading to july 1810 - how he came to get to england via the shipping records.
if anyone knows of a way to trace the stations of HMS Rodney between may and august 1810 it would be greatly appreciated - a big ask i know ....
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby charnock » July 23rd, 2017, 2:35 pm

I think the Rodney in which your man was transferred to England may have been a transport, not the ship-of-the-line of that name. HMS Rodney was a brand-new ship, commissioned (according to Winfield) in February 1810, and sent to the Mediterranean in June. She seems to have stayed there until 1813, and the only way she would have transported French prisoners back to Britain was if she was ordered to return for some other reason. While ships-of-the-line occasionally were pressed into service as troop transports, I doubt that the Admiralty would assign a new and valuable ship to the menial job of transporting French prisoners! Denis Smith's book "The Prisoners of Cabrera" mentions the use of transports to move prisoners, but the only ones he names are Spanish ships.
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby jrdrury » July 23rd, 2017, 7:21 pm

many thanks for all the info - ill have a look for the transports .. thanks again ":-)
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Re: french - 4the infantry

Postby jrdrury » July 24th, 2017, 3:38 am

just an update and have found more info that states my man was in the Guard du Paris and not the 4th inf reg. this source is much more accurate and seems to make more sense as the G d P were at the battle and also there is ref to them on Cabrera.

am still on the hunt as to how he came to be on the 'rodney' and on the prison ship assistance but am now thinking he was transported from cadiz to cabrera then from there to england to the prison ship and eventually portchester castle.
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