Forcade Infantry

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Origin and History

Infanterie-Regiment von Forcade in 1756. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

This regiment was raised in May 1713. Its troops originally came from the Grenadier-Garde and Füsilier-Garde.

During the Great Northern War, the regiment served in Pomerania in 1715 and 1716.

From 1716, the regiment garrisoned Berlin. It levied its recruits in Brandenburg, more precisely in the districts of Niederbarnim,Oberbarnim, Stolpe and Teltow and in the cities of Liebenwalde and Oranienburg.

At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1740, the regiment took part in the invasion of Silesia. In 1741, it fought at Grätz and Mollwitz and, in October, took part in the second siege of Neisse. In 1742, it took part in the campaign of Moravia and, in 1744, in the campaign of Bohemia. On June 4 1745, it fought at Hohenfriedeberg. On September 30 of the same year, the regiment was at the Battle of Soor.

King Frederik II used to say about this regiment "If I want to see good soldiers then I must see this regiment". Together with IR13 Itzenplitz and IR15 Garde, it was one of the finest Prussian regiments.

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

  • from July 14 1748 to May 14 1765: Friedrich Wilhelm Quirin von Forcade de Biaix

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 23.

The regiment was disbanded in October 1806 after the capitulation of Erfurt and Stettin.

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian Army was ordered to proceed to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the centre column led by Frederick II. More precisely, it belonged to Margarve Karl's Corps. The centre column had concentrated in the area of Brietzen and advanced unopposed upstream along the Elbe River by Torgau and Wittenberg, leaving Meissen to its left. On September 6, it encamped at Rothschönberg and finally reached Wilsdruf. While the Prussian Main Army moved forward to engage the Austrian Army at Lobositz (October 1), the regiment remained in the Pirna Country to maintain the blockade of the Saxon Army which surrendered on October 17.

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 in the centre 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 Bevern's Brigade. During this battle, the regiment lost 22 officers and 602 men in the heavy fighting on the Roketnitz Grund. At the end of August, it 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 first line of the infantry left wing under Lieutenant-General Prince Henri. On December 5, at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in Geist's Brigade in the first line of the infantry centre and suffered heavy losses.

On August 4 1758, during the retreat of the Prussian Army after the failure of the invasion of Moravia, the regiment escorted the train to Politz (present-day Police nad Metují). On August 10, it was part of the corps who accompanied Frederick when he marched from Silesia to join Dohna to contain the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. On Tuesday August 22, this corps made a junction with Dohna at Manschnow. On August 24, the regiment along with Grenadier Battalion 1/23 occupied Darmietzel to secure the crossing of the Mietzel. On August 25, the regiment fought at the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the first line of the right division led by the Count zu Dohna. While pursuing retiring Russian units, it seized most of the army-chest, baggage and artillery. On September 2, when it became clear that the Russian Army was slowly retiring towards Landsberg, Frederick assembled the corps that he had brought with him from Silesia and left for Saxony where his help was badly needed. On October 13, the regiment escorted Frederick when he went personally to Weissenberg to reconnoitre the area of Hochkirch. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed in the first line between Hochkirch and Zieten's Cuirassier Brigade. It was the first regiment to come to the rescue of the three struggling grenadier battalions. It drove back some Austrian battalions before being turned by Löwenstein Dragoons and overwhelmed.

In 1759, the regiment spent the campaign at the camp of Schmottseiffen and did not take part in any major action.

On August 15 1760, during the Austro-Russian campaign in Silesia, the regiment fought in the Battle of Liegnitz where it was initially deployed on the left wing. On September 17, the regiment fought in the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. On November 3, it took part in the Battle of Torgau where it lost some 600 men dead or wounded (including 15 officers).

On July 21 1762, the regiment took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf where it was deployed on the right wing under Lieutenant-General Manteuffel. From August to September, the regiment was present at the siege and recapture of Schweidnitz. By October 14, it formed part of Manteuffel's Corps posted at Barsdorf.

N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the grenadiers of Infantry Regiment No. 1 forming the Grenadier Batallion 1/23 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).

Uniform

The uniforms depicted in this section were first issued in 1743.

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white, one pewter button, white pompoms dotted dark pink
Grenadier mitre with silver plated front plate, white headband with silver plated metal ornaments, dark blue backing with dark pink piping, white pompom dotted dark pink (see Grenadier Batallion 1/23 for an illustration)
Neck stock red
Coat Prussian blue lined red with 6 pewter buttons and 8 white rounded braid loops (arranged 2-2-2-2), 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar none
Shoulder Straps Prussian blue lined in red and fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets edged in red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red (in the Prussian pattern) 2 white rounded braid loops and 2 pewter buttons on the sleeve flap above each cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a small pewter button
Waistcoat white
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waist-belt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Foot-gear 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 silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • silver lace loops (instead of the white rounded braid loops of privates) on lapels and cuffs
  • silver buttons
  • no shoulder strap
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a black 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

Forcade Infantry Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen

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

  • black tricorne edged with a thin silver braid (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • white neck stock
  • no shoulder strap on the coat
  • 6 broad silver lace loops and 6 silver buttons on each side on the chest
  • 2 broad silver lace loops on each side at the waist
  • 1 broad silver lace loop on each side in the small of the back
  • 2 broad silver lace loops and 2 silver buttons on the sleeve flap above each cuff
  • silver buttons
  • no turnbacks on the coat
  • black and silver sash around the waist

Officers carried black 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 drummer lace consisted of a white braid decorated with a blue pattern.

The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing and other peculiarities:

  • no shoulder strap
  • swallow nest with 5 vertical narrow drummer laces and 1 horizontal wide drummer lace on each shoulder
  • coat, buttonholes, pockets, and cuffs edged with the narrow drummer lace


Colours

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

Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): White field. Centre device consisting of a blue medallion surrounded by a silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a silver crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the silver motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, “FR” ciphers) and grenades in silver. The corner medallions within each laurel wreath was blue.

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

The pikes used as staffs for the colours were black.

References

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

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

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

Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: 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. 188-193

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

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

Schmalen: Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee Worinnen zur eigentlichen Kenntniss der Uniform von jedem Regiment ein Officier und Gemeiner in Völliger Montirung und ganzer Statur nach dem Leben abgebildet sind., Nürnberg, 1759

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, p. 82

Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne, Bilderhandschrift, 1758 (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

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