Visconti Cuirassiers

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

Origin and History

The regiment (1,000 cuirassiers) was raised in 1632 by Ottavio Piccolomini d´Argona. It was the second cuirassier regiment raised by Piccolomini. The first had been created 1629 and was known as “Alt-Piccolomini”.

In 1633, during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the regiment served in Wallenstein's Army in Bohemia and Silesia. In 1643, it took part in the Battle of Nördlingen. In 1635 and 1636, the regiment campaigned under the command of FM Matthias Count Gallas in the Netherlands. In 1639, it fought at the relief of Thionville. In 1640, it served in Bohemia. In 1642, it took part in the Battle of Breitenfeld, suffering heavy losses. In 1643 and 1644 the regiment served in Hungary. In 1645, it fought at the Battle of Jankau in Bohemia.

From 1683 to 1688, during the Great Turkish War, the regiment was stationed in Hungary.

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment was sent to Italy where it took part in the raid in the raid in Piedmont, in the siege of Casale and in the Battle of Marsaglia.

In 1698, the regiment returned to Hungary.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons.

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

  • since 1632: Ottavio Duke Piccolomini d'Argona, FM
  • from 1643: Andreas Stahl, colonel(1)
  • from 1643: Joseph Count Piccolomini-Celano, colonel
  • from 1645: Raimund Count Montecuccoli FM
  • from 1680: Leo Philipp Duke Montecuccoli, colonel
  • from 1698: Hannibal Marchese Visconti, FM
  • from 1729: Joseph Duke Pignatelli-Belmonte, G.d.C.

(1) Colonel Stahl was appointed proprietor of the regiment according to a decree prohibiting any proprietor to simultaneously own two regiments. Piccolomini had forbidden his men to follow Colonel Stahl and complained to the court about this decision. The Hofkriegsrat accepted his complaint and Piccolomini gave the regiment to his nephew Piccolomini-Celano.

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

  • since 1693: Hannibal Marchese Visconti, lieutenant-colonel
  • from 1701: Andreas Count Montecuccoli , lieutenant-colonel
  • from 1706: Count Pallavicini, lieutenant-colonel
  • from 1715: Ludwig Andreas Count Khevenhüller, colonel

On 25 May 1734, the regiment was virtually annihilated during the sanguinary battle of Bitonto. On the following day, G.d.C Duke Pignatelli-Belmonte capitulated at Bari with the rest of his corps (3,600 men). The regiment was disbanded soon afterwards.

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment joined the army assembling in Tyrol and took part in the invasion of Northern Italy. On 9 July, the regimen took part in the Combat of Carpi. On 1 September, it was at the Battle of Chiari. During this campaign, Captain Ebén conducted several successful raids.

In 1702, the regiment took part in the campaign in Northern Italy. On 26 July, it suffered some losses when it was surprised in the Combat of Santa Vittoria. On 15 August, 4 squadrons were present at the Battle of Luzzara where they were deployed in the second line of the left wing.

In 1703, the regiment served in Lombardy. A detachment of the regiment personally led by the Marchese Visconti participated in the raid into Piedmont. In December, 3 squadrons of the regiment joined Starhemberg's Corps operating in Piedmont and remained there, in the camp of Chivasso, until 1705. The other squadrons of the regiment campaigned in Lombardy and later in Southern Tyrol.

On 16 August 1705, the regiment took part in the Battle of Cassano.

On 7 September, the entire regiment fought in the battle of Turin.

In 1707, the regiment remained in Piedmont.

In 1708, the regiment occupied the Papal States.

From 1709 to 1712, the regiment was stationed in Lombardy and did not take part in any 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 in 1710

Collar none (short red standing collar in 1710)
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 pewter buttons (brass buttons in 1710)
Cuffs red, each with 3 pewter buttons (brass buttons in 1710)
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat white made of linen cloth
Breeches red cloth with linen lining (buff leather in 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 decorated with black ovals (blue rhombuses in 1710)
Housings red bordered with a white braid decorated with black ovals (blue rhombuses in 1710)
Porte manteau red


Troopers were armed with a cuirasse blackened of 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.

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

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

Schreiber, G.: Des Kaisers Reiterei, Vienna, 1967

Wrede, A. v.: Die Geschichte der K. u. K. Wehrmacht, file III. Part 2, Vienna 1901

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the initial version of this article