Ruesch Hussars

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Origin and History

Ruesch Hussars - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

The regiment was raised in 1741 in Brandenburg by colonel von Mackeroth. It initially counted 5 squadrons, including 1 squadron contributed by Hussar Regiment Nr 1 and the rest consisting of new recruits. In 1742, it was increased to 10 squadrons.

The regiment was often referred to as the “Black Hussars”. They were also nicknamed die Schwarzen (the blacks) or die Totenköpfe (the death heads) because of their black uniforms.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served against Austria in the campaign of 1744. On August 29, it was at the skirmish near Smetschna-Muncisay. From September 10 to 16, it covered the siege of Prague. On October 9, it fought in the skirmish of Tecyn, where together with the Zieten Hussars, they contributed much to the success of the day. On December 21, it took part in the skirmish near Patschau. In 1745, the Bosniakencorps, then consisting of a single squadron, was attached to the regiment. On March 1, the regiment fought in the combat of Hirschberg; on March 7, it was at the skirmish of Guttentag; on March 17, at the skirmish of Neudorf; and on May 22, at the combat of Landshut where it took 300 prisoners. On June 4, it took part in the battle of Hohenfriedberg, completely overthrowing the opposing cavalry. On August 31, it was at the skirmish near Lewin; on September 23, at the skirmish near Trautenbach; on November 8, at the engagement of Schlesisch-Friedland; and on November 8 and 9, at the skirmish of Oppau. On November 23, it took part in the combat of Katholisch-Hennersdorf, capturing the kettledrums of a Saxon Cuirassier regiment (still in use 1806). On November 25, the regiment was at the skirmish near Görlitz; and on November 28, at the skirmish near Zittau.

The regiment had no recruiting district, it recruits came from Schorlemmer Dragoons, Plettenberg Dragoons and Langermann Dragoons. On the eve of the Seven Years War, its garrison places were Goldap, Stallupönen, Lyck, Johannisburg, Nordenburg, Lötzen, Pillkallen and Oletzko.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 10 squadrons.

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

  • since March 10 1744: colonel Joseph Theodor von Ruesch (baron since 1753, retired in 1758)
  • in 1759: colonel von Beust (died in 1759)
  • from May 9 1762 to October 18 1783: colonel Daniel Friedrich von Lossow

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 5.

By 1806, the regiment was known as the von Prittwitz Hussars. On September 7 1808, it became the Leib-Hussaren-Regiment.

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment was part of Lehwaldt's army assigned to the defence of East Prussia against a Russian invasion. On August 1, the regiment was at a skirmish near Kummeln and Kattenau; on August 8, at a skirmish near Pötschkamen; on August 9, at a skirmish near Stannaitschen; on August 26, at a skrimish near Plibischken. On August 30, at the battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, the regiment first screened the Prussian columns during their approach of the Russian camp. It was then deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing under the duke of Holstein.

Squadrons operating on the Eastern Theatre

At the beginning of 1758, the 7 squadrons who had not been detached to western Germany continued to serve in Pomerania where, until June, they took part in the blockade of Stralsund. On April 14, they fought in a skirmish near Bütow; and on June 20, at another one near Ratzebuhr. These squadrons were then ordered to join the Prussian army assembling to counter the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. On August 5, they fought in a skirmish near Botschow; on August 13, they were at the skirmish of Dexel. On August 23, they were in the vanguard of Frederick II when he crossed the Oder. On August 25 at daybreak, they were part of the hussar squadrons who covered the encircling movement of the Prussian army before the battle of Zorndorf. At the opening of the battle, along with Normann Dragoons, they covered the gap between the Prussian left and right wings. During the afternoon, the regiment was transferred to the right wing where it counter-charged and drove off the Russian cavalry attacking the Prussian extreme right wing. On September 2, after this bloody battle, they formed part of a strong detachment under Manteuffel which followed up the Russian army retiring towards Landsberg. On September 19, they took part in a skirmish near Reppen; on October 22, at the combat of Dölitz; on October 27, at the combat of Greifenberg. On November 18, about 400 hussars of this regiment took part in the combat of Güstow against the Swedes. On November 25, they were at the skirmish near Werbelow.

In 1759, 6 squadrons were still serving in Brandenburg. On July 23, these squadrons took part in the battle of Paltzig where they were deployed in the second line of the cavalry left wing. They stormed the Palziger Heights occupied by the Russians. A few weeks later, on August 12 during the battle of Kunersdorf, 6 sqns of the regiment formed part of Malachowski brigade detached to the left bank of the river Oder near Lebus. On September 21, these squadrons took part in a skirmish near Sagan; on September 24, in a skirmish near Bauna; on October 22, in the defence of Herrenstadt (7 sqns); on November 14, in a skirmish near Meissen (7 sqns); and on November 17, in the combat of Zoellmen (7 sqns).

In 1760, the 7 squadrons of the regiment serving on the Eastern Theatre were divided, part in Pomerania, part in Poland and Silesia. On June 24, their main body fought in a skirmish near Regenwalde; on June 25, in a skirmish near Schievelbein (7 sqns); on July 13, in a skirmish near Meseritz (5 sqns); on July 19, in a skirmish near Tirschtiegel (5 sqns); on August 6, in a skirmish near Neumarkt (5 sqns); on August 23, in a skirmish near Medzibor (4 sqns); on August 30, in a skirmish near Grabow (4 sqns); on August 31, in a skirmish near Wartenberg (4 sqns); on October 13, in a skirmish near Weissig (7 sqns); on November 18, in a skirmish near Tannhausen (5 sqns); on November 18, in a skirmish near Charlottenbrunn (5 sqns); on November 19, in a skirmish near Tannhausen (5 sqns); and on November 22, in a skirmish near Wüstegiershausen (5 sqns).

In 1761, 5 squadrons served on the Prussian theatre of operation. On July 5, 4 squadrons took part in a skirmish near Dolzig; and on July 6, in a skirmish near Gostyn. On July 8, the 7 squadrons fought in a skirmish near Lubin; on July 20, in a skirmish near Peuke; on August 14, in a skirmish near Klein-Wandris; on August 19, in a skirmish near Kuhnern; on August 28, in skirmishes near Pitchenberg and Hohen-Postritz; on September 14, in a skirmish near Kobylin; on September 15, in the engagement of Gostyn; on September 18, in a skirmish near Posen; on September 30, in a skirmish near Körlin; on October 1, in a skirmish near Rambow; on October 2, in a skirmish near Prettmin; on October 20, in a skirmish near Zargelow; on October 21, in a skirmish near Gollnow; on November 1, in a skirmish near Stargard; on November 2, in an action at Passberg near Stargard; on November 9, in a skirmish near Arnswald; on November 11, in the combat of Reichenbach; on November 13 and 14, in skirmishes near Naugard; on November 15, in a skirmish near Koldewang; on November 18, in a skirmish near Regenwalde; on November 23 and 24, in skirmishes near Falkenberg; on November 25, in skirmishes near Moitzelwitz; on December 11, in a skirmish at Neumühle near Kolberg; on December 12, in the combat of Spie; and on December 17, in the combat of Gültzow. At the end of 1761, the 3 squadrons who had previously served on the Western theatre of operation re-joined the main body.

On May 2 1762, the re-united regiment took part in a skirmish near Gross-Mohnau; on July 3, it was at the skirmish of Nonnenwalde near Zedlitz; on July 6, in the combat of Adelsbach; on July 7, at a skirmishs near Dietmannsdorf (5 sqns); and on July 21 July, at a skirmish near Burkersdorf. On August 16, 5 squadrons the regiment took part in the battle of Reichenbach where it captured 3 standards

Squadrons operating on the Western Theatre

In January 1758, 3 squadrons of the regiment were part of Lehwaldt's army who proceeded to the invasion of Swedish Pomerania, bottling up the Swedes in Stralsund. On January 10, they were part of Holstein's corps who advanced into Mecklenburg, levied considerable contributions and took possession of Wismar (January 27) and Rostock (February 6). About mid February, Holstein's corps advanced into the duchy of Lüneburg and made a junction with the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. On February 23 at Stöckendrebber near Nienburg, they captured 300 horses, eight standards and the kettle-drums of the French Polleresky Hussards. On March 3, these 3 squadrons took part in the skirmish of Lauenau; on March 26, in the skirmish of Lippstadt; on March 28, in the skirmish of Soest. On May 26 1758, these 3 squadrons were part of the corps of the prince von Holstein encamped at Dülmen. On May 31, this corps accompanied Ferdinand in his offensive on the west bank of the Rhine. On June 1, the 3 squadrons of the regiment took part in the combay of Emmerich; on June 2, they were at the skirmish of Düsselward. On June 12, during the aborted attack on the French positions at Rheinberg, these 3 squadrons were in Holstein's (third) column of attack under major-general von Brandemer. The same day, they took part in the skirmish of Kloster Camp. On June 15, they were at the combat of Tönisberg. On June 23, the 3 squadrons took part in the battle of Krefeld where they were deployed on the left wing under the command of lieutenant-general von Spörcken. When the Allied army recrossed the Rhine, these squadrons attacked a French cavalry regiment (maybe Bellefonds Cavalerie), overthrew them and took 4 standards and 2 kettledrums. On September 29 September, they took part in a skirmish near Koppenberg. From October 18 to 22, they were at the blockade of Soest.

During the first half of 1759, the 3 squadrons of the regiment forming part of the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick were attached to the reserve under the command of Freytag. On March 1, 2 squadrons took part in a skirmish near Fridewald. On March 31, between Stockheim and Mellrichstadt, 2 squadrons of the regiment, attached to the vanguard under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, charged sword in hand an enemy detachment consisting of the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers and of one battalion of the Blau Würzburg Infantry. They first routed the cuirassiers, then charged the infantry, taking many prisoners. On April 1, 3 squadrons fought in a skirmish near Meiningen; on April 9, they were at a skirmish near Lauterbach. On April 13, 3 squadrons of the regiment took part in the battle of Bergen where 2 squadrons formed part of the vanguard and another squadron was attached to the vanguard of the third column. On April 18, the 3 squadrons fought in a skirmish near Reichelsheim; on April 19, in a skirmish near Grünberg; on April 20, in a skirmish between Bingart and Vacha; and on May 13, in a skirmish between Ulrichstedt and Wasungen. In June, these 3 squadrons were part of the main Allied army under the command of the duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On June 4, they fought in a skirmish near Elberfeld. On June 30, during the French offensive in West Germany, French light troops harassed the Allied rear retreating from Rietberg to Marienfeld. On July 1, near Gutersloh, a skirmish took place between the French Turpin Hussards and Bercheny Hussards and the Prussian Ruesch Hussars (3 sqns) and Malachowski Hussars (2 sqns) under colonel Narzinsky. On July 6, the regiment, along with some Hessian troops, skirmished with Turpin Hussards, taking more than 100 prisoners. On July 12, the 3 squadrons took part in a skirmish near Diepenau; and on July 19, in a skirmish near Hille. On August 1, these 3 squadrons took part in the battle of Minden where 1 squadron was deployed in Wangenheim's corps between Kutenhausen and the Weser, in the third line of the cavalry right wing; and 2 squadrons were deployed in Gilsa's detachment at Lübbecke. The latter detachment cut down two regiments of French infantry. On August 17, these 3 squadrons took part in the combat of Naumburg; on September 2, in a skirmish near Weimar; on September 3, in a skirmish near Marburg. On November 29, 1 squadron fought in a skirmish near Lauterbach; and on November 30, in a skirmish near Fulda.

On March 19 1760, the 3 squadrons of the regiment forming part of the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick took part in the combat of Flieden. On May 29, 1 squadron was at a skirmish near Fulda. On July 10, the 3 squadrons were at the combat of Corbach. On July 31, they were at the battle of Warburg. On August 10, 2 squadrons took part in the capture of Sababurg. On September 6, the 3 squadrons fought in a skirmish near Zierenberg. On October 18, they were at a skirmish near Ginderich.

On February 15 1761, the 3 squadrons were present at the capture of Fritzlar. On March 21, they fought in the skirmish near Grünberg. On March 25, 2 squadrons took part in a skirmish near Dittershausen. On July 9, the detachment skirmished near Östinghausen and Untrop. On July 16, it was at the battle of Vellinghausen; on July 20, at the skirmish of Ruhne. On July 27 and 28, it skirmished near Soest and Gesicke. On August 18 , it was at the skirmish near Bredenborn; on September 19, at a skirmish at Hoof near Kassel; on September 21, at a skirmish near Fritzlar; and on November 5 at Einbecker Hube. The regiment was finally re-united at the end of the year. (see the section “Squadrons operating on the Eastern Theatre”)

Uniform

Schlesien-Manuskript, ca. 1742/45

Becher, Johann Christian: Wahrhaftige Nachricht derer Begebenheiten, so sich in dem Herzogthum Weimar by dem gewaltigen Kriege Friedrichs II., Königs von Preußen, mit der Königin von Ungarn, Marien Theresen, samt ihren Bundesgenossen zugetragen, Weimar, ca. 1757-1760

  • Original (Stiftung Weimarer Klassik - Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek Weimar)
  • Copy (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)
  • Copy (NYPL Digital Gallery, The Vinkhuijzen collection)

Uniformen der Preußischen Armee, 1758 (Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden)

Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee Worinnen zur eigentlichen Kenntniss der Uniform von jedem Regiment ein Officier und Gemeiner in Völliger Montirung und ganzer Statur nach dem Leben abgebildet sind. Nebst beigefügter Nachricht 1.) von der Stiftung. 2.) Denen Chefs. 3.) der Staerke und 4.) der in Friedenszeiten habenden Guarnisons jedes Regiments. Hrsg. u. gezeichnet I.C. v. S.(chmalen), Nürnberg

  • 1759 (1st edition, 116 plates) (Bibliothèque nationale de France)
  • 1762 (129 plates) (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Privates

Uniform in 1756
Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear a black mirliton with a black streamer, white cords, knots and tassels; decorated on the front with a white skull and crossed bones
Pelisse black
Fur trim black (white as per Scharf, Schmalen and “Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne”)
Lace 12 rows of white braids

Note: Becher and Wellner illustrate a thin white lace around the cords on the breast

Buttons white
Dolman black with 12 white braids and white buttons
Collar black edged white
Cuffs black edged with a white chevron
Trousers buff (maybe white for parade) with black Schalavary (overtrousers) edged white
N.B.: by 1753, the small heart on the Schalavary had disappeared

N.B.: an illustration in “Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne” (sic) depicts black trousers with the usual Hugarian style white laces and, exceptionally, black skull and bones outlined in white

Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash red and white barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged white with a white tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth black shabraque with red wolf tooth edged and bordered white
Sabretache black wearing a white crowned royal crest and bordered with red wolf tooth edged white


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a carbine. They rode white-grey, dun, isabel, and dappled horses.

Officers

Jahnisch, Johann David; Mondirungs Buch von der Königl. Preußischen Armee worinnen Infanterie, Caffallerie, Dragoner, und Husaren Uniforms...; Breslau, 1760 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France)

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

  • mirliton
    • silver rosette on the front part
    • black streamer edged silver wrapped around the mirliton
  • pelisse
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 12 white braids on the chest
    • more elaborate laces bordering the cuffs
  • dolman
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 12 white braids on the chest
    • elaborate laces bordering the collar and cuffs
  • silver and white barrel sash
  • yellow Hungarian boots (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)

NCOs

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

  • mirliton: white rosette on the front part
  • pelisse: cuffs bordered with a wide white lace
  • dolman: 1 white chevron on the cuffs

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 a black steamer edged white wrapped around the mirliton (no rosette nor white skull)
  • pelisse
    • all laces replaced by the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 black stripes)
    • all cords made of intertwined black and white threads
    • 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 black stripes)
    • all cords made of intertwined black and white threads

Colours

In 1743, king Frederick ordered the Hussars to return their standards. However, in 1758 during the Seven Years' War campaigns in Western Germany, detachments of Ruesch Hussars and Malachowski Hussars captured four guidons of the French Polleresky Hussards at Stöcken-Drebber on February 23 1758 and one standard from Royal-Cravate Cavalerie at Düffelward on June 2 1758. For these actions, Frederick granted two of the Polleresky Hussars guidons and the standard of Royal-Cravate to Ruesch Hussars.

References

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

Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee... Hrsg. u. gezeichnet I.C. v. S.(chmalen), Nürnberg 1759 (1. Auflage, 116 Tafeln)

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

Anon., Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757 (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Anon., Uniformen der Preußischen Armee, 1758 (Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden)

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

Becher, Johann Christian: Wahrhaftige Nachricht derer Begebenheiten, so sich in dem Herzogthum Weimar by dem gewaltigen Kriege Friedrichs II., Königs von Preußen, mit der Königin von Ungarn, Marien Theresen, samt ihren Bundesgenossen zugetragen, Weimar, ca. 1757-1760

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.

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

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.

Handschrift Meissner-Porezellan Manufaktur, 1758

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.

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition - Heeres-Uniformbogen” (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926 -1962

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

Menzel, Adolf v.; Eduard Lange: Heerschau der Soldaten Friedrich's des Großen, Leipzig 1856

Montierung der Königlich Preußischen Armee - o.V., o.J. -

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

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

Scharf, Friedrich Ludwig: Buntes Tuch. Zweierlei Tuch. o.O., o.Jg.

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

Wellner, Carl: Uniform von Sr. Königl: Majestaet in Preussen Armee so Infanterie als Curassier, Dragoner, Husaren und Jäger zu Pferd und zu Fuß, nebst der in Empfang genommenen 10. Regt. Sachsen und Frey Bataillon. Leipzig vom 11ten: November 1757

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and {{User:Zahn|Michael Zahn]] for the huge documentation provided.