Prinz Ferdinand Infantry
Origin and History
The regiment was raised on June 28 1740 for Prince Ferdinand, Frederick II's younger brother. Its troops came initially from the II. Garde, Grenadier Garde, Garrison Regiment I and Garrison Regiment II.
At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1741, the regiment served under the command of Anhalt-Dessau. At the beginning of 1742, once more part of Anhalt-Dessau's Corps, it marched on Moravia, later retiring to Upper Silesia with the main Prussian army. On May 17 1742, it fought in the Battle of Chotusitz. In 1744, the regiment covered Berlin. On December 15 1745, it took part to the Battle of Kesselsdorf.
From 1751, the regiment garrisoned Neu-Ruppin. It recruited in the districts of Ruppin and Priegnitz and in the towns of Lindow, Nauen, Rheinsberg and Ruppin.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- since June 28 1740 to October 29 1806: August Ferdinand Prince of Prussia
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, still with some variations for the fusilier regiments. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present infantry regiment was attributed number 34.
The regiment was disbanded in 1806 after the capitulation of Pasewalf and Nienburg.
Service during the War
On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment 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 and Wittenberg, leaving Meissen to its left. On September 6, it encamped at Rothschönberg and finally reached Wilsdruf. While the main Prussian army moved forward to engage the Austrian army at Lobositz (October 1), the regiment remained in the Pirna Country to maintain the blockade of the Saxon Army which surrendered on October 17.
In 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On Wednesday May 4, it joined Keith's Corps near Prague. On May 6, it did not take part in the Battle of Prague, it was rather deployed on the left bank of the Moldau near the Weissenberg as part of Keith's Corps. On November 22, the regiment took part in the Battle of Breslau where it was deployed in Prince Ferdinand's Brigade, in the first line of the infantry centre. This brigade took the brunt of the Austrian attack and immediately counter-attacked. Prince Ferdinand had to rally his disordered units but his second attack was beaten back once more and his brigade had to retire. During this battle, the regiment lost 19 officers and 454 men. On December 4, the first battalion of the regiment was in the rearguard when the Prussian army under Frederick II advanced straight towards the Austrian camp in the area of Leuthen. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the first battalion of the regiment was deployed in Oldenburg's Brigade in the second line of the left wing of the infantry centre.
In the spring of 1758, the regiment took part in the invasion of Moravia and in the unsuccessful Siege of Olmütz. On June 30, recruits destined to the regiment bravely fought in the Combat of Domstadl. On October 14, the regiment fought in the Battle of Hochkirch where it formed part of Retzow's Corps near Weissenberg.
In 1759, the regiment spent most of the campaign in the camp of Schmottseiffen in Silesia. On September 2, at least one battalion of the regiment, as part of Zieten's Corps, fought in the combat of Sorau. On December 3, Frederick sent this regiment (or Alt Braunschweig regiment) to reinforce the small isolated Prussian force under Major-General Dierecke who had taken post at Meissen. This small corps was attacked by a much stronger Austrian force. This reinforcement took position on the left bank of the Elbe to the north and south of Meissen. Its artillery silenced the Austrian guns planted at Proschwitz and Pellegrini was forced to move them back to Zscheila where they resumed their cannonade. During the ensuing Combat of Meissen the Prussians were forced to retire.
On August 15 1760, the regiment took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it suffered heavy losses. For their conduct during this battle, all captains of the regiment received the Pour le mérite.
In June 1761, the regiment took part in a raid in Greater Poland. In October, it was transferred to the Pomeranian theatre of operation. In December, it took part in the unsuccessful attempt to relieve Colberg. On December 12, it fought in the Combat of Spie.
N.B.: During the war the grenadiers from the wing grenadier companies were put together with the grenadiers of Infanterie Regiment 24, forming the Grenadier Batallion 24/34 (please refer to this article for the details of the service of the grenadiers during the war).
|Coat||Prussian blue lined red with 2 white metal buttons under the right lapel and 3 white metal buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Privates were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a curved blade sabre.
NCOs wore uniforms similar to those of the privates with the following distinctions:
- tricorne with wide silver lace and black and white quartered pompoms
- no shoulder strap
- cuffs edged with a silver braid
- yellowish leather gloves
- black and white sabre tassel
NCOs were armed with a sabre and a yellow half-pike measuring 10 Rhenish feet (3.06 m.) in the musketeer companies and 13 Rhenish feet (4.10 m.) in the grenadier companies (carried by the 3 most senior NCOs while other grenadier NCOs were armed with rifled muskets since 1744).
NCOs also carried canes (normally attached to a button at the top of the right front while carrying the half-pike).
The uniforms of the officers were very similar to those of the privates with the following exceptions:
- black tricorne laced silver (officers always wore tricornes notwithstanding if they were commanding musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers)
- black neck stock
- no shoulder strap on the coat
- silver aiguillette on the right shoulder
- no turnbacks on the coat
- no trimming
- black and silver sash around the waist
Officers carried yellow spontoons measuring 7 ½ Rhenish feet (2.36 m.) and an officer stick.
The drummer braid consisted of a central blue stripe bordered on each side by a white stripe and with an outer red stripe on each side.
The uniforms of the drummers were similar to those of the privates but had much more elaborate lacing and other peculiarities:
- no shoulder strap
- swallow nest decorated with the drummer lace on each shoulder
- lapels, cuffs and pockets edged with the drummer lace
- coat bordered with the drummer lace
Colonel colour (Leibfahne): White field with blue vertical, horizontal and diagonal wedges. Centre device consisting of a blue medallion surrounded by a silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a silver crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a white scroll bearing the silver motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, “FR” ciphers) and grenades in silver.
Note: The illustration of the Leibfahne is based on a photograph of a surviving flag, which is now held in the artefact archives of the German History Museum in Berlin (artefact information: Fahne Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 34 Prinz Ferdinand, Leibfahne bis 1760; Inventarnr. Fa 2008/57; GOS-Nr. MI011220). The blue has darkened considerably with age and the colour shown on this illustration is based on descriptions of the blue by Riehn, Bleckwenn and Lehmann, as well as the "most blue" areas of the photograph, using Corel Photo Paint to analyse the RGB and CYMK values across the image. However the artefact clearly shows that eight blue 'wedges' were inset into the flag, not four, as is commonly stated, in error, in English language and some German language publications. The surviving flag also corresponds with the pattern for the IR Nr 34 Leibfahne shown in the surviving copy of the Darmstadter Handschrift.
Regimental colours (Kompaniefahnen): Blue field with white vertical, horizontal and diagonal wedges. Centre device consisting of a white medallion surrounded by a silver laurel wreath and surmounted by a silver crown. The medallion is decorated with a black eagle holding a sword and lightning bolts surmounted by a blue scroll bearing the silver motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Corner monograms (crowns, laurel wreaths, “FR” ciphers) and grenades in silver.
The pikes used as staffs for the colours were yellow.
N.B.: in 1763, prince Ferdinand became Grand Master of the Johanniter Orden and the colours were changed to carry the cross of this order: the Johanniter-Kreuz (see the colours on Markgraf Carl Infantry for an example of this cross).
These illustrations are based on templates taken from illustrations in Reinhold Redlin's Die Fahnen und Standarten der preußischen Feldregimenter 1807-1918.
Anonymous work: Etat Militaire du Roi de Prusse, au premier Janvier 1770, Infanterie, Première Partie
Bleckwenn, Hans: Die Uniformen der Preußischen Infanterie 1753-1786, Teil III/Bd. 3, Osnabrück 1973
Bleckwenn, Hans: Die friderzianischen Uniformen 1753-1786, Bd. I Infanterie I, Osnabrück 1984
Die Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung der Armee Friedrichs des Großen: Eine Dokumentation aus Anlaß seines 200. Todesjahres, 2 erw. Auflage, Raststatt 1986
Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000
Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, Appendix 1
Guddat, Martin: Grenadiere, Musketiere, Füsiliere: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen, Herford 1986
Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 274-277
Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.