Amstell Infantry

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Origin and History

Uniform circa 1757 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan

This regiment was established 1677 by the Elector of Brandenburg (Kurfürst) Frederick Wilhelm from garrison troops of Pomerania and Mark Brandenburg. Its first colonel was Johann von Zieten, who had previously served in the Imperial Army as lieutenant- colonel. The Elector’s decree was dated February 20, 1679, but the official year of foundation was later determined as 1677.

The regiment had at this time one battalion of 8 companies, each counting 90 musketeers, 45 pikemen and 15 grenadiers, for a total of 1,200 men. The monthly salary of the colonel was 100 talers; of the lieutenant-colonel, 45 talers; of the major, 31 talers; and of a private musketeer, 3 talers.

Its not sure, whether the regiment took part in the campaign against Sweden in 1677–1679. It was probably present at siege of Stettin. On February 20, 1679, Lieutenant-Colonel Johann von Zieten was promoted colonel and “Chef” of the regiment.

In 1687, the regiment garrisoned Minden. In 1688, it was divided into two parts. One part remained as cadre for the original regiment, the second was given to Colonel Magnus Friedrich von Horn. Each battalion had 5 companies of 727 men.

In 1688, one battalion (probably Horn) which was in the Dutch service took part in the campaign in England.

From 1689 to 1697, during the Nine Years' War, the regiment was engaged in the war against France. In May 1690, Johann von Zieten died at Hamm. In November 1690, Elector Frederick III appointed Anton Günther Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst as the new “Chef” of the regiment (now No. 8). The Duke Anhalt-Zerbst was also commander of the first battalion, the other being led by Colonel Horn. Each of these battalions had 5 companies. Since 1690, the regiment was once more in the Dutch service. On July 1, 1690, it took part in the Battle of Fleurus. He also fought in other battles of that war. After the signature of peace at Ryswick, in 1698, the regiment left the Dutch service and returned to its garrison at Minden. The first battalion was reduced to 4 companies; the second, to only one company.

In 1699, the first battalion garrisoned Osterwieck; the second, Minden. The latter had now 2 companies.

In 1702, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), Anton Günther Duke Anhalt-Zerbst led a corps of 5.000 Prussians (incl. one battalion of his own regiment, now consisting of 12 weak companies) which had been sent by King Frederick I to the Netherlands. Meanwhile, the second battalion (Horn) was part of another corps under Leopold Duke Anhalt-Dessau which also fought in the Netherlands. The regiment remained in the Dutch service until 1713.

After the signature of the Treaty of Utrecht the regiment was reduced to 12 companies in one battalion led by Major-General von Crone. Two companies were transferred to the new regiment Jung-Dönhof Infantry. The remaining 10 companies of the regiment were then organized in two battalions. In 1714, the regiment garrisoned Marienwerder. The new “Chef” was Christian August Duke Anhalt-Zerbst.

In March 1715, King Frederick Wilhelm I concentrated his army between Stettin and Schwedt, the regiment arrived there on March 20. An allied army of Prussians, Saxons and Danish occupied Anklam, Wolgast and Greifswalde. On October 12, this army laid siege to Stralsund, which was occupied by Swedish troops led by King Charles XII. His majesty fled to Sweden on a small vessel, and the garrison surrendered on December 24.

From 1716, the garrison place of the regiment was Stettin. It recruited in the Pomeranian districts of Borck, Flemming, Greifenhagen and Saatzig; and in the towns of Cammin, Greiffenberg, Gülzow, Labes and Stettin.

In 1735, the grenadiers were taken out from each company and two separate grenadier companies were formed. The regiment now comprised 10 musketeer companies and two grenadier companies, organized in two battalions. Each musketeer company had 112 men, and each grenadier company, 96.

On December 16, 1740, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) the Prussian army entered into Silesia and, on December 23, laid siege to Glogau (present-day Glogów/PL). During this campaign, the grenadier companies of the regiment were combined with those of Münchow Fusiliers to form a converged grenadier battalion led by Major von Saldern. The musketeer battalions remained in Stettin as garrison while the new converged grenadier battalion operated independently, taking part in the siege of Glogau which surrendered on March 9, 1741. On April 10 of the same year, this grenadier battalion took part in the Battle of Molwitz (presents-day Malujovice/PL), and later in the siege of Brieg (present-day Brzeg/PL). Meanwhile, on March 3, the two musketeer battalions had set off from Stettin and joined the army in its camp near Goettin (unidentified location) where they remained until April 11. They later went to Berlin. The grenadiers garrisoned Breslau (present-day Wroclaw/PL).

Only the grenadiers took part in the campaign of 1742, while the musketeers garrisoned Stettin.

In 1744, the musketeers and grenadiers took part in siege of Prague. They then went to Southern Bohemia. At the end of October, they retired with the whole Prussian army through Königgrätz to Silesia.

On June 4, 1745, in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg, both musketeer battalions fought on the left wing in second line, and the grenadiers on the right wing, in first line. The musketeers lost 2 men killed and 41 wounded. Afterwards, the converged grenadier battalion was attached to the corps of General du Moulin, while the musketeers were allocated to the to corps of General von Nassau and besieged Cosel (present-day Kozle/PL). The grenadier companies also fought in the Battle of Soor (present-day Ždár/CZ) on September 30, and in the Battle of Kesselsdorf on December 15.

After the war, both musketeer battalions and the grenadiers returned to their garrison in Stettin where they remained until July 2, 1756.

During the Seven Years' War, the successive Chefs of the regiment were:

  • from June 25, 1754: Georg Friedrich von Amstell (killed in action during the Battle of Prague on May 6, 1757)
  • from May 12, 1757: Baron Karl Ferdinand von Hagen, also known as “von Geist” (died on February 19 1759 from wounds received at the Battle of Hochkirch)
  • from February 25, 1759 to December 11, 1769: Julius Dietrich von Queiss (died on December 11, 1769

During the same period, the successive colonel-commanders of the regiment were:

  • until 1757: Colonel von Kalkreuth (appointed “Chef” of IR No. 43)
  • from 1757: Colonel Karl Anton Leopold von Zastrow (appointed “Chef” of IR No. 38)
  • from 1759: Colonel Bernhard Count von Mellin (promoted to major-general)
  • from 1763: Colonel Hans Christoph von Billerbeck (promoted to general in 1764)

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten, still with some variations for the fusilier regiments. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present infantry regiment was attributed number 8.

Service during the War

N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the grenadiers of Fusilier Regiment No. 46 forming the Grenadier Battalion 8/46 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).

1756

In 1756, the regiment was considered as the best Pomeranian regiment and was initially stationed in East Prussia. On December 28, it was transferred to Stolpen in Lusatia. The first battalion was then posted at Bernstadt am Eigen, and the second at Ruppersdorf. Colonel von Zastrow was appointed commander of the regiment.

1757

In the Spring of 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, at the Combat of Reichenberg, the regiment was deployed on the right wing of the first line of Duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force. The grenadiers attacked the entrenchments near Partzdorf (present-day part of Liberec/CZ) and drove the enemies out. The whole regiment distinguished itself, The musketeers lost 188 men killed, and 21 missing; while the grenadiers lost 29 killed and 2 officers wounded. The army led by the Duke of Bevern then marched through Jung Bunzlau (present-day Mladá Boleslav/CZ) and Brandeis (present-day Brandýs nad Labem/CZ) to Prague.

On May 6, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the centre of the first line in the Duke of Bevern's Brigade. After the death of Field Marshal Schwerin part of the Prussian infantry of the first line retired. The grenadiers forming the second line stopped them, and then attacked and drove the enemies back. In the centre, the two battalions of the regiment, together with the two battalions of Forcade Infantry and one battalion of Kleist Infantry, attacked a battery near Malleschitz (present-day Malešice, part of Prague) and captured the guns. In this battle, the musketeers lost 6 officers and 331 men killed; and 6 officers and 303 men wounded. The Chef of the regiment, Major-General Amstell was killed by a canister-shot.

Carl Ferdinand von der Hagen, also known as “Geist,” was appointed as the new Chef of the regiment.

After its defeat in the Battle of Kolin, the Prussian army retired through Alt-Bunzlau (present-day Stará Boleslav/CZ) to Lissa (present-day Lysá nad Labem/CZ) where it effected a junction with the corps of the Duke of Bevern. King Frederick then retired through Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) to Upper Lusatia. The first battalion of the regiment escorted a convoy of wounded soldiers to Dresden, while the second battalion marched with the army of the Prince of Prussia to Gabel (present-day Jablonné v Podještědí/CZ). Gabel was attacked by Austrian troops led by FML Maquire and surrender on July 17.

The two battalions of the regiment then marched with Frederick’s main army and. On July 31, reached Weissenberg in Lusatia. They were then attached to Duke of Bevern’s Corps and marched through Görlitz to Breslau.

On November 22, the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was deployed in Ingersleben's Brigade, in the first line of the infantry centre. Together with one battalion of Kannacher Infantry, they defended a redoubt on the left wing. In this battle, the regiment lost 2 NCOs and 111 men killed; and 1 NCO and 24 missing. Only approx. 500 men of the regiment remained fit for service.

On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen (present-day Lutynia/PL), the regiment was deployed in Münchow's Brigade in the first line of the infantry centre in front of Lobetzin and Radaxdorf. Major-General Baron von Hagen (aka Geist) led 2 battalions of Winterfeldt Infantry and 2 battalions of Forcade Infantry in the first line of the left wing of infantry. In this battle, the regiment lost 2 officers and 177 men killed; 8 officers (including Colonel Zastrow) and 223 men wounded; and 24 men missing.

After this battle, the regiment took part in the siege of Breslau where it was placed in the trenches.

The regiment spent the winter of 1757-58 at Striegau (present-day Strzegom/PL) where it remained until February 23, 1758.

1758

On March 19, 1758, the regiment was detached to the corps of General Wedel at Friedland (present-day Mieroszów/PL).

In the Spring, the regiment took part in the invasion of Moravia. In May, it was on patrol on the border between Moravia and Silesia and was posted at Sternberg (present-day Moravský Šternberk/CZ).

In June, during the Siege of Olmütz, the regiment formed part of a detachment under General von Retzow: its first battalion was posted at Bistrowan (present-day Bistrovany/CZ); and its second battalion, at Wisternitz (present-day Dolní Věstonice/CZ).

After the capture of his supply convoy at Domstadl at the end of June, Frederick raised the siege of Olmütz and retired. On July 10, Retzow’s Corps (including the regiment) arrived at Hohenmaut (present-day Vysoké Mýto/CZ). The regiment then marched towards Landeshut with the main army, arriving there on August 10.

On July 11, General Retzow was attacked near Holitz (present-day Holice/CZ) by the troops of FML Loudon which blocked the road to Königgrätz. On July 12, an attack by Austrian cavalry was driven back. Field Marshal Keith sent some troops to support Retzow who safely reached Königgrätz on July 13, with the heavy artillery.

In September, the main Prussian army marched to Bautzen, the regiment and the grenadiers occupied Ramennau and Bischofswerda. Frederick then advanced with his army to Hochkirch where he arrived on October 10. On the next day, General Baron Hagen with 4 battalions drove the troops of Field Marshal Daun out of Steindörfel and Meschwitz. Hochkirch was occupied by the first battalion of the regiment and the second battalion of II./Markgraf Carl Infantry. The second battalion of the regiment with II./Kannacher Infantry was on the left behind Hochkirch.

On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch. At the beginning of the battle, the first battalion of the regiment defended the gardens behind the church, and the II./Markgraf Carl Infantry, the churchyard. During this heavy fighting, most of soldiers of the battalion were killed and the Chef of the regiment, Major-General Baron Hagen, mortally wounded (he was taken prisoner and died on February 19, 1759). The second battalion of the regiment vainly tried to recapture the guns of the great battery lost at the beginning of the engagement. During these actions, Field Marshall Keith and Franz Prince von Braunschweig were killed. In this battle, the regiment lost 9 officers and 108 men killed or mortally wounded; 2 officers and 634 men wounded; and 4 officers and 306 men missing.

What was left of the regiment retired to Schweidnitz and was allocated to Lieutenant-General Fouqué’s Corps. The two battalions of the regiment spent the winter at Zülchowitz and Bauerwitz. On December 20, Colonel Zastrow was appointed Chef of the former Brandes Fusiliers, and Colonel Count von Mellin was promoted to commander of the regiment.

1759

On March 1, Julius Diedrich von Queis was appointed Chef of the regiment.

In the order of battle of that year, the two battalions of the regiment were in the corps of Lieutenant-General Fouqué in the first line of the left wing. On March 20, they left their quarters at Gröbing near Leobschütz (present-day Glubczyce/PL) and went to Ober-Glogau. Fouqué was supported by some additional troops and had now 24 battalions and 46 squadrons.

On April 16, Fouqué’s Corps went to Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ). General von Seydlitz with some troops was recalled to the king’s main army, Fouqué, now left with 19 battalions and 22 squadrons, marched to the camp between Hydau and Oppersdorf (present-day Oprechtice/CZ).

On July 27, the two battalions of the regiment fought in Fouqué’s Corps near Konradswalde (present-day Konradów/PL) against the troops of [[Ville, Charles-Joseph Canon Marquis|General of Cavalry de Ville]. The Austrians lost 400 men and retired through Giersdorf to Johannisberg (unidentified location).

On October 28, the regiment took part in the combat of Bernsdorf (present-day Chudzowice/PL). It then took up its winter-quarters in Nieder-Zieder (present-day Czadrówek/PL).

1760

On March 15, the regiment went to Löwenberg (present-day Lwówek Slaski/PL). It was later allocated to the corps of General von Goltz and went to Lauban (present-day Luban/PL).

In June, von Goltz marched towards Pomerania, but returned along with the corps of Prince Heinrich to Breslau to prevent the junction of the Russian army with FM Daun’s Army.

On September 17, the regiment was present at the Combat of Hochgiersdorf where it was attached to Ramin’s Brigade. On September 18, it went to the camp of the main army at Dittmansdorf where it remained until the beginning of October.

In October, the Russians, assisted by some Austrian troops led by Major-General Lacy, marched on Berlin. King Frederick II marched towards Berlin with his army , but stopped at Guben, when he heard that the enemies had already evacuated Berlin.

On November 3, it took part in the Battle of Torgau where it distinguished itself in the attack of the Süptitz Heights, performed by Ramin’s and Gablenz’s Brigade. The enemies were driven back and the heights occupied. A counterattack of the enemy cavalry drove the Prussians back after heavy losses. At last, in the evening, Lieutenant-General von Zieten managed to recapture the heights. In this battle, the regiment was virtually annihilated: from the 1,300 men which the regiment counted at the beginning of the battle, only 5 officers and 300 men remained at the end of the day. Colonel Count Mellin was taken prisoner of war.

On December 11, after some manoeuvres, the Prussian army took up its winter-quarters, the regiment being quartered at Mittweida.

1761

On March 30, the regiment left its winter-quarters and joined the army near Meissen. The Prussians remained there until November, facing Daun’s Army.

At the end of December, the Prussians took up their winter-quarters: the regiment being quartered around Meissen.

1762

On June 27, the regiment, which had been allocated to General Forcade’s Corps, defended entrenchments near Wilsdruf and the redoubts near Hartha against General von Ried’s troops.

On September 29, the entrenchments at Hartha, Sorau and at the “Forsthaus” were once more attacked by General of Cavalry Andreas Hadik.

On October 29, the regiment took part in the Battle of Freiberg where its first battalion occupied the heights near Neukirchen, and its second battalion fought on the left wing. In this battle, the regiment lost only one man. On October 30, it occupied Freiberg.

After this last battle, the armies took up their winter-quarters. The regiment was quartered in the village Heinitz.

1763

After the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the whole regiment set off from its winter-quarters. On March 2, it arrived at Stettin, its garrison place. On March 16, its was joined by its two grenadier companies which had campaigned during the entire war in a converged grenadier battalion.

Colonel Count Mellin was promoted to major-general and retired. He was replaced in his functions by Colonel Hans Christoph von Billerbeck.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white, one yellow button, red within white pompom and tassels with yellow threads at regular intervals around the periphery
Grenadier mitre with brass front plate, red headband with brass ornaments laced with a white braid with a red central stripe, flanked by white, with yellow outer edges, dark blue backing laced with an identical braid, red within white pompom with yellow threads at regular intervals around the periphery (see Grenadier Batallion 8/46 for an illustration)
Neck Stock red
Coat Prussian blue lined red with two white/blue braid loops under the lapel (hidden by the sleeve in our illustration, see insert for details), a white/blue braid loop in the small of the back and with 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar none
Shoulder Straps Prussian blue bordered with a thin red lace (left shoulder only)
Lapels red, each with 11 brass buttons and 11 white/blue braid loops
Pockets horizontal pockets bordered with a thin red lace, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs red (Prussian pattern), each with 2 brass buttons and 2 white/blue braid loops on the sleeve above the cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a brass button
Waistcoat white with brass buttons and horizontal pockets
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre with a curved blade.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms quite different from those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • tricorne with wide gold lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • no braid loop on the lapels and on the sleeve
  • 2 gold buttonholes below each lapel and 1 on each side in the small of the back
  • no shoulder strap
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a brown half-pike measuring 10 Rhenish feet (3.06 m.) in the musketeer companies and 13 Rhenish feet (4.10 m.) in the grenadier companies (carried by the 3 most senior NCOs while other grenadier NCOs were armed with rifled muskets since 1744).

NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).

Officers

Amstell Infantry Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen

The uniforms of the officers were very similar to those of the privates with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne laced gold (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • white neck stock
  • black and silver sash around the waist
  • black and silver sword knot
  • a simple Prussian blue coat lined red with:
    • no shoulder strap on the coat
    • no turnbacks on the coat
    • red lapels with 6 gilt buttons
    • red cuffs with 2 gilt buttons and two golden embroidery loops above each cuff
    • 3 golden embroidery loops under the lapels
    • 3 golden embroidery loops on each side in the small of the back
    • 3 golden embroidery loops on each pocket

Officers carried brown spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.) and an officer stick.

Lace of the officer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755


Musicians

Lace of the drummer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

The uniforms of the officers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing (white with a central stripe of alternating red and green rectangles) and other peculiarities:

  • coat bordered with the drummer braid
  • no shoulder strap
  • blue swallow nests with 5 white/red vertical drummer braids and one horizontal drummer braid on each shoulder
  • coat entirely bordered with the drummer braid
  • lapels bordered with the drummer braid
  • two drummer braid loops under each lapel
  • drummer braid loops around the buttons in the small of the back
  • pockets laced with the drummer braid
  • each sleeve decorated with 9 horizontal drummer braids with gold tassels at each end
  • Prussian cuffs heavily laced with the drummer braid

Colours

Colonel colour (Leibfahne): White field with black flames. Centre device consisting of a black medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a golden crown. The medallion is decorated with a golden eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in gold.

Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): Black field with white flames. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a golden crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a black scroll bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in gold.

Colonel Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi
Regimental Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi

The pikes used as staffs for the colours were brown.

References

Die Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Armee Friedrichs des Großen: Eine Dokumentation aus Anlaß seines 200. Todesjahres, 2 erw. Auflage, Raststatt 1986

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786: Bd. I Infanterie I, Osnabrück: 1984

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

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

Guddat, Martin: Grenadiere, Musketiere, Füsiliere: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen, Herford 1986

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 56-63

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde. Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, 18 vols., Rathenow 1890-1919

Letzius, Martin: Das Zeitalter Friedrichs des Grossen, Sturm Zigaretten, Dresden: 1932

Mach, A. v.: Geschichte des Königlich-Preußischen Zweiten Infanterie-genannt Königs- Regiments 1677 – 1840, Berlin, Posen and Bromberg, 1843

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Summerfield, Stephen: Prussian Musketeers of the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War: Uniforms, Organisation and Equipement of Musketeer Regiments, Ken Trotman Publishing: Huntingdon, 2012, pp. 175-180

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

Acknowledgegent

Harald Skala for the translation and integration of Mach’s book on history of this regiment