C Army of 1760
I Organization and numbers
Military service was compulsory for men aged from 15 to 60. Recruitment
was by "communes" which had to raise (according to the
number of men in local community) one or more companies of thirty
soldiers, three corporals, two sergents, one lieutenant and a
captain. The troops were divided in three groups which served
in turn during 15 days (other sources say 8 days).The militiamen
and their families furnished their own weapons and supplies ,
although the commune had to accomodate them. In each commune a
retired soldier having served overseas was appointed by the Consulta,
to be in charge of the military training.
The number of troops available with this system is unknown. Some
sources indicate 35000 men, others 12000-18000 militiamen. In
either case, however, the real availability of these men depended
on the amount of work in a rural society. An example of this was
after the victory of Borgo against the French in 1768, Paoli had
only 180 men with him.
Despite Paolis reluctance about regular armies (which "served
better despotism rather than liberty") and despite a lack
of money in the Corsican state, a regular Corsican troop called
"Truppa or Milizia Pagata" was recruited. The wars of
1755-57 and of 1757-61 (Conquest of the Cap Corse) proved that
a regular army was necessary . The army had not only to fight,
but also to guard the towers on the coast, to serve as personal
guard for authorities and was also the instrument of the severe
The regular soldiers were supposed to be paid volunteers with
a length of service of one year. It is also possible that some
soldiers were recruited for a single campaign or even a short
period and that some foreigners (officers and - and other ranks)
Details on organisation and strengths remain somewhat obscure.
In 1755, the 300 regulars were organised in six companies of 50
men. A Consulta (Corsican Parliament) of November 1762 authorised
the creation of two further regiments of 300 men each in addition
those raised since 1755. In 1762, the average number of men in
each company became 20 (maximum.being 60, minimum being only:10).
In 1768, the average had risen to 40 (max.92,min.8) for thirty
companies in all. The army had 1800 men in 1764 and 3200 in 1768(including
Two companies were raised in 1768-69. These men are described
as "Prussians", but were probably Swiss, Germans and
Prussians and were formerly soldiers in the Genoese and French
armies who had either been taken prisoner or were deserters. Organization
and numbers of these companies are unknown though they seemed
to vary from as few 100-200 men to 1000.
Artillery: Gunners were rare in this army although they
were very necessary on the coasts and fortresses.
II Command and Training
As supreme commander Paoli appointed all the officers in the army.
He had been an officer in the Royal-Farnese ( Army of the Two
Sicilies) and knew his limits as military commander. He did not
find the Napoleon, the great "stratège" needed
by the Corsican cause, but appointed good leaders : Clemente Paoli,
Vinciguerra, Buttafoco, Murati, Pasqualini .
Despite the use of Prussian instructors and of severe punishments,
the regulars never achieved the quality expected of Prussian drill.
However their military value was real and was not underestimated
by French officers.
Corsicans were generally individual marksmen and had -for
obvious reasons- an excellent knowledge of Corsican mountains
which was of course ideal terrain for a partisan war. The preferred
tactic was to ambush and retreat to prepared defences where the
fight could begin again. Their attacks seem generally have been
in rather open order,.although some sources speak of good tactics
learned from continental armies. In defence, they relied upon
redoubts and entrenchments.
Formation changes were carried out with whistles and cornets
, in fact shells called "tritons" in French and "culombu"
Final note on tactics : this peasant army was always accompanied
Militiamen : The "uniform" was in fact the local
costume, made of goat wool. The colour was brown (see L. and F.
Funcken "The Lace wars" p. 71 , n°49). The jacket
was either small or long without pockets, trousers were short,
gaiters were made using pig skins. A felt bonnet was worn which
was sometimes red or black instead of the usual brown. A long
greatcoat called a "pelone" with an identical colour
to the jacket was also often worn..
Officers sometimes had wollen cloth for the jacket and trousers
with red being a popular colour.Their bonnet, according to James
Boswell, was in blue or black velvet and edged in yellow or red.
Officers wore half-boots rather than gaiters.
Regulars : A very simple uniform was worn of dark brown
in the same material used by the militiamen. Their bonnet was
very dark brown or even black due to the wild boar skin used.
It was roughly similar to the first bearskin worned by the French
horse grenadiers of the Maison du Roi/King Household.Officers
had jackets with a collar edged in colour. Gaiters were light
brown or black.
Mercenaries: Some historians indicate that all mercenaries
had a green uniform of jacket and trousers with yellow facings
and collar worn withwhite or black gaiters and tricorns. Other
that they had a mixture of their ancient uniforms and of new with
additional local garments. Two types of caps are indicated: tricorns
and hats like those of the Corsican provincial regiment before
the Revolution( see Funcken op.cit. p.71 n°54 and 55).
V Weapons and Equipements.
Usually, all belts for both the militia and regulars were in
either light or dark brown.The giberne was of the same colour
and was worn in order to load more quickly (this was adopted later
in the French army as :"être armé à la
The militiamen had a pistol, a dagger, a musket. The regulars
had a musket with a bayonet, one or two pistols and dagger. The
officers sometimes carried very high quality Corsican made pistols
and on occasion a sword. Most muskets were of English manufacturing
.This is also true for the artillery. The Corsicans received 26
guns sent by James Boswell in 1768. The remainder of their artillery
were very old weapons . The guns were very rarely used in the
field, but were placed in towers and fortresses.
VI Corsican flags
In 1760, Paoli replaced the Corsican flag with the Virgo for
another style. On one side he required a reproduction of Santa
Devota ("patronne de la Corse") and on the other side
the scene represented on the illustrations. The Moorss head
is inside a shield surmounted by a crown of gold or silver.On
the sides are two marine giants (a) or two satyrs (b).
The illustration a) is taken from the cover of a book printed
with permission of Paoli himself and represents his true wishes
However, the giants do not appear on any flags in existence today,
nor do they appear in the descriptions of flags of the period.
However, satyrs do appear on some flags and in descriptions of
period flags. To date no one has located a Santa Devota on a flag.
For those interested, the actually known colours of the cloth
are light yellow and white, the plinth of the satyrs is dark blue.
The light yellow flag is 1,70m.x 1,35m in size. As very very few
of these flags have been preserved this could indicate that they
were rare in 1768. Corsican flags of the army and militia were
probably similar to those of the Corsican ships, being a white
field with only the Moors head.
Moor on white field
All gouache and drawings (except (a))by Jacques, our
grandfather and father
We thank Keith McNelly for his help. Merci à
Keith McNelly pour son aide à la traduction en