Deutsche Feldartillerie

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Deutsche Feldartillerie

Origin and History

Deutsche Feldartillerie in 1762. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

On June 21 1568, Emperor Maximilian proposed the attachment of the artillery to the infantry, but it was not until 1607 that it took place in all Austrian provinces. In 1602 the tactical infantry unit (the regiment) was called into life and the attached guns were thus called 'regimental guns'. The artillery personnel serving regimental guns remained under tactical command of the Feldzeugmeister (Master General of the Ordnance) and could be recalled to the main artillery park of the army at any time. At this time, in almost all European armies, gunners were not subject to normal military regulations. They were highly skilled experts, members of a trade guild, who were very highly paid in comparison to the infantry and the cavalry. This unhappy arrangement did not satisfy the infantry, the artillery nor the army, but it remained in being for over 200 years. With lumbering equipment, mediocre teams, unwilling crews with independent minds, full of pride in their guilds, their guns took the field and were sent off to serve with the infantry.

Due to its academic requirements, the artillery appealed more to the learned youths of the cities than to the young aristocracy and there were very few such noblemen in its ranks. To be accepted into the artillery, a candidate had to be at least 171 cm tall, strongly built, single, reasonably young, be literate in German and – if possible – a subject of the Empire. Foreign deserters were not accepted. Gunners who committed crimes, or were technically incompetent, could be transferred into an infantry regiment as a punishment.

At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession, there were 800 Büchsenmeister (gunners) in Austria and this number remained static until 1746.

In 1744, Fürst Joseph Wenzel von Liechtenstein was appointed General Director of the Austrian Artillery. In 1747, he introduced the Reglement für das Kaiserliche-Königliche gesammte Feld-Artilleriecorps (Regulations for the Field Artillery Corps). By 1749, Liechtenstein had already increased the number of Büchsenmeister to 1,000. In 1753, the Liechtenstein's artillery system replaced the existing guns of the 1716 design (for details see Austrian Artillery Equipment). By 1755, there were more than 2,000 Büchsenmeister, most of which were in the field during the Seven Years' War; only a few companies were left in those fortresses away from the area of operations.

The Field Artillery consisted of (for details, see Austrian Artillery Organisation:

  • a Field Artillery Staff
  • a Field Artillery Corps, itself subdivided into:
    • 2 mining companies (increased to 4 in 1762)
    • 1 Feld-Artillerie Haupt-Corps comprising 3 brigades and totalling some 2,304 men. Each of these brigades counted 8 Büchsenmeister (gunners) companies (increased to 10 in 1763), each consisting of:
      • 1 captain
      • 1 Stückjunker (lieutenant)
      • 2 Altfeuerwerker supervising the technical work in the laboratories and the duties in the siege batteries
      • 4 junior Feuerwerker acting as sergeants
      • 6 or more corporals
      • from 60 to 72 men who drilled on the guns twice a week and with small arms twice a week
    • 1 Netherlander National-Artillerie Corps comprising 8 Büchsenmeister (gunners) companies (increased to 12 during the Seven Years' War)
    • Artillery Fusilier Regiment (raised in the winter of 1757-58)
  • a Feldzeugamt (Ordnance Department)
  • a Rosspartei (Horse Party).

At the beginning of 1755, artillery was the only arm of the Austrian Army which was at full strength. In fact, it received more applications than it needed.

The present article deals with the German Feld-Artillerie Haupt-Corps who, despite its desigantion, also included companies from Lombardy.

During the Seven Years' War, the colonels-commanders of this corps were:

  • Adolph Nicolaus von Alfson
  • Theodor von Rouvroy
  • Wenzel von Pernkopp

In 1772, at the time of Liechtenstein's death, there were almost 8,000 Büchsenmeister in the Austrian Army.

Service during the War

Austrian gun in position - Copyright: Harald Skala

During the Seven Years' War, the Field Artillery was subdivided into numerous detachments:

  • for each infantry regiment to handle the battalion guns and howitzers
  • for heavy artillery batteries

These various detachments were involved in every campaign, battle and siege who took place during this war. Throughout this conflict, the Austrian Field Artillery was generally considered as one of the best, if not the best.



There are so many conflicting sources on the uniforms of the Austrian artillery that we consider important to have an introductory texts to the present section.

The history of the Austrian army (Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, Vol. IV) edited by Major Anton Semek and published in Vienna in 1909 clearly states that, from 1748, the regulations specified a white coat for the artillery. The same source also mentions that, till 1772, the artillery had to procure their uniforms by themselves.

However, all contemporaneous iconographic sources from 1756 to 1762 (Delacre, Bautzener Biderhanschrift, Albertina Handschrift, Raspe...) illustrates uniforms of various shades of grey or brown. More precisely:

  • the Delacre Handschrift, given to FM Daun in 1757, illustrates a rather dark brown uniform.
  • the Übersicht of all Austrian units, published in 1760, illustrates a grey uniform.
  • the Albertina Handschrift of 1762 illustrates fawn (Rehbraun) uniforms for the German and Netherlander artillery.
  • the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762 illustrates a dark grey uniform
  • Raspe publication (probably taking its inspiration from the Albertina Handschrift) of 1762 illustrates a fawn uniform
  • Contemporary paintings kept at the Heeresgeschichtliche Museum Vienna, depicting the battles of Hochkirch and Maxen, illustrate a slightly darker brown.
  • An anonymous work depicting the Austrian artillery in action, shows grey uniforms.

An additional consideration is that the plates in the contemporaneous printed works might have faded too, although the colours illustrated in the paintings should have remained rather faithful.

Later sources made conflicting assertions:

  • Ottenfeld and Teuber mention white coats with red distinctive then say that a wolf grey uniform, was already in use since 1750 in the artillery of the Netherlands and among gunners. The brown uniform were only introduced in 1772.
  • Karger, in his book "Die Entwicklung der Adjustierung, Rüstung und Bewaffnung der österreichisch – ungarischen Armee 1700 – 1809", originally dating from 1903 but published only in 1998, mentions a white uniform from 1748 which would be replaced by a brown uniform in 1772.

It should be noted that the question was debated in the magazine Zinnfigur in 1942 and 1943 but no clear conclusion resulted.

In 1964, confronted to these numerous conflicting sources, Bleckwenn concluded that the artillery had adopted dark grey or grey brown uniforms but that the fact was not immediately recognized by regulatory offices. Furthermore, he attributed the variations observed in the various contemporaneous iconographic sources to the variability (different manufacturers, different dyestuff) and instability of dyeing in this period. Colours faded in the sun and rain or by washing.

We agree with Bleckwenn and propose hereafter a few interpretations of the variations of colour of the uniform.


Uniform in 1762
as per the Bautzener Handschrift

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear black tricorne laced yellow with a golden fastener on the left side and a black cockade
Neckstock black
Coat fawn brown ("Rehbraun") with 14 yellow buttons on the right side and 14 unlaced buttonholes on the left side and 1 yellow button in the small of the back on each side
Collar none
Shoulder Straps fawn brown ("Rehbraun") fastened by a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs fire red ("Feuer Rot") with 4 yellow buttons (1 in front at the top of the cuff, 3 in rear arranged vertically)
Turnbacks fawn brown ("Rehbraun")
Waistcoat fawn brown ("Rehbraun") with 2 rows of small yellow buttons and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches fawn brown ("Rehbraun")
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information available
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate on the front
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard brown with brass fittings
Footgear black boots with white knee covers

Gunners were armed with a sabre.


NCOs wore the same uniform as the gunners with the following distinctions:

  • a black and yellow braid on the left shoulder-strap
  • a brown stick


Officers wore the same uniform as the gunners with the following exceptions:

  • fawn brown ("Rehbraun") coat lined fire red
  • white neckstock
  • white plastron
  • no turnbacks
  • gilt buttons
  • yellow and black silk sash
  • a sword in a brown scabbard

Staff officers wore the same uniform as the officers with the following differences:

  • 3 fingers wide lace at the tricorne
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") collar on the coat
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") cuffs edged gold
  • fawn brown ("Rehbraun") coat edged gold
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") waistcoat edged gold


Austrian Artillery Musicians in 1762. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

Musicians of the artillery wore a very peculiar headdress and a red uniform decorated with silver braids. Their instruments were the Bohemian bagpipe and the drum.


no information found


Bleckwenn, H., Die Regimenter der Kaiserin, in Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums in Wien, Vol 3, Vienna, 1967 pp. 48-50

Dollaczek, Anton; Geschichte der Österreichischen Artillerie von den frühesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart, Vienna, 1887

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

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, pp. 130-134

Haythornthwaite, Philip and Bill Younghusband: The Austrian Army 1740-80: 3 Specialist Troops, London: Osprey, 1995

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, pp. 74-75

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


Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and for the translation of Dollaczek's book

User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about this regiment