De Ligne Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> De Ligne Infantry

Origin and History

During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1706, after the defeat of the French army at Ramillies, several Belgians faithful to Philippe V of Bourbon emigrated to Spain. However, several other ones chose to enlist in the army raised in the Spanish Netherlands by Charles of Habsburg. The Belgian unit of this army took part to the war, fighting at Oudenarde (July 11 1708) and Malplaquet (September 11 1709).

In 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht attributed the southern part of the Spanish Netherlands to Austria. The same year, the regiment was created in 1713 by the amalgamation of three former regiments:

  • Duke Ernst Leopold von Holstein-Norburg;
  • Gent;
  • Fürst Claudius von Ligne.

Its first Chef was the former owner of the third regiment: Fürst Claudius von Ligne. The regiment served mostly in the Netherlands.

In 1717, Austria sent the so called “Walloon units” (in fact composed of natives of all provinces of the Austrian Netherlands) to fight against the Turks in the Balkans.

In 1725, the regiment was officially incorporated in the Austrian forces in the Austrian Netherlands.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, on June 27 1743, it fought in the battle of Dettingen.

As per the Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759 and Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760, the regiment counted 4 battalions (2 grenadier coys and 16 fusilier coys) for a total of 2,300 men. This was the administrative organisation of the regiment. However, the tactical organisation differed: 2 field fusilier battalions, each of 6 companies; 2 grenadier companies (usually converged with grenadiers from other battalions into an ad hoc unit); and 1 garrison battalion of 4 companies (see Austrian Line Infantry Organisation for more details).

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

  • since 1713 until 1766: Fürst Claudius von Ligne

During the Seven Years' War, its colonel-commander was:

  • in 1759 and 1760: Colonel Maximilian, Count Bournonville
  • in 1762: Colonel Carl Joseph, Prince von Ligne

Regimental numbers were introduced only in 1769 when this regiment was designated as "I.R. 38".

Service during the War

In 1757, the regiment contributed its 3rd Battalion (garrison battalion) to the Austrian contingent sent to the assistance of the French Army during the invasion of Hanover. The four battalions strong Austrian contingent assembled at Roermond. At the beginning of April, the Prince de Soubise ordered the Austrian contingent to move into the Duchy of Cleves and Guelders and occupy them. On April 6, 3 battalions of the Austrian contingent, under Comte Dombasle, entered into Cleves. In June, the 3rd battalion of the regiment was in the camp of Bielefeld with the French Lower Rhine Army under Comte d'Estrées. On July 26, the 3rd battalion was at the battle of Hastenbeck where it was part of the right wing under d'Armentières. After the victory, the 3rd battalion encamped at Grosselsen near Hameln with the main body of the French Lower Rhine Army from July 31 to August 2. At the end of the year, the 3rd battalion took its winter quarters in the first line of the French Army at Duderstadt.

On June 18 1757, another battalion was in Bohemia with Count Leopold Daun at the battle of Kolin where it was part of Müffling’s brigade in the corps of Count Colloredo held in reserve behind the centre. On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked the isolated Prussian corps of Winterfeldt in the combat of Moys, this same battalion was deployed in the first line of the infantry left division under the command of Lieutenant-general Clerici. On November 22, one battalion of the regiment took part in the battle of Breslau where it was part of the Reserve Corps in Baron Wolff's brigade. On December 5 at the battle of Leuthen, one battalion of the regiment was deployed in the third line of the far right Reserve under Major-general von Luzinsky.

In April 1758, when Clermont redeployed his army along the Rhine, the 3rd battalion was stationed in Wesel. A few days later, this battalion was recalled to reinforce the Austrian army in Bohemia. By August 2, two battalions of the regiment were part of the reserve of the main Austrian army under the command of Daun near Jarmeritz. Daun was following up the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the Prussian invasion of Moravia. On October 10, two battalions of the regiment took part in the battle of Hochkirch where they were deployed in the vanguard of the leftmost column under O'Donnell, to the west of Steindörfel.

By mid August 1759, the regiment was part of Aynse's corps. On September 2, it took part in the combat of Sorau. On November 20, 2 battalions of the regiment took part in the battle of Maxen where they were deployed in the second line of the first column of Sincère's corps under the command of Lieutenant-general Aynse.

On November 3 1760, the regiment took part in the battle of Torgau.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762

Uniform

For the moment we have very few information on the uniform in 1756, at the outbreak of the war. Most of our references describe the uniform in 1762. However, Muhsfeldt and Schirmer mention that, in 1756-57, the coat was white lined white (therefore white turnbacks), the distinctive colour was light rose (rosenrot) and the waistcoat and breeches were white. Therefore, the uniform at the beginning of the war seems to have been almost identical to the uniform of 1762.

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Frédéric Aubert from a template made by Richard Couture.
Uniform in 1762
as per the Bautzener Handschrift

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a white button on the left side; white within light rose cockade
Grenadier bearskin with a light rose bag probably laced white and a white tassel
Neckstock one red and one black (for parades the regimental commanders agreed before on the colour of the neckstocks)
Coat white lined white with 3 white buttons under the right lapel and 1 white button in the small of the back on each side
Collar none
Shoulder Straps light rose fastened by a white button (left shoulder only)
Lapels light rose with 7 white buttons (1-3-3)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 white buttons
Cuffs light rose with 3 white buttons
Turnbacks white attached with a light rose fastener
Waistcoat white with 2 rows of small white buttons (3-3-3) and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 white buttons
Breeches white
Gaiters one pair of black (for winter) and one pair of white gaiters (for summer and parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate carrying the initials “MT”
Bayonet Scabbard black with brass fittings
Scabbard black (grenadiers only)
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a musket (Model 1745 for fusiliers, Model 1754 for grenadiers). Grenadiers carried a sabre while fusiliers carried only a bayonet.

Other interpretations

Knötel illustrates the following differences:

  • tricorne without cockade or pompoms
  • a light rose fastener with 1 white button at each turnback
  • only one row of buttons on the waistcoat

NCOs

NCO of de Ligne Infantry in 1762 - Copyright: Franco Saudelli

Sergeants carried a halberd and a wooden stick.

Corporals carried a halberd and had silver edgings on their lapels and cuffs.

Officers

The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced silver with a white and green cockade
  • black neckstock
  • black epaulette on the left shoulder
  • no turnbacks
  • yellow and black silk sash

Senior officers carried sticks identifying their rank:

  • lieutenant: bamboo stick without knob
  • captain: long rush stick with a bone knob
  • major: long rush stick with a silver knob and a small silver chain
  • lieutenant-colonel: long rush stick with a larger silver knob without chain
  • colonel: long rush stick with a golden knob

Musicians

Until 1760, despite the new regulation of 1755, the musicians probably wore coats of reversed colours with a white shoulder strap on the left shoulder, white swallow nests, white lapels, white cuffs and white turnbacks. From 1760, they wore uniforms identical to those of the privates with light rose swallow nests on the shoulders.

The drum had a brass barrel decorated with black flames at the bottom and with a black double headed Eagle on a yellow field. Rims were decorated with red and white diagonal stripes. The bandolier was white.

Colours

All German infantry regiments carried identical colours: a white Leibfahne (colonel) and yellow Regimentsfahne. The hand painted colours were made of silk and measured Size 178 cm x 127 cm. The 260 cm long flagpoles had golden finial and were decorated with black and yellow spirals of cloth.

The colonel colour was carried by the first battalion.

Colonel flag (Leibfahne):

  • field: white
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God (which had been declared the patroness of the army by kaiser Ferdinand III) on a cloud, crushing a snake under her foot and surrounded by rays
  • reverse (left): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
Leibfahne – Source: Frédéric Aubert

Regimental flags (Regimentsfahne):

  • field: yellow
  • border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
  • obverse (right): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
  • reverse (left): unarmed and crowned Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Hungaria and Bohemia on a shield and the initials M on the left wing and T on the right
Regimentsfahne – Source: Frédéric Aubert

In fact, the situation on the field was slightly more complex than this, since colours were usually replaced only when worn out. It is fairly possible that some regiment who had been issued colours of the 1743 pattern were still carrying them at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. For more details, see Austrian Line Infantry Colours.

References

This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:

  • Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 28

Other sources

Dihm, Dr. Hermann; Oesterreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Klio

Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979

Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759

Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760

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

Hausmann, Friedrich, Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias, Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums, vol. 3, Vienna: 1967

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Österreich-Ungarn – 1756-63

Muhsfeldt, Th.; Abzeichenfarben der K. und K. Regimenter zu Fuss im Jahre 1757 und früher, in Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht, No. 12, 1904

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

Seidel, Paul; Nochmals österreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Clio

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

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

Acknowledgments

User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about this regiment