Mercy-Argenteau Infantry

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Origin and History

This regiment was raised in 1684 by the Estates of Silesia at Breslau (present-day Wroclaw/PL) and had 10 companies for a total of 1,500 men. On July 1 1684, Paul Anton Baron von Houchin was appointed as proprietor. The regiment soon distinguished itself during siege of Neuhäusel which was captured on August 19. It later took part in the siege of Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK). During winter, it was at the blockade of the Castle of Munkács.


In 1686 and 1687, during the Great Turkish War, it took part in the blockade of Erlau and Munkács; in 1689, it was in the second line at the Battle of Pataci on the Morawa, and at Nissa; in 1692, it took part in the siege of Grosswardein; and in 1696, in the Battle of Ollasch. On September 11 1697, the regiment was not present at the Battle of Zenta, it was garrisoning Karansebes together with Lapaczek and Pfeffershofen Infantry and joined Prince Eugène's Army only after the battle. The regiment spent the winter at Mohacs, Siklós, Kaposvár and Dombrovar.

On June 13 1699, the regiment became the property of Colonel-Lieutenant Wirich Philipp Lorenz Count von Daun and was called “Jung-Daun” from that moment. At his death, on July 30 1741, FML Anton Ignaz Count von Mercy d'Argenteau became proprietor of the regiment on August 4 of the same year.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in mid-February 1701, the regiment (now counting 16 fusilier companies and one grenadier company) marched from Hungary through Carinthia by Linz and Botzen (present-day Bolzano). At the end of March, it had reached in South Tyrol. By the beginning of May, it was stationed in Trento. It then took part in the invasion of Northern Italy. On July 27, it followed the main army when it passed the Mincio. On September 1, the regiment fought in the Battle of Chiari. On December 3, a detachment of the regiment was at the capture of Canneto. In mid-December, it passed to the right bank of the Po with instructions to occupy Guastalla. On December 16, the entire regiment assembled at Luzzara where it took up its winter-quarters. In 1702, it took part in the campaign in Northern Italy. On August 15, 2 battalions of the regiment fought in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1704, the regiment campaigned in Piedmont where it took part in the attack of the trenches at Verrua. In 1706, it took part in the relief of Turin. In 1707, it took part in the storming of Gaeta in the Kingdom of Naples. In June 1714, the regiment was allocated to the Army of the Rhine and arrived at Ettlingen. From that month, the regiment was called “Alt-Daun”.

In 1716, the regiment was in Hungary again and had 2,107 men (15 fusilier and 2 grenadier companies). On August 5, it took part in the Battle of Peterwardein against the Turks and then in the following siege of Temesvár.

Between 1719 and 1736, the regiment garrisoned various German estates and places in the Low Countries.

Form 1739, the regiment fought against Turks.

In 1741, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the Battle of Molwitz where it lost 30 men killed, 110 wounded and 83 missing. In 1742, it was at the siege of Prague and then went to Bavaria in the Autumn. In 1743, it served on the Rhine, returning to Bavaria at the end of the year . In 1744, it was allocated to Batthyanyi's Corps and fought in Bohemia. In 1746, 3 battalions and two grenadier companies were allocated to the corps of FZM Browne and marched to Italy where they remained until 1756.

As per the Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759 and Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760, the regiment counted 4 battalions (2 grenadier coys and 16 fusilier coys) for a total of 2,300 men. This was the administrative organisation of the regiment. However, the tactical organisation differed: 2 field fusilier battalions, each of 6 companies; 2 grenadier companies (usually converged with grenadiers from other battalions into an ad hoc unit); and 1 garrison battalion of 4 companies (see Austrian Line Infantry Organisation for more details).

During the Seven Years' War, the chef of the regiment was:

  • since August 4 1741 to 1767: Anton Ignaz Count von Mercy d'Argenteau

During the Seven Years' War, its colonel-commanders were:

  • from 17??: Johann Josef Count Herberstein
  • from 1758: Karl Leopold Baron von Stain (or Stein), Herr zu Nieder-Stolzingen

Regimental numbers were introduced only in 1769 when this regiment was designated as "I.R. 56".

Service during the War

In 1756, at the outbreak of the war, the regiment was stationed in Lombardy. In January 1757, 2 battalions and 2 grenadier companies joined Königsegg's Corps near Reichenberg while the other battalion (4 companies) was stationed at Prague.

While trying to put a stop to the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, on April 21 1757, the regiment took part in the Combat of Reichenberg where it lost 11 men killed, 21 wounded and 21 missing. On May 6, two of its battalions and its grenadiers took part in the Battle of Prague where they were deployed in Baron Breysach's Brigade, in the second line of the right wing of infantry under Count Königsegg. In this battle, the regiment lost 2 officers and 68 men killed; 11 officers and 196 men wounded; 1 officer and 59 men taken prisoners of war; and 130 men missing. On June 18, one battalion and one grenadier company of the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where they were deployed on the left wing, in Puebla's Division. The battalion lost 15 men killed, 62 wounded and 18 missing. Meanwhile, the rest of the regiment had taken part in the defence of Prague, losing 40 men during siege. After the victory at Kolin, one battalion (4 companies) remained in Prague. The other battalion and the two grenadier companies (a total of 1,174 men) followed the retiring Prussians to Upper Lusatia. On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked the isolated Prussian corps of Winterfeldt in the Combat of Moys, 1 battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment were deployed in the first line of the infantry right division under the command of Lieutenant-General Wied. Lieutenant-Colonel von Kinslau led the advance guard of 6 grenadier coys and was mortally wounded during the combat. In October and November, a detachment of 187 men took part in the siege of Schweidnitz. On November 22, 1 battalion of the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was part of the Reserve Corps in Baron Otterwolf's Brigade. Colonel Herberstein with 1,000 men of the regiment and some Grenzer-troops attacked the Prussian entrenchments at Pilsnitz and drove them out of the village after some heavy fighting. The regiment lost 6 men killed and 30 wounded. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, one battalion of the regiment was deployed in the second line of the far right Reserve under Major-General von Luzinsky. It lost 50 men killed; 6 officers and 92 men wounded; and 125 missing. The regiment took up its winter-quarters near Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ),

By August 2 1758, the regiment served in the second line of the main Austrian army under the command of count Leopold Daun near Jaromirs. Daun was following up the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the invasion of Moravia. It saw no action and took up once more its winter-quarters near Trautenau.

By mid August 1759, the regiment was part of Buccow's Corps posted in Lusatia. On September 2, it took part in the Combat of Sorau.

On November 3 1760, 2 battalions of the regiment fought in the Battle of Torgau where they were deployed in the middle of the second line. In this sanguinary battle, the regiment lost a total of 13 officers, 37 grenadiers and 425 fusiliers (Colonel Baron Stain would later receive, on December 22 1761, the Knight Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Order for his valour in the battle).

In 1761, the regiment (now 1,288 men) was with Daun's main army and was sent under FZM Lacy's command to support Loudon's Corps. On October 1, the regiment took part in the storming of Schweidnitz.

In 1762, the regiment (now 1,212 men) was in Daun's main army, 200 men formed part of the garrison of Schweidnitz. On July 21, the regiment took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf, losing 78 men in total. After the surrender of Schweidnitz, on October 9, the detachment of the regiment participating in the defence of the place became prisoners of war.

In 1763, after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the regiment went to Slavonia (the proprietor of the regiment, Count Mercy d´Argenteau, was commander of Esseg): 4 companies came to Unter-Varos, 4 to Ober-Varos, 1 to Retfalu, 1 to Esseg and 8 to Peterwardein.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
as per the Delacre Bilderhandschrift of 1757
and the Albertina Handschrift, Bautzener Bilderhandschrift and Raspe of 1762

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a white fastener on the right side (left side in 1762) and a small yellow button on the left side; no cockade nor pompom (blue within white cockade and blue pompoms in 1762)
Grenadier bearskin with a blue bag laced yellow and a yellow tassel
Neckstock one red and one black (for parades the regimental commanders agreed before on the colour of the neckstocks)
Coat white with 3 yellow buttons under the right lapel and 1 yellow button in the small of the back on each side
Collar none
Shoulder Straps blue fastened by a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels blue with 7 yellow buttons (1-3-3)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs blue with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks white (attached with a blue fastener and a yellow button in 1762)
Waistcoat white with 2 rows of yellow buttons and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters one pair of black (for winter) and one pair of white gaiters (for summer and parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate carrying the initials “MT”
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black (grenadiers only)
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a musket (Model 1745 for fusiliers, Model 1754 for grenadiers). Grenadiers carried a sabre while fusiliers carried only a bayonet.

N.B.: the blue distinctive colour is represented differently by every author: a greyish in Delacre Handschrift, royal blue in Albertina Handschrift, almost black by Raspe...

NCOs

NCO of Mercy-Argenteau Infantry in 1762 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli


Officers

The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a white and green cockade
  • black neckstock
  • a golden aiguillette on the left shoulder
  • no turnbacks
  • yellow and black silk sash

Senior officers carried sticks identifying their rank:

  • lieutenant: bamboo stick without knob
  • captain: long rush stick with a bone knob
  • major: long rush stick with a silver knob and a small silver chain
  • lieutenant-colonel: long rush stick with a larger silver knob without chain
  • colonel: long rush stick with a golden knob

Sergeants carried a halberd and a wooden stick.

Corporals carried a halberd.

Musicians

Until 1760, the musicians wore coats of reversed colours with white swallow nests and white tirnbacks. From 1760, they wore uniforms identical to those of the privates with the following differences:

  • blue swallow nests on the shoulders edged with a yellow scalloped lace
  • blue cuffs edged with a yellow scalloped lace

The drum had a brass barrel decorated with black flames at the bottom and with a black double headed Eagle on a yellow field. Rims were decorated with red and white diagonal stripes. The bandolier was white.

Colours

All German infantry regiments carried identical colours: a white Leibfahne (colonel) and yellow Regimentsfahne. The hand painted colours were made of silk and measured Size 178 cm x 127 cm. The 260 cm long flagpoles had golden finial and were decorated with black and yellow spirals of cloth.

The colonel colour was carried by the first battalion.

Colonel flag (Leibfahne):

  • field: white
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God (which had been declared the patroness of the army by kaiser Ferdinand III) on a cloud, crushing a snake under her foot and surrounded by rays
  • reverse (left): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
Leibfahne – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Regimental flags (Regimentsfahne):

  • field: yellow
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
  • reverse (left): unarmed and crowned Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Hungaria and Bohemia on a shield and the initials M on the left wing and T on the right
Regimentsfahne – Source: Frédéric Aubert

In fact, the situation on the field was slightly more complex than this, since colours were usually replaced only when worn out. It is fairly possible that some regiment who had been issued colours of the 1743 pattern were still carrying them at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. For more details, see Austrian Line Infantry Colours.

References

This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:

  • Ziegler, A.: Das kaiserlich-königliche Sechsundfünfzigste Linien-Infanterie-Regiment, Vienna 1861
  • Gräffer, August: Geschichte der kaiserl. Königl. Regimenter, Corps, Bataillons und anderer Militär-Branchen seit ihrer Errichtung biz zu Ende des Feldzuges 1799, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1804, pp. 239-243
  • Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, pp. 18-19

Other sources

Bilderhandschrift Delacre: Militair Etat der Ganzen Kayl., Königl. Armee Wienn 1757

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

Dihm, Dr. Hermann; Oesterreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Klio

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

Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759

Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760

Friese, Ulf-Joachim, Quellen zur Uniformierung der österreichisch-ungarischen Armee 1740-1763

Hausmann, Friedrich, Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias, Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums, vol. 3, Vienna: 1967

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called „Brauer-Bogen"), Berlin 1926-1962, Österreich-Ungarn – 1756-63

Kornauth, Friedrich, Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe, Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen KAYSERLICH KOENIGLICHEN ARMEEN zur eigentlichen Kentnis der UNIFORM von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Seidel, Paul; Nochmals österreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Clio

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

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

Acknowledgments

Harald Skala for the sections on the origin and history of the regiment and on its service during the war.

User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about the uniform of the regiment

Franco Saudelli and Dr. Marco Pagan for the creation of the accompanying plates.