Sappeurs Korps

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Sappeurs Korps

Origin and History

The Sappeur-Korps was established in 1760 at the request of Jean-Baptiste Gribeauval. It initially consisted of 3 companies. Each company comprised:

  • 3 officers
  • 82 NCOs and sappers

It is interesting to note the ethnic origins of the technical troops of the Austrian Army: about 25% came from Bohemia and Krain; about 10% from the Empire; the rest from Moravia, Styria, Silesia, Hungary and the Austrian Netherlands. Most NCOs came from Bohemia (25%), the Empire (22,5%) and Hungary (12,5%). The median age was 25 years old.

During the Seven Years' War, the commander of this corps was:

  • since 1760 till 1763: Major Johann von Bechard

In 1772, the corps was incorporated with the engineers and miners into the “Genie- Regiment Kaiser Franz Joseph Nr. 1” who existed till 1860.

Service during the War

In 1760, for its first campaign, the corps was attached to Loudon's Army operating in Silesia. On July 25, the corps acquired a solid reputation at the storming of Glatz. Captain Jakob Eghels would later member of the Maria Theresa Order for his conduct during the siege while Major Johann von Bechard (already a member of the Maria Theresa Order since 1759) had the distinguished honour to bring the 33 captured Prussian colours to Vienna.

In 1761, the corps was reduced to two companies. However, its officers were unaffected by this measure.

The corps suffered heavy casualties in the ensuing campaigns, especially from August to October 1762 in the legendary defence of Schweidnitz where from a total of 24 men, 10 were killed and 11 wounded. Not less than three of its officers were admitted in the Maria Theresa Order!

Uniform

The uniform depicted hereafter is the parade or dress uniform. On active duty, sapeurs always wore leather clothing, a breastplate and a steel helmet.

Privates

Dress Uniform in 1760 - Copyright: Harald Skala
Dress Uniform in 1760
Headgear black cap with the front part edged gold and wearing the brass “MT” cipher; green and white bow with a red and white plume on the left side
Neckstock black
Coat light blue-grey with 14 brass buttons on the right side and unlaced buttonholes on the left side and 1 brass button in the small of the back on each side
Collar crimson
Shoulder Straps no information available
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 brass buttons
Cuffs crimson without buttons
Turnbacks light blue-grey
Waistcoat light blue-grey with one row of small brass buttons and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 brass buttons
Breeches light blue-grey
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information available
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box no information available
Bayonet Scabbard no information available
Scabbard brown with brass fittings
Footgear black boots with white knee covers


Each sapeur carried a carbine with a long bayonet, a short but robust sabre and a cartridge box containing 45 cartridges. Furthermore, the corps was equipped with picks, shovels and large saws.

NCOs

Sappeurmeister wore the same uniform as the sapeurs with the following distinctions:

  • crimson waistcoat

Officers

Officers wore the same uniform as the sapeurs with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne laced gold
  • golden laced buttonholes on the coat
  • crimson waistcoat
  • gilt buttons

Musicians

no information found

Colours

no information found

References

Dangl, V. and V. Seges: Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, Vol. III, Bratislava ,1995

Das Heer Maria Theresias (ALBERTINA), Nachdruck Vienna, 1973

Duffy, Ch.: Sieben Jahre Krieg, in der hervorragenden Übersetzung von Fr. Dr. C. Reichl-Ham, HGM Vienna, 2003

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, Appendix 4

Kalus, P.: Die Fugger in der Slowakei, Augsburg, 1999

Sach, J. and P. Moudry: Chladne zbrane v habsb. monarchii, Prague, 2002

Schirmer; Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989

Wurzbach, C. v.: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Österreich, Vienna, 1861

Acknowledgments

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article