Sunday 16 May 2021

Flags of French Regiment Bretagne

This is a short diversion from the Prussian Leuthen flags project back to my favourite French flags.

 Bretagne was first raised in 1644 by Cardinal Mazarin; it took the name of the Province of Bretagne in 1658. 2 battalions. Ranked 29th in the Seven Years War.

The flag detail is taken from the 1757 French Manuscript drawing; the Colonel's flag is unique, as it has no white cross but only the arms of Brittany and the motto above. The motto changed in 1757 from Potius Mori Quam Vinci [Better To Die Than Be Conquered] to Potius Mori Quam Faedari [Better To Die Than Be Dishonoured]. I have posted both variants of the flags.

This is my translation of the text from Susane Vol.5:

In 1755 the regiment was at the camp of Valence and in 1756 it took part in the expedition to Minorca. Here it was particularly distinguished in the attack on Fort Marlborough [Fort St Philip?] at Port Mahon. Captain of grenadiers Saint-Alby and Lieutenant Dupérier were killed in the attack. Captain Bellegarde and another lieutenant were wounded. After the taking of Mahon, which led to the complete surrender of the island, Regiment Bretagne re-embarked for France. It was sent in 1757 to the army of Marshal d'Estrées, was at the battle of Hastenbeck on 24th July and then marched to the conquest of Hanover. It was at the taking of Minden and Hanover, and pursued the enemy army to Closterseven. In January 1758 it was sent to the area round Brême with the Duc de Broglie; but this general, feeling too weak to attempt anything, went on the defensive. Bretagne occupied the cantonment of Burghausen. On the 23rd February a Prussian column came to threaten the small town of Hoya which had a bridge over the River Weser. The two companies of grenadiers and one hundred fusiliers of Bretagne went to the rescue of the Gardes Lorraines who were garrisoning Hoya. As soon as they arrived they were positioned beyond the bridge around a sort of chateau. During this time a party of troops of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick had crossed the Weser on rafts above Hoya and came to attack the French in flank and rear, while the rest of the Prussian army attacked them frontally. The companies of Bretagne, isolated beyond the bridge, put up a magnificent fight but were at last obliged to surrender,  by a capitulation which, because of their courage, was most honourable. After this affair the regiment retreated to Osnabruck then the Lower Rhine and was employed guarding the Dutch frontier from Xanten up to the Fort of Skencke. It was later sent to the coast and spent the years 1759 and 1760 there. It returned to the Army of Germany in 1761 and took a distinguished part in the combat of Werle on the 3rd July [?]. The regiment stood out again on the 23rd July 1762 in the action which took place around the River Fulda [combat of Lutterberg]. Captain du Portal and a lieutenant were wounded there. On returning to France the regiment went into garrison at Fort-Louis du Rhin.

 And this is the uniform in 1756: