Frei-Infanterie von Kalben

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

Origin and History

The unit was raised on September 21 1756. It recruited in Zwickau and Reichenbach. According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F3”. The unit consisted of one battalion:

  • 5 musketeer companies, each of:
    • 3 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 90 privates
  • 10 workers (Halloren)
  • 2 x 1-pdr guns.

For the campaign of 1758, the battalion was increased to 21 officers, 35 NCOs, 5 drummers and 750 privates.

During the winter of 1759-60, a new battalion was raised in Leipzig. In 1760, a small detachment of 12 hussars was added to the unit. They probably followd Favrat when he created his “Black Legion”.

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

  • since September 21 1756: Heinrich Detlev von Kalben
  • from November 22 1757 till the end of the war: Konstantin Nathanael de Salenmon

From the Autumn of 1761, during de Salemnon's captivity, the unit was commanded by Franz Andreas Jacquier de Berney Favrat.

In 1763, the 2nd battalion was incorporated into Garrison Regiment IX.

Service during the War

At the beginning of 1757, the unit was attached to Bevern's corps. Later during the campaign, it was transferred to the king's army. It then joined Frei-Infanterie von Mayr and 200 men from Szekely Hussars in their advance on Nuremberg where they scattered the drill-sergeants of the Reichsarmee, disturbed preparations and the deliberative county meetings and ransomed cities, Nuremberg for one city. On June 1 at Furth in Anspach, a gratuity for the Prussian troops was demanded and given. The troops then took quarter at Schwabach, farther up the Regnitz River where no exemption were made: clergy and laity alike getting soldiers billeted. Meat and drink had to be given them: as also 100 carolines (guineas and better), and twenty new uniforms. Next day, June 2, they marched to Zirndorf, and the Reichsgraf Puckler's Mansion, the Schloss of Farrenbach there. Mayr took quarter in the Schloss itself. Here the noble owners got up a ball for Mayr's entertainment; and did all they could contrive to induce a light treatment from him. Out of Farrenbach, the Mayr people circulated upon all the neighbouring Lordships; at Wilhelmsdorf, the Reichs-Furst von Hohenlohe had the worst brunt to bear. The adjacent Bayreuth lands were to the utmost spared all billeting, and even all transit. However, wandering sergeants of the Reichsarmee, one sergeant with the Würzburg Herr Commissarius and 8 common men, did get picked up on Bayreuth ground: and this or the other Anspach official (Anspach being disaffected), too busy on the wrong side, found himself suddenly prisoner of war; but was given up, at Wilhelmina's gracious request. On November 22 1757, the battalion took part to the battle of Breslau where it was deployed in Kleist's brigade, in the first line of the infantry right wing under lieutenant-general von Brandes. During this battle, its commander, von Kalben fell, was mortally wounded and replaced by de Salenmon. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed on the left in the first line of the infantry centre and occupied the town of Borne.

In March 1758, the battalion joined the king's army for the invasion of Moravia. It was attached to Keith's corps who was charged to guard the field-bakery. In May and July, during the siege of Olmütz, the battalion was attached to a corps of light troops under major-general Mayr who had taken position to the east of Olmütz to protect the line of communication with Silesia. On June 8, while marching by Liebenhusen, this corps was attacked, the prisoners of war who had previously joined the ranks of the battalion deserted. The Austrians captured nearly 300 men from the weakened corps. The remaining 200 men of Kalben Frei-Infanterie were transferred to a small detachment of regular troops assigned to the escort of a munition convoy from Troppau to Olmütz. During the retreat from Moravia to Silesia, the light troops corps was attached to the rearguard. 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 14, the battalion then fought in the battle of Hochkirch where it was attached to Retzow's corps. On October 24, the regiment was part of the vanguard of Frederick's army who marched on Drehsa (does not correspond to the general direction of the movement, more probably Brösa), crossed the Spree at Geisslitz, turned right and advanced through Weigersdorf, Gross Radisch and Diehsa up to the camp at Ullersdorf.

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. From February 24 to March 4, the battalion was part of the small Prussian corps under the command of major-general von Wobersnow who made an incursion in Poland against the Russian magazines. During this incursion, Wobersnow's forces destroyed food supply which would have supplied 50,000 men for 3 months. On September 1, Beck's vanguard reached the Buschmuhle but was repulsed by Freibattalion Salemnon sent there by prince Henri along with a detachment of 200 hussars. On September 2, the battalion, which had been detached from prince Henri's corps, fought in the combat of Sorau. During the retreat, the battalion initially formed part of the vanguard but was left behind at the Buschmuhle with the rearguard to cover the retreat. Along with DR4 Czettritz Dragoons, it took the full brunt of the attack. The battalion distinguished itself by defending the bridge at Buschmuhle. When the last Prussian battalions had finally crossed the bridge, volunteers from Freibatalion Salemnon formed square to delay the Austrian hussars and dragoons. In this action, the battalion lost about 15 men. On November 20, the battalion took part in the battle of Maxen where it was attached to Wunsch's brigade, detached on the heights of Bloschwitz. Completely surrounded, the entire Prussian force finally surrendered as prisoners of war.

During the winter of 1759-60, a new battalion was raised in Leipzig to replace the captured one. This new battalion was designated as the 2nd battalion.

For the campaign of 1760, the 2nd battalion formed part of the king's army. It served in Saxony under lieutenant-general Hülsen. On November 3, the battalion took part in the battle of Torgau where it was attached to the vanguard.

For the campaign of 1761, the 2nd battalion formed part of the king's army.

For the campaign of 1762, the 2nd battalion was attached to the king's army.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762.

Uniform

Fusilier Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace with 1 yellow button, 1 light blue pompom and 1 smaller similar pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red with 6 yellow buttons arranged 2 by 2 on both sides; 2 yellow buttons at the waist on the right side; and 3 yellow buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar none
Shoulder Straps blue fastened with a yellow button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets piped red, each with 2 yellow buttons
Cuffs Prussian blue “Swedish-style” cuffs with 2 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat light blue with one row of yellow 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.

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
  • gold edged cuffs

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 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). Their coats were similar to those of the privates but had no turnbacks nor shoulder straps.

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

Musicians

no information found yet

Hussar Uniform

Privates

Uniform Details
Headgear black mirliton edged yellow; yellow cords, light blue knots and tassels
Neck stock black
Pelisse black with cuffs edged red along the fur trim; light blue square pockets edged red
Fur trim white
Lace 12 rows of red braids
Buttons yellow (white as per Scharf)
Dolman yellow with 10 red braids and 3 rows of yellow buttons (white as per Scharf)
Collar yellow edged red
Cuffs yellow edged with a red chevron
Trousers buff leather with black overtrousers edged red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash red barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth black shabraque with yellow wolf tooth edged red
Sabretache yellow edged with a wide red braid and decorated with a red crowned “FR” cipher


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

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following differences:

  • black mirliton with a white plume tipped black; a red rosette on the front; black and white cords, knots and tassels
  • pelisse decorated with more elaborate red laces
  • pockets of the pelisse were white edged with more elaborate red laces
  • cuffs of the pelisse edged with a wide golden chevron

Officers

  • black mirliton with a black plume tipped white; golden cords, knots and tassels
  • pelisse decorated with more elaborate golden laces
  • pockets of the pelisse were white edged with more elaborate golden laces
  • cuffs of the pelisse edged with a wide golden lace
  • silver barrel-sash
  • waistcoat decorated with more elaborate golden laces

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

Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 17 and 18

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.

Funcken, L. and F., Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

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

Knötel, Richard; Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921

Scharf, Friedrich Ludwig: Buntes Tuch. Zweierlei Tuch. o.O., o.Jg.

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly 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.