Below Infantry

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Origin and History

Infanterie-Regiment von Below. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

The unit was initially raised on August 18 1685 as a free company by Major-General Friedrich Ludwig von Holstein-Beck. In 1687, this free company was increased to a full strength battalion.

From 1698, the regiment was stationed in East Prussia.

From 1717, the garrison place of the regiment was Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad in Russia). It recruited in a region extending from Eastern Sambria to Tilsit and Insterburg and in the towns of Darkhenen, Drengfurt and Königsberg.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, on May 17 1742, the regiment took part in the Battle of Chotusitz, suffering heavy losses. On June 4 1745, it also fought in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment consisted of two battalions and was commanded by:

  • since April 12 1749: Major-General Lorenz Ludwig von Below
  • from September 12 1758 to June 25 1763: Major-General Johann Carl Baron von Rebentisch (for his capitulation at Maxen in November 1759, he was convicted in court martial, imprisoned and later dismissed from the Prussian service)

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 11.

Service during the War

Private of Below Infantry in 1756 as per the Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne, 1756/57 (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin) - Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan

In 1756, the regiment did not take part to any campaign.

In 1757, the regiment was part of Lehwaldt's Army assigned to the defence of East Prussia against a Russian invasion. On August 30, at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, it was deployed in the first line of the infantry left wing in Below's Brigade.

In the winter of 1757-58, the regiment served against the Swedes in Pomerania.

On August 25 1758, during the Russian invasion of Brandenburg, the regiment fought at the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the first line of the left division led by von Kanitz. On October 14, the regiment fought in the Battle of Hochkirch where it formed part of Retzow's Corps near Weissenberg.

On September 2 1759, the regiment, as part of Zieten's Corps, fought in the Combat of Sorau. During the retreat, the regiment escorted the baggage. On November 20, the regiment took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was attached to Rebentisch's Brigade. Around 3:00 p.m., Daun's Corps deployed with its right on the heights in front of Muhlbach and its left towards Hausdorf. Finck sent Jung-Platen Dragoons and Rebentisch Infantry to contain the attack. The latter soon joined the routing Prussian units. Completely surrounded, the entire Prussian force finally surrendered as prisoners of war.

In the winter of 1759-60, with its recruitment districts of East Prussia occupied by the Russian Army, the regiment could not be reconstituted to full strength and only a weak battalion could take the field for the incoming campaign.

From August to October 1762, the single battalion of the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Schweidnitz.

N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the grenadiers of Infantry Regiment 14 forming the Grenadier Batallion 11/14 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white, one brass button, red pompoms
Grenadier mitre with silver-plated front plate bearing, in an oval light blue enamel field, an armed Prussian black eagle (silver sword, gold, crown, beak, talons and thunderbolt) over three green hills the whole surmounted by the gold motto "Pro Gloria et Patria"; silver-plated headband; white backing with red piping; red pompom (see Grenadier Batallion 11/14 for an illustration)
Neck stock red
Coat
Infanterie-Regiment von Below. - Source: Tex Küster
Prussian blue lined red with, on each side: 8 white buttonholes (each buttonhole was made of a thin white braid arranged in three adjacent hollow rhombuses) and 8 brass buttons; 1 similar buttonhole in the small of the back; 3 brass buttons to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar none
Shoulder Straps Prussian blue lined red and fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets laced red, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs red in the Prussian pattern, each decorated with two white waved lines; furthermore there were 2 brass buttons decorated with two white waved lines on each sleeve flap above the cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a brass button
Waistcoat white with horizontal pockets, each with brass buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waist-belt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Foot-gear black shoes


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

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • tricorne with wide gold lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • no shoulder strap
  • 6 golden lace braids on each side on the chest (of similar pattern as the white lace braids of the privates)
  • 2 gilt buttons on each side at the waist
  • 1 golden lace braid on each side in the small of the back (of similar pattern as the white lace braids of the privates)
  • no lace at the cuffs
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a medium 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

Below Infantry Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen
Lace of the officer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

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

  • black tricorne edged with a narrow golden braid with a black cockade fastened with a golden strap and a gilt button. (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • white neck stock
  • no shoulder strap on the coat
  • no turnbacks on the coat
  • 3 pairs of golden embroidery loops with gilt buttons on each side on the chest
  • 2 golden loops embroidery without button on each side at the waist
  • 1 golden embroidery loop on each side in the small of the back
  • 2 golden embroidery loops on each sleeve flap
  • 2 golden embroidery loops on each pocket
  • gilt buttons
  • black and silver sash around the waist
  • black and silver sword knot

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

Musicians

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

The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing (drummer lace consisting of a white braid with two narrow blue lines) and other peculiarities:

  • no shoulder strap
  • swallow nest with vertical white and blue bars on each shoulder
  • 7 horizontal rows of drummer lace on each sleeve, each row decorated with white and blue tassels at each end
  • lapels edged with the drummer lace
  • drummer lace instead of white loops around the 6 buttons on each side of the chest, on the pockets and in the small of the back
  • coat edged with the drummer lace


Colours

Colonel colour (Leibfahne): White field with a purple red flame cross. Centre device consisting of a purple red medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black 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): Purple red field with a white flame cross. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a purple red 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 medium brown with a golden finial.

References

Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee Worinnen zur eigentlichen Kenntniss der Uniform von jedem Regiment ein Officier und Gemeiner in Völliger Montirung und ganzer Statur nach dem Leben abgebildet sind. Nebst beigefügter Nachricht 1.) von der Stiftung. 2.) Denen Chefs. 3.) der Staerke und 4.) der in Friedenszeiten habenden Guarnisons jedes Regiments. Hrsg. u. gezeichnet I.C. v. S.(chmalen), Nürnberg 1759

Anonymous (maybe Karl Wellner): Montierung des Königlich Preussischen Armee

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

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

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

Dorn, Günter and Joachim Engelmann: 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. 78-85

Menzel, Adolph von: Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen, Berlin: 1851/57

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. 129-133

Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

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