Oertzen Dragoons

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Origin and History

In 1741, the “Mounted Grenadier Regiment” was subdivided in two distinct units, the present regiment being one of them. The new regiment retained the seniority of its parent unit which had been created on January 3, 1705 for the son of the Baron von Derfflinger. It was initially stationed in Neumark. In 1745, it was stationed in Arnswalde, Friedeberg and Landsberg an der Warthe. In 1753, one of its squadron was stationed in Woldenberg. Its cantons included the districts of Dramburg, Friedeberg and Landsberg an der Warthe; and the towns of Arnswalde, Friedeberg, Landsberg an der Warthe, Schönfliess and Woldenberg.

In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1701-13), the regiment took part in the Battle of Kesselsdorf.

The regiment counted five squadrons.

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

  • since September 21 1752: Henning Ernst von Oertzen
  • from October 4 1756: Carl Emil von Katte
  • from October 24 1757 to September 22 1772: Ernst Heinrich baron von Czettritz

In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years' War, the regiment consisted of 683 Prussians, 20 Saxons and 255 "foreigners".

The regiment was disbanded in 1806 after the capitulation of the Prussian army to Napoleon.

Service during the War

On August 26, 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the left column led by the Prince of Bevern. This column had concentrated in the area of Lübben, then advanced through Lusatia by Hoyerswerda and Bautzen, to Hohenstein (Sept. 8) then to Lohmen north of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz under Lieutenant-General Schwerin. During this battle, it lost 29 men. On October 2, the regiment was part of Bevern's force sent to lay hold of Tschischkowitz (present-day Cizkovice) on the road towards Budin. On October 23, when Keith's army left Lobositz to return to Pirna, the regiment formed its rearguard. The same day, the regiment joined Frederick II at Linai to cover Keith's advance. On October 28, the whole force reached Gross-Sedlitz near Pirna and the regiment took up its winter quarters soon afterwards.

In April 1757, the regiment took part in the [[1757 - Prussian invasion of Bohemia|invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, at the Combat of Reichenberg, it was deployed in the second line of Duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force. While the Prussian infantry was assaulting the Austrian abatis, Bevern ordered the regiment along with the Württemberg Dragoons and the Normann Dragoons to attack the Austrian cavalry, which they completely routed. During the ensuing pursuit, the Prussian dragoons exposed their right flank to the fire of the Austrian infantry which had retired behind the second abatis. The Prussian dragoons suffered considerable loss and were thrown into disorder. The Austrian cavalry took advantage of this to set itself in order and to attack the Prussian cavalry, throwing it back. The sudden attack of Puttkamer Hussars on the flank of the pursuing Austrian cavalry, allowed the Prussian dragoons to rally and to counterattack, putting their opponent to flight. On May 6, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the second line of the left wing under Prince Schönaich. It captured a great number of prisoners and lost 59 men. On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the second line of the cavalry left wing under Lieutenant-General Penavaire. At the end of August, the regiment was part of the small Prussian army hastily assembled at Dresden by Frederick to head towards Thuringia and to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On September 14, when Frederick was forced to divide his army to contain the French in the region of Magdeburg and to secure the Prussian magazines in the area of Torgau, the regiment remained with Frederick at Erfurt to observe the Franco-Imperial army. On September 19, the regiment was sent to reinforce Major-General von Seydlitz when he successfully counter-attacked a Franco-Imperial force which had occupied Gotha. On November 5, at the Battle of Rossbach, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the right wing under Seydlitz. On December 4, the regiment was in the vanguard when the Prussian army under Frederick II advanced straight towards the Austrian camp in the area of Leuthen. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in Czettritz's brigade in the second line of the cavalry right wing under Zieten.

On July 29, 1758, during the Prussian retreat after the failed invasion of Moravia, the regiment covered the crossing of the Mettau by the main army. On August 10, the regiment was part of the corps who accompanied Frederick when he marched from Silesia to join Dohna to contain the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. On Tuesday August 22, this corps made a junction with Dohna at Manschnow. On August 25, the regiment fought in the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the first line of the cavalry left wing. It lost 89 men during this battle. On September 2, when it became clear that the Russian army was slowly retiring towards Landsberg, Frederick assembled the corps that he had brought with him from Silesia and left for Saxony where his help was badly needed. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where, as part of the Reserve, it was initially deployed en potence between Steindörfel and the Birkenbusch. The previous night, its troopers had kept their mounts saddled. This allowed them to react quickly to the first Austrian attack and to rescue Prussian prisoners before being forced to retire. Around 7:00 a.m., the regiment was among Zieten's Corps when it charged the Austrian grenadiers, thus preventing the Austrians from turning the Prussian right flank. On October 25, the regiment took part in the victorious engagement of Landskrone against the Austrian cavalry.

On September 2, 1759, the regiment, as part of Zieten's Corps, fought in the Combat of Sorau. During the retreat, the regiment initially formed part of the vanguard but was left behind at the Buschmuhle with the rearguard to cover the retreat. Along with the Freibattalion Salemnon, it took the full brunt of the attack. In this action, the regiment lost only a few men, including Captain Beauvre who had bravely commanded the rearguard, covering the retreat of Zieten's entire corps.

On Sunday August 3, 1760, when Frederick resolved to march towards Silesia, the regiment formed the rearguard of the second column. On August 15, it was present at the Battle of Liegnitz where it was deployed in the second line of the right wing. On September 17, it fought in the Batlle of Hochgiersdorf where it formed part of the rearguard. On November 3, the regiment took part in the Battle of Torgau.

In August 1761, the regiment formed part of Frederick’s Army encamped in the entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz (present-day Bolesławice) near Schweidnitz in Lower Silesia. It was attached to Major-General Lentulus's Brigade.

On July 21, 1762, the regiment took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf where it was deployed on the right wing. On August 16, it fought in the Battle of Reichenbach where it was deployed in the second line.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1757
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small white button and white within red pompons

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap

Neckstock black
Coat cobalt blue with 2 white buttons under the lapel and 3 white buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar straw yellow
Shoulder strap left shoulder: blue fastened with a white button
right shoulder: white with a white aiguillette
Lapels straw yellow with 6 white buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets each with 2 white buttons
Cuffs straw yellow (Swedish style) with 2 white buttons
Turnbacks straw yellow
Waistcoat straw yellow with one row of small white buttons and horizontal pockets, each with white buttons
Breeches buff
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather
Scabbard brown leather
Bayonet scabbard brown leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red with rounded corners; bordered with a wide white braid decorated with 3 thin blue braids
Housings red pointed housings; bordered with a wide white braid decorated with 3 thin blue braids
Blanket roll cobalt blue


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black within white pompoms in the lateral "cornes" of the tricorne
  • cuffs edged with a silver braid

Officers

Oertzen Dragoons Officer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

The officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade (attached with a golden fastener) and black and silver pompons
  • silver embroidered buttonholes on the coat
  • a silver aiguillette


Musicians

Oertzen Dragoons Drummer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

Drummers of the regiments of dragoons probably wore the same uniform as the troopers but decorated on the seams and edges with a white lace decorated with 2 blue lateral bands and a central checker board pattern of white and blue squares.

Colours

Standards were made of damask. They were swallow-tailed and measured some 50 cm along the pole, 65 cm from the pole to the extremity of a point and 50 cm from the pole to the centre of the indentation. The cords and knots were of silver threads. The pole of the standard was a white tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges. The golden spearhead wore the crowned monogram of Frédéric Wilhelm (FWR).

Colonel Standard (Leibstandarte): white field fringed gold with a white central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle flying towards a golden sun surmounted by a blue scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers). Squadron Standard (Eskadronstandarte): white field fringed gold with a blue central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle flying towards a golden sun surmounted by a white scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers).
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert
Squadron Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und LobositzBerlin, 1901, Appendix 1

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 570-575

Thümmler, L.-H.: Preußische Militärgeschichte

Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

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