Origin and History
The regiment was raised in East Prussia in 1689 by Rittmeister Friedrich Wilhelm Count von Wittenhorst zu Sonsfeld as a dragoon regiment including some Free Companies. From June 24 to October 12 1689, the regiment took part in the siege of Bonn.
During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), on August 13, 1704, the regiment fought in the Battle of Blenheim, taking two kettledrums. In 1715, it served in Pomerania against the Swedes.
In 1717, the regiment was transformed into a cuirassier regiment of four squadrons. In 1718, it was increased to five squadrons (10 companies).
From 1727, the regiment was stationed in Alt Mark.
At the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment served against Austria in 1742. On May 17, it took part in the Battle of Chotusitz where it charged through both enemy lines. On June 4, 1745, the regiment fought with great distinction in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg, driving off the Saxon cavalry and decimating the Saxon Infantry Regiment Schönberg. On December 15, it took part in the Battle of Kesselsdorf.
Magdeburg was the inspectorate of the regiment and its garrison places were Arendsee, Lenzen, Osterburg, Salzwedel, Seehausen, Tangermünde and Werben.
At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from June 3, 1755: Major-General Georg Wilhelm von Driesen
- from November 22, 1758: Major-General Christian Sigismund von Horn
- from March 5, 1762 till August 13, 1777: Colonel Leopold Sebastian von Manstein
By 1806, the regiment was known as the von Reitzenstein Cuirassiers. That year it took part in the Battle of Auerstädt (October 14) where it suffered very heavy losses (66%). The remainder served with Blücher and surrendered on November 11 at Magdeburg. The regiment was not re-raised. The depot became part of the new 4th Kürassiers.
Service during the War
On August 26 1756, when the Prussian army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of Ferdinand of Brunswick's column which had concentrated at Halle and advanced unopposed through Leipzig, Chemnitz, Freyberg and Dippoldiswalde, to the village of Cotta (reached on September 9) south of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, the regiment took part in the Battle of Lobositz where it was assigned to the cavalry brigade of Major-General Driesen in Katzler's Division. It lost 4 officers, 33 troopers during this battle. On October 23, when Keith's army left Lobositz to return to Pirna country, the regiment joined Frederick II at Linai to cover Keith's advance. On October 28, the whole force reached Gross-Sedlitz near Pirna and the regiment took its winter quarters soon afterwards.
In 1757, the regiment took part in the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, it fought in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing under von Penavaire. On June 18, the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin. It was deployed in the first line of the cavalry right wing under Prince von Schönaich, covering the flank near Brzezan and acting as a rear-gard. It suffered heavy losses during this battle. At the end of August, the regiment was part of the small Prussian army hastily assembled at Dresden by Frederick to head towards Thuringia and to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On November 5, at the Battle of Rossbach, the regiment was deployed in the second line of the right wing under Major-General von Seydlitz, charging twice. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, the regiment was deployed in Normann's brigade in the first line of the cavalry left wing under Lieutenant-General von Driesen.
From March 31 to April 18 1758, the regiment took part in the siege of Schweidnitz. It then followed the Prussian army during the invasion of Moravia and, from May 27 to July 2, was at the siege of Olmütz. It then joined the Prussian army of Saxony.
In 1759, the regiment was transferred to Brandenburg where, on June 24, it joined Hülsen on the Warthe. On July 23, it took part in the Battle of Paltzig where it was attached to Schorlemmer's Division deployed in the first line of the cavalry left wing. During this battle, it scattered the Russian infantry and took 18 guns, but was unable to bring them off. A few weeks later, on August 12, the regiment fought in the sanguinary Battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the first line of the left wing as part of Schlabrendorff's Brigade, storming a redoubt on the Spitzberg. During this battle, the regiment lost 13 officers and 136 troopers. On September 21, the regiment took part in the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in reserve behind the second line of the left wing, just behind the Jung Platen Dragoons. On November 20, the much-weakened regiment took part in the Battle of Maxen where it was attached to Bredow's Brigade. Completely surrounded, the entire Prussian force finally surrendered as prisoners of war.
In 1760, the partly re-raised regiment joined the Prussian corps of Prince Henry.
From August 7 to October 9 1762, the re-raised regiment covered the last siege of Schweidnitz.
This section describes the new uniform introduced in 1742. The previous uniform had red distinctive with yellow metal.
|Headgear||black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small white button and lemon yellow pompoms
N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap
|Coat||off-white trimmed with the regimental lace (white braid with three lemon yellow stripes)
|Waistcoat||lemon yellow trimmed with the regimental lace|
|Breeches||white (buff leather in campaign)|
Troopers were armed with a heavy straight-bladed sword, a pair of pistols and a musket. They wore a blackened breastplate edged lemon yellow and fastened by white straps. The musket strap was white edged with the regimental lace.
The NCOs wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:
- black within white pompoms in the lateral "cornes" of the tricorne
- silver lace to the top and back of the cuffs
The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:
- silver regimental lace
- breastplate edged in gilt metal with straps covered in gilt plates; gilt crowned Prussian crest in trophies of arms on the top centre of the breastplate
- silver and black silk waist sash
- silver and black sword strap
- saddle furniture ornately ornamented and fringed in silver
N.B.: silver embroidered buttonholes and a silver aiguillette on the right shoulder decorated the full dress uniform but were not present on the service uniform
Musicians wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:
- black tricorne bordered with lemon yellow plumes and one black within white pompom in each lateral corne
- a lace specific to the musicians bordering the collar (narrow lace), cuffs (wide lace), coat edges (wide lace) and decorating the shoulders (narrow lace) and sleeves (narrow lace)
- hanging sleeves bordered with the narrow lace
The musician laces were as follows:
- narrow lace: white braid with three lemon yellow stripes
- wide lace: same pattern, just wider
Musicians did not wear breastplate.
The square standards were made of damask. The cords and tassels were silver and black. The pole of the standard was a red tournament lance reinforced with iron hinges and gold finial.
The standard bearers had lemon yellow standard bandoliers, edged and fringed in silver.
The regiment carried standards of the old “FWR” and new “FR” patterns. Here we illustrate new pattern standards.
|Colonel Standard (Leibstandarte): white field, fringed gold with a red central medallion carrying an armed black eagle surmounted by a white scroll edged gold bearing the motto "Pro Gloria et Patria" and surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath. Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers on a white medallion).||Squadron Standard (Eskadronstandarte): red field, fringed gold with a silver central medallion carrying an armed black eagle surmounted by a red scroll edged gold bearing the motto "Pro Gloria et Patria" and surrounded by a crowned laurel wreath. Decoration in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers on a red medallion).|
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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.