Prussian Leibregiment

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Origin and History

Uniform circa 1757 - Source: Anonymous work circa 1757

The regiment was raised in 1672 by Colonel Nikolaus von Below and named the “Leibregiment”. Von Below was later posted from the regiment. On June 28 1675, the regiment first came into action at Fehrbellin. From July 24 to December 22, it took part in the siege of Stettin. In 1689, it was at the siege of Bonn. From July 2 to August 3 1695, the regiment took part in the siege of Namur.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1706, the regiment took part in the siege of Ath in Brabant. On July 11 1708, it fought at the battle of Oudenarde. In October, it was at the siege of Lille. In 1709, it participated in the sieges of Tournai and Mons and, on September 11, fought at the battle of Malplaquet. From April 22 to June 27 1710, it was at the siege of Douai then from September 6 to November 9, at the sieges of Aire, Landrecies and Quesnoy.

In 1718, the regiment was increased to five squadrons.

In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Pomerania. On December 15, it took part in the battle of Kesselsdorf.

Magdeburg was the inspectorate of the regiment and its garrison places Calbe, Egeln, Frose, Salze, Schoenebeck, Seehausen, and Wanzleben.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons.

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

  • since September 20 1747: Major-General Hans Friedrich von Katte
  • from January 5 1758 to December 22 1778: Major-General Robert Scipio Baron von Lentulus

In 1778 and 1779, the regiment was part of the army of Prince Heinrich. In 1793, the regiment served on the Rhine. On May 23 1794, it took part in the battle of Kaiserslautern. On October 14 1806, it took part in the battle of Jena in Hohenlohe's corps. On October 28, most of the regiment surrendered at Prenzlau. The regiment was not re-raised. A detachment escaped to East Prussia and was used to form the new 4th Kuerassiers.

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of Ferdinand of Brunswick's column which had concentrated at Halle and advanced unopposed through Leipzig, Chemnitz, Freyberg and Dippoldiswalde, to the village of Cotta (reached on September 9) south of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz where it was assigned to the cavalry brigade of Major-General Luderitz in Katzler's Division. It charged in the second attack of the first line of the left wing, chasing the Austrians from the field. On October 20, in preparation for the return to the Pirna country, the regiment escorted the heavy baggage from Lobositz to Welmina. On October 23, when Keith's Army left Lobositz, it 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 its winter quarters soon afterwards.

In April 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, it fought in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing under von Penavaire. It broke through enemy lines despite the difficult terrain and completed the victory. Afterwards, it participated in the siege of Prague. On June 5, it was at the combat of Gang. On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry left wing under Lieutenant-General Penavaire. It seized the Krzeczhorz-Height but was pushed back by the counter-attack. On July 18, the regiment took part in the skirmish of Ploschkpwitz. On July 23, it was at the combat of Kulm; on July 28, at the combat of Arbesau. On August 24, the regiment took part in the combat of Kotta. 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 offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On September 18, the regiment took part in the raid on Egeln. On October 31, it was at the combats of Merseburg and Weissenfels. On November 4, it participated in the combat of Gröster-Hügel and in the cannonade of Bedra and Schortau. On November 5, at the Battle of Rossbach, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the right wing under Major-General von Seydlitz. It distinguished itself in the two attacks against the enemy cavalry and then engaged the infantry. On December 16, it took part in a raid on Dedeleben.

On January 31 1758, the regiment took part in the raid on Hornburg. On February 16, it advanced on Grätz. On February 18, it fought in the combat of Troppau. On March 3, it fought at the combat of Hildesheim. From March to July, the regiment took part in the failed invasion of Moravia and in the siege of Olmütz. On May 31, it was at the capture of Bamberg. In August, it fought in the clash of Gross-Sedlitz; in September in the clash of Dresden; on October 15, in the combat of Freiberg in Saxony; on October 17, in the combat of Chemnitz; and in November in the combat of Weisser Hirsch and in the clash of Eilenburg.

In April 1759, the regiment formed part of Prince Henri's force who operated against Austrian magazines in Bohemia. On April 15, the regiment took part in the combats of Satzung and Sebastiansberg; together with 2 grenadier companies, 2 squadrons of the regiment captured the opposing commander at Passberg, along with 3 guns, 8 colours, 3 standards and 800 men. On April 16, it was at the capture of Saaz; on April 20, at the combat of Brunnersdorf; on May 10, at the combat of Münchberg; on May 16, at the combat of Bamberg. On August 1, the regiment was at the combat of Kohlo. On August 12, it took part in the sanguinary Battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing as part of Schorlemmer's Division; it suffered heavy losses and lost a standard. On December 9, it fought in the combat of Freiberg an der Mulde.

In 1760, from July 10 to 22, the regiment covered the siege of Dresden. On August 1, it fought in the combat of Grossenhain. On August 15, it took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it took 7 colours and 5 guns from the Austrian Kaiser Infantry, Starhemberg Infantry and Waldeck Infantry. On September 12, the regiment took part in the combat of Hohen-Petersdorf. On November 3, it fought in the Battle of Torgau.

In 1761, the regiment served in Saxony. On February 15, it took part in the Combat of Langensalza. On April 2, it was at the combats of Rudolfstadt, Saalfeld and Schwarza. On August 26, it fought in the combat of Naundorf.

In 1762, the regiment operated in Saxony. On October 14, it was at the combat of Erbisdorf; on October 15, at the rearguard action of Brand; and on October 29, at the Battle of Freiberg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Leibregiment Uniform Lace - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755
Uniform in 1757
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small yellow button and red pompoms

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

Neck stock black
Coat off-white trimmed with the regimental lace (dark blue velvet braid with a wide central white stripe)
Collar dark blue
Shoulder strap off-white fastened with a yellow button
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs dark blue, in the Swedish pattern, trimmed with the regimental lace
Turnbacks off-white trimmed with the regimental lace
Waistcoat dark blue trimmed with the regimental lace
Breeches buff leather for combat, white otherwise
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Sash dark blue
Cartridge Box black pouch lids with a round brass plate bearing the Prussian eagle
Scabbard brown leather
Sabretache dark blue; decorated with the crowned royal cipher and edged with dark blue and white laces
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark blue with rounded corners; decorated with the crowned royal cipher and edged with two rows of dark blue and white laces
Housings dark blue; decorated with the crowned royal cipher and edged with two rows of dark blue and white laces
Blanket roll cobalt blue


Troopers were armed with a heavy straight-bladed sword, a pair of pistols and a musket. They wore a blackened breastplate edged dark blue and fastened by white leather straps edged red. The musket strap was dark blue with a wide white central stripe.

Other interpretations

The saddlecloth and housings illustrated in our plate follow the traditional source: the saddlecloth kept in the Zeughaus in Berlin. However, this collection of saddlecloths dates from 1786! We have found a more contemporary source: the Uniformierung der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee of C. Schröder, published ca. 1765. This source illustrates much simpler saddlecloth and housings: dark blue bordered with a wide white braid decorated with a single dark blue stripe and each carrying only a silver "FR" cipher.

NCOs

Leibregiment NCO Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

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

  • tricorne with black and white pompoms and red plumetis
  • wide golden lace along the top and back of the cuffs


Officers

Leibregiment zu Pferde Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen

officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • gold regimental lace on the coat and waistcoat
  • golden aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • breastplate edged in gilt metal with straps covered in gilt plates; gilt crowned Prussian crest in trophies of arms on the top centre of the breastplate
  • silver and black silk waist sash
  • silver and black sword strap
  • saddle furniture ornately ornamented and fringed in gold

N.B.: golden embroidered buttonholes decorated the white full dress uniform but were not present on the service uniform

Leibregiment Officer Buttonholes (full dress only) - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755


Musicians

Leibregiment Musician Lace - Source: Tressenmusterbuch von 1755

Musicians wore uniforms similar to those of privates but trimmed with the musician lace (golden braid with two dark blue stripes) edging the coat, the cuffs and the collar; and decorating the sleeves.

Standards

The square standards were made of damask. The cords and tassels were silver and black. The pole of the standard was a white tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges and gold finial.

The standard bearers had standard bandoliers in the facing colour, edged and fringed in the button colour.

The regiment carried standards of the old “FWR” and new “FR” patterns. Here we illustrate old pattern standards.

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

References

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee fuer das Jahr 1806. Reprinted by Bilblio Verlag, Osnabrueck 1975.

Anon. Die Schlacht bei Minden 1759. J C C Bruns Verlag, Minden 1959.

Anon., Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757

Alt, Das Koeniglich Preussische Stehende Heer. Schrapp, Berlin, 1869.

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 4: Die Uniformen der Kavallerie, Husaren und Lanzenreiter 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1979

Bolke, Eberhardt. Preussische Fahnen 1740 – 1806. Dresden, 1944.

Bredow – Wedel. Historische Rang- und Stammliste des Deutschen Heeres. Berlin 1905.

Eckardt, Werner – Morawietz, Otto. Die Handwaffen des brandenburgisch-preussisch-deutschen Heeres. Hamburg, Helmut Gerhard Schulz Verlag, 1973.

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

Franke, Ludwig Eberhardt. Vorstellung der Koeniglich Preussischen Armee. Potsdam, 18??

Fraser, David. Frederick the Great, The Penguin Press, London 2000.

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee 1626-1807, Ein Quellenbuch, Berlin 1964.

Gohlke, W. Geschichte der gesamten Feuerwaffen bis 1850 Berlin 1911.

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Heft 14 / 15. Der Feldzug 1806 / 07 und die Reorganisation der Artillerie. Berlin 1914

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Hefte 26 - 30. Die Freikorps und Auslaender-Battailone. Berlin 1914.

Hoepfner, Edouard von. Oberst. Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807. Berlin, Simon Schropp & Comp. 1850.

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 486-489

Jany, Curt. Geschichte der Preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1967.

Kling, C. Geshichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausruestung des Koeniglich Preussischen Heeres. Three volumes. Putzer und Hoeltze, Weimar 1912.

Knoetel – Sieg. Handbuch der Uniformkunde. H. G. Schultz, Hamburg, 1937.

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

Prussian War Ministry. Fahnen und Standarten der preussischen Armee seit dem Jahre 1806. Berlin 1889.

Ramm, August Leopold. Abbildungen von allen Uniformen der Koenigl. Preuss. Armee unter der Regierung Sr. Majestaet Friedrich Wilhelm III Berlin, J F Unger, 1800.

Schröder, C. Uniformierung der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee, ca. 1765.

Voigt, Guenther. Deutschlands Heere bis 1918. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1983.

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article.