Bretlach Cuirassiers

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Origin and History

A carabinier of the Caramelli Cuirassiers in 1767 with the new black distinctive colour – Source: Geschichte des k. und k. Dragoner-Regiments Graf Paar Nr. 2

A decree, dated December 6, 1672, authorised Anton Count Caraffa to raise a cuirassier regiment of 10 companies (890 men). The cuirassiers should be raised in the Imperial estates (“im Reich”). They were most probably enlisted in Westphalia in 1673. Field-Marshal Count Caraffa became the first inhaber (owner) of the regiment.

During its first years of existence, the regiment fought in Upper-Hungary against Thökely’s uprising.

From 1682, the regiment served in the Great Turkish War. In 1684, it took part in the the blockade and siege of Neuhäusel; in 1686, in the second siege of Ofen, in the expedition in Upper-Hungary and in the engagement of Szegedin; in 1687, in the blockade and capture of Erlau where it distinguished itself under its Colonel Marquis Karlo Doria, killing more than 100 Turks during the action; and in 1688, in the siege and storming of Belgrade.

In October 1689, Colonel Marquis Doria was promoted proprietor of the Cuirassier Regiment Sachsen-Lauenburg. In 1690, he was severely wounded in the battle of Romhany and died in Wallachia within a few weeks.

During the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1689, the regiment initially served on the Rhine where it took part in the siege of Mainz before being transferred to Italy. In 1691, it was at the siege of Carmagnola. It then spent the winter at Montferrat as in the previous year. In March 1693, the regiment inhaber (proprietor), FM Anton Caraffa died in Vienna. The same year, the regiment fought in the Battle of Marsaglia where it lost its new inhaber Count Franz Schrattenbach. From 1694 to 1695, it remained in Piedmont and saw no action. In 1695, the regiment was at the siege of Casale. In 1697, the regiment returned to the Rhine but was not involved in any action.

In 1698, the regiment assumed garrison duty in various places in Silesia. Its proprietor, FM Max Prince Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Hannover raised one new squadron at his own expense, the regiment now counted 12 companies. Until November 1699, it garrisoned Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ) and then marched to Alt-Breisach on the Upper Rhine.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, from June to September 1702, the regiment took part in the siege of Landau. On July 31, 1703, it was in the corps of FML La Tour, engaged in the action of Munderkingen. In 1704, it took part in a skirmish at Donauwörth. On August 13, it fought in the Battle of Blenheim where it was deployed on the right wing and attacked several times the Bavarian cavalry personally led by Elector of Bavaria himself. In 1705, the regiment was sent to Hungary to fight Rákóczi Uprising and, on November 11, it took part in the Battle of Sibó. In 1710, it participated in the siege of Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). In 1711, it was at the blockade of Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK). It was later sent to the “Neutralitäts-Corps” stationed in Silesia. In 1712, it campaigned on the Rhine; in 1713, in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) while a detachment joined the garrison of Landau.

In 1714, after the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), the regiment initially garrisoned Budweis (present-day České Budějovice/CZ) but was soon transferred to the garrison of Tolna in Hungary. In 1715 and 1716, it garrisoned various places in the Komitat of Hont. In 1716, the regiment distinguished itself under Colonel Count Eltz (promoted to general in November) in the Battle of Peterwardein and then marched to Temesvár. In 1717, it suffered heavy casualties (from 500 men who took part in the battle, 3 officers and 58 men were killed; 13 officers and 102 men wounded and 288 horses lost), during the siege and battle of Belgrade.

In March 1718, the regiment, along Visconti Cuirassiers, received orders to march to Italy. It arrived at Mantua in mid-June and proceeded to Naples. On November 15, it embarked aboard ships at Baja and was transported to Milazzo in Sicily which it arrived on November 19. On June 20, 1719, it took part in the Battle of Francavilla where it lost 7 men killed; 5 officers and 57 wounded (other sources mention 20 men killed and 87 wounded). At the end of September 1720, the regiment left Sicily and was transported by ships to Genoa. It remained then some weeks in Italy. At the beginning of 1721, the regiment was sent to various garrison places in Hungary, Slavonia and Transylvania.

During the war of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment was used to fight the Turks in Transylvania. In 1736, FM Theodor Duke Lubomirski became proprietor of the regiment. On July 22, 1739, at the Battle of Krotzka, the regiment only arrived the battlefield with the second part of the cavalry (Diemar, Podstatzky, Lanthieri and Lubomirski cuirassier regiments) when the battle was already finished.

In 1740, after the war, the regiment was stationed in Leutschau (present-day Levoča/SK) and Unghvár (present-day Uzhorod/Ukraine).

During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was initially brigaded with Lanthieri Cuirassier Regiment under Major-General von Frankenberg in the Division Count Ballayra in the Corps of Georg Christian Prince Lobkowitz which arrived at the camp at Pilsen (present-day Plzeň/CZ) at the end of August 1741. On May 17, 1742, at the Battle of Czaslau, it fought in the first line of the right wing, in the Brigade of Major-General Philibert under the command of Count Hohen-Ems. Together with Hohen-Ems Cuirassiers, Karl Pálffy Cuirassiers, Althann Dragoons, d´Ollone Dragoons and Batthyányi Dragoons, it drove the Prussian cavalry back. From all cavalry regiments, the Lubomirsky Cuirassiers were the ones who suffered the heaviest losses: 8 officers and 28 men wounded; and 2 officers and 75 men missing. During the same year, it was at the siege of Prague, once more attached to the Corps of Prince Lobkowitz. In 1743, it was at the siege of Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ). After the capture of the town, it joined the troops besieging Ingolstadt. From 1744, the regiment was stationed in Transylvania. In 1745, Duke Lubomirsky died and was succeeded by FML Ludwig Karl Baron Bretlach.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of carabiniers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • from 1745 to his death in 1766: General of Cavalry Karl Ludwig Baron von Bretlach

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from 1752: August Marquis Voghera (promoted to general in February 1758)
  • from 1758: Anton (Günther) Baron von Münichhausen (promoted to general on January 18, 1761)
  • from 1761 to 1763: Joseph (Franz) von Schimonsky (promoted to general after the war)

In 1769, the regiment was numbered 29th among the Austrian cavalry regiments. In 1798, it was renumbered 2nd. In 1867, it was transformed into a dragoon regiment, retaining its number. By 1890, its proprietor was G.d.C. Eduard Count Paar.

Service during the War

In June 1756, at the beginning of the war, the regiment was stationed in Slovakia and counted 780 men and 797 horses. On August 7, the regiment arrived at the camp at Hradisch (present-day Uherské Hradiště/CZ) and then proceeded, along with Cordova Cuirassiers, to Budin where it arrived on September 19. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz where it fought in Hedwiger's Brigade which formed part of the Division of FML Emanuel Count Kolowrat on the left wing. During this battle, along with the Anspach Cuirassiers, Cordova Cuirassiers and Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons, who had came from the right wing, the regiment distinguished itself by charging the Prussian cavalry, throwing them into disorder and forcing them to retire. Colonel August Marquis Voghera led the regiment assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Münichhausen and Major Schimonsky. In this battle, the regiment lost 5 men killed, 19 wounded and 23 missing, as well as 37 horses killed. After the battle, the regiment went to Rakonitz (present-day Rakovník/CZ) and its neighbourhood.

In April 1757, the regiment, together with Löwenstein Cuirassiers and Porporati Dragoons were detached under FML Duke Hohenzollern to support of Königsegg’s Corps posted at Reichenberg (present-day Liberec/CZ). After the lost Combat of Reichenberg, Königsegg retired through Brandeis (present-day Brandýs nad Labem/CZ) to the main army near Prague. On May 6, the regiment (800 men) took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed with Löwenstein Cuirassiers and Porporati Dragoons in the Prince of Modena's Brigade, in the second line of the left wing of cavalry. During the battle, these 3 regiments were transferred to the right wing and took part in the heavy cavalry fight there. The regiment lost 5 men killed, 13 wounded, and 3 officers and 200 men missing. After this battle, 7 officers and 162 men took refuge behind the walls of Prague; while 22 officers and 418 men rallied at Beneschau (present-day Benešov/CZ).

On July 17, 1757, the regiment set off from Czaslau (present-day Čáslav/CZ) to join the Reichsarmee in Germany. On July 30, it arrived Nuremberg where it was deployed in the brigade of Major-General Baron Bretlach (the regiment proprietor’s brother). On November 5, it fought in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was deployed in the first line on the extreme right wing. The Prussians surprised the Franco-Imperial army during on the march. The “Reichskavallerie” fled immediately, followed by the French. The regiment was one of the few Imperial cavalry regiments who managed to form before receiving the charge of Seydlitz's Cavalry. The Prussian cavalry wanted to surround Bretlach and Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers but both regiments supported each other by mutual attacks and managed to repulse the Prussian cavalry attacks four times. Colonel Marquis Voghera distinguished himself once more despite the severe defeat inflicted to the Franco-Imperial army. The regiment lost 67 men and 75 horses killed; and 8 officers, 47 men and 37 horses wounded. It spent winter at Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ) deployed in Serbelloni’s Corps.

In April 1758, the regiment was allocated to the corps of G.d.C Count Althann along with Trautmansdorf Cuirassiers, Alt-Modena Cuirassiers, Liechtenstein Dragoons, Jung-Colloredo Infantry and Blau Würzburg Infantry) which supported the “Reichsarmee” near Saaz (present-day Žatec/CZ). Until end of the year, the regiment did not take part in any action and spent the winter in the neighbourhood of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

At the beginning of January 1759, the regiment once more joined the Reichsarmee at Erfurt. On Sunday April 1, along with Prinz Savoyen Dragoons, the regiment was surprised while attending devine service near Meiningen by a Hessian detachment. The cuirassiers of the regiment managed to jump on their horses and drove the enemies back. By mid-August, during the Austro-Imperial campaign in Saxony, the regiment was attached to Zweibrücken's Corps. On September 21, it was present at the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in Kleefeld's Division. During this action, Colonel Baron Münchhausen, Major Baron Seenus and de Werde, the Rittmeister (commander) of the carabiniers, distinguished themselves. However, the regiment lost 8 men and 10 horses killed; 27 men (among which Lieutenant-Colonels Schweiger and Kreutzberg) and 28 horses wounded; 46 men (among which Rittmeister Fischer and Lieutenant Dillen) and 55 horses missing. Nevertheless, on November 20, the regiment took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was deployed in the first cavalry column of Sincère's Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Count Schallenberg. Four of its squadrons were in the brigade of Major-General Bettoni while another of its squadrons was assigned to the brigade of Major-General Brentano and its company of carabiniers was converged with other similar units in a brigade under Major-General Löwenstein. The regiment, now part of the corps of G.d.C Andreas Count Hadik, spent the winter near Reinhardsgrimma.

From June 1760, the regiment once more campaigned with the Reichsarmee and fought in the Combat of Strehla. It was deployed on the left wing together with De Ville Cuirassiers. They pursued the retiring Prussians and captured 5 guns. On November 8, the Austrian contingent (around 11.000 men)supporting the Reichsarmee returned to the main army near Dippoldiswalde. The regiment spent the winter there.

On February 2, 1761, the regiment was part of a corps (Bretlach Cuirassiers, De Ville Cuirassiers, Stampach Cuirassiers and 12 infantry battalions) under the command of FML Count Guasco which was sent from the main army to support the Reichsarmee but it remained at Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ). Around mid-1761, this corps returned to the main Austrian army near Dippoldiswalde, without having seen any action. It took up its winter-quarters around Freiberg in Saxony, Schlögel and Reichenbach.

At the beginning of 1762, the regiment marched to Zwickau to act once more in conjunction with the Reichsarmee. It was deployed in the Austrian contingent led by FML Count Campitelli. On January 23, FML Campitelli sent a detachment (Bretlach Cuirassiers, 3 squadrons of Sachsen-Kurland Chevauxlegers, 50 hussars, 1 bn of Jung-Colloredo Infantry and 1 bn of Hildburghausen Infantry) led by Major-General Voghera to Altenberg. After a short fight, the Prussians evacuated Altenberg. By mid-June, the regiment was in Dippoldiswalde where it was reviewed (32 officers and 685 men in 5 squadrons). On October 5, Campitelli’s Corps effected a junction with the Reichsarmee near Chemnitz. The regiment was now part of Campitelli’s Corps brigaded with Pálffy Cuirassiers, Batthyányi Dragoons and 6 squadrons of Saxon Karabiniergarde under the command of Joseph Maria Duke Lobkowitz (1723-1802). On October 29, the regiment took part in the Battle of Freiberg. The first Prussian attack was stopped by Major-General Pelegrini with Bretlach Cuirassiers and one battalion of Salm Infantry. In the meantime the whole right wing fled and Prince Stollberg gave the order to retire. The whole regiment distinguished itself, and Lieutenant-Colonel Seenus was praised in the relation of the battle. The regiment then went to Brüx (present-day Most/CZ). After the new Prussian invasion in Franconia, the Reichsarmee marched to this region. The regiment - again under FML Pelegrini – marched through Eger and Asch to Hof. The Prussians led by Major-General Kleist avoided any fight and retired to Erfurt. The regiment then took up its winter-quarters around Anspach and Gunzenhausen.

In 1763, after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg (February 15, the regiment initially remained in Franconia and then marched to Pisek in Bohemia. On June 6, it was reviewed at Mirowitz (present-day Mitrovice/CZ). In August, it marched to its peace garrison places in Hungary. The staff was in Gran (present-day Esztregom/HU) and the squadrons in the neighbourhood.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 – Source: Frédéric Aubert from a plate of Richard Couture and Ibrahim90 and from an illustration of the Albertina Handschrift
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources when necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small pewter button
Carabinier black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small pewter button
Neckstock black
Coat white lined red with 13 pewter buttons (right side)
Collar red
Shoulder strap white fastened with a pewter button
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat straw with a single row of pewter buttons
Breeches straw
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to an illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt none
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard black leather with silver decoration
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red laced with a white braid decorated with red rhombuses (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)
Housing red laced with a white braid decorated with red rhombuses (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)
Blanket roll white and red (according to Donath's plates on the Kaiserliche Kürassiere 1740-1765)


Troopers were armed with a black breastplate (worn over the coat), a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols. Carabiniers also carried a carbine and had a sabre instead of a sword.

Other interpretations

The Albertina Handschrift shows 15 buttons on the coat. However Raspe and several other sources indicate 13 buttons.

Curiously the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift depicts this regiment with blue as its distinctive colour.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced silver with a green and white cockade
  • yellow saddlecloth and sabretache both laced in green

Musicians

'No information found yet

Colours

Leib Standard: white rectangular standard probably embroidered in gold

  • Obverse: black Imperial double eagle
  • Reverse: black Imperial double eagle
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Regimental Standard: light orange standard with gold fringe

  • Obverse: black double eagle, each head were crowned, red claws, the whole surmounted by a red and gold crown
  • Reverse: the entire surface covered with an intricate plant pattern
Colonel Standard – Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Geschichte des k. und k. Dragoner-Regiments Graf Paar Nr. 2, Olmütz 1895
  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 1 - Die Cürassiere und Dragoner, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1862, pp. 175-191

Other Sources

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Gräffer, August: Geschichte der kaiserl. Königl. Regimenter, Corps, Bataillons und anderer Militär-Branchen seit ihrer Errichtung biz zu Ende des Feldzuges 1799, Vol. 2, Vienna, 1804, pp. 13-16

Grosser Generalstab - Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde. Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, 18 Bde., Rathenow 1890-1919

Kornauth, Friedrich: Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe: Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen KAYSERLICH KOENIGLICHEN ARMEEN zur eigentlichen Kentnis der UNIFORM von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

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

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Skala, H.: Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thümmler, L.-H.: Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. K. Wehrmacht, Vienna 1898–1905

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988

Other Sources

Harald Skala additional information on the regiment