Szekely Hussars

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Origin and History

Officer of the Szekely Hussars - Copyright: Franco Saudelli and Dr Marco Pagan

The regiment was raised in 1721 at a strength of 30 men by Lieutenant-General von Wuthenow (died in office). It recruited mainly Uhlans in East Prussia. Until 1735, this unit would not form a distinct regiment but would rather be attached to a dragoon regiment (the VIth Dragoons from 1721, the VIIth Dragoons from 1727, and the VIth Dragoons again from 1732 to 1735). In 1722, the unit was increased by two companies. In 1730, it was increased to three squadrons. and command passed to Major Johann von Brunikowski. In 1732, Prince Eugen von Anhalt-Dessau became “Chef”.

In 1735, the “Hussar Corps” was established as an independent unit. In 1737, von Brunikowsi became its “Chef”. The same year, three more squadrons were added.

In 1740, the unit was established as a regiment. The same years, three of its squadrons were sent to Silesia to reinforce the Leibhusaren (Nr 2) and two more were used to create the 3rd Hussars. The remaining squadron, under Major von Mackerodt, was again reinforced by two squadrons. In 1741, the two new squadrons went to form the 5th Hussars and 7th Hussars. Brunikowski, now a colonel, had kept back 10 men from each squadron that he had been ordered to send away. With these and new recruits, he raised a new regiment of five squadrons in Prussia in 1741. These he took to Silesia and increased his regiment to ten squadrons.

The regiment was often referred to as die Grünen (the Greens).

During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the capture of Neisse on October 31, 1741. On May 17, 1742, it was at the Battle of Chotusitz. From September 10 to 16, 1744, it covered the siege of Prague and took part in a skirmish near Neustadt. On March 1, 1745, the regiment fought in the Combat of Hirschberg where it took over 300 prisoners. On March 22, it was at the Combat of Landshut and on June 4 at the Battle of Hohenfriedberg.

From 1742, after the conquest of Silesia, Lower Silesia became the inspectorate of the regiment. From 1747 to 1756, its garrison places were Guhrau, Herrnstadt, Steinau, Sulau and Trachenberg.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 10 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from October 2, 1750: Colonel Michael von Szekely (retired as major-general)
  • from May 16, 1759 to 1767: Colonel Friedrich Wilhelm Gottfried Arend von Kleist (died in 1767 as major-general)

By 1806, the regiment was known as the von Gettkandt Hussars. That same year, on October 14, it took part in the Battle of Jena, suffering heavy losses. On November 1, the regiment surrendered at Anklam, a detachment surrendered at Ratkau. The regiment was not re-raised. Its depot went into the new 3rd Hussar Brigade, raised in Silesia.

Service during the War

On August 26 1756, when the Prussian Army proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the regiment was part of the left column led by the Prince of Bevern. This column had concentrated in the area of Lübben, then advanced through Lusatia by Hoyerswerda and Bautzen, to Hohenstein (Sept. 8) then to Lohmen north of the Elbe near Pirna. On October 1, 8 of its squadrons took part in the Battle of Lobositz where they stood on the right wing near the Homolka Berg, harassing the Austrians near Sullowitz. They then covered the second attack.

In mid April 1757, the regiment formed part of the army who proceeded to the invasion of Bohemia. On May 6, the regiment did not take part in the Battle of Prague. It was rather deployed on the left bank of the Moldau near the Weissenberg as part of Field Marshal Keith's Corps. On June 18, 5 squadrons of the regiment took part in the Battle of Kolin. They were deployed in the cavalry vanguard at the extreme left under under General von Zieten. At the end of August, the regiment was part of the small Prussian army hastily assembled at Dresden by Frederick II to head towards Thuringia and to offer battle to the Franco-Imperial army invading Saxony. On September 14, when Frederick was forced to divide his army to contain the French in the region of Magdeburg and to secure the Prussian magazines in the area of Torgau, the regiment remained with Frederick at Erfurt to observe the Franco-Imperial army. On September 15, the regiment was part of Seydlitz's force which occupied Gotha. On September 19, they were temporarily chased from the town by a Franco-Imperial force but Seydlitz managed to recapture Gotha and to occupy it until September 22. On November 5, at the Battle of Rossbach, 5 squadrons of the regiment were deployed as flank guard on the right wing while the 5 other squadrons were not deployed on the battlefield. In this battle, the regiment took 4 cannon and pursued the beaten enemy through Erfurt. On December 5 at the Battle of Leuthen, its second battalion (5 squadrons) was deployed in the vanguard which attacked the Austrian left flank.

Throughout the campaign of 1758, the regiment was attached to Prince Heinrich’s Army to counter the Austrian invasion of Saxony. It In the first days of February 1758, on the eve of the Allied winter offensive in Western Germany, a detachment the regiment was among the force assembled by Prince Heinrich in and around Halberstadt for a diversionary attack. In mid-July, 1 squadron of the regiment formed part of the small force sent by Prince Heinrich to act against the Russian invasion of Brandenburg.

On February 28, 1759, Major-General Knobloch sent the regiment forward from Erfurt under Friedrich Wilhelm Gottfried Arend von Kleist. From February 24 to March 4, about 250 men of the regiment were part of the small Prussian corps under the command of Major-General von Wobersnow who made an incursion in Poland against the Russian magazines. During this incursion, Wobersnow's forces destroyed food supplies which would have supplied 50,000 men for 3 months. In May, the regiment was part of Prince Heinrich's Army who launched an incursion into Franconia. In the afternoon of May 11, it formed part of the detachment under the command of General Platen which charged Riedesel's Austro-Imperial rearguard which was retreating towards Kulmbach. Platen took 2,500 men prisoners. On August 12, the regiment fought in the Battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the second line of the left wing as part of Spaen's Brigade. It was among the last Prussian units to leave the battlefield. On September 8, 1 squadron of the the regiment took part in the Combat of Zinna where it was deployed on the right wing. On September 21, a detachment of the regiment took part in the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in the second line of the right wing under Major Hundt. On December 3 and 4, 100 men of the regiment were attached to a small isolated Prussian force under Major-General Dierecke who had taken post at Meissen. This small corps was attacked by a much stronger Austrian force and, during the Combat of Meissen, forced to retire.

From July 13 to 22 1760, the regiment covered the siege of Dresden. On August 20, it took part in the Combat of Strehla where it was very successful against the Zweibrücken Chevauxlegers and the Baranyay Hussars, capturing 3 standards and many prisoners. On November 3, the regiment took part in the Battle of Torgau.

On April 2, 1761, the regiment fought in the Combat of Saalfeld.

On May 12, 1762, the regiment took part in the Combat of Doebeln. On August 2, 5 squadrons were at the Combat of Teplitz. On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Friedberg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757- Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear in 1752, the regiment adopted the brown kolback with a dark green bag and white cords, knots and tassels

in 1762, a white plume was added to the kolback

Pelisse dark green
Fur trim white
Lace white
Buttons white
Dolman light green with 12 white braids and white buttons
Collar red edged white
Cuffs red with white lace
Breeches buff leather with light green overtrousers edged white
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waist-sash red and white barrel sash
Scabbard black with white metal fittings
Boots black
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth dark green shabraque with light green wolfs tooth edging and white piping
Sabretache light green, wearing a white crowned royal crest and bordered with a white lace


Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre, two pistols and a carbine. They rode chestnut (white manes and tails) horses.

Officers

Szekely Hussar Officer - Source: Menzel, Adolph von, Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen in ihrer Uniformierung

Officers wore uniform similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • pelisse
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 12 white braids on the chest
    • more elaborate laces bordering the cuffs
  • dolman
    • 1 thin and 1 thick waved laces bordering the 12 white braids on the chest
    • more elaborate laces bordering the cuffs
  • silver and white barrel sash


NCOs

NCOs wore uniform similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black and white mixed cordwork on the kolback
  • cuffs of the pelisse bordered with a wide silver lace
  • 1 silver chevron on the cuffs of the dolman

Musicians

Musicians wore uniform similar to those of the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black mirliton laced silver with black-and-white cords and tassels
  • swallow nest at the shoulders of the pelisse decorated with 4 vertical and 1 horizontal laces (white braid decorated with 2 dark green stripes)

Colours

Hussar regiments carried no standards during the Seven Years' War.

References

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Koeniglich-Preussischen Armee fuer das Jahr 1806. Reprinted by Bilblio Verlag, Osnabrueck 1975.

Anon.: Die Schlacht bei Minden 1759. J C C Bruns Verlag, Minden 1959.

Anon.: Uniformes Prussiens et Saxons, circa 1757

Alt: Das Koeniglich Preussische Stehende Heer. Schrapp, Berlin, 1869.

Bleckwenn, Hans (Hrsg.): Das Altpreussische Heer - Erscheinungsbild und Wesen 1713-1807, Teil III: Übersichten altpreußischer Uniformgestaltung, Band 4: Die Uniformen der Kavallerie, Husaren und Lanzenreiter 1753-1786, Osnabrück 1979

Bredow – Wedel: Historische Rang- und Stammliste des Deutschen Heeres. Berlin 1905.

Eckardt, Werner – Morawietz, Otto: Die Handwaffen des brandenburgisch-preussisch-deutschen Heeres. Hamburg, Helmut Gerhard Schulz Verlag, 1973.

Fiebig, H.: Unsterbliche Treue

Franke, Ludwig Eberhardt: Vorstellung der Koeniglich Preussischen Armee. Potsdam, 18??

Fraser, David: Frederick the Great, The Penguin Press, London 2000.

Gieraths, Günther: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgisch-Preussischen Armee 1626-1807, Ein Quellenbuch, Berlin 1964.

Gohlke, W.: Geschichte der gesamten Feuerwaffen bis 1850 Berlin 1911.

Grossen Generalstab: Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Heft 14 / 15. Der Feldzug 1806 / 07 und die Reorganisation der Artillerie. Berlin 1914

Grossen Generalstab: Urkundliche Beitraege und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preussischen Heeres; Hefte 26 - 30. Die Freikorps und Auslaender-Battailone. Berlin 1914.

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, p. 124, Appendix 1

Hoepfner, Edouard von. Oberst: Der Krieg von 1806 und 1807. Berlin, Simon Schropp & Comp. 1850.

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 616-619

Jany, Curt: Geschichte der Preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1967.

Kling, C.: Geshichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausruestung des Koeniglich Preussischen Heeres. Three volumes. Putzer und Hoeltze, Weimar 1912.

Knoetel – Sieg.: Handbuch der Uniformkunde. H. G. Schultz, Hamburg, 1937.

Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called „Brauer-Bogen"); Berlin: Heer und Tradition, 1926 -1962

Knötel, Richard: Uniformkunde, Lose Blätter zur Geschichte der Entwicklung der militärischen Tracht, Rathenow 1890-1921

Menzel, Adolph von: Die Armee Friedrich's des Großen, Berlin: 1851/57.

Ramm, August Leopold: Abbildungen von allen Uniformen der Koenigl. Preuss. Armee unter der Regierung Sr. Majestaet Friedrich Wilhelm III Berlin, J F Unger, 1800.

Schmalen, I. C. v.: Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlich Koeniglichen Preusischen Armee...; Nürnberg, 1759

Schröder, C.A.: Uniformierung der Kgl. Preussischen Armee, Parchim ca. 1765

Schultz, Johann Gottfried: Abbildungen Preussischer Kayserl. und Französischer Soldaten aus dem siebenjährigen Kriege, ca. 1757/1760

Voigt, Guenther: Deutschlands Heere bis 1918. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrueck, 1983.

Wellner, Carl: Uniform von Sr. Königl: Majestaet in Preussen Armee so Infanterie als Curassier, Dragoner, Husaren und Jäger zu Pferd und zu Fuß, nebst der in Empfang genommenen 10. Regt. Sachsen und Frey Bataillon. Leipzig, November 11 1757

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and User:Zahn for the research on the uniforms.