Holstein Plön Infantry
Origin and History
In 1700, a dispute arose between the houses Hanover and Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. The French supported Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel.
On 20 March 1702, the combined troops of Hanover and Celle penetrated into the Duchy of Braunschweig, disarmed part of the troops of the duchy and blockaded the city of Braunschweig. The mediation of Great Britain and Brandenburg allowed to settle the dispute. The Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was then obliged to cede 2,400 foot and 800 horse to Emperor Leopold I. The infantry was formed in two regiments: “Prinz August Adolph von Holstein-Plön” and “Heeringen.” Each of these regiments counted two battalions (each of 16 companies). In the meantime, the first regiment was allocated to Hanover, and the second to Celle. Initially, the two principalities refused to cede these regiments to the emperor. However, on 4 July, an agreement was finally concluded between the representative of the emperor, Count Lititzky and Bernsdorf, a minister of the Duchy Braunschweig-Lüneburg-Celle. Both regiments were then combined in a single one at Göttingen and taken in the Imperial service. The new regiment counted approx. 2,400 men and was organized in 16 companies, without grenadiers.
On 16 August 1702, Prince Adolf August von Holstein-Plön was appointed proprietor of this regiment. At his death, on 2 July 1704, Lieutenant-Colonel Engelhardt von Plischau assumed command of the regiment until 1708.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the proprietors of the regiment were:
- from 16 August 1702: Adolph August Duke von Holstein-Plön (remained in the service of the Duchy of Braunschweig, he was captured by the French and died in prison on 2 July 1704)
- from 2 October 1704 to 15 August 1728: Hubert Dominicus Baron du Saix d'Arnant
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the effective commanders of the regiment were:
- from 1702 until 1704: Lieutenant-Colonel Engelhardt von Plischau (aka Plüschau)
- from 1704: Hubert Dominicus Baron du Saix d'Arnant (the proprietor of the regiment)
- from 1705: Engelhardt von Plischau (now promoted to colonel)
- from 1707: Carl Johann Count Portia
- from 16 May 1717: Colonel Peter von Münch (aka München)
Service during the War
In the summer of 1702, the new regiment was sent to Northern Italy. However, the soldiers were unhappy about this order and some deserted on the way. It reached the vicinity of San Benedetto in September. At the beginning of October, it lost additional men through several diseases.
By the end of March 1703, the regiment had been reduced to only 1,239 men fit for service. On 11 June, one battalion of the regiment took part in the Combat of Mirandola in which FZM Guido Count Starhemberg with 11 battalions and 11 grenadier coys defeated the French corps of General Albergotti. On 7 November, it took up its winter-quarters near Ferrara.
During the winter of 1703/1704, the regiment received 300 recruits from Bohemia and 300 from Krain (present-day part of Slovenia).
In the Spring of 1704, the regiment was divided: one battalion led by Major von der Lippe went to Austria and formed part of the garrison of Vienna. Detachments of this battalion were sent to collect recruits in Bohemia and Moravia.
Major Münch came back from Moravia with 129 recruits as part of a detachment under Georg Adam Baron Ritschan On 25 May, these recruits took part in the Engagement of Smolenitz. On 13 June, they took part in the Battle of Raab.
On 26 December, the third battalion took part in the Battle of Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK) in which Heister defeated Rákóczi’s troops.
The rest of the regiment (12 companies) remained in Italy as part of the garrison of Mirandola, which was blockaded by the French during winter. These 12 companies, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Plischau lost a lot of men to illness. By November, Plischau had only 471 men fit for service and provisions were scarce.
In April 1705, the French undertook the formal siege of Mirandola, which capitulated on 11 May, its garrison (including men of the present regiment) surrendering as prisoners of war. The French Lieutenant-General de la Para took possession of the fortress.
In the spring, all troops stationed in Hungary were sent to Bavaria. Furthermore, the remnants of the companies stationed in Northern Italy also marched towards Bavaria, where they joined their new proprietor, the Baron du Saix d'Arnant. The few soldiers remaining from the detachment previously sent to Hungary were completed with 583 recruits from Bohemia, 856 from Silesia and 250 from Tyrol.
In the autumn, the men taken prisoners at Mirandola were exchanged and took up their winter-quarters around Carpenedole.
During this time in Bavaria, the dissatisfied inhabitants revolted against the occupying forces. At the end of December, Colonel d’Arnant received some support and managed to drive the rebels out of Vilshofen.
In the spring of 1706, some 300 men of the regiment were deployed in a cordon behind the Adige River. Plischau – now colonel – had his headquarter at Arco and informed Prince Eugène about the movements of the Franco-Spanish army. Later on, Plischau and his men were sent to rejoin their regiment in Bavaria. The complete regiment was now assembled in Bavaria.
Colonel d’Arnant marched to Regensburg, where he took command of two Palatine regiments and a dragoon regiment. With this force, d’Arnant relieved Amberg, which was blockaded by the rebels. He then concentrated his whole corps in Upper Palatinate (Oberpfalz) and suppressed the uprising in that part of Bavaria. Part of the regiment was then stationed in Amberg, and the rest in Ingolstadt. The regiment now consisted of three battalions (each of 4 companies) for a total of 1,300 men. Colonel d’Arnant was promoted to general (GFWM) but remained proprietor and also commander of the regiment.
In the second half of the year, one battalion was sent to Hungary. On 27 September, it took part in the storming of the rebel entrenchments at Ujfalu near Esztregom. In this action, 700 rebels were killed, their French commander, General de Challon, was taken prisoners. Later, this battalion took part in capture of Esztregom. The battalion was reinforced by 3 companies from Bavaria and had now 7 companies. which took their winter-quarters at Altenburg (present-day Mosonmagyaróvár/HU).
In April 1707, when FM Starhemberg resupplied the Fortress of Leopoldstadt (present-day Leopoldov/SK), some companies of the regiment were part of the escort.
During the year, the 7 companies present in Hungary were reinforced by two additional companies sent from Bavaria and by a new (second) grenadier company. There were now two battalions and one grenadier company in Hungary.
The eight companies in Bavaria were distributed in the places of Ingolstadt, Amberg and Straubing. General d’Arnant was absent (in Burgundy with special order), and Colonel Plischau assumed command.
During the winter of 1707/1708, the two battalions stationed in Hungary were allocated to the corps of FML Baron Löffelholz, which was posted in the mountainous region of middle Slovakia.
In 1708, the eight companies (1,002 men) stationed in Bavaria were concentrated at Ingolstadt. D’Arnant was promoted to FML and Colonel Plischau to major-general (GFWM). The latter left the regiment and was appointed proprietor of the newly raised Plüschau Infantry.
In 1709, the main Imperial army marched through Vezsprem, while the corps stationed in middle Slovakia marched to Käsmark (present-day Kežmarok/SK).
On 20 June, the battalion (468 men) posted at Ingolstadt went to Ettlingen along with two battalions of Wetzel Infantry and Wendt Infantry. It then took part in the expedition in Franche Comté. It was allocated to the corps of FML Count Mercy, which passed the Rhine at Rheinfelden. Sine 1707, FML d'Arnant had had been assigned a special role in this expedition. Born in Burgundy, he was supposed to organize an uprising against the French in this region. Don Courchelet and Baron Bonclaire d'Aygremont (later second lieutenant-colonels-“aggregiert” in d'Arnant's regiment) were the soul of this uprising. From this moment, d’Arnant was not with his regiment, but no more details of his actions are available.
On 28 August, the battalion took part in the Combat of Rumersheim against French troops led by Lieutenant-General du Bourg. The Imperialist troops, led by FML Mercy, lost the combat, losing 2,600 men killed, most of the remaining troops were taken prisoners. From the battalion 245 men were taken prisoners, including Don Louis Courchellet and Baron d’Aygremont. During the combat, Courchellet had led the two grenadier companies. Fortunately for him, he was not identified by the French who released him after a few days. In the autumn, all exchanged men returned to Ingolstadt. During winter, the battalion was posted between Rheinfelden, Säckingen, Lauffenburg and Waldshut.
In January 1710 in Hungary, Leutschau (present-day Levoča/SK) surrendered. In June, the regiment was near Losonz (present-day Lučenec/SK). The regiment lost several men to illness and was missing 644 men to be at full strength. On 23 September, Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky) surrendered and, shortly afterwards, Erlau (present-day Eger/HU), Eperies (present-day Prešov/SK) and other cities.
After the surrender of Neuhäusel, the regiment was posted, under the command of FZM Count Pálffy and the Marquis Cusani, between Palota (present-day Palota/SK), Rimaszombat (present-day Rimavská Sobota/SK), Hatvan, Jászberény up to Kecskemét in Hungary, where it would remain until the end of April 1711.
In May, the battalion posted at Rheinfelden joined the corps of FM Gronsfeld near Ettlingen and Philippsburg, but saw no action. In the winter of 1710/1711, this battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel Peter von Münch was sent to the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), where FML d’Arnant assumed command.
In June 1711, two battalion of the regiment were sent from the Black Forest to the camp where the Imperialist army led by Duke Alexander von Württemberg was concentrating near Muckensturm. FML d’Arnant was also part of this army.
On 27 August, Württemberg’s Army marched to Philippsburg, where it crossed the Rhine. One battalion of the regiment remained at Pfaffenroth near Esslingen.
During the winter of 1711/1712, these battalions returned to the Black forest.
After the signature of the Treaty of Szatmár (29 April), the nine companies serving in Hungary were transferred to Bavaria.
During winter, the organisation of all infantry regiments was changed. The old organisation with 4 battalions of 4 companies each, was changed to 3 battalions of 5 companies each. The remaining sixteenth company was transformed into a second grenadier company. The first two battalions were “field battalions”, while the third was a garrison battalion. A regiment now consisted of 2,300 men. This organisation would exist until 1748.
For the campaign of 1712, the two field battalions and the two grenadier companies were allocated to the army of the Upper Rhine, under FM Duke Alexander von Württemberg. The third battalion garrisoned Ingolstadt.
In May, the two field battalions, along with five battalions of other regiments and 24 squadrons, were posted at Wiesenthal near Philippsburg. In July, these battalions (1,037 men including grenadiers) were with Württemberg’s Army at the camp at Germersheim.
The two field battalions spent the winter of 1712/1713 in the Black forest, while the third battalion continued to garrison Ingolstadt.
For the campaign of 1713, 200 fusiliers led by Major von Münch remained in the Black Forest, the two field battalions joined the army defending the Lines of Ettlingen on the Upper Rhine.
In May, one field battalion and one grenadier company were to Landau to reinforce the garrison. On 12 June, the French led by Maréchal Bezons began the siege of Landau. On 22 August, the commander of the place, Prince of Württemberg, surrendered and the garrison was taken to Haguenau as prisoners of war. The battalion was freed under condition that it would not against the French for one year, and was transported by ship on the Danube to Upper Austria.
In August, the third battalion was allocated to the corps of the Marquis de Vaubonne in the Black Forest. Prince Eugène reinforced Vaubonne’s Corps with 15 battalions (including the second field battalion and the two grenadier companies) led by FML d’Arnant and 3 cavalry regiments led by General Althann.
On 20 September, Maréchal Villars arrived before Freiburg and attacked the entrenchments on the Rosskopf. Forty French battalions captured the Fort No. 13, defended by two Franconian battalions, and after that the Fort No. 15. Vaubonne retired to Rottweil. Both battalions of the regiment with eight other battalion led by General Wachtendonk retired to Freiburg. Vaubonne felt into disgrace (he would commit suicide in Vienna on 2 August 1715).
Since 26 September, the garrison of Freiburg (16 battalions, 7 grenadier companies and 100 dragoons), led by FML Harsch, was blockaded by 59 French battalions, and the upper castle by 40 battalions. Maréchal Villars commanded this army but the siege was confided to General du Bourg. On 18 October, the two battalions of the regiment (now 312 men only!) took position in the “Leopoldsbastei.” On 1 November, Harsch surrendered the city of Freiburg and retired to the castles. Around 2,000 wounded remained in the city. There was no hope for any relief. On 17 November, Harsch surrendered, obtaining free withdrawal. During the siege, the two battalions lost 68 men killed, 192 wounded or ill, 21 missing and 27 men who had deserted.
During winter 1713/1714, the two battalions returned to the Black Forest, in the region of Willingen.
In 1714, the regiment received 631 recruits from Bohemia. After the signature of the Treaty of Rastatt (7 March), the regiment garrisoned Breisach, Konstanz and Rheinfelden.
|Neck stock||red or white|
|Coat||pearl grey with red lining; yellow buttons on the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back
|Waistcoat||pearl grey with yellow buttons|
|Stockings||red fastened under the knee with a natural leather strap|
|Gaiters||made of canvas and used only when the soldier wore linen breeches; in this case, the stockings were replaced by linen socks; the use of gaiters generalized much later|
Armaments consisted of a musket and a bayonet. Grenadiers were also armed with hand grenades.
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.
Uniforms of officers were always of finer cloth than those of the privates.
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.
In the Austrian Army of the time, musicians often wore uniforms in reverse colours with the distinctive colour of the regiment used for the coat.
Accordingly, drummers wore the following uniform:
- black tricorne laced white
- red neck stock
- white or yellow buttons
- dark red coat (white lining) edged yellow with swallow nests decorated with yellow braids at the shoulders; yellow braid on the seams on the sleeves; the white cuffs and the pocket flaps were also edged with a yellow braid
- white waistcoat with pewter buttonholes
- white breeches
- red stockings
By 1709, the Regimentsfahne had a yellow field with two horizontal red wavy bands bordered with two rows of alternating yellow, black and red flames (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 white scroll.
This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:
- Erzherzog Johann: Geschichte des K. K. Linien-Infanterie-Regiments Erzherzog Wilhelm No. 12, 1. part , Vienna 1877
- Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 4, Vienna 1877, pp. 50, 632
- Seyfart: Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, pp. 23-24
- Gräffer, August: Geschichte der kaiserl. Königl. Regimenter, Corps, Bataillons und anderer Militär-Branchen seit ihrer Errichtung biz zu Ende des Feldzuges 1799, Vol. 1, Vienna, 1804, pp. 49-53
Czegka, Eduard: Uniformen der kaiserlichen Infanterie unter Prinz Eugen. in: Zeitschrift für Heereskunde 49-51, 1933, pp. 459-473
Donath, Rudolf: Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Harald Skala for the translation and integration of the work of the Erzherzog Johann