Zieten Hussars

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Origin and History

Painting of Hans Joachim von Zieten by Franco Saudelli - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

The first company (71 men) of the regiment was raised on September 30 1730 from a draft from the cavalry and infantry regiments and from new recruits under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Egidius Arend von Beneckendorf. A second company was added on March 1 1731, a third on October 1 1732 and in October 1733, they were increased to 3 squadrons.

On June 1 1736, King Friedrich Wilhelm I declared this unit to be his “Königliches Leibkorps Husaren” and in November 1740, 3 more squadrons were added from the 1st Hussars. Finally, on July 24 1741 in Silesia, the regiment absorbed the Prussian Husarenkorps of Colonel Bronokowski and had 10 squadrons in 2 battalions.

The regiment was often referred to as Die Roten (the Reds), later die Zieten (the Zietens).

During the War of the Austrian Succession, on March 18 1741, the regiment took part in the combat of Frankenstein. The same year, on April 10, it fought in the battle of Mollwitz; on May 17, it was at the combat of Rothschloss; on June 10, at the combat of Grottkau. Early in 1742, it took part in the skirmishes of Göding, Skalitz and Ungarisch-Brodt; on May 17, it fought in the battle of Chotusitz. In 1744, the regiment was at the skirmish of Smetschau-Munczisay; on September 23, it took part to the combat of Tabor; on October 1, it was at the combat of Frauenberg; on October 4, at the combat of Moldauthein where, together with the 5th Hussars they put the enemy to flight; on November 19, it was at Teinitz. On May 20 1745, the reiment was at the combat of Jägersdorf; on May 22, it was at Hüllberge; on May 22, it was at the combat of Neustadt in Upper Silesia under Markgraf Carl; on June 4 June, it took part in the battle of Hohenfriedberg; on June 5, it was at the combat of Faulbrück; on November 23, it fought in the combat of Katholisch-Hennersdorf where, with the 5th Hussars, they took the kettledrums that they were still using in 1806.

Until 1802, the regiment had no recruiting canton, its recruits coming from Markgraf Carl Infantry and Kalckstein Infantry. On the eve of the Seven Years War, the garrison place of its 1st Battalion was Berlin while its 2nd battalion garrisoned Parchim, Plau, Lübs and Eldena.

From July 24 1741 till his death on March 1 1786, the regiment was under the command of General Hans Joachim von Zieten

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 2.

By 1806, the regiment was known as the “Leibhusaren-Regiment von Rudorff”. On October 11, it took part in a skirmish near Coburg. On October 26, it fought in the combat of Sandau and then withdrew with Blücher's corps. On November 3, it was at the combat of Criwitz; on November 5, at the combat of Waren; and on November 6, at the storming of Lübeck. On November 7, the main body of the regiment surrendered at Ratkau and was not re-raised. On November 22, a detachment of 40 men surrendered at Hameln.

Service during the War

Trooper of Zieten Hussars in 1756 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army was ordered to proceed to the invasion of Saxony, the 9 squadrons of the regiment were part of Ferdinand of Brunswick's column which had concentrated at Halle and advanced unopposed through Leipzig, Chemnitz, Freyberg and Dippoldiswalde, to the village of Cotta (reached on September 9) south of the Elbe near Pirna. The remaining squadron was part of the centre column led by Frederick II. More precisely, it belonged to Keith's Corps. The centre column had concentrated at Brietzen and advanced unopposed upstream along the Elbe river by Torgau, Wittenberg, leaving Meissen to its left. On September 6, it encamped at Rothschönberg and finally reached Wilsdruf. From September 10 to October 15 1756, the regiment took part in the blockade of the Saxon army in the camp at Pirna. On September 22, it was at the combat of Lang-Hennersdorf. When Keith's army retired from Lobositz at the end of October, part of the regiment was posted on the left of the rear at some distance, protecting the Prussian army against any initiative of the Austrian light troops. The regiment then remained at Linai from October 23 at night till October 25 to cover the rear of the retiring Prussian army.

In April 1757, the regiment was part of the Prussian army who proceeded to the invasion of Bohemia. On April 27, it took part in the combat of Budin. On May 6, it fought in the battle of Prague where it was deployed in Reserve under General von Zieten. While the cavalry units of both sides were rallying after the initial cavalry engagements, the regiment along with Werner's hussars, having come from the left wing, renewed the attack, dispersing the entire Austrian cavalry. On June 12, the regiment took part in the combat of Moleschau. On June 18, the regiment took part to the battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the cavalry vanguard at the extreme left under General von Zieten. On June 26, the regiment took part in the skirmish of Opatzkau and, on July 3 in the skirmish of Wellmina. On September 7, when an Austrian force under the command of general Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps during the combat of Moys, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the right wing. On September 13, it was at the skirmish of Birkenbrück; on November 10, at the combat of Wultischau; and on November 21, at the skirmish of Klettendorf. On November 22, the regiment took part in the battle of Breslau where it was deployed in the second line of the left wing under Lieutenant-General von Zieten. Along with Grenadier Battalion 35/36 Schenkendorff and Nr. I. "Standing" Grenadier Battalion Kahlden) and Werner Hussars, they threw back Nádasdy's diversionary attack. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in the second line of the cavalry right wing under Zieten who fell on the Württemberger and Bavarian contingents, capturing 2,000 men.

On May 2 1758, during the invasion of Moravia, the regiment took part in the skirmish of Littau; on May 22, it was at the skirmish of Konitz; on June 28 at the disaster of Domstädtl; and on July 12, at the skirmish of Hohenmauth. On July 26 1758, during the Prussian retreat after the failed invasion, the regiment covered the right flank of the Prussian army encamped near the bridge of Jasena. On July 29, it covered the crossing of the Mettau by the main army and took part in the skirmish of Czernilow. On August 10, the regiment was part of the corps who accompanied Frederick when he marched from Silesia to join Dohna to contain the Russian invasion of Brandenburg. On Tuesday August 22, this corps made a junction with Dohna at Manschnow. On August 23, one of the squadron of the regiment was among the first Prussian unit to cross the Oder. On August 25, they fought at the battle of Zorndorf where they were part of the fourth Prussian column. During the battle, led by Seydlitz, they counter-charged and overwhelmed the Russian cavalry. They then reformed and charged the flank and rear of the Russian infantry slaughtering them. On August 26, the regiment was detached to Lower Lusatia to prevent the incursions of Austrian light troops under Baron Loudon. On October 14, it took part in the battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed en potence on the right flank between Steindörfel and the Birkenbusch. The previous night, its troopers had kept their mounts saddled. This allowed to react quickly to the first Austrian attack and to rescue Prussian prisoners before being forced to retire. Around 7:00 AM, the regiment was among Zieten's corps when it charged the Austrian grenadiers, thus preventing the Austrians from turning the Prussian right flank. On October 30, the regiment was part of Frederick's rearguard during his march to relieve the besieged fortress of Neisse. This rearguard repulsed an attack by Loudon's light troops near the village of Pfaffendorf. On November 1, it fougnt in a skirmish along the River Queis.

On March 26 1759, the regiment took part in a skirmish at Greifenberg. On July 23 1759, 5 squadrons (500 men) of the regiment took part in the battle of Paltzig where they were attached to Normann's brigade deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing whose attack could not prevent the defeat. A few weeks later, on August 12, 5 squadrons of the regiment fought in the battle of Kunersdorf where they were deployed in the reserve of the right wing as part of Meinicke division. At the end of the battle, the timely intervention of the regiment saved Frederick II from being captured. On September 1, the regiment fought in a skirmish near Lübben. On October 29, it was at the skirmish of Sadowitz.

On May 27 1760, the regiment was at the skirmish near Kalkowitz; on June 2, at the skirmish near Torgau; on June 15 June, at the skirmish near Ober-Rödern; on July 7, at the skirmish near Nieder-Gurka. From July 14 to 31, it covered the siege of Dresden. On August 31, it was at the slirmish near Bunzlau. On August 15, it took part in the battle of Liegnitz where it was deployed in Krokow's brigade on the left wing. On September 13, the regiment was at the skirmish near Hohenfriedberg; on September 17, at the combat of Hohengiersdorf; on October 31, at the skirmish near Zobtelberg. On November 3, the regiment fought in the battle of Torgau where it formed part of the advanced guard. It clashed with Saint-Ignon Dragoons and captured an Austrian general, 20 officers and nearly 400 men.

On February 14 1761, the regiment was at Merxleben. On February 15, it took part in the combat of Langensalza where its 1st battalion captured the Saxon Garde, a battalion of grenadiers and 6 cannon. On March 9, the regiment was at the skirmish near Greiz. On April 2, the 1st battalion clashed with the Austrians again at Saalfeld; 2 squadrons charged a force of 2 cuirassier squadrons and 6 grenadier companies, capturing the latter together with 2 colours and 4 cannon. Both battalions then united in the chase of the beaten enemy at Hoheneiche, where they took almost 900 prisoners, 2 colours and 6 cannon. On April 5, the regiment was at the skirmish of Plauen; and, on June 9, at the skirmish near Nimptsch.

In 1762, the regiment served in Silesia. On July 21, it cleared the enemy from the heights of Burkersdorf and Leutmannsdorf. At Spechtshausen in the Taranter forest, they attacked the Austrian advanced guard, taking several hundred prisoners and 6 cannon. In July and August, the regiment covered the siege of Schweidnitz. On November 7, it was at the siege of Landsberg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756
Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear a brown kolback with a red flame with white cords, knots and tassels (the white plume was adopted only in 1762)
Pelisse dark blue
Fur trim white
Lace 18 rows of white braids and white edgings along the fur trimming at the end of the sleeves
Buttons white
Dolman scarlet with 18 white braids and white buttons
Collar dark blue edged white
Cuffs dark blue edged with a white chevron
Trousers buff with dark blue Schalavary (overtrousers) edged white
N.B.: by 1753, the small heart on the Schalavary had disappeared
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash dark blue and white barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged white with a white tassel
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark blue shabraque with scarlet wolf tooth edged and bordered white
Sabretache scarlet wearing a white crowned cipher and bordered with a white lace


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

Other interpretations

The Uniformes Prussien et Saxonne, illustrating the uniform in 1756-57, shows scarlet cords, knots and tassels at the kolback, scarlet trousers with white decorations on the thighs.

Schmalen in 1759 illustrated brown fur trim on the pelisse and white trousers.

Officers

From 1743, the kolback of the officers of the regiment was decorated with a golden sceptre to which was fastened a small black wing.

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

  • golden tassels at the kolback
  • golden braids and laces on the pelisse and dolman
  • a golden chevron on each cuff of the dolman
  • silver and black barrel sash
  • scarlet sabretache bordered in gold and wearing a golden crowned cipher
  • dark blue shabraque with scarlet wolf tooth edged and bordered gold
  • scarlet trousers (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)
  • yellow Hungarian boots (as per Schmalen in 1759 and 1762)

The shabraques of the officers were identical to those of the troopers but their rear corners were decorated with the king's cipher on a white filed framed and crowned in gold.

In 1757, after the victory of Leuthen, Queen Sophia Dorothea gave 32 leopard skins to the officers of this regiment. From then on, the first 3 officers of each squadron wore this leopard skin over the left shoulder instead of the pelisse for reviews and galas.

NCOs

The pelisse of the NCOs was trimmed with foxskin and the uniform was laved silver instead of white.

Musicians

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

  • a black mirliton with a white plume and white cords, knots and tassels instead of the kolback
  • pelisse
    • trimmed with foxskin
    • all laces replaced the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 red stripes)
    • swallow nest consisting of 5 vertical and 1 horizontal musician laces on each shoulder
    • 6 chevrons of regimental lace on each sleeve
  • dolman
    • all laces replaced the musician lace (white braid decorated with 2 red stripes)

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.

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

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

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 4: Die Uniformen der Kavallerie, Husaren und Lanzenreiter 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1979

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

Dorn G., Engelmann J., Die Kavallerie-Regimenter Friederich des Grossen 1756-1763, Friedberg 1984

Fiebig, H. Unsterbliche Treue

Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

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.

Gohlke, W. Geschichte der gesamten Feuerwaffen bis 1850 Berlin 1911.

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. and Hans M. Brauer; Heer und Tradition Heeres-Uniformbogen, Berlin 1926 -1962

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

Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen, Berlin: 1851/57.

Montierung der Königlich Preußischen Armee

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

Schmalen, I.C. Von; Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee...; Nürnberg 1759

Schultz, Johann Gottfried: Abbildungen Preussischer Kayserl. Und Französischer Soldaten aus dem siebenjährigen Kriege, ca. 1758

Uniformen der Preußischen Armee, 1758

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, November 11 1757

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

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and Michael Zahn for contemporary pictorial sources.