Gronsfeld Cuirassiers

From Project WSS
Revision as of 12:39, 28 April 2023 by RCouture (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search

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

Origin and History

Gronsfeld Cuirassier trooper circa 1700 – Copyright: Harald Skala

Julius Franz Duke Sachsen-Lauenburg, who led the troops of the Reichsarmee against the French in the campaign of 1675, offered to Emperor Leopold I to raise a cuirassier regiment. On 6 March 1682, he received an imperial decree to do so. The kernel of the new regiment was built from troops contributed by the cuirassier regiments Dünewald, Metternich and Mercy. The initial lieutenant-colonel of the regiment was Johann Alexander Count Noirquermes (transferred from Dünewald Cuirassiers), and the Obristwachtmeister (major) was Count Lanthieri (transferred from Metternich Cuirassiers). Additional recruits were raised in the region of Nachod (present-day Náchod/CZ). On 9 September 1682, the regiment of 800 men was reviewed. Its proprietor returned to his estate, and Lieutenant-Colonel Noirquermes marched with the entire regiment to Austria. In November, it returned to Nachod in Bohemia.

In 1683, the regiment was allocated to the corps of Duke Karl of Lorraine. It had its baptism of fire on 2 August near Csklesz in a combat against Thököly’s rebels. On 12 September, the regiment took part in the relief of Vienna, which was besieged by the Turks.

Until 1700, the regiment fought against the Turks in Hungary and Transylvania.

The regiment counted six squadrons.

The successive proprietors of the regiment were:

  • from 1682: Julius Franz Duke Sachsen-Lauenburg
  • from 5 October 1689: Johann Leopold Marchese Doria
  • from 2 January 1692: Johann Franz Count Gronsfeld zu Brankhorst und Eberstein

During the War of the Spanish Succession, successive colonel-commanders of the regiment were:

  • from 1692: Count Gronsfeld (the proprietor)
  • from 24 August 1703: Joseph Albrecht Count St. Croix (promoted to general in 1708)
  • from 12 May 1708: Joseph Baron Globen
  • from 29 August 1711: Robert Comte de Beaufort (transferred from Vaubonne Dragoons)

From 1769, the regiment was numbered 26th. In 1798, it was transformed into a dragoon regiment and was numbered 3rd. In 1860, it was reorganised as a cuirassier regiment, ranking 9th. In 1867, it was once more transformed into a dragoon regiment, but it retained the same rank (9th).

Service during the War

1702

At the beginning of June 1702, the regiment marched to Vienna and from there by way of Prague, Pilsen (present-day Plzeň/CZ) and Philippsburg to Landau, where it arrived on 5 August. It then took part in the siege of Landau, which surrendered on 10 September. On 14 October, after the Imperialist defeat of Friedlingen, the regiment joined the army in the camp of Staufen. In November, it took up its winter-quarters in Breisgau and Swabia.

1703

In mid-February 1703, the French army crossed the Rhine River in two columns and the regiment was sent to occupy the Lines of Stollhofen. At the end of February, two squadrons were sent to the corps of FM Styrum in Swabia, where they fought against the French and Bavarians. The other squadrons remained in the Lines of Stollhofen until 17 June, when they made a junction with the aforementioned two squadrons in Groß-Süßen. On 23 June, as part of the army led by Margrave Ludwig von Baden, the regiment marched to Langenau. On 21 August, the army went to a camp near Augsburg. Maréchal Villars retreated to Nordendorf. On 1 December, after several manoeuvres, the regiment took up its winter-quarters around Weingarten, Weißenau and in the region of Waldsee.

1704

In April 1704, when the regiment was reviewed, it numbered 983 men in 6 squadrons. It was allocated to the corps of FML Count Leiningen, and marched (along with Lobkowitz Cuirassiers, Mercy Cuirassiers, Cusani Cuirassiers and Czungenberg Hussars) by way of Stockach and Möskirch to Friedlingen. On 15 April, Leiningen‘s and Thüngen‘s corps effected a junction at Rotweil. The Imperial troops then harrased the Franco-Bavarian troops in Swabia. On 22 June, the Imperial army made a junction with the Allied army led by the Duke of Marlborough. On 2 July, these army attacked the Franco-Bavarians in the Battle of the Schellenberg near Donauwöhrt. The defeated Franco-Bavarians retired behind the Danube River. The Allies occupied Donauwöhrt, and their two armies marched to Mertingen, captured Rain am Lech and then proceeded to Augsburg. In July, the regiment was allocated to the corps which besieged Ingolstadt. After the Allied victory at Blenheim, the regiment along with the other cavalry units, was sent to Bruchsal under the command of G.d.C Vehlen.

On 1 August, Count Gronsfeld, the proprietor of the regiment, was promoted to field marshal and appointed military commander of Bavaria.

At the beginning of December, the army was sent to its winter-quarters, the regiment being quartered in vicinity of Munich.

1705

In 1705, the regiment was sent to Hungary. Part of the regiment was transported onboard ships on the Danube River, while the rest marched to its destination. By mid-February, the regiment (969 men and 638 horses) was assembled at Pressburg (present-day Bratislava/SK). Two dismounted squadrons (331 men) remained in Pressburg and Oedenburg.

The regiment was allocated to the corps of FM Louis de Bannerot Comte d‘Herbéviller and garrisoned for a while the Schütt Island (located betwenn two arms of the Danube). When the two aforementioned squadrons received new horses, they were allocated to FM Herbéviller‘s corps, too. After resupplying Leopoldstadt with provisions and ammunition, Herbéviller marched back to the Schütt Island by way of Tyrnau. His corps was stopped near Budmeritz by Rákóczi‘s rebel army. On 11 August, Herbéviller defeated the rebels in the Battle of Budmeritz. After his arrival on Schütt Island, Herbéviller made a junction with Danish auxiliary troops (8 battalions and two horse regiments, led by Lieutenant-General Harboe).

In August marched d‘Herbéviller with all his troops by way of Komorn (present-day Komárom/HU) to Ofen. On 3 September, Herbéviller‘s Corps made a junction with the corps of FML Glöckelsberg. On 16 September, these troops crossed the Danube and marched by way of Keresztur, Gomba and Szegled to Nagy Körös. They then crossed the Theiß River and marched to Großwardein (present-day Oradea/RO). On 11 November, the regiment took part in the Battle of Schibo, where it lost 4 men killed and 6 wounded.

G.d.C Count Schlik then marched with 5 regiments (including the present regiment) to Klausenburg (present-day Cluj-Napoca/RO), wihch was occupied without problems on 15 November. On 26 November, Schlik‘s and Rabutin‘s Corps made a junction near Weißenburg (present-day Alba Julia/RO), where the regiment took up its winter-quarters.

1706

In May 1706, Major-General Baron Virmond marched with Uhlefeld Cuirassiers and the present regiment against Rákóczi‘s rebels, who were encamped near Also-Szilvas. On 4 June, Virmond surprised the Hungarian rebels and put them to flight after a brief combat, in which the latter lost approx. 550 men, two colours and a lot of copper coins. Virmond then returned to Klausenburg.

On 25 July, Rabutin’s Corps left Klausenburg and marched by way of Großwardein and Szentes to Csongrad. Soldiers and horses suffered from lack of provisions, because the rebels, led by Count Károlyi, burned down the villages on their way. On 3 September, Rabutin arrived at Szolnok, already burned down by the rebels. At the end of September, Rabutin reached Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK), which he tried to besiege, but without siege artillery the task proved to be impossible. After 10 days, Rabutin raised the siege and marched towards Tokai. On their way, his troops passed empty villages, most of them burned down. Nevertheless, Colonel Tige with 2,000 horse nearly annihilated a superior detachment of Károlyi’s cavalry near Keresztur.

At the beginning of November, Rabutin reached Szolnok and then proceeded towards Debreczin. Beside his officers and noncombatants, the regiment then numbered 423 cuirassiers with horse and 267 without. From this force, 243 cuirassiers were detached to join FM Starhemberg’s army. Rabutin received orders to send Colonel Tige with 2,000 selected cavalrymen to Transylvania, while he himself went to Ofen with his own corps. Many of his soldiers died for lack of food and cold weather during this march.

1707

On 4 February 1707, after several manoeuvres, Rabutin’s Corps crossed the Danube River and reached Ofen. At this time, the regiment numbered only 200 men. The winter-quarters were supposed to be in the vicinity of Veszprem, but all these villages had been burned down by rebels. Rabutin decided therefore to take refuge behind Raab River. His corps remained posted along the Styrian border up to Raab (present-day Györ/HU).

From March to 16 August, the regiment garrisoned Rába Hidvég, Tótfalu, Geregyó and Demeti. Beside the 2 squadrons which were with colonel Tige in Transylvania, the regiment now numbered 562 men and 465 horses.

Allocated once more to Rabutin’s Corps, the regiment marched on 17 August by way of Ács, Szöny and Esztregom to Ofen. From there, the corps – now with some infantry – proceeded by way of Szegedin and Arad. On 12 October, it reached Hermannstadt (present-day Sibiu/RO) where it was welcome by Colonel Tige and his cavalrymen. Until Rabutin’s arrival, Tige and his men had defended Transylvania against superior rebel forces. Colonel Tige was promoted to major-general. In the following months, Rabutin’s Corps drove the rebels out of Transylvania.

1708

Throughout the year, the regiment fought in the corps of FML Kriechbaum against Károlyi’s rebels in Transylvania. On 22 November, the regiment along with General Graeven’s troops defeated a 2,000 men strong rebel detachment near Schibo. After this last action, Imperial troops went to their winter-quarters.

1709

By March 1709, the regiment garrisoned Naszod and Makod.

In mid-July, FZM Kriechbaum concentrated his troops at Egerbegy. On 27 July, he marched by way of Fenes, Kis-Kapus and Feketeto to Besenyö, unmolested by the rebels. On 3 August, his troops reached Vasárhely and later Dioszégh. From there, FZM Kriechbaum resupplied Großwardein with food and ammunition.

On 10 August, Kriechbaum’s Corps marched back to its original position. On 12 August near Solyomkö, an entrenched rebel unit greeted Kriechbaum’s Corps with musket fire. General Wellenstein attacked with the infantry, while General Graeven remained in reserve with the cavalry. The rebels fled, pursued by Kriechbaum’s corps. Some rebel cavalry attacked the rearguard, but were stopped by the fire from the dismounted Rabutin Dragoons. The corps then marched throughout the night and reached Klausenburg by way of Feketeto and Sebes.

In September, squadrons of the regiment took part in minor actions against the rebels in Transylvania. The winter-quarters of the regiment were in the vicinity of Thorda.

1710

For the campaign of 1710, G.d.C Count Stainville replaced FZM Kriechbaum as commander in Transylvania. His troops were concentrated in a camp near Bonczhida. Cavalry detachments were sent to raise contributions in the surrounding villages. Due to plague, Stainville avoided more serious actions. In October, the regiment took up its winter-quarters in Klausenburg.

1711

In May 1711, after capitulation of Rákóczi‘s rebels at Majtény, G.d.C Stainville posted his troops for some time along the Szamos Line. The winter-quarters of the regiment were in the Komitat of Zemplén.

1712

In the spring of 1712, the regiment was sent to Bohemia, where it garrisoned Töplitz (present-day Teplice/CZ) and Königgrätz (present-day Hradec Králové/CZ) for several years.

Uniform

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.

Troopers

Uniform in 1701 – Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details in 1701 as per Treuenfest
Headgear
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 or black
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 without buttons (3 tin buttons around 1710)
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat white made of linen cloth
Breeches red (natural 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 worn across the left shoulder
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
Housings red bordered with a yellow braid
Porte manteau red


The uniform was complemented with a white riding mantle

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.

NCOs

no information found yet

Officers

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

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

Musicians

In the Austrian Cuirassier regiments, kettle drummers and trumpeters were dressed according to the regiment owner's tastes. They often wore brightly coloured uniforms with:

  • a plumed black round slouch hat
  • a curled periwig down to the shoulders
  • a white cravate
  • a comfortable red or blue coat with wide skirts reaching above the knees, decorated with ribbons and braids
  • red breeches
  • riding boots made of Russian leather with a knee pad reaching above the knee

The fairly large trumpet had a square yellow silk apron carrying an embroidered black double-eagle.

Kettle drums were similar to those used nowadays in symphonic orchestras. They were fastened to the saddle on each side of the pommel. One drum had a low register, the other a high one. The kettle drums were covered with richly laced and fringed yellow or red silken brocade apron measuring 128 cm. The middle of this apron was decorated with the painted (oil paint) arms of the regiment owner.

Standards

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.

References

Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k. und k. Bukowina´schen Dragoner-Regimentes Freiherr Piret de Bihain Nr. 9, Vienna 1892

Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979, plate B.6, B.8

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article