Hessian Leib Cavalry

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1684 as the Leibregiment zu Pferd.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment took part in the battles of Blenheim (August 13, 1704), Castiglione (September 8, 1706), Oudenarde (July 11, 1708), Malplaquet (September 11, 1709).

During the Austro-Turkish War of 1716-1718, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Belgrade in July and August 1717.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was attached to an Austrian corps serving in Saxony.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 360 men formed into 2 squadrons.

In 1760, the regiment was retitled Gens d'Armes and increased to 400 men.

After the Seven Years War, the unit only saw service against the French Revolutionary forces in 1792 before being disbanded in 1806.

Service during the War

On July 26 1757, during the French invasion of Hanover, the regiment took part in the battle of Hastenbeck where it fought in the centre of the second line.

On May 26 1758, the regiment was with the corps of the Prince von Anhalt in the camp of Coesfeld. On May 31, this corps accompanied Ferdinand in his offensive on the west bank of the Rhine. On June 12, during the aborted attack on the French positions at Rheinberg, the regiment was in the Spörcken's (second) column of attack under Major-general von Urff. 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. Towards the end of the battle, the regiment, which was part of von Urff brigade, counter-charged the pursuing Royal-Carabiniers, allowing Holstein's remaining squadrons to deploy. After a number of successive furious charges and melees, the French cavalry was completely broken. On October 10, the regiment took part in the battle of Lutterberg where it was placed in the second line of the right wing.

During the first half of 1759, the regiment formed part of the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was attached to Urff brigade in the first line of the cavalry left wing. On April 13, it took part in the battle of Bergen where it formed part of the second column under the Prince von Ysenburg. In June, the regiment was part of Imhoff's corps operating in Hesse. On August 1, the regiment took part in the battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the 8th column under Lieutenant-general Duke of Holstein.

On July 16 and 17 1761, the regiment took part in the battle of Vellinghausen where it was attached to the division of Lieutenant-general Bremer in the second line of the right wing.

On August 30 1762, the regiment took part in the combat of Nauheim where it formed part of Lieutenant-general Oheimb's column.

Uniform

By the 1740's the horse troopers did not wear a cuirass any more.

During the Seven Years War, the regiment used a temporary field sign of oak leaves. The use of the field sign was due to the French cavalry having regiments with similar coat and facing colours.

1756 Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced yellow with oak leaves as a field sign and a black cockade fastened with a brass button
Neckstock black
Coat white with a brass button on each side in the small of the back
Collar red
Shoulder strap Left shoulder: red fastened with a brass button
Right shoulder: red aiguillette
Lapels red, each with 6 brass buttons arranged 2-2-2 (1-1-1-1-1-1 after Bleckwenn)
Cuffs red, each with 3 (maybe 4) brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat white edged red
Breeches pale straw
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Scabbard black
Footgear black boots with white knee covers
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red edged with a yellow braid decorated with a red stripe; a golden armed and crowned Hessian lion in the rear corner (in 1748 Morier depicted a Hessian red-white lion on blue field on ermine cape but this design probably changed to a simpler one before 1756)
Housing red edged with a yellow braid decorated with a red stripe and a golden armed and crowned Hessian lion
Blanket roll red and white


Troopers were armed with a straight steel hilted sword, two pistols and a carbine. The carbine was slung from the shoulder belt on a swivel hook.

Officers

The officers had gold trim rather than yellow lace on their tricorne.

Musicians

Trumpeters wore white coats laced red with swallows nests (very similar to Prussian cuirassier regiment Prinz von Preußen). They were usually mounted on white or grey horses.

The bugle cord was made of interwoven white and red braids. Any banner from the trumpet would use the same markings as those on the sabretache.

1761 Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1761 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced yellow with oak leaves as a field sign and a black cockade fastened with a brass button
Neckstock black
Coat buff edged with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes
Collar red
Shoulder strap Left shoulder: red fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Cuffs red edged with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes, each cuff with 2 brass buttons
Turnbacks buff edged with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes
Sash red worn over the coat
Sabretache red edged with a white and red braid; decorated with the crowned cipher "FL"

N.B.: it is also possible that the sabretache had been blue with yellow-red border

Waistcoat light blue edged with a white braid decorated with 2 red stripes
Breeches pale straw
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Scabbard black
Footgear black boots with white knee covers
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red edged with a yellow braid decorated with a red stripe; the crowned arms of Hessen-Kassel within a golden laurel wreath in the rear corner
Housing red edged with a yellow braid decorated with a red stripe; decorated with the crowned arms of Hessen-Kassel within a golden laurel wreath
Blanket roll red and white


Troopers were armed with a straight steel hilted sword, two pistols and a carbine. The carbine was slung from the shoulder belt on a swivel hook. The cuirass was introduced only in 1764, after the war.

Officers

The officers had gold trim rather than yellow lace on their tricorne.

Musicians

Trumpeters wore white coats laced red with swallows nests (very similar to Prussian cuirassier regiment Prinz von Preußen). They were usually mounted on white or grey horses.

The bugle cord was made of interwoven white and red braids. Any banner from the trumpet would use the same markings as those on the sabretache.

Colours

The flag poles were red. The standards had golden fringe, a golden finial, red/white/blue cords with silver tassels. The regiment carried a white Leib (colonel) standard and a regimental standard.

Leib standard: white field; centre device consisting of the armed Hessian lion (composed of alternating silver and gold bands) surrounded by green palm branches; corner monograms consisting of the cipher “FL” in gold, surmounted by a golden crown

Squadron standard: red field; centre device consisting of the armed Hessian lion (composed of alternating silver and gold bands); corner monograms consisting of the cipher “FL” in gold, surmounted by a golden crown

The standards illustrated hereafter are those issued after 1760 with the “FL” cipher. Before the corner monograms probably consisted of crowned “LWL” ciphers (as on the infantry colours but without the palm branches). Furthermore, sources differ concerning the Hessian Lion: it is alternatively armed or unarmed; facing the pole or the opposite direction.

Leib Standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Squadron Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

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

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

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

Trenkle, K., Nix wie weg… die Hesse komme, Verlanganstalt Marburg

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