Tuesday, September 6, 2011

French Foreign Legion 1890-1914

Under the Third Republic born of France's defeat by Germany in 1870, the French infantry was divided between three separate organizations. The 144 Line regiments of PArm�e M�tropolitaine (Metropolitan Army) - young men conscripted for (by 1890) three years' service with the colours-were based in France, training for the day when they would recapture the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. The Troupes de Marine (Naval Troops) - raised entirely from volunteers after 1893 - garrisoned naval bases at home and overseas, and provided field forces for the colonies in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. By 1896 there were 12 white naval infantry regiments, plus six regiments of native tirailleurs ('skirmishers', light infantry) in West Africa, Madagascar and Indochina, raised and officered by the Troupes de Marine. Line and naval infantry regiments each had three battalions. Finally, French North Africa (Algeria and Tunisia) was garrisoned by P Arm�e d'Afrique (Africa Army) - designated as XIX Army Corps. From the 1880s this, like the other two organizations, also provided task-organized 'marching units' for colonial expeditions. These r�giments and bataillons de marche were formed with men selected from a number of the permanent 'organic' regiments.