Pionier Korps

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Pionier Korps

Origin and History

The need for pioneers came from the infantry whose marching columns constantly had to have obstacles moved out of their ways, roads repaired, walkways and bridges thrown over rivers.

At the end of 1757 GFWM Count Franz Moritz Lacy persuaded Maria Theresa of the usefulness of a Pionier-Korps.

The Pionier-Korps was established in January 1758 and consisted of one battalion of four companies. Each company consisted of 161 officers and men, including jägers to protect the pioneers. More precisely:

  • 3 officers
  • 5 NCOs
  • 3 musicians
  • 100 men
  • 50 jägers

Jägers were recruited among professional hunters and gamekeepers; pioneers among miners, fishermen and boaters. The battalion was attached to the General Staff. And was placed under the supervision of the quartermaster-general, GFWM Lacy.

It is interesting to note the ethnic origins of the technical troops of the Austrian Army: about 25% came from Bohemia and Krain; about 10% from the Empire; the rest from Moravia, Styria, Silesia, Hungary and the Austrian Netherlands. Most NCOs came from Bohemia (25%), the Empire (22,5%) and Hungary (12,5%). The median age was 25 years old.

The corps was equipped with a light bridge train consisting of 3 groups of six-horse wagons. Each company carried a stock of 3 m. long wooden poles and 10 m. long beams.

In 1759, each company of the Pionier-Korps was increased to 266 officers and men and was allocated to various armies and corps. Each company then comprised:

  • 3 officers
  • 10 NCOs
  • 3 musicians
  • 250 men (excluding the jägers who then formed a separate unit)

During the Seven Years' War, the successive commanders of this corps were:

  • in 1758: Major Carl Baron von Schmidburg
  • in 1759: Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Ludwig Baron Montmartin
  • in 1760: Major Carl Baron von Enzenberg

In the winter of 1761-62, for cost reasons, the corps was disbanded at the instigation of Chancellor Kaunitz against the will of the generals. However, 200 pioneers were incorporated into the Stabs-Infanterie while the pontoon-wagons were transferred to the Pontoniers.

An independent Pionier-Regiment was re-established in 1867.

Service during the War

On October 14 1758, the Pionier-Korps proved its value at the Battle of Hochkirch.

In the Summer of 1760, the Pionier-Korps was present at the Battle of Landeshut (June 23) and at the storming of Glatz (July 26).

In September 1761, the Pionier-Korps took part in the blockade and storming of Schweidnitz.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1760
as per Schirmer

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear plain black leather cap
Neckstock black
Coat light blue-grey with white buttons on the right side and unlaced buttonholes on the left side and 1 white button in the small of the back on each side
Collar grass green
Shoulder Straps no information available
Lapels none
Pockets no information available
Cuffs grass green
Turnbacks grass green
Waistcoat light blue-grey with small white buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information available
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box no information available
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard no information available
Footgear black shoes

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the pioneers with the following distinctions:

  • black leather cap edged with a silver braid
  • a bayonet-sabre

Officers

Officers wore the same uniform as the pioneers with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne laced gold
  • black boots

Musicians

no information found

Colours

no information found

References

Dangl, V. and V. Seges: Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, Vol. III, Bratislava ,1995

Das Heer Maria Theresias (ALBERTINA), Nachdruck Vienna, 1973

Duffy, Ch.: Sieben Jahre Krieg, in der hervorragenden Übersetzung von Fr. Dr. C. Reichl-Ham, HGM Vienna, 2003

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, Appendix 4

Kalus, P.: Die Fugger in der Slowakei, Augsburg, 1999

Sach, J. and P. Moudry: Chladne zbrane v habsb. monarchii, Prague, 2002

Wurzbach, C. v.: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Österreich, Vienna, 1861

Acknowledgments

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article