während der Napoleonischen Kriege}
1. The Prussian Cavalry
4. Cavalry of Royal Guard.
9. Landwehr Cavalry.
The Prussian Cavalry.
Prussia and then Germany, was one of the three horse loving countries (Poland, Hungary, Germany). Prussia, possessing horses in plenty, furnished numerous men for the cavalry, who, from their childhood, have been at home in the saddle. As cavalrymen they enjoyed great reputation in Europe. The horse care was much better than in the French army. Prussian cavalry grew from 1,000 sabers in the early XVII century to 6,000 by 1750, and reached the peak of its fame and its most successful employment under Frederick the Great. During the Seven Years War it was decisive in a number of victorious battles, both by bold charges and enveloping operations. It several occasions it even prevented disaster by covering army retreats. The cavalry was probably the most vaunted arm of the Prussian army until 1806.
During campaign the column of march was by 3s but all movement on the battlefield was done by 2s. Cavalry regiment could be formed in several different ways: in echelon, in column with intervals, and in column without intervals (companies placed "nose to tail"). When in line the men were drawn up stirrup to stirrup in 2 ranks. The quietest horses were in the front rank. The flankers and riflemen were usually sent out to engage the enemy at 150 - 200 paces away from their parent regiment.
The 1812 Regulations prevented the Prussian cavalry from taking the initiative and was seen as a mere appendage of the infantry. In battle the cavalry was usually deplyed behind infantry or on the flanks, only to be used to exploit success achieved by the infantry and not "to go out on its own." At least theoretically they were to await the attack of the French cavalry. Only when the enemy was much weaker the Prussian cavalrymen were to attack the enemy. In such case they attacked one or both flanks of the French. In reality the Prussian cavaliers were far more aggressive.
When more than one cavalry regiment came together then the cuirassiers stood on the right flank, then dragoons, next to them were hussars and on the left flank stood uhlans.
When attacking French infantry formed in squares, the attack was to be made on the corners.
Prussian cavalry enjoyed several great successes against French infantry.
According to contracts between 1803 and 1817, horses bought for the cuirasiers should have had a height at the withers (German: "Widerrist") of 5 Prussian feet (157 cm) at least, those of dragoons 4 feet 11 inches (154 cm) and hussars 4 feet 9 inches (149 cm), but many horses were smaller.
The Prussian horse Trakhener came from Eastern Prussia (today Poland). The Trakheners became Prussian army chargers and of quality unsurpassed in Europe. They were also purchased or taken by Napoleon. Most common colors: bays, chestnuts, blacks.
In 1815 manpower shortage were acute, but the scarcity of horses was worse.
Remount depots had been emptied due to the enormous demands of the last two campaigns.
In 1815 there were problems with the Poles who were reluctant to sell their fine horses to the Prussians. The King threatened to requisition the mounts.
Organization of Prussian Cavalry.
The Prussian cavalry was organized as follow:
French cavalry regiment was stronger, it had 400-1,000 men in 3-8 squadrons
The French had also cavalry divisions (2 brigades each) and cavalry corps (2-3 divisions).
Squadrons and Platoons
The 4th Platoon consisted of so-called flankers, men selected for their dexterity and mounted on the strongest horses. The remaining three platoons had 48 such flankers and 12 riflemen each. The riflemmen were best marksmen and were mounted on the calmest horses. Six of the 12 riflemen rode in the second rank of 4th Platoon. The rest of riflemen and flankers
were divided equally among the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Platoon.
. . . . . . . . . 13 cuirassier regiments (5 squadrons each)
. . . . . . . . . 14 dragoon regiments (10 x 5 squadrons and 2 x 10 squadrons)
. . . . . . . . . 9 hussar regiments (10 squadrons each)
. . . . . . . . . 1 'Towarzysze' regiment (10 + 5 squadrons)
. . . . . . . . . 4 + 1 cuirassier regiments (4 squadrons each)
. . . . . . . . . 8 + 1 dragoon regiments (4 squadrons each)
. . . . . . . . . 12 + 1 hussar regiments (4 squadrons each)
. . . . . . . . . 8 + 1 uhlan regiments (4 squadrons each)
The army list of June 1815 gives generals as "Inspekteur"s for the cavalry in different provinces, but no overall inspector for the whole cavalry. There was no Seydlitz. No central reserve of cavalry, the battle winning ram, was created and the individual cavalry brigades were disperesed among the several army corps. It means the cavalry was subordinated to infantry and din't play any major independent role.
Cavalry of the Royal Guard.
The Horse Guard Regiment (Regiment Garde zu Pferde, Garde du Corps) was formed in 1741 and was the senior regiment. Chef of the regiment was King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm III. Commanders were: 1801 - von Wintzingerode, 1806 - von Zawadzky, 1810 - von Bockum-Dolffs, 1813 - von Knobelsdorff, 1816 - Graf von Brandenburg.
In 1813 there were 2 Guard cavalry regiments: Horse Guard and Gurd Light Cavalry Regiment.
Both regimentshad a normal establishment of 4 squadrons. However, because of "popular subscription" to the war squadrons known as "freiwilligee jagers" were raised. These were wealthy young men who wished to liberate the fatherland. (Nafziger - "Lutzen and Bautzen" p 178)
In March 1815 were formed Guard Uhlan Regiment, Guard Dragoon Regiment and Guard Hussar Regiment.
Within the Prussian cavalry the cuirassiers enjoyed higher prestige than dragoons or uhlans. The men and horses in cuirassier regiments were bigger and stronger, a factor important not only on parades. They were the battle-cavalry who on battlefield charged en masse crushing the enemy with sheer force.
In 1806 Prussia had 13 cuirassier regiments, incl. the Garde du Corps Regiment. Then Napoleon defeated and downsized the Prussian army. In 1812 the numebr of cuirassier regiments was 4, including the Garde du Corps. For the campaign in 1815 Prussia had 5 regiments, one Garde du Corps and 4 cuirassier regiments. In the 4th Regiment served many Saxons.
Uniforms of Cuirassiers
The cuirassiers were armed with the pallash, a straight-bladed sword. The scabbard was iron. Additionally they carried 2 pistols each. The Prussian cuirassiers were lighter than the French heavies. They had not worn the heavy breastplates since 1790. Andreas Hetzert of Germany wrote me "A few weeks ago I bought a reprint-text from "Die Elberfelder Bilderhandschrift" (author: Peter Schuchardt) from a painter, Johann Carl Hackenberg, who painted in color all troops from 1813 - 1816, which came through his town Elberfeld. On 02 Feb 1815 he saw the Brandenburger Kürassiere with yellow (former French) cuirasses and on 06 Feb 1815 the Ostpreussisches Kürassierregiment with white (former French) cuirasses. Then I found in the reprint of the book "Geschichte der Bekleidung und Ausrüstung der Königlich Preussischen Armee in den Jahren 1808 bis 1878" (Berlin, 1878, Mila) - History of clothing and equipment of the Kings Prussian Army in the years of 1808 until 1878, on page 166 § 978 " ... at the end of March 1814 they got the French cuirasses, yellow for the Garde du Corpse and the Brandenbuger Kürassiere and white for the rest ...." And I found in a reprint from 1840 "Die Uniformen der Preußischen Garden" / The uniforms of the prussian Guards, a picture of the Garde du Corps 1806 without a cuirasse and 1814 with a yellow cuirasse, then 1815 a Cuirassier with a black cuirasse and an officer 1815 with a yellow cuirasse."
The Prussian dragoons were excellent. Although they were of lower status than cuirassiers and rode on smaller horses, they were in combat more often. The dragoons were universal troops, they could skirmish, scout, fight dismounted and make all-out charge in pitched battle. At Auerstadt one regiment of dragoons scattered some of GdD Gudin's seasoned infantry out of formation and left 600 men killed and wounded.
Weapons of Dragoons
"As early as 1704, the Prussians were using cavalry troops armed with lances. In 1745, a unit known as "Bosniaken" was linked with the ‘Totenkopf-Husaren-Regiment" and wore a costume which derived from Bosnian and Polish national costume. By 1806, the Prussian army still retained units with strong Polish/Bosnian links. These were the ‘Towarczys" Regiment and a self-standing "Towarczy" Battalion, both of which were armed primarily with the lance, and were used for scouting and foraging duties for which the Uhlans became justly famous. These troops were used in East Prussia and the bordering Polish and Austrian-Hungarian states and had a distinctly Tartar-Slav appearance. ... The Prussian uhlan regiment, raised in 1806/7 from the former ‘Towarczys", had a strength of eight squadrons. but was later split in two to form two separate regiments of four squadrons each. ... The new line regiments were raised from the Freiwillige and National cavalry regiments of the 18l3-1815 Freedom War, the Freikorps Lützow, Freikorps Hellwig and the Russo-German Legion. (http://www.caltim.com/uhlan.regiments/index.htm)
The 5. '1st Rhenish' Regiment was formed from: 3rd Sq. of Silesian hussars, 3rd Sq. of Brandenburgian hussars and 2nd Sq. of Berg hussars
Weapons of Uhlans
Uniforms of Uhlans
The Prussian hussars were of awerage height and rode on smaller but agile horses. If they were not as disciplined and trained as dragoons and not as strong and robust as the cuirassiers, the hussars were the most dashing. They participated in the boldest actions, went through the most difficult situations, skirmished and scouted. The hussars distinguished themselves in numerous battles, including Heilsberg, Leipzig, Mockern and Ligny.
In 1806 were 10 hussar regiments, in 1812 only six.
Death's Head's Hussars - "Totenkopf-husaren"
The 2nd Life Hussar Regiment was formed in 1808 by taking 4 out of 8 squadrons of 1st Life Hussars. It participated in 36 battles.
Weapons of Hussars
Uniforms of Hussars
In March 1813 Landwehr (militia) was formed on the introduction of universal conscription, including formations of 30 Landwehr Cavalry Regiments with total of 113 squadrons (each squadron with 72-102 men). The Landwehr cavalry was considered light cavalry.
Additionally several provinces of Prussia (East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia and Western Prussia) formed their own National Cavalry Regiment. During the autumn campain in 1813 the 113 squadrons of Landwehr Cavalry had 10.952 men, while the National Cavalry 13.375 men.
Provinces: Landwehr cavalry regiments
At Waterloo 40 % of Prussian cavalry was made of Landwehr, 38 % were hussars, 13 % uhlans, only 9 % dragoons and 0 % cuirassiers and guards.
Uniforms of Landwehr Cavalry
Sources and Links.
Information supplied by Oliver Schmidt from Germany
Hofschroer - "Prussian Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815"
Craig - "The Germans"
Duffy - "Frederick the Great"
Holborn - "A History of Modern Germany 1648-1840"
Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig"
Petre - "Napoleon’s Conquest of Prussia 1806" 1993
Simms - "The Struggle for Mastery in Germany" 1998
Article by Dallas Gavan "Prussian Cavalry Standards 1808-1815" on napoleonseries.org
flags from warflag.com
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