Puttkamer Hussars

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Origin and History

Puttkamer Hussars - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

The first 5 squadrons of the regiment were raised in 1740 and 1741 in Prussia by colonel Georg Christoph von Natzmer (died in 1751 as major-general) as a regiment of Uhlans from Polish and Lithuanian recruits.

In 1742, the unit was converted to a hussar regiment and increased to 10 squadrons.

The regiment was often referred to as the “White Hussars” because of their white pelisses or die Bählämmer (the bleating lambs), later die Wölfe im Schafspelz (the wolves in sheep's clothing) or simply die Wölfe (the wolves).

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was with the Prussian army for the campaigns of 1741 and 1742 without taking part to any action of note. On February 14 1745, it fought in the combat of Planitz. On March 1, it was at the combat of Hirschberg. On June 4, it took part in the battle of Hohenfriedberg, capturing the kettledrums of the Saxon Karabinier-Garde. On September 30, it was at the battle of Soor. During the skirmish of Gross-Strehlitz, it charged an enemy column and took 112 prisoners. On December 15, the regiment fought in the battle of Kesselsdorf.

The regiment had no recruiting canton, its recruits came from Kürassier-Regiment Nr. 1, Kürassier-Regiment Nr. 8 and Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 2. The inspectorate of the regiment was Upper-Silesia. On the eve of the Seven Years War, its garrison places were Militsch, Festenberg, Trebnitz, Oels, Wartenberg, Stroppen, Juliusburg, Prausnitz, Brallen and Medzibor.

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

  • since September 12 1755: colonel Georg Ludwig von Puttkamer (killed as major-general at Kunersdorf on August 12 1759)
  • from December 23 1759: colonel August Lavin von Dingelstaedt (retired)
  • from Novenber 16 1762 to September 15 1770: colonel Balthasar Ernst von Bohlen (retired)

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. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present hussar regiment was attributed number 4.

By 1806, the regiment was known as the Prinz Eugen von Württemberg Hussars. On October 14, it took part in the battle of Auerstädt; on October 16, 6 of its squadrons were at the combat of Buttstedt; on October 17, 3 of its squadrons took part in a skirmish near Nordhausen. Some 407 men of the regiment reached East Prussia with their horses

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the left column led by the prince of Bevern. This column had concentrated in the area of Lübben, then advanced through Lusatia by Hoyerswerda and Bautzen, to Hohenstein (Sept. 8) then to Lohmen north of the Elbe near Pirna. From September 10 to October 16, the regiment took part in the blockade of Pirna.

In April 1757, the regiment joined the Prussian army for the invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, 5 squadrons of the regiment formed the vanguard of the duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force at the combat of Reichenberg while the remaining 5 squadrons were detached to other duty and did not take part to the combat. The 5 squadrons of the vanguard concealed themselves in a hollow. When the Austrian cavalry broke and pursued the Prussian dragoons, these 5 squadrons suddenly came upon the Austrian flank, allowing the Prussian dragoons to rally and counter-attack putting their opponent to flight. On May 6, the regiment took part in the battle of Prague where it was deployed in the Reserve under general von Zieten. When the Prussian cavalry of the left wing under Schönaich failed to break its opponents and was beaten back, 5 squadrons of the regiment led by colonel Warnery skilfully manoeuvred and fell on Hadik's flank, dispersing several regiments and forcing others to abandon the pursuit of the defeated Prussian cavalry. After the battle, the regiment took many prisoners. On June 18, the regiment took part in the battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the cavalry vanguard at the extreme left under general von Zieten, covering the left flank against superior Austrian forces till the evening. On November 22, during the battle of Breslau, the regiment was detached to the right bank of the Oder under Krockow. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in the vanguard which attacked the Austrian left flank. At about 4:00 PM, when the Austrian right wing cavalry attacked the exposed Prussian left flank, the regiment charged its rear while Bayreuth Dragoons attacked its left flank and Driesen charged frontally. Together, they broke and routed the Austrian cavalry.

On July 29 1758, during the Prussian retreat after the failed invasion of Moravia, the regiment was sent forward against the Austrians to cover the crossing of the Mettau by the main army. On August 10, margrave Carl, commanding in Silesia, detached the regiment along with 1 battalion of Frei-Infanterie to observe Daun's manoeuvres towards Saxony. The regiment was then moved to Greifenberg (actual Gryfow Slaski). On September 10, the regiment along with 3 Freikorps battalions reconnoitred Loudon's position at Radeberg. It fought in a skirmish with Loudon's rearguard near Hartha, losing about 500 in the engagement. On October 14, the remainder of the regiment took part in the battle of Hochkirch where 5 of its squadrons were deployed in the centre of the second line in Zieten's cavalry brigade. The 5 other squadrons were attached to Retzow's corps near Weissenberg. On October 28, the regiment took part to the victorious engagement of Görlitz against the Austrian cavalry, taking 450 prisoners.

From February 24 to March 4 1759, about 250 men of the regiment were part of the small Prussian corps under the command of major-general von Wobersnow who made an incursion in Poland against the Russian magazines. During this incursion, Wobersnow's forces destroyed food supply which would have supplied 50,000 men for 3 months. On July 23, the regiment took part in the battle of Paltzig where it was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing. A few weeks later, on August 12, the regiment fought in the bloody battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the second line of the right wing as part of Platen division. During the cavalry battle, Puttkamer tried to rally the wary cavalrymen by charging at the head of his hussars but was shot dead.

On November 3 1760, during the battle of Torgau, the regiment was assigned to the guard of the army train.

In 1761, the regiment served in Saxony. At Plauen, its 2nd battalion pursued the Austrian rearguard, taking many prisoners and 3 guns.

On August 16 1762, 3 squadrons of the regiment took part in the battle of Reichenbach.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756
Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear a brown kolback until 1752 when this headgear was replaced by the black mirliton. Kolbacks were reintroduced in 1771.

N.B.: some authors think that the brown kolback continued to be worn, at least during winter, between 1752 and 1771

Pelisse white
Fur trim white
Lace 12 rows of blue and white braids; blue and white edgings along the fur trimming at the end of the sleeves
Buttons white
Dolman light blue edged with a blue and white lace; with 12 blue and white braids and white buttons
Collar light blue edged with a blue and white lace
Cuffs light blue edged with a blue and white lace
Trousers buff with light blue Schalavary (overtrousers) edged blue and white
N.B.: by 1753, the small heart on the Schalavary had disappeared
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash light blue and white barrel sash (yellow and white until 1752)
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth white shabraque with light blue wolf tooth edged and bordered blue and white
Sabretache white wearing a light blue white crowned cipher and bordered with a thick light blue lace


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a carbine. They rode dappled horses.

Officers

Officers wore uniform similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • mirliton
    • blue circle in the front
    • black wing edged silver
  • pelisse
    • black fur trim
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 15 white braids on the chest
  • dolman
    • a wide silver lace on the collar
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 15 white braids on the chest
    • one additial thick silver chevron on each cuffs
    • silver and white barrel sash
  • light blue trousers (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)
  • light blue sabretache with light blue wolf tooth edged and bordered white and wearing a black eagle surmounted by a golden crown on a white field
  • yellow Hungarian boots (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)

NCOs

NCOs wore uniform similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • blue circle in the front of the mirliton
  • pelisse
    • cuffs bordered with a wide white lace
  • dolman
    • 1 white chevron on each cuff

Musicians

Trumpeters of the regiment wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:

  • a black mirliton with a white plume and white cords, knots and tassels; wing edged white
  • pelisse
    • all laces replaced by the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 light blue stripes)
    • swallow nest consisting of 5 vertical and 1 horizontal musician laces on each shoulder
  • dolman
    • all laces replaced by the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 light blue stripes)

Colours

In 1743, king Frederick ordered the Hussars to return their standards.

References

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

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

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

Dorn G., Engelmann J., Die Kavallerie-Regimenter Friederich des Grossen 1756-1763, Friedberg 1984

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

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

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.

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.

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.