Bretlach Cuirassiers

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Origin and History

The regiment was created in 1673 and had Field-Marshal Count Caraffa as inhaber (owner).

The regiment first saw service during the Great Turkish War. In 1684, it took part in the first siege of Ofen; in 1685, in the blockade and siege of Neuhäusel; in 1686, in the second siege of Ofen, in the expedition in Upper-Hungary and in the engagement of Szegedin; in 1687, in the blockade and capture of Erlau where it distinguished itself under its Colonel Marquis Karlo Doria, killing more than 100 Turks during the action; and in 1688, in the siege and storming of Belgrade.

During the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1689, the regiment initially served on the Rhine where it took part in the siege of Mainz before being transferred to Italy. In 1691, it was at the siege of Carmagnola. In 1693, it fought in the Battle of Marsaglia where it lost its inhaber Count Franz Schrattenbach. From 1694 to 1695, it remained in Piedmont and saw no action. In 1695, the regiment was at the siege of Casale. In 1697, the regiment returned to the Rhine but was not involved in any action.

In 1698, the regiment assumed garrison duty in various places in Silesia. From 1699 to 1701, it garrisoned Eger in Hungary.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, from June to September 1702, the regiment took part in the siege of Landau. On July 31 1703, it was engaged in the action of Munderkingen. In 1704, it took part in a skirmish at Donauwörth. On 13 August, it fought in the Battle of Blenheim. In 1705, the regiment was sent to Hungary to fight Rákóczi Uprising and, on 11 November, it took part in the Battle of Sibó. In 1710, it participated in the siege of Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). In 1711, it was at the blockade of Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK). It was later sent to the “Neutralitäts-Corps” stationed in Silesia. In 1712, it campaigned on the Rhine; in 1713, in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) while a detachment joined the garrison of Landau.

In 1714, after the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment initially garrisoned Budweis (present-day České Budějovice/CZ) but was soon transfeered to the garrison of Tolna in Hungary. In 1715 and 1716, it garrisoned various places in the Komitat of Hont. In 1716, the regiment distinguished itself under Colonel Count Eltz in the Battle of Peterwardein and then marched to Temesvár. In 1717, it suffered heavy casualties (3 officers killed and 12 wounded), during the siege and battle of Belgrade.

From 1718, the regiment undertook three campaigns in Sicily.

During the war of the Polish Succession, the regiment was used to fight the Turks in Transylvania. On July 22 1739, at the battle of Krotzka, it lost 2 officers, 8 men and 104 horses killed, and 4 officers, 28 men and 27 horses wounded.

In 1740, after the war, the regiment was stationed in Hungary.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was initially brigaded with Lanthieri Cuirassier Regiment under Major-General von Frankenberg in the Division Count Ballayra in the Corps of Prince Lobkowitz. On May 17 1742, at the battle of Czaslau, it fought in the first line of the right wing, in the Brigade of Major-General Philibert under the command of Count Hohen-Ems. During the same year, it was at the siege of Prague, once more attached to the Corps of Prince Lobkowitz. In 1743, it was at the siege of Eger. After the capture of the town, it joined the troops besieging Ingolstadt. In 1748, the regiment was stationed in Transylvania.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of carabiniers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • from 1745 to his death in 1766: General of Cavalry Karl Ludwig Baron von Bretlach

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

  • 1753: August Marquis Voghera
  • 1758: Anton Baron von Münchhausen
  • 1760: Karl Count Caraffa
  • 1761 to 1763: Joseph von Schimonsky

In 1769, the regiment was numbered 29 among the Austrian cavalry regiments. In 1798, it was renumbered 2. In 1867, it was transformed into a dragoon regiment, retaining its number. By 1890, its proprietor was G.d.C. Eduard Count Paar.

Service during the War

In June 1756, at the beginning of the war, the regiment was stationed in Slovakia and counted 780 men and 797 horses. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz where it fought in Hedwiger's Brigade which formed part of the Division of FML Emanuel Count Kolowrat on the left wing. During this battle, along with the Anspach and Cordova cuirassiers and the Erzherzog Josef dragoons, who had came from the right wing, the regiment distinguished itself by charging the Prussian cavalry, throwing them into disorder and forcing them to retire. Colonel August Marquis Voghera led the regiment assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Münchhausen and Major Schimonsky.

On May 6 1757, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the Prince of Modena's brigade, in the second line of the left wing of cavalry. After this battle, it was transferred to the Reichsarmee in Germany. On November 5 at Rossbach, where it was deployed on the extreme right wing, it was one of the few cavalry regiments who managed to form before receiving the charge of Seydlitz's Cavalry. The Prussian cavalry wanted to surround Bretlach and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers but both regiments supported each other by mutual attacks. Combining with the French cavalry, they managed to repulse the Prussian cavalry attacks four times. Colonel Marquis Voghera distinguished himself once more despite the severe defeat inflicted to the Franco-Imperial army.

In 1758, the regiment did not take part in any action.

In 1759, along with Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, the regiment made a surprise attack on Meiningen in Hesse. By mid-August, during the Austro-Imperial campaign in Saxony, the regiment was attached to Zweibrücken's Corps. On September 21, it was present at the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in Kleefeld's Division. During this action, Colonel Baron Münchhausen, Major Baron Seenus and de Werde, the Rittmeister (commander) of the carabiniers, distinguished themselves. However, the regiment lost 8 men and 10 horses killed; 27 men (among which Lieutenant-Colonels Schweiger and Kreutzberg) and 28 horses wounded; 46 men (among which Rittmeister Fischer and Lieutenant Dillen) and 55 horses missing. Nevertheless, on November 20, the regiment took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was deployed in the first cavalry column of Sincère's Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Count Schallenberg. Four of its squadrons were in the brigade of Major-General Bettoni while another of its squadrons was assigned to the brigade of Major-General Brentano and its company of carabiniers was converged with other similar units in a brigade under Major-General Löwenstein.

In 1760, the regiment campaigned with the Reichsarmee and fought in the Combat of Strehla.

In 1761, the regiment was assigned to the Austrian army stationed in Saxony.

In 1762, the regiment took part in the Battle of Freiberg where it distinguished itself.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 – Source: Richard Couture and Ibrahim90 from an illustration of the Albertina Handschrift
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources when necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small pewter button
Carabinier black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small pewter button
Neckstock black
Coat white lined red with 13 pewter buttons (right side)
Collar red
Shoulder strap white fastened with a pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat straw with a single row of pewter buttons
Breeches straw
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black leather with silver decoration
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red laced with a white braid decorated with red rhombuses (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)
Housing red laced with a white braid decorated with red rhombuses (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)
Blanket roll white and red (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)


Troopers were armed with a black breastplate (worn over the coat), a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols. Carabiniers also carried a carbine and had a sabre instead of a sword.

Other interpretations

The Albertina Handschrift shows 15 buttons on the coat. However Raspe and several other sources indicate 13 buttons.

Curiously the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift depicts this regiment with blue as its distinctive colour.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced silver with a green and white cockade
  • yellow saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in green

Musicians

'No information found yet

Colours

Leib Standard: white rectangular standard probably embroidered in gold

  • Obverse: black Imperial double eagle
  • Reverse: black Imperial double eagle

Regimental Standard: light orange standard with gold fringe

  • Obverse: black double eagle, each head were crowned, red claws, the whole surmounted by a red and gold crown
  • Reverse: the entire surface covered with an intricate plant pattern

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862

Other Sources

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

Gräffer, August: Geschichte der kaiserl. Königl. Regimenter, Corps, Bataillons und anderer Militär-Branchen seit ihrer Errichtung biz zu Ende des Feldzuges 1799, Vol. 2, Vienna, 1804, pp. 13-16

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

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

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

Raspe, 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: 1762

Rogge, Christian, The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

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

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Thürheim, Andreas: Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 175-191

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. K. Wehrmacht, Vienna 1898–1905

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988