Geßler Cuirassiers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Geßler Cuirassiers

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in mid 1672 from the Stabs-Dragoner, titled the Leib-Dragoner-Regiment, and given to Colonel Joachim Ernst von Grumbkow. On June 28 1675, the regiment took part in the battle of Fehrbellin. In 1677, it fought in Pomerania against the Swedes; from July 24 to December 22, it was at the siege of Stettin. On September 23 1678, it took part in the capture of Rügen Island. In 1688, the regiment served against the Turks in Hungary; from June 14 to September 3, it was at the siege of Ofen. From June 24 1689 to October, it was at the siege of Bonn.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1703, the regiment took part in the battle of Nördlingen then, from April 24 to May 15, it was at the siege of Bonn, ans in December at the siege of Geldern. On August 13 1704, it fought in the battle of Blenheim where it suffered heavy losses and lost 3 standards. In 1713, the regiment lost its title of Leib-Regiment. In 1715, it served in Pomerania.

In 1718, the regiment was increased to 5 squadrons and was transformed into a cuirassier regiment.

At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served against Austria in 1742. On May 17, it fought at the battle of Chotusitz. On May 22 1745, it took part in the combat of Neustadt. On June 4, it fought at the battle of Hohenfriedberg against the Austro-Saxons. On September 30, it took part in the battle of Soor.

From 1748 to 1796, the districts of Neustadt and Oberglogau in Upper-Silesia were the inspectorate of the regiment and its garrison places Neustadt, Zülz, Krappitz and Oberglogau.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons.

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

  • since May 8 1733: Colonel Friedrich Leopold von Geßler; later count (1745) and field-marshal (1751)
  • from January 5 1758 to September 1 1764: Major-General Johann Ernst von Schmettau

By 1806, the regiment was known as the von Wagenfeld Cuirassiers. That year it served in the reserve corps in East Prussia. It became the new 1st Kürassiers and took in a squadron of the Prittwitz Dragoons as its 6th Squadron.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was part of the Army of Silesia under FieldMmarshal Schwerin. During this campaign, this army conducted operations in Eastern Bohemia.

In 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, it fought in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line of the left wing under the Prince von Schönaich. It secured the left wing and ensured victory. In this battle, the regiment lost 11 officers, 101 troopers and 83 horses. After the victory, the regiment covered the siege of Prague from May 9 to June 20. It then covered the retreat of the army after the defeat of Kolin. On November 22, the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was deployed in Driesen's Brigade, in the first line of the left wing under Lieutenant-General von Zieten. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in Bredow's Brigade in the second line of the cavalry left wing under Lieutenant-General von Driesen. During this battle, it lost six officers and 51 troopers and captured a standard.

In March 1758, the regiment took part in the invasion of Moravia and, from May to July, was at the siege of Olmütz, fighting in the Combat of Domstadl on June 30. On October 10, it took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed in the second line of the left wing under Seydlitz. On November 1, the regiment was part of the force who relieved Neisse. On November 16, it advanced on Dresden.

At the beginning of 1759, the regiment was at Schmottseifen. It then joined Fouqué's Corps and, on April 17, took part in the combat of Troppau. On September 2, the regiment, as part of Zieten's Corps, fought in the Combat of Sorau. On September 25, it fought in the combat of Hoyerswerda where it captured General Wehla, 28 officers and more than 1,785 men.

On February 20 1760, the regiment was ambushed at Koßdorf near Torgau, but rallied and drove the enemy off, losing 4 officers and 67 men in this action and inflicting a loss of about 120 men to the enemy. It then took part in the combat of Bublitz. On November 3, it fought in the Battle of Torgau.

On May 12 1762, the regiment took part in the Combat of Doebeln. On May 21, it was at the combat of Chemnitz where it suffered heavy losses (10 officers, 317 men and 250 horses). On October 29, it fought in the Battle of Freiberg where it took 10 guns, 4 howitzers and 8 colours. Seven officers of the regiment received the Pour-le-Merite decoration for this action

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Lace - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755
Uniform in 1757
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small white button and yellow pompoms

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap

Neck stock black
Coat off-white trimmed with the regimental lace (white braid with three lines of dark blue squares)
Collar black
Shoulder strap off-white fastened with a white button
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs black, in the Swedish pattern, trimmed with the regimental lace
Turnbacks off-white trimmed with the regimental lace
Waistcoat black trimmed with the regimental lace
Breeches white (buff leather in campaign)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Sash black
Cartridge Box black pouch lids with a round brass plate bearing the Prussian eagle
Scabbard brown leather
Sabretache black decorated with a crowned shield bearing the crowned royal cipher, edged with a black and white braid
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth white with rounded corners; decorated with a crowned golden shield bearing the crowned Prussian eagle, edged with the regimental lace
Housings white decorated with a crowned golden shield bearing the crowned Prussian eagle, edged with the regimental lace
Blanket roll cobalt blue


Troopers were armed with a heavy straight-bladed sword, a pair of pistols and a musket. They wore a blackened breastplate edged black and fastened by white straps edged red. The musket strap was white edged with the regimental lace.

NCOs

NCO Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

NCOs wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne with red plumetis and black and white pompoms
  • golden lace edging the top and back of the cuffs


Officers

Officer Buttonholes (full dress only) - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

Officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • golden regimental lace
  • golden aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • breastplate edged in gilt metal with straps covered in gilt plates; gilt crowned Prussian crest in trophies of arms on the top centre of the breastplate
  • silver and black silk waist sash
  • silver and black sword strap
  • saddle furniture ornately ornamented and fringed in gold

N.B.: golden embroidered buttonholes decorated the white full dress uniform but were not present on the service uniform

Musicians

Musician Lace - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

Musicians wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • coat edged with the musician lace (white braid decorated with red stripes and rows of silver squares)
  • collar and cuffs edged with the musician lace
  • sleeves decorated with the musician lace


Standards

The old pattern square standards were made of damask. The cords and tassels were silver and black. The pole of the standard was a red tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges and gold finial.

The standard bearers had standard bandoliers in the facing colour, edged and fringed in gold.

The regiment carried standards of the old “FWR” and new “FR” patterns. Here we illustrate old pattern standards.

Colonel Standard (Leibstandarte): white field, fringed gold with a red central medallion surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath and decorated with a crowned black eagle flying toward a golden sun surmounted by a white scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers on a silver medallion). Squadron Standard (Eskadronstandarte): red field, fringed gold with a silver central medallion surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath and decorated with a crowned black eagle flying toward a golden sun surmounted by a bright yellow scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers on a silver medallion).
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Squadron Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee fuer das Jahr 1806. Reprinted by Bilblio Verlag, Osnabrueck 1975.

Anon. Die Schlacht bei Minden 1759. J C C Bruns Verlag, Minden 1959.

Anon., Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757

Alt, Das Koeniglich Preussische Stehende Heer. Schrapp, Berlin, 1869.

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 4: Die Uniformen der Kavallerie, Husaren und Lanzenreiter 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1979

Bolke, Eberhardt. Preussische Fahnen 1740 – 1806. Dresden, 1944.

Bredow – Wedel. Historische Rang- und Stammliste des Deutschen Heeres. Berlin 1905.

Eckardt, Werner – Morawietz, Otto. Die Handwaffen des brandenburgisch-preussisch-deutschen Heeres. Hamburg, Helmut Gerhard Schulz Verlag, 1973.

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

Franke, Ludwig Eberhardt. Vorstellung der Koeniglich Preussischen Armee. Potsdam, 18??

Fraser, David. Frederick the Great, The Penguin Press, London 2000.

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee 1626-1807, Ein Quellenbuch, Berlin 1964.

Gohlke, W. Geschichte der gesamten Feuerwaffen bis 1850 Berlin 1911.

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Heft 14 / 15. Der Feldzug 1806 / 07 und die Reorganisation der Artillerie. Berlin 1914

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Hefte 26 - 30. Die Freikorps und Auslaender-Battailone. Berlin 1914.

Hoepfner, Edouard von. Oberst. Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807. Berlin, Simon Schropp & Comp. 1850.

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 490-497

Jany, Curt. Geschichte der Preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1967.

Kling, C. Geshichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausruestung des Koeniglich Preussischen Heeres. Three volumes. Putzer und Hoeltze, Weimar 1912.

Knoetel – Sieg. Handbuch der Uniformkunde. H. G. Schultz, Hamburg, 1937.

Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen, Berlin: 1851/57.

Prussian War Ministry. Fahnen und Standarten der preussischen Armee seit dem Jahre 1806. Berlin 1889.

Ramm, August Leopold. Abbildungen von allen Uniformen der Koenigl. Preuss. Armee unter der Regierung Sr. Majestaet Friedrich Wilhelm III Berlin, J F Unger, 1800.

Voigt, Guenther. Deutschlands Heere bis 1918. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1983.

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article.