Rizhskiy Horse Grenadiers
Origin and History
During the reorganisation of the Russian army in 1756, Rízhskiy Dragoons were converted into a horse grenadier regiment. It was immediately trained with the new tactics and drill, becoming the first horse grenadier regiment to be trained to these new tactics. By the end of the year, like the rest of the Russian cavalry, this regiment was totally unprepared for service in the incoming war. It lacked good quality mounts. Poor quality horses were partially replaced by purchases and requisitions in occupied districts and by levies on the non-mobile border guard regiments.
At full strength, the regiment counted 5 squadrons of 2 companies each.
When Peter III acceded the throne in January 1762, all horse grenadier regiments were converted into cuirassier regiments.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- no information available yet
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was stationed on the western frontier until the Autumn of 1756 and then in Starodub.
In 1757, when the Russian army received orders to assemble for the campaign in East Prussia under general Apraxin, the regiment regrouped its best horses and troopers into a few squadrons. Additional horses were levied when the army entered into East Prussia. By July, the regiment could field only 2 or 3 squadrons. Furthermore, its unpreparedness confined it to patrol and advanced post service. In combat, its troopers fought dismounted in the second line of infantry. On August 30, at the battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, it was part of the rearguard. When the Russian army deployed, it was placed in the first line of the cavalry right wing.
In January 1758, the regiment took part to the Russian invasion of East Prussia. About mid November, the regiment took its winter quarters in the area of Passenheim (actual Pasym), Sensburg (actual Mragowo) and Rastenburg (actual Ketrzyn) as part of Rumyantsev's 3rd Division.
To do: campaigns from 1759 to 1762
During summer, Russian horse grenadiers did not wear coats. These were left in the baggage. For this reason, we present two different plates.
N.B.: another interpretation states that, on active duty, the horse grenadiers did not wear their cornflower blue coat.
There seems to have been important variations of the uniform in the field:
- “kollet” edged with a cornflower blue braid or undecorated
- “kollet” totally absent due to supply problems and replaced by the cornflower blue coat and/or the cornflower blue waistcoat
Troopers were armed with a short carbine, a bayonet, two pistols and a sabre (more precisely a straight blade Pallasch until December 29 1759 and then a curved blade sabre). They also had a cornflower blue epancha (cape) for winter.
The representations of the "tails" of the kollet differ widely. Some authors show rather long tails others illustrate short tails.
Corporals wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers.
Other NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- gold laced collar
- gold laced cuffs:
- 1 stripe for Unterfähnrich
- 2 stripes for armourers and quartermasters
- 3 stripes for sergeant
Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- genadier mitre with gold decorations
- gilt buttons
- no turnbacks
- black and gold silken sash
- yellow saddlecloth and housings laced gold carrying the imperial cipher
Musicians wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:
- swallow nests at the shoulders
- tricorne (only for the kettle-drummer)
The kettle-drum and trumpets were made of copper. The banners were of the colour of the squadron standards. The banner of the kettle-drum was embroidered and fringed in gold.
Drums were made in copper, the regimental coat of arms engraved in the front, bordered in red and blue, blue and white cords.
Horse grenadiers still carried standards of the 1731 pattern, measuring 123 cm by 142 cm (some sources indicate square 150 cm by 150 cm standards). The flagpole had a gilt finial.
Colonel Standard: white field fringed in silver; centre device: an Imperial Eagle, crowned double-headed, bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St. George’s Order and the cross of St. Andrew.
Ordonnance Standard: yellow field fringed in silver; centre device: a crown surmounting a gold shield bearing the regimental arms.
The first squadron carried the white colonel (Leib) standard while the 4 other squadrons each carried one ordonnance standard.
Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen, Part 3: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902
- chapter A: Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 1-46
- appendix: supplement 1, Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 3-18
Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband; Russian Army of the Seven Years War, vol. 2, Osprey Military, London, Reed International, 1996
Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by the KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989
Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900
Ziegler, Volker: Die Russische Kavallerie zur Zeit des 7-jährigen Krieges (1756-1763), in: Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für hessische Militär- und Zivilgeschichte, vol. 4, 2007, pp. 62-80
Zveguintzov, L'Armee Russe, 1973
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.