Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld Dragoons

Origin and History

At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, Field-Marshal Christian Ernst Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, who had fought against the French during the campaign of 1676 and distinguished himself again during the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, offerer to Emperor Leopold I to raise a dragoon regiment.

On 9 September 1701, the Margrave of Brandenburg-Bayreuth received the necessary decree to raise his dragoon regiment of 1,000 men in 12 companies. Four companies already serving in the margrave's service as garrison in Fürth formed the kernel of the new regiment. The remaining 8 companies were enlisted in Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ) and Saaz (present-day Žatec/CZ). The original 4 companies marched to Philippsburg. Johann Albrecht Count Ronow was appointed colonel and Rentsch as lieutenant-colonel.

The regiment was immediately involved in the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1702, it took part in the battle of Friedlingen. In 1703, it campaigned in Tyrol. From 1704, it fought against the rebels in Hungary and was at the battle of Gyarmath near Raab and at the battle of Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK). In 1705, it joined the corps of G.d.C. N. Pálffy at Oedenburg (present-day Sopron/HU). FML Glöckelsberg with 1,600 foot and GFWM Löwenburg with 2,000 horse (including the regiment) went to Paks. On 22 June, the Austrians attacked the rebel entrenchments. On 23 June, the rebels evacuated their positions at Paks. In August, the regiment was assigned to the detachment charged to resupply the Fortress of Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). On 11 August, the regiment took part in the Combat of Bibersburg (present-day Červený Kameň/SK). On 12 November, G.d.C. Schlik with 5 cavalry regiments (including Bayreuth Dragoons) marched to Klausenburg. In June 1706, the regiment took part in the attack of the rebel camp at Alsó-Szilvas. It then garrisoned Klausenburg (present-day Cluj/RO) before marching to Pest. In 1707, it was sent to Oedenburg and then posted along the Hungarian border between Oedenburg and Neusiedler See. In the following months, it harassed rebel forces operating in this region. On 4 August 1708, the regiment took part in the victorious battle of Trencsén. In 1709, it escorted a supply convoy to Stuhlweissenburg, attacked a rebel detachment and captured 7 regimental flags. Until the end of the year, the regiment harassed rebel parties in Northern Hungary, remaining on the right bank of the Danube. In 1710, the regiment made the blockade of the Fortress of Neuhäusel. In 1711, it took part in the siege and capture of Kaschau and then assumed garrison duties in the Comitats of Tolna and Barany.

In 1716, the regiment took part to the campaign against the Turks where it was involved in the engagement of Carlowitz, in the battle of Peterwardein and in the siege of Temesvar. In 1717, it was at the siege of Belgrade. On July 30, it repulsed a sortie of the spahis and on August 16 it took part to the battle in fornt of the town.

In 1727, the regiment was stationed at Vienna.

During the War of the Polish Succession, the regiment took part to the two campaigns on the Rhine in 1734 and 1735.

Between 1737 and 1739, the regiment was involved in the three campaigns against the Turks where it acquired a well deserved renown. In 1737, colonel Josef baron Lentulus with 200 of his dragoons and the Splényi Hussars crossed the Morava River at Sonitz and occupied Krachelavatz and Novipassera. With 300 horse and 300 foot, he then reconnoitred the fortress of Usitza which he surrounded on July 21. His regiment then took part to the siege. In 1738, the regiment was at the engagements of Cornia, Panezowa and Mehadia. In the latter engagement, squadron leader Rupert Scipio Lentulus, a son of the colonel, boldly charged a body of Janissaries at the head of two squadrons. In 1739, the regiment was at Krotzka where it lost 38 men killed and 3 officers and 48 men wounded.

In 1740, the regiment was stationed in Banat.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment was in the army of Bohemia in 1743. In 1744, it still served in Bohemia and Bavaria, 200 men of the regiment were besieged in Prague by the Prussians. They were under the command of squadron leader Rupert Scipio Lentulus. At the capitulation of Prague, Lentulus did not want to become a prisoner of war and said to Prussian general Einsiedl: "I was commanding in Prague to fight not to deposit arms.” Frederick II immediately freed him in his word of honour (in 1745, Lentulus abandoned the Austrian service and in 1746, he entered the Prussian service as major). On January 7 1745, the rest of the regiment was at the engagement of Braunau where two of its squadrons under general baron Gelhay defeated the 1,100 French surrounding Amberg. In 1746, the regiment under its colonel count Claudius O'Donell distinguished itself at the battle of Piacenza. Under general Lucchesi, it followed the San Bonico canal, pushed back the French cavalry and broke half of the Spanish square. Colonel O'Donell brought back the 28 flags and one standard captured at this battle to Vienna. The same year, the regiment took part to the battle of Rottofreno. During the enterprise against Genoa, it was detached to support the infantry. At the end of the war in 1748, the regiment was stationed in Lombardy.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of horse grenadiers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

In 1760, the regiment was transformed into a Chevaulégers unit. However, in 1763, the regiment was reorganized as a Dragoon Regiment.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since September 1 1755: Karl Count Caramelli de Castiglione-Fallet
  • from August 1 1758: Wolfgang von Thümel (sold his rank and function in March 1759)
  • from March 31 1759 to May 1 1764: Friedrich August Prince zu Nassau-Usingen

In 1769, the regiment received the number 39 among the Austrian cavalry.

In 1860, the regiment was the Cuirassier Regiment No. 10. However, in 1867, it was once more reinstated as a dragoon regiment.

The regiment was disbanded in 1873 and its officers and troopers transferred to a new hussar regiment (No. 15). Missing officers were contributed by other hussar regiments.

Service during the War

By the end of 1755, the regiment garrisoned Lugos in Banat.

In April 1756, the regiment left its garrison place and marched towards Bohemia to join the Austrian army assembling there. By June, it counted 783 men and 789 horses. In July, it arrived at Kuttenberg (present-day Kutná Hora/CZ) where it remained for the rest of the campaign. It took its winter-quarters at Nimburg (present-day Nimburk/CZ).

At the end of March 1757, the regiment was sent to the corps of FZM Königsegg. On April 19, the regiment was reviewed at Nimes (present-day Mimoň/CZ). It then counted 1,015 men and 996 horses. On April 2, it was at the Combat of Reichenberg. Its proprietor, Count Porporati, commanded all of the Austrian cavalry and was killed during the defence of an entrenchment. The regiment itself was deployed on the right wing under the command of GFWM Lacy and was not involved in combat. On May 6, it was at the battle of Prague where it was deployed in GFWM Hedwiger's Brigade, in the second line of the left wing of cavalry. After the defeat, G.d.C Bretlach rallied the regiment near Beneschau (present-day Benešov/CZ) and effected a junction with the army of FML Daun between Kolin and Kuttenberg. In the order of battle of June 12, the regiment counted 500 horses (the regimental history mentions 800 men). On June 18, it took part to the Battle of Kolin where it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry left wing under Count von Stampach. During this battle, Major Krauss was wounded. Later during the year, the regiment was attached to General Nádasdy's Corps. On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's Corps isolated in the Combat of Moys, the regiment was part of Althann's Cavalry Brigade which probably did not participate in the engagement. 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 GFWM Hedwiger, FZM Buckow and G.d.C. Serbelloni and participated in the attack on Pilsnitz. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in the first line of the Cavalry Reserve under Marshal O'Donell on the far left of the Austrian positions as part of Nádasdy's Corps. After this disastrous defeat, the Austrian army retreated to Bohemia. Captain Duke Lobkowitz of the regiment, along with 3 NCOs and 40 men, were detached to the Fortress of Schweidnitz (they would become prisoners of war after the capture of the fortress by the Prussians in April 1758). On November 13, Karl Friedrich Palatine Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld was appointed proprietor of the regiment.

On June 30 1758, during the Prussian invasion of Moravia the regiment was with General Loudon when he attacked an important Prussian convoy near Neudörfl. During this action, Colonel Count Caramelli dislodged Prussian squadrons in the woods around Neudörfl. These enemy squadrons hastily retired to Troppau. For this action, Count Caramelli was granted the Maria-Theresien-Orden (he effectively received it only after the Battle of Hochkirch, when he had already been promoted to GFWM). During the action at Neudörfl, Lieutenant Johann von Hedviger and 7 men were killed, and 21 men wounded. The regiment was then attached, along with Löwenstein Dragoons to St. Ignon's Corps who followed the retiring Prussian armies. On July 12, Nagy-Károly Hussars with some “Grenzers” attacked the rearguard of Lieutenant-General Rezow who retreated to Holitz (present-day Holice/CZ). St. Ignon sent the regiment with some grenadiers to support the hussars. They attacked the village, captured some guns and ammunition wagons. St. Ignon finally retreated when another Prussian column came to the rescue. In this action, the Prussians lost around 1,000 men; and the Austrians, 300. The regiment alone lost 10 men dead, 22 wounded and 10 missing. On July 26, St. Ignon's Corps effected a junction with Daun's main army and marched towards Saxony. On July 31, Colonel Caramelli was promoted to GFWM. On August 1, Wolfgang von Thümel, who had been promoted to colonel, assumed command of the regiment. By August 2, the regiment was serving in the second line of the main Austrian army under the command of Daun near Jaromirs (present-day Jaroměř/CZ). Daun was following up the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the invasion of Moravia. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Loudon's Corps, to the southwest of Hochkirch. The regiment along with the Hessen-Darmstadt Dragoons and the Löwenstein Dragoons was placed under the command of Count Stampa who was attached to General Loudon's column which pursued the retreating Prussians. Meanwhile, FML Lacy with the grenadier company of the regiment combined with four carabinier companies (from the cuirassier rgts O´Donell, Serbelloni, Anspach and Buccow) broke through the Prussian infantry. During this battle Lieutenant-Colonel Count Lodron, Captain Gluck, Lieutenant Baron Vecsey and 42 men were wounded and 12 dragoons were reported missing. on On November 2, the regiment participated with Loudon's Corps in a skirmish near Löwenberg. The regiment took its winter-quarters near Thaus in Silesia.

In May 1759, the regiment left his winter-quarters at Thaus and joined the army at the camp of Jaromir where it remained until July 28. When FML Loudon was sent with 18,000 men to effect a junction with the Russian army, FM Daun supported his movement with the main army and, on September 29, arrived at the fortified camp of Kesselsdorf near Dresden. During all this time, the regiment was part of the cavalry corps of G.d.C Count O'Donell who followed the movements of the main army. On October 16, the Prussians left their camp at Strehlen which was immediately occupied by FML Lacy with all hussars, foot and horse grenadiers and the cavalry of G.d.C. O'Donell. On October 28, O'Donell went to Düben to support FZM Duke von Aremberg during his attack on Wunsch's Prussian Corps at Kemberg. At the beginning of November, due to bad weather, FM Daun sent the army to its winter-quarters around Friedrichstadt near Dresden. After capture of Finck's Prussian Corps at Maxen (the regiment was not involved in this action) FM Daun charged Leopold Prince Lobkowitz, major of the regiment, to bring the news of this victory to the court in Vienna. Lobkowitz died in Dresden on December 30 after his return from Vienna.

On January 11 1760, when the Prussian army advanced, the regiment was sent to Dippoldiswalde. The Prussians returned to Freiberg in Silesia and the regiment went to new quarters at Groß-Rennersdorf. On February 6, the regiment was transformed into a chevaux-legers unit. On March 14, when it was reviewed, it counted 696 men and 684 horses. In June the regiment was transferred to the Reichsarmee posted at Plauen and attached to GFWM Kleefeld's Brigade in FML Prince Stollberg's Division. However, its grenadier coy remained with FZM Lacy's Corps. On August 20, took part in the Combat of Strehla (aka Combat of Riesa) where it formed the vanguard. In the action of Glaubitz, it attacked the Prussian Schorlemmer Dragoons and was surrounded by 10 squadrons of hussars and dragoons. It bravely resisted until the Swabian Kreisregiment Hohenzollern Cuirassiers came to its relief but suffered the highest losses of its history. Colonel Prince Friedrich August von Nassau-Usingen, Major Count Carl Goes, captains Count Stadel, Baron Eisenstein and Thluk, captain-lieutenants Hartmann and Count Philippi, 6 officers, 16 NCOs and 232 chevaux-legers were taken prisoners. During this action, Lieutenant-General Count Lodron and Major Count Goes distinguished themselves.

For the campaign of 1761, the regiment was attached to FM Daun's main army stationed around Dresden. It did not take part in any major action. On August 1, Colonel Prince Nassau-Usingen, Major Count Goes, Captain Baron Eisenstein and First-Lieutenant Count Solar returned from Prussian prisons.

On January 21 1762, the regiment was reviewed at Berbersdorf in Saxony. It then counted 1,062 men and 991 horses. On May 12, it took part, under General Baron Zedtwitz, in the combat in the defiles of Döbeln. On May 24, it was at the combat of Wilsdurf where, led by General Baron Ried, it charged the Prussian left wing. Colonel Prince Nassau-Usingen was severely wounded at the right arm and shoulder by a shrapnel. For his conduct, he later received the Maria-Theresien-Orden. On June 19, Lieutenant-Colonel Lodron, stationed at Kesselsdorf, repulsed an attack. Afterwards, the regiment, who then counted 951 men and 560 horses, was reviewed once more at Gorbitz. On September 27, the regiment took part in the attack on the entrenched position in front of Pretschendorf. Major Franz Xaver Count Taafe with 300 chevaux-legers attacked the entrenchments behind Grumbach, drove back the Prussians and captured 2 officers, 201 men and one gun. On October 14, the regiment participated in an action at Freiberg. Under command of FML Ried, it was exposed to Prussian fire but did not suffer any loss. In November, the regiment took its winter-quarters at Ölsa in Saxony.

On January 5 1763, the regiment was reviewed at the camp of Ölsa. In March, all officers and men imprisoned by the Prussians returned to the regiment. After the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the regiment assumed garrison duty at Osseg (present-day Osek/CZ) and around Asch (present-day Aš/CZ). The “Leib-Kompanie” went to Prague. The depot squadron was at Pancsova in Hungary.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small yellow button
Grenadier bearskin
Neck stock black
Coat dark blue with 3 yellow buttons under the lapel on the right side
Collar none
Shoulder strap both shoulders: red fastened with a yellow button
right shoulder: red aiguillette
Lapels red with 7 yellow buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs red with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat dark blue with two rows of yellow buttons (partly hidden by the coat in our plate) and horizontal pockets (each with 3 yellow buttons)
Breeches straw
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather
Scabbard black leather with gilt decoration
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark blue laced with a wide white braid bordered with two thin red braids and decorated with red squares (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762). From 1758, the saddlecloth was decorated with the coat of arms of the Palatine Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld.
Housings dark blue laced with a wide white braid bordered with two thin red braids and decorated with red squares (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762). From 1758, housings were decorated with the coat of arms of the Palatine Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld.
Blanket roll white and dark blue (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)


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

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift shows a laced tricorne.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a green and white cockade
  • gold aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • brick red saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in gold

Musicians

Drummers of the regiments of dragoons usually wore a uniform with inverted colours. Thus, in the case of this regiment, drummers probably wore a red uniform with dark blue distinctives.

Colours

Leibstandarte: White and heavily embroidered

  • one side with the Blessed Virgin
  • other side with the double eagle
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert


Ordinair-standarte: Swallow tailed with gold fringes and gold embroideries

  • obverse: Dark blue field pennant, central device consisting of an allegoric scene illustrating the Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld coat of arms with the embroidered cyphers MT and FC
  • reverse: Red field pennant, central device consisting of the imperial eagle bearing the white-red-white shield on its breast and the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Regimental Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 239-267

Other sources

Brauer, H.M., Uniformbogen and Fahnentafeln, plate 95 Funcken, Liliane and Fred , Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Kornauth, Friedrich, Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe, Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen KAYSERLICH KOENIGLICHEN ARMEEN zur eigentlichen Kentnis der UNIFORM von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thadden, Franz-Lorenz v., Die theresianische Kavallerie - II. Teil, Die Zinnfigur, Klio, 1968

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Treuenfest, G. A. Von: Geschichte des k.u.k Husaren-Regimentes Nr. 15 Moriz Graf Pálffy ab Erdöd, Vienna 1894

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for a major overhaul of the article