Saxon Garde du Corps
Origin and History
The history and origin of this unit are closely linked with the pride and glamour of the ancient lineage of the Saxon royal house. Claiming the origin of this regiment as far back as to the ages of the crusaders – more ancient then the annals of the French Maison du Roi – was the intention, and done deliberately, however true, or not.
According to some, but unconfirmed accounts, the forming of this Garde could be traced back into very distant ages, erstwhile forming as Kreuzritter (crusaders). In 1620 the unit formed a Hoffahne (Court-Banner). In 1631, it was designated as the Leibkompagnie Einspänniger. In 1635, the unit was reorganised in a 1st and a 2nd Leibkompagnie. In 1644, it was renamed Leibeskadron Einspänniger. In 1648, the unit once more adopted the title of Leibkompagnie Einspänniger. Thereafter in 1671, it consisted of one Kompagnie Einspänniger, 1 Kompagnie Kroaten (Croats), and 1 Kompagnie Dragoner being now entitled Deutsche Leibgarde zu Roß. In 1681, the unit became known as the Leibtrabantengarde zu Pferde. In 1686, its name changed again to Gardetrabanten zu Roß. In 1692, it became the Gardedukorps; in 1693, the Leibgardetrabanten zu Roß; in 1699, the Leibgarde zu Pferde; in 1701, the Trabantengarde zu Roß.
In October 1701, the unit was reorganized as Gardedukorps, incorporating the former Grandmusketärs(*), Karabiniers and Grenadiers zu Pferde. In 1704, the unit was renamed Garde zu Pferde; in 1705, the Gardedukorps; in 1707, the Garde zu Pferde; and finally, from 1710, retained the name of Gardedukorps.
- (*)Grandmusketärs counted 165 men and had been raised in February 1699 by general count Löwenhaupt. Not to be confused with the Grandmusketärs in the camp of Zeithayn, also counting 165 men in 2 coys, raised in July 1730 by the crown sword-bearer Fürst Lubomirski. They had been send back to Poland and financed by it's treasure until their reduction.
During the 17th century, the Gardedukorps took part in all campaigns of the Saxon army. In 1683, it was present at the relief of Vienna, along with Elector Johann George III. and IV. at the Rhine. Under Augustus II., it fought in Hungary and Poland.
Durin the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1704, the Gardedukorps formed in 4 corps: 1st Trabanten, 2nd Karabiniers, 3rd Grenadiers zu Pferde, and 4th Dragoner under the command of General Count Flemming and the generals v. Jordan, v. Reichenau, and count Tiefenhausen, commanding en second. Each corps comprised 3 brigades whose commanders were either generals or Polish grandees. However, a few years later, this organisation was changed in favour of squadrons and companies.
During the War of the Polish Succession, in 1733, the Gardedukorps took part in the campaign in Pomerania. From 1733 to 1735, it campaigned in Poland.
During the War of the Austrian Sucession, in 1741, 1742, 1744 and 1745, the Gardedukorps served in Bohemia and Saxony.
In 1756 this regiment consisted of 8 companies in 4 squadrons for a total of some 649 men.
During the Seven Years' War, the Chef of the regiment was:
- since 1740: General Chevalier de Saxe (resigned in 1763)
- from 1763 to 1770: General Count Cossel (died in 1770)
During the Seven Years' War, the Kommandeur of the regiment was:
- since 1752: Lieutenant-General Count Vitzthum von Eckstädt
- from 1763: Major-General v. Winckelmann.
After the Seven Years' War, in 1764, only one squadron of the Gardedukorps was retained, the six other squadrons were distributed among the re-raised cuirassiers regiments to serve as carabinier companies.
Service during the War
At the end of August 1756, when Frederick II invaded Saxony, the regiment retired to Pirna with the rest of the Saxon army. At Pirna, the regiment was deployed on the right wing under von Arnim, as part of von Rechenberg's Brigade. The Prussians blockaded the Saxon army in Pirna from September 9 until October 15 when the Saxons finally had to surrender. The Saxon Gardedukorps was then forcibly incorporated into the Prussian Garde du Corps. However, most of the men absconded this service.
In 1757, the men who had deserted the Prussian service rallied in Hungary.
From 1758 to 1761, these men served as foot grenadiers.
In 1761 a new cavalry regiment of 4 squadrons in 8 companies was raised from men of the former Gardedukorps as well as from the other cuirassier regiments.
To do: description of the actions of the regiment from 1761 to 1763.
|Coat||red with horizontal pockets with 3 brass buttons and 3 gold buttonholes
|Waistcoat||buff leather kollet edged with two gold stripes; no button (fastened with hooks and eyes)|
a light blue sash with two gold stripes was worn as waistbelt
Troopers were armed with ???.
Trumpeters and kettle-drummer wore yellow coats with blue collar, cuffs and turnbacks, pewter buttons; white laces decorated with two blue stripes; on each side of the coat front, 6 laces (white with two blue stripes) placed in 1-2-3 (some sources give no lapels).
The Garde du Corps carried nothing but Four white damask Leibstandarten (standards):
- reverse: white field heavily embroidered in gold; centre device consisting of a shield carrying the Electoral Saxon arms (left upper canton black, left lower canton white, two red crossed swords superimposed on the left cantons, right side consisting of alternating black and yellow with a green crown-like diagonal band), surmounted by a crimson electoral hat and surrounded by green palm leaves;
- obverse: white field heavily embroidered in gold; centre device consisting of the golden royal cipher on a pedestal surmounted by a royal crown and surrounded by green palm leaves.
Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 1 to 13, Berlin 1901 - 1914.
Geschichte und gegenwärtiger Zustand der Kursächsischen Armee. [History and present state of the Saxon Army.] 2nd edition, part IX, Dresden 1793.
Friedrich Schirmer, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989.
Siegbert Wagner, A manuscript of 1745 describing the Saxon army
Bavaria, Saxony and the Palatinate Supplement: Uniforms & Flags of the Seven Years War. Researched by M.Lange and A. Sharman. Compiled by R.D. Pengel. Artwork by G.R. Hurt. Birmingham, 1981.
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.