O'Donell Cuirassiers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> O'Donell Cuirassiers

Origin and History

After the War of the Spanish Succession, Emperor Charles VI brought with him in Austria three Spanish cavalry regiments: the Galbes Dragoons, and the Vasquez and Cordova Cuirassiers. Each regiment counted 600 horse. They had all honourably taken part in the campaigns in Spain and then served in the war against the Turks in Hungary in 1716 and 1717. In 1716, they were at the battle of Peterwardein and at the siege of Temesvar. In 1717, they took part in the siege and battle of Belgrade.

On September 28 1721, these three regiment were amalgamated into a single one: the Galbes Cuirassier Regiment. The new regiment consisted of 12 cuirassier companies and 1 carabinier company. Its recruits now came from German countries.

In 1727, an Auctionskompanie was raised. Part of this company was transferred to the Infant von Portugal Cuirassiers in 1731.

From 1737, the regiment served in Hungary against the Turks for three campaigns. In 1740, at the end of the war, the regiment was stationed in the Siebenbürgen Country (present-day Transylvania).

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the battle of Mollwitz in 1741 where it had 6 men killed and 35 wounded. In November of the same year, it was brigaded with Philibert Dragoons under the Prince von Birkenfeld in the cavalry division of Baron Linden. In 1742, the regiment took part in the siege of Prague. By the end of September it had been transferred to the Count of Bentheim's Brigade. In 1743, the regiment served on the Rhine. In 1744, it was assigned to Vienna. In 1745, it was back in Germany. In 1746, it served in Italy. In 1748, at the end of the war, the regiment was stationed in Hungary.

In 1750, Friedrich Baron von der Trenck, the cousin of the famous Pandour leader Franz Baron von der Trenck, served in the regiment as Rittmeister (squadron leader).

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of carabiniers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • from 1726 to his death in 1756: Caspar Ferdinand Count von Cordova
  • from 1756 to his death in 1771: Anton Claudius Count O’Donell

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

  • since 1752: Johann Anton Count Bettoni
  • from 1758 to 1767: Jakob Baron Brockhausen

Service during the War

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, the regiment was stationed in the Héveser Komitat in Hungary and counted 793 men and 787 horses. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz where it was deployed in the first line of cavalry of the right wing under the command of Lieutenant-General Radicati. However, these cavalry units were deployed in the centre of the Austrian positions. At 11:00 a.m., when the fog finally raised the Prussian cavalry attacked the Austrian right wing between Kinitz and Radostitz. The Austrian cavalry deployed there in three lines impetuously counter-attacked. However, outnumbered three to one, the Austrians were forced to retire and were pursued up to Sulowitz. The Prussian cavalry was now alone, advancing in the crossfire of the Austrian artillery and infantry from Lobositz and from the heights behind the Morellenbach. The Prussian cavalry halted. In a wink, the regiment, led by Colonel Count Johann Bettoni, along with Stampach Cuirassiers charged at the gallop from Bukowitz and attacked the disordered Prussian cavalry while Hadik Hussars charged them in flank. The Prussian cavalry was thrown back and retired under the cover of its infantry where it rallied. During this battle the regiment suffered heavily. Several of its officers were killed: Rittmeister Nagy and Targa, Lieutenant Huss and Cornet Güntner. Others were wounded: Lieutenant-Colonel Count Verneda (who later died of his wounds) and seven other officers. Major Count Barzicka was taken prisoners along with another officer. Furthermore, several troopers were killed or wounded.

In June 1757, during the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, the regiment was part of the relief army sent to rescue the Austrian army besieged in Prague. On June 12, it was at the camp of Goltsch-Jenikau (present-day Golčův Jeníkov) brigaded with the Jung-Modena Dragoons under Major-General Castiglione in the division of Baron Lützow in the Reserve-Corps. Its six squadrons and its carabinier company amounted to 610 horse. During this campaign, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin on June 18 where it was part of Castiglione’s Brigade in the corps of Count Colloredo held in reserve behind the centre. A few weeks later, on July 21, Major Baron Barco captured an important convoy near Kamnitz (present-day Kamenice). Later during the same year, the regiment fought at the Battle of Breslau on November 22 where it was deployed in Count Ludwig Starhemberg's Brigade, in the second line of the cavalry left wing under Count Stampach. It supported the infantry left wing. On December 5, the regiment took also part in the Battle of Leuthen where it was deployed in Stahrenberg's Brigade in the second line of the cavalry left wing under General Serbelloni. During this battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Count Barczicka was grievously wounded. He died of his wounds a few days later.

By August 2 1758, the regiment was serving in the first line of the Austrian Main Army under the command of Daun near Jaromirs. Daun was following up the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the Prussian invasion of Moravia. On October 14, the regiment fought in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed on the extreme right wing, to the east of Kotitz, in Buccow's cavalry column, with the Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers under General Count Hohenzollern. It attacked the covering force of General Retzow at Weissenberg, inflicting it heavy losses. Even though the Prussian right wing was already defeated, the left wing still held its ground. The colonel of the regiment, Baron Brockhausen, requested the permission to charge the infantry of this wing in order to force the decision. When he received the authorisation, he placed himself at the head of his regiment and attacked the Grenadier Battalion of Prince August von Preussen across difficult terrain. Brockhausen struck the Prussian grenadiers in rear and flank with such determination and courage that soon about 600 men were obliged to deposit arms. This successful attack forced the entire Prussian left wing to retire. Rittmeister Baron Ravizza then impetuously fell upon the flanks of the disordered Prussian infantry with his carabinier company. In a wink, he received support from two other carabinier companies and he threw his unit in a short and bloody combat where he was wounded. The carabiniers captured 7 flags. After this battle, Colonel Baron Brockhausen and Rittmeister Ravizza both received the Maria-Theresia Order.

By mid August 1759, five squadrons of the regiment were part of Daun's Corps posted in Silesia. On September 2, they took part in the Combat of Sorau where they were brigaded under Major-General O'Donell. The carabinier company was converged with similar units in the brigade of Fürst Karl Lichtenstein.

In 1760, the regiment was at the Battle of Landeshut on June 23; and at the Battle of Liegnitz on August 15. However, it is at the Battle of Torgau, on November 3, that the regiment was the most seriously involved. Colonel Baron Brockhausen, Major Baron Ravizza, Rittmeister Schreiber and Fachner, Lieutenant-Colonel Schlosser, Lieutenant Horn and five troopers were wounded while 3 troopers were killed. Furthermore, Rittmeister Orberg, Lieutenants Count O'Donell, Pziencadada, Count Nostitz and 33 troopers were taken prisoners. Fachner, the Rittmeister of the carabinier company distinguished himself by capturing nine flags with his company despite his wound.

In 1761 and 1762, the regiment was part of the army operating in Saxony. In 1762, the carabinier company served under General Ried during the attack of the Prussian advanced posts at Eula.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Richard Couture and Ibrahim90 from an illustration of the Albertina Handschrift
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources when necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Carabinier black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small brass button
Neckstock black
Coat white with 16 brass/pewter buttons on the right side and one brass button on the left sire. The two topmost buttons were attached together by a red band.
Collar none
Shoulder strap red fastened with a brass button
Lapels none
Cuffs red with 3 brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat white with 11 brass buttons (2 horizontal pockets each with 3 brass buttons)
Breeches red
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to Grünewaldès plate)
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black decorated with brass
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red laced with a white braid bordered black and decorated with a black zig-zag lines (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Sabretache red laced with a white braid bordered black and decorated with a black zig-zag lines (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Blanket roll white laced red (according to Donath's illustration)


Troopers were armed with a black breastplate (worn over the coat), a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols. Carabiniers also had a carbine and carried a sabre instead of a sword.

Other interpretations

Grünewald black and white plate mentions green oak leaves fastened to the tricorne which is laced white.

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762 shows a golden lace on the tricorne and a red neckstock.

Donath illustrates the lace along the saddlecloth and sabretache as white with black squares.

Donath illustrates a pentagonal sabretache while the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762 shows a more traditional one.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a green and white cockade
  • blue saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in red and fringed in yellow

Musicians

Musicians of the regiment rode white horses. Their uniforms was similar to those of the troopers. However, blue swallow nests distinguished them from the troopers.

The brass trumpets had a royal blue silk apron decorated on both sides with a large white “B” and with blue fringe and tassels.

The aprons of the kettle drums were white decorated with three small blue and red standards with the cipher “MT” between the small standards. The aprons were fringed in gold

Colours

Colonel Standard (Leibstandarte): White field with a gold fringe, a blue flagpole and a gold spearhead decorated as follows
  • obverse: the black and gold double eagle of the Hapsburgs
  • reverse: the coat of arms O'Donell (blue silver embroideries)
Regimental Standard (Regimentsstandarte): Blue silk with silver embroideries, a blue flagpole and a silver spearhead decorated as follows
  • obverse: a central frame with the silver double eagle of the Hapsburgs with trophies underneath and the motto "Fortitudini" in a scroll above
  • reverse: the black and gold double eagle of the Hapsburgs
  Reconstruction based on a standard preserved at the Heeresmuseum in Vienna
Regimental Standard – Source: Hannoverdidi

(Source: Schirmer, see references for details)

References

Bautzener Bilderhandschrift, 1762

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

Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

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

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde. Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, 18 Bde., Rathenow 1890-1919

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

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

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

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

Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 125-146

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988