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Volontaires Etrangers de la Marine Regiment la Marck
Lauzun's Legion (Volontaires Étrangers de la Marine)

NOTE: This unit has now been sold, as I did not think that the Old Glory figures fitted in well with the Front Rank figures used for the rest of my army. I am keeping this page up, however, as it may still be of interest to readers. But as I no longer own the figures, I was unable to re-photograph them in the December 2003 update when I re-did the remainder of the units on this website.

Armand-Louis de Gontaut-Biron, Duc de LauzunThis unit dates from a slightly later period than the rest of my French army, being part of the French expeditionary force that took part in the American War of Independence from 1780. The Volontaires Étrangers de la Marine was a mixed legion of infantry, cavalry and artillery raised by the Duc de Lauzun (and so was commonly known as 'Lauzun's Legion'). The legion was largely made up of Germans, Poles and Irishmen.

As a couple of my wargaming opponents are very much into the American War of Independence, I decided to model some of the French forces that were involved in the latter part of that war, so have commenced with Lauzun's Legion.

As my favourite miniature figure company, Front Rank, doesn't produce any Lauzun's cavalrymen, I opted instead for the Old Glory range. These are quite different in style to the Front Ranks that I am used to, but painted up quite well. However, I am now intending to sell them on eBay, as the sculpting style doesn't match the rest of my army (contact me if you are interested).

Lauzun's Legion lancerI had an interesting dispute with my wargaming opponent as to whether or not my horsemen should be armed with lances or not. He feels that although contemporary accounts mention that Lauzun's Legion had lancers, the term was generic and they were actually equipped and armed as hussars. I disagree. For one thing, take a look at this painting, which comes from the Osprey book The French Army in the American War of Independence by Rene Chartrand. More proof comes from AWI historian Robert Sulentic, who has referred me to a couple of eye-witness accounts proving that lances were carried by some cavalry in America. Both are from the Hessian Jaeger Captain Johann Ewald:

The first, outside Charleston in 1780: "Today a dragoon of the former Pulaski corps arrived here as a deserter. He was a Prussian by birth and had served in the Seven Year's War with the Kleist volunteer hussars. He was dressed in Polish uniform and armed with a lance, generally well-equipped, well-mounted, and knew how to show his horse off like a good hussar."

The second is from near Yorktown in 1781: (Ewald and the British Colonels David Dundas and Banastre Tarleton were trying to set up an ambush which didn't quite work) "...Here, all of a sudden the scene changed. This small body of horsemen, which was in the greatest disorder, suddenly ran into the entire corps under General Choisy. The Duc de Lauzun, who at this instant should have fallen on the head of these disorganized horsemen with a single troop, formed himself into two lines with 8 troops of his lancers and hussars, which amounted to 300 horsemen without the Virginia cavalry. This gave Dundas and Tarleton enough time to bring off their cavalry in orderly fashion to resist and withdraw toward Gloucester." (note that Ewald specifies lancers and hussars - obviously there must have been a difference)

So I rest my case for having some of my cavalry armed with lances!

Lauzun Legion artilleryLauzun's Legion also had an artillery contingent, which I have portrayed by way of a small cannon from Front Rank, along with a couple of Seven Years War gunners who can pass muster for the later American War of Independence period. The only information I could find on the uniforms of Lauzun's artillery was that they wore the same as regular French artillery, but with yellow cuffs and lapels instead of red.

The infantry contingent for Lauzun's Legion, dressed in light blue coats, will follow in due course, once I can afford them!

Click here for an 800x600 desktop background of this painting.And for anyone who is interested in the French involvment in the American War of Independence, here is a terrific 800x600 desktop wallpaper for you. In the background of this painting of the Duc de Rochambeau at Yorktown you can even see a Lauzun Legion hussar. The original image is courtesy of AWI historian Robert A Selig).

 

 

 

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