Origin and History
In 1705, during the Great Northern War (1700-1721), Peter I sent an Auxiliary Corps to reinforce the Saxon army of August the Strong who was fighting against the Swedish army.
On February 13, 1706 this Auxiliary Corps took part in the Battle of Fraustadt. At the beginning of the battle, the Russian Corps counted 6,362 men in 7 infantry and 2 Strelets regiments (totalling 10 battalions). It was deployed on the left flank of the Saxon army. The first attack of the Swedes against the Saxon center and right flank forced them to retreat. But when two mercenary regiments – de Martinier (under Colonel de Joyeuse) and Mallerack – suddenly sided with the Swedes, the Saxons were overthrown and fled. The Russian Corps defended its initial positions until the night, being surrounded and repulsing attacks of the Närke-Värmlands Infantry, Kronobergs Infantry, Nylands Dragoons and Livdragoner. In the night Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Renzel (a German officer in the Russian service) escaped at the head of 1,920 men. All Russian prisoners of war (at least 500 men) were slaughtered by the Swedes. Russian survivors were converged into a three-battalions regiment, which remained in Saxony till the late autumn of 1706, when August the Strong capitulated to the Swedes. With the rest of the Saxon army, the regiment marched to Austria, where the Saxons were interned. The Russian officers' council decided to march back to Russia, however the regiment had no supply and doubtful legal status. After the hard march through the Austrian and Polish territories the regiment (which by that time counted no more than 1,500 men) finally joined the army of Peter I at Lublin in June 1707. On July 2 of the same year, it was officially established as the “Renzel Infantry Regiment”. For its extraordinary and glorious history, it was also called the “Saxon Infantry Regiment”.
On July 14, 1708 the regiment took part in the Battle of Holowczyn. In the winter of 1709, it took part in the combat of Oposhnya. On July 8, 1709, counting about 1,000 men in 2 battalions, it took part in the Battle of Poltava. In 1709 and 1710, the regiment took part in the siege of Riga; in 1710, in the campaign on the Pruth River; in 1714, in the Russian campaign in Pomerania and Mecklenburg. In 1716, it served in Copenhagen.
On February 27, 1727 the regiment was renamed “1st Tverskoy Grenadier Regiment”. On November 24 of the same year, it was renamed as “Súzdalskiy Infantry Regiment”.
During the Seven Years’ War, the regiment was under the command of:
- in 1757: unidentified commander
- from 1763: Count Aleksander Vasilievitch Suvorov
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was stationed in Estonia.
In 1757, the regiment took part in the campaign in East Prussia under General-in-Chief Count Apraxin. On August 30, at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, it was part of Leontiev's Brigade attached to Browne's 3rd Division. When the Russian army deployed, it was placed in the second line of the right wing.
In January 1758, 2 battalions of the regiment took part in the Russian invasion of East Prussia. At the beginning of August, the regiment followed the Russian army in its invasion of Brandenburg. On August 25, the regiment fought at the Battle of Zorndorf where it was part of Prince Dolgoruki's Brigade in the first line of the infantry left wing. Around mid-November, the regiment took up its winter-quarters in the area of Bischoffswerder (present-day Biskupiec), Deutsch Eylau (present-day Ilawa), Liebenmuhl and Osterode (present-day Ostroda) as part of Rumyantsev's 3rd Division.
In 1761, the regiment took part in the Siege of Colberg.
To do: more details on the campaigns from 1759 to 1762
Most Russian regular line infantry regiments wore the same uniforms.
|Coat||dark green with 9 copper buttons on the right side on the chest and 9 red trimmed buttonholes, and 2 copper buttons (one on each side) in the small of the back|
N.B.: During summer campaigns, the coat was not worn, being left with the baggage. Soldiers carried a cornflower blue cape rolled over the shoulder. Since the waistcoat was red, Russian line infantry appeared to be entirely clad in red.
|Waistcoat||long sleeved red waistcoat lined green with 9 copper buttons and 9 red trimmed buttonholes, and with 2 en patte d'oie pockets each with 3 copper buttons and 3 red trimmed buttonholes|
|Gaiters||black leather with 10 large copper buttons (white for parade)|
During winter, line infantry wore knee-length cornflower blue cape.
Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre.
NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers but were distinguished by their gold laces on their tricorne, collar, and cuffs.
Most officers wore gold laced tricorne (gold/black pompons) but some officers wore a mitre.
Officer’s coat was similar to other rank’s but with a gold laced collar and lateral pockets closed by lapels en patte d’oie with 3 golden buttons each. Generally officers wore the coat with opened turnbacks. They also wore white cravates, green breeches and yellow gloves.
Officers carried a musket in action, the use of halberds and spontoons was abandoned.
Officers also carried a sword suspended to a red leather belt.
Officer’s cartridge box was edged in gold.
Officer’s saddlecloth and holsters were red with round posterior corner, edged with one or two gold stripes (the inner broader), as rank distinction. EPI ciphers on the corner and holsters.
Staff officers wore a black and gold sash.
Drummers wore the same uniform as the troopers with swallow nests on shoulders and braids on cuffs, pockets and collar.
Fifers wore the same uniform as the troopers with braids on cuffs, pockets and collar (no swallow nests on the shoulders).
The Drum Major had a gold edge on his tricorne, and gold braids on cuffs and collar.
Drums were made in copper, the regimental coat of arms engraved in the front, bordered in red and green, green and white cords.
Important notice: Even though our illustrations depict yellow laces, the colour of the braids on the uniforms of the musicians were chosen by the colonel. For instance, it could have been the distinctive colour of the regiment (shown on the ordonnance flag). They were often decorated with red “XXXX” in the middle.
N.B.: During summer campaigns, the green coat was not worn, being left with the baggage. Since the waistcoat was red, Russian line infantry musicians appeared to be entirely clad in red.
The flags measured 1,62 m. x 2,66 m., were fringed in gold and mounted on a 3,35 m. red wooden pole.
Colonel Flag: white field with, in its centre: an Imperial Eagle bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St.George’s Order. In each corner: a red flame pointing at the centre.
Regimental Flag: green field, in its centre: a gold crown surmounting a gold shield bearing the regimental arms. In each corner: a red flame pointing at the centre.
The section on origin and history of this regiment is mainly based on two works:
- Bespalov, A. V.: Russian Auxiliary Corps in Saxon service in time of the Great Northern War / А.В.Беспалов. Русский вспомогательный корпус на службе Саксонии в эпоху Великой Северной Войны.
- Rabinovich, M. D.: Regiments of Petrine Army 1698-1725 / М.Д. Рабинович. Полки петровской армии 1698-1725
Funcken, L. and F.: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, Appendix 1
Konstam, Angus and Bill Younghusband: Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 1, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996
Lubimow, A. J.: Die Feldzeichen der russischen Armee 1741-1761, in. Die Zinnfigur, Uniformheft 18
Pengel and Hurt: Russian Infantry of the Seven Years War, Birmingham, 1976
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
Ziegler, Volker: Die Russische Linien-Infanterie zur Zeit des 7-jährigen Krieges, Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für hessische Militär- und Zivilgeschichte 3, 2005
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Carlo Bessolo for the initial description of the uniforms
Roman Shlygin for the information on the origin and history of the regiment.