Niederländ Feldartillerie

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Origin and History

Niederländ Feldartillerie gunner and fusilier between 1751 and 1786. - Source: Ottenfeld and Teuber Die östereichische Armee von 1700-1867

On June 21 1568, Emperor Maximilian proposed the attachment of the artillery to the infantry, but it was not until 1607 that it took place in all Austrian provinces. In 1602 the tactical infantry unit (the regiment) was called into life and the attached guns were thus called 'regimental guns'. The artillery personnel serving regimental guns remained under tactical command of the Feldzeugmeister (Master General of the Ordnance) and could be recalled to the main artillery park of the army at any time. At this time, in almost all European armies, gunners were not subject to normal military regulations. They were highly skilled experts, members of a trade guild, who were very highly paid in comparison to the infantry and the cavalry. This unhappy arrangement did not satisfy the infantry, the artillery nor the army, but it remained in being for over 200 years. With lumbering equipment, mediocre teams, unwilling crews with independent minds, full of pride in their guilds, their guns took the field and were sent off to serve with the infantry.

Due to its academic requirements, the artillery appealed more to the learned youths of the cities than to the young aristocracy and there were very few such noblemen in its ranks. To be accepted into the artillery, a candidate had to be at least 171 cm tall, strongly built, single, reasonably young, be literate in German and – if possible – a subject of the Empire. Foreign deserters were not accepted. Gunners who committed crimes, or were technically incompetent, could be transferred into an infantry regiment as a punishment.

At the beginning of the War of the Austrian Succession, there were 800 Büchsenmeister (gunners) in Austria and this number remained static until 1746.

In 1744, Fürst Joseph Wenzel von Liechtenstein was appointed General Director of the Austrian Artillery. In 1747, he introduced the Reglement für das Kaiserliche-Königliche gesammte Feld-Artilleriecorps (Regulations for the Field Artillery Corps). By 1749, Liechtenstein had already increased the number of Büchsenmeister to 1,000. In 1753, the Liechtenstein's artillery system replaced the existing guns of the 1716 design (for details see Austrian Artillery Equipment). By 1755, there were more than 2,000 Büchsenmeister, most of which were in the field during the Seven Years' War; only a few companies were left in those fortresses away from the area of operations.

The Field Artillery consisted of (for details, see Austrian Artillery Organisation:

  • a Field Artillery Staff
  • a Field Artillery Corps, itself subdivided into:
    • 2 mining companies (increased to 4 in 1762)
    • 1 German Feld-Artillerie Haupt-Corps comprising 3 brigades, each of 8 Büchsenmeister companies (increased to 10 in 1763)
    • 1 Netherlander National-Artillerie Corps comprising 8 Büchsenmeister companies (increased to 12 during the Seven Years' War), each consisting of:
      • 1 captain
      • 1 Stückjunker (lieutenant)
      • 2 Altfeuerwerker supervising the technical work in the laboratories and the duties in the siege batteries
      • 4 junior Feuerwerker acting as sergeants
      • 6 or more corporals
      • from 60 to 72 men who drilled on the guns twice a week and with small arms twice a week
    • Artillery Fusilier Regiment (raised in the winter of 1757-58)
  • a Feldzeugamt (Ordnance Department)
  • a Rosspartei (Horse Party).

The present article deals with the Netherlander Feld-Artillerie Haupt-Corps which was a semi-autonomous body, commanded by a lieutenant-colonel. It had its own Ordnance Department and Horse Party. In peacetime, this unit was garrisoned in Malines.

By 1762, the Netherlands artillery contribution was 33 3-pounders, four 6-pounders and a 12-pounder.

During the Seven Years' War, the colonel-commander of this corps was:

  • no information found

Service during the War

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 8 companies for a total of 768 men. Since 1748, it had been increased by about 600 men.

During the war, several companies were assigned to garrisons of fortresses of the Austrian Netherlands (corresponding roughly to present-day Belgium). However, some detachments were attached:

  • to infantry regiment to handle the battalion guns and howitzers
  • to heavy artillery batteries

These various detachments were involved in several campaigns, battles and sieges who took place during this war. Throughout this conflict, the Austrian Field Artillery was generally considered as one of the best, if not the best.

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.

N.B.: the Albertina Handschrift illustrates a tobacco brown uniform (like at the end of the century) instead of the fawn brown uniform depicted hereafter. But, these two seemingly different colors could be only one : there were big variability and instability in contemporary dyeing and colors faded a lot in the sun and rain or by washing.

We know that, before the Seven Years War, the uniform for the Austrian artillery was wolf grey ("Wolfsgrau"). It seems that the change of color took more time in the Niederländ Feldartillerie Korps than in the Deutsche Feldartillerie Korps. So, this color was perhaps still in use in this corps at the beginning of the war : we have shown this color for 1756.

Privates

Uniform in 1756 (?) in "Wolfsgrau" color - Source: Frédéric Aubert from a template made by Richard Couture
Uniform in 1762 (as per the Bautzener Handschrift) - Source: Frédéric Aubert from a template made by Richard Couture
Uniform in 1762 (as per the Albertina Handshrift) - 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 black tricorne laced yellow with a golden fastener on the left side and a black cockade
Neckstock black
Coat fawn brown ("Rehbraun") with yellow button in the small of the back on each side
Collar none
Shoulder Straps fawn brown ("Rehbraun") fastened by a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels red with 7 yellow buttons (1-3-3)
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat fawn brown ("Rehbraun") with 2 rows of small yellow buttons and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Breeches fawn brown ("Rehbraun")
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt no information found
Waistbelt white with a brass buckle
Cartridge Box black with a small brass plate on the front
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard brown with brass fittings
Footgear black boots with white knee covers


Gunners were armed with a sabre.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the gunners with the following distinctions:

  • a black and yellow braid on the left shoulder-strap
  • a brown stick

Officers

Officers wore the same uniform as the gunners with the following exceptions:

  • fawn brown ("Rehbraun") coat lined fire red
  • white neckstock
  • white plastron
  • no turnbacks
  • gilt buttons
  • yellow and black silk sash
  • a sword in a brown scabbard

Staff officers wore the same uniform as the officers with the following differences:

  • 3 fingers wide lace at the tricorne
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") collar on the coat
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") cuffs edged gold
  • fawn brown ("Rehbraun") coat edged gold
  • fire red ("Feuer Rot") waistcoat edged gold

Musicians

no information found

Colours

no information found

References

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, pp. 130-134

Haythornthwaite, Philip and Bill Younghusband: The Austrian Army 1740-80: 3 Specialist Troops, London: Osprey, 1995

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

Acknowledgments

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