Dessewffy Hussars

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Origin and History

Dessewffy Hussars in combat - Copyright: Harald Skala

The regiment was raised as per a decree dated November 5 1733 by Colonel Nicolaus Count Hávor in the Komitat of Zala in Hungary, simultaneously with Splényi Hussars. Hávor recruited the three first companies at his own expense and the remaining 7 companies with the money received to enlist a complete regiment. Hávor was allowed to choose all officers by himself. His Lieutenant-Colonel was Johann Franz Bornemissa de Kázony; his Obristwachtmeister (major), Franz Horváth de Béla and Ignaz Tallian de Viszek. Some officers came from Althann Dragoons and Csáky Hussars. The regiment was first reviewed in Oedenburg (present-day Sopron/HU).

Initial recruitment went slowly and, by June 1734, only 5 coys were ready to be sent Italy to participate in the War of the Polish Succession. There, 300 hussars of the regiment and 50 grenadiers of Vettes Infantry distinguished themselves when they attacked at night a French detachment protecting a bridge over the Adige River and destroyed it. Later on, the regiment fought in an ambush at Quistello, in the Battle of Guastalla (September 19) and in the combat of Revere.

In 1735 the regiment took part in another combat at Revere. The regiment also fought in the combat of San Michele and in the surprise attack on an enemy camp at Sabbioneta where Captain Molnár distinguished himself.

After the war, the regiment garrisoned the town of Vigevano in Northern Italy in 1736.

From 1739 to 1742, the regiment garrisoned Cremona.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1742, two squadrons under Major Molnár were sent to Bavaria where they took part in the combat of Meinburg.

In 1743, these two squadrons joined the rest of the regiment in Italy and the entire regiment fought in the Battle of Camposanto (February 8).

In 1744, the regiment participated in the campaign of Duke Lobkowitz against a Spanish army in southern of Italy. Lobkowitz had asked the Hofkriegsrat (War Council) for a capable hussar general to serve under his command in Italy. In these days, Josef Count Dessewffy was serving as colonel in Nádasdy Hussars. Franz Stephan, Maria Theresa's husband, recommended Dessewffy for the post. On January 10, Dessewffy was promoted to general and immediately sent to Italy. On August 18, the regiment fought under FML Browne at Velletri near Rome. On July 26, after the death of Count Hávor, Josef Count Dessewffy was appointed proprietor of the former Hávor Hussars who became known as Dessewffy Hussars. On October 21, Talian de Viszek became commander of the regiment. By the end of the year, the regiment counted only 216 men.

In 1745, the regiment did not take part in any major action. A single squadron participated in the raid against Genova.

On February 9 1746, Tallian de Viszek at the head of 200 hussars attacked the rearguard of the Spaniards near Angiola, taking 7 officers and 271 men prisoners. On June 16, the regiment distinguished itself in the Battle of Piacenza. Towards the end of the year, 4 squadrons of the regiment took part in the invasion of Provence and fought at Antibes and Cannes. The regiment took his winter-quarters near Oleggio. By then, it counted 646 men. The same year, the men of 5 companies of the disbanded Bertolotti Hussars were incorporated into the regiment.

From February to June 1747, the regiment covered the siege of Genoa. It later took part in the Combat of Campofreddo.

After the war, in 1748, the regiment incorporated a company of the disbanded regiment Trips Hussars. It assumed garrison duties in Hungary: Sáros-Patak in 1749, Debreczen in 1750, Mád-Terebes in 1751, Deés in 1752, and Déva in 1755 and 1756.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 12 companies in 6 squadrons for a total of 1,060 men.

The regiment was successively under the nominal command of:

  • since 1733: Nikolaus Count Hávor
  • from July 26 1744: GFWM Joseph Count Dessewffy de Csernek et Tarköe
  • from 1769: Ferdinand Count Ujházy

The regiment was successively under the effective command of:

  • since 1734: Nikolaus Count Hávor
  • from 1739: Johann Franz Bornemissa de Kázony
  • from 1744: Ignaz Tallian de Viszek
  • from 1751: Colonel Caspar Inkey de Palin
  • from February 5 1758: Colonel Carl Wilhelm Nauendorf
  • from July 19 1758: Colonel Johann Georg von Hintzmann
  • from 1768: Ladislau Baron Splényi de Miháldy

At the end of the Seven Years' War, in 1763, the regiment assumed garrison duties in Italy. Its staff was stationed in Pavia and the regiment was posted in neighbouring villages. The regiment remained in the region of Pavia until 1778.

Service during the War

In June 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment was stationed in Siebenbürgen (present-day Transylvania) and counted 5 squadrons for a total of 585 men and 450 horses. During the winter of 1756-57, the regiment received a sixth squadron.

At the beginning of 1757, the regiment was transferred from Hungary to Bohemia. On March 5, it arrived at Aussig (present-day Ústí nad Labem/CZ) where it was attached to GFWM Hadik's corps who guarded the border between Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ) and Tetschen (present-day Děčín/CZ). In April, at the beginning of the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, Field-Marshal Browne concentrated his army in the camp of Budín and went from there to Prague. On May 6, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the Reserve of the left wing in Baron Baboczay's Brigade. After this defeat, part of the regiment managed to escape across the Sazava River while Colonel Inkey de Palin with 8 officers and 121 men took refuge in Prague. On June 18, one squadron of the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the first line of the extreme right wing in Morocz's Division. After this battle, the Prussians lifted the Siege of Prague and retreated towards to Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ). The Prussian corps led by Field-Marshal Keith was followed by Colonel Loudon at the head of some Grenzer light troops, a few grenadier coys and 600 hussars under Colonel Inkey de Palin. Loudon attacked and dispersed the Prussian rearguard near Schlan (present-das Slaný/CZ), killing around 1,500 men, capturing 6 cannon and 42 pontoons, and taking 500 men prisoners. Furthermore 1,500 wounded Prussians remained in the surrounding villages. On September 7, when General Nádasdy attacked Winterfeldt's isolated corps in the Combat of Moys, the regiment was part of the vanguard in front of the right wing under the command of Lieutenant-General Kálnoky whose brigade supported Grenzer light troops. After the victory, the regiment accompanied Nádasdy's Corps and covered the Siege of Schweidnitz which surrendered on November 11. Lieutenant Forgách was then left behind with 40 hussars to form part of the garrison of the Fortress of Schweidnitz while the rest of the regiment followed the main army under Prince Charles de Lorraine to Breslau (present-day Wroclaw/PL). The regiment then fought in the Battle of Breslau as part of Nádasdy's Corps, losing 9 men killed and 2 officers and 11 men wounded. On November 25, the Fortress of Breslau surrendered. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen (present-day Lutynia/PL), the regiment was part of the cavalry vanguard detached at Borne under Marshal Nostitz which was attacked and driven back on the Austrian right wing by the Prussian vanguard. After this disastrous defeat, the regiment counted less than 300 men. It took its winter-quarters near Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ).

In March 1758, after an exchange of prisoners with the Prussians, the regiment counted 782 men. On February 5, Colonel Karl von Nauendorf formerly from Szechényi Hussars was appointed commander of the regiment. During the Prussian invasion of Moravia, from March to July, the regiment was initially attached to the newly formed corps attributed to Major-General Saint-Ignon. On June 17 and 18, this corps distinguished itself in a combat near Holitz and Wisternitz, capturing Major-General Mayer with his troops. In July, the regiment was transferred to the corps of Major-General Loudon who, on July 2, attacked Keith's rearguard near Mürau (present-day Mírov/CZ), killing 150 men and capturing several wagons. During the retreat of the Prussian army towards Königgrätz, Loudon's Corps closely followed it. On July 12 near Holicz (present day Holice/CZ) , Loudon attacked Keith's troops once more. In this action, the Prussian lost some 1,000 men and Loudon 300. For its part, the regiment lost 6 men and 27 horses killed and 22 men and 31 horses wounded. On July 17, Loudon at the head of the regiment made a reconnaissance towards Náchod/CZ. He was attacked near Opotschno (present-day Opočno/CZ), the regiment losing 8 men killed and 11 wounded. On July 19, when Colonel Karl von Nauendorf was promoted to major-general, Lieutenant-Colonel Johann Georg von Hintzmann replaced him as commander of the regiment. Afterwards, the regiment as part of Loudon's Corps went to Cottbus where it remained until September. Loudon was then recalled to take part in the invasion of Saxony. On September 12, his corps arrived at Radeberg. On September 13, Loudon was attacked by the Prussian corps of Major-General Retzow. Loudon's vanguard of Grenzer light troops led by Colonel Riese received the initial shock. Riese retired on Dittersbach and Porschendorf. Loudon then marched to Arnsdorf. On September 16, Frederick's forces (15,000 men) enveloped Loudon's Corps (10,000 men) on three sides. After three hours of courageous defence, Loudon retreated to Bischofswerda from where he harassed with the Prussians in the following days. On October 5, Loudon's hussars along with 3 sqns of Löwenstein Dragoons attacked a Prussian convoy near Bautzen, taking 3 officers and 30 men prisoners and capturing several wagons. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Loudon's Corps, to the south-west of Hochkirch. On October 17, Loudon's Corps, now under the command of GFWM Caramelli, marched to Pinnowitz and then to Reichenbach (present-day Bogatynia/PL), following Frederick's army in its march towards Silesia. Meanwhile, General-Adjutant Lieutenant-Colonel Reitzenstein was sent to Bautzen with two sqns of the regiment where he took Major-General von Geist, 7 staff officers and 70 men wounded prisoners at the hospital. On October 27, J. G. von Hintzmann was promoted to colonel for his heroic behaviour at Hochkirch. On November 8, Field-Marshal Daun escorted by all hussar regiments reconnoitred the Prussian camp near Dresden. On November 9, Daun's army marched towards Dresden, G.d.C Count O'Donell at the head of a cavalry corps (including Dessewffy Hussars) crossed the Elbe near Laubegast and blockaded Dresden from that side of the river. However, Frederick soon came to the relief of the city and Daun retreated to Bohemia. The regiment took its winter-quarters at Seestadtl (present-day Ervěnice/CZ).

By January 1759, the counted 778 men, of which 199 had no horse. For this campaign, the regiment was attached to Beck's Corps. By mid August, this corps was posted near Crossen on the Lusatian border. Beck ordered Nauendorf's Cavalry Brigade to attack Grünberg (present-day Zielona Gora/PL). Lieutenant-Colonel Lanjus von Wellenburg summoned the garrison to surrender. The Prussian commander, Major Rege, tried to escape with the garrison but Nauendorf followed them with his hussars and attacked them on the march, capturing Major Rege, 4 captains, 9 officers and 513 men. On September 2, the regiment took part in the Combat of Sorau. The regiment then returned to Bautzen where it remained until September 23. On December 3 and 4, the regiment formed part of Beck's Corps who attacked an isolated Prussian force and captured part of it at the Combat of Meissen. Afterwards, Nauendorf marched to Torgau with his two hussar regiments and an infantry regiment. On their way, his hussars destroyed 20 Prussian supply boats near Promnitz. The whole corps then returned to Saxony and the regiment took its winter-quarters around Wollersdorf near Moritzburg.

In February 1760, FML Beck planned a diversion against the Prussians. On February 19, the regiment was part of a detachment who marched to Grossenhain. During the night, the detachment advanced in two columns on Cosdorf. On February 21, this detachment successfully launched a surprise attack on Cosdorf, capturing a standard of the Prussian Schmettau Cuirassiers. The detachment then returned to its winter-quarters. By June 1, Becks Corps was encamped with the main army at Plauen. Beck's Corps was then posted on the Upper Queis River to cover the borders of Lusatia, Lower Silesia and Northern Bohemia. On September 3, Beck's Corps was attacked by Frederick. FML Beck threw his Silesian Volunteers and Warasdiner Grenzer light troops into the defiles near Nieder-Arnsdorf where they were immediately attacked. Beck then sent his cavalry (including Dessewffy Hussars) against the Prussian cavalry. Beck's cavalry initially drove back the Prussian cavalry but after a fight of three hours, Beck was forced to retire in front of superior forces. Nauendorf's Brigade retreated to Hohenfriedeberg. In the following weeks, Beck's Corps skirmished with Prussians troops around Hohenfriedeberg. On September 17, during the Austro-Russian campaign in Silesia, the regiment participated in the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. After the crushing defeat of the Austrian main army at Torgau (November 3), Beck's Corps was called to Torgau where it was charged to rescue the pontoon bridges on the Elbe and to act as rearguard for the defeated army. In mid-November, the regiment took its winter-quarters near Mortizburg.

On April 27 1761, Field-Marshal Daun concentrated his army (including Dessewffy Hussars) in a camp near Dresden. On July 6, the regiment was part of a detachment sent by Daun to support FZM Loudon. This corps made a junction with O'Donell's Corps at Zittau and then marched towards Silesia. After receiving these reinforcements, Loudon crossed the Neisse River to make a junction with a Russian army led by Buturlin. On August 15, the regiment was among the 40 sqns sent to the Russians as first support by Loudon. The Prussian cavalry attacked these squadrons in a defile. Captain Barnovicz and 100 hussars of the regiment were soon isolated and taken prisoners. On August 19, Loudon finally effected a junction with the Russians near Freiburg (present-day Swiebodzice/PL). On August 26, FML Luszinsky at the head of Dessewffy Hussars and Paul Anton Esterházy Hussars attacked the town of Arnsdorf (present-day Milikowice/PL) and occupied it. At the end of October, the regiment returned to Saxony.

In 1762, the regiment joined the Reichsarmee for the campaign in Saxony. In September, detachments took part in an attack on Prussian entrenchments at Pretzschendorf. On October 29, detachments were present at the Battle of Freiberg.

After the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15 1763, the regiment went to Italy to assume garrison duty.



The 1757 reform, stated that all hussar regiments should be dressed in dark blue uniform with yellow distinctives. However, this regulation seems to have been followed only by Kaiser Franz I Hussars. The present regiment retained its former uniform.

Uniform in 1757
Source: David at Not By Appointment
Uniform Details
as per Raspe and Magyar Huszar
Headgear brown kolback with white cords and tassels and a red bag
Neck stock black
Pelisse sky blue lined with grey sheepskin
Fur trim black
Lace 11 rows of red braids (as per the Magyar Huszar website)
Buttons white
Dolman sky blue edged red with 10 rows of red braids (as per the Magyar Huszar website) and white buttons
Collar sky blue edged red
Cuffs red pointed cuffs edged red
Trousers red decorated with an intricate sky blue (as per Raspe) lace on each thigh
Leather Equipment
Cross-belt white
Waist-sash sky blue and red barrel sash
Scabbard black with brass fittings
Boots black Hungarian boots edged sky blue
Horse Furniture
Saddle-cloth sky blue edged red

N.B.: the website Magyar Huszar illustrates a dark green saddle-cloth edged red and decorated with an elaborate device (a red double-eagle with golden weapons, surmounted by a golden crown, and over a red lace) in the rear corners but we believe that by the time of the Seven Years War, this had changed to the simpler design that we depict

Sabretache sky blue edged red decorated with a red crowned double-eagle

N.B.: Magyar Huszar illustrates a dark green sabretache edged red and decorated with an elaborate device (a red double-eagle with golden weapons, surmounted by a golden crown) but we believe that by the time of the Seven Years War, this had changed to the simpler design that we depict

Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, a musket and two pistols.

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift illustrates the following differences:

  • black mirliton
  • sky blue pelisse lined with grey sheepskin and trimmed with grey fur
  • sky blue saddle cloth edged red and heavily decorated with red laces
  • red sabretache decorated with a black double-eagle
  • yellow Hungarian boots

Knötel shows a uniform identical to the one depicted in our table.

Donath illustrates the following differences:

  • white fur trim on the pelisse
  • black braids on the pelisse and dolman
  • red sabretache edged black
  • red saddle-cloth edged with a simple yellow braid


The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift depicts:

  • black tricorne laced gold
  • white fur trim for the pelisse
  • red saddle cloth edged gold
  • straw breeches
  • black cavalry boots


no information available yet


Donath illustrates a trumpeter with a uniform which is a combination of the one worn by the heavy cavalry and the traditional uniform of the hussars:

  • black tricorne laced yellow with a black cockade
  • dark green coat (western style) with red cuffs and turnbacks
  • red dolman
  • red Hungarian trousers
  • black Hungarian boots


The Magyar Huszar depicts a green guidon fringed and embroidered in silver. However the illustration does not describe the central device.


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 auf Kosten der Raspischen Buchhandlung. Ao. 1762 (Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt Halle, Universitätsbibliothek Kiel, Landesbibliothek Darmstadt)

Bleckwenn, Hans; Eine neue österreichische Bilderhandschrift aus dem Siebenährigen Hriege, in Zeitschrift für Heeres und Uniformkunde, Nr. 185: 1963

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

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

Magyar Huszar

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Uniformbogen No. 71

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

Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 67

Skala, H.: Husárske osudy, Prešov Slovakia, 2002

Skala H., Österreichische Militärgeschichte

Thadden, Franz-Lorenz v., Die theresianische Kavallerie - III. Teil, Die Zinnfigur, Klio, 1968

Thümmler, Lars-Holger: Die Österreichische Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Treuenfest, A. V.: Geschichte des k. U. K. Husaren-Regiments Nr. 4 Arthur Herzog von Connaught und Strathearn, Vienna 1903

Wrede, Alphons Freiherr von; Geshichte der K und K Wehrmacht, Vienna and Leipzig 1911

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


Digby Smith for the initial version of this article, User:Zahn for information on the uniform and Harald Skala for additional information on the origin and history of the regiment.