Volontaires de Prusse

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Volontaires de Prusse

Origin and History

On December 8 1758, Lieutenant-general Duke of Holstein-Gottorp was authorised to raise a Freikorps to serve with the Allied Army in West Germany. On December 20 Major von Trümbach entered in the Prussian service. The unit was raised on January 4 1759 as "Freikorps von Trümbach" or "Volontaires de Prusse". It was financed by contribution raised in the Duchy of Bergh. The unit initially consisted of:

  • 3 companies of musketeers (each of 126 men)
  • 1 company of jägers
  • 1 detachment of dragoons (48 men)

By March 1759, the unit had assembled in Minden. On April 25, the company of jägers, which had been raised in Soest by Captain Johann Friedrich Naumann, joined the unit. The unit then comprised:

  • 22 officers
  • 38 NCOs
  • 13 drummers
  • 5 surgeons
  • 12 carpenters
  • 552 privates

On February 3 1760, the Duke of Holstein gave orders to reorganise the dragoons of the unit in 2 squadrons of hussars placed under the command of Major Johann Bernhard von Bequignolles. Furthermore, a company of grenadiers was created. The musketeers and grenadiers received a new uniform while the jägers continued to wear the original uniform. On May 27 of the same year, a fourth company of musketeers was raised and the company of jägers was transferred to Frei-Infanterie Quintus Icilius. With these reorganisations, the unit now consisted of:

  • 1 company of grenadiers
  • 4 companies of musketeers, each consisting of:
    • 4 officers (5 in the Leibkompanie)
    • 10 NCOs
    • 1 surgeon
    • 3 drummers
    • 3 carpenters
    • 141 privates
  • 2 squadrons of hussars, each consisting of:
    • 4 officers
    • 10 NCOs
    • 1 trumpeter
    • 1 surgeon
    • 1 smith
    • 100 hussars
  • artillery
    • 1 officer
    • 2 blasters
    • 16 gunners
    • 2 x 3-pdr guns

In January 1761, the 2 squadrons of hussars were transferred to the newly formed Frei Hussars von Bauer.

On November 23 1761, the unit incorporated a second battalion originating from the former Volontaires Wallons. With this addition, the unit consisted of 2 battalions, each consisting of 1 grenadier coy and 4 musketeer coys.

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

  • from January 4 1759: Major Friedrich Adam von Trümbach

At the end of the war, the unit was incorporated into Westphalian infantry regiments of the Prussian army.

Service during the War

On April 13 1759, a detachment of the unit took part in the battle of Bergen where it was attached to the vanguard of the third column. In June, 1 battalion of 5 coys including 1 Jägers and 1 dragoon detachment of 54 troopers (total of 768 men) served with the main Allied army under the command of Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, while an Allied force launched an attack on Gohfeld, a battalion was detached to Herford. The same year, the unit incorporated part of the troops of the disbanded Garrison Regiment XII Kalckreuth. At the end of November, 100 jägers of the unit accompanied the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick in his attempt against the Württemberger cantonments. On November 30, they took part in the attack on Fulda

On July 10 1760, 1 battalion and 1 squadron of the unit were present at the combat of Corbach where they were attached to the reserve under the command of Lieutenant-general von Gilsa. This reserve did not take part in the engagement.

Uniform

Uniforms of the Hussars

Troopers

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear brown kolback with a white bag, white cords and white tassels
Neck stock black
Pelisse Prussian blue
Fur trim white
Lace white cords
Buttons white
Dolman white edged white with white cords and white buttons
Collar yellow edged white
Cuffs yellow pointed cuffs edged white
Cloak no information available
Trousers buff leather with Prussian blue Schalavary (overtrousers) edged white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash Prussian blue with white barrels
Scabbard black decorated with white metal
Boots black Hungarian boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth Prussian blue, bordered with a yellow scalloped lace edged white
Sabretache Prussian blue bordered with a white scalloped lace and decorated with a crowned "FR" cypher


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a carbine.

NCOs

no information available yet

Officers

no information available yet

Musicians

no information available yet

Uniforms of the dragoons

Troopers

Uniform in 1760 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace; a black cockade fastened with a small brass button; a dark green pompom in each lateral corne
Neck stock black
Coat dark green with 6 brass buttons (arranged 2-2-2) on each side; 3 brass buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder Straps dark green fastened with a brass button (left shoulder only); yellow aiguillette on the right shoulder
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets with 2 brass buttons
Cuffs red (Swedish-style), each with 2 brass buttons
Turnbacks red fastened with a small brass button
Waistcoat dark green with small brass buttons
Breeches buff leather with dark green overtrousers fastened on the outside with small brass buttons
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box n/a
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard brown leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth green with rounded corners; bordered with a wide yellow braid decorated with 2 red stripes
Housings green rounded housings; bordered with a wide yellow braid decorated with 2 red stripes
Blanket roll green


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

NCOs

no information available yet

Officers

no information available yet

Musicians

no information available yet

Uniforms of the Musketeers

Initially, the musketeers wore a uniform similar to the uniforms of jägers depicted below. However, they soon adopted a blue uniform with light blue facings. This second uniform was later replaced by a similar uniform with red facings.

In this section we depict the second unifrom (blue with light blue facings).

Privates

Second uniform - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne without lace; small pewter button on the left side; light blue within white pompom and tassels
Neck stock black
Coat Prussian blue with 2 pewter buttons below the right lapel and 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar light blue
Shoulder Straps Prussian blue fastened with a pewter button
Lapels light blue, each with 6 pewter buttons arranged 2-2-2
Pockets horizontal pockets piped red with 2 pewter buttons
Cuffs light blue “Swedish-style” cuffs with 2 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat light blue (white as per Cremer) with pewter buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt probably white
Waistbelt probably white
Cartridge Box probably black
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard probably brown
Footgear black shoes


Privates were probably armed with a short musket, a bayonet and a curved blade sabres.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the privates with the following differences:

  • a wide silver lace on the tricorne with a black and white quartered pompom and a black within white smaller pompom in each lateral corne
  • collar, lapels, and cuffs edged with a wide silver braid

Officers

Officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following differences:

  • a black tricorne with a silver scalloped lace and a black cockade fastened with a silver strap and a small silver button; black within silver tassels in the cornes
  • elaborate embroidered silver buttonholes on the lapels, cuffs, pockets
  • 1 similar buttonholes on each side at the small of the back
  • 2 similar buttonholes on each side below the lapel s
  • black boots

Musicians

Drummers wore a uniform similar to the uniform of the privates but with swallow nests (Prussian blue laced with a white braid with a central light blue stripe) on each shoulder.

Uniforms of the Jägers

Privates

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne laced white with a small pewter button; one olive green pompom; one smaller olive green pompom in each lateral corne
Neckstock black
Coat yellowish olive green lined red, 6 pewter buttons (arranged 2-2-2) on each side on the chest; 2 pewter buttons on the right side at the waist; and 3 pewter buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder Straps yellowish olive green fastened with a small pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 2 pewter buttons
Cuffs red (in the Swedish pattern) with 2 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red fastened with a pewter button
Waistcoat yellowish olive green
Breeches yellowish olive green or buff leather
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt probably white
Waistbelt probably white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard brown
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes


Initially half the company was armed with rifles and the other half with muskets. Privates were also armed with a sword.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:

  • wide silver lace on the tricorne; black and white quartered pompom; smaller black within a white pompom in each lateral corne
  • collar and cuffs edged silver

Officers

Officers had silver scalloped tricorne with black and white quartered pompoms, a black cockade fastened with a silver strap and a silver button. Their coats were similar to those of the privates but without shoulder strap or turnbacks. Furthermore, they had a silver aiguillette at the right shoulder.

Musicians

no information available yet

Colours

None of the Freikorps units carried official colours, standards or guidons to the exception of von Kleist Frei Korps.

References

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 5: Die Uniformen der preußischen Technischen Truppen, Rückwärtigen Dienste und Kriegsformationen 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1984

Cremer, Peter: Die Preussischen Freikorps im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Auflistung der Freikorps, ihrer Einsätze, der Uniformen, der Chefs und deren Geschichte, KLIO-Arbeitsgruppe 7jähriger Krieg, Friderzianische Epoche, Manuskript, o.J.

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. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin 1901, Anlage 1-2

Jany, Curt: Geschichte der Königlich Preußischen Armee bis zum Jahre 1807, Zweiter Band: Die Armee Friedrichs des Großen 1740-1763, Reprint Osnabrück 1967

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

Acknowledgments

Michael Zahn and Digby Smith for the information provided for the creation of the initial version of this article.