Deutschmeister Infantry

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Deutschmeister Infantry

Origin and History

Uniform in 1710 - Source: Treuenfest

At the end of the XVIIth century, Emperor Leopold I was still involved in conflicts with the Turks in Hungary and with the French in Germany, Netherlands and Italy. Some German electors offered to raise regiments at their own expenses to support him in this difficult situation. One of them was Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuenburg, brother of Empress Eleonora. The Capitulation (contract) between Leopold I and Johann Wilhelm was signed on 15 March 1695. Johann Wilhelm had to raise an infantry regiment of 2,000 men in 12 coys. As per a decision of the Hofkriegsrat (war council) dated 10 June, Thüngen Infantry contributed 4 coys on 11 August to form the kernel of the new regiment. Thüngen Infantry was one of the best regiments of the army, known for the defence of Vienna in 1683 and for the attack on Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK) in 1685.

Recruiting went slowly and the 4 initial coys were sent to Peterwardein to serve as garrison. Recruitment was finally completed in the winter of 1695-96 and the regiment was assembled at Donauwörth. Franz Ludwig, Duke of Bavaria and “Hochmeister” (grand master) of the Teutonic Order, brother of Elector Johann Wilhelm Pfalz-Neuenburg, became proprietor and colonel of the regiment. Thus the regiment received the name of “Deutschmeister”.

On June 3 1696, the regiment was reviewed in Donauwörth. Effective command was assumed by Lieutenant-Colonel Damian Hugo Count Virmond. The 8 new coys were transported by ship on the Danube River to Hungary: 2 coys were stationed at Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK), the others at Szolnok, Szegedin and Eger in Hungary. The 4 initial coys, then posted at Peterwardein, marched to Buda under Count Virmond.

On September 11 1697, the Leib-Bataillon fought under Prince Eugène de Savoie in Rabutin's Corps against the Turks in the Battle of Zenta. Meanwhile, the remaining 8 coys garrisoned various places in Transylvania.

In 1698, the regiment saw once more action in Hungary. On 26 January 1699, it was at Karlowitz (present-day Sremski Karlovci/Serbia) undersigned a 20 years peace between the Emperor and the Turks. Two battalions led by Lieutenant-Colonel Virmond remained in Transylvania, while the “Leib-Bataillon” under Major von Collet garrisoned Kaschau.

The regiment drew its replacements from the Rhenish Palatinate and from the Teutonic Orders numerous and widespread estates in southern Germany.

Franz Ludwig Duke of Bavaria - Source: Treuenfest

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted four battalions for a total of 17 companies.

The colonel proprietor was always the reigning Grand Master of the Teutonic Order:

  • from 1695 till April 1732: Franz Ludwig Duke of Bavaria, and Elector of Mainz and Trier

The successive colonel-commanders during the War of the Spanish Succession were:

  • from 1703: Lieutenant-Colonel Bertram Anton Baron Wachtendonk (promoted to GFWM)
  • from 1 May 1708: Lieutenant-Colonel Damian Kasimir Baron von Dalberg (promoted to GFWM)
  • from 28 February 1717: Lieutenant-Colonel Johann Count O’Nelly (aka “Onelli”).

After the War of the Spanish Succession, in September 1714, two battalions went to Aachen and Henningen (part of Much, Nordrhein-Westfalen), while the third battalion remained at Ingolstadt. At the beginning 1715, the regiment marched to the Netherlands and garrisoned various places in the Province of Luxembourg. In February 1716, the three battalions were transferred from Bruxelles: the “Leib-Bataillon” to Roermond, the “Obrist-Lieutenant Bataillon” to Ath, and the “Obrist-Wachtmeister Bataillon” to Mons.

Service during the War

In 1701, the two battalions stationed in Transylvania went to Kaschau, where they joined there the third battalion. The regiment had now 16 companies.

In June 1703, Damian Hugo Count Virmond received a patent to raise a new regiment (later known as Infanterie Regiment No. 16). Eight companies of the present regiment were used to form the kernel of Virmond Infantry. This left only eight companies in the present regiment.

In March 1704, the regiment went to Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK), where it was allocated to the brigade of GFWM Baron Ritschan. On 28 May, it took part in the Engagement of Smolenitz (present-day Smolenice/SK) where it lost 250 men. The rest of the regiment remained at Kaschau until the end of the year.

At the end of September 1705, the regiment received 300 recruits from Silesia. It was now at full strength with 17 companies. On 11 November, it took part in the battle of Schibó.

In October 1706, as part of Rabutin’s Corps, the regiment went to Kaschau. After failing to storm Kaschau, Rabutin marched by way of Tokay and Debrezin to Ofen, the regiment returned to Pressburg. For the winter of 1706/1707, the regiment was allocated to Starhemberg’s Corps, which marched to Austria.

On 1 May 1708, the regiment was concentrated at Pressburg. It served during the entire campaign with the corps of GFWM Siegbert Heister. On 3 August, during Rákóczi's War of Independence (1703–1711), the regiment took part in the Battle of Trencsén (present-day Trenčín/SK) against Rákóczi's rebels.

In January 1709, 140 men from the regiment were present at the siege of the Castle of Arva (present-day Orava/SK). In May, 6 companies went to Pressburg; and 4 companies, to the siege of Neuhäusel. When the siege was raised these 4 companies came to Vadkert (present-day Érsekvadkert/HU).

In September 1710, the regiment took part in the siege of Neuhäusel. After the surrender of the place, Colonel Count Zinzendorf garrisoned the place with 5 companies and 1 grenadier company.

On 30 April 1711, the last rebels surrendered in the plains of Majtény.

In 1712, now that Rákóczi's revolt had been quenched, the regiment was sent to the Netherlands, two battalions at Ribaucourt, and the third at Mons. In June, the three battalions were reunited at the camp of Le Quesnoy.. At the end of the month, the “Leib-Bataillon” was involved in the siege of Le Quesnoy. At the end of July, the “Obrist-Bataillon” was at the siege of Landrecies. On 25 July, two battalions took part in the Battle of Denain, where they lost 3 officers and 291 men killed; 3 officers and 32 men wounded; and 8 officers taken prisoner. The total losses were 14 officers and 373 men. After this disaster, the regiment went to Bruxelles. On 6 November, it received 1,000 new recruits from Upper Austria. The “Obrist-Lieutenant Bataillon” and one grenadier company were sent to Ingolstadt.

In April 1713, the staff, two battalions and the second grenadier company went to Gernsheim. During summer, two battalions were allocated to the corps of G.d.C. Marquis de Vaubonne. In September, the regiment came to Philippsburg and later on, to Rottweil.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1702 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Donath
Headgear
Fusilier black tricorne laced white; as field sign, green foliage was attached to the tricorne in summer and a wisp of straw in winter

N.B.: To distinguish soldiers (from corporal down to privates) of each company, a button or rosette at the colour of the company was attached to the tricorne.

Grenadier bearskin edged with a white braid; medium blue hanging bag edged with a white braid in a zig-zag pattern
Neckstock white
Coat pearl grey with yellow buttons on the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs medium blue, each with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat medium blue with yellow buttons
Breeches medium blue
Stockings white fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap (red as per Treuenfest)
Gaiters made of canvas and used only when the soldier wore linen breeches; in this case, the white stockings were replaced by linen sox; the use of gaiters generalized much later
Leather Equipement
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt a yellow deer or buffalo leather waist-belt worn above the waistcoat
Cartridge Pouch red of black leather pouch containing 24 cartridges, a pewter oil flask, two needles attached to a small chain (to clean the touch-hole of the lock), a tube that held the match for lighting the fuse of grenades, with a wooden peg on a small chain and a roll of fuse. The cartridge box had two cover flaps. The top one was sometimes decorated with a metal badge bearing the cipher or the arms of the Inhaber.

Grenadiers carried two cartridge pouches. The first one, slightly larger than that of fusiliers, was worn on wide cross-belt and contained grenades and a pewter tube that held the match for lighting the fuse of grenades; the smaller second pouch was attached to the waist-belt and contained cartridges for the musket.

Bayonet Scabbard black leather
Scabbard none
Footwear Russia leather shoes


Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Grenadiers were also armed with hand grenades.

NCOs

NCOs carried a spontoon (half-pike). They were also armed with a Stossdegen (a long two-edged estoc or rapier) carried in a black leather scabbard attached to the waist-belt.

NCOs of grenadier companies carried a flintlock musket instead of the spontoon.

NCOs also carried a cane whose characteristics indicated their precise rank. This cane had the length of a walking stick and was carried in and out of service. In action, to free hands, the cane was hanged to a button of the coat. Grenadier sergeants and fouriers were distinguished from privates by three silver braids on the bag of their bearskin.

Officers

Uniforms of officers were always of finer cloth than those of the privates. The were also distinguished from the uniforms of privates by the following differences:

  • a black tricorne edged white with a black plumetis
  • a pearl grey coat edged silver with gilt buttons; cuffs and pocket flaps were also edged with a silver braid
  • a medium blue waistcoat edged silver
  • medium blue breeches
  • white stockings

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

Lieutenants of the grenadier companies were distinguished from privates and NCOs by four golden braids on the bag of their bearskin; captains by five golden braids on their bearskin.

Officers carried a partisan. The partisan was decorated with a tassel: gold for the colonel, gold with silver fringe for the lieutenant-colonel, gold and silken fringe for captains and silken fringe for lieutenants. In some regiments, the captains' tassel was entirely of silk; in this case the lieutenants' partisan had no tassel. The partisans of staff officers had gilt butt caps.

Officers were also armed with a Stossdegen (a long two-edged estoc or rapier) carried in a black leather scabbard attached to the waist-belt.

Officers carried a cane whose characteristics indicated their precise rank. This cane had the length of a walking stick and was carried in and out of service. In action, to free hands, the cane was hanged to a button of the coat.

Officers of grenadier companies carried a flintlock musket instead of the partisan. Captains, lieutenants and sergeants of these companies always had their bayonet affixed to their musket.

In the field, officers carried a pair of pistols.

Musicians

Fifer of Deutschmeister Infantry - Source: detail from an illustration of Richard Knötel

Drummers and fifers had coats They wore a very different uniform:

  • a black tricorne laced yellow with a red plume
  • white neck stock
  • a medium blue coat edged yellow with swallow nests decorated with yellow braids at the shoulders; cuffs and pocket flaps were also edged with a yellow braid
  • a red waistcoat with yellow buttonholes
  • red breeches
  • medium blue stockings

The drum belt was usually brown and worn on the right shoulder.

Colors

Colonel flag (Leibfahne): white field bordered with two rows of alternating black, yellow and red triangles (the outer row pointing inwards, the inner row, outwards); centre device consisting of a crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the initials of Emperor Leopold I LI (Leopold Imperator) on its breast; the centre device was surmounted by a scroll

Leibfahne – Copyright: Richard Couture

Regimental flags (Regimentsfahne): yellow field bordered with two rows of alternating black, yellow and red triangles (the outer row pointing inwards, the inner row, outwards); centre device consisting of a crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the the initials of Emperor Leopold I LI (Leopold Imperator) on its breast; the centre device was surmounted by a scroll

Regimentsfahne – Copyright: Richard Couture

References

Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 1, Vienna 1875, pp. 212-218, 222-227

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

Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, p. 26

Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k. k. Infanterie-Regimentes Hoch- und Deutschmeister Nr. 4, Vienna 1879

Acknowledgments

Michael Zahn for information about this regiment and Harald Skala for reviewing the entire article