From Project SYW
Introduction to the Saxon Army of 1756
At the end of the Great Northern War, the long fight against Sweden was over. August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, started a reform of his armed forces. A first reorganization of the army was performed on June 20 1717:
- in addition to the Chevaliersgarde and the Garde du Corps, who were under direct command of the Elector, he now directly supervised the Hausartillerie, the Field Artillery and the Engineer Corps;
- the cavalry had cuirassiers regiments (heavy cavalry), 5 dragoons regiments and a hussar regiment (in 1730 two squadrons of the dragoon regiment Sachsen Gotha were transformed in the horse grenadiers);
- the infantry consisted of two guards infantry regiments and eight line infantry regiments;
- the artillery battalion was divided in Haus and Feld (Field-) artillery:
- the Hausartillerie manned 30 heavy mortars and the heavy guns of the fortresses;
- the Feldartillerie of Saxony and Poland were equipped with 3-, 6- and 12-pounder guns.
In 1694, the first standing Saxon Army totalled 15,000 men (80% of them being foreigners). During the reign of Friedrich August I this percentage was reduced to 28%. In 1730, only 11% of the men were not born in Saxony. The total force of the Army was by then 30,000 men.
The application of the 1722 Infantry Regulation and of the 1728 Cavalry Regulation was put under direct control of the Elector. The commissioning in the Officer Corps and NCO was improved.
In 1727 was raised the InvalidenKorps (two battalion, each of four companies of 166 men, 32 NCO and a staff of 21 men). The first battalion received the half-invalid men, the second battalion the full-invalid men. They served as garrison in fortresses.
Particular attention was dedicated to the dress and armament of the troops. Infantry received flintlocks with iron ramrod. A force of 1,200 men was stationed in Poland. The general staff was reformed. Four new cuirassiers regiments were raised between 1730 and 1732. In the summer of 1718 nearby Dresden and in 1725 near Pillnitz, extensive manoeuvres of the whole army were performed under the eyes of the monarch. The troops learned to fight in three ranks in linear order. The Saxon Field-Artillery was augmented from three to four batteries. The Artillery Train was raised. The summer camp of the year 1728 was overshadowed by the military event of the Parade of Zeithain. The financial cost of paying, re-equipping and re-arming the Saxon Army was staggering. Several measures were undertaken to reduce the high desertion rate which, between 1717 and 1728, had drained 9,333 men, about a third of the army strength. The problem was reduced but, never solved. A deserter became infamous, his name was Karl Stulpner. He deserted several times during 40 years of service and after a grace he spent 10 years in the Prinz Maximilian Infantry stationed in Chemnitz before disappearing in the Bohemian forests.
In 1731, the Adelige Kadetten Company counted 155 men.
After the Second Silesian War (1744-1745), the Saxon army had undergone severe reductions. By the summer of 1756, the army in Saxony amounted to 12 infantry regiments in 25 battalions, 8 cavalry regiments in 32 squadrons, 5 companies of artillery, 8 companies of garrison troops, and the smallish cadres of 4 Kreis-Regimenter (provincial militia) for a total of some 21,200 men. Furthermore, 4 cavalry regiments (Karabiniersgarde and 3 regiments of Chevauxlegers) with some 2,300 men and 2 Pulks (bands) of Tartar Hoffahnen (court-banners) with some 876 men were stationed in Poland in 1756, and thus, avoided the poor fate of their brothers-in-arms when the entire army surrendered at Pirna on October 15.
By 1752, new and well-elaborated service and drill regulations had been introduced. They included Austrian and, more often, Prussian elements. The infantry battalion was formed 3 deep, and divided into 4 Divisons, 8 Halb-Divisions or 16 Pelotons. Battle tactics called for a slow and continued advance by employing a 'rolling' fire by the battalions sub-divisions from a distance of 250 to 100 paces. At this distance it was to fall into a faster pace and approach the enemy to 20 paces, interrupted by 3 halts for delivering a general battalion volley by the second and third rank. Assuming the opponent would still hold its ground, the first rank would now fire followed by the entire battalion charging home with the bayonet. If charged by cavalry, the battalion was to hold its fire until the horse approached to 10 paces.
The cavalry formed in 2 or 3 ranks. The squadron was divided into 3 sections, each with 2 half-sections. The use of firearms while mounted had been practised, though, instructions called for charging at a gallop and relying on 'cold steel' only.
General Staff and Adjutants (Generalstab und Adjutantur)
Royal Household and special formations
- Adeliges Kadettenkorps (Corps des Cadets-gentilhommes)
- Chevaliergarde (pensionaries and officers employed as royal messengers)
- Schweizerleibgarde (Swiss Lifeguards)
- Garde zu Fuss
- Grenadierbataillon Kurprinzessin (Princess Elector)
- Königin (Queen)
- Prinz Friedrich August
- Prinz Maximilian
- Prinz Xaver
- Prinz Clemens
- Graf Brühl
- Fürst Lubomirsky
- Rochow Fusiliers
- Prinz Gotha
According to the 1753 État, each regiment consisted of 2 battalions with 10 coys of musketeers and 2 coys of grenadiers. Each musketeer coy had 95 men, grenadier coy had 97, and the regimental staff counted 17 men. The regiment had a total strength of some 1,160 men. Exceptionally, the grenadier battalion Kurprinzessin had 5 coys or 539 men, and the regiment Leibgrenadiergarde had 14 grenadier coys formed into 2 battalions for a total of some 1,684 men. The grenadiers of the army were converged into 7 battalions including Kurprinzessin. The 1756 wartime brigading of the grenadier battalions for the Pirna campaign was:
- 1st Bennigsen (2 coys Garde & 2 coys Graf Brühl)
- 2nd Kavannagh (2 coys Prinz Friedrich August & 2 coys Lubormirsky)
- 3rd Pforte (2 coys Prinz Xaver & 2 coys Gotha)
- 4th Götze (2 coys Prinz Maximilian & 2 coys Minckwitz)
- 5th Milkau (2 coys Königin & 2 coys Rochow)
- 6th Pfundheller (2 coys Prinz Clemenz & 2 coys 'flanc grenadiers' of the Leibgrenadiergarde)
- 7th Kurprinzessin (5 coys Kurprinzessin)
Each regiment consisted of 4 squadrons organised like the cuirassiers. The Garde du Corps had a larger establishment with some 649 men.
According to the 1753 État, during peacetime each regiment counted 4 squadrons for a total of 514 men and 394 horses.
Light Dragoons and Chevauxlegers
According to the 1753 État, each regiment counted 4 squadrons. Rutowsky was organised as a cuirassier regiment. The Chevauxlegers regiments were larger, with a book strength of some 762 men. The trooper of any of these units was entitled 'dragoon'. The sole difference between Rutowsky and the other units was their different mounts. Rutowsky should be considered to be mounted with the more costly German breeds, whereas the others had the cheaper Polish horses, mostly sorrels in lighter shades.
Uhlanen or Tartars
The Uhlanen were maintained by the Polish Commonwealth and hired into Saxon service. They participated in all campaigns from 1757 onwards. Initially with the Austrian armies, later on with the Reichsarmee in Saxony. After the death of King August III, they were returned to Poland. Two Pulks were kept on Warsaw's provisions budget in March 1757. Each Pulk had 6 Hoffahnen (court-banners), 1 banner counting 75 men. They were especially recruited in Lithuania and from Tartars. It seems that their tactical role was to scout and skirmish in support of the Saxon Chevaulegers.
The Saxon army also included a smallish body of mostly mounted Jägers.
- Saxon Feldjägerkorps
- Geschwindstück (quick-fire piece)
- Haus-Kompagnie (1 company at the Dresden arsenal and fortress personnel)
- Artillery Bataillon (4 coys)
- Mineurs (9 men)
- Pontoniers (28 men)
- Handwerker (workers)
- Roßpartei (horse-draught party – 223 men and 627 horses)
Regimental baggage train
- each infantry regiment had 29 wagons and 140 horses
- each cavalry regiment had 33 wagons and 150 horses
Invalids or Garrison Troops
- 8 companies
By September 1756 – 3 coys in Wittenberg (354 men), each 1 coy in the forts of Königstein (195) and Sonnenstein (125), each 1 located at Stolpen (?), Pleißenburg (115) and Waldheim (176 men).
By October 11 1756, the Saxon army in the camp of Pirna also included a unit entitled Freicompagnie Fürst Anhalt with some 116 men. It was formed from the men of the Wittenberg garrison.
Each Kreis-Regiment (formally Landmiliz) was to form 2 battalions. Only smallish cadres were maintained in peacetime. The militia had not been activated in 1756.
- 1. Kreis-Regiment (Sternstein)
- 2. Kreis-Regiment (Kretzmann)
- 3. Kreis-Regiment (Schoenberg)
- 4. Kreis-Regiment (Brüchting)
Saxon regiments serving with the Austrians and Reichsarmee 1757-1763
The regiments Karabieniersgarde, 3 regiments of Chevauxlergers and the Uhlanen were taken into Austrian pay and joined the army in 1757, participating in all campaigns till 1763.
The Saxon Corps serving with the French Armies 1758-1762
During 1756-57, the Saxons were rallied in Austria and later Hungary from among the men of the former Saxon army which deserted en masse from Prussian service. The so called Reverenten mustered some 7,331 men by October 1757. With a subsidies contract dated March 11 1758, the Saxon army was taken into French service. To avoid further contact with the Prussians, it was transferred through southern Germany and assembled in Strasbourg by July 1758, and then joined Contades army in Westphalia by September 1758. As part of Chevert's and Fitzjames' divisions reinforcing Soubise's army in Hesse, the Saxon contingent first saw action at the battle of Lutterberg (October 10 1758) where its determined attacks decided the day for the French army.
The Saxon contingent had a total book strength of 10,000 men. Organisation slightly changed during the course of war, but its book strength remained at 10,000 men. Effective strength was often far below as a result of continued desertion and recruitment difficulties, especially during the latter campaigns of the war.
Organisation: The 3 old regiments were set on an establishment of 8 coys of musketeers and 1 coy of grenadiers. The new regiments with 4 coys of musketeers. In addition, the regiments Garde, Prinz Maximilian, and Prinz Joseph were added each 1 grenadier coy from the former Leibgrenadiergarde. Minckwitz and Rochow were added each 1 grenadier coy from non-mounted troopers of the Saxon cuirassier regiments. Prinz Clemenz and Brühl each 1 coy of grenadiers from men of the dismounted Gardedukorps. Lubomirski and Gotha each 1 grenadier coy raised from former gunners. The 2 latter coys were disbanded in August 1758 and reformed into 2 coys artillery. Company strength was about 125 men.
In 1761, all 12 regiments were now equally formed into 4 coys musketeers and 1 coy grenadiers. The grenadiers formed into 1 battalion of Leibgrenadiergarde and 2 of Feld-Grenadier-bataillons. All regiments now with only 1 battalion plus 3 grenadier battalions. Thus, total force remained at the former 15 battalions.
- Prinz Maximilian
- Prinz Joseph (ex. Königin)
- Minckwitz, Prinz Anton in 1759
- Prinz Clemenz
- Graf Brühl
- Fürst Lubomirsky
- Prinz Sachsen-Gotha
- 10 companies of grenadiers.
Cavalry regiment: for the campaign of 1761 a cavalry regiment consisting of 4 squadrons or 8 coys was raised from the former unmounted Gardedukorps and cuirassiers, till then serving as grenadiers. This regiment might have been entitled Carabiniers. No particular name is recorded in the sources. Its colonel-owner was Major-general von Schlieben, killed at the so called 2nd battle of Lutterberg on July 23 1762. In 1763, it was disbanded and the men were transferred into the recreated Gardedukorps or served as carabiniers with the re-raised cuirassier regiments. It carried 2 standards of blue silk, bearing the arms of Poland on its front side, and those of Saxony on the reverse side.
Frei-Husaren von Schill, raised 1761
The contingent was provided with 24 French manufactured 4-pdr battalion guns à la suédoise, sponsored by Mme la Dauphine. In 1761, the artillery park was increased to 30 guns.
- Artillery Corps (2 coys by Summer 1758, 3 coys in 1761)
- Bredow, Claus, v; Wedel, Ernst v.: Historische Rang- und Stammliste des deutschen Heeres, Neudruck der Ausgabe 1905, Osnabrück 1972
- Friedrich, Wolfgang: Die Uniformen der Kurfürstlich Sächsichen Armee 1683-1763, Dresden 1998
- Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin 1901, page 152-156 and appendix: supplement 5, page 83-87
- Müller, Reinhold: Die Armee Augusts des Starken: Das Sächische Heer von 1730-1733, Berlin 1984
- Schuster, O.; Francke, F.A.: Geschichte der Sächischen Armee von deren Errichtung bis auf die neueste Zeit, Erster Theil, Leipzig 1885
Manuscripts and working papers:
- Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989.
- Wagner, Siegbert: Die Uniformen der kursächischen Armee im Jahre 1745, Manuskript, Hannover 1979
Contemporary documents, paintings, picture series and copper engraving series:
- Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne, 1756/57 (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)
- Barth, Joh. A: Pragmatische Geschichte der Saechsischen Truppen, ein Taschenbuch für Soldaten, Leipzig 1792
- Geschichte und gegenwärtiger Zustand der Kursächsischen Armee. 2nd edition, part IX, Dresden 1793.
- Collection Gustave de Ridder (Bibliotheque Nationale de France)
- Uniformes de l'armée saxonne de 1765
- Uniformes de l'Electorat de Saxe
- 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