His Imperial Highness Cuirassiers

From Project Seven Years War
Jump to: navigation, search

Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> His Imperial Highness Cuirassiers

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1706 as the “G. S. Volkonskiy Dragoon Regiment”.

On March 21, 1708 since all regiments of the Russian Army gradually adopted the names of provinces or towns (where the main quarters or recruitment pool of the regiment were planned) to replace the former designation according to their chief’s name; the regiment was renamed the “Yaroslávskiy Dragoon Regiment” after the town of Yaroslavl.

In 1707-1708, during the Great Northern War (1700-1721), the regiment saw active maneuvering and assumed reconnaissance service against the Swedes in the territory of Poland-Lithuania. In September and October 1708, the regiment had three successive combats with Swedish detachments and took 2 standards, 1 colour and a kettle-drum. On April 22, 1709 it took part in the indecisive battle of Sokolki. On July 8, 1709 the regiment, counting about 400 dragoons in 4 squadrons, took part in the battle of Poltava where it took 1 standard. Three days later the regiment took part in the capture of remnants of the Swedish army along the Perevolochna River. In July-August 1709, the regiment pursued Charles II of Sweden, having two combats with Swedish detachments and capturing 1 colour. Until the autumn of 1712, the regiment took up quarters in Poland-Lithuania and saw almost no active service. In December 1712, the regiment marched to Swedish Pomerania where it joined a combined Russo-Saxon army and took part in two combats (in one of these combats, it fought on foot). On March 15, the regiment took part in the assault on Toenning. Then it took part in the siege of Stettin. In September 1713, after the capture of this fortress the army returned to Russia. In 1718-1719, the regiment took part in the march on Danzig; and in 1720, in the march on Revel.

For a short period, between February 27 and November 17, 1727, the regiment was renamed as the “Novgorodsky Dragoon Regiment” before taking back its name of “Yaroslávskiy Dragoon Regiment”.

On November 12, 1732, when General-Fieldmarshal Count Burkhard Christoph von Münnich reorganised the Russian field cavalry, the regiment was converted into the “3rd Cuirassier Regiment”.

From July 2, 1733 when Anton Ulrich von Brauschweig-Bevern became the nominal chief of the regiment, it successively became the “Bevern Cuirassier Regiment”; and then the “Braunschweig Cuirassier Regiment “ on April 26, 1738.

Since February 11, 1742 when the heir of the Russian throne became the nominal chief of the regiment, it successively became "His Royal Highness Duke Holstein-Gottorp Cuirassier Regiment" which, on December 15, 1742, was renamed “His Imperial Highness Sovereign Grand Prince Pyotr Fyodorovich Cuirassier Regiment”. For short it was usually named “His Imperial Highness Cuirassier Regiment” or “H. I. H. Cuirassier Regiment”.

From January 7, 1762 until July 15, 1762 the regiment was named “His Imperial Majesty Leib-Cuirassier Regiment”.

On the eve of the Seven Years’ War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons (10 companies for a total of about 800 men). Each company consisted of 4 officers, 5 NCOs, 2 musicians and 69 troopers. Because of recruitment difficulties, it usually fielded only 4 squadrons while the fifth served as a reserve and for replenishing the ranks of the other squadrons.

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

  • from February 11, 1742 to July 9, 1762: Grand Prince Pyotr Fyodorovich (from January 5, 1762 – emperor)
  • from July 15, 1762 till March 24, 1801: Grand Prince Pavel Petrovich (from November 17, 1796 – emperor)

Service during the War

in 1756, the regiment was stationed in Estonia and Livonia.

In July 1757, the regiment could field only 2 or 3 squadrons. It took part in the campaign in East Prussia under Field-marshal Count Apraxin. On August 30, at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, it was part of the rearguard. When the Russian Army deployed, it was placed in the first line of the cavalry right wing.

In January 1758, the regiment took part in the invasion of East Prussia. At the beginning of August, it followed the Russian army in its invasion of Brandenburg. On August 25, the regiment fought at the Battle of Zorndorf where it was part of the first line of the cavalry left wing. About mid November, the regiment took its winter-quarters in Riesenburg and Saalfeld (present-day Zalewo) as part of Resanov's 2nd Division.

On July 23 1759, the regiment took part in the Battle of Paltzig where it was attached to Demiku's Heavy Cavalry Brigade deployed in the second line of the right wing. A few weeks later, on August 12, the regiment fought in the Battle of Kunersdorf where 2 sqns were deployed in the second line of the right wing as part of Homiakov's Heavy Cavalry Brigade and 1 sqn was deployed in the second line of the left wing as part of Jeropkin's Brigade.

To do: campaigns from 1760 to 1762

Uniform

Russian cuirassiers had three distinct uniforms:

  • a parade uniform
  • a service uniform
  • a uniform while not on active duty

Our plate depict the service uniform.

The parade uniform was very similar but a leather jerkin (kollet) was worn instead of the coat and waistcoat. While not on active service, the heavy chamois coat made of thick leather was simply replaced by a more comfortable blue coat lined and edged in red with a red collar, red lapels and red cuffs.

Troopers

Service uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced gold, with a white cockade on the left side fastened with a white strap and a small copper button
Neckstock black
Coat chamois lined and edged in red; fastened with hooks and eyes
Collar chamois laced red
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs chamois laced red
Turnbacks chamois laced red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat sleeved red waistcoat fastened with hooks and eyes
Breeches buff with white knee covers
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a copper plate carrying the regimental arms
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red without lace
Housings red without lace
Blanket roll cornflower blue cape lined red with a red collar


Troopers were armed with a short carbine, two pistols and a sabre. Cuirassiers also wore a blackened iron breastplate decorated with a brass imperial cipher and bordered red. This breastplate was worn over the coat and waistcoat.

The horses of the troopers were mostly black or dark brown.

NCOs

Corporals, armourers, quartermasters and sergeants wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • gold stripes above the red lace on collar, lapels and cuffs (1 stripe for corporals, 2 stripes for armourers and quartermasters, 3 stripes for sergeants)

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers but made of fabric instead of leather and with the following distinctions:

  • golden laced tricorne bordered with golden plumes
  • gold stripes on the red lace of the coat edges, collar, lapels and cuffs (thin 1/3” stripe for subaltern officers and large 3/4” stripe for superior officers)
  • red waistcoat edged with a chamois braid carrying a gold stripe (thin 1/3” stripe for subaltern officers and large 3/4” stripe for superior officers)
  • red breeches
  • black and gold silken sash worn over the breastplate
  • red saddlecloth and housings laced gold (thin 1/2” stripe for subaltern officers, one thin 1/2” stripe and one wide 1” stripe for superior officers) carrying the imperial cipher

Sometimes, for sulbaltern officers, the holster caps were edged with blue lace.

Musicians

Musicians wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • swallow nests at the shoulders

The kettle-drum and the trumpets were made of copper to the exception of those of the first company which were made of silver. The banners were blue. The banner of the kettle-drum was embroidered and fringed in gold.

Colours

Cuirassiers still carried standards of the 1731 pattern, measuring 60 cm by 70 cm fringed in gold. The flagpole had a gilt finial.

Colonel Standard: white damask field

  • obverse: centre device: an Imperial Eagle bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St. George’s Order and surmounted by a red and gold crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
  • reverse: centre device: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field, surrounded by a wreath of palm branches and surmounted by a gold and red crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.

Ordonnance Standard: blue damask field

  • obverse: centre device: an Imperial Eagle bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St. George’s Order and surmounted by a red and gold crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
  • reverse: centre device: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field, surrounded by a wreath of palm branches and surmounted by a gold and red crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
Colonel standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Ordonnance standard - Source: Frédéric Aubert

The first squadron carried the white colonel (Leib) standard while the 4 other squadrons each carried one ordonnance standard.

References

The section on origin and history of this regiment is mainly based on two works:

Other sources

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen, Part 3: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902

  • chapter A: Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 1-46
  • appendix: supplement 1, Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 3-18

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband: Russian Army of the Seven Years War, vol. 2, Osprey Military, London, Reed International, 1996

Knötel, Richard: Mittheilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht, Rathenow, 1894

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by the KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Viskovatov, A. V.: Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Volker Ziegler, Brühl: Die Russische Kavallerie zur Zeit des Siebenjährigen Krieges (1756-1763

Zweguintzov: L'Armee Russe, 1973

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

Acknowledgements

Roman Shlygin for the information on the origin and history of the regiment.