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"Quality of Neapolitan Troops" Topic


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Sebaar11 Oct 2017 10:59 p.m. PST

So neapolitans in napoleonic wars have quite bad opinion. But whast was the real quality of these troops? The begin was rather poor due large rate of desertions in Spain, mostly becouse Jospeph filled his regiments with ex-bourbon soldiers, brigands and criminals.
But during sige of Danzing in 1813, neapoliton units showed from quite good side. We have also combined elite regiment in 1813 campaning….
Also when Murat changed sides, many veterans of his army leave his service, what could be reason why his army fight so badly in 1815 year.

Green Tiger Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 12:04 a.m. PST

Defending a fortress where you can't really run away is no great indicator of troop quality. They seem to have been uniformly poor from the 1790's onwards…

4th Cuirassier12 Oct 2017 12:33 a.m. PST

Neapolitan troops really need their own revisionist historian to come along. Someone needs to argue on their behalf that the settled, historiographically-supported view of them being dreadful is all wrong. Based on something written 150 years ago (and debunked 100 years ago but we don't talk about that), Borodino will be claimed as a Neapolitan victory because Grand Redoubt, Italians Neapolitans same thing same thing, etc.

Wikipedia articles will be rewritten accordingly in endless edit wars between those who have read one book and those who have read more than one.

This view will catch on in certain suggestible quarters and before very long we'll see Neapolitan figure ranges in every scale, winning battles outnumbered against the Russians under rules that treat all armies as basically the same, with only the rule writer's favourite nationality rated slightly better than the others.

At some point the original revisionist will get sectioned and / or go to prison, and then it'll be the turn of the Irish, probably.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 2:04 a.m. PST

I think it all depends on which units we are talking about at what point in the wars. The Neapolitan troops fought in Spain and Russia, doing more than just garrison forts.

At Tolentino, 1815, they fought well against veteran Austrians, but for the most part were poorly led. The later routs seem to be all that folks remember.

I won't rank them as a D through B- depending on the particular units and what campaign we are talking about.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 4:08 a.m. PST

I see Neopolitans in the same way as Reichsarmee in the 7 Years war. The troops are probably ok, but the officers…leave something to be desired!

Brechtel19812 Oct 2017 4:35 a.m. PST

The general make-up of the Neapolitan Army was what made it generally unreliable.

French and Corsican units made up Murat's Royal Guard, both officers and enlisted men. When Murat turned against Napoleon in 1814, most of those went home. Those that couldn't get away refused to fight for Murat.

Apparently, although a Neapolitan division was mobilized for Russia in 1812, only the cavalry went into Russia and were assigned line of communication duty from Vilna eastward.

In 1813 most of the infantry were assigned to the Danzig garrison where Rapp actually made soldiers out of them. There was a provisional Neapolitan elite regiment assigned to the Young Guard and seems to have performed well.

The most reliable elements of Murat's army was the Royal Guard and the French and Corsican units in the army itself. There were several infantry battalions and some cavalry in Spain and the 2d Regiment of Line infantry apparently served will in 1808-1809. Desertion was very heavy in all Neapolitan units made up of native personnel. In Spain in 1811 Suchet asked that the Neapolitan units be withdrawn because of overall worthlessness.

The Neapolitans had no military traditions and Naples' Bourbon rulers had relied largely on mercenaries. General Bigarre, who served in Naples, was not impressed. Overall, Murat's Neapolitan army was showy, but generally ineffective and worthless. The only actual reliable units were those that were French or Corsican.

21eRegt12 Oct 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

I've also seen it suggested that the regiments were not presenting a united front. There were (it is alleged) secret societies within the regiments, so suspicions were high and no sense of camaraderie. The same sense of suspicions is supposedly present in the French army of 1815 where the men questioned where their loyalties were in regards to the Emperor vs. the King. Makes it easier to run if you don't feel the men next to you don't have your back.

TimeCast Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 5:27 a.m. PST

Somewhere there is a good quote from a French General about the Neapolitan troops. When told that Murat was looking at new uniforms for the army of the Kingdom of Naples the general said something along the lines of "Dress then any colour you like, they'll run away just the same".

I think it is mentions in Elting's "Swords around a Throne".

Barrie

Glenn Pearce12 Oct 2017 6:36 a.m. PST

Hello Sebaar!

In general the Neapolitan troops are really no different then any other army. When they are well led with some experienced troops mixed in they perform just as well as any other troops. When they have poor leaders with inexperienced troops they will probably underperform, as you would expect. More times then not they had the poor leaders with poor troops, thus in part their poor reputation. So unless you know the actual circumstances of the period that you are trying to represent I would rate them as average.

You also have to consider the persona of Murat when he was their leader. Going forward into battle he could be very inspirational. In retreat the army could very easily fall apart as a hero can lose his brave imagine and actually give a boomerang effect to morale.

In the opening moves in 1815 the Neapolitans actually perform reasonably well. It's not until Murat orders a withdraw from Tolentino that the army completely starts to fall apart. I'm sure that the results of this campaign have a lot to do with the reputation of always being poor troops, and if so, then it's not really warranted.

Best regards,

Glenn

Brechtel19812 Oct 2017 7:18 a.m. PST

The record of the Neapolitans backs up the idea that they were frequently worthless. And they were quite different from any other army, especially when the French were in charge.

Take away the French and Corsican troops and the native Neapolitans don't do well.

4th Cuirassier12 Oct 2017 7:26 a.m. PST

I knew someone would be right along to say that "the Neapolitan troops are really no different then any other army".

attilathepun4712 Oct 2017 10:34 a.m. PST

The basic reason the Neapolitans were bad troops is that they were compelled to serve foreign rulers, and that had been the case for centuries. Their country, if you can call it that, had been passed from one foreign dynasty to another ever since the Middle Ages, each about as corrupt and oppressive as the next. Under the circumstances, the tradition of the people was not one of patriotism, but rather cynical hatred and distrust of all authority. For them, the governments of Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat was just more of the same. It would have been a very hard sell to persuade such material to become willing soldiers--maybe not impossible, but anyway it did not happen. Neapolitan troops in general performed badly fighting against the French under their Bourbon monarchs, and just as badly fighting with the French against anyone else.

Glenn Pearce12 Oct 2017 10:51 a.m. PST

I have no idea how you could ever accurately separate the French, Corsicans and who ever else you might want to include from the native Neapolitans. Even if you could what would it actually prove?

Glenn Pearce12 Oct 2017 11:00 a.m. PST

"Neapolitans were bad troops"

I think that's a bit of a white wash. To dismiss an entire population as "bad troops" has no substance to it.

Brechtel19812 Oct 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

'Your soldiers, or no soldiers at all-it's the same thing!-Napoleon to Joseph regarding the Neapolitan Army.

Perhaps you could provide evidence to the contrary, or, demonstrate their performance under the French or anyone else.

The French and Corsican officers and enlisted men stiffened the native troops, who were prone to desertion as well as theft. When they left the Neapolitans were left to their own devices. And it should be noted that the Bourbon rulers of Naples had relied on mercenaries, not usually native Neapolitans.

Bigarre's memoirs might help and be a good place to begin.

RudyNelson12 Oct 2017 2:15 p.m. PST

There was an article in a magazine back in the late 1970s or early 1980s which talked about the French Negro Pioneers from Haiti. I had to research it and other pre-WW1 ethnic formations in 'white' armies for a presentation at a DoD school.

In that article it stated that the unit had been rated as the worst in the French Army, so was transferred to the Naples army. There it was rated as an infantry regiment and regarded as one the best units in that army. So the evaluation yardstick varied greatly by army.

RudyNelson12 Oct 2017 2:17 p.m. PST

Another feature about the Naples pre-1814 field force was that they would form a ad-hoc battalion from elite/;flank companies and leave the center companies in garrison.

Glenn Pearce12 Oct 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

"The French and Corsican officers and enlisted men stiffened the native troops"

I never disputed that, if anything I certainly alluded that.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 3:17 p.m. PST

Didn't the Neopolitan Cavalry Brigade perform rather, if indeed QUITE well, during the 1796 Campaign.

I think they gave Nappy a few headaches and almost captured him at one point, which in turn gave rise to Bessieres and Daumesnil.

Brechtel19812 Oct 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

I never disputed that, if anything I certainly alluded that.

You wrote the following and it certainly sounds as if you 'disputed' it:

I have no idea how you could ever accurately separate the French, Corsicans and who ever else you might want to include from the native Neapolitans. Even if you could what would it actually prove?

Brechtel19812 Oct 2017 4:42 p.m. PST

Didn't the Neopolitan Cavalry Brigade perform rather, if indeed QUITE well, during the 1796 Campaign.

Yes, they did. The exception that proves the rule?

Glenn Pearce12 Oct 2017 5:46 p.m. PST

Sorry I don't really see the connection. One is talking about separating them and what could you actually prove and the other is about what they do when they are included. Bottom line is I never disputed that they added value. Perhaps it might be a bit clearer if you had another look at my original posting.

I Drink Your Milkshake12 Oct 2017 5:57 p.m. PST

Seems to be a lack of interest or enthusiasm than a matter of bravery. Can't say I blame them.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2017 6:19 p.m. PST

woeful Bleeped texts

nsolomon9912 Oct 2017 7:48 p.m. PST

Up the thread someone makes this statement …

" … In general the Neapolitan troops are really no different then any other army…"

This statement is not historically correct, not correct in any way related to any historical document on the period currently available in English, no personal diary, no after action reports, nothing. I research every unit I paint and collect to understand their history.

This naive view possibly originates with the occasionally popular school of thought manifest in some rules sets with Designers Notes commentary like this " … no national characteristics need to be or are presented in these rules … ". I think its widely understood that the comment really means " … we haven't actually done much historical research and we haven't understood the research we have done … " so " …. these rules are so bland and designed for points based battles at a club on a Friday night and we've dumbed them down enough that you could use them for any period of warfare really from Caesar's Conquest of Gaul through to the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870/71…"

This rules approach works well for players who are looking to simply have some fun whilst pushing around some figures painted correctly on some nice looking terrain. There are however other schools of Napoleonic wargaming.

Now, there is NOT a lot of material that covers the Neapolitans and little that could conceivably justifies their factually recorded, repeated poor performance on many battlefields over many years throughout this period. However, widely read and objective historians would suggest that likely contributing factors were: motivation (why were they present), pay (had they seen any recently), training (what if any and by whom), rations (had they seen any recently), what was happening on the home front, even religion was potentially a factor and certainly officer quality and leadership standards, as already suggested further up the thread.

Unquestionably they performed poorly, but there were mitigating circumstances.

Whirlwind12 Oct 2017 8:43 p.m. PST

Unquestionably they performed poorly, but there were mitigating circumstances.

If there were mitigating circumstances, then how do we know that they behaved poorly?

It is very hard to determine this kind of thing convincingly. I guess I would look at:

Desertion rates (in comparison to the rest of the Army at the same time)
Were the troops "forcibly incorporated" in some way or recruited from jails?
Were they consistently left on Garrison or Lines of Communications duties?
Was their polity involved directly in the wars (or were they otherwise volunteers?)
Was their training obviously inadequate or curtailed?
Did the country lack an obvious military tradition or record of success?
With a great deal of caution what contemporaries thought.

attilathepun4712 Oct 2017 8:52 p.m. PST

@nsolomon99,

Regarding your comments about rules that treat all armies as equal in quality: "National characteristics" can hardly be ignored when staging a game representing a specific historical battle or campaign. However, it is my view that for the typical fictional wargame scenario cooked up by the game master, that all troops of the same type SHOULD be rated equally regardless of nationality. And that is precisely because of armies like the Napoleonic era Neapolitans. Why would anyone but a professional masochist want to spend money and time to build a Neapolitan force if they must always labor under their historical disadvantages?

Anyway, I really do not believe that any population represents a hopeless case. The Portuguese and Spanish armies were nearly as bad in the early stages of the Napoleonic wars, but the Portuguese became really good when subjected to British methods of training and discipline, while the Spanish improved considerably, partly due to British influence. So, under the right leadership and circumstances, I believe that the Neapolitans could have been turned into decent troops.

4th Cuirassier13 Oct 2017 12:28 a.m. PST

under the right leadership and circumstances, I believe that the Neapolitans could have been turned into decent troops.

But as historically neither of those were forthcoming, they were execrably bad troops at almost every instance, a point on which their contemporaries were wholly unanimous.

Brechtel19813 Oct 2017 2:38 a.m. PST

Absolutely correct.

And all armies were not (and still are not) equal in quality.

The Neapolitans were not a military people, and the Bourbons were terrible, and somewhat degenerate, rulers. The problem with the Neapolitans was internal-banditry, disorder, and general unreliablility. They were also prone to desertion.

Both the Portuguese and Spanish had a martial heritage which I believe to be essential to any functioning army. That was undoubtedly why, especially the Portuguese, responded positively to British efforts to train and modernize them.

The French had great success with the northern Italians in the Kingdom of Italy, the Italian troops proving reliable and trustworthy. They did some of the finest fighting of the Russian campaign, and Eugene, even though dealing with a large number of conscripts in 1814, still managed to win with them.

Not so with the Neapolitans.

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2017 4:14 a.m. PST

I think, to sum the above,in wargaming, we should accept that Neopolitan troops should be poor, no matter the causes, since they did not perform well (generally) in history.

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 4:19 a.m. PST

"The Neapolitans had no military traditions and Naples' Bourbon rulers had relied largely on mercenaries."
"And it should be noted that the Bourbon rulers of Naples had relied on mercenaries, not usually native Neapolitans."
"The Neapolitans were not a military people, and the Bourbons were terrible, and somewhat degenerate, rulers."

There were two Bourbon rulers of Naples : Carlos de Borbón (reg. 1735-1759), and his son Ferdinand (reg. 1759-1799, 1799-1806, 1815-1825).

For the period of conflct with the French, 1796-1806, which units of the Neapolitan army were composed of mercenaries?

Why did Ferdinand bother to found the Reale Accademia Militare di Napoli (now La Scuola Militare Nunziatella) in 1787 if his military relied on mercenaries and his people no military traditions?
link

Brechtel19813 Oct 2017 4:50 a.m. PST

If you disagree with the information from the postings, perhaps it would be a good idea to post information that, in your opinion, negates it?

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 5:23 a.m. PST

"a Neapolitan division was mobilized for Russia …. the cavalry went into Russia and were assigned line of communication duty from Vilna eastward"

brigata di cavalleria leggera della Guardia Reale del Regno di Napoli – generale di brigata Florestano Pepe (1778-1851)
--- reggimento guardie d'onore del Re (3)(31/395)* – colonnello Ferdinando Sambiase principe di Campana (1774-1830)
--- reggimento veliti a cavallo (2)(22/320)* – colonnello Lucio Caracciolo duca di Roccaromana (1771-1833)

*strengths as of 23 August, on arrival to Glogau

They are maybe a little famous for loyally defending and escorting Napoléon during part of his flight from the army in Russia. After the demise of his former escort, they guarded Napoléon for about 80 kms of his escape, from east of Smorgon in Belarus to Vilna. They had not been provided with greatcoats or cloaks. Over 100 velites and over 150 honor guards froze to death or were killed or taken by Cosscks. Martinien records 7 officer casulaties. The three senior commanders all suffered frostbite so severe as to lead to amputations of fingers and toes. Napoléon had tried to give the general Pepe one of his own fur cloaks, as Pepe rode next to the imperial sleigh. Pepe refused out of solidarity with his men.

The honor guards regiment had been former regional civic guardsmen. The velite guards were volunteers from middle and upper class families seeking an alternative to conscription into the line. They were not from jails, or French, or Corsicans, or mercenaries, or whatever.

roccaromana.org/Russia.aspx
link

reggimento guardie d'onore del Re

https://
i.pinimg.com/originals/e7/08/fd/e708fd8baf2b8e1ed9cfa509a829cc50.jpg

reggimento veliti a cavallo

https:// 
i.pinimg.com/736x/16/68/07/1668075449236858528621e1c9f4cbe6--naples-italy-th-century.jpg

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

"If you disagree with the information from the postings, perhaps it would be a good idea to post information that, in your opinion, negates it?"

I was not expressing diagreement.
You stated twice that the Neapolitians used mercenaries under the Bourbons.
I asked you which units of their army had these, in the period of interest here.

You mentioned mercenaries. You brought this up. No one said you were wrong. I am just asking you to tell us what units you are talking about. Is that unreasonable?

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 6:24 a.m. PST

OK ….

Can we have some examples of "bad" behavior of Neopolitan troops in Spain or Russia – not counting the 1st and 2nd Line regiments?

It seems that King Joseph ordered conscription in 1807 to build up a "his" army in Naples. As the country was only recently occupied, and maybe not entirely pacified, this did not yeild the expected results, and so Joseph ordered that civil prisoners (which included "brigands", who may have been anti-French partisans to some extent) be used to fill up the quota. This process produced the first 2 infantry regiments.

When Napoleon learned of this "innovation" in mid 1808, he put a stop to it. By that point, the usual French-style conscription system seemed to working reasonably well.

These two infantry regiments *did* perform poorly in Spain in 1808-1809, and had substantial desertion. But ….

Can we provide examples otherwise of "bad" Neapolitan troops serving the the French? Or has their reputation be overly sullied by the special case of the first 2 infantry regiments?

@4thCuirassier : I am not "revising" – I am just asking. I really don't know much about these guys, except that they did OK at Danzig in 1813 and the little thing about freezing to death protecting Napoléon's flight from the army in Russia. So I am completely open to contributions that support a low opinion of these troops.

Glenn Pearce13 Oct 2017 6:42 a.m. PST

"Up the thread someone makes this statement …
" … In general the Neapolitan troops are really no different then any other army…"

I believe that's me!

"This statement is not historically correct, not correct in any way related to any historical document on the period currently available in English, no personal diary, no after action reports, nothing. I research every unit I paint and collect to understand their history."

I admit, I have not read everything, so I'm delighted to meet someone who has. I am, however, very interested to know exactly which Neapolitan units you have painted and would love to see your recap of their individual history.

"This naive view possibly originates with the occasionally popular school of thought manifest in some rules sets with Designers Notes commentary like this " … no national characteristics need to be or are presented in these rules … ". I think its widely understood that the comment really means " … we haven't actually done much historical research and we haven't understood the research we have done … " so " …. these rules are so bland and designed for points based battles at a club on a Friday night and we've dumbed them down enough that you could use them for any period of warfare really from Caesar's Conquest of Gaul through to the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1870/71…"

I can assure you that my views are not naïve. I can also assure you that my comments are not based on any rule set whatsoever.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but your comments do indicate to me that you are a fan of rules that use "national characteristics". You also seem to be aware that there are other types of rules that don't use them. The reason they don't use them is because there is no historical justification for them. Which is rather odd coming from you as you seem to put a great deal of emphases on being "historical".

"Now, there is NOT a lot of material that covers the Neapolitans and little that could conceivably justifies their factually recorded, repeated poor performance on many battlefields over many years throughout this period."

Sorry but I'm lost here. Your first point states that you research all your units. Now you are saying that there is very little available on the Neapolitans. If that is true then it would seem that it's impossible to come to any factual conclusions.

"However, widely read and objective historians would suggest that likely contributing factors were"

I'm assuming here that you are only talking about the few that you are aware of. Perhaps you could tell us exactly who they are.

"certainly officer quality and leadership standards, as already suggested further up the thread."

That was also included in my original message and if you didn't take my comments out of context, perhaps you would have understood them better.

"Unquestionably they performed poorly, but there were mitigating circumstances."

I think there are more than just myself who would dispute that as it clearly seems to dismiss the units that did not perform poorly. Your last phrase also seems to completely destroy your entire posting.

Noll C13 Oct 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

… and they could also be brought back to life – See Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell!

Whirlwind13 Oct 2017 7:00 a.m. PST

@Le Breton,

You mentioned mercenaries. You brought this up. No one said you were wrong. I am just asking you to tell us what units you are talking about. Is that unreasonable?

I don't know the situation at the unit level – information is hard to come by – but I suppose the fact that all the commanders in 1806 were foreign mercenary officers might be indicative?

Roger de Damas
Marshal Rosenheim
Prince Hesse

Plus there was apparently a "German" and "Albanian" Regiment.

Of course, none of this is conclusive; from names alone you could "prove" that the Spanish Army was full of mercenaries, when actually it hadn't been that for 50 years.

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 8:10 a.m. PST

Two line regiments maybe foreign by name out of 13 might not be "relied upon mercenaries".

"Ferdinando IV, succeduto al padre Carlo, riformò radicalmente l'Esercito e la Marina a partire dal 1778 dando l'incarico ad uno straniero, l'irlandese John Acton, il quale creò un apparato militare veramente napoletano, le sue riforme, rivoluzionarie per l'epoca, furono rivolte a formare l'Armata in uno strumento bellico efficiente."
Ferdinand IV, succeeding his father Charles, fundamentally reformed the Army and the Navy from 1778 with the appointment of a foreigner, Irishman John Acton, who created a truly Neapolitan military apparatus – his reforms, revolutionary for the epoch, were directed to form the military into an efficient military instrument.
link
That does not sound very "degenerate" to me.

The "Albanian" regiment was founded as a mercenary regiment in 1737, but passed to national service as more or less hereditary volunteers from 1775, upon the demise of their last proprietor. They seem to have fought more or less well in 1805 as two spearate "cacciatori" battalions (by ethnicity Albanian and Macedonian) and then followed Ferdinand to Sicily. Renamed "Foreign Regiment", they operated with Lord Bentick in 1812. Said to have served "always with zeal, and with energy", "on the path of honor through every fatique and every task" so that "the French came to know the valor of the Albanians".

link
link
link

The "Alemanga" regiment was iniitailly a Swiss mercenary unit, and so called, from 1734. In the late 1770's Sir John Acton stopped the practise of renting from the Swiss, but was faced with quite a few foreigners who had become surplus to the needs of a newly "nationalized" army. They were grouped in this regiment, renamed "German" for the language of command. The regiment seems to have disbanded in 1806 after the victory of the French. In 1825, under a new "capitolazioni" with the Swiss, the regiment was reformed.
link

There appears to have been an effort, dating to the 1770's to *not* use mercenaries in the Boubon Neapolitan military. So, I really do wonder to whihc units Brecchtel was referring when he told us, twice, about how they "relied on mercenaries".

4th Cuirassier13 Oct 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

your comments do indicate to me that you are a fan of rules that use "national characteristics". You also seem to be aware that there are other types of rules that don't use them. The reason they don't use them is because there is no historical justification for them.

Which is nonsense, of course. The military doctrine, organisation, command structure, officer development, and training of the French army, and that army's actual combat record, when compared to those of the Austrians, Prussians, Spanish, or indeed Neapolitans, amply demonstrate that these national characteristics existed. The relative performance of armies in all eras does so. Otherwise, you're forced to argue that the German army of 1940 was operationally no better than the British, that the British army in the desert was no better than the Italian, that Washington's army was no better than Cornwallis', and so on.

Your mistake is to take anachronistic politically-correct 20th century nostrums about the non-existence of racial or cultural differences, and to apply these prejudices, spuriously and ahistorically, to the armies of 200 years ago. Unfortunately this doesn't work

If I were writing rules for ancient warfare I'd probably include rules to reflect the favour of the gods for one side or the other. The men of the day certainly believed this was a factor in who won, and if they thought so, then it was. If your army was disheartened before battle because they'd seen three vultures, or emboldened because they'd seen four, I would vary morale accordingly. Likewise, if you thought light infantry had to be German to be any good, most of your light infantry would be.

Brechtel19813 Oct 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

Mercenaries of the period, as in Naples and Prussia (prior to the disaster of 1806) were non-natives.

Murat's Neapolitan army was made up of French units, as well as Corsican troops, mainly in the Royal Guard.

Joseph had instituted conscription before 'departing' for Spain.

The backbone of Murat's Neapolitan Army was foreign officers as well as units. Most Neapolitans disliked military service and the first units formed from what was left over from the Bourbon army, prisoners of war, amnestied civilian prisoners, and their officers were either French or former Bourbon officers who had been 'pardoned.'

Some examples:

The Regiment Royal Corsica had been the Corsican Legion in the French Army and had been assigned to Naples as a foreign regiment. It was later designated the 1st Light Infantry Regiment. It had been recruited in Corsica and along the Marseilles waterfront as well as from some of the 'reformed' Neapolitan brigands. It had the reputation of a tough unit and was the best in the army at contra-guerilla operations. When Murat turned against Napoleon in 1814 the regiment mutinied and a good portion of the officers and enlisted men went north to join Eugene.

The 2d Light Infantry Regiment, which became the 3d when Royal Corsica became the 1st, was formed from the Garde de Police de Naples in 1806.

A 4th Light Infantry was ordered formed in 1813 and the Neapolitan officers were described by General Bigarre as 'no one wore a sword or uniform better.' They were competent drillmasters but not so much as combat leaders. Neapolitan officers were usually in debt, fathered large families, and tended to involve themselves in graft.

The 1st Line Infantry Regiment was formed in 1806 and in 1810 became the King's Regiment. One battalion served in Spain from 1809-1811 'without distinction.'

The 2d Line Infantry Regiment was formed in 1806 with two battalions serving in Spain from 1808-1811. It became the Queen's Regiment in 1810. They initially gave good service, but the unit was prone to desertion. The unit was sent home in 1811, the notation to their service record being that they had become 'nuisances.'

The 3d Line Infantry were formed in 1809 mostly from conscripts, some of whom had to be 'brought in' like a 'slave coffle'-in chains. In 1810 the regiment was renamed Crown Prince.

The 4th Line Infantry was formed in 1809.

The 5th Line Infantry was formed from conscripts as well as volunteers from Calabria in southern Italy. Designated Royal Calabria in 1810, the unit served in Germany in 1812-1813.

The 6th Line Infantry, formed in 1809-1810 from the Naples Municipal Guard was renamed Royal Naples in 1810.

The 7th Line Infantry began life as the French Bataillon des Pioniers Noirs formed from Haitian prisoners of war and other Caribbean blacks. In 1806 it was transferred to Naples being classed as a foreign regiment and became Royal Africa in 1810. In late 1812-early 1813 the regiment was in Germany. Murat ordered 2-gun regimental cannon companies for his infantry regiments in April 1813, this regiment apparently actually formed and organized one.

The 8th Line Infantry was formed in Spain in 1810-1811. It was made up of surviving elements of the 1st and 2d Line Infantry and 1st Light Infantry Regiments.

There were four regiments of chasseurs a cheval, the first two being organized in 1806, the last two in 1810 and 1814, respectively. Apparently, the 2d regiment was armed with lances.

There may have been a cuirassier regiment organized and if it did indeed exist, it was one of the captured units in Spain that went over to the Spaniards. Those Neapolitan units were destroyed by the 20th Chasseurs a Cheval.

The Neapolitan artillery arm consisted of a foot artillery regiment of 10 companies, a horse artillery 'regiment' of only one or two companies, a few companies of artificers and armorers, and a train battalion.

The engineers had a battalion of sapeurs and miners, seven and one company each, respectively. There were also two or three companies of engineer artificers.

There were also Provincial Legions, which were a rough equivalent of the French National Guard.

The Neapolitan Royal Guard was first organized under Joseph and was French. He took it with him to Spain when he switched crowns.

When Murat reformed it, its personnel were French, German, along with other foreign troops.

The Guard infantry was built around its grenadier regiment. The regiment refused to follow Murat against Napoleon and most of the officers went to serve Eugene.

The other Guard infantry units consisted of a voltigeur regiment, velites attached to the senior units, as well as velite regiments formed from the velite companies.

The Royal Guard cavalry was composed of a unit of Guides, a light cavalry regiment, a regiment of mounted velites (formed from the Elite Dragoonsof the Provincial Guard of Naples) whose officers were French and was composed of Neapolitans who could afford to arm and equip themselves. There was also a hussar regiment, Guards of Honor, a lancer regiment and a Guard Cuirassier Regiment.

Lastly, there were two companies of Guard horse artillery along with train troops, a battalion of sailors and up to two squadrons of Gendarmerie d'Elite, which was organized and cadred by French gendarmes. There was also a company of veterans.

Brechtel19813 Oct 2017 8:42 a.m. PST

your comments do indicate to me that you are a fan of rules that use "national characteristics". You also seem to be aware that there are other types of rules that don't use them. The reason they don't use them is because there is no historical justification for them.

Which is nonsense, of course. The military doctrine, organisation, command structure, officer development, and training of the French army, and that army's actual combat record, when compared to those of the Austrians, Prussians, Spanish, or indeed Neapolitans, amply demonstrate that these national characteristics existed. The relative performance of armies in all eras does so. Otherwise, you're forced to argue that the German army of 1940 was operationally no better than the British, that the British army in the desert was no better than the Italian, that Washington's army was no better than Cornwallis', and so on.
Your mistake is to take anachronistic politically-correct 20th century nostrums about the non-existence of racial or cultural differences, and to apply these prejudices, spuriously and ahistorically, to the armies of 200 years ago. Unfortunately this doesn't work
If I were writing rules for ancient warfare I'd probably include rules to reflect the favour of the gods for one side or the other. The men of the day certainly believed this was a factor in who won, and if they thought so, then it was. If your army was disheartened before battle because they'd seen three vultures, or emboldened because they'd seen four, I would vary morale accordingly. Likewise, if you thought light infantry had to be German to be any good, most of your light infantry would be.

Excellent posting and right on point.

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

Rosenheim was a naturlaized Neapolitan, and had served almost 20 years in their army.

Luigi Rodolpho Rosenheim (Zutphen, Netherlands 1758 – Naples 1834)
Son of an Dutch officer in the Swedish service. Entered the régiment Royal-Suédois infanterie in the French service in 1774. In 1787 emigrated to Naples and entered Neapolitan service as a captain. Etc., etc.
link

Joseph-Élisabeth-Roger comte de Damas d'Antigny (Paris 1765 – Cirey-sur-Blaise 1823)
Wel, a royalist French emigré, but also something of an adventurer and mercenary. Came to Naples from Russian service in 1799 upon the death of Emperor Paul.


See also
TMP link
link

de Damas' memoires
link

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

Brechtel wrote :
"The Neapolitans had no military traditions and Naples' Bourbon rulers had relied largely on mercenaries."
"And it should be noted that the Bourbon rulers of Naples had relied on mercenaries, not usually native Neapolitans."

I asked :
"For the period of conflct with the French, 1796-1806, which units of the Neapolitan army were composed of mercenaries?"

Brechtel answered :
"Mercenaries of the period, as in Naples and Prussia (prior to the disaster of 1806) were non-natives."

OK, so we see two line infantry regiments out of 13 that might meet this definition.
That is hardly "relied on mercenaries, not usually native Neapolitans".

Actually, the not-so-degenerate Ferdinand abolished hiring mercanary regiments, and only kept two regiments wherein foreigners served.

So, bascially, Brechtel, you were wrong. What might have been true in 1740 was no longer true by 1795.
Yes ?

Whirlwind13 Oct 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

Evening @Le Breton,

I'm not attempting to defend any particular POV, just (like you) trying to work out the extent of mercenary involvement in the Bourbon army of the time.

It seems to be fair to say at least that the army relied upon mercenary generals – can we all agree upon that?

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 9:08 a.m. PST

"The 2d Line Infantry Regiment …. in Spain from 1808 …. was sent home in 1811, the notation to their service record being that they had become 'nuisances.'"

Source, please?

I have never heard of "service records" for French or French-allied infantry regiments wherein such a "notation" might be found.
Please, please tell us where this gem comes from.

Whirlwind13 Oct 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

A positive reference to them here: link

And here: link

And here: link

Glenn Pearce13 Oct 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

"Which is nonsense, of course."

Oh my that sounds rather harsh. No one disputes the French success above most of the other countries. But your "military doctrine, organisation, command structure, officer development, and training" is not because of their DNA.

"Your mistake"

Oh my, another rather harsh sounding phrase. "is to take anachronistic politically-correct 20th century nostrums about the non-existence of racial or cultural differences, and to apply these prejudices, spuriously and ahistorically, to the armies of 200 years ago."

I did no such thing, so I guess that makes me right or perhaps your mistake!

Le Breton13 Oct 2017 10:18 a.m. PST

@Whirlwind

"It seems to be fair to say at least that the army relied upon mercenary generals – can we all agree upon that?"

For 1800-1806, I am assuming.

Rosenheim : not native born, but had been Neapolitan for almost 20 years …. I get the impression that he was from a family of "mercenary" officers, but came to Naples and stayed
de Damas : mercenary, pro-royalist French

Other senior officers:
Monteferre – French emigré
Giuseppe Acton – son or brother of Sir John Acton : naturalizd or born Neapolitan
Antonio Winspeare – born Neapolitan, grandfather was English
Pasquale de Tschudy & Charles de Tschudy – Swiss
Carlo Novi, Rocca-Imperiale, Angelo Minichini, Agostino Colonna-Stigliano, Francisco de Cesare, Giovanni-Battista Fadella, Giovambatista Rodio, Raimondo Capece-Minutolo prince di Canosa, Giuseppe Ricci, Antonio Penedo, Giovanni Muscettola prince di Luperano, etc., etc. – these look like locals to me

So, "the army relied upon mercenary generals" ? I will go for a "yes". But they certainly did not rely exclusively on mercenaries. Of all the senior commanders, only de Damas, the de Tschudy and likely Monteferre were really foreigners.

Sebaar13 Oct 2017 10:39 a.m. PST

I already have The Army of Naples 1806-1814 by Rawkins but there is a little about combat history.

At this point im waiting for this book: link

For combined elite regiment, together with part of the Marine of the Guard as well as the half battery of Guard Artillery, was attached under command of the Neapolitan general d'Ambrosio to the Young Guard.
After the brigade had been strengthened by the addition of the Neapolitan 4th Light Infantry as well as the French 101st Infantry Regiment, it fought in Silesia – among other actions, those at Neidlitz (5 April), Lützen (2 May), Königswertha (7 May) and shortly thereafter at Bautzen (20/21 May), where the brigade excelled itself and its commander was wounded.

Any more detailed informations?

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