Freikorps von Gschray

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Origin and History

Uniforms in 1761 - Source: Richard Knötel

The corps was raised in Minden on April 9 1761 by Major-General Johann Michael von Gschray. It consisted mainly of French deserters and comprised:

  • 1 infantry battalion comprising:
    • 5 companies of musketeers
    • 1 company of grenadiers
  • 6 squadrons of light dragoons

By May 1761, the new unit was ready to take the field. It consisted of:

  • infantry
    • 24 officers
    • 60 NCOs
    • 18 musicians
    • 960 privates
  • dragoons
    • 24 officers
    • 48 NCOs
    • 6 trumpeters
    • 6 smiths
    • 540 troopers

During the Seven Years' War, the Chef of the regiment was:

  • since April 9 1761: Major-General Johann Michael von Gschray

During the Seven Years' War, the commanders of Freikorps von Gschray were:

  • since April 9 1761: Lieutenant-Colonel Johann Kaspar von Thürriegel

The entire Freikorps was disbanded in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years' War.

Service during the War

For the campaign of 1761, the 6 squadrons of dragoons were attached to the Prussian Army of Saxony under the command of Prince Heinrich. On August 23, the newly raised unit was surprised by the Volontaires du Hainaut at Nordhausen. The French captured de Gschray, his major, 5 captains, about 100 dragoons, 400 horses, the equipage and the chest of the unit. Major Balthasar Baumgärtner was instructed to assemble the rest of the corps and to conduct new recruitment to bring the Freikorps to full strength.

In May 1762, the reconstituted Freikorps joined Hülsen's Corps.

Uniform

Uniforms of the Light Dragoons

Troopers

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear black unlaced tricorne with a black cockade fastened with a yellow button, a yellow pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red, 2 yellow buttons on the right side at the waist, 2 yellow laced buttonholes on each side at the waist, 3 yellow buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks, 2 yellow laced buttonholes on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps yellow epaulette fastened with a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels black, each with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow laced buttonholes arranged 2-2-2
Pockets vertical pockets piped red, each with 3 yellow laced buttonholes
Cuffs black slit cuffs, each with 2 yellow buttons and 2 yellow laced buttonholes arranged vertically
Turnbacks red fastened with a small yellow button
Waistcoat straw with 12 yellow buttons
Breeches buff leather
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard brown
Footgear high cuffed black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth black with rounded corners; bordered with a wide yellow braid
Housings black with rounded corners; bordered with a wide yellow braid
Blanket roll n/a


Troopers were probably armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.

NCOs

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

  • a black within white pompom in each lateral corne of the tricorne
  • cuffs edged in gold

Officers

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

  • black unlaced tricorne with a black cockade fastened with a golden button and a golden strap, a black within silver pompom in each lateral corne

They carried an officer stick.

Musicians

no information available yet

Uniforms of the Infantry

Privates

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Jocelyne Chevanelle
Uniform Details
Headgear black unlaced tricorne with a small yellow button and a yellow pompom in each lateral corne
Neckstock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red, 2 yellow buttons on the right side at the waist, 2 yellow laced buttonholes on each side at the waist, 3 yellow buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks, 1 yellow laced buttonhole on each side at the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps yellow epaulette fastened with a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels black, each with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow buttonholes arranged 2-2-2
Pockets vertical pockets piped red, each with 3 yellow laced buttonholes
Cuffs black slit cuffs, each with 2 yellow buttons and 2 yellow laced buttonholes arranged vertically
Turnbacks red fastened with a small yellow button
Waistcoat straw
Breeches straw
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


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

NCOs

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

  • a black within white pompom in each lateral corne of the tricorne
  • cuffs edged in gold

Officers

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

  • a thin golden lace at the tricorne
  • golden laced buttonholes and epaulettes on the coat
  • no turn-back
  • 2 golden laced buttonholes on each side at the small of the back

Musicians

Musicians wore a white uniform.

Colours

None of the Freikorps units carried official colours, standards or guidons to the exception of von Kleist's 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

Knötel, R.; Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, vol. V plate 6, Rathenow 1890-1921

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

Acknowledgments

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