Pálffy Cuirassiers

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

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1682 by Franz de Gondola according to a decree issued on 7 March of the same year. It was formed around 2 coys contributed by Taafe Cuirassiers.

In 1683, during the Great Turkish War, the regiment campaigned with the main army, taking part in the relief of Vienna. In 1685, it was at the siege of Neuhäusel and took part in the expedition in Upper-Hungary. In 1686, it participated in the siege of Ofen and in another expedition in Upper-Hungary and in the engagement of Szegedin; in 1687, in the Battle of Mohacs; from 1688 to 1690, in the blockade of Grosswardein; in 1695, in the Battle of Ollasch; and in 1697 in the Battle of Zenta.

In 1698, the regiment assumed garrison duty in Bohemia.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons.

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

  • 1682: Franz Count Gondola, FML (lost the function 1700 due to the bad condition of his regiment)
  • from 1700 to 1751: Johann Count Pálffy von Erdöd, FM (previously proprietor of a hussar regiment)

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

  • since 1698 – Friedrich Reichardt, lieutenant-colonel (killed at the battle of Luzarra in 1702)
  • from 1702 to 1705: unknown
  • from 1705: Johann Count Locatelli, colonel
  • from 1710: Benedict von Schlauerspach, colonel
  • from 1720: Alexander de Cras, colonel

The regiment was disbanded 1802, its troopers were transferred to various other regiments. Its last proprietor was, since 1783, FM Adam prince Czartoryski-Sangusto.

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was attached to the army of Prince Eugène who proceeded to the invasion of Northern Italy. On 9 July, it took part in the Combat of Carpi. On 1 September, it fought in the Battle of Chiari.

In 1702, the regiment participated in the campaign in Northern Italy. A detachment under captain Ungar was involved in a skirmish at Castelletti. On 15 August, the regiment took part in the Battle of Luzzara where it distinguished itself. A detachment participated in the raid on Milan.

In 1703, the regiment was initially posted on the Po River. A detachment took part in General Visconti's raid in Piedmont. By the end of the year, 2 squadrons were attached to Guido Starhemberg's Corps operating in Piedmont.

In 1704, the 4 squadrons operating in Lombardy as well as the 2 squadrons stationed in Piedmont did not see action.

On 16 August 1705, the 4 squadrons operating in Lombardy took part in the Battle of Cassano.

In September 1706, the entire regiment fought in the Battle of Turin. It was later involved, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Locatelli, in a skirmish at San Pancrazio on to Lower Po

In 1707, the regiment was stationed in Piedmont and did not take part in any major action.

In 1708, the regiment was transferred to the Rhine where it joined the Army of the Moselle with which it went to the Low Countries. It was at the siege of Lille.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment fought in the Battle of Malplaquet and took part in the siege of Tournai..

In 1710, the regiment was stationed in the Low Countries and did not take part in any major action.

In 1711, the regiment served with the Reichsarmee.

In 1712, the regiment returned to the Low Countries where it campaigned in the army of Prince Eugène. On 24 July, it took part in the Battle of Denain.

In 1713, the regiment served on the Rhine.

From 1714 to 1716, the regiment garrisoned the Comitat of Trencsén (present-day Trenčín/SK).

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 Richard Couture
Uniform Details in 1701 as per Donath
Headgear 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 white braid edged red with a red central stripe
Housings red bordered with a white braid edged red with a red central stripe
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.

NCOs

no information found yet

Officers

Uniforms of officers differed from those of the privates and NCOs by the finer material used. The coat, cuffs, pockets, saddlecloth and housings 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. For this particular regiment they wore:

  • a plumed black fez
  • a white cravate
  • a comfortable blue coat with wide skirts reaching above the knees edged with large silver braids
    • red cuffs decorated with silver braids
    • red false sleeves decorated with silver braids
    • sleeves decorated with a silver braid
  • probably 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

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."

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

Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 1, Vienna 1875, pp. 212, 219-222, 227

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

Gräffer, August: Geschichte der kaiserl. Königl. Regimenter, Corps, Bataillons und anderer Militär-Branchen seit ihrer Errichtung biz zu Ende des Feldzuges 1799, Vol. 2, Vienna, 1804, pp. 20-22

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article