Croatian Banderial-Regiment

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Introduction

Contrary to today's usage the expression Insurrection in Hungarian military history does not carry a meaning of revolt against authority. Originally it was used for the king's calling his subject to rise up (Latin: insurgere = to mount one's horse) to defend his lands.

On this order ( initially distributed by heralds showing a bloody sword) every free man (considered as noble and thus a trained fighter) had to assemble, mounted, armed and equipped to do his duty.

These warriors normally were grouped under banners (Latin banderium) and the name Banderium was also used for the unit riding under this flag. Noblemen who could order more than 50 retainers carried their own banderium; smaller nobles were assigned to other Banderien.

With time, more detailed rules were found necessary (e.g. to the extent of an insurrection - partial, personal or portal [number of households concerned]; type of equipment; service on foot, service outside the kingdom; personal replacement). Old established rights came into conflict with new requirements (e.g. incorporation of firearms equipped soldiers and light horsemen into banderia, cooperation with artillery). In short, the system became very unwieldy and (at least in practise) died with the Hungarian nobility at the Battle of Mohács (1526).

(Note: For an exhaustive treatment of Insurrection und Banderien consultation of Wrede Vol 5 (i.e. Wrede, Alfons von: Geschichte der k. und k. Wehrmacht , Band 5, Wien 1903) is recommended)

By the time of the start of the reconquest of Hungary from the Ottoman Empire even the most obstinate reactionaries in the nobility had to accept that for the then modern type of warfare a new system was required. Thus the Reichstag of 1715 agreed to provide the means for the first six Hungarian standing infantry regiments. But it was felt appropriate to keep Insurrection on the books. The defence of the kingdom from then on depended on the standing army of the (Habsburg) king of Hungary (with help from his other possessions, of course) with as a last resort the call-up of an Insurrection.

Needless to say, that such a call offered great opportunities for discussion what rules to apply; what rights not to infringe; what benefits to extract for the future. Nonetheless, on a few occasions Insurrection troops actually assembled, went into action, shed their blood and fulfilled their task honourably.

Origin and History

Croatian situation at mid 18th century

The Kingdom of Croatia was a constituent kingdom (Nebenland) of the Kingdom of Hungary. It sent delegates to the Hungarian Reichsrat, was bound to the laws passed by this institution and acted upon by the Queen. In addition it had its own (Croatische) Congregation at Agram (present-day Zagreb). At its head was the Banus von Croatien (the 3rd highest functionary in the Kingdom of Hungary), who was nominated by the Queen.

In Croatia, at the time in question the term Banderia meant the militia which was formed at Insurrection by the dependents of the bishop and Chapter of Agram, of private-noble families and by volunteers. These militia trace their origins in the 17th and 18th centuries when the Turks were a perpetual menace to these border regions, compelling the local nobles to retain armed support service to protect their estates. For this service in addition to other duties the 'retainers' benefited from reductions in other areas and finally were exempted from paying contribution, to the disadvantage of the state. In 1750 this abuse was forbidden by ordinance from Vienna and contribution was imposed again; instead Insurrection troops (once raised) were fully paid by the Queen.

In Croatia it was possible for the Congregation to call up Insurrection (in addition to the right of the Hungarian Reichstag to do so). This had happened in 1737; it also was done in 1757.

A new Banus had taken office in the fall of 1756: GdC Franz Leopold von Nádasdy replaced Karl Grf. Batthyány. Nádasdy energetically pushed forward the formation of a regiment from 'insurged' men. This unit was called Croatisches Banderial-Regiment (to reflect its origin from Insurrection), a contribution to the war effort by Zivil-Croatien outside the Military Border. In several contemporary texts this unit is also designated as Banderialisten.

The regiment consisted of 15 fusilier companies and 2 grenadier companies, placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johann von Habianecz1, 2 who had been captain in the Warasdiner-Creutzer Regiment.

Clearly 17 companies could not have been independently under the command of one lieutenant-colonel. There must have been a subdivision into battalions (probably 3, with addition of a grenadier company to two of these).

All 17 companies are shown in the field (in winter quarter list), which seems to mean that there had been no home support by a garrison or "Depot" unit. The impression can be reached that the Croatian Congregation considered its obligation to insurge filled by just providing the original manning and that upkeep fell to Vienna.

By April 1758, average company was only a very low of 75 men (from 1758 onward, normal line fusilier companies were supposed to be at 140 men including officers).

As the Crotian Banderial-Regiment was not a Grenzer unit, it would probably rather have followed Royal Hungarian regulations and discipline. There are no indications of its ever having been employed in the main battle line, and it is listed separately from the main body among 'Grenztruppen'. So it seems to have been considered as some kind of light infantry. It is quite possible that its later activities in written tradition were subsumed under the heading "Croaten" (for ex.: in the listing of Beck's Corps in Neues Generalstab Works, Vol T3; Bd. 11; Anlage 10) as so often happened to Grenzer regiments or battalions.

During the Seven Years' War, the commander of the regiment was:

  • since 1757 until 1759: Lieutenant-Colonel Johann von Habianecz

Wrede1 notes the regiment as disbanded in 1759, but gives no reason or circumstances. Indeed, after November 1759, we find no mention of the “Banderial” militia. They may have been disbanded and their troops incorporated into existing regiments.

Service during the War

In 1757, “Insurrection” militia were levied and organised in a Croatisches Banderial-Regiment.

From a secondary source (Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie), it can be inferred that soon after its formation in 1757 the regiment marched as part of Nádasdy's command via Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia to Bohemia in support of FM Daun.

There is a definite report that, after the Battle of Prague, a strong detachment of Banderialists was to be sent to Moravia14. .

On September 7 1757, the unit took part in the Combat of Moys4, 5, 6 where General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps. In October and November, it was at the Siege of Schweidnitz.7. It then served under GdC Nádasdy in Silesia.8, 9

By March 13 1758, the unit is listed as part of the main Austrian army 10 and then as part of the corps under GFWM Loudon.10, 11 Its 1,280 men were distributed in winter-quarters as follows:

  • in quarters (980 men):
    • at Deutsch Wernsdorf (present-day Vernéřovice/CZ): 2 grenadier companies
    • at Weckelsdorf (present-day Teplice nad Metují/CZ): 6 fusilier companies
    • at Rabisch (present-day Rabiš/CZ): 2 fusilier companies
    • at Leche aka Löchau (present-day Lachov/CZ): 2 fusilier companies
    • at Braunau (present-day Broumov/CZ): 5 fusilier companies
  • in advanced posts (300 men)
    • at Adersbach (present-day Adršpach/CZ): 100 men
    • at Merkelsdorf (present-day Zdoňov/CZ): 100 men
    • at Johannisberg (present-day Kopec Svatého Jana/CZ): 100 men

On April 1 1758, considering that there were a large number of men of the Banderialisten at the hospital in Braunau, Loudon gave instructions to investigate the situation. It was found that several of these men were healthy malingerers. He forbade them to visit the hospital and sent them back to their quarters. Part of the regiment took part in a clash at Halberstadt (present-day Meziměstí/CZ). Some of them also participated in the defence of a redoubt at Botisch (maybe Gierzcze Dolne/PL) which was attacked by a Prussian convoy, suffering 2 casualties. The regiment remained in its winter-quarters until May 2. On May 2, as the King proceeded to the invasion of Moravia, the regiment marched southwards from Braunau and Weckelsdorf by Giesshübel (present-day Olešnice v Orlických horách/CZ) and Sattel (present-day Sedloňov/CZ) to Reichenau (present-day Rychnov nad Kněžnou/CZ), in the general direction of Olmütz (present-day Olomouc/CZ). On May 3, it reached Wildenschwert (Ústí nad Orlicí/CZ). On May 4, it marched to Landskron (present-day Lanškroun/CZ).

Surprisingly, in November 1759, the unit is also noted as having been sent by FML Beck to cover the frontier at Gabel.12 After this date, we find no mention of the “Banderial” militia.

Uniform

We have very little information concerning the uniform of this unit. The only printed source available to us is the "États nouveaux" of 1758, who describes it very schematically as white with red distinguishing elements and shows brass metal.

Understanding that this is not a Grenzer regiment but rather a unit adhering to the Hungarian pattern of the time, we can infer a few other items by comparing with the Delacre manuscript (as referred to by Bleckwenn13) for units established at the same time (which would show nothing old-fashioned, this being a new unit without traditional elements):

  • Headgear: Tricorne hats (not Grenzer felt Klobuk
  • Footgear: Shoes (not Opanken),
  • Overcoat, waistcoat, trousers: Hungarian cut, coat buttons in Hungarian setting (1 - 2 - 3)
  • Equipment of the usual infantry type

Considering economic aspects, one can assume that extras like barrel sashes and sabretaches were not used and the use of expensive distinguishing red cloth would be minimized, probably only to the pointed cuffs. As a result a Banderalist would have looked rather like a Dalmatiner (as depicted in Delacre; a unit which was proposed but not established) with red cuffs and (minimal) fashionable red embroidery.

Colours

The name Banderial-Regiment refers only to the method of its recruitment and manning, not to the internal organization of the unit, which followed the practise of Royal Hungarian established regiments. There would not have been any place for Banderium flags.

Considering the equalizing and centralizing tendencies of the Vienna government, any colours would have been of the normal infantry pattern.

Footnotes

1. Wrede, Vol. II, p. 431

2. Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche, Vol. 1, app. . 80

3. Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche, Vol. 6, appendix

4. Relation von der Attaque..., Vienna 14 Sept. 1757

5. Frankfurter Mess-Relation – 1757, pp. 11-13

6. Kurz-gefasste historische Nachrichten – 1757, p. 791

7. Kurz-gefasste historische Nachrichten – 1757, p. 172

8. Chronik, p. 123

9. Kurz-gefasste historische Nachrichten – 1757, p. 831

10. Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche, Vol. 7, app. 5

11. St., E. v., Zum Säcular-Gedächtniss, p. 7

12. Oestreichische militärische Zeitschrift, p. 22

13. Bleckwenn, Hans: Der Kaiserin Hayduken, Husaren und Grenzer, in : Mraz, Gerda (Hrsg.) : Maria Theresia als Königin von Ungarn, Eisenstadt, 1984

14. Österreichische Militärische Zeitung,1824

References

Fenyes, Alexius von: Statistik des Königreichs Ungarn, Pesth, 1843, p. 166

Frankfurter Mess-Relation – 1757, pp. 11-13

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1,Berlin, 1901, app., p. 80

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 6, appendix

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 7, app. 5

Kurtz-gefaßte historische Nachrichten zum Behuf der neuern Europäischen Begebenheiten auf das Jahr 1757

Luge, J(ohannes) G(otthelf): Chronik der Stadt Greiffenberg in Schlesien, Greiffenberg 1861

Mittheilungen des k.u.k.Kriegs-Archivs - Supplement. Geschichte der K.u.k. Wehrmacht; II.Band (bearbeitet von Alfons Freiherrn von Wrede), Wien, 1898

Nagy, István and Enrico Acerbi: A Brief History of the Hungarian Insurrectio in The Napoleon Series

Oestreichische militärische Zeitschrift, Wien 1841, Dritter Band , Siebentes bis neuntes Heft

Relation von der Attaque, welche der Kayserl. Königl. General der Cavallerie Graf von Nadasdy und General-Feld-Marschall-Lieutenant Herzog von Aremberg den 7. Septemb. gegen das Preussische unter Commando des General-Feld-Marschall-Lieutenants von Winterfeld stehende Corps bey Moys vorgenommen und bewürcket haben, Vienna 14 Sept. 1757

St.; E. v.: Zum Säcular-Gedächtniss von 1758 – Der Felzug in Mähren oder die Belagerung und der Entsatz von Olmütz, Frankfurt am Main: Sauerländer's Verlag, 1858, p. 7

Vanicek, Fr.: Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Vol. II, Vienna: Kaiserlich-Königlichen Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1875, p. 419


Acknowledgments

Dieter Müller and Jiří Sissak for researching the topic