Taaffe Cuirassiers

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

Origin and History

On 23 August 1636, Claus Dietrich Sperreuter, who had transferred from the Swedish to the Imperial service, was authorised by the Emperor to raise a cuirassier regiment.

In 1636, after being reviewed for a first time, the regiment took part in the blockade of Hanau. In 1637, it fought under de Werth on the Upper Rhine. In 1642, it took part in the battle of Leipzig and, in 1645, in the engagement at Jankau.

In 1655, the regiment campaigned in Hungary against Turks and took part in the action of Levencz (present-day Levice/SK). On 1 August 1664, the regiment distinguished itself in the battle of St. Gotthard (aka Mogersdorf). In 1683, it took part in the relief of Vienna. From 1684 to 1688, it campaigned in Hungary; and from 1691 to 1696 in Italy.

In 1696, the regiment was sent back to Hungary.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive proprietors of the regiment were:

  • from 1677: FML Franz Taafe, Mylord of Carlingford
  • from 1704: G.d.C. Philipp Count Leiningen-Westerburg
  • from 1705: Colonel Franz Thomas Count Reising
  • from 1706: Colonel Johann Adam von Pfefferkorn
  • from 1707 until 1740: Colonel Johann Count Browne de Hautois

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

  • from 1692: Lieutenant-Colonel Jacob Marquis Cusani
  • from 1701: Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Karl von Faber
  • from 1708: Colonel Johann Friedrich Count Lanthieri
  • from 1712 until 1722: Colonel Count Arrigoni

The regiment was disbanded in 1775, part of it was transferred to Erzherzog Max Dragoons (DR No. 8) and Voghera Dragoons (DR No. 4).

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment was sent to the Rhine River.

In 1702, the regiment took part in the siege of Landau, which surrendered on 10 September.

In 1703, the regiment saw no action.

On 13 August 1704, the whole regiment distinguished itself during the victory at Blenheim. It was later sent to Hungary to quench the Kuruc Uprising.

In 1705, the regiment campaigned in Hungary. On 11 August, it took part in the Battle of Budmeritz. On 11 November, it was at the Battle of Schibo.

In 1706, the regiment was detached to Transylvania.

In 1707, the regiment took part in Rabutin’s march to Upper Hungary (present-day Slovakia) and then returned to Transylvania.

In 1709, the regiment took part in the combat at Királyhágó.

From 1709 to the end of the war, the regiment saw no further action.

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 with red lining 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 copper buttons (3 tin buttons around 1710)
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 white braid with a row of blue triangles pointing outwards (white braid decorated with a black zigzag around 1710)
Housings red bordered with a white braid with a row of blue triangles pointing outwards (white braid decorated with a black zigzag around 1710)
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

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.

For the reverse (left side) of an Ordinärestandarte Sapherson mentions that the centre design consisted of a silver pelican feeding its young with its own blood.

References

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

Sapherson, C.A.: The Imperial Cavalry 1691–1714, Leeds: Raider Books, 1989

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, file III. part 2, pp. 579ff, Vienna 1901

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article