Truchseß Dragoons

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Origin and History

The regiment (8 companies organised in 4 squadrons) was created on December 30, 1704 by the Baron von Derfflinger with troops contributed by the five existing dragoon regiments and with some recruits.

During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was initially stationed in East Prussia from 1705 to 1708. At the end of 1712, it was stationed in Geldern and later in Ravensberg.

In 1714, the regiment was renamed "Grenadiers zu Pferde" and considered as a unit of the guard.

On April 10, 1741, at the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment fought in the Battle of Mollwitz where it did not perform very well. On April 21, Frederick II divided the regiment, giving birth to the Dragoner-Regiment Number 4. In September the grenadier mitre caps were abandoned in favour of the tricornes and the regiment lost its status of horse grenadiers. In 1742, it took part in the Battle of Chotusitz; and in 1745, in the battles of Hohenfriedberg and Soor.

From 1745, the regiment garrisoned Bärwalde, Cüstrin and Neu-Damm in Neumark. Its troopers came from the districts of Arnswalde, Friedeberg and Landsberg an der Warthe.

On the eve of the Seven Years' War the regiment counted 5 squadrons.

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

  • from April 13, 1753: Friedrich Ludwig Truchseß Count zu Waldburg
  • from March 19, 1757: Peter von Meinicke
  • from April 9, 1761 to April 8, 1763: Kurt Friedrich von Flanß

The regiment was disbanded in 1806 after the capitulation of Ratekau.

Service during the War

On August 26, 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the left column led by the Prince of Bevern. This column had concentrated in the area of Lübben, then advanced through Lusatia by Hoyerswerda and Bautzen, to Hohenstein (Sept. 8) then to Lohmen north of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz under Lieutenant-General Schwerin. It took part in the second charge north of the Homolka Berg. During this battle, it lost 50 men. In the days after the battle, the regiment was assigned to the protection of the defiles near Welmina.

On May 6, 1757 during the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the second line of the right wing under von Meinicke. On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing under the Prince von Schönaich and covered the retreat of the divisions of Tresckow and Manstein. At the end of August, the regiment was part of the small Prussian army hastily assembled at Dresden by Frederick to head towards Thuringia and to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On September 14, when Frederick was forced to divide his army to contain the French in the region of Magdeburg and to secure the Prussian magazines in the area of Torgau, the regiment remained with Frederick at Erfurt to observe the Franco-Imperial army. On September 15, the regiment was part of Seydlitz's force which occupied Gotha. On September 19, this force was temporarily chased from the town by a Franco-Imperial force but Seydlitz managed to recapture Gotha and to occupy it until September 22. On November 5, at the Battle of Rossbach, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the right wing under Major-General von Seydlitz. It fought and defeated the Austrian Bretlach Cuirassiers and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers.

On January 30, 1758, 270 men of the regiment formed part of Colonel von Tauentzien’s Corps which assembled at Gross Oschersleben against the neighbouring French outposts. On February 23, the regiment, then attached to Prince Heinrich's Army, made a surprise attack on the Chasseurs de Fischer near the Ocker.

In May 1759, the regiment was part of Prince Heinrich's Army who launched an incursion into Franconia. In the afternoon of May 11, it formed part of the detachment under the command of General Platen who charged Riedesel's Austro-Imperial rearguard which was retreating towards Kulmbach. Platen took 2,500 men prisoners. On August 12, the regiment fought in the sanguinary Battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the reserve of the right wing as part of Meinicke’s Division. In this battle, it lost 11 officers and 148 men. In September, when Frederick realised that the Russian army was no more a threat for Brandenburg, he transferred a force (including this regiment) under Lieutenant-General Manteuffel to contain the Swedish operations in Pomerania.

In 1760, the regiment campaigned in Pomerania.

At the end of June 1761, Ziethen received orders to destroy the main Russian magazines Greater Poland, mainly in Posen (present-day Poznań). He was placed at the head of an important corps of 20,000 men from Goltz's Corps and from reinforcements sent by Frederick. The regiment formed part of this corps and took part in the raid in Greater Poland. By August, it was with Frederick’s Army at the entrenched camp of Bunzelwitz (present-day Bolesławice) near Schweidnitz in Lower Silesia.

On August 16, 1762, the regiment took part in the Battle of Reichenbach. From August to October, it was at the siege and capture of Schweidnitz.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1756
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small white button and pink pompoms

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap

Neck stock black
Coat cobalt blue with 2 white buttons under the lapel and 3 white buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar pink
Shoulder strap left shoulder: blue fastened with a white button
right shoulder: white with a white aiguillette
Lapels pink with 6 white buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets horizontal pockets each with 2 white buttons
Cuffs pink (Swedish style) with 2 white buttons
Turnbacks pink
Waistcoat lemon yellow with one row of small white buttons and horizontal pockets, each with white buttons
Breeches buff
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather
Scabbard brown leather
Bayonet scabbard brown leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth pink with rounded corners; bordered with 3 white braids
Housings pink pointed housings; bordered with 3 white braids
Blanket roll cobalt blue


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black within white pompoms in the lateral "cornes" of the tricorne
  • cuffs edged with a silver braid

Officers

Truchseß Dragoons Officer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

The officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade (attached with a golden fastener) and black and silver pompons
  • a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • silver embroidered buttonholes on the coat
    • 6 on each lapel
    • 2 under each lapel
    • 1 on each side in the small of the back
  • 2 on each pocket
  • 2 on each cuff


Musicians

Truchseß Dragoons Drummer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

Drummers of the regiments of dragoons probably wore the same uniform as the troopers but decorated on the seams with a white lace decorated with 2 pink lateral bands and pink central rhombuses.

Colours

Standards were made of damask. They were swallow-tailed and measured some 50 cm along the pole, 65 cm from the pole to the extremity of a point and 50 cm from the pole to the centre of the indentation. The cords and knots were of silver threads. The pole of the standard was a white tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges. The golden spearhead wore the crowned monogram of Frédéric Wilhelm (FWR).

It is not known how the Leibstandarte was distinguished from the Eskadronstandarten, as descriptions say that all the flags were "white" or "white with a blue/silver centre". However, the fact that the Leibstandarte sent to the newly formed DR 4 was replaced with another Leibstandarte suggests that they were different.

It was traditional on Leibstandarten for the scroll to be white and the centre coloured while Eskadronstandarten had coloured scroll and a white/silver centre. However, with "all white" standards, the Leibstandarte scroll would be coloured and the centre white, while the Eskadronstandarten had white scrolls with coloured centres. We have used the convention of a white scroll to distinguish the Leibstandarte. This regiment received a new Leibstandarte after the regiment was split in 1741, as the regiment's original Leibstandarte was sent to the new DR Nr 4.

The Leibstandarte was of the “FR” design. However, the regiment lost three Eskadronstandarten in the War of the Austrian Succession (one in 1741, two in 1742) and thus carried a mixed set of FR and FWR Eskadronstandarten during the Seven Years War.

Colonel Standard “FR” design (Leibstandarte): white field fringed gold with a silver central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers). Squadron Standards “FR” design (Eskadronstandarte): white field fringed gold with a silver central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a silver scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers).
Colonel Standard – Source: Dal Gavan
Squadron Standard – Source: Dal Gavan
  Squadron Standards “FWR” design (Eskadronstandarte): white field fringed gold with a blue central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle flying towards a golden sun surmounted by a white scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers).
 
Squadron Standard – Source: Dal Gavan

References

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: 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. 1 Pirna und LobositzBerlin, 1901, Appendix 1

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 564-567

Thümmler, L.-H.: Preußische Militärgeschichte

Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

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