Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons

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Origin and History

On 11 December 11, 1688, Gustav Hannibal Count Löwenschild (aka Löwenskjöld) obtained from Emperor Leopold I a decree authorising him to raise a dragoon regiment of 800 men (8 companies). Enlistment was supposed to take place within the “Reich” territory, but Löwenschild sent his recruiting officers to Silesia. The enlistment went slowly and, in May or June 1690, Löwenschild resigned from his function. Only a few days later , the emperor appointed Count Schlik (aka Schlick) as the new proprietor of the regiment. In 1690, the still incomplete regiment took part in the blockade of Kanisza.

In 1691, the regiment took part in the siege of Grosswardein. The regiment was then, along with Saint-Croix Cuirassiers and Truchsess Cuirassiers, allocated to the corps of GFWM Veit Heinrich Truchsess von Wetzhausen. It took up its winter-quarters in Upper and Lower Hungary.

In 1697, 10 companies of the regiment fought in the victorious Battle of Zenta, where they formed part of the corps of FZM Guido Count Starhemberg. In October, the regiment was part of the troops (4,000 horse, 2,500 fusiliers and grenadiers, some mineurs, with 12 guns and 2 mortars, the horse militia of Colonel Kyba and the Broder Grenzmiliz), which had been selected to accompany Prince Eugène de Savoie in his expedition in Bosnia.

In September 1698, the regiment participated in the – unsuccessful – siege of Temesvar and was then sent to Arad with 11 other cavalry regiments, to secure the refurbishment of this fortress.

At the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was cantoned at Eisenbirn on March 11, 1703 when it was attacked by the Bavarians who forced them to retire to Passau. The same year, the regiment was sent to Hungary to fight the insurgents. It took part in the combat of Lewenz under the command of its Inhaber, Count Leopold Schlik. In 1704, the regiment campaigned again in Hungary where it took part in the combats of Stuhlweissenburg, Raab and at Tyrnau. In 1705, it fought again at Budmeritz and Schibo. In 1708, it took part in the Battle of Trentschin; in 1710, in the Battle of Romhany. For the campaign of 1713, the regiment joined the Austrian army on the Rhine.

In 1716, the regiment took part in the campaign against the Turks and was at the battle of Peterwardein and at the siege of Temesvar. In 1717, it took part in the siege of Belgrade and in the battle in front of this city, suffering some losses.

In 1732, when King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia visited Emperor Carl VI at Kladrub in Bohemia, the grenadier company of the regiment formed the guard of honour.

During the War of the Polish Succession (1733-35), the regiment initially served in Italy in 1734 and 1735. At the battle of Parma, on June 29, 1734, its grenadier company was part of the converged unit which led the first charge. The commander of the regiment, Colonel Nikolaus Count Palffy, was killed during the battle. On July 23 of the same year, the regiment, now counting 1,055 men and 955 horses, was at the camp of Guingentole in Upper Italy, in the corps of Field Marshal Count Lothar Königsegg. By May 1735, the regiment had been reduced to 480 men, mostly by illness. In June, the regiment was part of Count Khevenhüller's observation corps on the Po River. It had to escort a supply convoy to Villimpenta and Castellaro then, on June 15, it joined the main army at Castiglione. The regiment along with 14 other cavalry regiments then covered the retreat of the army towards Rivoli. On June 19, it reached Villa-Franca.

In 1737, the regiment made the campaign against the Turks. At the beginning of September, it was part of Count Wallis' corps near Watowil. In 1738, the regiment took part in the encounter of Kornia. In 1739, it fought at the battle of Krotzka and then took its winter quarters in Transylvania. In 1740, it was assigned to the “Residenz” in Vienna.

During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment took part in the battle of Mollwitz on April 10, 1741. There, it was deployed on the left flank of Römer's wing. It suffered the following losses: Lieutenants Friedrich von Langenau and Anton von Mirka, Ensign Rudolf Evelin and 18 troopers killed; Captains Joseph Klein and Friedrich Wiese, Lieutenants Franz Stallenberg, Gundaker von Wolf, von Mirka, Ensign Friedrich von Wirbitz and 35 men wounded. On May 17, 1742 at Czaslau, the regiment fought in Major-general Locatelli's brigade. It later took part in the siege of Prague. For the campaign of 1743, the regiment was part of Major-General Serbelloni's Brigade in the the main army of Prince Carl von Lothringen operating in Bavaria. At the beginning of 1744, the regiment was still with the army of Prince Carl on the Rhine but, in October, it was transferred to Major-General Defin's Brigade in Bohemia. During the campaign of 1745, the regiment was in Major-General Bentheim's Brigade as part of Baron Berlichingen's detachment operating in Silesia. At the battle of Hohenfriedberg, on June 4, the regiment suffered heavy casualties at the hands of Prussian hussars while protecting the retreat of the Austrian army. On September 30, at the battle of Soor, the regiment was part of the Kalckreuter brigade in the first line of Field Marshal the Duke of Arenberg's detachment. Once more, the regiment had to cover the retreat of the defeated Austrian army. During the campaign of 1746, the regiment, now counting only 838 men, served in the Netherlands in the army of Prince Carl von Lothringen. On October 11, it took part in the battle of Rocoux as part of Count Radicati's Brigade. On July 2, 1747, it fought in the battle of Lauffeld in Count Bentheim's Brigade.

On the eve of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 6 squadrons and a company of horse grenadiers. For battles, the latter was usually converged with other similar companies to form an elite unit.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment inhaber was:

  • from 1748 to 1790: Erzherzog Joseph (King in 1764 and Emperor in 1765)

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from 1754: Friedrich von Wiese (promoted to general on April 30, 1758)
  • from mid-1758: Jakob Count Fuchs (promoted to general in September 1761)
  • from 1761 to 1771: Carl Count Richecourt

In 1765, the regiment was transformed into a chevauxlegers regiment. In 1796, it received the number 1.

In 1798, the regiment was re-transformed into a dragoon regiment (light) but kept the No. 1.

In 1802, the regiment was once more transformed into a chevauxlegers unit.

In 1851, the regiment was transformed into a uhlan regiment and was ranked No. 6.

Service during the War

1756

In June 1756, at the beginning of the war, the regiment was stationed in Bohemia and counted 815 men and 789 horses. On October 1, at the Battle of Lobositz, it was with the cavalry of the right wing under the command of Lieutenant-General Radicati in Count O'Donell's Brigade. However, these cavalry units were deployed in the centre of the Austrian positions. Along with the Cordova Cuirassiers regiment, it fought the Prussian cavalry and was in a bad situation when it was relieved by the Anspach Cuirassiers and Bretlach Cuirassiers from the Austrian left wing who forced the Prussian cavalry back to its lines. Meanwhile, the horse grenadiers of the regiment were assigned to the detachment under Count Lacy deployed near Leitmeritz and along the Elbe up to Schreckstein. Colonel Friedrich Wiese of the regiment along with Lieutenant-Colonel Count Fuchs (he was with the horse grenadiers) and Major Michael Count Althann distinguished themselves during this battle. In this affair, the regiment lost 6 dragoons killed; and all 3 staff officers and 54 dragoons (29 of them died later in a hospital) wounded. All 3 staff officers spent a few weeks in hospital, leaving the regiment without staff officer.

1757

On May 6, 1757, the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where it was deployed with Erzherzog Leopold Cuirassiers in the Marquis de Ville's Brigade, in the first line of the right wing under G.d.C. Count Lucchesi. Prior to the battle, some of the most reliable dragoons were sent to Prague for some provision and forage. Therefore, the regiment could field only 4 squadrons (each if three weak companies) during the battle, which was the baptism of fire for most of its recruits.

At a very propitious moment, as the Prussian cavalry was crossing over 1,500 pace long narrow dam behind Sterbohol, Colonel Wiese asked G.d.C Lucchesi to let him launch an attack, but Lucchesi refused. The advantage was lost, the Prussians were able to form a line of battle. At that moment, Colonel Wiese lost patience and – without support of Erzherzog Leopold Cuirassiers – attacked. The attack ended in a disaster. Most of the recruits turned their horses and fled, only Grenadier Captain Gundakar von Wolf with 3 squadrons and his grenadier company (in total approx. 500 men) managed to escape towards Beneschau (present-day Benešov/CZ).

When the Prussian Reserve dispersed the entire Austrian cavalry, Prince Charles de Lorraine tried to rally some Austrian cavalry units but the Stechow Dragoons along with the Wartenberg Hussars under Lieutenant-Colonel Warnery attacked and broke these units, capturing a standard of the Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons. Colonel Wiese, Major Althann, 26 officers and 215 dragoons took refuge behind the walls of Prague, with the dragoons who had previously been sent there. In this battle, the regiment lost 74 men and 69 horses.

The regiment did not take part in the following Battle of Kolin. Captain Wolf and approx. 500 dragoons of the regiment were sent with some other troops led by Major-General Baron Bretlach to Iglau (present-day Jihlava/CZ). On 11 July, Colonel Wiese assembled the entire regiment and marched with the army of Charles de Lorraine to Upper Lusatia and Silesia.

On November 22 at the battle of Breslau, the regiment was deployed once more with the Erzherzog Leopold Cuirassiers in de Ville's Brigade in the first line of the right wing under Count Lucchesi. The regiment launched a successful attack near Klein-Kantau, taking 7 officers and 100 men from a Prussian infantry regiment prisoner and capturing 2 colours. Towards the end of the battle, the regiment was threatened by a Prussian counter-attack near Mochbern. It fought courageously and was soon relieved by Carl Lothringen Infantry and Lucchesi Cuirassiers who forced the Prussians to retire towards the suburbs of Saint-Nicholas. In this battle, the regiment lost 3 men killed; while Lieutenant-Colonel Count Fuchs and 6 men were wounded.

At Leuthen, on December 5, the regiment was deployed in Spada's brigade in the first line of the cavalry right wing under G.d.C. Lucchesi. It acted as rearguard making repeated attacks to cover the retreat of the Austrian infantry and escorting some guns. In this battle, the regiment lost 1 dragoon and 8 horses killed; Colonel Wiese seriously wounded; 12 dragoons wounded; and 55 dragoons missing.

On December 26, 1757, Major Michael Karl Count Althann died.

1758

On January 19, 1758, Gundaker von Wolf was promoted to major. On 30 April, Friedrich von Wiese was promoted to general, but continued to lead the regiment during the campaign of 1758. On May 1, only two months after his previous promotion, Major von Wolf was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.

During the campaign of 1758, the regiment was in the main army of Field Marshal Daun. Its grenadiers were attached to Siskovics’ Corps. On June 30, the grenadiers of the regiment took part in the Combat on Domstadl. Daun then followed the Prussian army retiring through Bohemia after the failure of the Prussian invasion of Moravia.

On July 12, the regiment was at the combat of Holitz (present-day Holice/CZ) near Königgrätz. Along with the Württemberg Dragoons and Benedikt Daun Dragoons, the regiment withstood the charge of the Bredow Cuirassiers and Möhring Hussars. A decisive attack of the Jung-Löwenstein Dragoons and Zweibrücken Dragoons gave the victory to the Austrians.

By August 2, the regiment served in the first line of the main Austrian army under the command of Daun near Jaromirs (present-day Jaroměř/CZ).

On September 6, Lieutenanl-Colonel Pálasty with a detachment of the Esterházy Hussars and part of the present regiment engaged a superior Prussian force led by Colonel Möhring near Spremberg. In this engagement, the regiment lost 2 officers, who were taken prisoners.

On October 14, the regiment took part in the Battle of Hochkirch where it was deployed in Major-General Wiese's column to the southeast of Kuppritz. The regiment, along with Herzog Württemberg Dragoons, occupied a defile behind the village of Plötzen and covered the village during the first attack. The grenadiers were attached to the converged grenadier/carabinier corps led by Major-General d’Ayasassa. After the battle, Daun advanced with his main army on Dresden, which was occupied by the Prussians. The siege failed, and the troops took up their winter quarters, the present regiment being once more quartered in southern Bohemia.

During the year, all cavalry regiments received an additional “Reserve-Company.” The reserve company of the present regiment garrisoned Krems in Austria.

1759

In April 1759, after the enlistment of new recruits, the regiment joined the main army at the camp of between Schurz (present-day Žírec/CZ) and Jaromir (present-day Jaroměř/CZ), where it remained until June 28.

By mid August, the regiment was part of Buccow’s Corps posted in Lusatia. On September 2, it took part in the Combat of Sorau, where it was deployed in the first line, on the extreme right wing, in the brigade of Major-General La Reintrie. Its horse grenadiers were once more converged in the horse grenadier corps of Major-General d’Ayasassa.

The regiment was then sent to southern Bohemia. In December, it was reviewed in Winterberg (present-day Sušice/CZ) and Schütthofen (present-day Vimperk/CZ). It then consisted of 990 men with 927 horses. After the concentration of Prussian troops in Upper Lusatia, the entire regiment, along with Althann Dragoons, was immediately sent to Trautenau (present-day Trutnov/CZ).

1760

In April 1760, the regiment was allocated to the corps of FZM Gideon von Loudon.

On June 19, in a combat against General Malachowsky on the heights of Schwarzwaldau (present-day Czarny Bór/PL), a squadron of the regiment along with a squadron of the Althann Dragoons and 80 hussars captured 7 officers and 150 men.

On June 23, the regiment took part in the Battle of Landeshut where it lost 2 men killed and 8 wounded.

On July 8, the regiment (now only 4 incomplete squadrons), along with Simbschen Infantry, was detached from Loudon’s Corps to Liegnitz (present-day Legnica/PL). On July 13, the regiment received orders to march to Parchwitz (present-day Prochowice/PL). It was a very dangerous position, near the Prussian army of Prince Heinrich. FZM Loudon knew of the perilous situation of the regiment and gave to FML Nauendorf the order to march towards Neumarkt (present-day Sroda Slaska/PL) to rescue the detachment of Count Caramelli and the present regiment. However Nauendorf would arrive too late… When Prince Heinrich occupied Neumarkt, the regiment retired from Parchwitz to Kanth (present-day Katy Wroclawskie/PL).

On August 5, the Prussian corps of Major-General Paul Werner (1 infantry battalion, 1 dragoon regiment and 15 hussar squadrons, for a total of approx. 2,500 men) clashed with the entire regiment near Kanth. The 400 men of the Erzherzopg Joseph Dragoons had no chance and, after a heroic resistance in front of a superior enemy, were nearly annihilated. It was the most tragic event in the history of this regiment. Beside some officers and dragoons who managed to escape on their nimble horses, only the horse grenadier company, which was with Loudon’s main army, remained from the regiment.

After this disaster, the remaining officers and dragoons went to Vienna, and later to Stockerau, where the started the reorganization of the regiment.

In September, Colonel Fuchs was promoted to general, and Lieutenant-Colonel von Wolf was transferred to Althann Dragoons and replaced by Major Gronauer, who was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. Count Richecourt from the Saint-Ignon Dragoons was appointed as the new colonel and commander of the regiment. New recruits were raised in Tyrol (Richecourt asked for allowance to raise recruits from Moravia, but without success).

In November, the Hofkriegsrat (war council) gave orders to transfer men from all cavalry regiments and sent them to Vienna to rebuild the present regiment.

1761

In January 1761, officers were also transferred from other regiments to the re-established regiment.

By the end of March, the regiment was again complete. On April 1, it was reviewed by Archduke Joseph himself.

The regiment then marched to Glatz in Silesia. On August 15, it took part in a combat near Wahlstatt (present-day Legnickie Pole/PL). After this combat, Loudon’s cavalry made a junction with Buturlin’s Russian army near Kunzendorf.

On August 26, Loudon’s cavalry retired to his camp of between Striegau and Schweidnitz.

On October 1, the regiment did not take part in the storming of Schweidnitz.

1762

On August 16, 1762, the regiment (now 700 men) distinguished itself in the Battle of Reichenbach, where it was deployed on the left wing of O’Donell’s cavalry. It was attacked by superior Prussian forces (Colonel Owstin with 700 horse of the vanguard, 2 dragoon regiments and 3 hussar squadrons of General Lentulus). The Erzherzog Joseph Dragoons resisted for nearly 2 hours, and then retired in good order. Depending on the sources, the losses of the regiment vary widely from Tempelhoff, who mentions that the regiment was nearly annihilated, to regimental sources, which mention only 6 officers and 117 dragoons taken prisoners.

Reichenbach was the last combat of the Seven Years’ War in which the regiment took part.

1763

At the beginning of 1763, the regiment was the last Imperial regiment to leave Silesia after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg. It marched to Chrudim in Bohemia and later on to Hungary, the reserve company remained in Vienna.

By April, the regiment was in Oedenburg (present-day Soporon/HU), where it was reduced to 830 men.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1762 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Jocelyne Chevanelle
Uniform Details
as per the Albertina Handschrift of 1762

completed with other sources where necessary
Headgear
Trooper black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small yellow button
Grenadier bearskin
Neckstock black
Coat green with 3 yellow buttons under the lapel on the right side
Collar none
Shoulder strap both shoulders: red fastened with a yellow button
right shoulder: red aiguillette
Lapels red with 7 yellow buttons
Pockets horizontal pockets each with 3 yellow buttons
Cuffs red with 3 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat green with two rows of yellow buttons and horizontal pockets (each with 3 yellow buttons)
Breeches buff
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather
Scabbard brown leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth green laced with a wide red braid decorated with two thin white braids (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Housings green laced with a wide red braid decorated with two thin white braids (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)
Blanket roll green and white (according to the illustration of the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762)


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.

Other interpretations

The Bautzener Bilderhandschrift shows a laced tricorne.

Officers

The officers (according to the Bautzener Bilderhandschrift of 1762) wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • tricorne laced gold with a green and white cockade
  • red collar
  • gold aiguillette on the right shoulder
  • blue saddlecloth and sabretache both laced and fringed in gold

Musicians

Drummers of this regiments of dragoons wore a uniform with inverted colours (red coat with green facings).

The drum barrel was made of brass. The top rim was red.

Standards

Leib Standard: no information available

Regimental Standard: swallow tailed red field pennant

References

This article incorporates texts from the following book which is now in the public domain:

  • Pizzighelli, C.: Geschichte des k. u. k. Ulanen-Regiments Kaiser Joseph II. No. 6, Vienna 1908
  • Thürheim, Andreas; Die Reiter-Regiment der k. k. österreichischen Armee, vol. 3 - Die Uhlanen, F.B. Geitler, Wien: 1866, pp. 116-144

Other sources

Brauer, H.M., Uniformbogen and Fahnentafeln, plate 95

Donath, Rudolf, Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979, Teil III Blatt 2

Funcken, Liliane and Fred , Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Hiller, Berlin, 1830-1913

Kornauth, Friedrich, Das Heer Maria Theresias: Faksimile-Ausgabe der Albertina-Handschrift, "Dessins des Uniformes des Troupes I.I. et R.R. de l'année 1762", Wien: 1973

Raspe, Accurate Vorstellung der sämtlichen KAYSERLICH KOENIGLICHEN ARMEEN zur eigentlichen Kentnis der UNIFORM von jedem Regimente. Nebst beygefügter Geschichte, worinne von der Stiftung, denen Chefs, der Staercke, und den wichtigsten Thaten jedes Regiments Nachricht gegeben wird., Nürnberg: 1762

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Thadden, Franz-Lorenz v., Die theresianische Kavallerie - II. Teil, Die Zinnfigur, Klio, 1968

Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993

Zahn, Michael, Oesterreichische Kürassier und Dragoner Standarten in Siebenjährigen Krieges, Zusammenstellung, 1988

Acknowledgement

Harald Skala for the translation and integration of Pizzighelli’s work