In 1776, the Royal Auvergne Regiment was divided into two, one half retaining the old name, and the other half becoming the Gâtinois Regiment.
The Royal Auvergne Regiment was organized in 1608 under King Henry IV, as the Régiment du Bourg. In 1626, it was chosen to hold the dike that Cardinal Richelieu had built in his blockade of La Rochelle. The regiment was given the name “Auvergne” in 1635. From 1756 to 1763, the regiment was engaged in the war against Frederick the Great in Germany. “Sans Tache” (“Without Stain, Spotless”) was the regimental motto.
In 1779, the Gâtinois Regiment was brought from the West Indies for the Siege of Savannah. The regiment fought valiantly, and suffered severely in the assault on Savannah, retreating in perfect order after d’Estaing’s ill-advised exploit had failed.
In 1781, the regiment was brought from the West Indies again, this time for the Siege of Yorktown, where it gained lasting fame for its leadership , with the Deux-Ponts Regiment in the night assault of October 14-15 on Redoubt No. 9 near the York River.
Before this dangerous attack, soldiers of the Gâtinois Regiment committed themselves to fight until the last soldier was killed, if Rochambeau would give them back their old name. Rochambeau, himself, had been an officer in the Royal Auvergne Regiment. The regiment did fight valiantly, and the reward they had asked was granted them by the King. When the news reached Rochambeau, it is said that he held a solemn review of the regiment at Gloucester, opposite Yorktown.
Colonel le Marquis de Rostaign commanded the regiment at Yorktown, and probably also at Savannah. He was made a brigadier in December 1781.
In 1917, during the First World War, 1914-1918, some American soldiers were talking in camp with a group of French soldiers. The Americans asked to what regiment the French soldiers belonged. “To the old Royal Auvergne, “sans tache” was the rejoinder. This incident is related in volumn 2, page 23, of “France and New England” as having been told by an American colonel from Boston. At the time, the old Royal Auvergne Regiment had become the 18th Infantry Regiment of the French Army.
The Gâtinois was an old province of France, with its capitol at Nemours, now in Belgium. Auvergne was also an old French Province, in central France.
Flag description: White Greek cross. Each of the four cantons is divided into two triangles by diagonals touching the outer edges of the cross. First canton, upper triangle, purple, lower triangle, black; second canton, upper triangle, black, lower triangle, purple; third canton, upper triangle, purple, lower triangle, black; fourth canton, upper triangle, black, lower triangle, purple. The old Royal Auvergne flag is described by Desjardins as having had four cantons, red, blue, blue, red.
The Gâtinois Regiment was a French infantry regiment created under the Ancien Régime in 1606.
Le Régiment Gâtinois fought in the American War of Independence.
Its principal engagements during the American War of Independence were
the Siege of Savannah
the Siege of Pensacola
the Siege of Yorktown (for which it was awarded the title “Royal Auvergne” by King Louis XVI)
and the Battle of the Saintes.