Prinz Birkenfeld Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Palatine Army >> Prinz Birkenfeld Infantry

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1693 by Karl Count Wrtby (aka Vrtby). It consisted of nine companies, for a total of 614 men. It initially garrisoned Heidelberg.

In 1694, the regiment fought against the French on the Upper Rhine. In 1695, it garrisoned Heidelberg again.

In 1694, 1694 fought it against French troops on Upper Rhine. Next years garrisoned the regiment again Heidelberg. Between 1701 and 1714 took the regiment part on Spanish successions war.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was garrisoning Speyer. In 1702, it took part in the siege and capture of Landau; in 1703, in the unsuccessful defence of Neuburg and in the Combat on Speyerbach; in 1705, in the suppression of an uprising in Bavaria, and in the Battle of Cassano; in 1706, in the Battle of Turin, and in the capture of Pavia and Tortona; in 1708, in the siege and capture of Lille; and in 1709. in the Battle of Malplaquet and in the siege of Mons. In 1710, the regiment campaigned in Flanders. In 1712, it took part in the Siege of Le Quesnoy.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was not at full strength, totalling only some 1,000 men. It consisted of 2 battalions. Theoretically, each of these battalions should count 1 grenadier coys (100 men) and 5 musketeer coys (each of 140 musketeers). The regimental artillery consisted of 1 gun per battalion, each served by 20 artillerymen detached from the Palatine Artillery.

While campaigning, its grenadiers were usually formed into converged grenadier battalions.

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

  • from November 7, 1745 until February 5, 1780: Prince Johann von der Pfalz-Birkenfeld-Gelnhausen

During the Seven Years' War, its commanders were:

  • from 1752 until 1763: von Reusch

Service during the War

1757

In 1757, the regiment was part of the 6,000 men strong Subsidienkorps (Palatine Auxiliary Corps) hired by France to serve in Germany. The regiment garrisoned Mannheim and had 2 battalions with 1 grenadier company (in the following years, these grenadiers would be combined with others to form a converged grenadier battalion) and 5 musketeer companies, for a total 1,267 men.

On May 17, the regiment was transported by ship to Düsseldorf where it joined the rest of the Palatine Auxiliary Corps at the camp of Derendorf near Düsseldorf.

At the end of June, the regiment advanced through Westphalia to join the French Lower Rhine Army commanded by Maréchal d'Estrées.

On July 5, Palatine Auxiliary Corps reached the camp at Bielefeld, where it was divided: the present regiment was assigned to the corps of the Lieutenant-General Marquis de Villemur. All grenadier companies of the Palatine infantry were formed into two converged grenadier battalions.

On July 26, the regiment took part in the battle of Hastenbeck where it supported the leading columns of the left wing. After the victory, it encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the French Army of the Lower Rhine from July 31 to August 2.

On September 28, the Palatine infantry was assigned to the corps of the Duc de Chevreuse, which was to observe the movements of Prince Ferdinand's troops.

From September 30 until October 30, the Duc de Chevreuse remained idle in his camp near Oschersleben.

At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter quarters in the town of Nienburg. This position was in the fourth line of the French Army.

1758

By March 20, the regiment was still encamped at Nienburg. On March 30, needing rest, the regiment went to Jülich.

In April 1758, when the Comte de Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the regiment was stationed in Düsseldorf. It remained in this town even during the Allied campaign on the west bank of the Lower Rhine in June.

On June 28, Düsseldorf was besieged by the Hanoverian General von Wangenheim. The fortress commander, General Isselbach. sent Major von Quentel to Mannheim to receive further orders. The Elector of Palatinate, who was concerned about the treasures of his residence city, agreed to surrender. The garrison (6,000 men!) capitulated and left “with military honours” on July 9. The 9 Palatine battalions marched to the camp of the Comte de Clermont near Cologne.

On July 17, after the ignominious capitulation of Düsseldorf, the French mistrusted the Palatine auxiliary troops, each individual battalion was deployed between French regiments. The present regiment was placed in the first line under the Maréchal de camp De Roy.

By August 20, the regiment had joined the Army of the Lower Rhine and was encamped near Wesel where it was placed in the centre of the first line.

On January 1, 1759, French subsidies not being renewed because the Palatine troops had proven to be quite unwilling allies to the French, the regiment returned to Palatinate where it garrisoned Jülich.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform in 1757
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne scalloped white with blue within white pompoms
Grenadier
Prinz Birkenfeld Infantry Grenadier Mitre Cap - Copyright Kronoskaf
Austrian style bearskin with pewter shield and a yellow bag laced white with a white tassel
Neckstock black
Coat blue coat with 3 pewter buttons under the lapels and 1 in the small of the back

N.B.: during summer, a linen smock was worn instead of the coat

Collar none
Shoulder Straps yellow with 1 pewter button (left shoulder)
Lapels yellow with 7 pewter buttons grouped 1,2,2,2
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs yellow with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks yellow fastened with a small pewter button
Waistcoat white with 15 pewter buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters black with 22 pewter buttons
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt paille (straw) or white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with 4 little yellow grenades, grenadiers wore an additional little cartridge box at their waistbelt, it was black with one yellow grenade
Bayonet Scabbard natural leather
Scabbard natural leather with brass fittings only at the beginning of war, later none
Footgear black shoes


Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a curved sword.

NCOs

no information available yet

Officers

The officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • scalloped tricorne with a black cockade and no pompoms
  • silver gorget (since 1755)
  • silver buttons and laces
  • white and blue striped sash (silver and blue for staff officers)
  • white and blue sword frog (silver and blue for staff officers)
  • buff gloves
  • black cane

Grenadier officers used a musket instead of a spontoon. Therefore, they wore a little cartouche (laced gold with a golden front plate) at the waistbelt.

Musicians

no information available yet

Colours

For more details on the various patterns of Palatine colours used during this period, please refer to our article on the Palatine Line Infantry Colours.

Warning: we are still working on the graphical representations of the colours and some details may change during the week of July 16 to 22.

Colours before 1760

Colonel flag (Leibfahne): white field; border consisting of with white and blue flames with golden decorations; centre device consisting of an image of the Madonna standing on a snake, surmounted by a red scroll carrying the motto “Sub Tuum Praesidium Virgo Gloriosa”; each corner monogram consisting of the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor and golden decorations.

Regimental flags (Kompaniefahnen): blue field decorated with golden floral patterns; centre device consisting of the golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor surmounted by a red and gold Electoral cap; each corner monogram consisting of the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor.

Leibfahne - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Kompaniefahne - Copyright: Kronoskaf

Colours from 1760

Each battalion carried 2 colours: the first battalion carried the Leibfahne and a 'Kompaniefahne, while the second battalion carried two 'Kompaniefahnen. A red and a yellow variants of the Kompaniefahne seem to have cohabitated.

Colonel flag (Leibfahne): white field; border consisting of with white and blue flames with golden decorations; centre device consisting of an image of the Madonna standing on a snake, surmounted by a red scroll carrying the motto “Sub Tuum Praesidium Virgo Gloriosa”; each corner monogram consisting of the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor and golden decorations.

Regimental flags (Kompaniefahnen)

  • red variant: red field bordered with a light blue and white lozenges pattern; centre device consisting of the crowned arms of the Elector of Palatinate within a rococo frame, flanked by a trophy of arms and a golden couchant lion, a collar of the Order of Saint Hubertus beneath, the whole resting on a white cloud the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor; each corner monogram consisting of the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor with a cross of Saint Hubertus beneath.
  • yellow variant: yellow field bordered by three rows of white and light blue lozenges; centre device consisting of the crowned arms of of Pfalz-Sulzbach within a rococo frame, flanked by a trophy of arms and a golden couchant lion, the Collar of the Order of St. Hubertus beneath, each corner monogram consisting of the crowned golden cypher of Karl IV Theodor with a cross of Saint Hubertus beneath.
Leibfahne - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Kompaniefahne (red variant) - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Kompaniefahne (yellow variant) - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

Bezzel, Oskar; Geschichte des Kurpfälzischen Heeres, Bayrisches Kriegsarchiv, IV. File, part 1 and 2, Munich 1925

Pengel, R.D. And G. R. Hurt; Bavaria, Saxony & the Palatinate Supplement: Uniforms and Flags of the Senen Years War, Hopewell: On Military Matters, 1981

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

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

Acknowledgments

rf-figuren for the initial version of this article.

Harald Skala for additional information on the service of the regiment during the war.