Prinz von Preußen Infantry

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Origin and History

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Engraving by von Schmalen, Nürnberg 1759

A battalion was raised as a “Grenadier Guard Battalion” in Berlin in November 1698 by Colonel Anton von Pannewitz.

In May 1713, the regiment contributed six companies to the establishment of the 23rd regiment of infantry (IR23). Three years later, in 1716, it became a regular infantry regiment and incorporated 600 Swedish prisoners of war into its ranks.

In 1742, the regiment recovered its “Guard” status when it became the property of the Prince of Prussia.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, on September 18 1744, the regiment suffered heavy losses during its breakout from Prague. It later fought with distinction in the battles of Hohenfriedberg (June 4, 1745) and Kesselsdorf (December 15, 1745).

By 1756, the regiment garrisoned various towns and places around Berlin: Alt-Landsberg, Oranienburg, Spandau and Strausberg. It levied its recruits in the Alt-Mark and in the towns of Bernau, Köpenick, Lenzen, Spandau, Strausberg and Wittenberge.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since November 10 1742: August Wilhelm Prince of Prussia
  • from December 14 1758 to March 28 1790: Friedrich Wilhelm Prince of Prussia (King of Prussia from August 17, 1786)

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten, still with some variations for the fusilier regiments. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present infantry regiment was attributed number 18.

The regiment was disbanded in October 1806 after the capitulation of Prenzlau and Spandau.

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the centre column led by Frederick II. More precisely, it belonged to Margrave Karl's Corps. The centre column had concentrated in the area of Brietzen and advanced unopposed upstream along the Elbe river by Torgau and Wittenberg, leaving Meissen to its left. On September 6, it encamped at Rothschönberg and finally reached Wilsdruf. While the Prussian Main Army moved forward to engage the Austrian Army at Lobositz (October 1), the regiment remained in the Pirna Country to maintain the blockade of the Saxon Army which finally surrendered on October 17. The defeated Saxon Army had to pass between two battalions of Prussian Gardes and was then received by Prinz von Preußen Infantry.

In the Spring of 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, at the Combat of Reichenberg, the regiment was deployed on the left wing of the first line of the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force. The regiment supported the attack of the grenadier battalions I. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Kahlden and 8/46 Alt-Billerbeck. On May 6, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line in Ferdinand of Brunswick's Brigade. On November 22, the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was once more deployed in Prince Ferdinand's Brigade, in the first line of the infantry centre. This brigade took the brunt of the Austrian attack and immediately counter-attacked. Prince Ferdinand had to rally his disordered units but his second attack was beaten back once more and his brigade had to retire. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the first battalion of the regiment was deployed in Rohr's Brigade in the second line of the infantry centre. After this outstanding victory, the regiment took part in the siege of Breslau who capitulated on December 20.

In the Spring of 1758, the regiment participated in the unsuccessful invasion of Moravia before retiring to Silesia. In August, 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 at the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the first line of the right division led by Count zu Dohna. At 3:00 p.m., its first battalion was charged in front and flank by Horvat Hussars. The battalion placed one of its platoon en potence to protect its exposed left flank and fired a deadly volley into the charging cavalry, breaking its charge and driving it back. While pursuing retreating Russian units, the regiment seized most of the army-chest, baggage and artillery. On September 2, a week after the battle, 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 it was initially deployed in the centre of the first line. Around 7:00 a.m., the regiment advanced to the right the village of Hochkirch but was soon driven back by the Austrian cavalry, suffering heavy casualties.

In July 1760, the regiment took part in the unsuccessful Siege of Dresden. On August 15, it fought in the Battle of Liegnitz. On September 17, it was present at the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. On November 3, it took part in the Battle of Torgau.

From August to September 1762, the regiment took part in the siege and recapture of Schweidnitz, fighting in the Battle of Burkersdorf on July 21.

N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the wing grenadiers of the II. and III. Garde forming the Grenadier Batallion 15/18 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).

Uniform

The uniforms depicted in this section were probably introduced in 1743.

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white, one pewter button, green within rose within white pompoms
Grenadier mitre with silver-plated front plate decorated with a black eagle; rose-pink headband with white braid and decorated with silver-plated ornaments; rose-pink backing with white braid, green within rose within white pompom (see Grenadier Batallion 15/18 for an illustration)
Neckstock black
Coat Prussian blue lined rose-pink with 2 pewter buttons below the lapel on the right side, a white braid loop with tassel on each side in the small of the back and with 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar rose-pink
Shoulder Straps rose-pink fastened with a small pewter button (left shoulder only)
Lapels rose-pink with 6 pewter buttons and 6 white braid loops with tassels (arranged 2-2-2) on each lapel
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs rose-pink (in the Prussian pattern) with 2 pewter buttons and 2 white braid loops with tassels on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks rose-pink fastened with a small pewter button
Waistcoat white with horizontal pockets and pewter buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt one white belt over the left shoulder for the cartridge box and one narrower white belt over the right shoulder for the haversack
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre with a curved blade.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • tricorne with wide silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • silver lace loops and tassels
  • no shoulder strap
  • yellowish leather gloves
  • black and white sabre tassel

NCOs were armed with a sabre and a black (probably) half-pikes measuring 10 Rhenish feet (3.06 m.) in the musketeer companies and 13 Rhenish feet (4.10 m.) in the grenadier companies (carried by the 3 most senior NCOs while other grenadier NCOs were armed with rifled muskets since 1744).

NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).

Officers

Prinz von Preußen Infantry Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen

The uniforms of the officers were very similar to those of the privates with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne bordered with a thin silver lace (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
  • black neck stock
  • 6 embroidered silver loops on each lapel
  • 2 embroidered silver loops under each lapel
  • 2 embroidered silver loops on each pocket
  • 2 embroidered silver loops sidewise on each side in the small of the back
  • 2 embroidered silver loops on the sleeve above each cuff
  • silver buttons
  • no shoulder strap on the coat
  • no turnbacks on the coat
  • black and silver sash around the waist

Officers carried black (probably) spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.) and an officer stick.

Lace of the officer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755


Musicians

Lace of the drummer uniform in 1755 - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

The narrow and wide drummer laces were identical, consisting of a silver braid with a thick rose-pink waved braid.

The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing and other peculiarities:

  • no shoulder strap
  • 5 vertical narrow laces and 1 horizontal lace on each shoulder
  • coat bordered with the narrow drummer lace
  • lapels bordered with the narrow drummer lace
  • all buttonholes (except those on the lapels) bordered with the narrow drummer lace
  • each sleeve decorated with 7 horizontal narrow drummer laces arranged in chevrons bordered by 2 vertical wide drummer laces, one on each side


Colours

Colonel colour (Leibfahne): White field with red corner flames. Centre device consisting of a blue medallion surrounded by a silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a silver crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the silver motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in silver.

Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): Blue field with red corner flames. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a silver crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a blue scroll bearing the silver motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, FR ciphers) and grenades in silver.

Colonel Colour - Source: Dal with elements of a template by Hannoverdidi
Regimental Colour - Source: Dal with elements of a template by Hannoverdidi

The pikes used as staffs for the colours were probably black.

References

Anonymous (maybe Karl Wellner): Montierung des Königlich Preussischen Armee

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Uniformen der Preußischen Infanterie 1753-1786, Teil III/Bd. 3, Osnabrück 1973

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Bd. I Infanterie I, Osnabrück 1984

Deutsche Uniformen, Bd. 1, Das Zeitalter Friedrich des Großen, 240 images of Herbert Knötel d. J., Text and explanations by Dr. Martin Letzius, published by Sturm-Zigaretten GmbH, Dresden: 1932

Die Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Armee Friedrichs des Großen: Eine Dokumentation aus Anlaß seines 200. Todesjahres, 2 erw. Auflage, Raststatt 1986

Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000

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

Guddat, Martin: Grenadiere, Musketiere, Füsiliere: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen, Herford 1986

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 156-163

Menzel, Adolph von: Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen, Berlin: 1851/57

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Summerfield, Stephen: Prussian Musketeers of the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War: Uniforms, Organisation and Equipement of Musketeer Regiments, Ken Trotman Publishing: Huntingdon, 2012, pp. 44-48

Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

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