Frei-Infanterie Heer

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Frei-Infanterie Heer

Origin and History

In December 1760, Frederick II instructed Major Quintus Icilius to raise 7 new Frei-Infanterie battalions. The battalion was raised in Halle on January 6 1761, mostly from deserters from the Swiss regiments in the French service. For this reason it was also known as the “Volontaires de Suisse. This battalion, consisting of 2 companies of musketeers and 1 company of grenadiers, was placed under the command of Heer. All officers came from Glarus in Switzerland, a canton who had a personal union with Prussia.

According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F12”. The unit consisted of one battalion of:

  • 2 musketeer companies, each of:
    • 4 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 1 fifer
    • 150 privates
  • 1 grenadier company of:
    • 4 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 2 drummers
    • 150 privates
  • 2 x 3-pdr guns.

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

  • since January 6 1761 till 1763: Major Nikolaus Heer

In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years' War, the battalion was incorporated into the Bülow Fusiliers.

Service during the War

In the Spring of 1761, the battalion was attached to the corps operating in Saxony under the command of Prince Henri. On October 1 near Osterwick, the battalion was surprised by the Volontaires de Saint-Victor who took most of its troops prisoners. However, the battalion was soon reconstituted.

For the campaign of 1762, the battalion was once more attached to the army of Prince Henri operating in Saxony. On June 1 at Grumbach, most of the battalion, along with its commander was taken prisoners. In the Autumn, its ranks were replenished and a third company of musketeer added.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1761 to 1762.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Fusilier black tricorne without lace with 1 pewter button, 1 light blue pompom and 1 smaller similar pompom in each lateral corne
Grenadier black bearskin with a pewter frontal plate decorated with a black eagle and surmounted by a silver crown; red bag; white tassel
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red; 2 pewter buttons on each side under the lapels; 2 white brandebourgs with tassels at the waist on the right side; 1 white brandegourg with tassel on each side in the small of the back; and 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar light blue
Shoulder Straps light blue fastened with a pewter button
Lapels light blue with 6 pewter buttons and 6 white brandebourgs with tassels arranged 2 by 2 on both sides
Pockets horizontal pockets piped red, each with 2 pewter buttons
Cuffs light blue “Swedish-style” cuffs with 2 pewter buttons and 2 white brandebourgs with tassels
Turnbacks red fastened with a small pewter button
Waistcoat light blue with one row of pewter buttons
Breeches light blue
Gaiters tall black gaiters
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black


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

N.B.: grenadiers wore similar uniforms with reversed colours (light blue coat; Prussian blue collar, shoulder strap, lapels, cuffs, waistcoat and breeches)

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
  • no shoulder strap
  • no laced buttonholes on the lapels
  • silver brandebourgs with tassels under the lapels, on the cuffs and in the small of the back

NCOs were probably armed with a sabre and a half-pikes measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.37 m.).

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

Officers

Officers had tricorne wearing a scalloped silver lace, a black cockade fastened with a small silver button and a silver strap; and 2 black and white pompoms (1 in each lateral corne of the tricorne). Their coats were similar to those of the privates but had no turnbacks nor shoulder straps. Brandebourgs and tassels were silver and there were 2 additional silver brandebourgs on each pocket.

Officers probably carried spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.).

Musicians

no information found yet

Colours

None of the Freikorps units carried official colours or standards to the exception of von Kleist Frei Korps.

References

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 5: Die Uniformen der preußischen Technischen Truppen, Rückwärtigen Dienste und Kriegsformationen 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1984

Cremer, Peter: Die Preussischen Freikorps im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Auflistung der Freikorps, ihrer Einsätze, der Uniformen, der Chefs und deren Geschichte, KLIO-Arbeitsgruppe 7jähriger Krieg, Friderzianische Epoche, Manuskript, o.J.

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin 1901, Anlage 1-2

Jany, Curt: Geschichte der Königlich Preußischen Armee bis zum Jahre 1807, Zweiter Band: Die Armee Friedrichs des Großen 1740-1763, Reprint Osnabrück 1967

Acknowledgments

Michael Zahn and Digby Smith for the information provided for the creation of the initial version of this article.