Frei-Infanterie du Verger

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

Origin and History

The first battalion was raised in Halberstadt in Saxony on March 30 1758 from French deserters. According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F8”. The battalion consisted of :

  • 5 musketeer companies, each of:
    • 4 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 140 privates
    • 10 jägers
  • 2 x 1-pdr guns.

At the beginning of 1759, the two 1-pdr guns of the battalion were replaced by 3-pdr guns.

A decree, dated April 6 1761, added two battalions to the unit, bringing its total force to three battalions. Recruitment had already started by December 1760 in Oschatz and Torgau. The new regiment then consisted of:

  • 63 officers
  • 105 NCOs
  • 15 drummers
  • 2250 privates (including 10 jägers in each of the 15 coys)

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

  • since March 30 1758: Major Johann Antonius Kensinger du Verger
  • from May 26 1759 to 1763: Major Quintus Icilius (Major Carl Gottlieb Theophilius Guichard was a friend of Frederick II who, after an argument with the king about the battle of Pharsalia, was enrolled in the army on April 10 1758 as Major Quintus Icilius. In 1759, he took command of the late Du Verger's Frei-Infanterie.)

In 1763, the unit was incorporated into various Prussian infantry regiments in Magdeburg and Berlin.

Service during the War

In the Fall of 1758, during Frederick's operations to counter the Austrian invasion of Saxony, the battalion formed part of the vanguard. On October 6, during the march on Hochkirch, this vanguard was surprised by a large cavalry corps as its set out of a forest into the open plain near Bischofswerda. In this action, the vanguard lost 400 men and 3 pieces. On October 10, the battalion took part in the battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in the bushes at the foot of the Birkenbusch in front of the Prussian the right wing. On October 26, during Frederick's advance towards Silesia to relieve the besieged fortress of Neisse, the unit was among the first to cross the Neisse river.

During the winter of 1758-59, the battalion wintered in Upper Silesia as part of Zieten's corps. Before the opening of the campaign of 1759, the 1-pdr guns were replaced by heavier 3-pdr guns. The battalion once more served with the king's army.

For the campaign of 1760, the 2nd battalion formed part of the king's army.

In the Spring of 1760, the battalion was attached to Frederick's army. In July, the battalion, along with Courbière Frei-Infanterie, took part in an engagement at a bridge near Dresden where they crossed the Elbe in barges. It also successfully took part in the siege of Dresden. In December, the unit was increased to 3 battalions.

In February 1761, one battalion of the regiment plundered the Saxon Castle of Hubertusburg in retaliation for the plunder of many castles around Berlin in the Autumn of 1760. At the opening of the campaign, the regiment was attached to the army of Prince Henri.

At the beginning of 1762, the regiment was once more attached to the army of Prince Henri in Saxony.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1761.

Uniform

Fusilier Uniform

During the war the fusiliers wore two different uniform. The following plate and table describe the first of these uniforms.

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace, with 1 brass button, 1 light blue pompom and 1 smaller similar pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red; 2 brass buttons at the waist on the right side and 2 yellow laced buttonholes at the waist on each side (hidden by the cuff in our plate); 1 yellow laced buttonhole at the small of the back; and 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar light blue
Shoulder Straps light blue fastened with a brass button
Lapels light blue with 7 brass buttons and 7 yellow laced buttonholes arranged 1-2-2-2 (top to bottom) on both sides
Pockets horizontal pockets piped red, each with 2 brass buttons and 2 yellow laced buttonholes
Cuffs light blue pointed cuffs, each with 1 brass button and 1 yellow laced buttonhole
Turnbacks red fastened with a small brass button
Waistcoat light blue with one row of brass buttons
Breeches light blue
Gaiters 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.: the second uniform was very similar to the first one. The only differences were:

  • Prussian blue shoulder strap fastened with a small brass button
  • only 6 brass buttons and 6 yellow laced buttonholes on each lapel (arranged 2-2-2)
  • no laced buttonholes on the pocket
  • Swedish style cuffs, each with 2 brass buttons and 2 yellow laced buttonholes

NCOs

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

  • tricorne with wide golden lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • golden edged collar and cuffs

N.B.: the second uniform had a yellow lace edging the lapels.

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 with a scalloped gold lace, a black cockade fastened with a small gold button and a golden strap; and 2 black and white pompoms (1 in each lateral corne of the tricorne). They also wore a black and silver sash around the waist. Their coats were similar to those of the privates but with elaborate golden buttonholes and no turnbacks nor shoulder straps.

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

Musicians

no information found

Jäger Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace with 1 brass button and white pompoms (1 in each lateral corne)
Neck stock black
Coat olive green lined yellowish olive green; 2 brass buttons under the lapel on the right side and 2 yellow laced buttonholes at the waist on each side; and 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar yellowish olive green
Shoulder Straps yellowish olive green shoulder strap on the left shoulder
yellow aiguillette on the right shoulder
Lapels yellowish olive green with 6 brass buttons and 6 yellow laced buttonholes arranged 2 by 2 on both sides
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 2 brass buttons
Cuffs yellowish olive green "Swedish style" cuffs with 2 brass buttons and 2 yellow laced buttonholes
Turnbacks yellowish olive green fastened with a small brass button
Waistcoat yellowish olive green with one row of brass buttons
Breeches yellowish olive green
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff
Waistbelt buff
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black boots


Privates were armed with a rifle and a curved blade sabres.

NCOs

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

  • tricorne with wide golden lace and black and white pompoms
  • golden edged collar, lapels and cuffs
  • golden aiguilette

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 golden lace, a black cockade fastened with a small golden button and a golden strap; and 2 black and white pompoms (1 in each side corne of the tricorne). They also wore a black and silver sash around the waist. Their coats were similar to those of the privates but had no turnbacks nor shoulder straps and were decorated with elaborate golden embroidered buttonholes and had a golden aiguillette on the left shoulder.

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

Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia vol. 19

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.

Deutsche Uniformen, Bd. 1, Das Zeitalter Friedrich des Großen, 240 Bilder von Herbert Knötel d. J., Text und Erläuterungen von Dr. Martin Letzius, hrsg. von der Sturm-Zigaretten GmbH, Dresden 1932

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

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

Acknowledgments

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