The 21eme Regiment de Ligne is a UK reenactment society that portrays a French infantry regiment during the late Napoleonic wars. We're a group of people from all walks of life who come together for some weekends to share our passion for history and to have some fun! We strive to portray French soldiers in the Napoleonic wars as accurately as possible. We are one of the largest and oldest French units in the UK and also have a company in the United States.
We attend events across England and Wales and make yearly forays onto the European continent for even bigger re-enactment events. At events we sleep under canvas tents and put on battle displays presenting the French drill and tactics. The French dominated the European continent for 22 years and marched from Lisbon to Moscow and everywhere in between.
Our goal is to present to the public the lives of French soldiers of the Napoleonic wars, from drill to daily military life. We are always on the look out for recruits to join the ranks as a fusilier, or other roles such as a camp follower or musician.
Fusilier Keir Broughton taking aim
Our Colonel Chris Perko.
The 21eme was raised in Lorraine in 1598 by Henri de Vaubecourt at the time of King Henry IV of France. It continued as a regiment of the Monarchy under the name of its Colonel until it became the Regiment Guyenne in 1762.
The French Revolution resulted in radical changes in the army. Regiments would no longer be named but numbered, Regiment Guyenne thus became the 21eme Demi-Brigade de Ligne. It saw extensive action in the Italian campaign, at Laona in 1796 and also Montenotee, Millesimo, Dego and the bridge at Lodi. Remaining in Europe whilst Napoleon invaded Egypt, in 1799 the regiment saw further action at Verona, Magano, Trebbia and most notably the Battle of Novi. It was here that Sergeant-Major Jean Georges Pauly, cut off by a body of Russian Cavalry was called upon to surrender. Replying Je Passe Quand Même ("I shall pass nevertheless") he rallied a handful of men and forced his way back to the regiment using musket butt and bayonet killing or wounding more than 40 Russians in the process. Thus was born the regimental motto.
The regiment was renamed 21eme Regiment d' Infanterie de Ligne in 1803 and spent the next 10 years fighting in Napoleon's campaigns in Germany, Austria, and Poland. For most of this time it was part of Marshal Davout's veteran III Corps. The regiment took significant part in the battles of Auerstadt (1806), Eylau (1807), Eckmuhl (1809), Wagram, Smolensk (1812), Borodino, Dresden (1813) and the Battle of Waterloo (1815)