Frei-Infanterie von Mayr

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Origin and History

Frei-Infanterie von Mayr from 1758 to 1760. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

The unit was raised by an order dated September 14 1756. It recruited in Freiberg from unemployed Saxons. According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F2”. The unit consisted of one battalion:

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

In the Spring of 1757, each company received 10 jägers.

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

In 1759, Collignon raised a jäger detachment of 50 men and a hussar detachment of 34 men (1 lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, and 30 troopers). This hussar detachment was detached from the unit and assigned to the militia of the government of Magdeburg, becoming known as the “Kammer Hussars de Collignon”. The same year, the two 1-pdr guns of the battalion were replaced by 3-pdr guns.

On January 6 1761, a second battalion was raised at Barby. The unit was now a regiment counting two battalions. In October 1761, the Russians captured the second battalion which was soon re-erected.

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

  • since September 14 1756: Johann von Mayr
  • from January 5 1759: Jean-François de Collignon
  • from March 6 1760 to 1763: Guillaume René de l'Homme de Courbière

In 1763, the 1st battalion was incorporated into Garrison Regiment XII while the second battalion was incorporated into Prussian Garrison Regiment IV.

Service during the War

During the winter of 1756-57, the unit was attacked in its winter-quarters but managed to repulse the enemy, Mayr was wounded during this action.

In May 1757, while the main army was invading Bohemia, colonel Mayr, was ordered to seize any Austrian magazines there were, especially one big magazine at Pilsen. His force consisted of 200 hussars, 5 guns, his own unit and another one. On May 2, Mayr seized the magazine at Pilsen. He then went westward into Upper Palatinante where he 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 Bamberg, Mayr was sharp as flint; and had to be; the Bambergers, reinforced at last by Circle-Militias in quantity being called out in mass against him; and at Vach an actual passage of fight occurred. At the affair at Vach, Mayr engaged 6,000 militia of the Circle supported by 12 cannon, Mayr cunningly took a position unassailable, burnt bridges of the Regnitz River and, plying his 5 cannon against these ardent awkward people, stood cheerful on the other side; and then at last, in good time, whisked himself off to the hill of Kulmbach, with all his baggage, inexpugnable there for 3 days. Having girt himself and made his packages, Mayr left the hill of Kulmbach; and deliberately wended home, by Coburg and other countries where he had business, eating his way; and early in July was safe in the Erzgebirge (Metal Mountains) again. In July, the unit formed part of the rearguard of field-marshal Keith and occupied Erfurt and covered Leipzig. On August 30, Mayr Frei-Infanterie accompanied Frederick in the vanguard when the army left Dresden to march upon Erfurt. On September 14, when Frederick was forced to divide his army to contain the French in the region of Magdeburg and to secure the Prussian magazines in the area of Torgau, the unit remained with Frederick at Erfurt to observe the Franco-Imperial army. On November 5, though present at the battle of Rossbach, the battalion was not deployed and did not take part to the battle. After the battle, the battalion pursued the defeated Franco-Imperial army up to Erfurt. At the end of November, the unit destroyed the Austrian magazine and the bridge on the Elbe at Leitmeritz in Bohemia. It then took its winter-quarters in Chemnitz.

In mid February 1758, the battalion took part to an incursion in Franconia where it captured the town of Hof and took several prisoners. It also destroyed an arms factory at Suhl. On May 15, prince Henri sent Mayr and his Frei-Infanterie careering once more about in Franconia. The battalion was then attached to the army of prince Henri who tried to stop the Austrian invasion of Saxony. Mayr even reached Bayreuth where the camp of the Reichsarmee had lately been. At the end of July, the battalion successfully defended Marienberg. In August, the battalion observed the movements of the Austrian army between Meißen and Torgau. It was then placed in an advanced post at Mügeln. At the beginning of November, it was sent towards Dresden to hinder Daun's operations. On November, Mayr set the suburbs of Dresden afire to cover his retreat across the Elbe.

At the beginning of the campaign of 1759, the battalion was attached to the Prussian army operating in Saxony. In May, the battalion took part in an incursion in Bohemia against the Austrian magazines where it was attached to prince Henri's vanguard. On May 8, it distinguished itself at the engagement of Asch. On August 12, during the battle of Kunersdorf, the regiment formed part of Wunsch brigade guarding the bridge of Goritz. On October 8 in the morning, during Frederick's operations in Silesia, the unit occupied the town of Herrnstadt (today Wasosz). On October 22, the Russians twice summoned Colignon at Herrnstadt but the latter refused to surrender. On October 23, the Russian artillery bombarded Herrnstadt and completely burned it but the Prussian force still held its ground.

In the Spring of 1760, the battalion was attached to Fouqué's corps. On June 23, the unit took part in the battle of Landeshut where it was almost completely destroyed. The remnants of the battalion were integrated into battalion Chaumontet.

By the Spring of 1761, the battalion had been re-established, receiving a second battalion and becoming a regiment. The regiment operated in Thuringia, observing the movements of the Reichsarmee. On October 30, at the engagement of Zarnglaff, the Russians captured the second battalion.

At the beginning of 1762, the Russians liberated the second battalion who soon joined its regiment who operated once more as part of the army of prince Henri in Saxony. On October 29, the unit fought at the battle of Freiberg.

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

Uniform

Fusilier Uniform

Privates

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

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 edged collar and 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 silver lace' a black cockade fastened with a small silver button and a silver 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. Their waistcoat and its buttonholes were edged with a silver braid.

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

Musicians

no information found yet

Jäger Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace with 1 pewter button, 1 olive green cockade fastened by a black strap and 1 green pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock n/a
Coat olive green lined red with 6 pewter buttons arranged 2 by 2 on both sides; 2 pewter buttons under the lapel on the right side; and 1 pewter button on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 2 pewter buttons
Cuffs red "Swedish style" cuffs with 2 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat olive green
Breeches 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 silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • silver edged collar and cuffs

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 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. Their waistcoat and its buttonholes were edged with a silver braid.

Hussar Uniform

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, Copies (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Privates

Uniform Details
Headgear black mirliton edged white with a white “FR” cipher decorating its front; white cords, knots and tassels
Neck stock black
Pelisse indigo blue with cuffs edged white along the fur trim
Fur trim white (black as per Uniformes Prussiennes et Saxonnes and Wellner)
Lace 10 rows of white braids (12 as per Uniformes Prussiennes et Saxonnes)
Buttons white
Dolman light blue edged white with 10 white braids (12 as per Uniformes Prussiennes et Saxonnes) and 3 rows of white buttons
Collar light blue edged white
Cuffs light blue edged with a white chevron
Trousers light blue decorated with an intricate Hungarian style white lace
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt unknown
Waist-sash red and white barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots (yellow as per Uniformes Prussiennes et Saxonnes) edged white, with a white tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth indigo blue shabraque with light blue wolf tooth edged white
Sabretache light blue edged white and decorated with a white 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 blue circle decorating its front; white cords, knots and tassels
  • cuffs edged with a wide silver chevron

Officers

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

  • silver cockade
  • silver 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

Anon.; Uniformes Prussienne et Saxonne, ca. 1756/57

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 (Stiftung Weimarer Klassik - Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Weimar)

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, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M; Heer und Tradition - Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called Brauer-Bogen), Berlin 1926 -1962

Knötel, Richard; Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921, vol. XVIII, plate 37

Menzel, Adolf v.; Die Armee Friedrichs des Großen in ihrer Uniformierung, vol. III Rest der Infanterie, die besonderen Corps und Chargen, Anhang u. Ergänzungen, Berlin 1857

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

Wellner, Uniformen Preuß. Armee, ca. 1758

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.