Frei-Infanterie le Noble
Origin and History
The unit was recruited from June 18 1756 at Frankfurt/Main from recruitment in the Reich (Holy Roman Empire). On August 18 1756, these troops were brought to Naumburg/Queiss for the set up of the battalion under the command of the former Palatine Lieutenant-colonel de Le Noble. The unit consisted of one battalion totalling some 500 men and consisting of:
- 1 colonel
- 5 companies (no grenadier), each consisting of:
- 3 officers
- 7 NCOs
- 1 drummer
- 80 privates
- 10 Jägers
- 2 x 1-pdr gun
- Detachment ("Streifschar") Dreyer (27 men)
According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F1”.
During the winter of 1757-58, the battalion was increased to 21 officers, 35 NCOs, 5 drummers and 750 privates.
In the winter of 1760-61, a second battalion was raised at Wittenberg but the first battalion having been captured at the second battle of Landeshut during the previous summer, the unit still consisted of a single battalion (only one single 2nd battalion).
During the Seven Years' War, the unit was under the command of:
- since 1756 till 1763: Franciscus de le Noble
In 1763, the unit was incorporated into the re-established Garrison Regiment VIII.
Service during the War
In 1757, the unit took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, it did not fight at the battle of Prague. It was rather deployed on the left bank of the Moldau near the Weissenberg as part of Keith's corps. On November 22, during the battle of Breslau, the unit was detached to the right bank of the Oder under Krockow. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the unit was deployed on the left in the first line of the infantry centre.
In the Spring of 1758, the unit took part in the invasion of Moravia, guarding the field-bakery. During the siege of Olmütz, the unit was attached to Mayr's corps of light troops posted to the east of the fortress. On June 8, along with Frei-Infanterie Salenmon, it was attacked by an Austrian force who captured many prisoners. During the retreat from Moravia, the unit formed part of the rearguard. On October 10, the unit fought at the battle of Hochkirch where it formed part of Retzow's corps near Weissenberg. The unit occupied the village of Wasser-Kretscham. On October 26, during Frederick's advance towards Silesia to relieve the besieged fortress of Neisse, the unit was among the first to cross the Neisse river.
During the winter of 1758-59, the unit operated in the Silesian mountains under the command of general Zieten.
At the beginning of the campaign of 1759, the unit was attached to the army of the king.
In the spring of 1760, the unit was attached to Fouqué's corps defending Upper Silesia. On June 23, the unit was captured by the Austrians at the second battle of Landeshut. It was later exchanged and increased to 2 battalions.
In the winter of 1760-61, a second battalion was raised and attached to the army of prince Henri in Saxony.
In 1762, the unit operated once more as part of the army of prince Henri in Saxony. On October 29, the unit fought at the battle of Freiberg.
Uniformen der Preußischen Armee, 1758 (Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden)
|Headgear||black tricorne without lace with 1 pewter button, 1 light blue within dark blue pompom and 1 smaller similar pompom in each lateral corne|
|Coat||Prussian blue lined red with 2 pewter buttons under the lapel on the right side and 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
|Waistcoat||light blue with pewter buttons|
|Gaiters||tall black gaiters|
Privates were armed with a short musket, a bayonet and a curved blade sabres.
NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:
- tricorne with wide silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
- silver edged collar and cuffs
NCOs were probably armed with a sabre and a half-pikes measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.37 m.).
NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).
Officers had tricorne wearing a scalloped silver lace and 2 black and white pompoms (1 in each side corne of the tricorne). They also wore a black and silver sash around the waist. Their coats were similar to those of the privates but had no turnbacks. Their waistcoat (and the pockets of this waistcoat) were edged with a silver braid.
Officers probably carried spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.).
Drummers wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:
- white lace edging the collar, cuffs, lapels
- white swallow nest at the shoulders
The drums probably had a red and white rim.
|Headgear||black kasket covered with bearskin, with its front decorated with a white “FR” royal cipher|
|Coat||dark green lined light green with 2 white buttons and 2 white laced buttonholes at the waist on the right side and 3 white buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Privates were armed with a rifle and a curved blade sabres. The sabre had yellow cords and tassels.
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None of the Freikorps units carried official colours or standards to the exception of von Kleist Frei Korps.
Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 5: Die Uniformen der preußischen Technischen Truppen, Rückwärtigen Dienste und Kriegsformationen 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1984
Cremer, Peter: Die Preussischen Freikorps im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Auflistung der Freikorps, ihrer Einsätze, der Uniformen, der Chefs und deren Geschichte, KLIO-Arbeitsgruppe 7jähriger Krieg, Friderzianische Epoche, Manuskript, o.J.
Dreyer, J.F.: Leben und Taten eines preussischen Regiments-Tambours, Breslau 1810, reprint Osnabrück 1975
Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin 1901, p. 123 and Anlage 1-2
Jany, Curt: Geschichte der Königlich Preußischen Armee bis zum Jahre 1807, Zweiter Band: Die Armee Friedrichs des Großen 1740-1763, Reprint Osnabrück 1967
Kersten, Frit: Preußische Freitruppen im Siebenjährigen Krieg, in: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde, vol. XLVII, (1983) no. 307 page 73-75
Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921
Schnackenburg, Eduard: Die Freikorps Friedrichs des Großen. Ein Beitrag zur Preußischen Heeresgeschichte, in: Beiheft zum Militär-Wochenblatt (1883), page 311-341
Digby Smith and Michael Zahn for the information provided for the creation of the initial version of this article.