Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers

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Origin and History

Trooper of Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers wearing the 1756 pattern uniform - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

The regiment was raised in 1733. It originally consisted of 2 squadrons of mounted Jägers serving in Poland. In 1735, it was augmented to 4 squadrons entitled Prinz Karl Chevaulegersregiment. Typically, the Saxon chevauxlegers regiments were mostly mounted on cheaper Polish horses than the Saxon cuirassiers and the Graf Rutowsky Light Dragoons who rode more expensive German horses.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment took part in the campaigns of 1734 and 1735 in Poland against the “Confederates”.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the campaigns of 1742. In 1743, it was stationed in Lithuania. In 1744, it was posted along the border in Upper Lusatia. In 1745, the regiment was initially at the great camp of Rückmersdorf near Leipzig. In November, when the Prussians occupied Saxony, an Austro-Saxon army marched to Wilsdruff. On December 15, this army was defeated by the Prussians at the Battle at Kesselsdorf. The regiment then went to Kaden (present-day Kadaň/CZ) and Postelberg (present-day Postoloprty/CZ). From 1746, the regiment garrisoned Sambor in Poland.

In 1752, the regiment went to Grodno during the Imperial Diet before returning to Sambor.

By 1754, the regiment was still garrisoning Sambor.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, the regiment consisted of 8 companies in 4 squadrons for a book strength of some 762 men.

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

  • until 1758: Prince Karl von Sachsen
  • from 1758: Prince Karl von Sachsen, Duke of Kurland (the same chef who was now duke of Kurland)

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


Service during the War

In 1756, Major-General Count Nostitz was appointed commander of the Saxon cavalry stationed in Poland (Karabiniergarde, Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlegers, Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers, Graf Renard Uhlanen and Graf Rudnicki Uhlanen). By October, these troops has been concentrated at Krakau (present-day Kraków/PL). During the invasion of Saxony by the Prussians, the regiment was stationed in Poland when much of the Saxon army surrendered at Pirna. It thus avoided the fate of these Saxon units who were forcefully enlisted into the Prussian service. By October 11, the regiment counted 736 men and 712 horses. In November, a few days after his arrival in Warsaw, the Elector of Saxony opened negotiations with the Court of Vienna about the use of his 6 remaining cavalry regiments stationed around Krakau (present-day Kraków) in Poland in conjunction with the Austrian army. An agreement was soon reached with Maria Theresa. On November 15, the regiment set off from from Krakau for Hungary. It marched by Teschen (present-day Český Těšín/CZ) to Ungarisch Hradisch (present-day Uherské Hradiště/CZ). It then took its winter-quarters near Neutra (present-day Nitra/SK) and Trencsin (present-day Trenčín/SK).

On May 1 1757, the regiment marched to join Daun's Army. On May 8, it joined this army to the south of Kolin. It was then attached to General Nádasdy's Corps posted near Czaslau (present-day Čáslav/CZ). It then served with the Austrian Army till the end of the war. On June 13, the regiment (to the exception of its carabinier company under Major-General von Zezschwitz who remained with the Austrian main army) was involved in a skirmish with Prussian troops near Maleschau (present-day Malešov/CZ), driving the Prussians out of Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora/CZ). A few days later, the three Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments attacked the Prussian rearguard, capturing a few hundreds prisoners. The regiment then remained near Sasmuk (present-day Zásmuky/CZ). On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the extreme right wing in Morocz's Division. At the beginning of the battle, the Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments along with 1,000 Austrian cuirassiers occupied the hills near Křečhoř. Around 10:00 a.m., they received infantry support from FZM Colloredo's Corps. The Prussians attacked Křečhoř and set the village afire. In the afternoon, the Austrian cuirassiers, Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers were sent to the neighbouring forest while Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers remained in its initial positions. Salm Infantry, deployed just in front of Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, suffered heavy losses and started to retreat. At this moment, Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers came to its support and Salm Infantry was able to hold its position. At the end of the afternoon, as Wied's Austrian Division was wavering in front of Hülsen and Tresckow attacks, the Saxon Chevaux-légers along with the Ligne Dragoons and the Kommandierten Austrian cavalry fell of the right flank on the exposed Prussian corps. They broke Hülsen's cavalry and threw his infantry into confusion. As they hacked into the Prussian infantry the Saxon battle cry was "Dies ist für Striegau!" ("This is for Striegau!", the Saxon name for their defeat at Hohenfriedberg in 1745). Wied's infantry division rallied and the Austrian and Saxon cavalry attacked again. Hülsen's infantry was broken and formed squares. During the struggle with the Prussian infantry, 4 sqns of the regiment almost annihilated the Prussian Grenadier Battalion von Waldau. After a short fight, the Austrians captured 14 Prussian battalions along with all their guns. FM Daun praised the Saxons after the victory and Lieutenant-Colonel Benekendorff was promoted colonel. An Austro-Saxon corps (5 bns, 2 dragoon rgts including Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers) followed the retreating Prussian army up to Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) and Saxony. At the end of July, the corps reached Tetschen (present day Děčín/CZ). Around mid August, the corps joined to the main army in the region of Herwigsdorf near Zittau. On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated Corps in the Combat of Moys, the regiment was deployed in the second line of the right wing under Major-General Gosenitz. During this combat, the regiment stopped 4 Prussian squadrons between the Jäckelsberg and Moys. In October and November, the regiment was present at the siege of Schweidnitz where it was deployed from the Stream of Weistrity (Bystrzyca) to Zülzendorf (Sulislawice). The regiment then joined the Austrian main army at Breslau. On November 22, the regiment took part in the victorious Battle of Breslau where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry left wing of Nádasdy's Corps. It distinguished itself, supporting General Forgách who was defending two villages. After the battle, Count Nostitz marched with the three Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments from Breslau to Neumark. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was part of the cavalry vanguard detached at Borne under Lieutenant-General Nostitz which was attacked and driven back on the Austrian right wing by the Prussian vanguard. They were then sent to the left flank and took position behind the Württemberger and Bavarian contingents. When these contingents broke and fled, the Saxon Chevauxlegers were thrown against the main Prussian flank attack and came under heavy fire from the Prussian artillery. FM Daun the ordered them to retire to Neumark to defend the only remaining bridge across the Lohe River. Nostitz, the commander of the regiment and "a first class officer" (Duffy, "Prussia's Glory"), was mortally wounded and captured by the Prussians. Out of a total of around 1,200 men in the three Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments, 479 were killed, wounded or captured. Prinz Karl alone lost 214, probably more than 50% of the regiment. Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers and Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlegers managed to return to Schweidnitz where their troopers finally received a distribution of bread after five days. Many officers and troopers fell ill. In the three Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments only 3 staff officers were fit for duty. The commander of the corps was now Major-General Monro. The Saxon Chevauxlegers regiments formed the rearguard of the army during its retreat towards Landeshut, losing many troopers during the retreat. The regiment retired to Sternberg (present-day Sternberk/CZ) in Moravia. Major-General Zezschwitz rejoined the corps with his carabiniers.

After the death of Nostizt in captivity (January 7 1758), Major-General von Zezschwitz was promoted to lieutenant-general and commander of all 4 Saxon cavalry regiments. In early May 1758, during the Prussian invasion of Moravia, the regiment joined G.d.C. de Ville's Corps initially posted at Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ). De Ville then took position at Wolschan (present-day Olšany). On May 5, Frederick II advanced against this corps (7 cavalry rgts), forcing it to retire beyond the defile of Predlitz. In mid-June, during the Siege of Olmütz, the regiment was attached to Major-General Saint-Ignon's small corps (Herzog Württemberg Dragoons, Löwenstein Chevauxlegers, Dessewffy Hussars, Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers, Graf Rudnicki Uhlanen and 1,000 men of the Karlstädter-Lykaner Grenzer). On June 17, this corps distinguished itself in the attack of Prussian outposts at Holitz and Wisternitz. The regiment along with Herzog Württemberg Dragoons attacked Bayreuth Dragoons, capturing a pair of silver kettle-drums and some 500 men. The regiment was then sent to join Major-General Siskovics' Corps. On June 30, the regiment took part in the Combat of Domstadl where Siskovics' troops had occupied a very good position near the Prussian Wagenburg (laager) during the previous night. In the morning, a squadron of the regiment drove out some Prussian hussars escorting the baggage. Meanwhile, another squadron defeated the Prussian battalion defending the gate of Domstadl, taking Major Raaden, 6 officers and many soldiers prisoners. The destruction of this supply convoy forced Frederick II to lift the siege of Olmütz and to retire through Bohemia towards Saxony. The regiment was part of the troops who followed the retreating Prussian army up to the border of Bohemia. The regiment was then transferred to de Ville's Corps stationed near Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ). It served with this corps until September when it was transferred to Harsch's Corps who tried to capture the Fortress of Neisse. However, Frederick came to the relief of his fortress and Harsch was forced to retire to Moravia. The regiment took its winter-quarters around Teschen (present-day Cieszyn/PL).

At the beginning of 1759, the regiment counted between 807 and 813 men. In April, it was part of the Austrian forces who advanced against Fouqué's Corps posted near Heidenplitsch (present-day Bílčice/CZ), driving him back to Zuckmantel (present-day Zlaté Hory/CZ). The corps then encamped between Troppau (present-day Opava/CZ) and Jägerndorf (present-day Krnov/CZ). On 1 June, a part of de Ville's Corps (including the Saxon Chevauxlegers) went to Johannisthal (present-day Janoušov/CZ). In July, de Ville's Corps was sent to Bohemia to defend the country against General von Wedell who already occupied Trautenau (present day Trutnov/CZ). De Ville's and Harsch's corps then made a junction near Trautenau and marched on Landeshut in Silesia, the Saxon cavalry under Major-General Zezschwitz forming the vanguard. On 18 July, their camp at the Grüsau Monastery (present day Krzeszow/PL) was attacked by Fouqué's troops who were driven back. After some skirmishes, Harsch and de Ville returned to Trautenau. De Ville then marched to Saxony, leaving the Saxon cavalry with Harsch's Corps posted in the Riesengebirge (present-day Krkonoše/CZ). At the end of November, FML Daun recalled the Saxon cavalry to Saxony. The regiment marched by Reichenberg (present-day Liberec/CZ) and Zittau. It took its winter-quarters near Stolpen in Saxony.

At the beginning of 1760, the regiment along with 100 uhlans and one Austrian infantry regiment was sent to Löbau/Saxony while its carabinier company was attached to Lieutenant-General Zezschwitz's Corps who took position at Bautzen. In early June, when Frederick II left Pretschendorf and General Schmettau retired from Görlitz, the Saxon cavalry concentrated near Meissen on the east bank of the Elbe under the command of FZM Lacy before moving to Radeberg. The Saxon Chevauxlegers then encamped at Königsbrück. On June 1, Major-General von Zezschwitz at the head of an Austro-Saxon detachment launched a raid against Cossdorf which was occupied by Zieten Hussars and 2 sqns of Kleist Hussars, capturing 4 officers and 69 men. Lacy then marched towards Silesia closely followed by Frederick who turned back near Bautzen, heading towards Dresden. On July 9 at 1:00 a.m., Lacy left Göda. He first retreated to Bischofswerda, then westward at an extraordinary rate, hurrying towards Dresden and the Reichsarmee. Lacy finally halted on the Height of Weissenhirsch, within 3 km of Dresden. Frederick marched by Bischofswerda to Harta (probably Grossharthau). He vainly sent his cavalry to catch up with Lacy. Frederick then undertook the Siege of Dresden but had to abandon it. Both armies marched towards Silesia again. On August 15, at the Battle of Liegnitz, the regiment was with the Austrian main army who did not take part in any action. In October, the regiment took part in the Austro-Russian raid on Berlin in Buttler's Corps who followed Lacy's main corps. During the occupation of Berlin, the regiment guarded three of the city gates and was charged to patrol the street to prevent any excess. In the evening of October 11, Lacy evacuated Berlin and marched towards Torgau to make a junction with the Reichsarmee. On its return, the regiment was attached to General Brentano's Corps. On November 3, the regiment was at the Battle of Torgau where it covered the retreat of the Grenzer light troops, suffering heavy casualties from the Prussian artillery. As part of Bremtano's Corps, the he regiment then drove Kleist's troops out of Klingenberg where it took its winter-quarters.

In 1761, General Hadik took command of the former Brentano's Corps. The regiment remained in Saxony for the entire campaign and did not take part in any major action. It was deployed in a cordon between Hilpersdorf and Frauenstein. In the Autumn, Hadik received reinforcements and marched to Freiberg, occupying Roswein and Döbeln. The regiment took position around Altenburg. It then took its winter-quarters around Chemnitz and later went to Penig.

Early in 1762, the regiment participated in a raid conducted by the Duke of Lobkowitz against Prussian outposts near Audigast and Groitsch. FM Serbelloni then took command of the former Hadik's Corps posted around Dippoldiswalde, the regiment was then attached to Maquire's Corps. On September 7, General Hadik arrived at Dresden from Silesia to replace Serbelloni as commander-in-chief of the Austrian forces in Saxony. At the end of September, Hadik attacked the Prussians, crossing the Wilde Weiseritz River. Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers with 2 battalions of Austrian infantry marched from Kreutzwalde to Ammelsdorf where they reached the flank of the Prussian army. Salm Infantry posted in an isolated position asked for support and rallied with the two Saxon regiments. During night, the Prussians retreated behind the Mulde River. After a small engagement with Prussian troops, Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers advanced from Hilpersdorf to Freiberg which it occupied. Prince Stolberg then arrived with the Reichsarmee and Hadik left him at Freiberg. Prince Stolberg asked Hadik for some cavalry support and Hadik sent him Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers. On October 29, the regiment took part in the Battle of Freiberg where 4 of its squadron supported Colonel Törröck at Klein-Waltersdorf while its remaining squadrons took position at Brand to support Jung-Colloredo Infantry. After the defeat, the regiment covered the retreat of the Austro-Imperial army. The regiment came to Süßenbach which had already been occupied by the Prussians. It received support from Jung-Colloredo Infantry, Baranyay Hussars and Dessewffy Hussars commanded by Colonel Graeven, and of 3 battalions of Grenzer light troops. This force was under the command of Colonel Benekendorff. During the ensuing skirmishes, Benekendorff's troops held their ground but the situation was good, his hussars regiments were understrength and his Grenzer light troops discontented (they had been serving for 6 months beyond their obligation). Therefore, Benekendorff asked Prince Stolberg for the permission to retire on the main army. Stolberg refused but sent him 800 men of Szechényi Hussars and 1 grenadier battalion, asking him to hold his position until the Reichsarmee had reached Bohemia. Benekendorff took the necessary arrangements and marched behind the Reichsarmee as rearguard up to Schellerau. After the retreat, Prinz Karl Chevauxlegers and Graf Brühl Chevauxlegers were transferred to Maquire's corps at Dippoldiswalde. In November, the regiment encamped near Fischbach while Lieutenant-General von Gößnitz's headquarters were established at Putzkau. The Saxon cavalry was in very poor conditions due to constant campaigning and bad financial situation (troopers were unpaid for months). Uniforms were in rags and troopers exhausted.

In 1763, after the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the regiment was sent back to Poland. Saxon regiments concentrated in Krakau, then the entire corps marched through Silesia, Moravia and Bohemia, to Upper Lusatia.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform of the 1753 pattern - Source: David at Not By Appointment
Uniform Details
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne laced yellow with red pompoms and a white cockade
Grenadier n/a
Neckstock red
Coat green with yellow buttons
Collar red
Shoulder strap red fastened with a small yellow button (yellow aiguillette on the right shoulder)
Lapels none
Cuffs red with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat red with yellow buttons
Breeches buff leather
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt n/a
Waistbelt n/a
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth green bordered with a yellow braid ornamented with two red stripes
Sabretache green bordered with a yellow braid ornamented with two red stripes
Blanket roll n/a


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

Officers

n/a

Musicians

n/a

Colours

Leibfahne (Colonel Standard): white silken field, bordered and fringed gold; centre device consisting of a crowned golden escutcheon carrying the arms of Prince Karl of Saxony; palm branches; crowned "AR" golden corner monograms

Regimental Standard: red field fringed in gold; centre device consisting of the monogram of the king of Saxony; various secondary distinction in each corner

Leibfahne from 1753 to 1756 – Source: Dr Marco Pagan
Regiment Standard in 1756 – Source: Hannoverdidi

References

Benekendorf: Offneherzige Berechnung meiner Lebens- und Dienst- Jahre von 1711 bis 1781; Berlin 1840

Dorn G. and J. Engelmann: Die Schlachten Friedrich des Gossen

Duffy, C.: Instrument of war, Vol 1 & 2

Duffy, C.: Prussia’s Glory, Vol 1 & 2

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: L’uniforme et les armes des soldats de la guerre en dentelle

Geschichte und gegenwärtiger Zustand der Kursächsischen Armee. [History and present state of the Saxon Army.] 2nd edition, part IX, Dresden 1793

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, App. 5 and 17

Not by Appointement

Salisch, M. von: Treue Deserteure – Das kursächsische Militär und der Siebenjährige Krieg, Munich, 2009

Schuster, O. and F. Francke: Geschichte der Sächsischen Armee, 2. part, Leipzig 1885

Szabo, A.J.: The Seven Years War in Europe: 1756-1763

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

Acknowledgments

Harald Skala and Fabrizio Baratto for additional information added to this article