Army of the Kingdom of Naples (Napoleonic)

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Royal Neapolitan Army
Esercito del Regno di Napoli
Carlo Filangieri e Murat.jpg
Joachim Murat helps the wounded general Filangieri after the Battle of the Panaro.
Active1806–1815
CountryKingdom of Naples
Allegiance Naples
BranchGround Forces
TypeMain Army
SizeAt-least 47,000 by 1815
Army HeadquartersNaples, Campania, Kingdom of Naples
Motto(s)Onore, e Fedelis Senza Macchia
ColorsNeapolitan Flag - Icon.png
EngagementsWar of the Fourth Coalition
War of the Fifth Coalition
War of the Sixth Coalition
Neapolitan War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Joachim Murat
Michele Carrascosa
Guglielmo Pepe
Pietro Colletta
Carlo Filangeri
Jacques MacDonald

The Army of the Kingdom of Naples (Italian: Esercito Napoletano) was the primary land defence and offence force of the Kingdom of Naples. It served alongside Napoleon’s Grande Armée in various campaigns and wars across Europe, until its final demise in the Neapolitan War of 1815. It was in service from 1806 to 1815, reborn from the Army of the Two Sicilies after the annexation of Naples. The Army was more known for the splendour of its uniforms rather than the achievements of its troops.

Origin[edit]

After the demise of the Bourbon-ruled Kingdom of Naples in 1806, a French-ruled client state was established in its place, with the throne being given to Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte. However, when Joseph transferred to becoming King of Spain, the throne of Naples was granted to Napoleon's brother-in-law, Joachim Murat. The army soon became the single largest source of public employment in the Kingdom, and was the institution that Murat, in particular, looked to create an independent base for his kingdom.[1] However, recruitment for the army was difficult from the start, due to the usual resistance to the unpopular French conscription system which had been introduced. The number of men raised initially was so meagre that convicts and captured brigands were drafted into regiments. Most officers were either captured enemy officers or French and Polish officers that stayed in Naples after the 1806 campaign. Neapolitan troops served in various campaigns under Napoleon and his generals. However, Murat's alliance-switching spree in 1813 up to 1815 resulted in his army having mixed loyalties and gradually dissolving, finding no interest in serving or fighting for Murat in his campaigns.[2][3]

Composition[edit]

Joachim Murat as King of Naples.

Prior to Murat's arrival, Joseph had begun to shape what would become the Army of Naples. In 1806, the Royal Guard of Naples consisted of a regiment of Grenadiers of the Guard, together with a regiment of Voltigeurs of the Guard and a regiment of Mounted Velites. Together with the Guard there were two regiments of Line Infantry and one Light regiment in 1806 and two regiments of Mounted Chasseurs. Under Murat's rule, three more Line Infantry Regiments and one Light were raised in 1809. The army kept on expanding in size until 1815; at its peak, the Army of Naples consisted of Two Divisions of the Guard, 12 Regiments of Line Infantry, 4 Regiments of Line Cavalry, Four Regiments of Light Infantry, and 14 artillery batteries.[2]

Royal Guard[edit]

The Royal Guard of Naples was split into two separate sections: The Cavalry and Infantry of the Guard. By the 1815 campaign, the Guard was able to muster two entire divisions and a substantially large amount of field artillery.

As was the case with most of the army in 1806, the Guard was overlooked during Joseph's reign. However, with the arrival of Joachim Murat and his coronation as King of Naples, the Guard was expanded greatly to fit the king's flamboyant imagination. By looking at the Guard's many uniforms, Murat's love for gold and finery can clearly be seen.

The Cavalry of the Guard originally consisted of a single regiment of Cavallegieri (Light Horse), of two squadrons, each of two companies. These acted as a light cavalry force, screening the army's advances and scouting ahead of it, usually even foraging for supplies from the country around them to feed the rest of the army. This regiment escorted Napoleon himself during his flight from Russia in December 1812, back to Paris, alongside the Guard Hussar regiment. Additionally, in 1806, there was a squadron of elite Mounted Gendarmes that took duties as military police. In 1808, Murat formed the Corps of Mounted Velites (Veliti a Cavallo) out of the personal bodyguards of several nobles; these too acted as a light cavalry force. Alongside this, Murat formed the Guardia d’Onore (Guard of Honour) out of the two squadrons of Lancers of Berg, which he brought with him from his past post as Grand Duke of Berg. Whether these men blended into Neapolitan society well is still unclear. In 1813 the Veliti a Cavallo were converted to Ussari (Hussars). From late-1813 onwards, regiments of Cuirassiers, Chevaulegers, and Chevaulegers-Lanciers were raised so that the Guard Cavalry could muster a whole division in the 1815 campaign.[2]

A Velite of the 1st Regiment of Velites of the Guard. Note the yellow and white straps.

In 1806 the Infantry of the Guard included a regiment of Grenadiers of the Guard, and one of Voltigeurs. Each had two battalions, consisting of four companies. In 1809 these regiments were joined by two regiments of Velites of the Guard and a one-battalion regiment of Marine Infantry (Marinai della Guardia Reale).[2]

In addition to both divisions of the Guard there were two artillery batteries, one of horse and one of foot. The foot battery had six 8-pounder cannons and two howitzers. The Horse battery had four 4-pounder guns and two howitzers, all of the French Gribeauval design.[2][4]

Infantry[edit]

The Line Infantry of the Army of the Kingdom of Naples in 1806 consisted of two regiments, designated the 1st Regiment “del Re” and the 2nd Regiment “della Regina”, each of two field battalions of nine companies each. Battalions had six Fusilier companies, and two elite companies, of Voltigeurs and Grenadiers.[5] In 1809 there were seven Line Regiments, now of three field battalions, consisting of one grenadier, one light and four centre companies. By 1812 there were eight regiments, rising to twelve by 1814.[2]

Interestingly, the 7th Line was one of the few primarily negro regiments in Europe at the time. Originally a French unit, the Pionniers Noirs was a battalion raised by from émigrés from the West Indies and Saint-Domingue. When the Kingdom of Naples was established in 1806, the unit was transferred into the service of the new state on 14 August, and were increased to regimental strength and designated the 7th Regiment in 1810.[2]

Regimental Colour of the 5th Line Regiment.

The official designations of all twelve were:

  • 1st Regiment ‘del Re
  • 2nd Regiment ‘della Regina
  • 3rd Regiment ‘del Principe Reale
  • 4th Regiment ‘Real Sannita
  • 5th Regiment ‘Real Calabria
  • 6th Regiment ‘Di Napoli
  • 7th Regiment ‘Real Africano’
  • 8th Regiment ‘Principe Luciano
  • 9th Regiment N/A
  • 10th Regiment N/A
  • 11th Regiment N/A
  • 12th Regiment ‘della Marca’

The difference between Elite and Centre companies was considerable - the elites held a much higher espirit de corps, believing themselves to be better trained and generally the most senior companies in the regiment. In most cases, this was true.

Additionally, there were two light infantry regiments in 1806, later rising to 4 by 1813, consisting of two field battalions. Each field battalion had a carabinieri (carabiniers) company, a light company, and seven companies of cacciatori (chasseurs). There was also a regiment Real Corso (Royal Corsican), that consisted of Corsican émigrés. It was redesignated as the 1st Light Regiment in 1813, and the old 1st and 2nd became the 2nd and 3rd.[2]

Neapolitan Chasseur and Voltigeur of the 1st Light Regiment in post-1813 uniforms.

Cavalry[edit]

Line cavalry consisted solely of Cacciatori a Cavallo (Mounted Chasseurs) and Cavalleggieri (Chevaulegers) regiments. Originally, there were two Cacciatori a Cavallo regiments, designated the 1st and the 2nd CAC. In 1813, a Cavalleggieri regiment was raised. Finally, all regiments were converted to Cavallegieri, and a fourth regiment was raised. The adoption of lances and uniform changes were among the major changes introduced. However, the role of the Line Cavalry was always confined to skirmish and patrol duties, as in all Light Cavalry units of the era. Overall, there were no heavy Line Cavalry units.[2] There are several accounts of a line cuirassier regiment being raised in 1809, but was destroyed less than a year later in Spain. The quick destruction of the regiment resulted in minimal attention given to it by future researchers.[2]

The cavalry regiments in the Neapolitan Army were organised into 2-4 squadrons each, each squadron consisting of 2-3 companies. Traditionally, the 1st Squadron usually had the "elite" company within itself, which was the equivalent of infantry grenadiers for cavalry. The elites usually wore bearskins or busbys to show their status.

Artillery[edit]

Neapolitan artillery was not numerous. In 1806, there was only a single battery of field artillery, equipped with 6-pounder Austrian-pattern guns. By the following year this had grown to a regiment of foot artillery, a battalion of train, a battalion of artificers and armourers, and a battalion of sappers and miners. By 1812 there were 12 foot and two horse batteries. Each horse battery had four cannons and two howitzers each, while field batteries consisted of six cannons and two howitzers.[2]

List of regiments[edit]

Royal Guard[edit]

Cavalry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Major Nationality (other than Neapolitan) — if applicable Notes
Regiment of Lancers Reggimento Lancieri 1 October 1814 May 1815 Formerlly the Regiment of Guards of the Corps.
Company of Bodyguards Compagnia delle Guardie del Corpo 1 October 1814 May 1815 Formed from the old Regiment of Guards of the Corps.
Regiment of Guards of the Corps Reggimento Guardie del Corpo 10 March 1813 1 October 1814 Formerly the Honour Guard Regiment. On 1 October 1814 was split, most of the regiment forming the new Lancer Regiment, and a small detachment forming the company of bodyguards.
Honour Guard Regiment Reggimento Guardie d'Onore 15 February 1809 10 March 1813
Regiment of Cuirassiers Reggimento Corazzieri 18 March 1813 May 1815
Regiment of Chevaulegers Reggimento Cavalleggeri 30 July 1806 10 July 1808 French Raised as an early, impromptu cavalry regiment in Joseph's army in 1806 from French cavalrymen. Eventually disbanded in 1808.
Regiment of Chevaulegers Reggimento Cavallegeri 6 September 1808 May 1815 Berg (German) Raised as the Regiment of Berg Lancers, later transferred to the Neapolitan Guard. Not to be confused with the other Chevauleger regiment mentioned above; although these two bore the same name, they did not exist during the same time at once.
Regiment of Hussars Reggimento Ussari 11 April 1813 May 1815 Raised from the Mounted Velites.
Corps, later Regiment of Mounted Velites Corpor, poi Reggimento Veliti a Cavallo 22 September 1808 11 April 1813
Company of Mounted Velites of Clary Compagnia Veliti a Cavallo Clary 22 November 1806 September 1808 Raised as an independent bodyguard for Marie Julie Clary, King Joseph Bonaparte's wife. Later merged with the Tascher Cavalry to form the Corps of Mounted Velites.
Tascher Volunteer Cavalry Company Compagnia Cavalleggeri Volontari Tascher 19 February 1807 September 1808 Raised as an independent bodyguard for Marcelle Tascher de la Pagerie. Later merged with the Tascher Cavalry to form the Corps of Mounted Velites.
Selected Squadron of Gendarmerie Squadrone Gendarmeria Scelta 30 September 1806 18 March 1813

Infantry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Major Nationality (other than Neapolitan) — if applicable Notes
Regiment of Foot Grenadiers Reggimento di Granatieri a Piedi 11 July 1806 20 May 1815 French
1st Regiment of Vélités[citation needed] of Foot 1° Reggimento Veliti a Piedi 15 July 1811 May 1815 Originally formed as the Vélité Hunters, converted 15 July 1811 as Foot Velites, thereby becoming the 1st Velites.
2nd Regiment of Vélités[citation needed] of Foot 2° Reggimento Veliti a Piedi 15 July 1811 May 1815
Regiment of Velite[citation needed] Hunters Reggimento Veliti Cacciatori 22 September 1808 15 July 1815 Originally formed as the Company of Chosen Civic Hunters in 1806, and expanded to a regiment in 1808 after their conversion. Became the 1st Regiment of Velites of Foot on 15 July 1811.
Voltigeur Battalion Battaglione Volteggiatori 30 May 1806 15 July 1811 French Disbanded in 1811 following the reorganisation of the guard. Re-raised in 1814, but the lineage wasn't transferred (see 12th Line below under Infantry and Voltigeur Regiment)
Regiment of Voltigeurs Reggimento Volteggiatori 29 September 1814 May 1815 Formed as the 12th Infantry Regiment, later converted to the Guard Voltigeurs. See 12th Infantry under "Line Infantry" for more information.
Company of Chosen Civilian Hunters Compagnia Caccciatori Civici Scelti 1806 22 September 1808 Formed as a civilian unit, then transferred to the Guard, and finally expanded in 1808 into the Regiment of Velite Hunters.

Supporting Arms[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
Royal Halderbiers of Naples Alabardieri Reali di Napoli
Company, later Battalion of Veterans of the Royal Guard Compagnia, poi Battaglione Veterani della Guardia Reale 21 April 1809 May 1815
Company, later Royal Guard Sailors Battalion Compagnia, poi Battaglione Mariani della Guardia Reale 30 September 1806 10 July 1808
Horse Artillery of the Royal Guard Artiglieria a Cavallo della Guardia 22 September 1809 May 1815 Regiment sized
Foot Artillery of the Royal Guard Artiglieria della Guardia Reale 30 September 1806 10 July 1809 Later expanded into two separate artillery regiments.
Artillery Train of the Royal Guard Treno della Guardia Relae 30 September 1806 May 1815

Cavalry of the Line[edit]

During the 1813 reorganisation of the Neapolitan Army, the light cavalry were converted to line cavalry.

Light Cavalry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
1st Regiment of Horse Hunters 1° Cacciatori a Cavallo 18 February 1806 10 March 1813 Reorganised into the 1st Regiment of Cavalry
2nd Regiment of Horse Hunters 2° Cacciatori a Cavallo 4 June 1806 10 March 1813 Reorganised into the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry
English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
1st Regiment of Cavalry 1° Reggimento Cavallegeri 10 March 1813 May 1815 Formed from the old 1st Horse Hunters
2nd Regiment of Cavalry 2° Reggimento Cavallegeri 10 March 1813 May 1815 Formed from the old 2nd Horse Hunters
3rd Regiment of Cavalry 3° Reggimento Cavallegeri 10 March 1813 May 1815 Formed from the old 1st Cavalry Regiment
1st Regiment of Cavalry 1° Reggimento Cavallegeri 25 December 1810 10 March 1813
4th Regiment of Cavalry 1° Reggimento Cavallegeri 7 July 1814 10 March 1813
Municiple Guard Squadron of Naples Squadrone Guardia Municipale di Napoli 26 September 1809 25 December 1810

Infantry of the Line[edit]

Line Infantry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
1st Regiment of the Line 1° Reggimento di Linea del Re 13 June 1806 1811 Formed after the 1811 reorganisations.
2nd Regiment of the Line 2° Reggimento di Linea 1811 May 1815
2nd Regiment of the Line (Queen's Own) 2° Reggimento di Linea del Re 13 June 1806 1811 Formed after the 1811 reorganisations.
3rd Regiment of the Line (Prince's Own) 3° Reggimento di Linea del Principe 10 March 1809 May 1815
4th Regiment of the Line (Samnite) 4° Reggimento di Linea Sannita 27 August 1809 May 1815
5th Regiment of the Line (Calabrian) 5° Reggimento di Linea Calabria 12 September 1809 May 1815
6th Regiment of the Line (Naples) 6° Reggimento di Linea Napoli 10 December 1810 May 1815
7th Regiment of the Line (Royal African) 7° Reggimento di Linea Real Africano 7 December 1810 1812 Merged with other units to form the new 7th after the Russian invasion.
7th Regiment of the Line (Prince Luciano) 7° Reggimento di Linea Principe Luciano 1812 1814
8th Regiment of the Line 8° Reggimento di Linea Principe 14 October 1811 May 1815
Provisional Regiment, later 9th Regiment of the Line Reggimento Provvisorio, poi 9° Reggimento di Linea 28 June 1813 May 1815
10th Regiment of the Line 10° Reggimento di Linea 8 March 1814 May 1815
6th Italian, later 11th Regiment of the Line 6° Italiano, poi 11° Reggimento di Linea 3 May 1814 May 1815
12th Regiment of the Line 12° Reggimento di Linea 29 June 1814 29 September 1814 Brought into the Royal Guard in September 1814 as the Regiment of Voltiegeurs
12th Regiment of the Line (Marche) 12° Reggimento di Linea (delle Marche) 29 September 1814 May 1815
Neuchatel Battalion Battaglione Neuchatel 4th October 1808 19 May 1815 Formed in the 4th of October of Swiss Mercenaries who Enlisted in Neapolitan Service.
Mac Donald's Chosen Regiment in Germany Reggimento scelto Mac Donald in Germania 12 January 1813 10 June 1813 Formed through the remnants of the Neapolitan troops in the Grande Armée for service in Germany under command of General Jacques MacDonald. It was formed from all of the elite companies of the Neapolitan regiments serving in Germany

Light Infantry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Major Nationality (other than Neapolitan) — if applicable Notes
Royal Corsican Legion Legione Real Corso 30 June 1806 (transferred from French service) 16 February 1813 Corsican
1st Light Infantry Regiment 1° Reggimento Leggero 16 February 1813 May 1815 Corsican Formed from the old Corsican regiment, designated as a formal light infantry regiment.
2nd Light Infantry Regiment 2° Reggimento Leggero 16 February 1806 May 1815 Originally the 1st Light Regiment - during the reorganisation of 1813, it was redesignated as the 2nd.
3rd Light Infantry Regiment 3° Reggimento Leggero 16 February 1806 May 1815 Originally the 2nd Light Regiment - during the reorganisation of 1813, it was redesignated as the 3rd.
4th Light Infantry Regiment 4° Reggimento Leggero 20 February 1812 May 1815 Originally a provisional light infantry regiment, reorganised into the 4th Light Regiment in 1813.

Provincial Infantry[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
Provincial (District) Chosen Companies Compagnie Scelte Provinciali (Distrettuali) 12 June 1812
Provincial Battalions Battaglioni Provinciali 10 January 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
1st Provincial Regiment of the Line 1° Reggimento Provvisori di Linea March 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
2nd Provincial Regiment of the Line 2° Reggimento Provvisori di Linea March 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
3rd Provincial Regiment of the Line 3° Reggimento Provvisori di Linea March 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
4th Provincial Regiment of the Line 4° Reggimento Provvisori di Linea March 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
5th Provincial Regiment of the Line 5° Reggimento Provvisori di Linea March 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War

Provisional Units[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
Italian Volunteers Brigade Brigata Volontari Italiani April 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
Calabrian Frankish Corps Corp Franchi Calabresi September 1806 April 1808 Formed as a counter-brigand/insurgency unit in Calabria.
Corps, later Regiment of Veterans Corpo, poi Reggimento Veterani 22 December 1806 May 1815
Mountain Hunters Battalion of the Principality of Citra Battaglione Cacciatori di Montagna del Principato Citra 4 October 1806 25 August 1809
Selected Battalion of Italian Officers Battaglione Sacro degli Ufficiali Italiani April 1815 May 1815 Formed for service in the Neapolitan War
Franca Guides of Abruzzi Compagnia Franca Guide degli Abruzzi 5 September 1806 26 March 1808
Franche Voltigeurs of Abruzzi Compagnie Franche Volteggiatori Abruzzesi 18 December 1806 1807

Supporting Arms[edit]

Artillery[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
1st Regiment of Foot Artillery 1° Reggimento Artiglieria a Piedi December 1810 May 1815 Formed from the old Foot Artillery Regiment
2nd Regiment of Foot Artillery 2° Reggimento Artiglieria a Piedi 5 January 1814 May 1815 Formed through the expansion of the old 1st Foot Artillery
Regiment of Foot Artillery Reggimento Artiglieria a Piedi 31 July 1806 December 1810 Formed from the expansion of the old Artillery Companies.
Companies of Artillery Compagnie d'Artiglieri March 1806 July 1806 Expanded to form the new Regiment of Artillery in 1806
English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded
Artillery Companies of Castelnuovo
1st Artillery Company 1° Compagnia Artiglieri 11 March 1806 May 1815
2nd Artillery Company 2° Compagnia Artiglieri 14 July 1813 May 1815
1st Company of Gunsmiths 1° Compagnie Armaioli 16 December 1808 May 1815
Artillery Companies of Castelnuovo
2nd Company of Gunsmiths 2° Compagnie Armaioli 30 October 1809 May 1815
3rd Company of Gunsmiths 3° Compagnie Armaioli 30 October 1809 May 1815
Coastal Artillery Companies
Gaeta Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Gaeta 18 August 1807 May 1815
Baia Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Baia 18 August 1807 May 1815
Pozzuoli Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Pozzuoli 18 August 1807 May 1815
Castellammare Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Castellammare 18 August 1807 May 1815
Sorrento Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Sorrento 18 August 1807 May 1815
Salerno Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Salerno 18 August 1807 May 1815
Calabrian Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Calabria 18 August 1807 May 1815
Taranto Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Taranto 18 August 1807 May 1815
Otranto Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Otranto 18 August 1807 May 1815
Bari Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Bari 18 August 1807 May 1815
Manfredonia Company Compagnie Artiglieri di Manfredonia 18 August 1807 May 1815
Pescara Compagnie Artiglieri di Pescara 18 August 1807 May 1815

Artillery Train & Supply[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
Artillery Train Regiment Reggimento del Treno d'Artiglieria 26 May 1814 May 1815 Formed through the merger of the 1st and 2nd Artillery Train battalions
1st Battalion of the Artillery Train 1° Battaglione del Treno d'Artiglieria 30 July 1807 26 May 1814 Formed through the expansion and merger of the Compagnies of the Artillery Train
2nd Battalion of the Artillery Train 2° Battaglione del Treno d'Artiglieria 2 December 1813 26 May 1814
Companies of the Artillery Train Compagnie del Treno d'Artiglieria 7 October 1806 30 July 1807 Expanded to form the 1st Artillery Train Battalion
Company of Military Equipment Compagnie Equipaggi Militari 21 May 1813 2 December 1813

Engineers & Miners[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
Regiment of Sappers and Miners Reggimento Zappatori e Minatori 26 May 1814 May 1815 Formed through the merger of the 1st and 2nd battalions of sappers and miners
1st Battalion of Sappers and Miners 1° battaglione Zappatori e Minatori 21 April 1809 26 May 1814 Formed through the expansion of the old Sappers and Miners Companies
2nd Battalion of Sappers and Miners 2° Battaglione Zappatori e Minatori 2 April 1814 26 May 1814
Sappers and Miners Companies (6 coys) Compagnia Minatori e Zappatori 25 July 1806 21 April 1809 Expanded and grouped together to form the 1st Battalion of Sappers and Miners
7th Company of Sappers 7° Compagnia Zappatori 25 December 1810 1814 Formed for service in Corfu, French Ionian Islands

Royal Gendarmerie[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded Notes
1st Legion (of Naples) 1° Legione di Napoli 3 March 1809 13 September 1816 Formed through the expansion of the old Legion of Naples
2nd Legion (of Foggia, later Bari) 2° Legione di Foggia, poi Bari 3 March 1809 13 September 1816 Formed through the expansion of the old Legion of Naples
3rd Legion (of Salerno) 3° Legione di Salerno 3 March 1809 13 September 1816 Formed through the expansion of the old Legion of Naples
Legion of Naples Legione di Napoli 5 January 1808 3 March 1809 Formed through the merger of the old 1st and 2nd Legions
1st Legion 1° Legione 10 June 1806 5 January 1808 Merged with 2nd Legion to form the Legion of Naples
2nd Legion 2° Legione 10 June 1806 5 January 1808 Merged with 2nd Legion to form the Legion of Naples
Calabrian Armiger Hunters Armigeri Cacciatori Calabresi 16 April 1807 Formed to combat brigands and rebels in Calabria
Royal Armigers, later the Auxiliary Gendarmerie Armigeri Regi, poi Gendarmeria Ausiliaria 23 November 1807
Provincial Infantry Companies Compagnie Provinciali di Fanteria 4 May 1810
Gendarmerie of the Royal Navy Gendarmeria Reale di Marina 30 March 1810

Provincial Legions[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded
Provincial Legion of Central Calabria Legione Provinciale Calabria Citra 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Upper Calabria Legione Provinciale Calabria Ultra 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Central Abruzzo Legione Provinciale Abruzzo Citra 15 May 1806
1st Provincial Legion of Upper Abruzzo Legione Provinciale Abruzzo Ultra I 15 May 1806
2nd Provincial Legion of Upper Abruzzo Legione Provinciale Abruzzo Ultra II 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Molise Legione Provinciale Molise 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Casilicata Legione Provinciale Basilicata 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Capitanata Legione Provinciale Capitanata 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Bari Legione Provinciale di Bari 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Otranto Legione Provinciale d'Otranto 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Naples Legione Provinciale Napoli 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Lavoro Legione Provinciale di Lavoro 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of the Upper Principality Legione Provinciale Principato Ultra 15 May 1806
Provincial Legion of Central Principality Legione Provinciale Principato Citra 15 May 1806
Civic Regiment of Circeo Reggimento Civico del Circeo 1809
National Guard of Benevento Guardia Nazionale di Benevento 1813 1814
Departmental Legion of the Tronto Legione Dipartimentale del Tronto 1814
Departmental Legion of the Musone Legione Dipartimentale del Musone 1814
Departmental Legion of the Metauro Legione Dipartimentale del Metauro 1814
National Guard of the King Guardia Nazionale del Reno 1814 & 1815

Internal Security Guard[edit]

English Name Italian Name Formation Date Disbanded
Civic Guard of Naples Guardia Civica di Napoli 15 July 1806 8 November 1808
Selected Volunteers of the City of Naples Volontari Scelti della Città di Napoli 16 June 1809 31 July 1809
Home Security Guard Guardia d'Interna Sicurezza 18 March 1813 May 1815
Firefighters of the City of Naples Pompieri della Città di Napoli 4 May 1810

Ranks[edit]

The Neapolitan Army used a variety of ranks. The universal line infantry ranks were used by the Line Infantry, Auxiliary, Artillery and Civic Guard units. The ranks were modelled on their French counterparts, a clear show of French influence.

The various cavalry units of the Neapolitan Army adopted different ranks as to their comrades on foot; however, these too were modelled on the French system. Both Cavalry and Infantry ranks had very similar roles in general.

Infantry Ranks[edit]

In order, highest to lowest, the general infantry ranking system of the Neapolitan Army is as follows:

Neapolitan Line Infantry Rank Modern U.S. equivalent
Tenente Generale Lieutenant General
Maresciallo di Campo Major General
Aiutante di Campo Aide-de-Camp
Colonello Colonel
Maggiore Major
Capo di Battaglione Battalion Chief
Capitano Captain
Tenente First Lieutenant
Sottotenente Second Lieutenant
Sottufficiale Ensign
Sergente-Maggiore Sergeant Major
Sergente Sergeant
Caporale-Furiere Corporal
Caporale Lance Corporal
Soldato Private

Naturally, the King was also eligible to command the entire army.

Cavalry Ranks[edit]

The various cavalry units of the Neapolitan Army were given their own ranks. These too were modelled off the French cavalry ranks. Although the ranks of the Neapolitan cavalry were different in name as to their comrades on foot, the roles held by infantry and cavalry rankers were not altogether that different, in practice.

Neapolitan Cavalry Rank Modern U.S. equivalent
Colonello Colonel
Maggiore Major
Capo-Squadrone Squadron Leader
Capitano Captain
Tenente First Lieutenant
Sottotenente Second Lieutenant
Capo-Maresciallo di Casa Sergeant Major
Maresciallo di Casa Sergeant
Brigadiere-Furiere Corporal
Brigadiere Lance Corporal
Cavaliere Private

Campaigns[edit]

Campaign in Spain[edit]

In February 1808 Napoleon's carefully orchestrated plan to achieve control over Spain and Portugal rolled into motion. After much cunning manipulation of the utterly gullible Spanish royal family, they had agreed to allow tens of thousands of French troops into their kingdom, ostensibly as part of a plot, which they believed they had hatched with Napoleon to invade Portugal and divide it between themselves. Soon it became apparent that these troops not only wanted to conquer Portugal, but to swallow up the entire Iberian Peninsula in the process. Italian and Neapolitan troops made up part of Général de Division Duhesme’s VII Corps stationed in Catalonia, in Général de Division Giuseppe Lechi’s 2nd Division. On the 29th of February 1808, Lechi's Neapolitans seized the fortress of Barcelona from the Spanish garrison stationed there. All across Spain, similar coups took place, with most vital fortresses secured by the French. However, upon hearing the news of their king being deposed on the 2nd of May, the Spanish populace of Madrid attacked the Frenchmen stationed there, starting the vicious war of attrition and assassination that would last until 1814.[2]

There were two main problems that affected the French and allied troops in Spain: the lack of food and water and the inability to find safe space for any force of troops. Men and officers alike were expected to feed off any food they could find off the land; unlike the relatively peaceful citizens of Central Europe, the Spanish populace fought back on numerous occasions against French and allied foraging parties. Secondly, the relentless flurry of guerrilla activity in virtually all of Spain resulted in even company-sized units being ambushed and massacred on a regular basis. If a garrison was left to hold a post along the lines of communication, it could only survive by immediately constructing a robust defensive position and maintaining a stock of sufficient supplies to feed and arm the defenders. If they dropped their guard, for even a moment, they would be overrun and massacred. Lechi's Neapolitans and Italians were employed in constant counter-guerrilla actions in Catalonia. They took part in Général de Brigade Schwarz’s expedition to Manresa, roughly 40km away from Barcelona. On their way there, they were ambushed and sent in headlong retreat, with heavy losses. A second expedition fared no better, suffering almost 400 casualties. Later in June 1808 the Neapolitans took part in Duhesme’s Siege of Girona. Both assaults on the city failed due to the lack of siege artillery in Duhesme’s arsenal. Furthermore, the garrison left behind at Barcelona was massacred by the population, leading to guerrillas occupying the city until Marshal Saint-Cyr’s corps arrived to retake the Catalan capital. It is reported that Duhesme praised the Neapolitans for good conduct during the operation.[2]

Later that year, Duhesme tried a second assault on Girona. Unluckily for the French, the news of the defeat at Bailen reached them and sent their morale plummeting down. On the 6th of May 1809, the third and final siege of Girona began, ending in the capture of the city after a relentless assault by Marshal Augereau’s corps. Of the 34,000 men involved on the French side, 15,000 died during the siege. In March 1810 the Neapolitans were employed at the blockade of several Spanish-held fortresses in Catalonia, at Tortosa, Hostalrich, and Sagunto.[2]

In 1811, the 1st and 2nd Neapolitan Line Infantry Regiments and the 1st Light Infantry were in Compère’s division of Suchet’s army in Valencia alongside the 2nd Neapolitan Cacciatori a Cavallo. On the 15th of December 1811 the Neapolitan infantry regiments in Spain were so reduced in strength that they had to be combined into the “new” Neapolitan 8th Line Infantry regiment. Cadres of officers were sent back to Naples to recruit new battalions for the old regiments. The 8th was given the title “Principe Luciano”.[2]

Russian and German Campaigns[edit]

For the invasion of Russia in 1812, Naples provided Général de Division Francois Destrees's 33rd Division of Marshal Augereau’s XI Corps, consisting of the Marines of the Neapolitan Guard, the Mounted and Foot Velites, the Honour Guard, the 5th, 6th and 7th Line Infantry regiments, and two batteries of artillery;[2] around 10,000 men in total. They formed part of the garrison of the East Prussian port-city of Danzig (now Gdańsk) on the Baltic Sea coast. After the defeat of Napoleon’s army in Russia, the Neapolitan cavalry had the honour of escorting Napoleon himself back to France, with heavy casualties due to the weather. The Foot Velites also suffered losses while covering the retreat of the army into Poland.[4] Later in 1813 the Sailors of the Guard and the elite companies of each Neapolitan regiment in Danzig were combined to form the Neapolitan Elite Regiment, brigaded with the 4th Light Infantry (which recently arrived from Naples to Germany), part of the 31st division of the XI Corps. They fought at Lutzen and Bautzen with heavy losses. At the time of the Armistice of Pleiswitz, Napoleon himself decorated Marshal MacDonald (the current acting commander of the Neapolitan troops in Germany) and several officers and men of the Neapolitan brigade with the Legion of Honour.[4] When hostilities resumed, the brigade fought at Leipzig and Hanau. The few survivors were repatriated. Napoleon is said to have said to the troops:

1st Line Infantry Regiment (King's Own) uniforms, showing their distinctive 'Royal Blue' facings. The red plumes indicate these are Grenadiers.

"I participated in a prejudice of low esteem of the Neapolitan troops: they amazed me in Lutzen, in Bautzen, in Danzig and in Hanau. The famous Samnites, their ancestors, would not have fought with greater valour. Courage is like love, it needs nourishment."[4]

The line units left in Danzig were faced with the task of holding the city against a much larger Prussian and Russian force under the command of the Duke of Wurttemberg. The city was besieged for almost a year. Under the command of General Rapp, the Neapolitans had to face Frost, Hunger, diseases and relentless enemy bombardment for the entire year. Rapp's offensive strategies resulted in further loss among the troops. When a short truce was agreed on the 11th of June 1813, the Neapolitan commanders took the opportunity to send praiseworthy reports of the conduct and bravery of their troops to Murat himself. The French general Detres himself sent the sovereign a report showing excellent impressions on the Neapolitan soldiers, a report later published in the "Monitore delle Due Sicilie". Unlike the news from Spain, in fact, the news from the Russian front was promptly published in the Neapolitan press.[4]

Two months after the truce, the Russians launched a series of counter-offensives which gradually tightened the circle around the walls of Gdansk. Russian shells set fires in the primary wooden interior of the city. On the 29th of December 1813, the city was surrendered unconditionally to the Russians. The Neapolitan survivors were placed into Russian captivity, but news of King Murat's defection to the allies reached their captors, which resulted in their prompt release. The survivors marched back to Naples in perfect order, as to impress the civil and military authorities of the nations they passed through. Joachim Murat rewarded the survivors of the Gdansk siege by transferring them to the Guard.[4]

Italian Campaigns 1814-1815[edit]

King Joachim Murat abandoned Napoleon’s side formally after the Battle of Leipzig and returned to Naples. A deal was struck between him and the coalition allies: Murat would keep his throne in Naples if he provided 30,000 troops to support the allies in Northern Italy. However, he disgracefully dragged his feet in doing so, and was only goaded by his Austrian allies into attacking the Franco-Italians at the River Taro, some 10k west of Parma. The Neapolitans were victorious in this minor clash, and the Franco-Italian withdrew to Piacenza. This marked the end of the fighting in Northern Italy, and news of Napoleon's abdication now arrived. Murat was able to reach an agreement with the coalition allies and retain his throne.

Trumpeter of the Neapolitan Hussars of the Guard.

In 1815, news of Napoleon's arrival in France reached Naples on the 4th of March. 10 days later, Murat decided to break his alliance with the coalition and once again take the side of his old Emperor, who he had betrayed a year earlier. At the head of 46,829 infantry, 7,224 cavalry, and 78 guns, he marched north to strike against the Austrians. On the 4th of April, the Neapolitans crossed the Panaro river in upper-central Italy and defeated the Austrians under FML Frederick von Bianchi at Modena. On the 7th of April Murat tried to force the line of the River Po at Occhiobello, a small town 50k south of Venice, but was met with staunch resistance and was forced to fall back. The Austrians only lost 22 killed in this action, while the Neapolitans suffered far worse. This affected the already brittle morale of Murat's officers and men, who began to melt away slowly. Many soldiers simply found no interest in fighting the Austrians, and deserted. Soon, Murat heard of Britain's declaration of war against him. On the 10th of April, the Neapolitan garrison of the town of Carpi was attacked and fled. Murat withdrew to Ravenna, near the eastern coast of the Italian peninsula. Continuously harried, the Neapolitans lost to Bianchi's Austrians at Cesenatico and Pesaro. The Neapolitans finally stopped at the small town of Tolentino, and the Austrian army arrived to meet them. Soon, it became clear that the decisive battle would be fought there.

Battle of Tolentino[edit]

Bianchi commanded 12 battalions, 10 squadrons and four batteries of artillery, totalling just under 11,000 men and 28 guns. Murat had 15,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 35 guns. Bianchi knew he was outnumbered and outgunned but decided against a retreat. The town of Tolentino was surrounded by its medieval walls and blocked the valley of the River Chienti, along which valley the road from Macerata to Foligno ran. The terrain around the Chienti is generally hilly, with several ridges dotting the landscape.

Murat sent a division under Carrascosa to slow down Niepperg’s Austrians who could’ve turned Murat’s flank. However, Murat soon learned of Carrascosa’s defeat at the Battle of Scappezano. At Tolentino, the Neapolitan troops originally made good progress until Murat ordered his advancing columns into 4 giant squares – large, lumbering formations made to protect from cavalry, which was not a serious threat to the Neapolitans. Bianchi seized the opportunity to order an artillery battery to rip through the leading square at close range, and then charged several squadrons of cavalrymen into the gaps left in the square. The entire advance broke and the Neapolitans fled. Being pushed at three sides, Murat’s resolve crumbled, and so did his army. They withdrew behind the cover of night, and soon dissolved into a leaderless mob.

The battle’s result had drastic results on both sides’ morale. On the 20th of May, peace negotiations began, and Neapolitan generals Pepe and Carrascosa sued for peace, signing the Treaty of Casalanza. The Austrian armies entered Naples on the 23rd, and restored Ferdinand back to the throne of Naples, after almost a decade of exile. Meanwhile, Murat escaped from Naples, disguised as a Danish sailor, and sailed to Cannes, in France. He was soon caught trying to reclaim his kingdom and executed on the 13th of October 1815. Most Neapolitan fortresses opened their doors immediately after news of Casalanza reached them. However, the tenacious General Begani, commanding the garrison of Gaeta, refused to surrender to the Austrians unless under the express order of Joachim Murat. Yet, under pressure for several days, and besieged by Austrian, British, Papal and Bourbon troops, the Murattian flag was finally lowered on the 5th of August, and the defenders released under parole. Thus, the last shots of the Napoleonic wars fell upon the shattered walls of Gaeta.[4]

Footnotes[edit]

Notes

Citations

  1. ^ Davids John A., Naples and Napoleon: Southern Italy and the European Revolutions, 1780-1860, OUP Oxford, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Digby Smith, Murat's Army, Helion Limited 2018.
  3. ^ Paoletti Ciro, A Military History of Italy, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Piero Crociani, The Neapolitan Army 1806/15, Editrice Militare Italiana.
  5. ^ As opposed to modern Grenadiers, grenadiers during the Napoleonic Wars did not carry grenades, as these proved too cumbersome. Grenadiers were the tallest and strongest men in the regiment, used as shock troops.

References[edit]

  • A. Davis, John (2006), Naples and Napoleon: Southern Italy and the European Revolutions, 1780-1860, OUP Oxford, ISBN 978-0-198-20755-9
  • Smith, Digby (2018), Murat's Army: The Army of the Kingdom of Naples 1806-1815, Helion Limited, ISBN 978-1-912-39009-0
  • Woolf, Stewart (2002), Napoleon's Integration of Europe, Routledge Publishing, ISBN 978-1-134-94420-0
  • Crociani, Pietro (2016), L'Esercito del Regno Napoletano: The Army of the Kingdom of Naples, 1806-1815, Soldiershop
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008), A Military History of Italy, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-275-98505-9
  • Pepe, Guglielmo (1847), Memorie del generale Guglielmo Pepe intorno alla sua vita e ai recenti casi d'Italia, Baudry
  • Military, Reale Tipografia (1846), Manuale pei soldati e sotto-uffiziali di fanteria dell'Esercito Napoletano atto a guidarli in tutti gli esami cui vanno sottomessi giusta i programmi sovranamente fissati, Reale Tipografia Militare
  • V. Ilari, P. Crociani, G. Boeri, Storia Militare del Regno Murattiano 1806-15, Widerholdt Frères, Invorio, 2007, vol. I (Comando e Amministrazione), II (Armi e Corpi dell'Esercito), III (Gendarmeria, Legioni Provinciali, Marina, Indice biografico).
  • Virgilio Ilari, Piero Crociani e Ciro Paoletti, Storia militare dell'Italia giacobina (1796-1801), Roma, USSME, 2000, II (“La guerra Peninsulare”: «Il nuovo esercito napoletano, 1799-1802», pp. 1131–1153; «I francesi sulle coste italiane, 1800-02», pp. 1155–1173).
  • Smith, Digby (1998). The Greenhill Napoleonic wars data book. London Mechanicsburg, PA: Greenhill Books Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-1-85367-276-7. OCLC 37616149.
  • Smith, Digby (2006). An illustrated encyclopedia of uniforms of the Napoleonic wars : an expert, in-depth reference to the officers and soldiers of the revolutionary and Napoleonic period, 1792-1815. London Lanham, Md: Lorenz North American agent/distributor, National Book Network. ISBN 978-0-7548-1571-6. OCLC 60320422.