Banat Militia

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Origin and History

The Banat of Temesvar ( commonly called just 'the Banat') was ceded in 1718 to Austria-Hungary at the Treaty of Passarowitz by the Ottoman Empire. Thus the already existing frontier regime to the west and north along the rivers Theiss (Hungarian: Tisza; Serb.: Tisa) and Maros (Romanian: Mureș) lost its reason of existence. Its dissolution was resolved at a Landtag in Pressburg (Hung.: Posony; Slovak.: Bratislava) in 1741, but could not be performed without problems.

Indeed for the Grenzer there, it meant moving to new Grenz-locations or staying under the detested Hungarian civil jurisdiction (some thousands of Serb families rather emigrated to Russia).

The Banat itself was kept under military government, without for the time being divided into frontier districts.

In 1724-1725 a frontier militia was organized there: 4 Ober-Capitanate in Temesvar (present-day Timișoara/RO), Csakova (present-day Ciakova/RO), Hodsagh (present-day Odžaci/RS) and Mutnik (present-day Mâtnic/RO). It contained 4,200 men, partly foot militia men, partly horsemen, distributed among 22 posts. This militia was called Temeser Land-Miliz.

Those Grenzer from Theiss-Maros who had agreed to serve in another militia were settled in southern Banat: Kanitzsa (present-day Kanjiža/RS), Becse (present-day Becej/RS) and Szige (present-day Mali Siget/RS). They were also inducted into the Banater Land-Miliz which was thus brought up to 6 companies and now subordinated to a Ober-Capitain. Additional duty to its normal frontier duties was to serve as a security guard at Temesvar (1 officer, 63 men).

In 1751, FML Engelshofen reorganized the Land-Miliz by the incorporation of remnants of a Banat Frei-corps (which had served in the War of Austrian Succession) into a so-called Banater Landes-Bataillon. This unit provided all guard posts in frontier villages and forts and for the quarantine cordon and stations. Whilst it was subject to military administration, it was not a regulated Grenz-unit.

There were 1,600 foot militiamen in 6 companies. Its first commander was Major Simbschen.

Later this battalion was incorporated into the so-called Banater-Illyrische Land-Miliz, formed from new settlers along Theiss and Maros which had about 3,800 men in 3 companies in 1762.

Of the then 8 companies, the six 'upper' companies were located between Kerestùr (present-day Srpski Krstur/RS, in Serbian Northern Banat district), south of Szeged, along the river Theiss down to its junction with the Danube north of Belgrade. The two 'lower' companies were dislocated far apart from the others in an area south-west of present-day Cheile Nerei-Beusnita National Park in Western Romania (close to the Danube).

Service during the War

None of the units mentioned above took part in actions during the Seven Years' War. Their function was slanted towards internal security (police as such not existing yet); to keep their part of the kaiserlich-königlich lands quiet and undisturbed.


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Wrede, Alphons Freiherr von: Geschichte der k.u.k. Wehrmacht, Vol. 5, Vienna 1898-1905, p. 173


Dieter Müller for the initial version of this article