Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry

Origin and History

Uniform in 1770 (unchanged since the SYW) - Source: Anonymous work of 1770

The regiment was formed at Potsdam on March 16 1685 by Colonel Wilhem von Brandt from troops contributed by 7 other Prussian regiments for the Margrave of Brandenburg. It originally consisted of 8 companies.

From 1735, the regiment garrison place was Prenzlau. Its levies came mostly from the District of Uckermarck and from the towns of Lychen, Prenzlau, Strasburg and Templin.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the battles of Mollwitz (April 10, 1741), Hohenfriedberg (June 4, 1745) and Kesselsdorf (December 15, 1745).

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment consisted of two battalions and was commanded by:

  • since December 15 1743: Hereditary Prince Ludwig IX of Hessen-Darmstadt
  • from November 10 1757 to May 29 1763: Friedrich August von Finck

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten, still with some variations for the fusilier regiments. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present infantry regiment was attributed number 12.

The regiment was disbanded in 1806 after the capitulation of Ratekau.

Service during the War

In the Spring of 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, at the Combat of Reichenberg, it was deployed on the right wing of the first line of the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force. On May 6, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line in the Duke of Braunschweig-Bevern's Brigade and suffered heavy losses.

In 1758, when Ludwig IX of Hessen-Darmstadt abandoned the Prussian service because his principality had sided with Austria, the regiment was kept in reserve in Saxony.

On August 12 1759, during the Russian offensive in Brandenburg, the regiment fought in the Battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the first line of the right centre as part of Knobloch's Brigade. It suffered so much casualties in this battle that it was virtually reduced to a single battalion. On November 20, this battalion took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was attached to Mosel's Brigade. When Daun launched his attack at 3:00 p.m., the battalion was soon surrounded. The entire Prussian force finally surrendered as prisoners of war.

In 1760, the regiment was slowly re-raised in Uckermarck.

In 1761, the regiment served in Pomerania. In July, it formed part of Ziethen's force who had been ordered to conduct a raid in Greater Poland to destroy the main Russian magazines, mainly in Posen (actual Poznań) . In September, the regiment took part in a second Prussian raid in Greater Poland under General Platen. On September 15, its first battalion fought in the engagement of Gostyn where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing, its second battalion being kept in reserve. On October 22, the regiment took part in the Combat of Gollnow. On December 11, the regiment was part of Württemberg's right column when he marched from Treptow, escorting a convoy in an unsuccessful attempt for the relief of Colberg. On December 12, the regiment fought in the Combat of Spie and then retreated towards Treptow and Stettin, desertion were numerous during this retreat.

In 1762, the regiment took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf on July 21 and, from August to October, in the siege and recapture of Schweidnitz.

N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the grenadiers of Infantry Regiment 39 forming the Grenadier Batallion 12/39 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).

Uniform

The uniform depicted in this section was introduced in 1752.

Becher, Johann Christian: Wahrhaftige Nachricht derer Begebenheiten, so sich in dem Herzogthum Weimar by dem gewaltigen Kriege Friedrichs II., Königs von Preußen, mit der Königin von Ungarn, Marien Theresen, samt ihren Bundesgenossen zugetragen, Weimar, ca. 1757-1760, Copy (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white, one brass button and dark blue within red pompoms
Grenadier mitre with brass front plate decorated with a black eagle; red headband with yellow lace (decorated with a lattice pattern) and brass ornaments; dark blue backing with narrow brass bands replacing the usual laces (same pattern as above); dark blue within red pompom (see Grenadier Batallion 12/39 for an illustration)
Neck stock red
Coat Prussian blue lined red with 2 white braid loops with white tassels on each side under the lapel, a white braid loop with white tassel on each side in the small of the back and with 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder Straps red lined blue fastened with a small brass button (left shoulder only)
Lapels red, each with 6 brass buttons and 6 white braid loops with white tassels arranged 2-2-2
Pockets Prussian blue horizontal pockets with red piping, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs red in the Prussian pattern, each with 2 brass buttons and 2 white braid loops with white tassels on the sleeve flap just above the cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a brass button
Waistcoat straw yellow with horizontal pockets with brass buttons
Breeches straw yellow
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black decorated with a large brass medallion at the Arms of Brandenburg
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre with a curved blade.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • tricorne with wide gold lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • no shoulder strap
  • golden braid loops and tassels
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a red (dark brown from 1757) half-pike measuring 10 Rhenish feet (3.06 m.) in the musketeer companies and 13 Rhenish feet (4.10 m.) in the grenadier companies (carried by the 3 most senior NCOs while other grenadier NCOs were armed with rifled muskets since 1744).

NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).

Officers

Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt Infantry Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen
Lace of the officer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

The uniforms of the officers were very similar to those of the privates with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne laced with a thin golden braid (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • white neck stock
  • no shoulder strap on the coat
  • no turnbacks on the coat
  • gilt buttons
  • 3 pairs of golden embroidery loops with tassels on each lapel and another pair with tassels under each lapel
  • 2 golden embroidery loops with tassels on each pocket
  • 2 golden embroidery loops with tassels at the cuffs
  • 1 golden embroidery loop on each side in the small of the back
  • black and silver sash around the waist
  • black and silver sword knot

Officers carried red (dark brown from 1757) spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.) and an officer stick.

Musicians

Lace of the drummer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing (drummer lace consisting of a white lace decorated with 2, for the narrow lace, or 3, for the wide lace, red braids) and other peculiarities:

  • no shoulder strap
  • swallow nests with 5 vertical narrow laces on each shoulder
  • coat bordered with a drummer lace
  • drummer lace on the collar, pockets and cuffs
  • all button loops were also made with the drummer lace
  • drummer lace around the buttons in the small of the back
  • each sleeve decorated with two vertical wide laces and with horizontal narrow laces arranged in chevrons between these vertical bands

The drum had a yellow barrel and white rims decorated with alternate blue and red flames.

Colours

Colonel colour (Leibfahne): White field with pale green corner wedges. Centre device consisting of a pale green medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in gold.

Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): Pale green field with white corner wedges. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a pale green scroll bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in gold.

Colonel Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi
Regimental Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi

The pikes used as staffs for the colours were red (dark brown from 1757).

References

Anonymous (maybe Karl Wellner): Montierung des Königlich Preussischen Armee

Die Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Armee Friedrichs des Großen: Eine Dokumentation aus Anlaß seines 200. Todesjahres, 2 erw. Auflage, Raststatt 1986

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Uniformen der Preußischen Infanterie 1753-1786, Teil III/Bd. 3, Osnabrück 1973

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Bd. I Infanterie I, Osnabrück 1984

Deutsche Uniformen, Bd. 1, Das Zeitalter Friedrich des Großen, 240 images of Herbert Knötel d. J., Text and explanations by Dr. Martin Letzius, published by Sturm-Zigaretten GmbH, Dresden: 1932

Dorn, Günter and Joachim Engelmann: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000

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

Guddat, Martin: Grenadiere, Musketiere, Füsiliere: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen, Herford 1986

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 86-93

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Summerfield, Stephen: Prussian Musketeers of the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War: Uniforms, Organisation and Equipement of Musketeer Regiments, Ken Trotman Publishing: Huntingdon, 2012, pp. 59-63

Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

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