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"Hamilton Regiment in French Service" Topic

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Musketier18 Sep 2009 11:35 a.m. PST

venturing back in time to a period I'm less familiar with, I've come across a mention of one Hamilton Regiment in French Service at the end of the Dutch War (1680), in a contemporary document. Now according to the only reference to hand, the "Wild Geese" Osprey by Mark McLaughlin, Sir George Hamilton's Regiment was disbanded in 1675.

As this would be the only (presumably) red-coated unit in an otherwise grey-white array on the table-top, I'd very much like to include it. So, could someone perhaps shed some light on the identity and ideally, uniform and flag of this regiment?

La Long Carabine18 Sep 2009 1:42 p.m. PST


The entry down at 202 speaks of a Sir George Hamilton taking his disbanded unit to serve in France. That might explain why Osprey says they were disbanded and yet they still fought.

It is off the internet so it could be just crappy crap crap.

Good luck,

LLC aka Ron

Graf Bretlach18 Sep 2009 3:41 p.m. PST

There is something about him in O'Callaghans "Irish brigades in the service of France" page 33, check out google books I think its been scanned and can be downloaded.

George Hamilton captain-lieutenant of the gendarmes anglois in 1667, 1671 raised a "régiment d'infanterie Irlandoise de 15 compagnies de 100 hommes chacune"
2 bataillon, Sir George made colonel may 12th
1672 French army of holland
then he lists the actions he was at (and i assume his regiment)
maréchal de camp feb 25 1676
killed in a rearguard action under the duc de Luxmebourg

no uniform details, maybe something in Charles Grants book (pike & shot? or similar)

Major William Martin RM19 Sep 2009 6:38 p.m. PST


You've touched upon a subject near and dear to me, the "English Brigade in the Service of France", a rather clever arrangement between Charles II and Louis XIV. Raised and authorised by Charles at a time when Parliament definitely opposed a large standing army, this force was raised in England, Scotland and Ireland, allowed to continue to recruit replacements openly for a time, paid for and uniformed and equipped by France, and then cut off and abandoned by Charles after Parliament forced his hand, first in 1674 and then finally in 1678. In fact, he was forced to recall several officers and complete companies of the Guards Regiments who were serving with the Brigade, resulting in young John Churchill taking command of what had been Sir Bevil Skelton's battalion of the Royal English, or Monmouth's Regiment in 1674.

While parts of the Brigade did take part in the siege of Maastricht, their most noteworthy acccomplishments came under the command of Turenne in his final Rhineland campaign of 1674 to 1676, particularly the Battle of Entzheim in 1674.

I have written a rather long series of articles on this battle and the regiments involved (with sources) on the follwoing blogs:




As to Hamilton's in particular; according to John Childs' "The Army of Charles II", appendix D, page 249:

The Irish Regiment/Hamilton's/Dongan's
"Sir George Hamilton raised this regiment in Ireland during 1671 especially for France. It was (officially) disbanded in 1678, returned to Ireland (on it's own and by it's own means), and was then reformed under Thomas Dongan in the same year. Under Justin Macartie it returned to France as a mercenary regiment in 1679. (At maximum) 15 companies of 100 men each."

The comments in parentheses are mine. Sir George Hamilton was killed in action at the Battle of Saverne in 1676 and Thomas Dongan actially commanded the regiment for it's final two years in France.

There was also a second Irish regiment raised for French service, Roscommon's, raised in 1671 by Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon, but it had a very short life. The regiment was never at full strength and was disbanded in Lorraine by the French in late 1672 with the remaining men being amalgamated with Hamilton's Regiment.

Susane in his "Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française" lists all of the regiments taken into French service, as does Childs in the above referenced appendix. There are some slight variances between the two, but for the most part they are in synch, and other sources, including Dalton's "Army Lists and Commissions, Volume 1" support Childs in the majority of cases.

Now, as to uniforms – I wouldn't get too excited about a red-coated Irish regiment. Uniform documentation is very lacking on the Brigade with the exception of a mention of Douglas' Regiment (later the Royal Scots) arriving in France in new uniforms of red faced white in 1667 and again in 1671, and a parade review of Monmouth's regiment after their return from France in gray faced blue (which may have been new uniforms). The only descriptions of the British regiments in the field after the Rhineland campaign describe their uniforms as being in tatters.

In a fit of "pique" over Charles and England finally withdrawing the brigade in 1678, Louis' minister Louvois disbanded the regiments in the field, in the Alsace region near the Rhine, with no travel vouchers, no expenses, and no back pay. They were left to their own devices to return to England. There are contemporary reports from Dutch civilians about finding groups of the "poor, tattered refugee's starving and begging for food as they made their way to the sea".

The one source that has not been explored is Belaubre, but I have two friends, one here and one in France, who are going to attempt to visit the Library of Congress and the Biblioteque Nationale and do just that to round out our research.

I hope this, and the links provided, have been of some help.

Sir William the Aged

Musketier21 Sep 2009 3:49 a.m. PST


many thanks to all of you for your comments, suggestions and references! Once again these pages have proved a gold mine of information.

It would seem then that it is actually the "mercenary" regiment under Macartie I'm after, as the date of the source is August 1681 (sorry about the misprint above).

The surmised red coat I admit to be merely an extrapolation from Douglas', as well as the later Irish Brigade's insistence on "proper British" coats. In that respect the reference to Monmouth's in grey was particularly enlightening.

As mentioned this hasn't been my main period so far, but I shall certainly come back with anything else I find on the English Brigade and its possible successors.

Musketier09 Nov 2009 2:03 a.m. PST

I've now been told that de Mesme's regiment, raised in 1673, was actually called Hamilton's from 1679 before becoming "Médoc" in 1691. Can anyone confirm this? It would put paid to any red coats I suppose, but at least solve the mystery of a 1681 Hamilton unit.

Major William Martin RM10 Nov 2009 3:55 a.m. PST


One must always take into account the French convention of calling a regiment by it's proprietary Colonel's name at any given point in time prior to the post-revolutionary numbering reforms. According to Susane, "Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française", volume 8, page 203 (translated):

"1010 NAVAILLES – Raised February 19, 1674 by Philippe Montaut-Besnac, Marquis de Navailles. Takes the names of Hamilton in 1679, Jarzé in 1685, and the title of the province in 1691, Médoc"


This would, indeed, "solve" the mystery of a "Hamilton" regiment in 1681, and would indicate that it was a French regiment, NOT Irish, but apparently commanded for a time by an emigré proprietary Colonel named Hamilton. Also, one must remember that Hamilton as a surname could indicate Scots lineage as well as it could Irish. France certainly had more than it's share of both Irish and Scottish nobility and gentry in exile, dating back to the time of Wallace and Bruce, and certainly more after the fall of Charles I.

However, just to throw the proverbial "fly in the ointment", Arnaud Bunel's excellent flag site, "Vexillologie Militaire Européenne, Drapeaux Militaires Européens 1700-1914", in it's depiction of the standards of the Médoc Regiment and it's lineage, shows the regiment being formed in 1673 as the Regiment de Mesmes. It does not show the alternate names listed by Susane, simply jumps from de Mesmes in 1673 to Médoc in 1691.

The standards shown for Médoc may or may not be accurate for the earlier period, but are probably as good a "supposition" as anything else until empirical evidence is produced stating otherwise. The Colonel's color is simply the "standard" white drapeaux with faintly outlined cross. The Drapeaux d'Ordnance is (from the staff out) red upper canton, brown lower canton, white cross, reverse the canton colors on the "fly" (brown upper, red lower), staff topped with a white cravatte. This can be seen on Mssr. Bunel's site here:

Simply scroll down and select "France", then "Ancien Régime (jusqu'en 1789)", then the regiment in question. If one uses Susane to establish the changing names of a particular regiment, you can usually find an appropriate flag on Mssr. Bunel's site. It's just a matter of knowing what names to try.

Sir William the Aged

Musketier11 Nov 2009 5:59 a.m. PST

Many thanks Sir William! I do not have Susane (a major failing I know)and never thought that it would be available online… As a result, the Mesmes reference on Mr. Bunel's site, of which I'm an avid peruser, led nowhere.

With the Navailles reference, Google yielded the following quote from "Anthony Hamilton (…), his life and works and his family", which seems to settle the matter:
"In December [of 1679] Louis, who was re-
ducing the number of his troops, disbanded the regiment
d'Hamilton, and though a number of the men were drafted
into the German regiment de Fiirstenberg [sic], not a few of the poor Irish soldiers roamed about the country in extreme poverty. Richard Hamilton fared better than they, for, in exchange, he received the command of the regiment de Navailles which had become vacant through the death of
the Marquis de Navailles' only son, the Marquis de Mon-
(p. 69 s.)

Major William Martin RM11 Nov 2009 2:44 p.m. PST

Well, there you go then! It's always excellent when multiple sources "dovetail" together to form a complete picture and solve a mystery. Susane's "Histoire" with illustrations is also available online and I have much of it downloaded, let me see what I can find there on Hamilton/Médoc as far as uniforms go and I'll let you know.

Sir William the Aged

Graf Bretlach11 Nov 2009 3:21 p.m. PST

That is weird, I have just been looking at the Régiment de Médoc in Susane, then read this thread! (vol 6 p. 399)
note Anthony is one of the sons of George the original Hamilton regiment.

this is the list of colonels from Susane up to the revolution
Philippe de Montaut-Besnac, marquis de Navailles
Antoine, chevalier d’Hamilton,
Marie Urbain René du Plessis, marquis de Jarzé
Isaac Charles de La Rochefoucaud, comte de Montendre
Jérôme, comte du Chamillard
Nicolas-Gabriel Gilbert des Voisins, marquis de Villènes
Charles-Emmanuel de Crussol, Duc d’Uzès
Hyacinthe Gaétan, comte de Lannion
Marie-Jacques, marquis de Bréhant
Joseph de Ravignan, marquis de Mesmes
Charles de Biotière, marquis de Chassincourt de Tilly
Denis-Jean,. marquis de Mauroy
Albert-Paul de Mesmes, comte d’Avaux
Innocent-Adrien-Maurice, marquis de Roquefeuille
Hugues-Alexandre-Joseph Meunier
Jean-Mathieu-Philibert Serurrier

All the Susane books are available on Google, 8 volumes on infanterie, 3 cav and 1 artillerie plus a uniform plate book

kronoskaf site has all the links to the books to make it easier to find them.

Louisbourg Grenadiers14 Nov 2009 7:18 p.m. PST

English Brigade in the service of France, ok.

English/Scots Brigade in the service of the Netherlands, ok.

Did these two formations ever come close to facing each other during the Dutch War?


Major William Martin RM14 Nov 2009 10:58 p.m. PST


I could certainly be mistaken, but the two forces never faced each other that I'm aware of. By the time that Parliament forced Charles II to recall the Guards and cut-off support and recruiting for the "English Brigade" in France and decided to provide support to the Netherlands, the remainder of the original "English Brigade" was in service under Turenne (and then Condé after Turenne's death in 1676) in Westphalia and in the Rhineland Campaign from 1674 to their disbandment in 1678.

According to sources like Susane and Childs, and to contemporary maps and OoB's (Marburg Digital Archive), and dispatches from many sources including Telliers, Churchill, Turenne and Louvois, by 1674 and the Battle of Entzheim, the original brigade was down to four effective tactical "battalions" (Monmouth's, Churchill's, Douglas', Hamilton's), and Monmouth's Horse (which may or may not have actually been mounted).

If you can obtain a copy of Childs' "The Army of Charles II", check Appendix D for further details on the combining of regiments, the recalled troops, and the officers commanding in the Rhineland.

Sir William the Aged

Louisbourg Grenadiers15 Nov 2009 7:42 a.m. PST

Thanks Bill

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