I.Leibgarde

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Origin and History

I. Leibgarde in 1786 (same uniform as during the SYW). - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

The regiment was created, on August 1 1688, by Major-General Carl Philipp Baron von Wylich zu Lottum in Wesel. A large part of its soldiers were French Huguenots (protestant) who had left France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

The regiment was initially stationed in Wesel.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment saw action at the capture of Rheinberg and Geldern. It also took part in the battles of Blenheim (August 13, 1704), Oudenarde (July 11, 1708) and Malplaquet (September 11, 1709).

At the beginning of the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment was transferred to Ruppin and Nauen and, on February 29 1732, the Kronprinz (future Frederick II) obtained its colonelcy. The regiment was then known as Kronprinz.

In 1740, when Frederick II acceded to the throne of Prussia, the regiment became his “Regiment Garde” and the first battalion, his “Leibgarde” under his direct command. From that year, it garrisoned Potsdam and filled its ranks from the regiments of the Prussian Army. Draft could also be raised in the “Royal Canton” of the Silesian mountains.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the battalion fought at Mollwitz (April 10, 1741) where it suffered very heavy losses (50% of its officers and 75% of its men). Afterwards, only part of the battalion accompanied Frederick as a bodyguard.

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

  • since June 7 1755: Johann Ludwig von Ingersleben (killed at the battle of Breslau)
  • from November 27 1757 to June 26 1763: Colonel Bogislav Friedrich von Tauentzien

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten, still with some variations for the fusilier regiments. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present infantry regiment was attributed number 15.

Line of tradition: In 1914 the 1st and 2nd Company of the 1st Garde-Regiment zu Fuß. After WWI in the Reichswehr and later in the Wehrmacht 1st Company Infanterie Regiment 9. Today in the Bundeswehr, the tradition is carried by the “Wachbatallion” (Guard battalion). The motto of the batallion is "Semper Talis". Today the "Wachbataillon" is stationed in the Julius-Leber-Kaserne in Berlin-Wedding and in the Brückberg-Kaserne in Siegburg. It has about 1,800 soldiers in eight companies.

Service during the War

I.Leibgarde at the battle of Kolin (June 18, 1757). - Source: Richard Knötel

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian Army was ordered to the invasion of Saxony, the battalion was part of the centre column led by Frederick II. More precisely, it belonged to Keith's Corps. The centre column had concentrated at Brietzen and advanced unopposed upstream along the Elbe River by Torgau, Wittenberg, leaving Meissen to its left. On September 6, it encamped at Rothschönberg and finally reached Wilsdruf. Only the I. Battalion accompanied Frederick when the Prussian main army moved forward to engage an Austrian army. On October 1, the battalion was present at the Battle of Lobositz (October 1). The two other battalions remaining in the Pirna Country to maintain the blockade of the Saxon Army which surrendered on October 17. The defeated Saxon army had to pass between two battalions of Prussian Gardes and were then received by two battalions of the Prinz von Preußen Infantry.

On June 18 1757, the I. Battalion of the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was kept in reserve behind the infantry centre. This battalion covered the retreat of the defeated Prussian army, stopping General Stampach's cavalry on the Planaian highway. During this engagement, it was attacked from two sides and almost entirely destroyed. After this disaster, the battalion was stationed in Breslau and only 60 men along with the wings grenadiers accompanied Frederick II as a bodyguard.

In 1760, the battalion took part in the defence of Breslau from July 30 to August 3. On August 15, at Kuchelberg, it defended the baggage train against Austrian hussars.

N.B.: During the war, contrarily to the grenadiers of other Prussian line infantry units, the grenadiers from the wing grenadier company of this battalion were not combined into converged grenadier battalions. Instead, they were used to protect the headquarters of king Frederick II and as his personnel bodyguard.

Uniform

The uniforms depicted in this section were introduced in 1753.

The guard had no musketeers, regardless of their hats all soldiers were called grenadiers.

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Grenadier black tricorne scalloped silver, 1 silver button, black cockade, white/red pompoms
Grenadier of the wing company
I.Leibgarde Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith

mitre with silver plated frontplate, silver plated headband decorated with silver plated grenades, red back with silver piping, red within white pompom

Original grenadier cap (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Original uniform & grenadier cap (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue lined red; 9 silver lace loops with tassels and 7 silver buttons on each side; 1 silver lace loop with tassel in the small of the back on each side; 3 silver buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks

N.B.: from 1756, for march and battle, privates wore a simpler “undress” coat without any silver lace loop and with a plain red collar

Collar red laced silver
Shoulder Straps red fastened with a small silver button (white edged red for grenadiers) on the left shoulder and a white/silver aiguilette on the right shoulder
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets edged red, each with 2 silver buttons
Cuffs red (in the Swedish pattern), each with 2 silver lace loops with tassels
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat lemon yellow with horizontal pockets, each with silver buttons
Breeches lemon yellow
Gaiters white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather with a central silver plated badge with an armed eagle under a scroll wearing the motto “PRO GLORIA ET PATRIA” surrounded by a laurel wreath and surmounted with a crown and four silver plated corner devices with a crowned FR cipher
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre with a curved blade.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • tricorne with wide silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • silver lace braid loops on the chest and cuffs
  • silver shoulder strap
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

N.B.: from 1756, for march and battle, NCOs wore a simpler “undress” coat without any silver braid loop and with a plain red collar

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a yellow half-pikes measuring 10 Rhenish feet (3.06 m.) in the musketeer companies and 13 Rhenish feet (4.10 m.) in the grenadier companies (carried by the 3 most senior NCOs while other grenadier NCOs were armed with rifled muskets since 1744).

NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).

Officers

I. Leibgarde Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen

The uniforms of the officers were very similar to those of the privates with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne scalloped silver with a black cockade fastened with a silver strap and a silver button. (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • black neck stock
  • a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder and no shoulder strap on the left shoulder
  • 8 large silver embroidery loops on each side, down to the pockets
  • an embroidered star of the Order of the Black Eagle on the left side of the breast
  • 2 silver embroidery loops on each pocket
  • 2 silver embroidery loops on each sleeve
  • 2 silver embroidery loops with tassel on each side in the small of the back.
  • no turnbacks on the coat
  • silver sash around the waist
  • silver sword knot

N.B.: from 1756, for march and battle, officers wore a simpler “undress” coat without any silver embroidery loop and with a plain red collar

Officers carried yellow spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.) and an officer stick.

Uniform of King Frederick II (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Musicians

The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing (drummer lace consisting of a silver drummer braid decorated with a red stripe) and other peculiarities:

  • no shoulder strap
  • 5 vertical drummer laces on each shoulder
  • drummer lace around the buttons in the small of the back
  • pockets edged with the drummer lace
  • each sleeve decorated horizontal drummer laces arranged in chevrons (9) bordered by 2 vertical laces, one on each side of the chevrons

Colours

Colonel colour (Leibfahne): Field consisting of alternating white and silver vertical stripes. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a gold and silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms consisted of a gold crowns, gold and silver laurel wreaths and a golden FR ciphers.

Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): Field consisting of alternating white and silver vertical stripes. Centre device consisting of a blue medallion speckled in crimson surrounded by a gold and silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a gold crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a fuchsia white bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms consisted of a gold crowns, gold and silver laurel wreaths and a golden FR ciphers.

Colonel Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi
Regimental Colour - Source: Hannoverdidi

The pikes used as staffs for the colours were yellow.

References

Anonymous (maybe Karl Wellner): Montierung des Königlich Preussischen Armee

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Uniformen der Preußischen Infanterie 1753-1786, Teil III/Bd. 3, Osnabrück 1973

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Bd. I Infanterie I, Osnabrück 1984

Deutsche Uniformen, Bd. 1, Das Zeitalter Friedrich des Großen, 240 images of Herbert Knötel d. J., Text and explanations by Dr. Martin Letzius, published by Sturm-Zigaretten GmbH, Dresden: 1932

Die Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Armee Friedrichs des Großen: Eine Dokumentation aus Anlaß seines 200. Todesjahres, 2 erw. Auflage, Raststatt 1986

Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Guddat, Martin: Grenadiere, Musketiere, Füsiliere: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen, Herford 1986

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 104-129

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

Summerfield, Stephen: Prussian Musketeers of the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War: Uniforms, Organisation and Equipement of Musketeer Regiments, Ken Trotman Publishing: Huntingdon, 2012, pp. 25-31

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