Uhlefeld Cuirassiers

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

Origin and History

Colonel Christoph Wilhelm von Harrant, Baron von Palschütz und Weseritz, who had distinguished himself by his circumspection and courage in the previous war, was allowed in 1672 by Emperor Leopold I to raise a new regiment of cuirassiers. The warrant issued on 2 December 1672 ordered the raising of this regiment in the Holy Roman Empire and specified that it should count 10 companies well equipped with horses, pistols and carbines. In fact recruitment was mainly performed in Upper and Lower Austria. Officers of the former Harrant's Regiment formed the cadre for the new unit. On 17 April 1673, three companies were reviewed and taken in service at Laxenburg in Austria. The staff at that time was: Colonel Harrant von Palschütz, Lieutenant-Colonel Aeneas Count Piccolomini and Major Heinrich Count Kuefstein. Recruitment continued until July 1673 when the regiment reached full strength. It was then assigned to the army of Count Montecuccoli. On August 16, it took its quarters with this army in Eger (present-day Cheb/CZ). It was part of the left wing under Duke von Lothringen. By this time, the regiment counted 887 men. It was under the command of Colonel von Harrant assisted by Lieutenant-Colonel Count von Kuefstein and Major Count von Ilmen. Its other companies were under the following Rittmeister: Count Sternberg, Convost, von Venningen, Baron Besra, von Angern, von Büngen and Baron Kaltschmid. On 11 August 11 1674, the regiment took part in the Battle of Seneffe. During the five following campaigns, it served on the Rhine. After the Peace of Nijmegen (1678), it took its quarters in Bohemia.

In 1683, during the Great Turkish War, the regiment left Bohemia to join the Reichsarmee assembling under Duke Karl von Lothringen to relieve Vienna besieged by the Turks. The Austrian army of Karl von Lothringen made its junction with Sobieski's Army. The combined armies defeated the Turks on 12 September. During the campaign of 1684, the regiment was deployed on the left flank of the army and participated in the siege of Ofen. In 1685, it took part in the Battle of Gratz. In 1686, the regiment was part of Count Scherferberg's Corps sent to the Siebenbürgen Country (present-day Transylvania) where it fought an enemy corps under Gyulaffi and advanced on Hermannstadt. During this advance, the regiment was suddenly ordered to join once more the main army under the Duke von Lothringen who was besieging Ofen a second time. In 1687, the regiment was assigned to the army of the Duke of Lothringen operating in Lower-Hungary. It took part in the Battle of Mohacz where it was among the foremost units leading the counter-attack. During this battle, one company was deployed in the first line of the right wing, four companies in the second line of the same wing and the rest of the regiment in the centre. Later during the same campaign, Major Count Rödern was seriously wounded in a small skirmish. In 1688, the regiment was assigned to Prince Ludwig von Baden's Corps ordered to operate on the Sava River. During this campaign, it took part in the victorious combat of Brod. The regiment, who had taken its previous winter-quarters in Bistritz in Siebenbürgen, took its winter-quarters in Possega in Slavonia. In March 1689, Count Marzini, one of the Rittmeister of the regiment, was sent against Brod with 300 horse. This courageous officer was supposed to attack the Turkish garrison of the town of Tessen. His party annihilated the garrison, set the fortress afire and freed more than 3,000 Christians from slavery. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Cavriany had undertaken a raid against Banyaluka with 200 horse. On 4 July, the regiment had joined the main army of the Prince of Baden in the area of Hassan, Bassa and Pallanka. On September 22 of the same year, the regiment took part in the engagement of Nissa where it was deployed on the left wing. It also took part in the combat of Sibo (27 November) and in the engagement of Kaczanek where Rittmeister Sanovsky was killed. On 3 January 1690, the regiment distinguished itself during a tough combat against the Turks. During the campaign of 1691, the regiment was again part of the main army under the Prince von Baden. It fought on the left wing at the Battle of Salankamen, loosing some 42 men killed and 14 wounded. The regiment then took its winter-quarters in Lower-Hungary. In 1692, it operated with the Prince von Baden's Corps in the area of Esseg. In 1693, it was at the engagement of Martanos near Gyula. In 1694, it was at the camp of Peterwardein. In 1696, it joined the main army of Electoral Prince August von Sachsen, took part in the siege of Temesvar and then moved to its winter-quarters in Siebenbürgen. In June 1697, the regiment was at the Iron Gate on the Danube River with the corps of General Count Leiningen. It took part in the capture of Ujpalanka and then returned to its winter-quarters in Siebenbürgen.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons.

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

  • since 21 April 1700: GFWM Leo Count Uhlefeld (died in Spain in 1716)
  • from 1716: FML Adam Comte de Gondrecourt

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

  • since 1689: Colonel Ignaz Count Costa
  • from 1708: Colonel Monticelli Baron von Rovero
  • from 1714: Lieutenant-Colonel Rocheville (promoted to colonel in 1716)

Service during the War

In 1700, because of a quarrels which had taken place between the old regiment proprietor. Johann Count Herberstein with the army commander and the Hofkriegsrat, the regiment was supposed to be disbanded. The commander in Transylvania, Johann Ludwig Count Bussy-Rabutin, made strong efforts to keep the regiment in service. On 21 April, Herberstein was liberated from service and Count Leo Uhlefeld, who was serving with the army at Naples, was appointed as new proprietor. But Uhlefeld was not with the regiment at all. He had obtained the emperor's authorization to take service in the Allied army campaigning in Portugal. The commander of the regiment was Lieutenant-Colonel Ignaz Count Costa who was transferred from Doria Cuirassiers.

From 1700 to 1703, the regiment garrisoned places in the Comitat of Hunyad in Transylvania as part of Rabutin's Corps (5,600 foot, 1,500 horse) who consisted of Neipperg Infantry, Pálffy Infantry and half of Thürheim Infantry, 1,000 men from Deutschmeister Infantry, Heister Infantry and Nigrelli Infantry, Uhlefeld Cuirassiers (500 men, 400 horses), Steinville Cuirassiers (500 men, 400 horses) and Rabutin Dragoons (500 men, 300 horses).

Shortly after the outbreak of Franz Rákoczi Uprising in Hungary, in September 1704, the rebels marched under Colonel Pekri and Thoroczkay to Hermannstadt (present-day Sibiu/RO). Rabutin advanced with his 3 cavalry regiments but could not locate the rebels and returned to Hermannstadt. On 11 September, Thoroczkay appeared in front of Hermannstadt, Rabutin attacked the rebels with his cavalry, taking them by surprise and driving them into a marsh before his infantry had time to arrive. The rebels lost 800 men and 20 flags. During the fight Lieutenant-Colonel Costa, commanding the regiment, was mortally wounded. At the end of September, the rebels besieged Klausenburg (present-day Cluj/RO). Rabutin with around 2,500 horse hurried to the relief of the place. On 8 October, he attacked the rebel army (about 14,000 men) near Pata. Colonel Graven with some squadrons attacked the enemies right wing and droved them back. Afterwards Lieutenant-Colonel Tige attacked, too. The rebel infantry fled. Only 4 coys of deserters from Thürheim Infantry who had sided with the rebels fought till the end. Very few of them were captured and later executed in Hermannstadt. In this engagement, the regiment lost Lieutenant Gabler and a few men. On 9 October, Rabutin marched to Klausenburg and drove the rebels away. However, his force was not strong enough to hold the place and Rabutin decided to destroy the palisades defending the place.

It is difficult to follow the regiment through the campaign of 1705, no direct information is available in the documents of the Hofkriegsrat. The regiment spent the year with Rabutin's Corps and participated in its actions. FM Herberville, commander in Hungary. Received orders to assist Rabutin in the breaking of the blockade of Grosswardein (present-day Oradea/RO) which had begun in August. On 11 November, Rabutin (4,000 men) attacked the rebels who were blockading Hermannstadt, defeated them, plundered their camp and captured some 1,500 horses. On 26 November, Rabutin effected a junction with General Schlick and occupied the whole of Transsylvania. The rebels fled. The regiment was reinforced with two coys of militia dragoons (Niederöstrreichische Landschaftsdragoner). According to a decree of the Hofkriegsrat, FM Rabutin assumed the privileges of the proprietor of the regiment, GFWM Uhlefeld, who was still serving in Portugal.

In 1706, despite the victory of the Imperialists at Hermannstadt the previous year, the situation of the rebels was improving. An Imperial force (8,000 men) had been posted in Western Hungary and another (approx. 20.000 men) in Transylvania. These forces were 500 km distant. The country between them was still in the hands of the rebels. Furthermore, Imperial troops suffered from lack of money, weapons, ammunition and their commanders were disunited. Rabutin started an action against the rebels on the western border of Transsylvania. However, Colonel Tige was driven back by Csáky (3,000 men) on the Strel River. Rabutin then sent GFWM Baron Virmond with Gronsfeld Cuirassiers and Uhlefeld Cuirassiers to support Tige. On 2 June, Virmond effected a junction with Tige's detachment in the camp of Vayad-Hunyad. There, Tige and Virmond were informed that Csáky did not abide with the terms of the recently signed armistice and had resumed his attacks. GFWM Virmond decided to punish Csáky and, in the night of 3 June, attacked Csáky's camp near Alsó-Szilvas. Captain Bauernfeindt with Uhlefeld Cuirassiers led the vanguard and surprised the outposts of the rebels who fled in the forest. The cuirassiers dismounted from their horses and followed up with some Croatian infantry. The rebels lost approx. 500 men, 5 flags, 4 guns and a lot of Rákoczi's copper coins. On 25 July, after the publication of the armistice in Transylvania, Rabutin marched from Klausenburg through Grosswardein – Szolnok – Jásbéreny to Kaschau (present-day Košice/SK) which he reached at the end of September. Count Károlyi, who commanded a rebel force of 12,000 men in the area of Kaschau, tried to avoid open battle with Rabutin but burned down all the nearby villages. Rabutin laid siege to Kaschau but due to lack of provisions and ammunition he was obliged to interrupt the siege. He then went to Tokay where he intended to find provisions for his troops. During the march, a detachment of 200 cuirassiers (picked from all cuirassier regiments) attacked a superior number of Károlyi Hussars near Keresztur, defeated them and took many of them prisoners. After a 14 days march along the Theis River through a country devastated by its inhabitants, Rabutin turned towards Szolnok. During these actions, he had lost almost 50% of his corps. Rabutin then sent Captain Niemenz from Uhlefeld Cuirassiers to Vienna to ask for support and assistance. Due to the ongoing campaigns in Western Europe (Italy, Low Countries, Rhine) it was impossible to Vienna to spare any unit to reinforce Rabutin's Corps. Rabutin was instructed to send 2,000 men with the best horses (200 from Uhlefeld Cuirassiers) under Colonel Tige back to Transylvania while he would himself with the remaining troops go to Ofen. By the end of the year, Uhlefeld Cuirassiers were deployed as follows: 200 men with Tige, 150 in Transsylvania, 56 new recruits in Krems/Austria and 160 with Rabutin marching to Ofen.

At the beginning of 1707, the part of the regiment attached to Colonel Tige's detachment marched towards Transylvania. The route was blocked by rebels and Tige was forced to take another route through the mountains. All baggage and all wagons had to be destroyed. The cuirassiers passed the mountains through deep snow and arrived safely at Deva and Vayad-Hunyad where they defeated two rebel detachments and finally obtained provisions. Tige then occupied Hermannstadt. Meanwhile, on 21 January, Rabutin finally reached Ofen. His troops were in very poor condition and unable to undertake any new endeavour. Until March, the regiment received new recruits coming from Silesia in Ofen but it still needed additional horses. On 11 April, the regiment marched towards the Moravian border (due to the lack of horses, some cuirassiers were transported on boats on the Danube and March rivers). On 1 February, Tige proceeded in very cold weather to Mediasch where he defeated rebel troops. A French Colonel Latour was captured who carried some important documents proving Rákoczy's relations with France and Turkey. On 10 February, the rebels attacked Tige's camp near Kocsád but were driven back. In this action, Uhlefeld Cuirassiers lost 13 men dead and 18 wounded. Afterwards, Tige returned to Hermannstadt. On 23 June, Tige launched another attack on Deva and Vayad-Hunyad occupied by the rebels who were beaten. However, the rebels rallied once more and Tige found himself in a bad situation. Finally, at the beginning of October, the situation improved with Rabutin's arrival in the region of Hermannstadt. By the end of the year, Rabutin's Corps had cleared Transylvania from rebel troops. For the coming winter, 400 men from Uhlefeld Cuirassiers were stationed on the Moravian border while another 250 men remained with Tige in Transylvania.

In 1708, the regiment along with 3 other cuirassier regiments remained on the Austrian-Moravian border under the command of FML Viard. In March, Viard organized the delivery of necessary supplies to the Fortress of Leopoldov (present-day in Slovakia). The regiment participated in a skirmish against rebels near Ilava (present-day in Slovakia) and lost some men. In August, the regiment participated in the resupply of Trenscén (present-day Trenčín/SK). After the victory at Trenčín, the cordon deployed on the Moravian border became unnecessary. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Appony between Gran and Neutra. The detachment operating in Transylvania remained with Tige, Kriechbaum, Montecuccoli and Graven, fighting the rebels. In November, the regiment was at Hermannstadt when Colonel Monticelli was appointed commander and Baron von Dittrich, lieutenant-colonel.

In January 1709, when G.d.C. Johann Count Pálffy was ordered to occupy the mountain towns of Central Slovakia, the regiment was attached to his corps. Within six weeks, he had fulfilled his mission. In June, Pálffy's Corps blockaded Leutschau (present-day Levoča/SK) and Arva (present-day Orava/SK). Uhlefeld Cuirassiers defeated a detachment of a few hundreds rebels near Rimaszombat (present-day Rimavská Sobota/SK). During the summer, there was a sort of armistice. On 11 December, Készmark (present-day Kežmarok/SK) was occupied. The Imperial regiments then took their winter-quarters and Uhlefeld Cuirassiers was posted near Szecsény.

By 1710, Rákoczy's star was sinking, his army could be replenished only by mercenaries from Poland and Sweden. At the beginning of January, Major Bauernfeindt with 60 men of the regiment conducted a raid from Verébely to Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). The cuirassiers bumped into a detachment of rebels and drove it back to the fortress. Two officers and some men were taken prisoners. On 22 January, General Sickingen and Saint Croix with 1,000 men (from Savoyen Dragoons, Althann Dragoons, Uhlefeld Cuirassiers, Hohenzollern Cuirassiers, Latour Cuirassiers, 500 unidentified hussars) attacked the camp of Count Károlyi near Romhany. The battle was not finished when Imperial hussars started to plunder the camp of the rebel, an action that could spell disaster. The Imperial heavy cavalry saved the situation. In this action, the regiment lost Captain Count Clary dead. The remaining rebels concentrated near Vadkért. In August, Lower Austria was threatened by the rebels. Colonel Monticelli with the regiment and the Croatian regiment Secula was sent towards Totis while Bayreuth Dragoons marched from Oedenburg (present-day Sopron/HU) to join them. Monticelli bumped into a rebel force under Palocsay near Siofók and defeated it. Colonel Schilling with Bayreuth Dragoons annihilated a rebel detachment under General Balogh. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters at Neuhäusel.

At the beginning of 1711, the regiment was involved in a very dangerous action. Rabutin Dragoons and Montecuccoli Cuirassiers had been ordered to march from Transylvania to Hungary. FM Pálffy was informed that Károlyi was concentrating a rebel force of 15 regiments near Nagy-Kalló. To support the two regiments on the march from Transylvania, Pálffy decided to march with Uhlefeld Cuirassiers, Savoyen Dragoons, Althann Dragoons, two grenadier coys. and the Free-company of Kortiezi Hussars to meet the two arriving regiments near Debreczin. On 4 January, Pálffy's troops started from Nagy-Körös in a very cold weather. On 7 January, they reached Szoboszló without seeing the enemy. At night, the hussars were unsuccessfully attacked by the rebels. After taking some rest at Szoboszló, Pálffy's force finally reached Debreczin. On 12 January, the two regiment arriving from Transylvania effected their junction with Pálffy's force at Debreczin. In the second half of January, Pálffy went to Nagy-Kalló where he met with Count Kárloyi to negotiate an armistice. On 1 May, the remaining rebels surrendered at Nagy-Majtény. The regiment remained at Nagy-Kalló until August. It took its winter-quarters in the Comitats of Hont, Gomör and Neograd.

In April 1712, the regiment joined to the corps of Leopold Count Schlick. On 26 April, it was reviewed in Trenčín (12 coys totalling 963 men and 965 horses). It then marched from Trenčín to the Rhine but did not take part in any action.. In October, when Imperial troops took their winter-quarters, the regiment came to Ulm. Lieutenant-Colonel Dietrich was then transferred to Pfalz-Neuburg Cuirassiers and Major Bauernfeindt was appointed lieutenant-colonel.

In 1713, a detachment of 50 men of the regiment took part in the defence of the Fortress of Landau. At the end of December, the regiment received orders to return to Hungary. On 10 December, it left Rottweil and arrived through Bohemia and Moravia to Neutra (present-day Nitra/SK). During the following winter, the 50 men taken prisoners at Landau rejoined the regiment.

In 1714, the regiment was instructed to march to the Comitat of Hont but, after some argumentation, remained in Neutra.

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 in 1710

Collar none (short red standing collar from 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 cloth with linen lining
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
Saddle-cloth red, decorated with the embroidered arms or cipher of the regiment owner and bordered with a white braid
Housings red bordered with a white braid
Porte manteau red


Troopers were armed with a cuirasse of blackened wrought-iron (front plate only, although 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.

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

Anon.: Geschichte des k. u. k. Dragonerregiments Kaiser – Ferdinand Nr. 4, Wiener Neustadt 1902

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

Schmidt-Brentano, Dr.: Kaiserliche und k. k. Generale 1618 – 1815, Vienna 2004

Wrede A. v.: Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, file III. 1. part, Vienna 1898 - 1905

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article