Secret Howitzer Corps

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Secret Howitzer Corps

Origin and History

In 1756, Shuvalov organised a “Secret Howitzer Corps”. This corps initially consisted of 3 companies but was increased to 4 companies before the end of the year.

The regiment counted 15 officers and 601 men (including 69 non-combatants) organised as follows:

  • 4 bombardiers coys of
    • 4 officers
    • 10 NCOs
    • 4 musicians
    • 23 bombardiers
    • 140 helpers/servicemen
    • 9 non-combatants

At the beginning of 1758, the “Howitzer Corps” received an additional company bringing its total force to 5 companies. It now counted 42 officers and 1829 men (including 343 non-combatants) organised as follows:

  • 5 bombardiers coys of
    • 7 officers
    • 14 NCOs
    • 3 musicians
    • 28 bombardiers
    • 14 gunners
    • 164 fusiliers
    • 112 helpers/servicemen
    • 8 non-combatants

In the field, each company of the “Secret Howitzer Corps” was subdivided in 7 parts, each consisting of 2 secret howitzers and 1 unicorn. During battles, these parts were attached to the regimental artillery, dramatically increasing the firepower of this artillery.

One company of the Secret Howitzer Corps was assigned to the Observation Corps.

In 1758, in addition to its 70 Shuvalovs’ secret howitzers, the corps received 35 unicorns. It was then subdivided in 35 groups of 2 secret howitzers and 1 unicorn.

During the winter of 1758-59, the unit was renamed the “Bombardier Corps”.

During the winter of 1759-60, the “Bombardier Corps” was transformed into the “3rd Regiment of Artillery”.

In 1760, 1 company of the Observation Corps was incorporated in the regiment.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • no information found yet

Service during the War

To do: campaigns from 1757 to 1762

Uniform

All Russian regular artillery wore the same uniforms. Looking more attentively to Zveguintzov's work and some period paintings, it seems more and more evident that the uniforms of the regular artillery were orange rather than red. However, we have not yet updated the accompanying uniform plate accordingly.

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template
Summer uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template
Uniform Details
Headgear until 1759: mitre with a brass frontplate (shorter than the plate of the grenadier mitre cap) embossed with trophies of weapons and standards surmounted by the Imperial Eagle flanked by Mars and Minerva, a black leather skull-cap and neck guard with brass reinforcements and decorations, a white wool pompom. It seems that in the field the bombardiers wore black tricornes even before 1759
Neckstock black
Coat red (more probably orange) lined black with 9 copper buttons on the right side on the chest and 2 copper buttons (one on each side) in the small of the back

in February 1759 a shorter coat was issued
N.B.: During summer campaigns, the coat was not worn, being left with the baggage. Soldiers carried a red cape rolled over the shoulder.

Collar black
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none (black from February 1759)
Pockets none
Cuffs black with 3 copper buttons
Turnbacks black, each fastened with a copper button
Waistcoat long sleeved red (more probably orange; white at the end of the war) waistcoat lined black with 9 copper buttons, and with 2 en patte d'oie pockets each with 3 copper buttons
Breeches red (more probably orange)
Gaiters black leather with 10 large copper buttons (white Manschetten)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt red leather
Waistbelt red leather
Cartridge Box black covered with a brass plate
Bayonet Scabbard ???
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear black shoes


During winter, artillery wore knee-length red cape.

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet, a sabre and a linstock. They also carried priming flasks and slowmatch holders on their belts.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers but were distinguished by their gold laces on their tricorne, collar, and cuffs.

Officers

Most officers wore gold laced tricorne but some officers wore a mitre.

Officer’s coat was similar to other rank’s but with the following differences:

  • a gold laced tricorne with gold/black pompoms or, for bombardier officers a gold plated mitre
  • gilded buttons
  • gold edged collar and lateral pockets
  • yellow gloves.
  • from 1759
    • gold edged lapels
    • gold edged white waistcoat
    • no turnbacks

Officers also carried a sword suspended to a red leather belt.

Staff officers wore a black and gold sash.

Musicians

Drummers wore the same uniform as the troopers with swallow nests on shoulders and braids on cuffs, pockets and collar.

Drums were made in copper, the coat of arms of Russia engraved in the front, bordered in red and black, red and white cords.

N.B.: During summer campaigns, the red (more probably orange) coat was not worn, being left with the baggage.

Colours

Regimental Colour: white damask field heavily ornamented; a brown double-headed eagle surmounted by a golden scroll carrying the motto “Tuetur et Terret”; beneath the eagle, a bronze cannon with red carriage, a powder barrel and 2 sponges on a green ground

Colonel Flag - Source: rf-figuren

References

Funcken, L. and F., Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. vol. IV Gross-Jägerndorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902, Anlagen 1, Das Kaiserlich Russische Heer, p. 7-13

Konstam, Angus; William Younghusband; The Russian Army of the Seven Years War

Russian websites

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

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Zveguintzov, Vladimir, L'armée russe, Paris, 1967

Acknowledgments

Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the initial version of this article