Prussian Field Artillery Regiment

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Origin and History

Prussian Field Artillery Regiment in 1750. - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde Vol. IV Plate 21

An artillery corps (300 men) already existed in 1676 during the reign of Frederick Wilhelm the “Great Elector”.

From 1697 to 1700, the first artillery companies were incorporated into the Prussian Army. They were placed under the command of Margrave Philip von Brandenburg-Schwedt.

In 1717, King Frederick Wilhelm I grouped his field artillery into a single battalion consisting of 5 companies. In 1731, he raised a second field battalion.

In the Prussian service, artillerymen were often recruited from smaller men not considered large enough for battalion service.

Frederick II introduced several reforms concerning equipment and tactic. For instance, he created a large train of campaign artillery. Artillerymen were submitted to intensive training.

Until April 17 1755, the field artillery had C. N. von Linger as Chef. Afterwards, it remained without chef but a Kommandeur was appointed.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, in 1756, the Field Artillery counted two battalions. The first battalion was stationed in Berlin and the second, in Berlin and Spandau. In August of the same year, the first battalion of field artillery was reinforced with 60 men (10 per company). The arm counted 12 companies organised in 2 battalions, for a total of::

  • 53 officers
  • 119 NCOs
  • 57 musicians
  • 164 bombardiers
  • 1,330 gunners

In December 1756 and January 1757, the Prussian artillery was reinforced by captured Saxon artillerymen as well as by 300 Saxon recruits for a total increase of 678 men (18 officers, 60 NCOs and 600 men). Each of the 8 companies was thus reinforced by 7 or 8 officers/NCOs and 75 men.

This arm saw a major increase throughout the conflict.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the Field Artillery was under the command of:

  • since 1756: Colonel C. W. von Dieskau (promoted to Inspector General on 28 February 1757)
    • 1st Battalion (Berlin): Colonel von der Osten
    • 2nd Battalion (Breslau): Colonel Ernst Friedrich von Holzmann (until October 14 1759)

N.B.: The two colonels commanding battalions were of advanced age and did not take the field.

On January 23 1758, an additional company was raised in Pomerania and placed under the command of Captain Grünenthal. At the end of February 1758, another additional company (Winterfeldt) was raised in Dresden in Saxony.

On March 17 1762, the Field Artillery was reorganised in two distinct regiments, each counting 3 battalions of 5 companies. These regiments were placed under the command of:

  • 1. Field Artillery Regiment: Major-General C. W. von Dieskau
  • 2. Field Artillery Regiment: Colonel C. F. von Moller

At the end of the war, in 1763, a new reorganisation brought the field artillery to 3 regiments of 2 battalions each.

The organisation of the Prussian artillery, as modified by Frederick II, then remained unchanged till 1809.

Service during the War

During the Seven Years' War, the Field Artillery was subdivided in numerous detachments:

  • for each infantry regiment to handle the battalion guns and howitzers
  • for heavy artillery batteries

These various detachments often included artillerymen taken from the Garrison Artillery. They were involved in every campaign, battle and siege who took place during this war.

For the campaign of 1756, the Field Artillery Regiment supplied each infantry battalion with 1 NCO and the required number of gunners to man battalion guns which were also served by the carpenters of the infantry battalion. Each 3-pdr battalion gun required a total of 8 men. Some first line battalion were equipped with 6-pdr guns; in this case, the regular 8 men team was supplemented with 2 servants and 4 horses. In August, when operations began, the 12 companies of the regiment were distributed as follows:

  • 8 coys with Frederick's Army on the border of Saxony
  • 2 coys with Schwerin's Army in Silesia
  • 2 coys with Lehwaldt's Army in Prussia

Uniform

Gunners

Uniform in 1750 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced white with one brass button and white/red/black/yellow pompoms
Neckstock red
Coat Prussian blue lined red with 10 brass buttons on each side down to the waist, 2 additional brass buttons on the right side at the waist and 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar none
Shoulder Straps no information found
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets edged in red, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs blue (in the Prussian pattern), each with 2 brass buttons on the sleeve above the cuff
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat straw
Breeches straw
Gaiters white in summer, black in winter
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information found
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box none
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Gunners and bombardiers were armed with a sword.

NCOs

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

  • tricorne with golden lace and black and white quartered pompoms
  • no shoulder straps
  • golden laced cuffs
  • yellowish leather gloves

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

N.B.: bombardiers wore the same uniform as NCOs to the exception of gloves and cane. Prior to 1750, they also wore mitre cap (same style as the mitre cap of fusiliers) with a brass front plate; black headband with brass ornaments; black cap with brass ornaments; brass metal spike. This mitre cap was not worn in the field. From 1756 the mitre cap was replaced by a black tricorne laced gold

Officers

Officers had hat wearing a golden lace. They also wore a black and silver sash around the waist. They carried an officer stick. They had white neckstocks and silver gorgets (decorated with a Black Eagle on a white shield surrounded by agilt trophies of arms). Their coats were similar to those of the privates but had no turnbacks. Their waistcoats were edged in gold.

Musicians

Drummers wore the same uniform as the gunners heavily decorated with the drummer lace (white braid edged red with a central orange stripe):

  • on the breast
  • along the coat edges and seams
  • around pockets
  • around the Prussian blue lapels
  • on the swallow nest (5 vertical braids) decorating each shoulder
  • 8 horizontal chevrons on each sleeve
Field artillery musician - Source: Sturm-Zigarettenbilder-Alben "Deutsche Uniformen" by Knötel and Letzius

The artillery also had Janissaries (in fact oboists) wearing a very sophisticated uniform as illustrated in the accompanying plate.

Colours

There was only one colour for the entire regiment. It was not carried in the field but rather kept at the arsenal.

References

Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Vol. IV Technische Truppen, Rückwärtigen Dienste und Kriegsformationen, Osnabrück 1984

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 Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, pp. 117, 118, 127 and Appendix 1

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786, Vol. 2, pp. 460-467

Kendal, Colin: Military Answers - Prussian Battalion Guns, in 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No. 5

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921

Montierung der Königlich Preußischen Armee

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

Schöning: Historisch biographische Nachrichten zur Geschichte der Brandenburg-Preussischen Artillerie, part 2, Berlin 1844

Uniformen der Preuss. Armee c. 1763 (recte 1758), Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden

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