8/46 Alt-Billerbeck 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 von Amstell (2 coys) and Duke von Württemberg (2 coys) infantry regiments were converged into the Grenadier Battalion 8/46 counting four companies.
During the Seven Years' War, the battalion was commanded by:
- since June 25 1756: Major Hans Christoph von Billerbeck (Alt Billerbeck)
- from June 13 1760: Captain C. W. Bonin, as interim commander during the captivity of H. C. von Billerbeck (Bonin was killed in action at the Battle of Torgau on November 3 1760)
- November 3 1760: Major A.W. von Winterfeldt
Service during the War
This converged grenadier battalion was first assembled at Köslin on November 7 1756 and instructed to march towards Prussia. On December 17, it marched towards Silesia.
In 1757, the battalion took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On April 21, at the Combat of Reichenberg, it was deployed at the extreme right of the first line of the Duke of Brunswick-Bevern's force. The battalion attacked the Austrians behind their abatis, forcing them to draw back behind their second line of abatis. On May 6, the battalion took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed on the extreme left of the second line of the infantry centre in Saldern's Brigade. On July 15, during the Prussian retreat, the battalion was taken prisoners at the Siege of Gabel.
The battalion was re-raised during the winter of 1757-58.
In 1758, the commander of the battalion was exchanged. In the Spring, the battalion took part in the invasion of Moravia. On June 26, it formed part of the escort of an important convoy of supply destined to the Prussian besiegers which set off from Troppau under the command of Colonel von der Mosel. On June 27, Mosel received instructions to make a junction with Zieten's Corps at Domstadl (present-day Domašov nad Bystřicí). The convoy was attacked by Loudon near Nieder-Güntersdorf. The battalion, posted on the right flank, dashed up into the woody heights and difficult grounds, stormed Loudon's guns, capturing 1 gun and 200 men. On June 30, the battalion fought in the Combat of Domstadl. Remnants of the battalion managed to break through encircling Austrian forces and to reach Bistrowan (present-day Bystrovany) in the evening. During the Russian invasion of Brandenburg, on August 25, the battalion fought at the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the vanguard led by Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel. On October 14, the battalion took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was initially deployed in Manteuffel's Corps, en potence towards Lauske, on the extreme left flank of the Prussian positions.
On September 2 1759, the battalion, as part of Zieten's Corps, fought in the Combat of Sorau.
On June 13 1760, Major H. C. von Billerbeck was captured once more. On August 15, the battalion took part in the Battle of Liegnitz where it was deployed in Stutterheim's Brigade in the first line of the right wing. On September 17, the battalion was at the Combat of Hochgiersdorf where it formed part of the rearguard under Zieten. On November 3, the battalion fought in the bloody Battle of Torgau where it was deployed in Frederick's first column. The battalion suffered so heavily in this battle that it was temporarily converged with the Grenadier Battalion 33/42.
On May 12 1762, the battalion took part in the Combat of Doebeln, a surprise attack on Austrian outposts, where it was deployed in the centre right column under Lieutenant-General Hans Wilhelm von Kanitz. On October 29, the battalion fought in the Battle of Freiberg where it formed part of the vanguard.
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.
|von Amstell: mitre with polished brass front plate, red headband laced red/white, blue back with red piping laced white, straw/white/red pompom||Duke von Württemberg: mitre with polished brass front plate; black plush headband edged with a red braid decorated with 2 straw lateral stripes and a black central stripe and brass ornaments; straw backing piped with a similar braid; red within yellow within red pompom|
The converged grenadier battalions did not carry any colour.
Boltze, Eberhard: Die Infanterie Friedrichs des Großen nach dem Stande von 1785 nebst Rückblick bis 1740, Dresden, November 1927, pp. 31, Annex III and IV
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
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.