Monday, 19 October 2015

Colonel Louis Marc Antoine de Noailles

Louis Marc Antoine de Noailles was born on 17 April 1756 into an established, very well-known aristocratic family.  The family held a dukedom, created in 1663, and it produced a long line of soldiers, which included several marshals of France - the French army defeated at Dettingen in 1743 was commanded by the third Duke de Noailles.   The family's links to the monarchy (one of the senior female members was a maid of honour to Marie Antoinette) ensured that it suffered during the French Revolution.  Some members were executed and others were forced to emigrate.  One of the grand-daughters of the fourth Duke escaped the guillotine only as a result of the personal intervention of the American ambassador, James Monroe - she was the wife of the Marquis de Lafayette.  

The family's future misfortune could not have been imagined when young Louis Marc Antoine arrived in America in 1780 with Rochambeau's expedition, preceded by his friend and brother-in-law Lafayette.  At this time, de Noailles appears to have been colonel of the Soissonnais regiment (at the age of 24).  He participated in the siege of Yorktown and helped arrange the terms of Cornwallis' surrender.  By all contemporary accounts, he was a brave, energetic and intelligent young man.  Like the Marquis de Rostaing, de Noailles was elected to the Estates-General in 1789 and was at first a keen supporter of reform.  However, the increasingly violent and extreme nature of the revolution persuaded him to leave the country, as he emigrated to the United States.  There he became a partner in the Bank of North America in Philadelphia.  This was the new nation's first central bank, given its charter by Congress in May 1781; it was liquidated in 1908.  De Noailles seems to have grown bored with life as a banker as he accepted an offer to join the Vicomte de Rochambeau's expedition to Haiti (then called Sainte Domingue) in 1802.  That expedition was intended to deal with the ongoing slave revolt on Haiti, but in May 1803 war broke out again between Britain and France and Rochambeau's force found itself in combat against a British squadron under Rear-Admiral Sir John Duckworth.  De Noailles acquitted himself well in the ensuing battle, but while travelling to Cuba afterwards his ship was attacked by and English frigate and de Noailles was severely wounded.  He died of his wounds in Havana on 9 January 1804.

De Noailles is painted here as a senior officer in the Soissonnais regiment, which had maroon facings.  I haven't yet painted that regiment and it doesn't seem to feature in the "British Grenadier!" scenarios.  As for de Noailles himself, in the published "British Grenadier!" scenarios he appear as a brigade commander in the Savannah scenario (with a "poor" rating, which seems a bit of a shame).

1 figure.  Painted August 2015.



Simon said...

I like this figure, it's my favourite in the pack of three.

David said...

Another useful figure for your AWI French Giles. Nice work as ever.

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

This one is a man of action. Lovely pose. Lovely job adding even more action to it with the shading on the sword arm and face.