Driesen Cuirassiers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Driesen Cuirassiers

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in Prussia in 1689 by Rittmeister Friedrich Wilhelm count von Wittenhorst zu Sonsfeld as a dragoon regiment including some Free Companies. From June 24 to October 12 1689, the regiment took part in the siege of Bonn.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, on August 13 1704, the regiment fought in the battle of Blenheim, taking two kettledrums. In 1715, it served in Pomerania against the Swedes.

In 1717, the regiment was transformed into a cuirassier regiment.

At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served against Austria in 1742. On May 17, it took part in the battle of Chotusitz where it through both enemy lines. On June 4 1745, the regiment fought with great distinction in the battle of Hohenfriedberg, driving off the Saxon cavalry and destroying the Saxon IR Schönberg. On December 15, it took part in the battle of Kesselsdorf.

Magdeburg was the inspectorate of the regiment and its garrison places were Osterburg, Salzwedel, Seehausen and Tangermünde.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • since June 3 1755: major-general Goerg Wilhelm von Driesen
  • from November 22 1758: major-general Christian Sigismund von Horn
  • from March 5 1762 till August 13 1777: colonel Leopold Sebastian von Manstein

By 1806, the regiment was known as the von Reitzenstein Cuirassiers. That year it took part in the battle of Auerstädt (October 14) where it suffered very heavy losses (66%). The remainder served with Blücher and surrendered on November 11 at Magdeburg. The regiment was not re-raised. The depot became part of the new 4th Kürassiers.

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of Ferdinand of Brunswick's column which had concentrated at Halle and advanced unopposed through Leipzig, Chemnitz, Freyberg and Dippoldiswalde, to the village of Cotta (reached on September 9) south of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, the regiment took part in the battle of Lobositz where it was assigned to the cavalry brigade of major-general Driesen in Katzler Division. It lost 4 officers, 33 troopers during this battle. On October 23, when Keith's army left Lobositz to return to Pirna country, the regiment joined Frederick II at Linai to cover Keith's advance. On October 28, the whole force reached Gross-Sedlitz near Pirna and the regiment took its winter quarters soon afterwards.

In 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, it fought in the battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing under von Penavaire. On June 18, the regiment took part in the battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing under prince von Schönaich, covering the flank near Brzezan and acting as a rear-gard. It suffered heavy losses during this battle. At the end of August, the regiment was part of the small Prussian army hastily assembled at Dresden by Frederick to head towards Thuringia and to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On November 5, at the battle of Rossbach, the regiment was deployed in the second line of the right wing under major-general von Seydlitz, charging twice. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in Normann's brigade in the first line of the cavalry left wing under lieutenant-general von Driesen.

From March 31 to April 18 1758, the regiment took part in the siege of Schweidnitz. It then followed the Prussian army during the invasion of Moravia and, from May 27 to July 2, was at the siege of Olmütz. It then joined the Prussian army of Saxony.

In 1759, the regiment was transferred to Brandenburg where, on June 24, it joined Hülsen on the Warthe. On July 23 1759, the regiment took part in the battle of Paltzig, scattering the Russian infantry and taking 18 guns, but being unable to bring them off. On August 12, it fought in the bloody battle of Kunersdorf, storming a redoubt on the Spitzberg. During this battle, the regiment lost 13 officers and 136 troopers. On September 21, it took part in the combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in the second line of the left Wing under the command of major-general Wunsch. On October 20, the much-weakened regiment took part in the battle of Maxen where it was captured.

In 1760, the partly re-raised regiment joined the Prussian corps of prince Henri.

From August 7 to October 9 1762, the re-raised regiment covered the last siege of Schweidnitz.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1757
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small white button and lemon yellow pompoms

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap

Neckstock black
Coat off-white trimmed with the regimental lace (white braid with three lemon yellow stripes)
Collar lemon yellow
Shoulder strap off-white fastened with a white button
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs lemon yellow trimmed with the regimental lace
Turnbacks off-white trimmed with the regimental lace
Waistcoat lemon yellow trimmed with the regimental lace
Breeches white (buff leather in campaign)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Sash lemon yellow
Cartridge Box black pouch lids with a round brass plate bearing the Prussian eagle
Scabbard brown leather
Sabretache lemon yellow decorated with the crowned royal cipher, edged with an intricate white and yellow braid
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth lemon yellow with rounded corners; decorated with the crowned royal cipher, edged with 2 rows of the regimental lace
Housings lemon yellow decorated with the crowned royal cipher, edged with 2 rows of the regimental lace
Blanket roll cobalt blue


Troopers were armed with a heavy straight-bladed sword, a pair of pistols and a musket. They wore a blackened breastplate edged lemon yellow and fastened by white straps. The musket strap was white edged with the regimental lace.

NCOs

The NCOs wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • silver lace to the top and back of the cuffs

Officers

The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • silver regimental lace
  • breastplate edged in gilt metal with straps covered in gilt plates; gilt crowned Prussian crest in trophies of arms on the top centre of the breastplate
  • silver and black silk waist sash
  • silver and black sword strap
  • saddle furniture ornately ornamented and fringed in silver

Musicians

Musicians wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne bordered with lemon yellow plumes and one black within white pompom in each lateral corne
  • a lace specific to the musicians bordering the collar (narrow lace), cuffs (wide lace), coat edges (wide lace) and decorating the shoulders (narrow lace) and sleeves (narrow lace)
  • hanging sleeves bordered with the narrow lace

The musician laces were as follows:

  • narrow lace: white braid with three lemon yellow stripes
  • wide lace: same pattern, just wider

Musicians did not wear breastplate.

Standards

The square standards were made of damask. The cords and tassels were silver and black. The pole of the standard was a red tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges and gold finial.

The standard bearers had lemon yellow standard bandoliers, edged and fringed in silver.

The regiment carried standards of the old “FWR” and new “FR” patterns. Here we illustrate new pattern standards.

Colonel Standard (Leibstandarte): white field, fringed gold with a red central medallion carrying an armed black eagle surmounted by a white scroll edged gold bearing the motto "Pro Gloria et Patria" and surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath. Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers on a white medallion). Squadron Standard (Eskadronstandarte): red field, fringed gold with a silver central medallion carrying an armed black eagle surmounted by a red scroll edged gold bearing the motto "Pro Gloria et Patria" and surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath. Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers on a red medallion).
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Squadron Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee fuer das Jahr 1806. Reprinted by Bilblio Verlag, Osnabrueck 1975.

Anon. Die Schlacht bei Minden 1759. J C C Bruns Verlag, Minden 1959.

Anon., Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757

Alt, Das Koeniglich Preussische Stehende Heer. Schrapp, Berlin, 1869.

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 4: Die Uniformen der Kavallerie, Husaren und Lanzenreiter 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1979

Bolke, Eberhardt. Preussische Fahnen 1740 – 1806. Dresden, 1944.

Bredow – Wedel. Historische Rang- und Stammliste des Deutschen Heeres. Berlin 1905.

Eckardt, Werner – Morawietz, Otto. Die Handwaffen des brandenburgisch-preussisch-deutschen Heeres. Hamburg, Helmut Gerhard Schulz Verlag, 1973.

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

Franke, Ludwig Eberhardt. Vorstellung der Koeniglich Preussischen Armee. Potsdam, 18??

Fraser, David. Frederick the Great, The Penguin Press, London 2000.

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee 1626-1807, Ein Quellenbuch, Berlin 1964.

Gohlke, W. Geschichte der gesamten Feuerwaffen bis 1850 Berlin 1911.

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Heft 14 / 15. Der Feldzug 1806 / 07 und die Reorganisation der Artillerie. Berlin 1914

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Hefte 26 - 30. Die Freikorps und Auslaender-Battailone. Berlin 1914.

Hoepfner, Edouard von. Oberst. Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807. Berlin, Simon Schropp & Comp. 1850.

Jany, Curt. Geschichte der Preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1967.

Kling, C. Geshichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausruestung des Koeniglich Preussischen Heeres. Three volumes. Putzer und Hoeltze, Weimar 1912.

Knoetel – Sieg. Handbuch der Uniformkunde. H. G. Schultz, Hamburg, 1937.

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

Prussian War Ministry. Fahnen und Standarten der preussischen Armee seit dem Jahre 1806. Berlin 1889.

Ramm, August Leopold. Abbildungen von allen Uniformen der Koenigl. Preuss. Armee unter der Regierung Sr. Majestaet Friedrich Wilhelm III Berlin, J F Unger, 1800.

Voigt, Guenther. Deutschlands Heere bis 1918. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1983.

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.