3/6 Kleist Grenadiers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> 3/6 Kleist Grenadiers

Origin and History

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, Frederick II converged the grenadier companies of his infantry into elite battalions. Thus the grenadiers from the Anhalt-Dessau (3 coys) and von Retzow (1 coy) infantry regiments were converged into the Grenadier Battalion 3/6 counting four companies.

In 1760, after the Battle of Torgau, this grenadier battalion having suffered heavy losses was temporarily converged with Grenadier Battalion 15/18.

During the Seven Years' War, the battalion was commanded by:

  • since June 27 1756: Major Primislaus Ulrich von Kleist
  • from mid July 1757: Major L. F. von Hacke (wounded on September 7 1757)
  • from September 7 1757: Captain A.W. von Wechmar (killed in action at Breslau on November 22, 1757)
  • from November 22 1757: Captain B.F. von Enckevort
  • from May 4 1758: Lieutenant-Colonel Bastian Friedrich von Plotho (killed in action at Hochkirch on October 14, 1758)
  • from October 14 1758: Major L. F. von Hacke (returned from wounds to resume command)

Service during the War

Grenadier Garde in 1745 - Source: Adolph von Menzel "Heerschau der Soldaten Friedrich's des Großen"

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, these grenadiers were part of Ferdinand of Brunswick's column which had concentrated at Halle and advanced unopposed through Leipzig, Chemnitz, Freyberg and Dippoldiswalde, to the village of Cotta (reached on September 9) south of the Elbe near Pirna. On September 11, the grenadiers forming this converged battalion, who had heretofore marched with their parent regiments were first assembled in the camp of Cotta. On October 1, the battalion fought at the Battle of Lobositz where it advanced on the left flank, along with Braunschweig-Bevern Infantry, Itzenplitz Infantry and Alt-Kleist Infantry to engage Grenzer light troops stationed on Lobosch Hill. The attempt to advance through the skirmish screen proved difficult; however, with ammunition running low, the Prussians adapted to the conditions of the terrain, abandoning closed formations and picking and choosing their targets using individual fire. Gradually the Austrians, despite reinforcements that included Joseph Esterházy Infantry, were pushed off the Lobosch Hill and forced back through the burning streets of Lobositz. After an hour of intense fighting led by this unit and Braunschweig-Bevern Infantry, the Austrians were forced out. They retreated in good order. To maintain his contact with the Elbe and to buttress his right flank, the Austrian commander, Baron Maximilian Browne, shifted his uncommitted left wing around to the plains behind Lobositz and Sullowitz. On October 23, when Keith's Army left Lobositz to return to Pirna, the battalion was part of the right column. On October 28, this army reached Gross-Sedlitz near Pirna and took its winter-quarters soon afterwards.

In April 1757, the battalion was part of the Prussian army who proceeded to the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, the battalion did not take part in the Battle of Prague. It was rather deployed on the left bank of the Moldau near the Weissenberg as part of Keith's corps. On September 7, when an Austrian force under the command of General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps in the Combat of Moys, the battalion was deployed in the first line of the left wing. On November 22, the battalion took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was deployed in Wietersheim's Brigade, in the first line of the infantry right wing under Lieutenant-General von Brandes. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the battalion was deployed in the vanguard which successfully attacked the Austrian left flank.

In the Spring of 1758, the battalion took part in the unsuccessful Prussian invasion of Moravia. On October 14, the battalion fought in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed en potence in the first line of the infantry right wing, to the right of the village of Hochkirch. It was among the 3 grenadier battalions who tried to oppose Daun's first attack.

On August 15 1760, the battalion took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing. On September 17, it was present at the Combat of Hochgiersdorf where it was attached to the rearguard.under GdC Zieten. On November 3, the battalion took part in the Battle of Torgau where it was deployed in Frederick's first column in Stutterheim's Brigade. During this battle, the battalion suffered heavy losses and was afterwards temporarily amalgamated with Grenadier Battalion 15/18.

In August 1761, the battalion formed part of Frederick's Army encamped in the entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz (present-day Bolesławice) near Schweidnitz in Lower Silesia. It was attached to Major-General Schenckendorff's Brigade.

On July 21 1762, the battalion fought in the Battle of Burkersdorf. It then took part in the Siege of Schweidnitz where it was attached to the corps defending the contravallation entrenchments. On August 16, the battalion took part in the Battle of Reichenbach where the Prussians repulsed a relief attempt. Schweidnitz finally surrendered on October 9.

Uniform

The grenadiers wore the uniform of their own regiments. For details about these uniforms, please refer to the articles related to regiments Anhalt-Dessau and von Retzow.

N.B.: For NCOs of the grenadier companies, the long pike (4,10 m long) was introduced in 1756 just before the war. This long pike was not very popular and was often shortened. At the beginning of the Seven Years' War and throughout the conflict, NCOs carried a mixture of M1713 (2,37 m long), M1755 (3 m long) and M1756 (4,10 m long) pikes.

Mitre Caps

Anhalt-Dessau: The front plate is silver plated, with brass crown and centre part, black eagle with brass sword, beak, talons and thunderbolts. The pompom is white with black dots, backing and headband are white, the braid is yellow with narrow black lines across it. The rear grenade is silver plated brass, the side flames are brass.

Original A. (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Original B. (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

In regiments with white metal, the front plates were to be coloured with a water-based silver paste which needed to be re-applied regularly lest the cap plates revert to their original brass colour. Therefore, during campaign, particularly in bad weather, it is possible that the silvering could have worn off and needed to be silvered again.

von Retzow: mitre with polished brass front plate and headband, red back with yellow piping, red-white pompom

Original (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

IR3 Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
IR6 Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren

Colours

The converged grenadier battalions did not carry any colour.

References

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Uniformen der Preußischen Infanterie 1753-1786, Teil III/Bd. 3, Osnabrück 1973

Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000

Fiedler, Siegfried: Grenadiermuetzen der Armee Friedrichs des Grossen, Schild Verlag GmbH, Munich, 1981

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee, 1626-1807, p. 23

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, App. 2

Riehn, R.: Linear Tactics Part III, The Courier Volume 2 No. 6

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt: 1989, pp. 30-32

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.