Hessian Erbprinz Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Hesse-Kassel Army >> Hessian Erbprinz Infantry

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1700 as the Prinz Anhalt Regiment.

In 1727, the regiment became the property of Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Kassel.

In 1751, when Prince Friedrich became the hereditary prince of Hesse-Kassel, the regiment was renamed "Regiment Erbprinz".

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was in British service.

In 1760, the regiment became the Leibregiment, also known as the Vierte Garde (4th Guard) while the regiment wearing this name till that time changed to Wutginau.

During the Seven Years' War, the successive Chefs of the regiment were:

  • since 1727 until 1783: Prinz Friedrich (became Erbprinz in 1757 and Landgraf in 1760 under the name of Friedrich II)

During the Seven Years' War, the successive Kommandeure assuming effective command of the regiment were:

  • since 1755: Colonel von Dalwigk
  • from 1757 to July 1757 : Colonel Briede (severely wounded at the Battle of Hastenbeck)
  • from August 1757 to August 1758: Colonel Schotten (severely wounded at the Combat of Mehr)
  • from August 1758: Colonel von Wilke
  • from 1760: Colonel von Löwenstein
  • from 1760 to 1766: Colonel von Ditfurth

During the American War of Independence the regiment was known as the "Leibregiment". In 1776, it was sent to North America. It fought at White Plains, Brandywine and Germantown.

In 1789, the regiment was amalgamated with the Infanterieregiment No. 5.

Service during the War

On March 28 1756, George II informed the Houses of Parliament of Great Britain that the French Court was planning the invasion of Great Britain and that, consequently, he intended to requisition a body of Hessian troops and to use it as reinforcement for Great Britain. The same day, the contingent of the Hesse-Kassel Army started to assemble in Germany. It consisted of 8 regiments including the present regiment. From March 28 to April 20, this Hessian contingent marched towards Bremen. On May 2, it embarked aboard 48 British transports at Stade. On May 15, it landed at Southampton. From May 19 to 22, it was transported to the region of Salisbury where it took its cantonments. By May 23, the Hessian contingent had been quartered in Hampshire. From July 11 to 14, it moved to its new encampment at Winchester. In December, it took its winter-quarters in the Counties of Chichester, Salisbury and Southampton.

From April 23 to 27 1757, the Hessian contingent embarked aboard 43 British transports at Chatham to return to Germany. On May 1, the convoy sailed from Chatham. From May 11 to 16, the convoy gradually reached Stade after having suffered a severe tempest. On July 26, during the French invasion of Hanover, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hastenbeck where it fought in the first line of the centre.

On May 26 1758, the regiment was with Ferdinand's main force in the camp of Nottuln. During the night of May 31, when Ferdinand proceeded to the crossing of the Rhine, the regiment remained at Brünen as part of Lieutenant-General von Imhoff's detachment charged to watch Wesel. On August 4, the regiment passed the Rhine on boats at Spyck to reinforce Imhoff at Mehr where he was about to be attacked by a superior force under Chevert. On August 5, the regiment took part in the Combat of Mehr where Imhoff's force repulsed the French attempt directed against the Allied bridgehead at Rees. On October 10, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lutterberg where it fought in the first line of the centre as part of Diepenbroick's Brigade.

During the first half of 1759, the regiment formed part of the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was attached to May's Brigade in the second line of the infantry centre. On April 6 and 7, it was at the storming of the Fortress of Ulrichstein. On April 13, it took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the third column under the Duke von Holstein-Gottorp. The regiment was among the troops who covered the right flank near Bad Vilbel clearing the wood of Saxons in support of the attack of the left flank on Bergen. In mid June, the regiment was part of Wutginau's Corps which had taken position at Büren in Westphalia. On August 1, the regiment fought in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of the 4th column under Major-General Wissembach. This corps supported the surprise advance of Spörcken's Corps. On November 2, it was part of the Allied troops who reinforced those besieging Münster. On November 19 and 20, it took part in the combats of Albachten and Amelbüren.

On July 31 1760, the regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of the centre between Ossendorf and Menne.

From February 19 to March 28 1761, the regiment participated in the siege of Kassel. On July 4, it was at the Combat of Unna. On July 15 and 16, it fought at the Battle of Vellinghausen. On August 24, it was part of the Allied force who relieved Hamm. On November 8, it took part in the combat between Stadt-Oldendorf and Dassel.

On May 7 1762, the regiment took part in the Combat of Elberfeld. On August 10, it was at the combat of Frankenberg; on August 22 at the encounter of Grünberg; on August 25 at the Combat of Grüningen; and finally, on August 30, at the Combat of Nauheim.

Uniform

Hessian troops wore a uniform in the Prussian style including the grenadier and fusilier hat. Until 1750 the trousers were dark blue. The stock was red for the other ranks and white for officers.

It seems that, like the uniforms of the Hanoverian army, those of the Hessen-Kassel got simpler during the war. At the beginning of the conflict, there still were white lace around lapels and cuffs and the new uniform issued in 1760 had no such laces.

Pre-1760 Uniform

Privates

Uniform before 1760 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with yellow pompoms (most likely no pompom at all) and a small white button
Grenadier Prussian style mitre with a yellow sack and white lace. The silver plate and base decorated in the centre with the God Mars holding the silver Hessian coat of arms supported by lions. Below the letters “LWL” on a blue field with stand of arms behind a flaming grenade.
Neck stock red
Coat dark blue with 3 white buttons and 3 white buttonholes under the lapels
Collar yellow laced white
Shoulder Straps yellow fastened with a white button
Lapels yellow laced white, each with 6 white buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal, each with 3 white buttons and 3 white buttonholes
Cuffs yellow, each with 4 white buttons and 4 white buttonholes on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks yellow (perhaps red) fastened with a white button
Waistcoat yellow
Breeches yellow (maybe still blue in 1756)
Gaiters black for campaigning and during winter, white for parades and during summer
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a brass plate
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black


Troopers were armed with a sword (brass hilt) and a musket which was fitted with a leather carry strap.

Officers

Officers wore a white stock and, as a sign of their commissioned rank, a gorget, in button colour, and sash. The sash was of silver silk shot with red flecks.

NCO's carried the Prussian style partizan.

The standard staff was black.

Musicians

By the Seven Years War the convention of wearing reversed colours had disappeared. Drummers now wore the same dark blue coat with white and red livery lace placed along the coat seams in seven inverted chevrons along the sleeves and around the 'swallows nests' on the shoulder. Very much a copy of the Prussian style.

Drum barrels were of polished brass and were decorated with the Hessian lion surrounded by a laurel wreath with a crown above. The Hessian lion was striped red and white with a red tongue on a royal blue background. The drum cords were white and, for this regiment, the rim was a pattern of alternating blue and yellow diagonal stripes.

Post-1760 Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with rose pompoms (most likely no pompom at all, another possibility is that the central pompom was replaced by a black cockade) and a small white button
Grenadier Prussian style mitre with a rose sack and white lace. The white metal plate and base decorated in the centre with the God Mars holding the silver Hessian coat of arms supported by lions. Below the cipher “FL” on a blue field with stand of arms behind a flaming grenade.
Neck stock black
Coat dark blue with 2 white buttons and 2 white buttonholes under the lapels, white buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks and 1 white buttonhole at the small of the back
Collar rose
Shoulder Straps rose fastened with a white button
Lapels rose, each with 6 white buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal, each with 3 white buttons
Cuffs rose (maybe open slit cuffs), each with 2 white buttons and 2 white buttonholes on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks rose fastened with a white button
Waistcoat white
Breeches white
Gaiters black for campaigning and during winter, white for parades and during summer
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a brass plate
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black


Troopers were armed with a sword (brass hilt) and a musket which was fitted with a leather carry strap.

Colours

To the present day, a definitive reconstruction of the Hesse-Cassel colours during the Seven Years' War is non-existent. All existing publications are mostly speculative. The Leib (colonel) colour was probably white and the regimental colour assumed yellow.

Here follows a tentative reconstruction of these flags used till 1760. The flag poles were black.

Leib Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert

The 4. Garde regiment is one of the only Hessian regiment (with the 1. Garde) which may have carried in the field new colours issued in 1760 with the new uniform. Here follows a tentative reconstruction of these new colours.

Leib Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

Bleckwenn, Hans: Europa kämpft in Flandern... Die Morier-Bilder in Windsor Castle, Teil IV: Hessen-Kassel 1748, in: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde, XXX Jg. (1960), Nr. 207, S. 122-125 and Nr. 208, S. 166-168

Böhm, Uwe Peter: Hessisches Militär: Die Truppen der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel 1672-1806, Herausgegeben im Auftrag der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Heereskunde e.V., Beckum 1986

Cookman, D.: Sandershausen 1758, Battlefields Vol. 1 Issue 6

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher): Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Band 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin 1903

Henry, Mark: Hessian Army of the 7 Years War, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. VII No. 3

Manley, S.: Uniforms of the Danish and German States armies 1739-1748, Potsdam Publications

Mohr, Kurt: Einiges über die Hessen-Kasselsche Infanterie 1760, in: Artikel für KA7-Sammler aus alten "Zinnfigur" Heften (1924-1944), KLIO-Arbeitsgruppe 7jähriger Krieg, Manuskript, Köln 1980, S. 106-107

Mulder, Luke: Some Notes on Landgraf Friedrich II of Hessen-Kassel Re-Organization of 1760, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XI No. 2

Noeske, Rolf: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, 1. Ergänzung Hessen-Kassel, KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt 1989

Ortenburg, Georg: Das Militär der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel zwischen 1783 und 1789, Herausgegeben im Auftrag der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Heereskunde e.V., Potsdam 1999

Pengel & Hurt: German States in the Seven Years War 1740 to 1762, Imperial Press

Renouard, Carl: "Geschichte des Krieges in Hannover, Hessen und Westfalen von 1757 bis 1763", 3 Bände, Cassel, 1863-64

Rogge, Christian: The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Infanterie des Landgrafentums Hessen-Kassel während des Siebenjährigen Krieges, in: Artikel für KA7-Sammler aus alten "Zinnfigur" Heften (1924-1944), KLIO-Arbeitsgruppe 7jähriger Krieg, Manuskript, Köln 1980, S. 104-106

Witzel, Rudolf: Hessen Kassels Regimenter in der Allierten Armee 1762, bearb. u. hrsg. von Ingo Kroll, Norderstedt 2007

Zahn, Michael: Stammliste und Gefechtskalender der Regimenter der Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel im Siebenjährigen Krieg (1756-1763) - Teil 1: Infanterie, Metzingen, 2009

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