Origin and History
This unit was the oldest regiment of the entire Austrian army. It was raised in 1681 by Field-marshal Ernst Rüdiger Count von Starhemberg who would become famous for the defence of Vienna against the Turks in 1683. His regiment also took part in the defence of the city.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1702, the regiment served in Italy, fighting in the battle of Luzzara on August 15 of the same year. In 1704, it took part in the battle of Crescentino near Turin.
During the War of the Quadruple Alliance, in June 20 1719, the regiment took part in the battle of Francavilla in Sicily.
During the War of the Polish Succession, in 1733, the regiment was posted in Silesia. From 1734 to 1736, it campaigned in Italy and, on June 1 1734 fought in the engagement of Colorno and on June 29 of the same year in the Battle of Parma. Its grenadiers distinguished themselves on September 19 1734 at the Battle of Guastalla.
In 1737, one battalion and one grenadier company took part in the siege of the Fortress of Usitza in Bosnia. The place surrendered on September 30 and 200 men of the regiment under Captain Schengen formed part of the garrison but were soon forced to retire along with the Austrian army. In 1738, one battalion along with the grenadiers fought in the engagement of Kornia. On July 23, they took also part in the Battle of Krotzka.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1741 and 1742, the regiment initially took part in the campaigns of Bohemia. In 1742 and 1743, it campaigned in Bavaria and on the Rhine. In 1744, it once more campaigned on the Rhine and in Bohemia. On June 4 1745, it fought in the Battle of Hohenfriedberg; on September 30 in the combat of Soor. The regiment was then transferred to the Low Countries. On October 11 1746, it took part in the Battle of Rocoux where it covered the retreat of the defeated army. On July 2 1747, the regiment fought in the Battle of Lawfeld.
In 1750, the regiment was stationed in Prague and took part twice to exercises at Kolin.
In 1752, the regiment was transferred to the region of Leipnik in Moravia where it staff established itself while its various companies were posted at Neutitschein, Mährisch-Weisskirchen, Holleschau, Wall.-Meseritsch, Fulnek, Prerau and Sternberg.
In 1754, the regiment was transferred to the region of Znaim in Moravia where it staff established itself while its various companies were posted at Eibenschitz, Nikolsburg and Teltsch.
As per the Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759 and Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760, the regiment counted 4 battalions (2 grenadier coys and 16 fusilier coys) for a total of 2,300 men. This was the administrative organisation of the regiment. However, the tactical organisation differed: 2 field fusilier battalions, each of 6 companies; 2 grenadier companies (usually converged with grenadiers from other battalions into an ad hoc unit); and 1 garrison battalion of 4 companies (see Austrian Line Infantry Organisation for more details).
During the Seven Years' War, the chef of the regiment was:
- since December 8 1751 until 1769: Claudius Baron von Sincère
During the Seven Years' War, its colonel-commander was:
- from August 30 1754 : Colonel Christoph Friedrich Baron von Bibow
- from February 21 1760 : Colonel-Commander Jakob Robert Count Nugent-Westmeath
- from November 16 1760: Colonel-Commander Ferdinand Count Kokořova (aka Kokoržova)
Regimental numbers were introduced only in 1769 when this regiment was designated as "I.R. 54".
Service during the War
On July 24 1756, the regiment (12 fusilier coys and 2 grenadier coys) was ordered to join Piccolomin's Corps in the camp of Olschan. Meanwhile a garrison-battalion (4 coys) was posted in Vienna. Piccolomini's Corps was then ordered to march to Bohemia where by September 14 it had reached Hohenmauth. It then took part in operations in Eastern Bohemia against a Prussian Corps. At the end of the year, the regiment took its winter-quarters in the region of Turnau. It then counted 1,897 men.
In March 1757, the regiment joined the Austrian Corps under FZM Count Königsegg who marched to Reichenberg. On April 21, at the beginning of the Prussian invasion of Bohemia, the regiment, as part of Königsegg's Corps, fought in the Battle of Reichenberg. This corps then retired to Liebenau. On April 27, it reached the Elbe. On May 2, near Prague, it made a junction with other Austrian Corps arriving from Budin and Eger. On May 6, two battalions of the regiment took part in the Battle of Prague where they were deployed near Hlaupetin in Count Lacy's Brigade, in the first line of the left wing of infantry under Baron Kheul. In this battle, the battalions lost only 1 men killed and 6 wounded. However, its detached grenadier companies suffered heavy casualties (7 men killed, 25 wounded and 63 taken prisoners). The regiment then took part in the defence of Prague where it lost 8 men killed and 35 wounded. On June 20, the Prussians lifted the siege and retired towards Saxony. In October, a detachment of the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Count Nugent took part in the Austrian raid on Berlin.
At the beginning of 1758, the regiment was attached to Count Serbelloni's Corps who joined the Reichsarmee. By mid-May, this Austro-Imperial Army was encamped at Laun. On October 21, the regiment received order to join the Austrian Main Army. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Leitmeritz while its thrid battalion remained in Vienna.
At the end of June 1759, the regiment joined the Austrian Main Army in its camp between Jaromer, Schurz and Königinhof. Its grenadiers were converged with those of de Ligne Infantry and Joseph Esterházy Infantry. This converged battalion was placed under the command of Captain Franz Count Kokoržova of the regiment. The Main Army then marched to Marklissa where it encamped from July 6 to 29. 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. On November 20, the grenadiers of the regiment under Captain Franz Count Kokoržova were present at the Battle of Maxen where they stormed a redoubt and occupied Maxen. For this feat of arms, Captain Kokoržova received the Maria Theresa Order. In mid-December, the regiment took its winter-quarters in the Vale of Plauen near Dresden while its depot battalion was in Prague.
In early June 1760, the regiment was attached to the Austrian Grand Army of field-marshal Leopold count Daun, stationed near Dresden. On November 3, it took part in the bloody Battle of Torgau where it was deployed in the second line of the infantry centre and suffered heavy losses (including 6 officers killed and 24 officers wounded; 82 men killed, 233 wounded and 422 taken prisoners) and lost four colours. After this battle, the remnants of the regiment formed a single battalion and only one grenadier company. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Komotau in Bohemia.
In 1761, the regiment took part in the campaign of Saxony.
From August to October 1762, a detachment of the regiment took part in the defence of Schweidnitz. In the night of August 18 to 19, this detachment (3 officers, 11 NCOs, 1 surgeon and 264 privates) under Captain Chevalier MacBrady participated in a sortie against the Prussian siege works. The fortress finally surrendered on October 11. On September 17, the regiment took part in the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. The regiment took its winter-quarters on the Iser with his staff in Wartenberg.
For the moment we have very few information on the uniform in 1756, at the outbreak of the war. Most of our references describe the uniform in 1762. However, Muhsfeldt and Schirmer mention that, in 1756-57, the coat was white lined white (therefore white turnbacks), the distinctive colour was red and the waistcoat and breeches were white. Therefore, the uniform at the beginning of the war seems to have been almost identical to the uniform of 1762.
|Neckstock||one red and one black (for parades the regimental commanders agreed before on the colour of the neckstocks)|
|Coat||white lined white with 3 yellow buttons under the right lapel and 1 yellow button in the small of the back on each side
|Waistcoat||white with 2 rows of small yellow buttons (3-3-3) and with horizontal pockets, each with 3 yellow buttons|
|Gaiters||one pair of black (for winter) and one pair of white gaiters (for summer and parade)|
Troopers were armed with a musket (Model 1745 for fusiliers, Model 1754 for grenadiers). Grenadiers carried a sabre while fusiliers carried only a bayonet.
Donath illustrates the following differences:
- tricorne with 1 yellow cockade and 2 red tassels (in the lateral cornes)
- white shoulder strap on the left shoulder, decorated with a red wavy lace)
Knötel illustrates the following differences:
- tricorne with 1 red cockade and 2 white pompoms (in the lateral cornes)
Sergeants carried a halberd and a wooden stick.
Corporals carried a halberd.
The officers wore the same uniform as the privates with the following exceptions:
- tricorne laced gold with a white and green cockade
- black neckstock
- no turnbacks
- yellow and black silk sash
Senior officers carried sticks identifying their rank:
- lieutenant: bamboo stick without knob
- captain: long rush stick with a bone knob
- major: long rush stick with a silver knob and a small silver chain
- lieutenant-colonel: long rush stick with a larger silver knob without chain
- colonel: long rush stick with a golden knob
As per a regulation of 1755, musicians were now distinguished from troopers only by poppy red swallow nests on the shoulders.
The drum had a brass barrel decorated with black flames at the bottom and with a black double headed Eagle on a yellow field. Rims were decorated with red and white diagonal stripes. The bandolier was white.
All German infantry regiments carried identical colours: a white Leibfahne (colonel) and yellow Regimentsfahne. The hand painted colours were made of silk and, according to some sources, measured 178 cm x 127 cm. However, a flag kept at the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum in Vienna shows different proportions (unfortunately we do not know the exact measurements) which we have used for our illustrations. The 260 cm long flagpoles had golden finial and were decorated with black and yellow spirals of cloth.
The colonel colour was carried by the first battalion.
Colonel flag (Leibfahne):
- field: white
- border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
- obverse (right): the Immaculate Mother of God (which had been declared the patroness of the army by kaiser Ferdinand III) on a cloud, crushing a snake under her foot and surrounded by rays
- reverse (left): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
The so-called "armed" Imperial double-eagle on the reverse of the Leibfahne seems to have been represented in two different variants:
- with a sword in its right claw and the sceptre in its left (no Imperial Apple with this design)
- with a sceptre and sword in its right claw and the Imperial Apple in its left.
The first variant seems to have been more common.
Regimental flags (Regimentsfahne):
- field: yellow
- border: alternating white and yellow outer waved triangles pointing inwards, red and black inner waved triangles pointing outwards
- obverse (right): crowned and armed Imperial double-eagle with the "Lothringen-Toscanian" arms on a shield and the initials of the Emperor CF (Corregens Franciscus) on the left wing and IM (Imperator Magnus) on the right
- reverse (left): unarmed and crowned Imperial double-eagle with the arms of Hungaria and Bohemia on a shield and the initials M on the left wing and T on the right
Some publications represent an "armed" Imperial double-eagle on the reverse of the Regimentsfahne but we followed Hausmann's paper of 1967 which also matches with the insignia seen on Austrian artillery barrels of the period.
In fact, the situation on the field was slightly more complex than this, since colours were usually replaced only when worn out. By 1756, only a few regiments had actually purchased sets of flags of the 1745 pattern; so many regiments, who had been issued colours of the 1743 pattern, were still carrying them at the beginning of the Seven Years' War. For more details, see Austrian Line Infantry Colours.
This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:
- Seyfart, Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, pp. 5-6
Anon.: Kurze Geschichte des K. u. K. Infanterie-Regiments Alt-Starhemberg Nr. 54, Olmütz: Hölze;s, 1894, pp. 23-27
Dihm, Dr. Hermann; Oesterreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Klio
Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979
Etat nouveau des Troupes de sa Majesté Impériale Royale comme elles se trouvent effectivement l'an 1759
Etat général des Troupes qui servent sa Majesté Impériale et Royale Apostolique sur pié en 1760
Funcken, Liliane and Fred, Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
Hausmann, Friedrich, Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias, Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichen Museums, vol. 3, Vienna: 1967
Knötel, Herbert d.J.; Brauer, Hans M.: Heer und Tradition / Heeres-Uniformbogen (so-called “Brauer-Bogen”), Berlin 1926-1962, Österreich-Ungarn – 1756-63
Muhsfeldt, Th.; Abzeichenfarben der K. und K. Regimenter zu Fuss im Jahre 1757 und früher, in Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des militärischen Tracht, No. 12, 1904
Neuwirth, Oberst Victor Ritter von: Geschichte des K. K. Infanterie-Regimentes Nr. 54., Vienna: Kreisel & Gröger, 1885, pp. 109-132
Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989
Seidel, Paul; Nochmals österreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Clio
Thümmler, L.-H., Die Österreichiches Armee im Siebenjährigen Krieg: Die Bautzener Bilderhandschrift aus dem Jahre 1762, Berlin 1993
Thürheim, Graf Andreas: Gedenkblätter aus der Kriegsgeschichte der k.k. Oesterreichischen Armee, vol. 1, Vienna: K. Prochaska, 1880, pp. 367
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about this regiment and Harald Skala for the precise names of the colonels-commanders.