Plettenberg Dragoons

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Origin and History

On April 19, 1717, King Friedrich Wilhelm I commissioned Major-General Heinrich Johann von Wuthenau to form a new dragoon regiment, the Dragoner Regiment Nr. 6 made up of 780 Saxon cavalrymen and dragoons from various Saxon regiments, which King August II of Poland had ceded to the King of Prussia in exchange for valuable Chinese porcelain vases. Due to these circumstances, the regiment was derisively called the “Porzellan Dragoons”. The regiment was initially organised in eight companies and originally had white coats with light blue trim. In August 1718, the regiment was increased to 10 companies.

On June 15, 1727, after the death of Major-General von Wuthenau, the regiment was subdivided into two regiments, of five squadrons each: the first regiment was the Dragoner Regiment Nr. 6 von Cosel; while the second regiment, became the new Dragoner Regiment Nr. 7 (the present regiment) and was assigned to Martin Arend von Dockum. The uniform of the new regiment consisted of a white coat with red trim.

The regiment garrisoned Tilsit which would remain its garrison place throughout its existence. It recruited in the districts of Tilsit, Memel and Insterburg.

In 1740, on the eve of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was increased to 10 squadrons. In 1742, it took part in the Battle of Chotusitz where it lost more than 500 men killed or wounded. In 1745, it took part in an engagement near Meissen in which its Chef Friedrich Alexander von Roel was killed and the regiment lost one colour and its kettle-drums. Later, it took part in the Battle of Kesselsdorf. In this battle the regiment particularly distinguished itself and knocked down everything that stood in its way. It captured a flag and a standard.

In 1744, the regiment contributed 5 squadrons for the creation of Dragoner Regiment Nr. 8. Thus, it was itself reduced to 5 squadrons.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment counted 5 squadrons.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from August 3, 1756: Christoph Friedrich Stephan von Plettenberg
  • from June 1761 to September 10, 1763: vacant
  • from October 9, 1763: Levin Friedrich Gideon von Apenburg

In 1763, at the end of the Seven Years' War, the regiment consisted of 688 Prussians, 17 Saxons, 162 "foreigners".

The numbering system (Stammliste) was first used by Leopold I., Fürst von Anhalt-Dessau (Der alte Dessauer) in the Dessauer Spezifikation from 1737. Around 1780 the numbers were used in the printed Stammlisten. It became official by "Cabinets-Ordre" from October 1, 1806. The present dragoon regiment was attributed number 7.

Service during the War

1757

In 1757, the regiment was part of Lehwaldt's Army assigned to the defence of East Prussia against a Russian invasion. On August 30, at the Battle of Gross-Jägersdorf, it was deployed in the first line of the cavalry left wing under Lieutenant-General Schorlemmer. Led by the Duke of Holstein, it routed three cavalry regiments and pursued them behind their infantry. Major Korff with two squadrons captured a 10-gun battery and annihilated an infantry battalion. The remaining three squadrons along with the Alt-Platen Dragoons attacked the Vologodskiy Infantry and Suzdalskiy Infantry and inflicted heavy losses on them. During this battle, the regiment lost 136 men.

In September, the regiment, along with the Malachowski Hussars, attacked a Swedish foraging party near Seßlacken.

In October, the regiment occupied Tilsit, which had been evacuated by the Russians.

On December 1, the regiment was at Stettin. On December 31, it took part in the capture of Demmin. Then it took winter-quarters in Swedish-Pomerania.

1758

In the spring of 1758, the regiment, which had been assigned to the corps of Lieutenant-General Dohna, marched from its camp near Stralsund by way of Schwedt to a new camp near Lebus.

On August 2. 1758, during the Russian invasion of Brandenburg, Manteuffel reinforced the Prussian detachment at Reppen with this regiment along with Schorlemmer Dragoons (5 sqns).

In August, three squadrons of the regiment made a foray with the Malachowski Hussars to Drossen- Zielenzig. The regiment then reunited with the Dohna’s Corps near Reitwein an der Oder.

On August 21, the regiment joined King Frederick II at Cüstrin. On August 25, the regiment fought in the Battle of Zorndorf where it formed part of the reserve behind the left wing. It belonged to the brigade of dragoons who, around 11:50 a.m., delivered a deadly counter attack and threw Gaugreben’s Brigade back into the ranks of the Russian infantry causing disorder and confusion. Frederick then sent the regiment to reinforce his right wing but changed his mind and recalled it to the left to support the attack of the Prussian cavalry. During this battle, the regiment captured 5 guns and lost 63 men.

On September 15 in the evening, Dohna received orders from Frederick instructing him to send the regiment to Berlin where it would join Wedel who was advancing against the Swedes. On September 16, the regiment departed for Berlin. On September 26, it attacked a Swedish foraging party in the Combat of Tarmow where it charged Västmanlands Infantry six times but did not succeed to break them, loosing two officers and 120 men in this action. The Swedish regiment retreated in good order. On September 28, the regiment took part in the unsuccessful assault on Fehrbellin.

1759

On January 1, 1759, the regiment took part in the storming of the entrenchments of Dammgarten. On January 24, it was at the capture of Anklam.

In August, the regiment was assigned to corps of Major-General von Wunsch in Saxony.

On September 8, the regiment took part in the Combat of Zinna where 2 squadrons were deployed on the right wing and 3 others on the left wing. Major Pogrell at the head of 3 sqns of the regiment charged the first Austro-Imperial line and broke it, capturing 8 guns. In this combat, the regiment lost 2 officers, 4 NCOs, 82 private and 160 horses.

On September 21, the regiment took part in the Combat of Korbitz where it was deployed in the second line of the right wing under Lieutenant-General Finck. In this affair, the regiment annihilated the Imperial Serbelloni Cuirassiers but lost 3 officers and 30 men killed, and 5 officers (including Pogrell) and 100 men wounded.

The regiment took its winter-quarters around Dresden.

1760

In mid-May 1760, the regiment was transferred from Frederick's Army to Western Pomerania. In the Autumn, two light squadrons were established with the Polish remounts recently received. These were in addition to the five regular squadrons of the regiment.

The regiment was assigned to the corps of Major-General Jung-Stutterheim. In August, Jung-Stutterheim retreated by way of Prenzlow to Zehdenik and encamped there on September 9. Later on, detachments of the regiment took part in the combats of Röppersdorf (September 17) and Schmiedeberg (September 22).

In October, the regiment assigned to the corps of Lieutenant-General Prince Eugen von Württemberg, and took part in the unsuccessful relief of Berlin. It then retreated by way of Brandenburg to Dessau where the corps of the Prince von Württemberg made a junction with the main army of King Frederik II.

On November 3, during the Battle of Torgau, the regiment guarded the army's baggage near Eilenburg. It then marched to Pomerania and, on November 21, was assigned to Major-General Werner’s Corps at Stargard. The winter-quarters were in the Duchy of Mecklenburg.

1761

In February 1761, the regiment was deployed on the left wing of Werner’s Corps near Cörlin.

In June, the regiment took part in the Combat of Belgard.

On August 19, the regiment was at the Combat of Cörlin.

In mid-September, during the Siege of Colberg, the regiment was attached to Werner’s small detachment, which raided the Russian magazines.

On October 21, Platen sent the regiment to the assistance of the small force of Lieutenant-General Courbière involved in the Engagement of Zarnglaff against the Russians. However, reinforcements arrived too late to prevent Courbière’s surrender. On October 22, the regiment took part in the Combat of Gollnow.

In mid-December, the regiment formed part of the force under the Prince of Württemberg who vainly tried to relieve Colberg. On December 12, it fought in the Combat of Spie. At the end of December, after a very tough campaign, the various Prussian corps operating in Eastern Pomerania took up their winter quarters. The regiment, belonging to the corps of Prince Eugen von Württemberg, took up its winter-quarters in Mecklenburg.

1762

In January 1762, the regiment took part in the blockade and capture of Malchin.

On May 12, 1762, the regiment took part in the Combat of Doebeln where it was attached to the right column under Seydlitz.

At the end of July 1762, the regiment formed part of Seydlitz’s Corps, which launched a raid into Bohemia. On July 29, during the combat of Klingenberg (near Dippodiswalde in Saxony), three squadrons of the regiment attacked the entrenchments and took 500 men prisoners. On August 2, the regiment fought in the Combat of Teplitz.

On October 29, the regiment participated in the Battle of Freiberg where it formed part of the vanguard. The regiment defeated the Bayreuth Cuirassiers and Salm Infantry, taking 700 prisoners and capturing eight guns. Two squadrons defeated Nikolaus Esterházy Infantry Gyulay Infantry and captured 17 officers and 700 men. In this battle, the regiment lost one officer, 66 men and 72 horses.

1763

In 1763, after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the regiment marched to Tilsit, where it arrived on April 17.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1757
Headgear black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade fastened with a small yellow button and red pompoms

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron cap

Neck stock black
Coat cobalt blue with red lining and with 8 yellow buttons on the chest and 3 yellow buttons on each side to fasten the skirts forming the turnbacks
Collar red
Shoulder strap left shoulder: blue fastened with a yellow button
right shoulder: yellow with a yellow aiguillette
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets each with 2 yellow buttons
Cuffs red (Swedish style) with 2 yellow buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat straw yellow with one row of small yellow buttons and horizontal pockets, each with yellow buttons
Breeches buff
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black leather
Scabbard brown leather
Bayonet scabbard brown leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth pink with pointed corners; bordered with a wide orange and white braid
Housings pink pointed housings; bordered with a wide orange and white braid
Blanket roll cobalt blue


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

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers with the following exceptions:

  • black within white pompoms in the lateral "cornes" of the tricorne
  • cuffs edged with a golden braid

Officers

Plettenberg Dragoons Officer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

The officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • black tricorne (no lace) with a black cockade (attached with a golden fastener) and black and silver pompons
  • golden embroidery loops on the coat
    • 6 on each side on the breast
    • 2 on each side below the waist
    • 1 on each side in the small of the back
    • 1 to the left and right of each side waist button
    • 2 on each pocket flap
    • 2 on each cuff


Musicians

Plettenberg Dragoons Drummer Uniform - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres
Plettenberg Dragoons Drummer Lace - Source: Kling, C., Geschichte der Bekleidung, Bewaffnung und Ausrüstung des Königlich Preussischen Heeres

Drummers of the regiments of dragoons probably wore the same uniform as the troopers but decorated on the edges and seams with a red lace decorated with a yellow central band.

Colours

Standards were made of damask. They were swallow-tailed and measured some 50 cm along the pole, 65 cm from the pole to the extremity of a point and 50 cm from the pole to the centre of the indentation. The cords and knots were of silver threads. Exceptionally, the pole of the standard was a blue tournament lance (sources disagree about the exact shade, it being either pale blue or cornflower blue) reinforced with iron hinges. The golden spearhead wore the crowned monogram of Frédéric Wilhelm (FWR).

Originally this regiment used standards dating from Frederick Wilhelm I: a Leibstandarte and four Regimentsstandarte of the "FWR pattern". In 1740, when it was increased to 10 squadrons, the new squadrons required flags. These were issued in 1742/43 and were all of the "FR pattern", so the regiment carried equal numbers of "FWR pattern" and "FR pattern" flags.

When the regiment was split to form the new Dragoon Regiment No. 8 in 1744, the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th squadrons remained with the present regiment while the 2nd, 4th, th, 8th and 10th squadrons formed the new Dragoon Regiment No. 8. The 2nd squadron became the Leib or 1st squadron of the new regiment and was issued a new Leibstandarte in 1744 or 1745. Thus both regiments had a mixed set of flags, the present regiment having three of the "FWR" pattern flags (for the Leib, 2nd and 3rd squadrons) and two "FR" patterns (for the 4th and 5th squadrons). The regiment lost a couple of flags during the wars. All were Regimentsstandarten, but which squadrons lost flags (an unlucky squadron may have lost two flags) is not specified in our sources. However the present regiment still had "mixed sets" in 1806, which suggests that it retained at least one "FWR" pattern flag, as well as his "FWR" pattern Leibstandarte.

Colonel FWR Standard (Leibstandarte): white field with red waved corners, fringed gold with a black central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a golden eagle flying towards a golden sun surmounted by a white scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers). Squadron FWR Standard (Eskadronstandarte): black field with red waved corners; fringed gold with a silver central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with a black eagle flying towards a golden sun surmounted by a black scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Non Soli Cedit". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FWR” ciphers).
Leibstandarte – Source: Dal Gavan
Eskadronsstandarte – Source: Dal Gavan
Squadron FR Standard (Eskadronstandarte): black field with waved red corners, fringed gold with a silver central medallion surrounded by a golden laurel wreath and decorated with an armed black eagle surmounted by a black scroll laced gold bearing the golden motto "Pro Gloria et Patria". Decoration in gold in each corner (crowns, laurel wreaths and “FR” ciphers).
 
Squadron Standard – Source: Dallas Gavan
Squadron FR Standard (Eskadronstandarte): some of the squadron standards may have had the “FR” ciphers on the eagle breast, otherwise, they were similar to other squadron standards.
 
Squadron Standard – Source: Dallas Gavan

References

Dorn and Engelmann: Die Kavallerie-Regimenter Friedrich des Großen, Friedberg, 1984

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

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763

  • Vol. 1 Pirna und LobositzBerlin, 1901, appendix 1
  • Vol. 12 Landeshut und Liegnitz, Berlin, 1913, p. 14

Hohrath, Daniel: The Uniforms of the Prussian Army under Frederick the Great from 1740 to 1786; Vol. 2; Verlag Militaria, Vienna: 2011, pp. 588-591

Osterroth: Geschichte des Dragoner Regiments Prinz Albrecht von Preussen, 1930

Stammliste aller Regimenter und Corps der Königl.-Preussischen Armee, Berlin 1796

Vial J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.

Acknowledgements

Harald Skala for the integration of additional sources in the initial version of this article.