Sunday, August 7, 2011

French 55th Regiment of Line

The French Regiment 55e d'Infanterie de Ligne (or 55th Regiment of Line) was formed in 1644 as the Regiment de Conde. In 1803 after numerous reorganizations the 55th received its final number designation that it would carry throughout the remainder of the Napoleonic period. They served in numerous campaigns participating in famous battles such as Jena and Vittoria. The 55th gained battle honors at both Austerlitz 1805 and Eylau 1807.


At Waterloo the 55th Regiment of Line was under the command of Colonel Morin in the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of Count d’Erlon’s 1st Corps of over 19,000 men. The 1st Corps spent June 16, 1815 marching between Quatre Bras and Ligny without participating in either engagement. Two days later, it was the 1st Corps that was given the task of attacking the Allied center near the farm of La Haye Sainte. Wellington’s lines were dotted with these fortress farms, the most famous was to his right at Hougomont.

The 55th Regiment of Line advanced in column formation near 1:30 p.m. The column formation was a favored tactic of the French during this period. They used their intimidation and size of force to overwhelm the enemy by crashing into them. This worked against inexperienced troops but at Waterloo the 1st Corps ran into Sir Thomas Picton’s 5th Infantry Division. Though Picton was the highest ranking casualty of the battle, his men were veteran troops of units such as the 32nd Cornwall Regiment and the three famous Highland Battalions, the 42nd (Black Watch), 79th (Cameron), and the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders). They held firm against the 1st Corps of Napoleon’s Grand Armee and forced them from the field. Then came the coup de grace as the British Heavy Brigade continued to push through the French. The Scots Greys and others continued to run through the French until they themselves over extended their charge leaving them in the disastrous path of French lancers.

55th with Voltigeurs

French attack at Waterloo

Command figure

Rear view

The 55e d'Infanterie de Ligne shown here are made out of Perry Plastics straight from the box of French Napoleonic Infantry 1812-1815. These are models of fantastic quality especially with the low price. The only downside is that half of them are in greatcoats. This does not always work for all campaigns but does work to give the unit an individual feel while holding on to some contiguity. The banner is of 1815 designation making it appropriate on the Waterloo battlefield.

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  1. Very nice work; and it's always nice to see unit history incorporated with the hobby. Best, Dean

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