Bethlen Hussars

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Origin and History

Already prior to the well known request from Maria Theresa to the Hungarian nobility on September 11 1741, some Hungarian nobles had raised irregular hussar regiments and, in the Summer of 1741, had sent them to Silesia. These troops had been under command of Nikolaus von Beleznay (First Insurrection Hussar Regiment from Pest), Peter Hállász and Stephan Esterházy. These hussar units distinguished themselves in Silesia and in the Autumn returned to Hungary where they were disbanded. On November 1, Nikolaus von. Beleznay was authorised by decree to build a regular hussar regiment from the three former Insurrektions-Regimenter. The regiment was raised on December 8 1741. It counted eight companies, three of which originating from the three disbanded irregular regiments. Most of the officers of these irregular regiments joined the new one. The lieutenant-colonel was Andreas Hadik, the majors Samuel von Szeleczky and Andreas von Györky. The regiment was initially equipped with blue dolmans, pelisses and trousers, and red coats. The officers had 5 braids on their dolman and pelisse, troopers only 3.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, by February 1742, the regiment already had 5 completed companies which Colonel Beleznay took with him, marched through Jablunka Pass and joined the troops of FML Lobkowitz at Brünn (present-day Brno/CZ). At that time, a Saxon force was blockading the city. Beleznay arrived at Brünn at night. Early the following morning, his hussars attacked the surprised Saxons and managed to enter into the city without losing a single man. Afterwards the hussars harassed the Saxons who finally lifted the blockade of Brünn on April 5. The commander of Brünn, FM Seherr von Thoss, sent 200 hussars to pursue the retiring Saxons. These hussars captured 17 Saxons and several carriages. During the next Summer, the regiment was stationed with Károlyi Hussars along the border between Moravia and Silesia. During this period, Lieutenant-Colonel Andreas Hadik met the Countess Lichnowsky, his later wife. On May 10, the regiment attacked the Prussian cuirassier regiment Prinz Friedrich near Ratibor, destroyed it completely (250 cuirassiers killed, 208 taken prisoners, 2 standards and silver trumpets captured. Major Szeleczky was charged to bring the 2 captured standards to Maria Theresa in Vienna. In June, the regiment under the command of GFWM von Trips took part in the storming of Písek/CZ. The entire French garrison was taken prisoners. Afterwards, the regiment joined the troops of FML Festetić blockading Prague, occupied by the French. On December 17, the French evacuated Prague and marched towards Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ) closely followed by the hussars. The regiment had now 8 coys.

On January 23 1743, the regiment left Königswarth (present-day Lázně Kynžvart/CZ) and marched to a camp near Nabburg/Hessen where it remained until mid-April. It counted only 300 men and was not involved in any combat. By June, the regiment (now counting 900 men) was in FM Lobkowitz's Corps and had several skirmishes with the French. It then went to Bavaria and, along with other hussar regiments, followed the retreating French. In July, the regiment and Károlyi Hussars, both under command of FML Baranyay, along with the Pandours commanded by Colonel Menzel were sent to join the “Pragmatic Army” commanded by King George II. On August 9, the army crossed the Rhine near Biberach and concentrated at Worms. The hussars constantly harassed the French. On September 25, the “Pragmatic Army” went to Speyer. FML Baranyay with the hussars was sent to reconnoitre in the direction of Weissenburg. On October 11, the campaign came to an end and the army returned to Germany. The regiment took its winter-quarters near Lüneburg.

In January 1744, the regiment was sent to Mons and Charleroi where Andreas Hadik was promoted to colonel. On February 11, Count Beleznay was promoted to General Feldwachtmeister (GFWM). The regiment campaigned for the whole year in the Austrian Netherlands (present-day Belgium). A detachment took part in a combat near Brügge. By the end of the year, the regiment and Károlyi Hussars along with 8 Freikompanien guarded the border between Ghent and Tournai.

During the winter of 1744-45, the regimental staff and 3 squadrons were stationed at Luxemburg, the other sqns were used as vanguard, harassing the French.

In 1745, 2 sqns remained in the Netherlands while the others returned to Germany under FM Duke Ahremberg, operating between Lahn and the Main River. In mid-June, the hussars made a junction with Field Marshal Traun's Army near Gelnhausen on the small Kinzig River in Hessen. The Austrians then fought the French between the Main and Neckar rivers. At the end of September, the regiment was assigned to GFWM Trips' Corps and went to Wiesbaden. The regiment distinguished itself when Colonel Hadik attacked the French at Nordheim near Worms. In November, the regiment and Károlyi Hussars marched back to the Netherlands

In February 1746, the regiment and Károlyi Hussars arrived at Cologne. On February 20, they reached the Dyle River where they joined with the 2 sqns left behind in the Netherlands the previous year. The regiment served once more with the “Pragmatic army” commanded by the Duke of Cumberland. The 8,000 Austrian foot and the hussars were from then on under British pay. On October 11, the regiment was at the Battle of Rocoux. At the beginning of November, it took its winter-quarters near Arlon in Luxemburg.

On March 6 1747, Andreas Hadik was promoted to General Feldwachtmeister (GFWM) and Colonel Samuel Teleki formerly from Festetić Hussars took command of the regiment. One sqn remained in the Fortress of Luxemburg while the rest of the regiment was assigned to the vanguard near Roermond. On July 2, the regiment was at the Battle of Lauffeld. At the beginning of November, it took its winter-quarters near Hertogenbosch with Diemar Dragoons, Styrum Dragoons and 3 battalions of Grenzer light troops.

On March 6 1748, the regiment was reviewed at Sunders. It then counted 729 men and 699 horses. That year, one of its detachments took part in the defence of Maastricht. In October, after the signature of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the regiment left the Netherlands and marched for Hungary. In December, it arrived at its assigned garrison place at Debreczin and sent some sqns to the Comitates Bihar and Hajdú.

After the war, the regiment incorporated a company of the disbanded Trips Hussars.

At the end of 1749, the regiment was transferred to Transylvania. It assumed garrison duties in Broos in 1750, Diószeg in 1751 and Mezö-Kövesd in 1753.

After the death of FML Nikolaus von Beleznay, on October 27 1754, FML Emerich von Morocz became proprietor of the regiment on November 1. That year, the regiment assumed garrison duties around Kubiny (present-day Kubín/SK) and Rosenberg (present-day Ružomberok/SK) where it remained until July 1756.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 10 companies in 5 squadrons.

The regiment was successively under the nominal command of:

  • since 1741: Johann Nikolaus von Beleznay
  • from November 1 1754: FML Emerich Baron von Morocz
  • from 1759: GM Joseph Adam Count Bethlen
  • from 1773: Vincenz Baron Barcó

The regiment was successively under the effective command of:

  • since 1741: Johann Nikolaus von Beleznay
  • from 1744: Andreas von Hadik
  • from 1747: Samuel Count Teleky
  • from 1751: Nikolaus von Beleznay
  • from 1752: Colonel Joseph Baron von Czobel
  • from 1758: Colonel Vincenz Baron von Barco
  • from 1759: Franz von Somogyi
  • from 1766: Joseph Baron Graffenstein
  • from 1773: Paul von Wrancsics

At the end of the Seven Years' War, in 1763, the regiment returned to Hungary. In the Spring of 1764, the regiment (now reduced to 794 men and 666 horses) marched to Transylvania where it assumed garrison duties in Deés and Szillay.

Service during the War

In June 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed at Kubiny (present-day Kubín/SK) and Rosenberg (present-day Ružomberok/SK) and counted 583 men and 567 horses. At the beginning of July, now reinforced to 735 men and 678 horses, it marched to Moravia through Jablunka Pass. It joined FZM Duke Piccolomini's Corps concentrating near Olmütz, This corps then conducted operations in Eastern Bohemia. The regiment with two dragoon regiments was posted between Grulich (present-day Králíky/CZ) and Ostrau (present-day Moravská Ostrava/CZ) on the Moravian border till the end of the year. During the winter of 1756-57, the regiment received a sixth squadron, bringing its total strength to 1,060 men.

On May 19 1757, during the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, the regiment along with Kálnoky Hussars, 1,000 Banal-Grenzers, Deutschmeister Infantry (1 bn) and Puebla Infantry (1 bn) arrived at the camp of Field Marshal Daun's Army near Czaslau (present-day Čáslav/CZ) and was assigned to G. d. C. Count Nádasdy's Corps posted near Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora/CZ) and Maleschau (present-day Malešov/CZ). On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the extreme right wing in Morocz's Division. After the victory, the regiment followed Prince August Wilhelm's retreating Prussian army through Niemes (present-day Mimoň/CZ) and Gabel (present day Jablonné v Podještědí/CZ) up to Zittau. On their way, the hussars repeatedly attacked Prussian columns, capturing many soldiers and baggage. After the surrender of Zittau, Lieutenant-Colonel Somogyi reconnoited the Prussian camp near Bautzen. On September 5, FML Morocz, who commanded the vanguard of the Austrian army, occupied Bautzen and the castle. The regiment then followed the Prussian army to Silesia. In October, it made its junction with the main army in the camp of Lissa. On November 22, the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau. At the Battle of Leuthen (present-day Lutynia/PL) the regiment with Kálnoky Hussars and some Grenzer light troops was deployed in the third line defending the right flank. In this battle, the regiment lost 4 NCOs and 57 men. The army then retreated through Schweidnitz and Landshut to Bohemia. Breslau surrendered on December 21, Colonel Czobel, who laid wounded in the city was taken prisoner. The regiment took its winter-quarters around Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ).

At the beginning of January 1758, Colonel Czobel and some hussars were exchanged with the Prussians. On January 15, FML Emerich baron Morocz died (the function of commander would remain vacant till the appointment of Joseph Count Bethlen more than one year after, on August 21 1759). In the Spring, during the Prussian invasion of Moravia, the regiment was attached to Jahnus von Eberstädt's Corps posted in the area of Senftenberg (present-day Žamberk/CZ). While Frederick II laid siege to Olmütz, the regiment remained with the main army but sent small detachments to harass the Prussians around Olmütz. From June 28 to 30, 240 hussars of the regiment along with 240 grenadiers and 600 Grenzer light troops under Lanjus von Wellenburg took part in the attack of a big Prussian convoy at Domstadl. In August, the regiment was attached to G. d. C de Ville's Corps for the planned invasion of Silesia. In October, the regiment took part in the blockade the Fortress of Neisse. After the Battle of Hochkirch when Frederick marched to the relief of Neisse, FZM Harsch lifted the blockade and marched to Zuckmantel (present-day Zlaté Hory/CZ). The regiment then went to Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ) where it remained for winter.

On January 24 1759, the regiment reviewed at Reichenau (present-day Rychnov na Moravě/CZ). It counted 1,029 men and 924 horses in 12 coys. The function of regiment commander was still vacant and effective command was assumed by Colonel Vincenz Baron Barcó. For this campaign, the regiment was attached to FML Beck's Corps and was assigned to GFWM Nauendorf's Brigade with Dessewffy Hussars. In May, an Austrian army concentrated at Jaromir (present-day Jaroměř/CZ). The same month, Beck's Corps marched to Silesia. On June 30, it arrived at Naumburg am Queis (present-day Nowogrodziec/PL). By mid August, Beck's Corps was posted on the Lusatian border. On August 14, the regiment and Dessewffy Hussars were involved in a combat near Grünberg (present-day Zielona Gora/PL) where they defeated a Prussian detachment, taking Major Rege, 5 officers, 9 NCOs and 513 men prisoners. The regiment then remained in Silesia. On September 2, it probably took part in the Combat of Sorau. By September 13, it was in Zittau. On December 3, Beck's Corps was involved in the Combat of Meissen against an isolated Prussian corps under Major-General von Dierecke. This corps was entrenched on a hill. FML Beck cut their line of retreat and then Nauendorf's hussars attacked the Prussian cavalry in the plain and drove it back. The Prussians tried to cross the Elbe at night but the artillery of Major-General Pellegrini destroyed some of their ships. The rest of the Prussian corps occupied the village Cölln where it was attacked by Colonel Zedtwitz at the head of Grenzer light troops. Meanwhile, Nauendorf's hussars captured the Prussian baggage which had been transported along the Elbe River. General Itzenplitz tried to support Dierecke's troops from the opposite bank of the river with his heavy artillery but Zedtwitz had already stormed the village of Cölln with the support of Nauendorf's hussars. Major-General von Dierecke, Colonel von Leckow, Majors von Lossberg, von Bülow, Count Anhalt, 49 officers, 1,659 soldiers and some hussars and dragoons were taken prisoners; and 4 guns, 1 howitzer, the entire baggage of the corps and many horses were captured. After this victory, Nauendorf's hussars and one infantry regiment marched on Torgau to harass its Prussian garrison. After the Elbe had frozen, Beck's entire corps returned to Radebeul. On December 11, when the Austrian army took its winter-quarters, the regiment was stationed at Klotsche near Dresden.

For the campaign of 1760, the regiment initially served in Beck's Corps. At the end of February Beck launched a successful raid on Kosdorf in Saxony, capturing 500 horses. At the end of April, the regiment was reviewed at Klotsche. It then counted 819 men and 602 horses. The regiment was then transferred to Loudon's Corps which it joined at Jägerndorf (present day Krnov/CZ). The regiment remained at Jägerndorf till May 29. On June 23, the regiment took part in the battle of Landeshut where, along with Sachsen-Gotha Dragoons, Löwenstein Dragoons and Nádasdy Hussars, it cut the line of retreat of the Prussians to Schmiedeberg (present-day Kowary/PL). Fouqué's Prussian Corps was almost entirely taken prisoners. GFWM Nauendorf's hussars then went through Goldberg and Sagan and arrived at Lübben on July 9. Colonel Barcó with 300 hussars of the regiment and the Löwenstein Dragoons remained there to watch the garrison in Glogau (present-day Glogow/PL). Nauendorf's hussars then went to Breslau but, on August 4, returned to Neumarkt (present-day Sroda Slaska/PL). On August 15, the regiment took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it lost 6 men wounded. On September 17, it was present at the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. In October, it took part in the unsuccessful Siege of Cosel. It then took its winter-quarters Hennersdorf.

On January 11 1761, the regiment (964 men, 855 horses) was reviewed at Hennersdorf. For this campaign, the regiment was attached to the corps of his own proprietor: Count Bethlen, This corps consisted of 5 bns, 2 dragoon sqns and the regiment. It marched to Kunzendorf near Neustadt (present-day Prudnik/PL). On July 16, Bethlen occupied Oppeln (present-day Opole/PL) which was later lost. In September, Bethlen received intelligence that a Prussian battalion with some hussars and one canon occupied Oppeln. Colonel Barcó with 400 men received the order to attack these troops. The Prussians closed the gates of Oppeln and defended the city. Bethlen advanced to support Barcó but at Friedland during his march, he received a message informing him that Barcó had attacked the Prussian battalion who had formed a square and had destroyed it. Captain Rothkirch, 8 officers and 224 fusiliers had been taken prisoners and one cannon had been captured. The regiment then remained in Upper Silesia. On December 22, in the sixth promotion of the Maria Theresa Order, Colonel Barcó received the Knight Cross of this military order.

On May 31 1762, the regiment (1,046 men, 822 horses) was reviewed in Jägerndorf. It then remained in Silesia where it was attached to Beck's Corps. In August, when Frederick advanced to Peilau (present day Pilawa/PL) in Silesia with the design of laying siege to Schweidnitz, he was closely followed by Beck's Corps. Near Peilau, Beck effected a junction with the Austrian main army of FM Daun. In an attempt to force Frederick to lift the Siege of Schweidnitz, Field Marshal Daun gave orders to attack the Prussian entrenchments. In the ensuing Battle of Reichenbach, on August 16, the Austrians were unable to break through the Prussian defences. On August 19, Beck took position in entrenchments near Wartha (present-day Bardo/PL). After the surrender of Schweidnitz, on October 11, the regiment returned to Upper Silesia. Major-General Count Bethlen negotiated a ceasefire for the coming winter with the Prussian Lieutenant-General Werner.

On January 31 1763, the regiment was reviewed at Olbersdorf (present-day Albrechtice near Krnov/CZ). By then, the regiment counted 1,081 men and 795 horses in 10 squadrons. After the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15, the regiment remained a few months in Upper Silesia. In the Autumn it marched to Hungary. In October, it arrived in Szolnok. Some squadrons garrisoned Doboka and Kövár.

Uniform

Privates

The 1757 reform, stated that all hussar regiments should be dressed in dark blue uniform with yellow distinctives. However, this regulation seems to have been followed only by Kaiser Franz I Hussars. The present regiment retained its former uniform.

Uniform in 1757
Source: David at Not By Appointment
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift
Headgear brown kolback with red cords and tassels and a red bag
Neck stock black
Pelisse light blue lined with sheepskin
Fur trim black
Lace 10 rows of red braids
Buttons yellow
Dolman light blue edged red with 13 rows of red braids and yellow buttons
Collar light blue edged red
Cuffs light blue pointed cuffs edged red
Trousers light blue decorated with an intricate red lace on each thigh
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt white
Waist-sash light blue and red barrel sash
Scabbard black with brass fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged red with a red tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddle-cloth light blue edged red
Sabretache light blue edged red decorated with a red crowned double-eagle


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, a musket and two pistols.

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift illustrates the following differences:

  • grey fur trims on the pelisse
  • red pointed cuffs on the dolman
  • red Hungarian trousers
  • light blue saddle cloth edged red and heavily decorated with red laces
  • yellow Hungarian boots

Knötel shows a uniform identical to the one depicted in our table with the following exceptions:

  • light blue back on the kolback
  • red sabretache edged light blue

Donath illustrates the following differences:

  • light blue bag on the kolback
  • white fur trim on the pelisse
  • black braids on the pelisse and dolman
  • red saddle-cloth edged with a simple yellow braid

Raspe's publications depict a uniform quite similar to the one we illustrate, with the following differences:

  • white pointed cuffs edged red on the dolman
  • white and light blue barrel-sash

Officers

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift depicts:

  • white fur trim for the pelisse
  • silvers cords on the pelisse and dolman
  • black and gold sash worn around the waist
  • red saddle cloth edged gold
  • yellow Hungarian boots

Donath depicts a very different uniform for officers:

  • brown kolback with a red bag
  • light blue pelisse with white fur trims
  • red dolman with light blue pointed cuffs
  • red Hungarian trousers
  • black Hungarian boots
  • light blue sabretache edged red
  • light blue saddle cloth edged red

NCOs

no information available yet

Musicians

no information found yet

Colours

The Magyar Huszar website depicts a beige guidon fringed silver and decorated with a black double-eagle.

References

Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen KAYSERLICH KOENIGLICHEN ARMEEN zur eigentlichen Kentnis der UNIFORM von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg auf Kosten der Raspischen Buchhandlung. Ao. 1762 (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt Halle, Universitätsbibliothek Kiel, Landesbibliothek Darmstadt)

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Regimenter der Kaiserin, Gedanken zur "Albertina Handschrift" 1762 des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums Wien, Köln: 1967

Bleckwenn, Hans: Eine neue österreichische Bilderhandschrift aus dem Siebenährigen Kriege, in Zeitschrift für Heeres und Uniformkunde, Nr. 185: 1963

Donath, Rudolf: Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979

Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759

Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760

Grosser Generalstab: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Knötel, Herbert d. J. and Hans M. Brauer: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Uniformbogen No. 71

Kornauth, Friedrich: Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien 1973

Ságvári, G. and G. Somogyi: Das Buch der Husaren, Budapest 1999

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Seyfart: Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 68

Skala H.: Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thadden, Franz-Lorenz v.: Die theresianische Kavallerie - III. Teil, Die Zinnfigur, Klio, 1968

Thümmler, Lars-Holger: Die Österreichische Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Treuenfest, A. V.: Geschichte des kaiserl. und königl. Husaren-Regimentes Nr. 10 Friedrich Wilhelm III. von Preussen, Vienna 1892

Wrede, Alphons Freiherr von; Geshichte der K und K Wehrmacht, Vienna and Leipzig 1911

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article

User:Zahn for information on the uniform

Harald Skala for expanding this article