Noailles Cavalerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years' War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> Noailles Cavalerie

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.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment joined the Army of the Flanders. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. It was then transferred to the Rhine. In 1692, it returned to Flanders where it participated in the sieges of Namur and Charleroi and in the Battle of Steenkerque. In 1693, it was transferred to Roussillon and participated in the siege of Roses. In 1694, it took part in the Battle of the Ter and in the capture of Palamos, Girona, Ostalrich and Castelfollit and in the relief of Ostalrich. In 1695, the regiment returned to Flanders and then served on the Meuse River until the end of the war.

In 1698, the regiment took part in the great camp of Compiègne.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment initially occupied the Spanish Netherlands. By July, it was posted on the Moselle River. In 1702, it took part in the Battle of Friedlingen; in 1703, in the sieges of Alt-Breisach and Landau, and in the Combat of the Speyerbach; and in 1704, in the disastrous Battle of Blenheim. After the retreat of the army it was transferred to Catalonia. In 1705, the regiment took part in the relief of Roses; in 1706, in the capture of Bascara and Navarra and in the unsuccessful siege of Barcelona; in 1707, in the capture of Livia and Puigcerdà; in 1709, in an engagement against Palatine troops near Figueres; in 1710, in the recapture of Agde; and in 1711, in the Siege of Girona. In 1712, the regiment formed part of the corps which blockaded Barcelona until its capture in 1714.

In 1727 and 1730, the regiment participated in the camp of the Saône; and in 1732, in the camp of the Meuse.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment served on the Rhine from 1733 to 1735, taking part in the sieges of Kehl and Philippsburg, and in the combats of Ettlingen and Klausen.

In 1735, the regiment was quartered in Briançon and ranked 54th in the French light cavalry.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment joined the Army of Bavaria and took part in the combat of Falkenau, in the capture of Ellenbogen, in the affair of Kaaden and in the relief of Braunau. In 1743, it was on the Main and fought in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1744, it took part in the sieges of Ypres, Menin and Furnes, in the combat of Augenheim and in the siege of Freiburg; in 1745, in the Battle of Fontenoy and in the capture of Tournai and Oudenarde; in 1747, in the Battle of Lauffeld; and in 1748, in the siege of Maastricht.

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 and Mortagne.

In 1756, the regiment counted 2 squadrons and ranked 54th.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from March 1, 1754 until March 20, 1774: Jean-Louis-François-Paul de Noailles, Duc d'Ayen

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment was initially quartered in Maubeuge. On July 26, it 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.

Uniform

Troopers

Uniform in 1753 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
the Etat Général des Troupes Françoises of 1753 and Etat Militaire of 1761

completed when necessary as per Raspe
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
Collar none
Shoulder straps regimental lace fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels red, each with 8 pewter buttons arranged 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 4 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 4 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red fastened with a pewter button
Gloves buff
Waistcoat buff leather jerkin with pewter buttons
Breeches buff leather
Greatcoat red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather
Waistbelt buff leather
Cartridge Box red leather
Scabbard black leather
Footgear soft black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth blue bordered with the regimental lace (a woolen braid with alternated violet and yellow squares)
Housings blue bordered with the regimental lace (a woolen braid with alternated violet and yellow squares)
Blanket roll n/a


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

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

Musicians

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"

Tentative Reconstruction
Regimental Standard - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

The article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Susane, Louis: Histoire de la cavalerie française, Vol. 3, J. Hetzel et Cie, Paris, 1874, pp. 23-29
  • Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. VII, Paris, 1891, p. 360-361

Other sources

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.