Origin and History
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|Otto Christoph von Sparr was born around 1605 in Brandenburg. He fought in the Thirty Years' War Generalissimus Waldstein, reached the rank of colonel in 1637 and that of major-general in 1645. In 1649, Sparr took service in the Army of the Electorate of Cologne but soon transferred in the service of the Electorate of Brandenburg. On October 8 1649, he was appointed governor of the Fortress of Colberg and commander of all garrison troops in Pomerania, Halberstadt, Minden and the Duchies of Mark and Ravensburg. He also received the former “Christoph Albrecht von Schönaich” regiment. At the same time, the Duke of Brandenburg asked the emperor Ferdinand III to release Sparr from imperial service.|
This unit was the oldest regiment of the entire Austrian army. Its origins can be traced back to a Brandenburger regiment raised by Major-General (GFZM) Otto Christoph von Sparr at Treptow an der Rega. It consisted of 3 companies of the Elector's Lifeguard and from the former Schönaich Regiment. Furthermore, on July 29 1651, Sparr took command of 4 companies of the former “Friedrich von Arnim” regiment stationed at Colberg. To distinguish them, these two regiments were respectively designated as “Alt-Sparr” and “Jung-Sparr”.
On April 8 1655, Major-General (GFZM) von Sparr received the Emperor's authorisation to raise a new infantry regiment by using parts of old regiments. In July of the same year, at the head of “Alt-Sparr” (now 12 coys strong), Colonel Sparr joined the Brandenburger Army who assisted the Swedes in their campaign in Poland, defeating a Polish army near Warsaw at the end of July. The Brandenburger contingent then returned home. On June 26 1657, Sparr was promoted to Field-Marshal. At the end of 1657, the Elector of Brandenburg made an alliance with Ferdinand III and Poland against Sweden. An Austrian army under Montecuccoli and Souches marched to Schleswig and Jütland against the Swedish troops of King Karl X. Both of Sparr regiments fought in this campaign (Alt-Sparr with 8 coys = 576 men and Jung-Sparr with 5 coys = 390 men). In 1659, these two regiments fought on the Isle of Fanöe. They then returned to Swedish-Pommerania where they fought at Stettin and took part in the siege of the Fortress of Demmin who surrendered on November 20. On January 28 1660, Wladislaw von Sparr, a cousin of Christoph von Sparr, was appointed colonel and commander of “Alt-Sparr” while Colonel Otto Friedrich von der Gröben was appointed commander of “Jung-Sparr”. After the Treaty of Oliva on May 3 1660, both regiments were severely understrength (“Alt-Sparr” had 322 men; “Jung-Sparr”, 164 men). “Jung-Sparr” assumed garrison duty in Kleve.
By June 1661, “Alt-Sparr” had already been rebuilt and counted 9 officers and NCOs and 881 men. The same year, Wladislaw Count Sparr offered his regiment to Emperor Leopold I who, on September 21, signed an agreement with Sparr by which the latter promised to increase his regiment to 10 coys for a total of 1,500 men. After release by the Elector Brandenburg, Wladislaw Count Sparr marched to Silesia with this regiment. At the end of 1661, the regiment swore allegiance to Leopold I in Breslau (present-day Wroclaw/PL). On February 2 1662, the regiment was first reviewed in Breslau. It was soon increased to 2,000 men. In 1663, the regiment was sent to Hungary to fight against the Turks. It took part in the siege of Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK) and, in 1664, in the siege of Kanisza. On August 1 1664, at the Battle of Saint Gotthard, FM Wladislaw Count Sparr, the proprietor of the regiment, led the last infantry attack.
In 1669, the regiment became the property of Field-Marshal Ernst Rüdiger Count von Starhemberg. Between 1673 and 1678, the regiment was involved in successive campaigns against the French on Rhine.
In 1679, the regiment served in Silesia, defending the border of Upper-Hungary (Slowakia) against Thököly's rebels and campaigned afterwards in the mountainous region of middle Slowakia.
In 1683, the regiment took part in the defence of Vienna under Starhemberg. It was later present at the siege of the Fortress of Gran. On June 16 1684, it took part in the attack on Wissegrad and afterwards in the Siege of Belgrade. On July 13 1686, during second siege of Belgrade, the grenadiers of the regiment distinguished themselves under Guido Count Starhemberg.
In 1688, the regiment was transferred to the Rhine. In 1689, it was present at the assault of Mainz. It then returned to Hungary where, on August 19 1691, it fought at Szlankamen, losing there 18 officers and 408 men. It then took part in the siege of Grosswardein. In 1696, it was at the Battle of Olasch and, on September 11 1697 at the Battle of Zenta.
At the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1701, the regiment was sent to Italy. On July 9, its grenadiers distinguished themselves at the combat of Carpi. On September 1, the entire regiment distinguished itself at the Battle of Chiari. On August 15 1702, it fought in the Battle of Luzzara. In 1704, it took part in the battle of Crescentino near Turin. The regiment remained in Italy for the following campaigns and, in 1707, took part in the campaign against Toulon. From 1708 to 1712, the regiment campaigned in Piemont and Savoy. In 1713, after the defence of Freiburg/Breisgau, the regiment was transferred to the Netherlands where he would remain until 1728.
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, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Count Lannoy, distinguished themselves on September 19 1734 at the Battle of Guastalla.
In 1737, the regiment was sent to Hungary. 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 22 1739, they also took part in the Battle of Grocka.
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.
During the main promotion of June 12 1754, the colonel-commander of the regiment, Christian Moritz Count Königsegg-Rothenfels, was promoted to Feldzeugmeister (FZM); Count Lannoy and Antonio Conde Puebla to Feldmarshall Lieutenant (FML).
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).
From 1720, the successive colonels-proprietors of the regiment were:
- since 1720: Lothar Count Königsegg-Rothenfels
- from December 15 1751: Claudius Baron von Sincère
- from June 4 1769: Karl Kurt Count Callenberg.
From 1726, its successive colonels-commanders were:
- since 1726: Joseph Count Kaczianer
- from 1733: Christian Moritz Count Königsegg-Rothenfels
- from 1735: Karl Anton Count Lannoy de Lamottry
- from 1740: Antonio Conde Puebla di Portugalo
- from 1744: Lothar Baron von Schengen
- from August 30 1754 : Christian Friedrich Baron von Bibow
- from 1758: Jakob Robert Count Nugent-Westmeath
- from 1760: Johann Count Antoni
- from November 16 1760: Ferdinand Count Kokořova (aka Kokoržova)
- from 1769: Josef von Dichtler
In August 1765, the regiment took part in the manoeuvres near Kolin and assumed garrison duties in the region of Beraun (present-day Beroun/CZ) and Tabor (present-day Tábor/CZ).
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 Piccolomini's Corps in the camp of Olschan near Prague. Meanwhile a garrison-battalion (4 coys) was posted in Vienna. Piccolomini's Corps was then ordered to march to Eastern Bohemia where, on September 14, it arrived at Hohenmauth (present-day Vysoké Mýto/CZ). It then took part in operations in Eastern Bohemia against a Prussian Corps under the Duke of Bevern. In October, Bevern returned to Bohemia. On November 9, the regiment (1,897 men) took its winter-quarters in the region of Turnau (present day Turnov/CZ).
In March 1757, the regiment left Turnau and joined the Austrian Corps of 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. After Königsegg's defeat, his corps 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 refuge within the walls of the city and took part in the defence of Prague where it lost 8 men killed and 35 wounded. Baron von Sincère, the proprietor of the regiment, distinguished himself during the siege and later received the Knight Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Order. On June 20, the Prussians lifted the siege and retired towards Saxony. The regiment was then attached to Daun's main army who followed the retreating Prussians. In October, the regiment was attached to the corps FZM Marschall operating in Upper Lusatia. The same month, a detachment of the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Count Nugent took part in the Austrian raid on Berlin. At the end of the year, Marschall returned to Bohemia and FML Sincère took command of the corps (Marschall being appointed commander of Olmütz). The regiment spent the winter around Niemes (present-day Mimoň/CZ).
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 (present day Louny/CZ). At the end of August, Serbelloni's Corps marched to Saxony and established a blockade around Pirna who surrendered on September 5. On October 21, the regiment received order to join the Austrian Main Army. On October 23, Jakob Count Nugent-Westmeath was promoted to colonel and commander of the regiment. In November, the regiment was present at the short Siege of Dresden. The regiment then took its winter-quarters in Leitmeritz (present-day Litoměřice/CZ) while its third battalion remained in Vienna.
At the beginning of May 1759, the regiment went to the camp of the main army near Königgrätz where it remained until June 28. 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. At the end of June, the regiment joined the Austrian Main Army in its camp between Jaromer, Schurz and Königinhof. The Main Army then marched to Marklissa in Saxony where it encamped from July 6 to 29. The Prussians under King Frederick II were encamped nearby at Schmottseifen. 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 later received the Knight Cross of 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. On December 25, Ferdinand Count Kokoržowa was promoted to lieutenant-colonel; and his brother Franz, to major.
In early June 1760, the regiment was attached to the Austrian Grand Army of field-marshal Leopold count Daun, stationed near Dresden. This army initially marched to Silesia. However, it soon marched back to the relief of Dresden, besieged by Frederick. On July 29, the Prussians abandoned the siege. On September 17, the regiment took part in the Combat of Hochgiersdorf. On November 3, the regiment took part in the bloody Battle of Torgau where it was deployed in the second line of the infantry centre and suffered heavy losses (6 officers killed and 24 officers wounded; 82 men killed, 233 wounded and 422 taken prisoners) and lost four colours. Colonel Count Antoni was mortally wounded, Major Franz Count Kokoržowa killed, Lieutenant-Colonel Ferdinand Count Kokoržowa wounded. After this battle, the remnants of the regiment formed a single battalion and only one grenadier company. On November 16, Ferdinand Count Kokoržowa was promoted to colonel and commander of the regiment. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Komotau in Bohemia.
In May 1761, the regiment joined the corps of GdC O'Donell for the campaign of Saxony. It then marched to Zittau. By July, the regiment was at Dresden. It took its winter-quarters near this city.
For the campaign of 1762, the regiment was attached once more to Daun's main army. On May 23, this army took position in the region of Schweidnitz. From August to October 1762, a detachment of the regiment (Captain Chevalier MacBrady of Longthen with 3 officers, 11 NCOs, 1 surgeon and 264 men) took part in the defence of Schweidnitz. In the night of August 18 to 19, this detachment posted in the Jauerniker fleche participated in a sortie against the Prussian siege works. In the night of August 19 to 20, the Prussians attacked the fleche. MacBrady and his men managed to defend their position with the support of Lieutenant Lavallée and 40 of his men coming from the Jauerniker fort. The Prussians vainly repeated their attacks twice in the night of August 21 to 22, losing some 400 men. On October 8, the Jauerniker fort was destroyed by a mine, 9 officers and 200 men died. The fortress finally surrendered on October 11. MacBrady and 19 men had been wounded. Furthermore 27 men died in captivity. MacBrady later received the Knight Cross of the Maria-Theresia-Order. The regiment took its winter-quarters on the Iser with his staff in Wartenberg (Northern Bohemia).
In March 1763, after the signature of the Treaty of Hubertusburg, the regiment marched back to Pilsen (present-day Plzeň/CZ) and surroundings.
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:
- Neuwirth, V.: Geschichte des K.u.K. Infanterie-Regiments Alt-Starhemberg Nr. 54, Olmütz 1894
- 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 partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
User:Zahn for gathering most of the information about this regiment
Harald Skala for expanding the sections “Origin and history” and “Service during the war”