Frei-Infanterie von Wunsch

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

Origin and History

The first battalion was raised in Wittenberg on January 4 1758 from Austrian prisoners taken in the battle of Leuthen. According to Bleckwenn's classification system, the unit is designated as “Frei-Infanterie Regiment F7”. The battalion consisted of :

  • 5 musketeer companies, each of:
    • 4 officers
    • 7 NCOs
    • 1 drummer
    • 150 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. On June 24, Frei-Infanterie Monjou who had heavily suffered during the recent incursion in Bohemia was incorporated into Frei-Infanterie von Wunsch. In August, the unit incorporated the remnants of Frei-Infanterie Hordt. This brought his total force to 3 battalions.

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

  • since January 4 1758 to 1763: Johann Jakob von Wunsch

In 1763, the unit was incorporated into the re-established Garrison Regiment VIII garrisoning Glatz.

Service during the War

In March 1758, the newly formed battalion took part to the Allied winter offensive in West Germany where Prince Henri coordinated the efforts of his small army with a larger Allied army. The battalion then retraced its steps to Saxony and marched to Bohemia where it destroyed several Austrian magazines. During this campaign, the battalion took part in several engagement, his jägers distinguishing themselves in a combat in front of Dresden. It wintered in Saxony, fighting several small actions against the Austrians.

At the opening of the campaign of 1759, the battalion was attached to the Prussian corps operating in Saxony. At the end of February, under General Knobloch, the unit took part in an incursion in Thuringia against the Reichsarmee. On March 4, Lieutenant-colonel Wunsch with 300 men of his unit attacked and dislodged an Austro-Imperial party near Frauenwald, capturing 4 grenadier coys and forcing the rest to retire northeastward to Camburg in Franconia. Wunsch then advanced up to Hof, plundering the countryside on his way. In April, the unit took part to another incursion in Bohemia to destroy Austrian magazines. On May 8, the battalion distinguished itself in the combat of Asch. During this incursion, Wunsch, at the head of 5 bns and 5 sqns, drove the Austrians out of their fortified positions at Nollendorf and captured the magazines of Aussig (today Ústí nad Labem) and Budin (today Budyně nad Ohří) where the Austrians had stored provisions for 50,000 men and 25,000 horses. The Prussian force then returned unmolested to Saxony. In May, the battalion took part in the incursion in Franconia. As part of Knobloch's corps, it marched on Bamberg. On June 24, Frei-Infanterie Monjou who had heavily suffered during the recent incursion in Bohemia was incorporated into Frei-Infanterie von Wunsch, bringing this unit to 2 battalions. In July, the regiment, along with 7 hussar sqns, was sent to reconnoitre the neighbouring of Aussig before being redirected to Neumark to reinforce the Prussian forces preparing to stop the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. On August 12, during the battle of Kunersdorf, the regiment formed part of Wunsch brigade (3 bns, 2 hussar rgts) guarding Frankfurt an der Oder and the bridge of Goritz. After Frederick's defeat in this battle, Wunsch evacuated the town and joined the main army where his regiment received a third battalion. On August 21, Frederick sent a Prussian detachment under Wunsch (his own regiment) from Fürstenwalde near Berlin to come to the help of Dresden which was threatened by the Austro-Imperial invasion of Saxony. On August 26, at Jüterbog, Wunsch made a junction with 2 bns and 7 sqns from Kleist's corps and with Wolfersdorf's troops who had retired from Torgau. These reinforcements brought Wunsch's corps to 9 bns and 8 sqns for a total of about 7,000 men. On August 27, Wunsch marched to Wittenberg and reoccupied the town, allowing the Austrian garrison to retire after the capitulation. On August 29, Wunsch marched to Torgau who capitulated on August 31. On September 2, Wunsch finally received the awaited artillery from Magdeburg. On September 3, Wunsch left Torgau and marched towards Dresden. On September 5, Wunsch's corps attacked and took hold of the a suburb of Dresden. During the night, Wunsch was informed of the capitulation of Dresden and received a message from his commandant at Torgau, asking for assistance. On September 7 in the afternoon, after 2 marches of 32 km each, Wunsch arrived in front of Torgau. On September 8, the unit fought at the victorious combat of Zinna where its jägers and its 1st battalion were deployed on the right wing and its 2nd battalion on the left wing. At about 2:00 PM, the 1st battalion along with Grenadier Battalion 4/16 Willemey stormed the Ratsweinberg hill at the point of the bayonet, driving back the Grenzer light troops and the Austro-Imperial grenadiers from the gardens they occupied. On September 11, Finck joined Wunsch at Torgau to cover Saxony. On September 13, Wunsch recaptured Leipzig. On September 21, the unit took part in the combat of Korbitz (aka first combat of Meissen) near Meissen, where it was deployed in the first line of the left wing under Major-general Wunsch. The Prussians resisted to several charges of the Austro-Imperial army and maintained their positions. On October 29, the regiment took part in an engagement in the Sackwitz wood where 24 Austrian officers, 1,800 men, 1 gun, 7 ammunition wagons and the baggage were captured.

In the Spring of 1760, the first and third battalions of the regiment were attached to Frederick's army and its second battalion formed part of the army of Saxony under Prince Henri. At the end of August, the first battalion took part in the relief of Colberg, besieged by a Russian amphibious force. On October 9, the second battalion of the regiment took part in the relief of Berlin, threatened by an Austro-Russian force. During the retreat from Berlin to Spandau, this battalion was taken prisoners by the Russians.

At the opening of the campaign of 1761, two battalions of the regiment were attached to Frederick's army while another battalion formed part of the Prussian force operating in Pomerania. However, Loelhöffel impressed new recruits in Scharzburg, re-establishing the second battalion who, by January 26, counted 200 men. In mid February, the second battalion formerly captured near Berlin was exchanged.

At the beginning of 1762, the regiment was attached to Frederick's army.

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

Uniform

Fusilier Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced white with 1 brass button, 1 red within light blue pompom and 1 smaller similar pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red with 6 brass buttons arranged 2 by 2 on both sides; 2 brass buttons at the waist on the right side; 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 none (light blue from 1759)
Pockets horizontal pockets piped red, each with 2 brass buttons
Cuffs light blue “Swedish-style” cuffs with 2 brass buttons
Turnbacks red fasted 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.

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, cuffs and, from 1759, 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 had 3 buttons at each pocket and had no turnbacks nor shoulder straps. Their waistcoat and its pockets were edged with a golden braid.

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

Musicians

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

  • yellow swallow nests at the shoulders
  • pockets and cuffs edged with yellow laces

Jäger Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace with 1 brass button and 1 white pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat olive green lined red; 2 brass buttons under the lapel on the right side; and 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder Straps olive green fastened with a small brass button
Lapels red with 6 brass buttons arranged 2 by 2 on both sides
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 2 brass buttons
Cuffs red "Swedish style" cuffs with 2 brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat olive green wit one row of brass button
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 golden lace and black and white pompoms
  • golden edged collar, lapels 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 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. Their waistcoat and its buttonholes were edged with a golden braid.

Colours

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

References

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

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

Knötel der Jung; Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921, Neue Folge, plate 43


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.