Anhalt-Zerbst Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Anhalt-Zerbst Infantry

Origin and History

This regiment was established 1677 by the Elector of Brandenburg (Kurfürst) Frederick Wilhelm from garrison troops of Pomerania and Mark Brandenburg. Its first colonel was Johann von Zieten, who had previously served in the Imperial Army as lieutenant- colonel. The Elector’s decree was dated 20 February 1679, but the official year of foundation was later determined as 1677.

The regiment had at this time one battalion of 8 companies, each counting 90 musketeers, 45 pikemen and 15 grenadiers, for a total of 1,200 men. The monthly salary of the colonel was 100 talers; of the lieutenant-colonel, 45 talers; of the major, 31 talers; and of a private musketeer, 3 talers.

Its not sure, whether the regiment took part in the campaign against Sweden in 1677–1679. It was probably present at siege of Stettin. On 20 February 1679, Lieutenant-Colonel Johann von Zieten was promoted colonel and “Chef” of the regiment.

In 1687, the regiment garrisoned Minden. In 1688, it was divided into two parts. One part remained as cadre for the original regiment, the second was given to Colonel Magnus Friedrich von Horn. Each battalion had 5 companies of 727 men.

In 1688, the battalion Horn was in the Dutch service and took part in the campaign in England.

From 1689 to 1697, during the Nine Years' War, the regiment was engaged in the war against France. In 1689, it took part in the combats of Uerdingen and Linn, in the storming of Kaiserswerth and in the siege of Bonn. In October Colonel von Zieten was appointed governor of Minden, and Anton Günther Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst replaced him as chef of the regiment. The duke was also commander of the first battalion, the other being led by Colonel Horn. Each of these battalions had 5 companies. Since 1690, the regiment was once more in the Dutch service. On 1 July 1690, the Battalion Zerbst took part in the Battle of Fleurus. During the following winter, both battalions garrisoned Ath. In 1691, the Battalion Zerbst fought at Leuze, before returning to Ath. In 1692, during the siege of Namur 1692 by the French, the Battalion Zerbst was posted in Fort Wilhelm and left with the “honour of war” after the capitulation. On 19 and 20 July 1693, both battalions took part in the Battle of Neerwinden and lost there 56 men dead, 11 officers and 109 men wounded. In 1694, the regiment distinguished itself during the storming of Huy. In 1695, the commander of Battalion Horn was killed in action during siege of Namur.

After the signature of peace at Ryswick, in 1698, the regiment left the Dutch service. Its first battalion returned to its garrison at Minden, while its second went to Tangermünde. The first battalion was then reduced to 4 companies; the second, to only one company.

In 1699, the first battalion garrisoned Osterwieck; the second, Minden. The latter had now 2 companies.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regimental Chefs were:

  • from November 1690: Anton Günther Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst
  • from 1714: Christian August Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst

Service during the War

At the beginning of 1702, the regiment, led by Duke Günther von Anhalt-Zerbst, was posted in Wesel. Magnus Friedrich von Horn, who had been promoted to general, was appointed commander of Wesel. For this campaign, King Frederick I left a corps of 5,000 men in the Dutch Republic and appointed the Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst as commander of this corps (incl. one battalion of his own regiment, now consisting of 12 weak companies). Meanwhile, the second battalion (Horn) was part of another corps under Leopold Duke Anhalt-Dessau which also fought in the Netherlands. From April to June, the first battalion took part in the Siege of Kaiserwerth. In August and September, it was at the Siege of Venlo. The regiment would remain in the Dutch service until 1713.

At the end of April 1703, the first battalion of the regiment opened the trenches during the Siege of Bonn. On 25 August, it was among the troops who stormed the Castle of Huy. At about this time, Duke Anton Günther von Anhalt-Zerbst resigned from his charge as regiment commander, and was succeeded by Colonel von Grone.

For the campaign of 1704, the regiment was once more assigned to the army of the Duke Marlborough. On 13 August it fought in the Battle of Blenheim. Later, it took part in the occupation of Trier, Saarburg and Trarbach.

On 23 May 1706, the regiment took part in the Battle of Ramillies. In June and July, it was at the Siege of Ostend; in August, at the Siege of Menin; in September, at the Siege of Dendermonde; and in the second half of September, at the Siege of Ath.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. From August to December, it was at the Siege of Lille, where Lieutenant-Colonel de Varignies was killed.

From July to September 1709, the regiment took part in the Siege of Tournai. On 11 September, it fought in the Battle of Malplaquet. Then in September and October, it took part in the Siege of Mons.

In April and May 1710, serving once more in Marlborough’s Army, the regiment took part in the Siege Douai, where it lost 4 officers and 2 men killed, and 18 wounded. In July and August, the regiment, under General von Schulenburg, took part in the Siege of Béthune. From September to November, then under Duke Leopold Anhalt-Dessau, it was at the Siege of Aire-sur-Lys.

In August and September 1711, the regiment took part in the Siege of Bouchain.

In June and July 1712, the regiment took part in the Siege of Le Quesnoy.

In 1713, after the signature of the Treaty of Utrecht, the regiment garrisoned Marienwerder.

In 1714, at the death of Duke Anton Günther von Anhalt-Zerbst, the King of Prussia appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Christian August Duke of Anhalt-Zerbst as Chef of the regiment, during a review in Schippenbeil.


From 1700, each Prussian unit started to wear a distinguishing uniform. A regulation was issued in 1709 to standardize the uniform and equipment.


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Mach, A. v.: Geschichte des Königlich-Preußischen Zweiten Infanterie-genannt Königs- Regiments 1677 – 1840, Berlin, Posen and Bromberg, 1843


Harald Skala for the translation and integration of Mach’s book on history of this regiment