Hesse-Kassel État-Major Organisation

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A Generalkommando or Headquarters of the Hessian Army was already in existence during the War of the Spanish Succession under the direct command of the Landgrave Friedrich I von Hessen-Kassel, King of Sweden. It consisted of:

  • 1 General of cavalry (W. Spiegel zu Desenberg)
  • 1 General Major of Cavalry
  • 1 General Major of Infantry
  • 1 General Adjutant of the Princes
  • 3 Oberadjutanten (one for each of the three generals)
  • some civilians as Oberkommissar with two clerks.
  • 2 Oberauditeure
  • 5 Auditeure
  • 1 Kriegzahlmeister (paymaster)
  • 6 priests
  • 1 Feldmedicus
  • 1 Surgeon
  • 1 Apothecary
  • 1 Quartermaster

Then there was a General Staff.

Evolution of the General Staff during the war

In 1756, the Hessian Corps sent to England served under Lieutenant-general Prince Christian Ludwig of Isenburg-Birstein1 (Chef of Prinz Ysenburg Cavalry). With the Corps there was also Lieutenant-general von Diede of Fuerstenstein (Chef of the Artillerie-Korps). Both these experienced officers had served during the War of the Austrian Succession. The other generals were: Major-general von Gilsa2 as Brigade commander, Major-general Prince J.C. von Isenburg-Birstein3 as Brigade commander. In the same year, H.W. von Wutginau, the Kommandeur en Chef of the Leib-Regiment was appointed lieutenant-general and received the command of the Hessian Korps. He left the Army in 1762 and was succeeded in command by Lieutenant-general Prince Carl Leopold von Anhalt- Bernburg4 (lieutenant-general since May 1758 and Chef of Prinz von Anhalt Infantry. Major-general von Fuerstenberg5 was a Brigade commander.

In 1757, more brigade commanders were appointed:

  • Major-general C.L. von Anhalt was in charge of the fourth infantry brigade.
  • The two cavalry brigades (an administrative more than tactical structure), each of 6 squadrons, were under Major-general von Eisiedel, appointed major-general in 1751 and Major-general von Wolff, assuming this rank since 1757. In 1758, the cavalry totaled 16 squadrons when two regiments of dragoons were added.
  • The Field Artillery (24 x 3-pounder regimental guns, 2 for each infantry regiment) was commanded by Colonel Schluter who was appointed in 1758 Chef of the Artillerie-Korps when Lieutenant-general von Diede died.

On December 1758, Einsiedel and Urff were appointed lieutenant-generals.

In 1759, when von Fuerstenberg passed in the Palatine service and Isenburg was killed in action at the battle of Bergen, Gilsa and Anhalt were acting as Divisional commanders. The Hessians needed more commanders:

  • Colonel von Pruschenk and C. von Bose were appointed major-generals in January 1759
  • Colonel H. von Wissenbach was appointed major-general in October 1759
  • in the Artillery, Lieutenant-colonel Huth was appointed Kommandeur of the Heavy Field Artillery under Colonel Schluter, who was appointed major-general in December 1759
  • Colonel E.L. von Hanstein was appointed major-general in January 1760
  • Colonel Toll and Colonel Bischausen were appointed major-generals in 1760
  • Colonel von Donop (Wilhelm Heinrich August) was in command of the converged grenadiers battalions

In 1760, von Bose was promoted lieutenant-general and Colonel von Bartheld was appointed major-general in November 1760. Colonel C.A. von Oheimb was appointed major-general in February 1760 and then on June lieutenant-general. Acting as brigade commanders were Major-general E.L. von Hanstein and Colonel F.C. von Wolff, the latter being appointed major-general in June 1760. The Land-battalions were renamed Garrison battalions and placed under the supervision of the old Colonel von Wurmb appointed major-general in 1760 (he was unfit for a field command).

During 1761, the lieutenant-generals were Anhalt, Gilsa and von Bose. The brigades were under Wissenbach, Bischausen, Bartheld, Malsburg and the grenadiers under Donop. The cavalry was commanded by Lieutenant-generals Eisiedel and Prushenk. The latter had been appointed lieutenant-general in 1760 but died in 1761.The artillery lost his Chef Schulter from disease and Colonel von Ghor was appointed as commander of the regimental artillery and Colonel Huth of the Field-artillery Corps.

In 1762, the last year of war, Prince Anhalt was succeded by von Wutginau as Kommandierenden General.

At the end of the hostilities the Field Army was under the command of:

  • Infantry : Division Commander Lieutenant-general von Gilsa
    • Brigade Commanders
      • Major-general von Wissennbach (lieutenant-general in May 1762)
      • Major-general v.d. Malsburg
      • Colonel W.M.A. von Ditfurth (major-general in 1762)
      • Colonel von Wilcke (major-general in 1762)
      • Colonel H.A. von Lossberg
  • Cavalry: Division Commander GL von Oheimb
    • Brigadiers:
      • Major-general E.L.von Hanstein (died in August 1762)
      • Major-general von Wolff
      • Colonel F.H. von Ditfurth (major-general in April 1762)
  • Artillerie: Chef Major-general von Gohr (since May 1762)
  • Light Troops:
    • Hussars Corps Commander: Colonel von Graffendorff
    • Jaeger Commander: Major von Wintzigerode
    • Garrison Troops: Major-general von Wurmb


General officers distinction was the white hat plumage, they otherwise wore the normal officers uniform of the regiment they commanded as colonel proprietor. From 1760 onwards, hat lace was to be of broad silver or gold scalloped lace, similar to those of the officers of the 1st Garde Battalion.

Governors, Commanders, Platzmajors (majors des places) and staff-officers not enrolled in a particular regiment had a dark blue coat; with red collars, cuffs and turnbacks; yellow metal buttons and citron-yellow vests. Cuffs were round and slit open; hats with broad scalloped lace. Apparently no lace on the coat, quite similar to the 1. Garde officers everyday dress.


  1. Christian Ludwig von Isenburg-Birstein was born on October 10 1710 in Birnstein. He was the son of Prince Wolfgang Ernst I of Isenburg and Budingen and Princess Friederike Elisabeth von Leiningen-Dagsburg. In January 1741, he was appointed Chef of the Reiter Regiment von Diemar (K4). In 1746, he was apppointed major-general and in 1750 lieutenant-general and Kommandeur of the Hessian Corps in the Low Countries and, later, of the 8,000 strong Hessian Corps stationed in England during 1756. A close friend of the Landgrave, he left the army in 1757 and was awarded “Ritter des Deutschen Ordens”.
  2. Eitel Ludwig Philipp von Gilsa was born in 1700 in Gilsa. In 1715, he served as Fahnrich in I.R.9. In the same regiment he was appointed lieutenant in 1726 and captain in 1726. He left the service from 1731 until 1734 but in 1739 he was appointed Major, in 1742 Lieutenant-Colonel and in 1744 Regimentskommndeur. In 1745 he was Colonel and Kommandeur en chef of the Infantry Regiment N°9. Appointed major-general, then lieutenant-general in 1758, he became Chef of I.R.3 in 1759 and died at Gilsa in 1765.
  3. Johann Casimir von Isenburg-Birstein born in Birstein on December 9, 1715, brother of Christian Ludwig. He served in the [Russian Army]] during the Russian-Swedish War of 1741-1742 and was taken prisoner. He was liberated and entered the Hessian Army under Wilhelm VIII and, in 1746, he served under the older brother in the Hessian Corps 6,000 strong sent to help King George II of England during the Jacobite uprising. He was killed in action at the battle of Bergen in 1759, his chest pierced by a musket ball.
  4. Carl Leopold von Anhalt-Bernburg was born in 1707 and started his military career as a captain in the Hessian I.R. 10. In 1745, he was appointed colonel and Chef of the new I.R.11 Prinz Anhalt. In 1751, he was prmoted major-general; and in 1758, lieutenant-general. He died in Kassel in 1769.
  5. Burkhard Wilhelm von Fuerstenberg had served in Palatine service but, in 1751,, he was appointed major-general in the Hessian service. In 1753 he was Chef of I.R.3, then in 1758 he re-entered in the Palatine service. He died in 1766.


Witzel, Rudolf: Hessen Kassels Regimenter in der Allierten Armee 1762, Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt 2007


Dr Marco Pagan for the initial version of this article.