Russian Line Infantry Uniform

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Russian Line Infantry Uniform

Introduction

Hat and Fatigue Cap

The headgear was a tricorne (Model 1742) in black woollen felt lined in white, a white cockade on the left, fixed by a bronze button.

Up to 1759 grenadiers wore a mitre, afterward a tricorne like the musketeers. The mitre had a boiled black leather skull-cap reinforced and decorated in brass, with an 26,7 cm. high brass front plate, embossed with trophies of weapons and standards, 2 grenades at each lower corner, armours and cannon balls. In the very centre the regimental coat of arms under the imperial eagle. At the top of the front, a pompon in white wool. On the back of the mitre, a difference with all other mitres of the time, there was a neck protection in boiled black leather. Men belonging to Grenadier regiments wore a mitre with an imperial eagle instead of the regimental coat of arms. Grenadiers of the Observation Corps had an imperial eagle with rays, trophies and EPI ciphers on the brass frontplate.

Guards wore tricorne with linear or scalloped golden edge, button and link of the cockade. Preobrazenskiy had broad and scalloped edge, Semenovskiy tight and scalloped, Izmailovskiy linear.

Coat, Waistcoat, Breeches

The Russian soldier wore a green cloth coat without pockets but with red collar, cuffs and turnbacks. Buttons were made of brass and buttonholes were trimmed in red: 9 along the chest, 2 in the small of the back, 2 on the turnbacks and 3 on each cuffs.

They also wore a red waistcoat lined green, with two lateral pockets closed by lapels en patte d’oie. As for the coat, buttons were made of brass and buttonholes were trimmed in red: 9 along the chest, 3 on each pocket-lapel.

Soldiers wore red breeches, tight and long to the knee.

Guards wore green waistcoat and breeches, with 10 golden buttons along the chest.

Gaiters and Shoes

Legs were covered by white or black gaiters (black in winter) closed laterally by 10 buttons. Exceptionally, Apcheronskiy regiment wore red gaiters, in recognition of his conduct at Kunersdorf in 1759, where they fought “immersed in blood to their knees”.

Musketeers of the Observation Corps wore heavy cavalry boots.

Armament and Leather Equipment

The most important weapon was the calibre 18 smoothbore flintlock musket (1,63 m. long without bayonet, 2,05 m. with bayonet), with an iron ramrod. It derived from the bigger and heavier calibre 16 Petrine model (1,65 m. long without bayonet). The pattern in use during the Seven Years' War imitated the Austrian Model of 1754 with 38 g. ball. Metal fittings were in iron or in copper. Russian army suffered of a chronicle sortage of muskets along the whole XVIIIth century, so old Petrine models were carried alongside the new Model of 1756.

As sidearm, musketeers carried a 77 cm. sabre in a black leather scabbard decorated with copper fittings and hanged to a red leather belt. Musketeers of the Observation Corps carried a sabre without guard.

Cartridge boxes were richly and variously decorated. In the cartridge pouch or patronna sumka, were carried cartouches of ammunition or hand grenades. Boxes can be classified in two main categories: shoulder-belt or waist-belt. The shoulder-belt cartridge boxes (or patronna sumka) were bigger (30 x 20 x 12 cm.) than the waist-belt cartridge pouch (or lyadunka) that measured 27 x 9 x 3 cm. The former brought 18 cartridges in a wooden block (40 from 1761, with leather separations), the latter only 10. Cartridge boxes were suspended across the left shoulder by a red leather bandoleer or shoulder-belt 10 cm. wide closed with a copper buckle.

The waistbelt was fastened on the shoulder with a metal button. The leather lapel cover vas decorated with the regimental coat of arms engraved on a copper plate. The edgings of the box were reinforced by little copper edging-plates. Line infantrymen carried patronna sumka while the lyadunka was reserved to officers and grenadiers. Grenadier wore black leather lyadunka.

Troopers of the Observation Corps did’t carry shoulder-belt cartridge pouches, but only black leather lyadunka, on the lapel the regimental coat of arms, eagle with trophies of weapons, EP and rays.

Line and Observation Corps were furnished even with cartridge boxes for grenades: in the black leather pouch, a wooden box, that was parted to carry two hand grenades; the grenade box was suspended to a natural leather (chamois) bandoleer which bore on the front a match-case. The lapel was decorated with the regimental coat of arms, grenades and trophies of weapons at each corner (Observation Corps bore the same decoration on the lyadunka).

Troopers of the Leibkompanie of each Guard regiment carried cartridge boxes covered with red cloth while troopers of other companies of the Guards regiment carried black leather patronna sumka and lyadunka.

Peculiarites of Drummers and Fifers

Musketeers and grenadiers drummers wore the same uniform as the troopers, with swallow nests on shoulders and braids on cuffs, pockets and collar. Braids were often yellow stripes (edged in red in the Observation Corps) and red XXXX decoration in the middle. However, the colonel of the regiment might have chosen a different colour for the braids. The Drum Major had a gold edge on tricorne, gold braids on cuffs and collar. No swallow nests for fifers.

Drums were made in copper, the regimental coat of arms engraved in the front, bordered in red and green, green and white cords.

Peculiarites of Non Commissioned Officers

NCOs preferred to carry a musket in action, so the use of halberds and spontoons was abandoned.

Kaptenarmous and other NCOs carried bigger cartridge-boxes with ammunition reserves for the company.

Peculiarites of Officers

Most officers wore tricorne. Some officers wore a mitre with a central shield with the EPI cipher (Elizaveta Petrovna Imperatriza), over St.George killing the dragon, between trophies of weapons and standards.

Officer’s coat was similar to other rank’s, with lateral pockets closed by lapels en patte d’oie with 3 buttons each. Buttons in gold. Green breeches. Generally officers wore the coat with opened turnbacks.

Officers carried a 1,80 m. long musket with bayonet (1,43 m long without the bayonet). Officiers preferred to carry a musket in action, so the use of halberds and spontoons was abandoned.

Officers also carried a 86 cm. long sword suspended to a red leather belt. Models differed widely because many officers purchased privately their own sword. On the blades were engraved words like “vivat la grande Elisabeth” and “à Dieu et la Patrie”.

Officers’s patronna sumka (cartridge box) was suspended to a red leather waistbelt edged in gold. For ceremonies and bad weather there was a cover in tiny red leather. The lapel was heavily decorated with plaque sewed in pair, the upper (removable) representing an eagle, the lower the Order of St.George and the coat of arms. The lyadunka was made of red leather, with the regimental coat of arms in the centre of the lapel. Grenadier officers had even grenades at each corner of the lapel.

Guards had more elaborated decorations, the Leibkompanie’s officers carried shoulder-belt cartridge-boxes covered in red velvet, with EP and weapons and grenades trophies embroidered on the lapel, bandoleer were made in gilt mail. The similarly lyadunka was in red velvet, lined by a golden edge, trophies and grenades. Officers of other companies had a red leather cover to protect and decorate the patronna sumka.

For all Guard officers, a two pieces metallic decoration was fixed on the lapel: the upper half (removable) represented EP and two grenades, the lower an eagle with two grenades. The waist belt was heavily embroidered in gold.

Officers’ saddlecloth and holsters were red with round posterior corner, edged with one of two gold stripes (the inner broader), as rank distinction. EPI ciphers on the corner and holsters.

References

Brock, Dr., Russische Truppen in siebenjährigen Kriege in Mittheilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht No. 4 - August 1894

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband, Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 1, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996

Knötel, Richard, Russiche Truppen in der Neumark 1758, in Mittheilungen zur Geschichte der militärischen Tracht, Beilagen zum X. Bande der Uniformkunde, No. 6, 1899, pp. 21-23

Pengel and Hurt, Russian Infantry Uniforms and Flags of the Seven Years War

Schirmer, Friedrich, Zweifarben Tücher Borgdorf o. J. - Russische Infanterie 1740-1762

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Acknowledgements

User:Carlo bessolo for the initial version of this article