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I truly cannot say where to draw a line between “marines” and “sailors” in English in this case. They were called “marins” and to a French mind it brings the idea of sailors, but there is no French word for “marines”. The modern French Navy has fusiliers marins, who are sailors …and can probably also be called marines; and the Army has Troupes de marine (former Troupes coloniales) who are certainly not sailors.

The Marins de la Garde impériale were both, and it seems that before them the Marins de la Garde consulaire were first recruited from sailors. Earlier, under Louis XIV the Compagnies Franches de la Marine had to be trained to take part in ship manoeuvring.

To complicate matters, there is always this tendancy of all French governments through history to think that what happens on sea is not as important as what happens east of Paris, and since the 17th century to steal Navy units to send them to fight somewhere on the Rhine, where (and with replacements of casualties etc.) they soon forget what being a sailor is about.