Deák Hussars

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> Austrian Army >> Deák Hussars

Origin and History

Already in 1689, the famous partisan Pál Deák de Miháldy had raised a band of hussars to fight against the Turks. On 20 February 1696, Deák received a letter patent from Emperor Leopold I authorising him to raise a hussar regiment of 1,200 men in the districts between Danube and Tisza. This regiment would become the second oldest Austrian hussar regiment. Deák equipped his hussars with leather dolmans and leather pelisses (only officers' uniforms were made of cloth) with red (later yellow) braids, red trousers, kolback with green bag.

In 1696, the regiment served in Hungary against the Turks, taking part in the engagements of Temesvár and Olasch. In 1697, it campaigned around Zenta under Prince Eugène de Savoie but saw no action. In 1698, it took part in the engagements of Temesvár and Gross-Becskerek. The same year, the regiment incorporated irregular Kis-Balás regiment (militia hussars) and was transformed into a regular hussar regiment and thus reduced from 1,200 to 800 men. The troopers in surplus were transferred to Pálffy Hussars and Kolonits Hussars. In 1699, the regiment was garrisoning Klausenburg.

In 1700, the regiment was disbanded. Its officers were transferred to Pálffy Hussars and Kolonits Hussars. However, at the beginning of 1701, Prince Eugène instructed Pál Deák to raise a new unit of 4 companies (totalling 400 men). The new regiment was gradually brought to full strength by the incorporation of troopers from disbanded hussar regiments.

The regiment counted 6 squadrons.

The successive proprietors of the regiment were:

  • since 1696: Pál Deák de Mihály
  • from 1706: Andreas de Viszlay
  • from 1706: Johann Ladislaus Baron Splényi de Miháldy
  • from 1730: Franz Baron Czungenberg

Until 1716, the proprietors of the regiment assumed effective command.

After the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment operated in Hungary.

Service during the War

In 1701, 2 squadrons (4 companies) of the regiment were sent to Northern Italy. They set off from Ofen and marched through Carinthia by Linz and Botzen (present-day Bolzano) to Rovereto. During the ensuing campaign, they were attached to Vaubonne's Corps. On June 1, these 2 squadrons were attached to an Imperial corps who marched eastwards from Rovereto towards Posina, Arsiero, Piovene Rocchette and Schio on a road prepared in the preceding days. By 6 June, they had joined the main body at San Martino near Verona. On 24 November, Vaubonne's Corps attacked Pracontal's rearguard retiring towards Cremona, killing 200 men and capturing 76 men, 80 horses and 60 oxen. These 2 squadrons later took part in the surprise attack on Soncino. They then took their winter-quarters at Castiglione Mantovano.

In 1702, the 2 squadrons of the regiment participated in the failed storming of Cremona where it took post at a small bridge (probably the bridge on the Cerca Naviglio at Baracconi) outside the town near the Santa-Margherita Gate to watch for the possible arrival of Créqui's Corps. In March, there were still only 2 squadrons of the regiment operating in Northern Italy. In April, 3 additional squadrons of the regiment arrived in Northern Italy to reinforce the Imperial army, bringing the regiment to a total of 800 men. By 19 May, Deák Hussars were posted at Le Grazie near Mantua. Detachments of the regiment later participated in several raids in Northern Italy (Le Grazie, Milan etc.). At the end of November, the few companies who had not joined the regiment in Northern Italy joined an Imperial army (27,000 men) which was assembling under the command of Count von Schlik to attack Bavaria.

In 1703, the regiment was initially attached to Vaubonne's Corps posted near Verona. At the end of the year, 2 squadrons were part of Starhemberg's Corps who marched to Piedmont.

In 1704, the regiment initially campaigned in Piedmont, its colonel (Déak) being captured by the French at Casale on 30 March (while he was in French prison, the Vienna authorities confiscated Déak's dominion in Hungary; Deák felt discriminated and took service in the French Army, taking command of an irregular French hussar regiment operating in Northern Italy.

In 1705, part of the regiment remained with Trautmannsdorf's Corps on the Po River while another part went to Southern Tyrol and fought at Madonna della Balzola and Bergamo. On 16 August, the entire regiment (8 squadrons) took part in the Battle of Cassano.

In 1706, the regiment participated in the attempt to relieve Turin. During the siege of Turin, Deák, who was still in the French service, collected all his officers and 70 Hungarian hussars and defected to the Imperial army. He then took service in his old regiment. On 5 April, he was promoted to general (GFWM). In February, the regiment became the property of General Viszlay and then, in the same year, of Stephan Baron von Splényi. On 6 September, the entire regiment fought in the Battle of Turin. The same year, the regiment was brought back to full strength by the incorporation of troopers from the disbanded Gombos Hussars, Czungenberg Hussars and Csáky Hussars.

In March 1707, Pál Deák, the former proprietor of the regiment died in Revere in Italy. The same year, a detachment of the regiment participated in the raid on Naples while the remaining companies took part in the expedition against Provence and in the siege of Toulon.

In 1708, the regiment was transferred to the Army of the Moselle and marched to the Low Countries. From August to December, it was present at the siege of Lille where its proprietor, Baron Splényi, distinguished himself as a capable commander.

On 11 September 1709, the regiment participated in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet.

In 1710, the regiment took part in the siege of Douai and Béthune.

In 1711, the regiment was initially posted on the Rhine where it saw no action. It was then transferred back to the Low Countries.

In 1712, the regiment campaigned in the Netherlands and took part in the Siege of Le Quesnoy. A detachment fought at Fampoux under Colonel Splényi, another participated in the raid of the Dutch General Grovestein into France.

In 1713, the regiment served on the Rhine and did not take part in any action.

Uniform

Regiments were fairly autonomous in the purchasing of woollen cloth, and in its processing and distribution. So there was ample room for the preferences of the Inhaber (owner) of a regiment. Nevertheless, there was uniformity within each regiment. Furthermore, each of them had its own distinctive characteristics like the colour of the cuffs which were fixed by the Inhaber at the creation of the unit and rarely changed afterwards.

At the creation of the regiment in 1696, Deák equipped his hussars with leather dolmans and leather pelisses (only officers' uniforms were made of cloth) with red (later yellow) braids, red trousers, kolback with green bag.

In the following sections, we describe the uniform circa 1706 as illustrated by Donath.

Privates

Uniform Details
Headgear kolback of black or brown fur with a white eagle feather and a red bag

Hair were braided in several small braids.

Neck stock white
Pelisse green

Note: in summer, the pelisse was worn hanged on the left shoulder

Fur trim black or brown
Lace several rows of white cords
Buttons pewter
Dolman green with several rows of white cords and pewter buttons
Collar none
Cuffs green pointed cuffs edged white
Trousers red Hungarian style trousers, lined with a strong ecru fabric (at that time, trousers were not decorated with braids)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waist-sash green with red barrels
Scabbard black with brass fittings
Boots Hungarian style soft black boots edged with a white braid
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth green without border
Sabretache green sabretache edged red hanging on the left side of a belt worn across the right shoulder; the sabretache was usually decorated with the cipher of the regiment owner


Troopers were armed with a curved blade sabre and two pistols (no standardized model)

Officers

Officer of Deák Hussars circa 1696 - Courtesy of The New York Public Library

Uniforms of officers differed from those of the privates and NCOs by the finer material used and by the following additional peculiarities:

  • silver-plated buttons, silver laces and silver cords
  • green saddlecloth edged with a wide silver braid
  • kolback with a green bag

Officers wore a black and yellow silk sash across the chest or around the waist.

NCOs

no information available yet

Musicians

no information available yet

Colours

no information available yet

References

Abtheilung für Kriegsgeschichte des k. k. Kriegs-Archives: Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen, Series 1, Vol. 1, Vienna 1875, pp. 212-213, 221-222, 227

Donath, Rudolf; Die Kaiserliche und Kaiserlich-Königliche Österreichische Armee 1618-1918, 2. Aufl., Simbach/Inn 1979

Seyfart: Kurzgefaßte Geschichte aller kaiserlich-königlichen Regimenter zu Pferde und zu Fuß, Frankfurth and Leipzig, 1762, pp. 65-66

Thürheim, A. Gr.: Gedenkblätter aus der Geschichteder K. K. österr. Armee, Vol. II, Vienna 1880

Treuenfest, G. v.: Geschichte des k.k. Huszaren-Regimentes Alexander Freiherr von Koller Nr.8, Vienna 1880

Wrede, A. v.: Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht, Vol. III part 1, Vienna 1898–1905

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

Acknowledgements

Digby Smith and Harald Skala for the initial version of this article