Biography

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Captain Louis Edward Nolan (1818-1854)

Aide-de-camp to General Airey

Louis Edward Nolan was born on 4 January 1818 in Upper Canada. He was the son of Captain (later Major) Babington Nolan of the 70th foot. Nolan's father was Irish, his mother Scottish; although born in Canada, Nolan's early years were spent in Scotland following the return of his parents to Britain. By 1829, when Nolan was eleven, the family was living in Piacenza in Italy, and shortly after moved on to Milan. In 1832 his father obtained an unsalaried position as British Consular Agent and Vice-Consul there.

Nolan was commissioned in a Hungarian hussar regiment, serving in Hungary and on the Polish frontier. On 15 March 1839 he purchased a commission as Ensign in the 4th King's Own Foot. He was 21 years old. The following month (24 April) he transfer to 15th King's Hussars and went on to serve in India as a Cornet. On 19 June 1841 he purchased a lieutenancy in his regiment.

In 1844 Nolan was appointed as the regimental Riding Master and in 1849 he became ADC to Lieutenant-General Sir G F Berkeley, who was in charge of the troops in Madras. At the age of 32, on 08 March 1850, Nolan purchased a troop; he became ADC to Sir Henry Pottinger, the Governor of Madras.

Nolan returned home earlier than his regiment and travelled in Russia and northern Europe while he was on leave. In 1852, his book, The Training of Cavalry Remount Horses: A New System, was published. In October of that year he was given command of the regimental depot troop at Maidstone and in November, he led his regiment's contingent in Wellington's funeral procession.

In 1853, his book, Cavalry: Its History and Tactics, was published; then, with the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, Nolan was appointed as ADC to Brigadier-General Airey and was sent to Turkey to buy horses. In July 1854 he landed in Varna with 300 horses.

Nolan’s “claim to fame” came with the Charge of the Light Brigade on 25 October 1854. He carried Airey’s order to Lord Lucan and Lord Cardigan and was subsequently killed in action during the charge of the Light Brigade. He was 36 years old.

Lord Lucan detested Nolan and, on hearing that Nolan was dead, commented: "He met his deserts, a dog's death - and like a dog let him be buried in a ditch".


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Last modified 11 November, 2013

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