The Battalion d’Orleans or Plauché’s Battalion was one of the most colorful units in the American army of the War of 1812. The Battalion participated in the defeat of the British forces at the Battle of New Orleans. The Battalion was a continuation of units which had existed under the French and Spanish regimes and were reorganized by the territorial act of January, 1805. Napoleon had raised and equipped three companies of French Creoles in New Orleans in 1803 after losing Santo Domingo. It is probable that these companies became the core of the Battalion d’Orleans. New Orleans remained very pro-Bonapartist during this period. They felt a special connection to him because the Empress Josephine was a French Creole. Also, many high ranking Napoleonic exiles fled to New Orleans after the Bourbon regime was restored in France.
After “the Battle” as New Orleanians called it, the Battalion changed it’s name to the Louisiana Legion and remained in service until after the Civil War. Throughout its history, the Battalion was known for its resplendent, colorful uniforms of French design. The Battalion was modeled on the Imperial French army of the Emperor Napoleon I. They used the same drill manual and closely approximated the French uniform. Indeed, many members of the Battalion were veteran soldats and officers who had served with Napoleon before moving to New Orleans.
The Battalion consisted of two centre companies (Francs and Blues,
an Irish company), two flank companies (Carabiners and Chasseurs) and a company of Dragoons. The flank companies had uniforms based on those of the
French Imperial Guard. The centre companies were dressed as the line. The Battalion also had its own flag, adjutant, surgeons, fouriers, and band. A description
of the unit’s flag in the 1820's describes it as having the words “Honneur,
Patrie, Discipline, Valor” embroidered on it.
Today, the Battalion is a group of 1812 re-enactors who recreate one of the most unusual units in the American Army of the War of 1812. We currently have a Carabiner company and a centre company (les Francs). The recreated Carabiners are based in New Orleans and take part in events in the Southern theatre. Their
uniforms are based upon the Grenadiers a Piéd of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. The Francs are mostly members of the 21eme de Ligne, 3e compagnie who look to expand their French impression to include Francophone units in North America. They are based in the territory of the old Nouvelle France between Ontario, Canada and Minnesota.
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