Arberg Infantry

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), under the name of “Premier Régiment d’Infanterie Wallonne.” It first colonel was Charles-Antoine Comte d’Arberg who was also its owner.

Recruitment was made on a voluntary basis and was reserved exclusively to Belgians. Theoretically, enrollment was for life or at least for an unlimited period. However, with the urgent need of manpower during wars, volunteers could enroll for a period of three to nine years.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment took part in the campaigns in Flanders. On June 27, 1743, the entire regiment took part in the Battle of Dettingen.

As per the Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759 and Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760, the regiment counted 4 battalions (2 grenadier coys and 16 fusilier coys) for a total of 2,300 men. This was the administrative organisation of the regiment. However, the tactical organisation differed: 2 field fusilier battalions, each of 6 companies; 2 grenadier companies (usually converged with grenadiers from other battalions into an ad hoc unit); and 1 garrison battalion of 4 companies (see Austrian Line Infantry Organisation for more details).

During the Seven Years' War, the chef of the regiment was:

  • from 1742 to 1768: Charles-Antoine, Comte d’Arberg (promoted to major-general in 1745)

During the Seven Years' War, its colonel-commanders were:

  • from 1742: Charles-Antoine, Comte d’Arberg (promoted to major-general in 1745)
  • from 1745: Charles, Duc d’Ursel (transferred to De Ligne Infantry in 1748)
  • from 1748: Prince Gustaf von Stollberg-Gutern (previously with the “Second Régiment d’Infanterie Wallonne,” a unit raised in 1743 and disbanded in 1748; he was promoted to major-general in 1754)
  • from 1754: Comte de Claricini (died in 1755)
  • from 1755: Philippe Franquet (retired in the summer of 1757)
  • from 1757: Philippe-Maximilien Comte de Merode
  • from at least 1759: Chevalier Orlandini (promoted to major-general in the spring of 1760)
  • from 1760: Charles-Auguste de Dinchant, Count de Gontroeul

Regimental numbers were introduced only in 1769 when this regiment was designated as "I.R. 55".

The regiment was disbanded in 1809.

Service during the War

In 1756, two battalions and the two grenadiers companies of the regiment were ordered to join the main Austrian army assembled in Bohemia. In the spring of 1757, another battalion and a newly raised grenadier company were sent to assist the French army on the Lower Rhine. In the following sections, the feats of arms of these two distinct contingents are followed separately until their reunification.

Battalions serving with the Austrian Army of Bohemia

In December 1756, two battalions and the two grenadier companies of the regiment left the Austrian Netherlands to join the Austrian army stationed in Bohemia. They marched in the direction of Budin.

On May 6, 1757, the two battalions of the regiment took part in the battle of Prague where they were deployed in count Campitelli's brigade, in the second line of the right wing of infantry under count Königsegg; while one of the two grenadier companies was converged with similar units and defended the Heights of Sterboholy and the other grenadier company remained in Prague for the defence of the city. On June 18, one battalion of the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin where it was part of Müffling’s Brigade in the corps of Count Colloredo, held in reserve behind the centre. In July, the two battalions, who had suffered heavy casualties in the preceding battles, were converged in a single battalion of six companies.

On September 7, when general Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's corps isolated during the combat of Moys, one battalion of the regiment was deployed in the first line of the infantry centre division under the command of Lieutenant-General Nicolaus Esterházy; while the grenadiers of the regiment were converged with other grenadier companies. These grenadiers, formed in three columns, stormed the Jäckelsberg at the point of the bayonet.

On November 22, one battalion of the regiment took part to the Battle of Breslau where it was part of the Reserve Corps in Baron Blonquet's Brigade.

On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, one battalion of the regiment was deployed in the second line of the far right Reserve under Major-General von Luzinsky. In this battle, it lost 236 men, including Major Bleckhem and 3 officers.

By the end of 1757, the six Walloon battalions serving in Bohemia had suffered so heavily that their remnants had to be temporarily converged in a single battalion, which took up its winter-quarters near Reichenbach (unidentified location) and Czernilow (present-day Černilov/CZ) in Bohemia.

On January 25, 1758, Empress Maria Theresa issued a decree to levy a large quantity of recruits for her Walloon infantry regiments. On October 4, this battalion was joined by the battalion which had previously served with the French army on the Lower Rhine. (for the following campaigns, see the section “Reunited regiment”)

Battalion serving with the French Army of the Lower Rhine

In April 1757, the regiment contributed its 3rd Battalion (garrison battalion) and a newly raised grenadier company (the 3rd) to the Austrian Contingent sent to the assistance of the French Army during the invasion of Hanover. The four battalions strong Austrian Contingent assembled at Ruremonde under Major-General Dombasle. The Prince de Soubise ordered the Austrian Contingent to move into the Kleve and Gueldre Duchies and occupy them. On April 6, 3 battalions of the Austrian Contingent, under the Comte de Dombasle, entered into Kleve. On April 8, the battalion occupied Wesel where it remained as garrison. At the end of the year, this battalion took its winter quarters in the first line of the French Army at Duderstadt.

On March 11 and 16, 1758, the battalion took part in combats near Herstelle at the junction of the Diemel and Weser rivers, managing to hold its positions. On March 18, part of the battalion defended Leppoldsberg on the Weser when it was attacked by the Allies, who managed to make themselves masters of the position and to capture Captain du Cerf and a few men of the battalion. However, Grenadier Captain de Gontroeul came to the rescue with his company, freed the prisoners and reconquered the position.

In April, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed the French army along the Rhine, the battalion was stationed in Wesel.

At the end of May 1758, the battalion formed part of the contingent under the Baron de Dombasle which had been ordered to join the Austrian army assembled in Bohemia. On its way, this contingent was instructed to join the Reichsarmee which was marching towards Bayreuth and Saxony to fight the Prussians. In September, the contingent took part in the siege of Pirna and in the capture of the Fortress of Sonnenstein.

On 4 October, the battalion was finally reunited with the rest of the regiment which was serving under Daun in the main Austrian army. The regiment was then reorganised in 2 battalions of 6 companies each and a grenadier division. (for the following campaigns, see the section “Reunited regiment”)

Reunited regiment

On October 6, two battalions of the regiment formed part of the rearguard which was attacked by 2 Prussian battalions, 3 cavalry regiments and a detachment of hussars. It drove back the Prussians, capturing 3 captains and some 80 men with 1 cannon.

On October 14, 1758, two battalions of the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where they were deployed in Loudon's Corps, to the southwest of Hochkirch. They were among the troops who stormed the heights of Steindörfel and attacked the village of Hochkirch in the rear. They then bitterly fought to keep control of this village.

On October 16, two battalions of the regiment distinguished themselves for their courage in a skirmish near Bischofswerda, capturing 3 artillery pieces.

In November, the two battalions of the regiment and its grenadiers took part in the unsuccessful siege of Dresden. On November 9, they fought in a combat against elements of Finck’s Corps in the zoological park. At the end of November, they took up their winter-quarters at Kaurzim in Bohemia.

In June 1759, the regiment was attached to Harsch’s Corps which remained in Silesia to observe Fouqué’s Corps. It remained with this corps, which took position at Trautenau, until the end of the campaign. In December, the regiment and its grenadiers rejoined the main army and took up their winter-quarters in the vicinity of Rabenau.

In the spring of 1760, 1 battalion was recalled to the Austrian Netherlands. Only 1 battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment remained in Saxony and were attached to Loudon’s Army.

On June 23, they fought in the Battle of Landeshut, where they took part in the storming of the redoubt of Vogelsdorf on the Prussian left wing. Three grenadiers of the regiment were the first to climb the Prussian entrenchments.

In July, the battalion and the grenadiers took part in the siege and capture of Glatz.

On August 15, the battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment took part in the Battle of Liegnitz, where they suffered heavy losses (309 men). Colonel Comte de Gontroeul was taken prisoner and Major Chevalier de Ham, wounded.

At the end of 1760, the battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment took up their winter-quarters at Weißig in Saxony.

In July 1761, one battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment formed part of O’Donnell’s Corps that Daun sent to reinforce Loudon’s Army. By the end of 1761, they guarded the outposts of Kreuzendorf, Muhlbank and Hartmannsdorf in Silesia.

For the campaign of 1762, one battalion and the grenadiers were attached to the corps of FML Brentano, posted near Adelsbach to cover the left wing of the main army. On July 7, they took part in the Combat of Adelsbach, where Major de Ham distinguished himself at the head of a converged grenadier battalion which held its position during more than seven hours.

On July 21, one battalion and the grenadiers took part in the Battle of Burkersdorf. Once more, Major de Ham distinguished himself at the head of a converged grenadier battalion (he would later received the Knight Cross of the Maria Theresa Military Order for his conduct).

A contingent of the regiment (6 officers and 198 men), including the grenadier company of Captain d’Anbleux, formed part of the garrison which took part in the defence of Schweidnitz and was forced to surrender as prisoners of war.

In February 1763, the battalion and the grenadiers of the regiment were instructed to return to the Austrian Netherlands.

Uniform

Until recently we had a very vague description of the uniform at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War. Thanks to the kind authorisation of the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna, Dal Gavan, a member of our group, has had access to the Delacre Bilderhandschrift, a rare contemporaneous manuscript depicting the uniforms of the entire K. K. Army around 1756-57. For this reason, we present the uniforms of privates circa 1757 and in 1762.

Privates 1757

Uniform in 1757 - Copyright: Frédéric Aubert from a template made by Richard Couture.
Uniform in 1757
as per the Delacre Bilderhandschrift of 1757, Muhsfeldt and Schirmer

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a white fastener and a small yellow button
Grenadier bearskin with probably a red bag
Neckstock one red and one black (for parades the regimental commanders agreed before on the colour of the neckstocks)
Coat white lined white with 3 yellow buttons under the right lapel and 1 yellow button in the small of the back on each side
Shoulder Straps none visible
Lapels red with 7 yellow buttons (arranged 1-3-3 from the top)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs dark red, each with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks white
Waistcoat white with 2 rows of 9 yellow buttons (3-3-3) and with horizontal pockets (each with 3 yellow buttons)
Breeches white
Gaiters one pair of black (for winter) and one pair of white gaiters (for summer and parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate carrying the initials “MT”
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black (grenadiers only)
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a musket (Model 1745 for fusiliers, Model 1754 for grenadiers). Grenadiers carried a sabre while fusiliers carried only a bayonet.

Privates 1762

Uniform in 1762 - Copyright: Frédéric Aubert from a template made by Richard Couture.
Uniform Details in 1757
as per the Albertina and Bautzener Handschriften and the Raspischen Buchhandlung publication

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a white fastener on the left side and a small yellow button on the left side; yellow within red cockade or, as per the Albertina Handschrift, black within white within black cockade and yellow within red pompoms
Grenadier bearskin with an poppy red bag laced yellow and a yellow tassel
Neckstock one red and one black (for parades the regimental commanders agreed before on the colour of the neckstocks)
Coat white lined white with 3 yellow buttons under the right lapel and 1 yellow button in the small of the back on each side
Collar none
Shoulder Straps white edged red fastened by a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels poppy red with 7 yellow buttons (1-3-3)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs poppy red with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks white (poppy red fasteners as per the Bautzener Handschrift)
Waistcoat white with 1 row of yellow buttons and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters one pair of black (for winter) and one pair of white gaiters (for summer and parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate carrying the initials “MT”
Bayonet Scabbard black with brass fittings
Scabbard black (grenadiers only)
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a musket (Model 1745 for fusiliers, Model 1754 for grenadiers). Grenadiers carried a sabre and a bayonet while fusiliers carried only a bayonet.

NCOs

NCO of Arberg Infantry in 1762 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

Sergeants carried a halberd and a wooden stick.

Corporals carried a halberd.

Officers

The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a white and green cockade
  • black neckstock
  • a golden aiguillette on the left shoulder
  • no turnbacks
  • yellow and black silk sash

Senior officers carried sticks identifying their rank:

  • lieutenant: bamboo stick without knob
  • captain: long rush stick with a bone knob
  • major: long rush stick with a silver knob and a small silver chain
  • lieutenant-colonel: long rush stick with a larger silver knob without chain
  • colonel: long rush stick with a golden knob

Musicians

Until 1760, despite the new regulation of 1755, the musicians wore coats of reversed colours with white swallow nests edged yellow, white cuffs edged yellow, white turnbacks and red waistcoat. From 1760, they wore uniforms identical to those of the privates with swallow nests on the shoulders.

The drum had a brass barrel decorated with black flames at the bottom and with a black double headed Eagle on a yellow field. Rims were decorated with red and white diagonal stripes. The bandolier was white.

Colours

All German infantry regiments carried identical colours: a white Leibfahne (colonel) and yellow Regimentsfahne. The hand painted colours were made of silk and measured Size 178 cm x 127 cm. The 260 cm long flagpoles had golden finial and were decorated with black and yellow spirals of cloth.

The colonel colour was carried by the first battalion.

Colonel flag (Leibfahne):

  • field: white
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God (which had been declared the patroness of the army by kaiser Ferdinand III) on a cloud, crushing a snake under her foot and surrounded by rays
  • reverse (left): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
Leibfahne – Source: PMPDel

Regimental flags (Regimentsfahne):

  • field: yellow
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
  • reverse (left): unarmed and crowned Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Hungaria and Bohemia on a shield and the initials M on the left wing and T on the right
Regimentsfahne – Source: PMPDel

In fact, the situation on the field was slightly more complex than this, since colours were usually replaced only when worn out. It is fairly possible that some regiment who had been issued colours of the 1743 pattern were still carrying them at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. For more details, see Austrian Line Infantry Colours.

References

This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:

  • Guillaume, G.: Histoire des Régiments Nationaux Belges pendant la Guerre de Sept Ans Bruxelles: 1854
  • Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 36

Other sources

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 auf Kosten der Raspischen Buchhandlung. Ao. 1762

Bilderhandschrift Delacre: Militair Etat der Ganzen Kayl., Königl. Armee Wienn 1757

Bleckwenn, Hans; Die Regimenter der Kaiserin, Gedanken zur "Albertina Handschrift" 1762 des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums Wien, Köln: 1967

Dihm, Dr. Hermann; Oesterreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Klio

Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979

Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759

Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760

Friese, Ulf-Joachim, Quellen zur Uniformierung der österreichisch-ungarischen Armee 1740-1763

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

Hausmann, Friedrich, Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias, Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums, vol. 3, Vienna: 1967

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Österreich-Ungarn – 1756-63

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

Muhsfeldt, Th.; Abzeichenfarben der K. und K. Regimenter zu Fuss im Jahre 1757 und früher, in Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht, No. 12, 1904

Rogge, Christian; The French & Allied Armies in Germany during the Seven Years War, Frankfurt, 2006

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

Service historique de l'armée de terre - Archives du génie, article 15, section 1, §5, pièce 23.

Seidel, Paul; Nochmals österreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Clio

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

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

Acknowledgments

User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about this regiment

Dr. Marco Pagan and Franco Saudelli for the plates