Kaiser Franz I Hussars

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1756 in the Komitat (administrative county) of Neutra (Hungarian Nyitra County) by Kaiser (emperor) Franz Stephan I, at his own expense, on his estates in Holitsch (present-day Holíč in Western Slovakia). He appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Ignaz von Almásy from Festetics Hussars to organise this regiment which was initially known as Des Kaisers neuerrichtetes Hollitscher Husarenregiment and counted 6 squadrons but was soon designated as the Kaiser Husaren. On September 29, the emperor appointed Almásy colonel of the regiment who assembled at Soroksár, Debreczen, Barkán and Pressburg (present day Bratislava/SK).

The regiment later recruited in the administrative Counties of Heves, Pest and Pressburg.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 6 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the nominal command of:

  • since 1756 until August 18 1765: Emperor Francis I (Franz I)

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the effective command of:

  • from 1756 to 1763: Colonel Joseph Ignaz Count Almásy

In the Spring of 1763, the regiment went to Saaz (present-day Žatec/CZ) where it was reviewed by FZM Lacy. In May, it finally reached his garrison places: Käsmark (present-day Kežmarok/SK), Liptau (present-day Liptov/SK) and Nagy-Sáros (present day Velký Šariš/SK).

In 1769, the regiment was ranked No. 2 among cavalry regiments. In 1798, it was numbered 1 among the hussar regiments. It remained in service until 1918. The Inhaber (proprietor) of the regiment was always the reigning emperor.

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was garrisoning Soroksár near Budapest.Its ranks were completed during the following winter.

In 1757, the regiment left Soroksár to join the Austro-Hungarian army sent to stop the Prussian invasion of Bohemia. At the beginning of April, the regiment arrived at the camp of the main army at Goltsch-Jenikau (present-day Golčův Jeníkov/CZ) where it was attached, along with Festetics Hussars, Dessewffy Hussars and Morocz Hussars to the corps of G.d.C. Nádasdy in Major-General Schröger's Brigade. The regiment was then reviewed. On June 18, the regiment (1,021 men) took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the extreme right wing in Schröger's Brigade (part of Morocz's Division). During the battle, Major-General Schröger was wounded and Colonel Almásy took command of the brigade. After the victory, on June 26, the regiment went to Kolodejy (present day Koloděje/CZ). During retreat of the Prussian army, the regiment fromed part of the vanguard who closely followed the corps of Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia through Münchengrätz (present-day Mnichovo Hradiště/CZ), and Niemes (present-day Mimoň/CZ) up to Gabel (present-day Jablonné v Podještědí/CZ). After the occupation of Gabel by the Austrian army, the regiment continued its march up to Zittau, launching several raids in Upper Lusatia. In August, the regiment was operating in Silesia with Colonel Jahnus. On August 13, it took part in the first combat of Landshut. It then joined Nádasdy's Corps and marched to Seidenberg (present-day Zawidów/PL). On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps in the Combat of Moys (present day a part of Zgorzelec/PL), the regiment was part of the vanguard in front of the right wing under the command of Lieutenant-General Kálnoky whose brigade supported Grenzer troops. On November 12, the regiment was part of Nádasdy's Corps when it captured the Fortress of Schweidnitz. Afterwards, the regiment was attached to the Corps de Reserve of FML Morocz. On November 22, part of the regiment was at the Battle of Breslau (present-day Wroclaw/PL) where it was not directly involved but suffered from the Prussian artillery fire, losing 7 men and 21 horses. After the surrender of the Fortress of Breslau, the regiment remained in the neighbouring camp till December 3 but was then sent to Leuthen (present-day Lutynia/PL). On December 5, the regiment was present at the battle of Leuthen but did not take part in any serious fighting. However, as part of Morocz's Reserve, it covered the retreat of the defeated army towards Schweidnitz. On December 13, the army set off from Schweidnitz and marched to Bohemia where the regiment (then 1,012 men strong) took its winter-quarters near Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ).

In the first months of 1758, the regiment patrolled the border between Bohemia and Saxony. In mid-April, FM Daun sent the regiment to Silesia. On April 20, it engaged a Prussian detachment at Liebau (present-day Lubawka/PL), capturing 2 guns and taking 7 officers and 47 men prisoners. When Loudon vainly tried to capture the Abbey of Grüsau (present-day Krzeszów/PL), the regiment was part of FML Esterházy's detachment who supported the attack. At the beginning of May, the Austrian Main Army concentrated near Leitomischl (present-day Litomyšl/CZ). On May 16, the regiment joined it at the camp of Gewitsch (present-day Jevíčko/CZ). On May 22, the regiment was part of Loudon's light troops who skirmished with the Prussians near Namiest (present-day Náměštˇ/CZ). During the Siege of Olmütz, the regiment remained with Daun's main army. During the retreat of the Prussian army after the failed invasion of Moravia remained with the main army who followed up the Prussians by Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ), Gitschin (present-day Jičín/CZ) and Turnau (present-day Turnov/CZ), reaching Reichenberg (present-day Liberec/CZ) on August 14. When Daun resolved to proceed to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment reached Zittau on August 17 and Stolberg on September 5. It then took part in several skirmishes with Prussian patrols around Stolberg. On October 5, Daun finally set off from his camp at Stolberg and marched towards Hochkirch. The regiment as part of the rearguard had some skirmishes with the Prussians. Near Bautzen, the regiment attacked an unescorted Prussian convoy, capturing 24 wagons. On October 14, the regiment took part in the night Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Buccow's cavalry column at the extreme right, to the east of Kotitz. On October 25, Major-General Caramelli marched to Görlitz at he head of Loudon's Corps, a few grenadiers and carabinier companys and the Corps de Reserve (including the regiment). Near Ebersbach, he was attacked by Prussian hussars. Major-General d'Ayasassa's heavy cavalry soon supported the Austrian hussars who initially drove back 2 hussar and 2 dragoon regiments. However, with the arrival of additional Prussian cavalry, d'Ayasassa was forced to retreat. In this engagement, the regiment distinguished itself but lost 19 hussars and 62 horses killed and 45 hussars taken prisoners. The Austrian army then concentrated near Görlitz in a camp on the Landskron Hill. On November 4, the Austrian army set off for Pirna with the intention to lay siege to Dresden, defended by Lieutenant-General Schmettau. However, when Daun was informed that Frederick II was marching to the relief of Dresden, he retreated towards Bohemia by Peterswalde. The regiment then took its winter-quarters near Kraybitz (present-day Chřibská/CZ).

On January 12 1759, the regiment was reviewed at Kraybitz. It then counted 1,011 men and 828 horses. In this theatre of operation, a truce was agreed upon till March 16. Then, on March 26, FML Beck set off for a raid against the Prussians. Accordingly, the regiment, along with some Grenzers and some line infantry, marched to Greiffenberg (present-day Gryfów Slaski/PL) and launched an assault. The Prussian commander, Colonel Dieringshofen evacuated the town but asked Zieten Hussars and some infantry posted at Hirschberg (present-day Jelenia Góra/PL) for their support. FML Beck occupied the town and called 300 men of the Hessen-Darmstadt Dragoons to his help. Meanwhile, Kaiser Hussars were involved in a fight against Prussian grenadiers. Beck's troops finally managed to drive back Zieten Hussars and to capture the Prussian grenadier battalion (around 700 men including Colonel Dieringshofen) (in 1762, Major Kiss received the Knight Cross of the Maria Theresa Order for his conduct in this combat). On May 1, the Austrian Main Army encamped at Jaromir (present-day Jaroměř/CZ). FML Beck the set off again towards Braunau (present-day Broumov/CZ) where he remained until June 28. On July 6, the entire Austrian Army assembled under FM Daun in the camp of Marklissa (present-day Leśna/PL) where it remained till July 30. Then Beck marched with his corps to Sorau. On August 15, he successfully stormed Grünberg (present-day Zielona Gora/PL). The regiment and Morocz Hussars distinguished themselves in this action. On September 10, the regiment was at Görlitz, in the corps of G.d.C. Marquis de Ville. When Prince Henri crossed the Neisse River, de Ville retreated to Bautzen. Until September 23 there was no movement. Within the next months, the Austrian army moved from place to place but there was no engagement. By November 17, it was in a camp near Dresden. On November 20, a detachment of the regiment (less than 1 coy) took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was assigned to Major-General Baron Seckendorf's detachment occupying the Heights of Malter near Dippoldiswalde. After this victory, the regiment was attached to GFWM Nauendorf's Corps. On December 3, this corps attacked General Dierecke's Corps in the Combat of Meissen, taking prisoners the entire corps (55 officers and 1,639 men) including his commander. After this remarkable success, Nauendorf marched to Torgau and destroyed 20 Prussian provision ships on the Elbe River. At the end of the year, FML Beck returned with his corps to Radebeul. The regiment then rejoined the main army and spent the winter at Liptau near Dresden.

On March 31 1760, the regiment was reviewed in Liptau, it then counted 839 men and 804 horses and had 325 recruits coming from Hungary. At the beginning of April, the regiment was attached to FZM Moritz Lacy's Corps who was charged to operate on the east bank of the Elbe during the campaign in Saxony. On May 27, a detachment of Kaiser hussars and Saxon Schiebel Uhlans attacked a detachment of Zieten Hussars near Cottbus, taking 63 men and 1 officer prisoners and capturing 100 saddled horses. On June 2, another detachment of 300 Kaiser Hussars and 300 Schiebel Uhlans under GFWM Duke Liechtenstein was sent to Nieschwitz where they engaged Zieten Hussars once more and drove them back on Torgau, taking 3 officers and 123 men prisoners. On his way back, Liechtenstein destroyed 3 Prussian provision ships on the Elbe River. Afterwards, the regiment took part in several skirmishes. At the end of July, Daun marched towards Dresden to relieve the besieged garrison under FZM Maquire. On July 29, the Prussians lifted the Siege of Dresden after Daun's victory on the “Weisser Hirsch” and retired to Kesselsdorf. Lacy then occupied the Plauen Valley. On August 3, the regiment, who had erstwhile rejoined the main army, marched on Bautzen. On August 5, it crossed the Neisse River and encamped near Broitsch. On August 15, the regiment did not take part in the Battle of Liegnitz (present-day Legnica/PL) because it was not in Loudon's Corps. On November 3, the regiment took part in the battle of Torgau where it lost 7 men and 18 horses killed, Lieutenant-Colonel Kiss and 17 men wounded and 13 men and horses captured. After this defeat, the army returned to the camp of Plauen. At the beginning of December, it took its winter-quarters, the regiment being posted at Gross-Opitz.

At the beginning of 1761, the regiment was reviewed in Gross-Opitz, it then counted 1,012 men and 916 horses. For this campaign, it was attached once more to Lacy's Corps and patrolled along the Elbe River. On April 10, a few companies of the regiment under GFWM Ried attacked Prussian outposts near Seligstadt and Taubenheim. On April 14, they took 350 men prisoners at Miltitz. On May 22, Colonel Kleist attacked Lacy's outposts near Wilsdruff. The Kaiser Hussars there were overrun and 6 men captured. (They later served in the Prussian Army against the Swedes in Pomerania but soon deserted and joined the Swedish Army. They rejoined Kaiser Hussars in 1763 after the Treaty of Hubertusburg). GFWM Ried came to the rescue with the rest of the regiment and drove the Prussians back. In May, 4 Prussian battalions with some cavalry attacked Ried's outposts at Wilsdruff, Kesselsdorf, Bennewitz, Weisstrupp and Niederwartha; but GFWM Ried was well prepared and drove them back, killing many and taking 100 men prisoners. On September 9, FZM Lacy sent a detachment of 400 men (including 2 squadrons of Kaiser Hussars under Colonel Almásy) to attack a Prussian “Freibataillon” near Riesa. One officer and 78 men were taken prisoners and 400 horses captured. On November 5, GFWM Ried attacked the Prussian garrisons at Nossen and Rosswein and drove them out. The regiment killed many Prussian, taking only a few prisoners. At the end of December, it took its winter-quarters near Grossenhain.

At the beginning of 1762, the regiment patrolled near Weisstropp and Kesselsdorf. On January 20, GFWM Ried concentrated his troops (1 carabinier coy, 6 horse grenadier coys, 2 sqns of Stampach Cuirassiers, Kaiser Hussars, 2 sqns of Szechényi Hussars, 2 bns of Grenzer light troops and 1 bn of Leopold Daun Infantry ]]), On January 21 in the morning, he attacked a Prussian “Freibataillon” at Deutsch-Bohra and Eula. The Grenzer and line infantry stormed 6 entrenchments while Colonel Almásy with his hussars blocked retreat and took Major Schack, 8 officers and 88 men prisoners. Ried remained in the occupied position until next night and returned safely, with all prisoners (in total 28 officers and 392 men) and captured guns to his initial position. The regiment and his colonel were praised in his journal. In mid-May, the regiment was transferred to Silesia. On June 14, the regiment, along with Herzog Württemberg Dragoons engaged Finckenstein Dragoons, Pomeiske Dragoons and Gersdorff Hussars. On June 28, Captain Buday with one squadron of the regiment and 100 men of Herzog Württemberg Dragoons distinguished himself in this combat against a superior Prussian force under Lieutenant-Colonel Reitzenstein. Unfortunately was Captain Buday, 11 hussars, the captain of the Württemberg Dragoons and 30 of his men were captured by the Prussians. On July 6, the regiment took part in the Combat of Adelsbach

From August to September, a detachment of the regiment under Lieutenant Petróczy took part in the defence of Schweidnitz. After the capitulation of the fortress, Frederick II allowed the garrison to leave with military honour. Meanwhile, on August 16, the regiment was involved in the Battle of Reichenbach as part of Beck's Corps, losing 2 men killed, 12 wounded and 5 missing. Afterwards, the regiment joined the troops of FML Brentano near Diersbach. On September 30, a detachment (including the regiment) distinguished itself in a skirmish with Prussian troops. This was the last action of the regiment in the Seven Years' War. It was then directed to Ottendorf in Saxony.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756

Uniform Details as per Donath
Headgear a brown kolback with yellow cords and tassels and a yellow bag
Pelisse red
Fur trim black
Lace several rows of yellow braids
Buttons yellow
Dolman red edged yellow with 12 yellow braids and yellow buttons
Collar no information available probably red edged yellow
Cuffs red edged with a yellow chevron
Trousers red with a yellow vertical stripe on each side
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information available
Waist-sash red and yellow barrel sash
Scabbard black with copper fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged yellow with a yellow tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark blue shabraque bordered yellow
Sabretache red bordered yellow and wearing a cipher


Uniform in 1757

The 1757 reform, stated that all hussar regiments should be dressed in dark blue uniform with yellow distinctives. Kaiser Franz Hussars were the only regiment who adapted to the new regulation.

Uniform in 1757 Variant 1
Source: David at Not By Appointment
Uniform in 1757 Variant 2
Source: David at Not By Appointment
Uniform Details
Headgear brown kolback with yellow cords and tassels and a dark blue bag
Pelisse dark blue
Fur trim black
Lace 14 rows of yellow braids (the Albertina Handschrift gives only 13 rows of braids)
Buttons yellow
Dolman dark blue with 17 rows of yellow braids and yellow buttons (the Albertina Handschrift gives only 15 rows of braids)
Collar dark blue edged yellow
Cuffs yellow pointed cuffs edged with a narrow dark blue braid
Trousers dark blue decorated with an intricate yellow lace and with a yellow vertical strip on each side
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waist-sash dark blue and yellow barrel sash
Scabbard black with copper fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged yellow with a yellow tassel (the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift illustrates yellow Hungarian boots even though this practice had supposedly disappeared before the Seven Years War)
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark blue shabraque edged yellow and decorated with an intricate yellow pattern
Sabretache dark blue edged yellow with the cipher of Maria Theresa “MT” in gold (the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift illustrates a cipher consisting of a single “K”)


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre and two pistols.

Officers

As per the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift, officers wore a uniform very similar to the uniform of the troopers with the following differences:

  • brown fur trim on the pelisse
  • 4 golden horizontal braids on the sleeve above each cuff
  • golden braids
  • yellow Hungarian boots edged gold
  • red saddle cloth edged gold

NCOs

no information available yet

Musicians

no information available yet

Colours

The swallow-tailed guidon of the Leib-Kompanie was made of white silk

  • obverse: the Virgin Mary Maria and the text “Maria Mater Dei, Patrona Hungariae”
  • reverse: the Imperial Eagle with the emperor's cipher

The swallow-tailed guidon of the Obrist-Kompanie was made of green silk

  • obverse: St. Ignaz
  • reverse: the Imperial Eagle

Klimek also gives a description of the guidons used from 1765 to 1780.

Red silk swallow tailed pennants fringed in gold on a red flagpole:

  • obverse: centre device consisting of a double eagle (in most Hussar regiments, the eagle bore the Hungarian shield)
  • reverse: bordered in gold; centre device consisting of a shield carrying arms surmounted by a scroll

References

Albertina-Handschrift Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762 (Bibliothek des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums Wien)

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Regimenter der Kaiserin, Gedanken zur "Albertina Handschrift" 1762 des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums Wien, Köln: 1967

Donath, Rudolf: Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979

Hausmann, Friedrich: Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias; in Schriften des HGM, Vol III; Vienna and Koeln, 1967; pp. 129-174

Klimek, St.: Oesterreichische Kavalleriestandarten aus dem 18. Jahrhundert im Heeresmuseum zu Wien, Die Zinnfigur, Clio: 1927

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Uniformbogen No. 7, 23, 71, 95, 97

Seyfart: Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 69

Skala H.: Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thümmler, Lars-Holger: Die Österreichische Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Thürheim, A. Graf: Die Reiterregimenter der k. K. Österreichischen Armee Vienna 1862

Treuenfest„ A. v.: Geschichte des k.u.k. Husaren-Regimentes Kaiser Nr. 1, Vienna 1898

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and Harald Skala for additional details