In the physical description list, I am still mystified by the word below Visage, which I'm having trouble figuring out due to the typeface. It looks like F-r-o-n-something, but Google Translate was not leaping to any useful conclusions for me. This morning, however, with my thinking cap all freshly pressed and a dose of caffeine where it does the most good, I came at it from the opposite direction. Looking at the translated list, it seems like the logical missing part might be "forehead" so I typed that into Google and asked it to translate that into French. It gave me front. So... that's a t... seriously?
The caffeine having kicked me into high gear, I've just been inspired to investigate the question of Nicolas' height with my partner in crime, Google. I've now learned this about the ligne from Wikipedia:
There are 12 lignes to one French inch (pouce). The standardized conversion for a ligne is 2.2558291 mm (1 mm = 0.443296 ligne), and it is abbreviated with the letter L or represented by the triple prime, ‴.
This is comparable in size to the British measurement called "line" (one-twelfth of an English inch), used prior to 1824.
Because I am all about doing the heavy lifting here, but not the heavy math, I've stepped up and found a conversion tool online. If the number on the form is actually 558 lignes, then our Nicolas was 49.55719046460907 inches tall. That's slightly under 4'2"... seriously? My only other guess on those numbers would be 958, which would make him 7' tall, and I'm pretty sure we're not going there, no matter how much caffeine I ingest.
It's interesting to me that in the days before photography, something as important as one's identification on military papers was dependent upon something so tenuous as a mere ten descriptors, or just nine if one had no distinctive marks... especially when you consider that the people serving were probably a pretty homogenous lot, ethnically speaking.