12/39 Waldau Grenadiers
Origin and History
At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, Frederick II converged the grenadier companies of his infantry into elite battalions. Thus the grenadiers from Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt (2 coys) and Jung Braunschweig (2 coys) infantry regiments were converged into the Grenadier Battalion 12/39 counting four companies.
On May 6 1757, after the Battle of Prague, this grenadier battalion was temporarily converged with Grenadier Battalion 13/26 till June 16. Once again after the Battle of Kolin, on June 18, it was temporarily converged with Grenadier Battalion 33/42 from July 1757 to the winter of 1757-58.
During the Seven Years' War, the battalion was commanded by:
- since June 25 1756: Major J. A. von Waldau aka Waldow (killed in action at the Battle of Kolin on June 18 1757
- from June 1757: Major A. F. von Pieverlingk
- from March 1760: Major J. F. L. von Stechow
- from September 1760: Major K. G. von Görne with Captain F. W. von Oelsnitz serving as interim commander while he recovered from his wounds
Service during the War
This converged grenadier battalion first assembled on November 7 1756 in Köslin. It belonged to the Reserve Corps under the command of the Hereditary Prince of Darmstadt in Pomerania. At the end of the year, Frederick recalled the Hereditary Prince of Darmstadt with his Reserve from Pomerania to reinforce his positions in Lusatia. On December 7, the Hereditary Prince of Darmstadt set off from Pomerania with his corps. From December 22 to 24, this corps gradually arrived at Görlitz and Lauban.
In mid-January 1757, Frederick was convinced that the Austrian could not be ready before Spring for major operations against Saxony or Silesia. Accordingly, he sent the Pomeranian regiments encamped in Lusatia to reinforce the Army of Saxony and the Army of Silesia. In April, during the invasion of Bohemia, the battalion was part of the column led by the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern. It was detached from the main column before the Combat of Reichenberg and did not take part in this action. On May 6, the battalion fought in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed on the extreme left of the first line of the infantry centre in Winterfeldt's Brigade. It was then temporarily converged with Grenadier Battalion 13/26 till June 16. On June 18, at the Battle of Kolin, the battalion was deployed in the van at the extreme left under Hülsen. Around 2:00 p.m., this corps assaulted and took Krzeczhorz Height. At the end of the afternoon, it managed to capture a nearby oak-wood but, being totally unsupported, soon lost it. Fierce attacks of the Austrian cavalry then forced Hülsen to retreat with heavy losses. After this bloody battle, the battalion had once more to be temporarily converged with another grenadier battalion, this time with Grenadier Battalion 33/42, from July 1757 to the winter of 1757-58 when it was brought back to strength with troops from the disbanded former Saxon infantry regiments.
In the Spring of 1758, the battalion took part in the invasion of Moravia. By May 20, it was attached to the corps of Margrave Karl, encamped near Mährisch Neustadt (present-day Uničov) to cover the Siege of Olmütz. On May 25, the battalion was part of Wedell's detachment sent by Frederick to stop Loudon's depredations and to cover the line of communication with Prince Moritz at Assmeritz. This detachment took position in the hills near Hrad (probably Skalky), between Namiest and Laschkau, in front of Luderschow (present-day Ludéřov) and Kiniczek (present-day Kníničky). After the unsuccessful siege, the battalion accompanied the Prussian army in its retreat through Bohemia. On October 14, the battalion took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed in an advanced position in the village of Kuppritz.
On August 15 1760, the battalion took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it was attached to the reserve.
At the end of June 1761, the battalion formed part of Ziethen's Corps who launched a raid in Greater Poland. In mid-September, it took part in a second raid in Greater Poland under Platen. On September 14, it was part of Colonel Kleist's detachment who attacked the Russian magazine at Kobylin. The Prussians threw the Russian garrison out of Kobylin and destroyed magazines. On September 15, the battalion fought at the Engagement of Gostyn where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing, storming the monastery. However, after this victory, Platen realized that his line of retreat was cut. In such an eventualit, Platen had been instructed to head for Pomerania and to reinforce the corps of the Prince von Württemberg for the defence of Colberg. Therefore, from September 17, he marched by Stenschewo (present-day Stęszew), Posen, Neustadt bei Pinne (present-day Lwówek), Birnbaum (present-day Międzychód), Schwerin an der Warthe (present-day Skwierzyn), reaching Landsberg (present-day Gorzow Wielkopolski) on September 22. Platen's Corps then headed for the camp of Colberg. On September 27, the corps made a junction with the corps of the Prince of Württemberg. The battalion was later part of a corps sent from Colberg to bring back supply and provisions. On October 22, the battalion took part in the Combat of Gollnow. On December 12 at the Combat of Spie, the battalion was present at the last desperate attempt to relieve Colberg. The battalion retired by marched by Schwedt and Berlin and finally took its winter-quarters in Saxony.
N.B.: For NCOs of the grenadier companies, the long pike (4,10 m long) was introduced in 1756 just before the war. This long pike was not very popular and was often shortened. At the beginning of the Seven Years' War and throughout the conflict, NCOs carried a mixture of M1713 (2,37 m long), M1755 (3 m long) and M1756 (4,10 m long) pikes.
|Erbprinz von Hessen-Darmstadt: mitre with polished brass front plate decorated with a black eagle; red headband with yellow lace (decorated with a lattice pattern) and brass ornaments; dark blue backing with yellow lace (same pattern as above); dark blue within red pompom
Original (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)
|Jung Braunschweig: mitre with silver plated front plate; yellow headband with a white braid and silver plated ornaments; yellow backing with white braid; white pompom
Original (Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin)
In regiments with white metal, the front plates were to be coloured with a water-based silver paste which needed to be re-applied regularly lest the cap plates revert to their original brass colour. Therefore, during campaign, particularly in bad weather, it is possible that the silvering could have worn off and needed to be silvered again.
The converged grenadier battalions did not carry any colour.
Fiedler, Siegfried: Grenadiermuetzen der Armee Friedrichs des Grossen, Schild Verlag GmbH, Munich, 1981
Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, App. 2
Riehn, R.: Linear Tactics Part III - Grenadier Battalions 1756-1763, The Courier Volume 2 No. 6, May-June 1981
Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt: 1989, pp. 30-32
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.