Wechmar Hussars

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Origin and History

Trooper of Wechmar Hussars in 1756 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

The regiment was raised in 1741 from new recruits in Breslau and Ohlau. It counted 10 squadrons. In 1743, the regiment contributed 2 squadrons for the formation of Dieury Hussars.

The regiment was often referred to as die Kapuziner (the Capuchins) or the Fleischhacker (the butchers because brown was the colour of the guild of the butchers).

During the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1744, the regiment fought in the combat of Ratibor where it defeated a much superior force. In 1745, the regiment took part in a skirmish at Planitz on February 14; an ambush at Hirschberg on March; the battle of Hohenfriedberg on June 4; and the battle of Kesselsdorf on December 15.

The regiment was attached to the inspectorate of Upper Silesia. On the eve of the Seven Years War, its garrison places in Upper Silesia were Loslau, Beuthen, Peiskretscham, Ujest, Gleiwitz, Rybnik, Sorau, Nicolai and Berun.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 10 squadrons.

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

  • since August 7 1746: colonel Ludwig Anton Baron von Wechmar (retired in 1757)
  • from February 3 1757 to January 30 1785: colonel Johann Paul von Werner (died in 1785)

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present hussar regiment was attributed number 6.

By 1806, the regiment was known as the Schimmelpfennig von der Oeye Hussars. On October 14 of the same year, the regiment was virtually destroyed at Jena during the campaign against Napoléon.

Service during the War

In 1756, the regiment was part of the army of Silesia under field-marshal Schwerin. During this campaign, this army remained on the border between Silesia and Bohemia. The regiment took part in a skirmish near Königgrätz where they were attacked by 2,000 Austrian cavalry, but drove them off and took almost 800 prisoners. The then Chef, colonel von Wechmar was detached by Schwerin with 250 of the regiment to conduct a raid behind enemy lines. They were detected by a larger Austrian force near Reichenau on October 10 and attacked, but were able to overthrow the Austrians completely for very little loss and to rejoin the army.

In April 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. During the advance, it took the major Austrian magazines at Jung-Bunzlau. On May 6, it fought in the battle of Prague where it was deployed in the Reserve under general von Zieten. While the cavalry units of both sides were rallying after the initial cavalry engagements, the regiment along with Zieten Hussars, having come from the left wing, they were sent to support the left wing; on the way they outflanked and attacked 6 Austrian cavalry regiments, defeated them and took 1,200 prisoners; 10 standards and the military chest. On June 18, the regiment took part in the battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the cavalry vanguard at the extreme left under under general von Zieten. On Thursday July 14, during the retreat from Bohemia 5 squadrons of the regiment were attacked at Gabel by a much superior force, but were able to disengage with only light losses. On September 7, when an Austrian force under the command of general Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps in the combat of Moys, the regiment was deployed in front of the first line of the left wing. On November 22, the regiment took part to the battle of Breslau where it was deployed in the second line of the left wing under lieutenant-general von Zieten. Along with Schenckendorff Grenadiers and Kahlden Grenadiers and Zieten Hussars, they threw back Nádasdy's diversionary attack. On December 4, the regiment formed the rearguard of the Prussian army advancing towards Leuthen. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in the vanguard which attacked the Austrian left flank.

In March 1758, the regiment took part in the invasion of Moravia. On July 25, during the Prussian retreat, the regiment escorted the bakery, the supplies and the ambulance as part of Rebentisch's detachment. The convoy crossed the Mettau and stopped at Dolskow. On October 10, 5 squadrons of the regiment fought in the battle of Hochkirch where they formed part of Retzow's Corps near Weissenberg. They were deployed on the road of Roth-Kretscham. They were among the first units of Retzow's corps to come to the relief of Frederick's left wing, charging and driving back Austrian cavalry units. On October 24 at 6:00 pm, the regiment was part of the vanguard of Frederick's army who marched on Drehsa (does not correspond to the general direction of the movement, more probably Brösa), crossed the Spree at Geisslitz, turned right and advanced through Weigersdorf, Gross Radisch and Diehsa up to the camp at Ullersdorf. On October 25, the regiment was hurrying to the relief of Neisse, when, at Landskrone near Görlitz it charged a superior Austrian cavalry force and defeated them, taking over 500 prisoners.

On June 23 1760, 5 squadrons of the regiment took part in the combat of Landeshut where they saved a gun. During a skirmish near Neumark in Silesia, the regiment attacked two Austrian dragoon regiments and scattered them. On September 5, the regiment was sent to Pomerania to the relief of Colberg from the Russians and Swedes. On September 18, Werner's corps arrived near the Russian entrenchments. He had marched 320 km in 13 days. Upon his arrival, he immediately attacked a small Russian detachment (about 300 men and 1 gun) on the Kauzberg hill near Sellnow (actual Zieleniewo). This Russian detachment defended a small redoubt covering a bridge. Some 200 men from the Wunsch and Courbière freikorps first skirmished with these Russian troops. Then, Werner Hussars advanced and captured 160 men and the unique gun of this redoubt. The rest of the detachment were killed or wounded. The unexpected arrival of Werner's force created panic in the Russian camp. All the infantry was immediately evacuated. Part of it re-embarked while another retired towards Koslin (actual Koszalin). All siege tools, supply, ammunition and several artillery pieces were abandoned on the spot. The Prussians thus captured 15 heavy guns (from 24 to 36-pdrs), 5 howitzers, two mortars and 2 3-pdrs guns. The king awarded seven medals to the regiment for gallantry.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756
Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear a black mirliton with white cords, knots and tassels
Pelisse brown
Fur trim white
Lace 15 rows of yellow braids
Buttons white
Dolman brown edged yellow with 15 yellow braids and 3 rows of white buttons
Collar yellow edged yellow
Cuffs yellow pointed cuffs
Trousers buff (maybe white for parade) with brown Schalavary (overtrousers) edged yellow
N.B.: by 1753, the small hearts on the Schalavary had disappeared
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash yellow and white barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged yellow with a yellow tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth brown shabraque with yellow wolf tooth
Sabretache brown with yellow edging, bearing the yellow crowned cipher “FR”


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a carbine. They rode brown or white-grey horses.

Officers

Major-General Werner in 1758 - Source: Richard Knötel Uniformkunde

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • a black mirliton with a black streamer edged gold and with golden cords, knots and tassels (yellow round cockade in front of the mirliton as per Schmalen)
  • pelisse
    • trimmed with white fur of foxes' throats (Wellner and Schmalen both illustrate black fur)
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved golden laces bordering the 18 golden braids on the chest
    • more elaborate golden laces bordering the cuffs
  • dolman
    • golden collar edged yellow
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved golden laces bordering the 18 golden braids on the chest
    • elaborate wide golden laces bordering the cuffs
  • silver and white barrel sash
  • for parade: brown shabraque bordered with yellow wolf tooth and decorated with the black Prussian eagle on a white field surmounted by a golden crown and surrounded by golden palm leaves
  • for parade: brown sabretache bordered with yellow wolf tooth and decorated with the black Prussian eagle on a white field surmounted by a golden crown and surrounded by golden palm leaves
  • brown trousers (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)
  • yellow Hungarian boots (as per Menzel and Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)


NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black mirliton; black streamer edged black; black and white cords, knots and tassels; yellow round cockade in front
  • pelisse: cuffs bordered with a wide golden lace

Musicians

Trumpeters of the regiment wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following differences:

  • black mirliton; black streamer edged gold; black and white cords, knots and tassels; yellow and black plume on the right side
  • pelisse
    • all laces replaced by the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 yellow stripes)
    • all braids replaced by yellow and white braids
    • swallow nests consisting of 5 vertical and 1 horizontal musician laces on each shoulder
  • dolman
    • all braids replaced by yellow and white braids

Colours

In 1743, king Frederick ordered the Hussars to return their standards.

References

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee fuer das Jahr 1806. Reprinted by Bilblio Verlag, Osnabrueck 1975.

Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee... Hrsg. u. gezeichnet I.C. v. S.(chmalen), Nürnberg 1759 (1. Auflage, 116 Tafeln)

Anon., Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757 (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)

Anon., Uniformen der Preußischen Armee, 1758 (Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden)

Alt, Das Koeniglich Preussische Stehende Heer. Schrapp, Berlin, 1869

Bleckwenn, Hans; Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Band III: Berittene Truppen, Osnabrück 1984

Bredow – Wedel. Historische Rang- und Stammliste des Deutschen Heeres. Berlin 1905.

Eckardt, Werner – Morawietz, Otto. Die Handwaffen des brandenburgisch-preussisch-deutschen Heeres. Hamburg, Helmut Gerhard Schulz Verlag, 1973.

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

Franke, Ludwig Eberhardt. Vorstellung der Koeniglich Preussischen Armee. Potsdam, 18??

Fraser, David. Frederick the Great, The Penguin Press, London 2000.

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee 1626-1807, Ein Quellenbuch, Berlin 1964.

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Heft 14 / 15. Der Feldzug 1806 / 07 und die Reorganisation der Artillerie. Berlin 1914

Grossen Generalstab. Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Hefte 26 - 30. Die Freikorps und Auslaender-Battailone. Berlin 1914.

Hoepfner, Edouard von. Oberst. Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807. Berlin, Simon Schropp & Comp. 1850.

Jany, Curt. Geschichte der Preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1967.

Kling, C. Geshichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausruestung des Koeniglich Preussischen Heeres. Three volumes. Putzer und Hoeltze, Weimar 1912.

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called „Brauer-Bogen"), Berlin 1926 -1962, Bogen 55

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921

Knötel – Sieg. Handbuch der Uniformkunde. H. G. Schultz, Hamburg, 1937.

Menzel, Adolf v.: Die Armee Friedrichs des Großen in ihrer Uniformierung, Erster Band: Die Cavallerie, Berlin 1851, Tafel 125

Ramm, August Leopold. Abbildungen von allen Uniformen der Koenigl. Preuss. Armee unter der Regierung Sr. Majestaet Friedrich Wilhelm III Berlin, J F Unger, 1800.

Scharf, Friedrich Ludwig: Buntes Tuch. Zweierlei Tuch. o.O., o.Jg.

Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne, 1756/57

Voigt, Guenther. Deutschlands Heere bis 1918. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1983.

Wellner, Carl: Uniform von Sr. Königl: Majestaet in Preussen Armee so Infanterie als Curassier, Dragoner, Husaren und Jäger zu Pferd und zu Fuß, nebst der in Empfang genommenen 10. Regt. Sachsen und Frey Bataillon; Leipzig vom 11ten: November 1757

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article.