Russian Lifeguards

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Russian Lifeguards

Origin and History

Until 1732, the regiment was a unit of dragoon known as the "Nevskiy Dragoon Regiment". In 1732, when baron Munnich reorganised the Russian cavalry, the regiment was converted into the "Leib Cuirassier Regiment".

The regiment counted 5 squadrons (10 companies for a total of about 800 men) and was stationed at Saint Petersburg. Each company consisted of 4 officers, 5 NCOs, 2 musicians and 69 troopers.

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

  • no information available yet

Service during the War

The regiment was not engaged in any European campaign during the war.

Uniform

Acknowledgements for this section: Daniel Milekhin

Russian cuirassiers had three distinct uniforms:

  • a parade uniform
  • a service uniform
  • a uniform while not on active duty

Our plate depict the service uniform.

The parade uniform was very similar but a leather jerkin (kollet) was worn instead of the coat and waistcoat. While not on active service, the heavy chamois coat made of thick leather was simply replaced by a more comfortable blue coat lined and edged in red with a red collar, red lapels and red cuffs.

Troopers

Service uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear black tricorne (reinforced with an iron skullcap for combat) laced gold, with a white cockade on the left side fastened with a white strap and a small copper button
Neckstock black
Coat chamois lined and edged in red; fastened with hooks and eyes
Collar chamois laced red
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs chamois laced red
Turnbacks chamois laced red
Gloves buff
Waistcoat sleeved red waistcoat fastened with hooks and eyes
Breeches buff with white knee covers
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt white
Cartridge Box black with a copper plate carrying the regimental arms
Scabbard black leather
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth black leather
Housings black leather
Blanket roll cornflower blue cape lined red with a red collar


In Russian regulatory documents, regulated description of the shape of the mustache dates back to 1755.

“Every cuirassier and dragoon should grow a mustache. When a private is in the ranks and on guard duty, a mustache should always be combed up, the mustache should be blackened… If you are still young and do not have a natural mustache, then you should get fake ones.”

Until the early 1760s, according to modern iconography and statutory documents, cuirassiers in the Russian army wore mustaches with long ends and without sideburns, according to the Prussian fashion that had existed since the 1730s.

Troopers were armed with a short carbine, two pistols and a sabre. Cuirassiers also wore a blackened iron breastplate decorated with a brass imperial cipher and bordered red. This breastplate was worn over the coat and waistcoat.

The horses of the troopers were mostly black or dark brown.

NCOs

Corporals, armourers, quartermasters and sergeants wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers with the following distinctions:

  • gold stripes above the red lace on collar, lapels and cuffs (1 stripe for corporals, 2 stripes for armourers and quartermasters, 3 stripes for sergeants)

Officers

Officers wore uniforms similar to those of the troopers but made of fabric instead of leather and with the following distinctions:

  • golden laced tricorne bordered with golden plumes
  • gold stripes on the red lace of the coat edges, collar, lapels and cuffs (thin 1/3” stripe for subaltern officers and large 3/4” stripe for superior officers)
  • red waistcoat edged with a chamois braid carrying a gold stripe (thin 1/3” stripe for subaltern officers and large 3/4” stripe for superior officers)
  • red breeches
  • black and gold silken sash worn over the breastplate
  • red saddlecloth and housings laced gold (thin 1/2” stripe for subaltern officers, one thin 1/2” stripe and one wide 1” stripe for superior officers) carrying the imperial cipher

Sometimes, for sulbaltern officers, the holster caps were edged with blue lace.

Musicians

Trumpeter around 1773 - Copyright Kronoskaf

Nowadays, Viskovatov's work is not considered as very reliable for the period of the Seven Years' War. Consequently we tried to identify other sources.

Cuirassier trumpeters had two uniforms - parade and service. Both were red. The ceremonial uniform was trimmed with gold braid with coloured stripes, and the service uniform was trimmed with woollen braid. The trim was along the edges of the uniform, on the shoulders and on the back.

It is difficult to say exactly what the arrangements of braids on the trumpeter's uniform looked like. Approximately, the arrangement of braids on the uniform of trumpeters of the cuirassier regiments was the same as in the accompanying picture. However, the look of the braids and their arrangement in the cuirassier regiments depended on the tastes of each colonel.

The braid came in two sizes - wide and narrow. The trumpeters also had a hat with gold braiding and gilded buttons on their uniform.

Letin and Leonov cites a description of the uniforms of the trumpeters and kettle-drummers of the Leib Cuirassiers, which mentions: red coat, waistcoat and breeches. The coat and waistcoat were richly laced with braids (gold, silver and silk for the parade uniform, or coloured braid for the service uniform). The colour of the braid was chosen by the colonel of the regiment.

The ceremonial uniform was worn until completely worn out, and it was tailored at the expense of the treasury. The trumpeters ordered their service uniform at their own expense.

The horse saddle-cloths of the trumpeters were made of black leather, like that of the rest of the cuirassiers of the regiment. An attempt was made to standardize red saddle-cloths, but nothing came of it.

The kettle-drum and the trumpets were made of silver. The banners of the kettle-drum and trumpets were green. The banner of the kettle-drum was embroidered and fringed in gold.

Colours

Cuirassiers still carried standards of the 1731 pattern, measuring 60 cm by 70 cm fringed in gold. The flagpole had a flat gilt finial.

Colonel Standard: white damask field

  • obverse: centre device: an Imperial Eagle bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St. George’s Order and surmounted by a red and gold crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
  • reverse: centre device: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field, surrounded by a wreath of palm branches and surmounted by a gold and red crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.

Ordonnance Standard: green damask field

  • obverse: centre device: an Imperial Eagle bearing the regimental arms on a breastplate encircled by the necklace of the St. George’s Order and surmounted by a red and gold crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
  • reverse: centre device: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field, surrounded by a wreath of palm branches and surmounted by a gold and red crown. In each corner: the crowned imperial cipher on a silver field within a gold wreath.
Colonel Standard - Source: rf-figuren from an original black and white plate by Viskovatov
Ordonnance Standard - Source: rf-figuren from an original black and white plate by Viskovatov

The first squadron carried the white colonel (Leib) standard while the 4 other squadrons each carried one ordonnance standard.

References

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen, Part 3: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902

  • chapter A: Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 1-46
  • appendix: supplement 1, Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 3-18

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband; Russian Army of the Seven Years War, vol. 2, Osprey Military, London, Reed International, 1996

Knötel, Richard, Mittheilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht, Rathenow, 1894

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by the KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Volker Ziegler, Brühl, Die Russische Kavallerie zur Zeit des Siebenjährigen Krieges (1756-1763

Zweguintzov, L'Armee Russe, 1973

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