14e, Compagnie de Grenadier, Ranker
History of a prestigious Regiment
he regiment was created on the 1st of january 1791 and renamed the 14th half-brigade in 1793.
On the 7th of april 1796, the 14th half-brigade is united with the Lower Seine half-brigade and sent to Italy in september. The 14th half-brigade was therefore one of the first infantry regiment to be led by General Bonaparte. The 14th half-brigade of the line takes part in the battle of Rivoli on the 14th and 15th of January 1797.
It is then sent to Vincente, and after the signing of the treaty of Campo-Formio, to Palma Nova and Mantua. The half-brigade is sent to the Boulogne encampment after the Peace of Amiens is broken. It is once more named the 14e regiment d’infantrie de ligne (14th regiment of line infantry) in 1803 and is intergrated to the IVth Corps under Soult, the regiment fights during the battle of Austerlitz.
At Austerlitz, the regiment attacks and captures the Pratzen plateau. Defended only by the 14th, 36th and 10th light regiments, the plateau is attacked by 15 russian batalions under Kutuzov and in sight of Tsar Alexander. Supported by the 2nd brigade under Saint-Hilaire at the foot of the plateau, the regiments repel 4 counter-attacks ; during the 4th, colonel Mazas of the 14th is killed.
In his report, Soult wrote : “ Colonel Mazas of the « 14 » was killed by canister shot after gallantly challenging the foe ; the men of his regiment swiftly covered his face with a greatcoat found on the field and ran to avenge their fallen leader upon the enemy. A man of that same regiment lost his arm to a cannon ball, he asked one of his comrades to help him remove his pack, then recommended his friend remain at his post before heading for the ambulance by himself. “
Shortly after 1pm, the russian launch a 5th attack, repelled once more. Kutuzov retreats with his right flanc. Releaved by the Oudinot grenadiers, the 14th join the Thibault brigade and the 36th join the Ferey brigade, as brigadiers Vandamme and Saint-Hilaire reorganise their forces for the counter-attack. Those brigades join the assault intended to cut off the enemy retreat, leaving only one bridge under Russian control, the remains of the Austro-Russian troops have no choice but to swim across the river.
The victory is costly for the 14th, losing their regimental leader, 16 officers killed, another 16 wounded and 206 wounded among the NCOs and troops; but the regiment was also commended in the Army Order.
The regiment later takes part in the battle of Iena, and later still, during the capture of Thorn, the regiment loses another colonel. Marshal Ney wrote: “Colonel Savary deserves highest praise for his intelligence, zeal and valour, he was the most influential in the capture of Thorn.” Upon reading of Savary’s death, Napoleon declared :he was most worthy of leading such a brave regiment!”
It is during the battle of Eylau that the 14th regiment of line infantry will display the greatest courage. Assigned to the VIIe Corps of the Great Army under Augereau, the regiment is positioned at the center of the french formation, near the church and cemetery of Eylau. As part of the vanguard of the Desjardins division, the 14th is sent forward in support of Davout’s IIIe Corps, at about 10am.
Blinded by a snow storm, the 14th moves forward supported by the 44th and 105th regiments, 200 feet to their left. The 14th are the foremost regiment and most exposed to a 72 gun Russian battery, they suffer grueling fire. According to Henriod, colonel of the 14th: “the regiment had just toppled the first line of Russian infantry when a Biscay man broke the shaft of the 1st batalion’s eagle and tossed it into the hands of the 5th company.”
The eagle-bearing sergent-major of the 5th having been injured, the captain of that company entrusted the eagle to one of his chosen men. When the Russian cavalry charged the 14th, the regiment formed square. Surrounded on 3 sides by Russian cavalry and infantry, the square would have held, were it not for the fleeing men of another corps seeking shelter within.
Clustered on a hilltop under the command of chef de bataillon Daucy, the 14th resisted heroicaly against the russians, but upon seeing no way of saving the regiment, Daucy entrusted captain Marbot with the eagle adding it would be too painful to die and see it taken by the enemy. Marbot escapes the square and though he and his mare are hit several times, they break through the surrounding Russians and save the eagle. The survivors of the 14th gallantly stood their ground until overwhelmed and annihilated by a charge of Pavlovsky grenadiers.
During this battle, 28 officers and 590 NCOs and troops are killed, mortally wounded or missing, the highest casualty rate in any french regiment at that time.
Later on the 14th takes part in the battle of Heilsberg, the Peninsular war in 1808, fighting in Catalonia and Aragon, then the german campaign in 1813 and the French campaign in 1814. Upon Napoleon’s return from Elba in 1815, the 14th is sent to stop him. Instead they take the tricolor cockade and from Avallo constitute the vanguard of the army escorting the emperor to Paris on the 20th of march 1815.
The 14th did not take part in the battle of Waterloo but in the battle of Ugine on the 28th of june. The Napoleonic 14th is disbanded on the 11th of November 1815, during the founding of the Second Restoration. Reformed and disbanded several times, it is currently active as the 14th paratroop regiment since 2011.
14e, Compagnie de Fusillier, Ranker