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"Penal Battalions" Topic

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El Lobo11 Feb 2018 10:31 a.m. PST

I believe that the French XI Corps 32nd Division of 1812 had Penal Battalions within its ranks.Can anyone provide info of these units along with any other countries who also used Penal units and their designations during the Napoleonic wars.Were regular Officers used to command these units or were they also condemned men?What sort of crimes got you send to these units?What sort of duties would these units be used for?Suicide missions? Thanks in advance.

gboue200111 Feb 2018 12:23 p.m. PST

Strange question as these rgts were not penal units but infantry regiments consisting of disobedient draftees, soldiers who had rejected the draft and had been captured by the gendarmerie. Instead of sending them to penal units, special regiments were created to train them. They didn't behaved that bad in 1813 and were transformed in regular line and light rgts. The officiers were retired ones, called back with a superior rank, NCO were coming from the line rgts and were specaking the language of the unwilling soldiers (i.e: italian for the Méditerranée Regiment)

It was my Phd subject in the Sorbonne a long time ago.

Belle-Isle Regiment, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions
Isle de Ré Regiment, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions
Walcheren Regiment, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions
1st Méditerranée Regiment, 1st and 2nd Battalions
2nd Méditerranée Regiment, 1st, 2nd and 4th Battalions

The only penal units could be somme british regiments (Wellington's quote):-))

Gboue from Paris

JimSelzer Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 1:05 p.m. PST

wasn't aware of penal regiments just POW ones Deleted by Moderator Thank you

charared Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 2:27 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info gboue2001!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 2:43 p.m. PST

Interesting information. Thanks gboue2001.

Marcel180912 Feb 2018 8:33 a.m. PST

Thanks a lot gboue2001 (merci beaucoup), some of the info I was alos looking for (about officers and NCO's). Would the officers and NCo's have the their old line uniforms or would they wear the simpler/plainer uniforms of the refractaires battalions, I' m planning to paint some in the near future.

Camcleod12 Feb 2018 9:21 a.m. PST

Uniform of the Walcheren and Ille de Re Regiments



I assume the others were in the same.

Edwulf Inactive Member12 Feb 2018 12:16 p.m. PST

Britain had them in a sense.

Royal York Rangers or the York Light Infantry I think. Un- numbered Regiments used to garrison African outposts. The men were usually troublemakers and deserters from other units.

El Lobo14 Feb 2018 10:40 a.m. PST

Sorry gboue2001 for my ignorance with this subject as I'm a "newbee" to this period and didn't realise they were infantry regiments and not penal units,but thanks very much for your excellent information.Much appreciated.

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