Origin and History
The regiment was raised on December 20 1688 for the Duc de Noailles. Even though it remained a gentleman regiment throughout its existence, it exceptionally retained its name of Noailles even when changing owner.
During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment served on the Rhine from 1733 to 1735.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Bavaria in 1742. In 1743, it was on the Main. From 1744 to 1748, it took part in the campaigns of Flanders.
In 1749, the regiment was stationed at Lille; in 1751, at Arras; in 1752, at Saintes; in 1754, at Arras; and in 1755, at Aimeries.
In 1756, the regiment counted 2 squadrons and ranked 54th.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- since March 1 1754 until March 20 1774: Duc d'Ayen (also duc de Noailles)
Service during the War
On July 26 1757, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it was among the cavalry of the left wing. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2. On August 16, the regiment was among the force sent by the Maréchal de Richelieu to occupy the Duchy of Brunswick who had submitted to the French domination. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Ossroy on the Lower Rhine, in the fourth line of the French Army.
In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in the villages of Gooch, Asperden, Nieukloster (present-day Kessel), Ottersum, Hommersum in the Gooch/Gennep/Meuse area. After the successful crossing of the Rhine by the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick on May 31, the regiment retired towards Rheinberg where it joined Clermont's Army on June 2. It remained in this camp until June 12 and was placed on the right wing of the second line. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was placed on the left wing of the first line, under FitzJames. In Mid August, after Ferdinand's retreat to the east bank of the Rhine, the regiment, as part of the Army of the Lower Rhine now under the Marquis de Contades, recrossed the Rhine to follow the Allied army. On August 20, it was encamped near Wesel where it was placed on the left wing of the first line.
In June 1759, during the offensive in Western Germany, the regiment was part of the main army under the command of the Marquis de Contades and was deployed in the second line of the cavalry left wing. On August 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry centre under the command of du Mesnil. By August 15 during the French retreat, the regiment, who had suffered heavily at Minden, could only field a single squadron.
The regiment then returned to France where, in 1761, it was stationed at Provins.
|Headgear||black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced silver, with a black cockade on the left side fastened with a black silk strap and a small pewter button|
|Neck stock||black cravate|
|Coat||red lined red with 4 pewter buttons under the right lapel and a pewter button on each side at the small of the back
|Waistcoat||buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons|
Troopers were armed with a carbine, two pistols and a sabre. They were also supposed to wear a breastplate under their coat during battle but this regulation was not always followed.
Evolution of the uniform during the war
Throughout the war the French cavalry uniform seems to have evolved significantly. Our only primary source for the uniform at the start of the conflict is the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753. The first primary pictorial evidence comes from Raspe in 1761. Here we present various interpretations of the evolution of the uniform.
Raspe's illustration depicting the uniform towards the end of 1760 shows the following evolutions:
- white rosette on the tricorne
- coat, lapels, cuffs and turnbacks edged with the regimental lace (2 rows of alternating violet and yellow woollen squares)
- red waistcoat
- only 3 buttons on each pocket
- only 2 buttons on each cuff
Lienhart and Humbert, a secondary source, show the following differences for the uniform of 1757 (more probably around 1748):
- a gold laced tricorne with a white rosette
- brass buttons
- only 3 buttons on each cuff
- red saddle cloth and housings bordered with a red braid
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- no shoulder strap
- no turnbacks
- no lace on the coat and waistcoat
- Maréchal des logis: silver laced tricorne, housing bordered with a 2,7 cm silver lace
- brigadier: double silver lace on the cuffs
no information available yet
Standards (in 1753)
Regimental standards (4 silken standards): red field embroidered and fringed in gold; one side: centre device consisting of a golden royal sun surmounted by a scroll bearing the royal motto “Nec Pluribus Impar”; other side: centre device consisting of a sword holded by two hands surrounded by two laurels and surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto "Incorrupta Fides Et Avita Verra"
The article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 360-361
Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Lienhart, docteur and René Humbert: Les uniformes des armées françaises”, Leipzig
Menguy, Patrice: Les Sujets du Bien Aimé (a website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)
Raspe, Gabriel Nicolas: Recueil de toutes les troupes qui forment les armées françoises, Nuremberg 1761
Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006
Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.