‘Imperial & Royal’: My 15mm Napoleonic Austrian Army (Part 4: Militia Troops)

Those of you still awake and not having taken an impromptu holiday to northern Italy to get away from this blog will no doubt be overjoyed to see this, the 4th instalment of my Austrian army! 🙂

This time I’m looking at the militia forces: The Austrian Landwehr and the Hungarian Insurrection.  All the models are by AB Figures.

Above:  A battalion of the Lower Austrian Landwehr.  The Austrian Landwehr were initially raised in 1808 as a conscript militia, to serve as a reserve for the regular army and as garrisons for towns and fortresses while the regular army was away on campaign.  By early 1809 there were over 100,000 men serving in the Landwehr and later that year, with the French invading Austria, the Landwehr were called out to reinforce the army in the field.  The Landwehr battalions serving with Archduke Charles’ main army came from Lower Austria, Bohemia and Moravia.  However, their combat record was extremely poor and they suffered huge losses due to desertion.

The Landwehr were organised on a provincial basis and each province had its own coat colour, facing colour and cockade colour.  The rank-and-file in the main wore peasant coats and were poorly equipped, though officers and NCOs, as well as a few complete units and some individuals could be far better dressed.  Some units also included Volunteer Jäger who would equip themselves and would again be generally better-dressed.

The Lower Austrian Landwehr wore coats coloured ‘Ash Grey’ with red facings, topped off with a Corsican hat (Corsehut), turned up on the left side.  The provincial cockade was yellow-within-sky blue, though this was not often worn and the national yellow & black cockade could also be seen.

Above:  A battalion of Moravian-Silesian Landwehr.  Most Moravian Landwehr wore brown coats with red facings.  However some units, especially from the Austrian Silesia, wore light blue facings, as shown here.  The provincial cockade was red-within-white.  The officer’s mid-blue breeches also seem to have been a popular item of dress.

Landwehr battalions were authorised to carry flags.  These were officially to have the Imperial eagle on the obverse and the provincial arms on the reverse.  In addition, many carried hand-me-down Ordinärfahnen from the local infantry regiments.  However, I haven’t given mine flags; partly because at the time of painting I had no idea as to what their flags looked like but also because AB Figures don’t produce any Landwehr standard-bearers.

Above:  A battalion of Bohemian Landwehr.  The Bohemian Landwehr were remarkably well dressed.  The coat was a brown jacket with red facings and red braid across the chest, worn with bright blue breeches (some with red Hungarian knots on the thighs) and tall leather boots, all topped off with a ’round-hat’ (what we might call a top-hat).  The city and university Landwehr units from Prague were even more lavishly dressed, with plumed shakos!

Above: A battalion of Hungarian Insurrection Infantry from ‘below’ (i.e. south of) the Danube.

Unlike the Austrian provinces, the Kingdom of Hungary did not have a standing Landwehr and instead relied upon the Hungarian Diet (council of nobles) voting to raise an Insurrection during times of national emergency.  This had been done in 1797 and 1800, but in 1805 the fickle Hungarian nobles decided NOT to call out the Insurrection to oppose Napoleon’s invasion.  Nevertheless, in 1809 around 60,000 Insurrection troops (roughly 40,000 hussars and 20,000 infantry) were successfully raised.

Two regiments of hussars volunteered to fight with Archduke Charles’ Main Army (more of those later), though the bulk of the Insurrection fought with the Army of Inner Austria against Prince Eugène’s invading Army of Italy in a number of small actions across Hungary before finally being comprehensively smashed at the Battle of Raab on 14th June 1809.

Above:  A battalion of Insurrection Infantry from ‘above’ (i.e. north of) the Danube.  In 1809 the regulation uniform for the Insurrection infantry consisted of a short blue tunic and breeches, decorated with brass buttons, light blue ‘hussar’ lace and Hungarian trefoil knots (see the period print at the top of this article).  The exact shade of blue is debatable; Dave Hollins describes this uniform as ‘dark blue’, but then the accompanying plate shows an officer dressed in the same shade of sky-blue as the pantaloons of regular Hungarian or Grenze infantry.  I’ve hedged my bets and opted for a ‘middle blue’, which seems to be what was depicted by Ottenfeld in 1895.

The collar and cuffs were coloured by region: Crimson = ‘Above’ the Danube.  Yellow = ‘Below’ the Danube.  Light blue = ‘Above’ the Theiss.  Grass green = ‘Below’ the Theiss.  Of course, there is no guarantee that in reality, the mobilised Insurrection was dressed in anything like the official regulation uniform and it may be the case that many men were wearing civilian clothes or uniforms from earlier incarnations of the Insurrection, which had far more varied uniform colours, more reminiscent of the regular Hussar regiments.

The shako was black and plain apart from a yellow & black national cockade-pompom.  Belts were red leather.  Boots were black leather and hussar-style.  Officers do not appear to have worn metallic lace and instead wore more elaborate light blue lace.  However, there is the odd modern picture of Insurrection officers wearing metallic lace and these might be senior officers or perhaps an honest mistake.

The Insurrection are known to have carried flags.  Dave Hollins describes these as normally having the provincial emblem on the reverse, with a religious symbol such as the Madonna on the obverse.  Cavalry flags were swallow-tailed.  However, with only vague descriptions of flags and the lack of a standard-bearer figure, I’ve opted to go without.

Above:  A Hungarian Insurrection Hussar Regiment from ‘Below’ the Danube.  The regulation uniform for Insurrection Hussars was very similar to that of the infantry, though according to Dave Hollins the lace was white instead of light blue and instead of having provincial facing colours on the dolman jacket, the shakos were instead coloured by province.  These colours were the same as for the infantry facings, though regiments from ‘above’ the Danube had black shakos instead of yellow.  They were also issued with a blue pelisse, again decorated with white lace and edged with black fur.  Shabraques and sabretaches were black, edged in red and bearing the Imperial ‘FI’ cypher in white.  Belts were red leather and the shako had a black plume with a yellow base (apparently much more black than the regular army plume).

As mentioned above, two regiments of Insurrection Hussars fought with Archduke Charles’ Main Army in 1809.  These were the Neutra Hussars and the Primatial Hussars and I wanted to depict these regiments.  However, the Primatial Hussars are something of a mystery.  They were privately raised as a volunteer regiment by Archduke Charles Ambrosius, the Archbishop-Primate of Hungary and were therefore a somewhat different animal to the conscripted county Insurrection regiments.  There is no record of their uniform, though Dave Hollins has suggested that as a Volunteer regiment they might have worn red pointed cuffs on the dolman, which were the mark of the Austrian Volunteers (a mystery surviving hussar uniform from an unknown unit does have red pointed cuffs).

Of course, this did give me carte-blanche to go absolutely nuts and invent my own hussar uniform…  Archbishop Purple would be nice…  However, I decided to be sensible and paint a known Insurrection Hussar uniform instead.  As the Archbishop Primate of Hungary’s residence was in the town of Gran, which is ‘below’ the Danube, I opted for that region’s colour of crimson as the shako-colour.

Note that the Primatial Hussars are regularly confused in many books and publications with the regular Hussar Regiment #12 ‘Palatinal’.  The Palatinal Husars were at this time fighting in Poland with the VII Korps and were definitely not the same regiment.  However, they had once been an Insurrection Hussar regiment from the 1800 muster, having been ‘regularised’ in 1802.

Above:  A regiment of Insurrection Hussars from ‘above’ the Theiss.

The other Insurrection Hussars regiment with Archduke Charles was the Neutra Hussars.  The city of Neutra is ‘above’ the Danube and should therefore have a black shako… Which is rather boring… So I opted instead for the light blue shako of regiments from above the Theiss… 🙂

At Aspern-Essling, the Neutra and Primatial Hussars were brigaded together under the command of Generalmajor Kerekes in Wartensleben’s Light Cavalry Division of the Reserve Korps.  However, they broke immediately when faced with a French cavalry attack on 22nd May, prompting Archduke Charles to write in his post-action report that “The two regiments of insurrection cavalry… are good for nothing.”  By Wagram they had been split up, with the Primatial Hussars being sent away and brigaded with Hussar Regiment #10 ‘Stipsicz’ under Generalmajor Frelich in the Avantgarde Korps.  However, they did no better at Wagram than they had at Aspern-Essling.

That’s it for now.  Next time it’ll be the artillery and general staff.

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Austrian Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to ‘Imperial & Royal’: My 15mm Napoleonic Austrian Army (Part 4: Militia Troops)

  1. Martin Radcliffe says:

    Impressive and informative!

  2. Marvin says:

    Excellent! More pleasingly colourful troops. The Neutra and Primatial Hussars performed much as I imagine much of the British yeomanry might have done, were the country successfully invaded (Pembrokeshire versions excepted, of course!).

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Ha! 🙂 Yes, it’s interesting to speculate how the British militia and volunteer forces might have fared. I think the Militia infantry would have done very well, as they were to all intents and purposes, regular, full-time (albeit conscripted) troops who did reach a high standard of military efficiency. The Yeomanry were far more of a mixed bag though, especially early in their existence. Later in the Napoleonic Wars however, Yeomanry regiments were volunteering en masse to spend long periods on garrison service at the other end of the country (Scotland in the case of the Pembs Yeo) and do seem to have achieved a good standard.

      Coming back to the subject; I’d have expected the Palatinal Hussars to have done better, being a volunteer regiment… But then, did they volunteer or were they ‘volunteered’ by their landlord, priest or magistrate…?

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