Hessian Leib-Regiment

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

Origin and History

The unit was raised in 1688 as “Prinz Friedrich” regiment of foot. It took part in the campaign against the Turks in Greece. In 1698, the unit became known as the “Prinz Friedrich Bataillon”. In 1702, the unit was renamed “Prinz Friedrichs Regiment zu Fuß“ (aka Erbprinz).

When Erbprinz (Hereditary Prince) Friedrich became King of Sweden in 1721, the regiment assumed the name König (King’s) regiment.

The regiment was part of the Imperial District contingent during the Wars of the Spanish and Austrian Successions. In 1746, the regiment was sent to Scotland.

In 1751, the regiment was renamed “Leibregiment Infanterie”. From 1760, it bore the name of its Kommandeure.

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

  • since 1751: Landgrave Wilhelm VIII.
  • from 1760 to 1785: Landgrave Friedrich II.

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

  • since 1749 until 1776: Major-General von Wutginau

During the American War of Independence, as “Regiment Landgraf”, the regiment was sent to North America and fought at Fort Washington, Newport and Spingfield.

In 1789, the regiment was amalgamated with Infanterie Regiment Nr. 7.

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 of 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, the 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, the Hessian contingent was transported to the region of Salisbury where it took its cantonments. By May 23, it had been quartered in Hampshire. From July 11 to 14, the Hessian contingent 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. By July, the regiment had joined the Allied Army assembled in Hanover under the command of the Duke of Cumberland to prevent the French invasion of Hanover. On July 26, 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. On May 31, it accompanied Ferdinand in his offensive on the west bank of the Rhine. It passed the river on June 5. On June 12, during the aborted attack on the French positions at Rheinberg, the regiment was in the second vanguard of the first column of attack under Major-General von Fürstenberg. On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Krefeld where it was deployed on the right wing under the command of the Erbprinz (Hereditary Prince) of Brunswick. On June 27, the regiment was at the capture of Roermonde. On August 10, it followed the Allied Army in its retreat, passing to the right bank of the Rhine.

During the first half of 1759, the regiment formed part of the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was attached to Bose's Brigade in the first line of the infantry centre. On April 1, the regiment took part in the combat of Freiensteinau. On April 13, it took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the third column under the Lieutenant-General Duke von Holstein-Gottorp. This column 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 took part in the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the second line of the 7th column under Major-General von Behr. On August 10, the regiment was at the combat of Sababurg. On August 17, it took part in a raid on Naumburg and, on August 28, in a raid on Wetter. Then, from September 4 to 12, it participated in the siege of Marburg.

In 1761, from February 19 to March 28, the regiment took part in the siege of Kassel. On July 15 and 16, it fought at the Battle of Vellinghausen. A few weeks later, on August 5, it took part in a combat near Kloster Bredelar.

In 1762, on June 24, the regiment took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. Then, on July 23, it was at the Combat of Lutterberg.

Uniform

Hessian troops wore a uniform in the Prussian style including the grenadier and fusilier hat. Until 1750 the trousers were dark blue and the vest buff. 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 in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with yellow pompoms and a yellow button
Grenadier Prussian style mitre with a red back laced yellow. A brass plate and brass base with Hessian lion and stand of arms.
Neckstock red
Coat dark blue with 8 yellow buttons and 8 yellow buttonholes on the chest and 1 yellow button and 1 yellow buttonhole at the small of the back
Collar red
Shoulder Straps n/a
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal with 2 yellow buttons
Cuffs red with 2 yellow buttons and 2 yellow buttonholes on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a yellow buttons
Waistcoat yellow
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.

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 red and white diagonal stripes.

Post-1760 Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with yellow witin white within yellow pompoms and a yellow button
Grenadier Prussian style mitre with a red back laced yellow. A brass plate and brass base with Hessian lion and stand of arms.
Neckstock black
Coat dark blue with 6 yellow buttons and 8 white buttonholes (the regimental lace was white with a yellow stripe) on the chest and 1 white buttonhole (same lace as above) at the small of the back
Collar red
Shoulder Straps red fastened with a yellow button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal with 2 yellow buttons
Cuffs red with 2 yellow buttons and 2 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks red fastened with a yellow buttons
Waistcoat yellow
Breeches yellow
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 carmine red.

Here follows a tentative reconstruction of these flags used till 1767. The flag poles were black.

Colonel 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

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

Trenkle, Karl: Nix wie weg ... die Hesse komme - Hessen-Kasseler Uniformen 1730 - 1789, Marburg 2000

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.