Ferntheil Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Reichsarmee >> Ferntheil Infantry

Origin and History

Uniform in 1782 - Source: Illustration by Raspe, Nürnberg 1782

The regiment was raised in 1682. It took part in the following campaigns:

  • War of the Holy League (1683 relief of Vienna, 1686, 1687, 1688 in Hungary)
  • War of the League of Augsburg (1689-97 on the Rhine)
  • War of the Spanish Succession (1702-14 on the Rhine)
  • War of the Polish Succession (1733-35 on the Rhine)

The regiment had two battalions each with 6 musketeer companies and 1 grenadier company, two 3-pdr guns for an authorised regimental strength of 1,940 men.

In August 1757, the regiment had an effective strength of 1,556 men; in May 1758, of 1,808 men.

The successive regimental Inhaber were:

  • in 1682: Franz Jacob d'Avila
  • from 1682: Johann Wilhelm Röth von Wanscheid
  • from 1688: Georg Hartmann Baron von Erffa
  • from 1720: Adam Friedrich von Tresskau (or Treskow)
  • from 1732 to 1749: Heinrich Philipp Höltzl von Sternstein
  • from 1751 to 1752: Johann Siegmund von Seybothen
  • from 1752: Sylvius Christian von Ferntheil
  • from May 14 1759 until 1791: Heinrich August Fürst zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen

During the Seven Years War, the regiment was commanded by

  • from 1757: de facto colonel Heinrich August Fürst von Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen
  • from 1758: Colonel Christian Ludwig von Buseck (Brandenburg-Bayreuth), resigned in 1759
  • from 1759: Colonel Johann Jacob Gabriel Fezer von Buchschwabach (Nuremberg), died on July 2, 1761 near Reichenbach in Vogtland
  • from 1761: Colonel Philipp Jacob Fezer von Buchschwabach, his brother (Nuremberg), promoted to major-general in 1764

Service during the War


In 1757, the regiment was with the Reichsarmee operating in Thuringia and Saxony.

From May to July, contingents of the regiment fought the Prussian incursion into Franconia. On June 9, they were part of the force which hunted down Mayr’s corps at the town of Vach near Nuremberg. A short skirmish of approx. 90 minutes ensued, but Mayr escaped, leaving a number of his men killed during the action.

In August, the Reichsarmee combined with a French contingent under the Prince de Soubise to form a Franco-Imperial army for the planned reconquest of Saxony. By August 5, the regiment counted 1,389 men fit for duty.

On November 5, the regiment took part in the disastrous Battle of Rossbach where it was brigaded with Cronegk Infantry and Kurtrier Infantry under von Ferntheil. It lost more than half of the men fit for duty before the battle: 598 out of 1095 went missing. Five were killed and 46 captured.

Late in the autumn of 1757, the Lieutenant-General Prince de Soubise reported in his "Mémoire raisonné sur l'armée de l'empire," that he rated this regiment as "poor," specifying that it was "completely Prussian minded".

Source: Brodrück, Karl: Quellenstücke und Studien über den Feldzug der Reichsarmee von 1757. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte im 18. Jahrhundert, Leipzig: Dyck, 1858

By 1858, the original French "mémoire" could be found in the "Paris War Archive" (Carton 3433, No. 17).

N. B.: Soubise’s comments about the performance of the units of the Reichsarmee have to be taken cum grano salis: he had to put the blame somewhere, as French regiments did not live up to expectations. It has to be taken into consideration, that, depending on the contingents, between 11 (Brandenburg-Ansbach grenadiers) and nearly 80 (Würzburg, Eichstätt) percent (average 50 percent) of the regiment’s personnel had been recruited only after October 1756, whereas Prussians and Austrians already had at least one year of battlefield experience in late 1757.


By January 1758, 107 men from the regiment were captive in Magdeburg.

Ferntheil Infantry and Varell Infantry, with some hussars and dragoons, were left to defend Bamberg after the march of the Reichsarmee into Bohemia. The hussars belonging to Driesen's Prussian corps, along with Freibataillon Mayr were initially driven back, but the Bamberg government had already been negotiating with the Prussians.

The regiment then formed part of Dombasle's Corps in Erzgeb in Vogtland and later joined the main army.


For the campaign of 1759, In 1759 the regiment were divided into battalions and used in the rearguard of the army or in outposts.

On September 8, the 1st battalion of the regiment took part in the Combat of Zinna where it was deployed in the first line of the infantry centre.

On September 13, during the Austro-Imperial invasion of Saxony, the 2nd battalion was part of the garrison of Leipzig who surrendered as prisoners of war (most of them entering into the Prussian service) to Wunsch's Corps.

On September 21, the 1st battalion probably took part in the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in Stolberg's Division.



Uniform in 1757 - Source: Ibrahim90
Uniform Details
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with white-blue-red pompoms and a small yellow button
Grenadier Austrian style grenadier cap with brown fur, golden front plate and ponceau red bag
Neck stock black or red
Coat dark blue in the Prussian cut lined ponceau red
Collar ponceau red
Shoulder Straps ponceau red fastened with a small yellow button with 3 yellow buttons on the right side below the lapel
Lapels ponceau red with 8 yellow buttons grouped 2 by 2
Pockets probably horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs ponceau red with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks ponceau red
Waistcoat white
Breeches white
Gaiters black
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard n/a
Scabbard brown
Footgear black shoes

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a short sabre ornamented with brass.


Officers wore a black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade with metallic clip. Partly silver "Ringkragen" with gold. Sash and sword knot silver with black and red. Golden aiguillette, partisan with fringes, scabbard brown with gold.


Drummers wore initially vests in ponceau red later white, swallow nest white.

The colour of the drums was ponceau red with yellow-blue stripes.


Very early, the Franconian District had standardized the design of its colours. This design was further simplified around the middle of the XVIIIth century and was still in use during the Seven Years' War. In 1757, the number of colours per battalion was reduced from six to three. All old colours were removed and, for a while, each Franconian infantry regiment carried flagpoles without colour, becoming the laughter of other units. However, by the end of 1757, new sets of six colours were issued to each regiment.

Surprisingly, these colours were not carried during the war. Indeed, in 1775, the ambassador of Ansbach for the Franconian District reported to the margrave that:

“When troops of the Franconian District took the field in 1757, it was found useful to provide new colours to the three infantry regiments behind. The colours were made and no one thought that a dispute would arise between both religions about the mounting of the colours. But when mounting was about to happen, each party asked to make it according to the ritual of their church and, because of their disagreement, the mounting of the colours did not take place”.

So it seems that, although these colours were given to the regiments in January 1758, for religious reasons, they were never carried. In Germany it was customary that the colours were nailed to the flagpoles during a religious ceremony. As the regiment comprised Protestants as well as Catholics there was a grave dispute between them. The proprietors of these regiments repeatedly and vainly asked to use these colours.

There is also an additional explanation to the fact that the regiment did not carry its new colours. Roider states that, in 1759, a representative of the Ansbach delegation mentioned that the regimental commanders wanted the treasury of the district to pay for the festivities and celebrations surrounding the mounting of the colours whereas the district expected the commanders to pay out of their own pockets, citing their "rather large salaries". In the end, it seems that no one paid, no one celebrated and no colours were mounted.

The final result was that the regiment retained its old colours for which, besides the fact that their distinctive colour was red, we found no description.

Colonel Flag (Leibfahne)

Franconian Leibfahne – Source: PMPdeL

Regimental Flag (Kompaniefahne)

Kompaniefahne – Source: PMPdeL


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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.


Klaus Roider for additional information on the commanders and campaigns of the regiment