Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Alt-Hessen-Darmstadt Cuirassiers

Origin and History

The regiment was raised by Prince Friedrich August Duke Braunschweig-Lüneburg, bishop of Osnabrück, in accordance with a decree signed on 31 December 1684, and taken in the Imperial service.

In 1685, the regiment was sent to Hungary and took part in the battle of Gran (present-day Esztregom/HU) and in the siege of Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK). In 1688, the regiment was stationed in Transylvania; and in 1689, in Bosnia with Piccolomini's Corps. In 1691, the regiment fought in the battle of Szlankamen. From 1692 to 1695, it was in Hungary but saw no action. In 1697, it took part in the battle of Zenta. From 1698 to 1703, it garrisoned Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ).

Since the creation of the regiment, its successive proprietors were:

  • from 1684: Friedrich August Prince of Braunschweig-Hannover-Lüneburg (killed in 1690 in the battle of Tohány)
  • from 1691: Georg Count (Landgrave) Hessen-Darmstadt
  • from 1702: Dietrich Baron Glöckelsberg
  • from 1705: Johann Georg Count Caraffa

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment was successively commanded by:

  • from 1703: Christoph Werther
  • from 1706: Nicolaus de la Vigne (killed in 1707 at Capua)
  • from 1709: Stephan Count Kinsky von Tettau
  • from 1712: Johann Franz Baron L'Huillier

The regiment was disbanded in 1768 (at that time, it was known as the "Johann Wilhelm Baron Kleinholdt Cuirassiers"). Its carabiniers were integrated in the newly raised First Carabinier Regiment "Albert Herzog zu Sachsen-Teschen", the other squadrons were distributed among various cuirassier regiments.

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment took part in the invasion of Northern Italy. On 9 July, it fought in the Combat of Carpi. On 1 September, it took part in the Battle of Chiari, where it was deployed in third line between Chiari and the Trenzano stream, facing east.

In 1702, the regiment campaigned in Italy once more. On 30 June, it distinguished itself in an engagement near Buscoldo. Led by Lieutenant-Colonel Count Arberg, it defended itself against a largely superior enemy. On 15 August, it took part in the Battle of Luzzara, where it formed part of the left column.

In June 1703, the regiment took part in the defence of Ostiglia. At the end of December, three squadrons accompanied FZM Starhemberg in his epic march towards Piedmont.

On 4 January 1704, while still on the march towards Piedmont, three squadrons of the regiment took part in an engagement at Stradella. On 11 January, it fought in the combat of Castelnuovo di Bormida. Throughout the year, the remaining three squadrons campaigned in Lombardy, and later in Tyrol.

In 1705, the 3 squadrons stationed in Piedmont fought near Cassano and Madonna della Balzola.

On 7 September 1706, the 3 squadrons stationed in Piedmont took part in the decisive Battle of Turin.

In 1707, the regiment took part in the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and in the capture of Capua.

From 1707 to 1715, the regiment garrisoned Capua.


Before 1738, there are almost no surviving contemporary sources describing the details of the uniforms of each Austrian regiment. Even secondary sources are scarce. In this section, we present a tentative reconstruction of the uniform worn by this unit.


Uniform in 1701 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details in 1701 as per Donath
Headgear – Copyright Kronoskaf

Western European theatres: black tricorne laced white reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat

Eastern European theatres: round helmet of wrought iron with neck and nose protection
for ordinary service, troopers wore a tricorne decorated with a pompom, and black and yellow plumes

hair had to be of a standard length and tied with a black ribbon

Neck stock white
Coat buff leather lined red with short skirts reaching above the thighs

replaced by a grey-white coat around 1710

Collar none (short red standing collar around 1710)
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat white made of linen cloth
Breeches red (buff leather around 1710)
Leather Equipment
Gloves thick leather gloves with buff coloured cuffs
Cross-belt natural leather with a brass buckle, worn across the left shoulder
Waist-belt natural leather with a brass buckle, worn above the coat
Cartridge Pouch cartridge pouch containing 24 cartridges
Scabbard sometimes made of metal but more often of leather with an iron tip protector and a brass mouth piece
Footgear riding boots made of Russian leather with a knee pad reaching above the knee

when not mounted, cuirassiers wore shoes with gaiters or stockings

Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red, decorated with the embroidered arms or cipher of the regiment owner and bordered with a yellow braid edged red
Housings red bordered with a yellow braid edged red
Porte manteau red

Troopers were armed with a cuirasse of blackened wrought-iron (some regiments used a leather full cuirasse with front and back plates) edged red, a pallasch (sword) and a pair of pistols.


no information found yet


Uniforms of officers differed from those of the privates and NCOs by the finer material used. Cuffs and pockets were edged with a wide golden braid.

Officers wore a black and yellow silk sash across the chest or around the waist.


In the Austrian Cuirassier regiments, kettle drummers and trumpeters were dressed according to the regiment owner's tastes.


According to Dohna, from 1657 to 1705, all Austrian (Imperial) cuirassier regiments carried the same white Leibstandarte (colonel standard). It was fringed in gold and, on both sides, the border was decorated with a golden floral pattern:

  • obverse (right): centre design consisted of an armed black Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Austria on a shield, surmounted by a crown
  • reverse (left): the Mother of God (which had been declared the patroness of the army by Kaiser Ferdinand III) on a cloud and surrounded by rays
Leibfahne from 1657 to 1705 – Copyright: Kronoskaf

N.B.: according to Sapherson (The Imperial Cavalry 1691–1714), the reverse of the Leibstandarte "carried the colonel's arms or the Virgin and Child emblem. These designs were often accompanied by the initials of the colonel, heraldic designs of various types and scrollwork or wreaths."

Despite this supposed standardization, it seems that several cuirassier regiments continued to carry standards departing from this regulation.

From 1657 to 1705, the obverse (right side) of the Ordinärestandarten (regimental standards) of all Austrian (Imperial) dragoon regiments was of an identical pattern and consisted of an armed black Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Austria on a shield, surmounted by a crown. The border of the obverse was decorated with a floral pattern in the metal colour of the regiment.


Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979, plate B.5, B.7

Wrede, A. v.: Die Geschichte der K. u. K. Wehrmacht, file III. Part 2, Vienna 1901, pp. 573ff


Harald Skala for the initial version of this article