As discussed recently, I’ve been dusting off my ancient Seven Years War collection, which hadn’t seen the light of day since the 1990s. In my last post I looked at Fred The Big, his generals and artillery and this time I’m looking at a few of his infantry regiments and grenadier battalions. I’ve presently got fourteen Prussian infantry regiments and six grenadier battalions in my collection, but these are my favourites. As discussed last time, I started out with skinny Lancashire Games ‘Mk 1’ figures, then the considerably more ‘corn-fed’ Lancashire Games ‘Mk 2’ figures and then with Old Glory 15s (now available in the UK from Timecast). I’ve still got the old figures, but I’m not showing you those! 🙂
I’ve just this week received my first batch of Eureka figures and they’re absolutely exquisite! Once I’ve got some painted I’ll post some pictures, with some size-comparisons for the various makes.
Anyway, here are some of my Prussian infantry. To save on the text, I’ve added a link to each regiment’s entry on the excellent Kronoskaf website if you want to get the exact uniform details.
Please note that when I painted these I was still using gloss varnish and painting my own flags. The bases were also mostly painted grass green and dry-brushed yellow. The very last units to be painted (in about 1997 or thereabouts) were among the very first to be based using my current method of brown, dry-brushed sand and then ‘patchily’ flocked.
With regards to flags; Prussian infantry regiments of the period actually carried FIVE colours per battalion. The Leibkompanie of the 1st Battalion would carry the regimental Leibfahne, while the other nine companies each had a Kompaniefahne. In the field, all five colours of a battalion would be grouped together in the centre. The Leibfahne usually had a white field with other colours and designs usually reflecting those of the other flags or Kompaniefahnen of the regiment (‘reversing’ the colours was common, where the centre of the Leibfahne would be the field colour of the Kompaniefahnen, sometimes with the colours of the ‘darts’ or ‘flames’ also being reversed). For an excellent explanation of Prussian flags have a look at this link on the Kronoskaf website. By the time of the Napoleonic Wars regiments had been reduced to two colours per battalion.
However, I only gave each of my battalions a single colour… This was partly because I was only painting 12-figure battalions, but mostly because I was having to paint the colours myself (printed flags were very limited back then) and was trying to save myself the extra work! I gave the 1st Battalion in each regiment the Leibfahne and the 2nd Battalion a Kompaniefahne. I’m now about to paint some more Prussians and am wondering whether or not to give them two colours per battalion…
Above: Musketeer-Regiment 17 ‘Manteuffel’. Although regimental numbers were not actually used at the time of the Seven Years War, this regiment was the 17th line infantry regiment in order of seniority. Regiments are almost always referred to by their anachronistic regimental number in histories (possibly because it makes battle maps much easier to label), so I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I also use that convention, as it’s far easier to use numbers than the name of the regimental Chef (roughly the equivalent of a colonel-in-chief, though ‘proprietor’ would be a better term), which could change frequently (although Gerd Heinrich von Manteuffel remained the regimental Chef for this regiment for the duration of the Seven Years War).
Above: Musketeer Regiment 25 ‘Von Kalckstein’ (became ‘Ramin’ in 1760). Prussian line infantry regiments normally consisted of two battalions plus two companies of Grenadiers. The Grenadiers would be detached in wartime and grouped with the grenadiers of another regiment to form combined Grenadier Battalions. The only exceptions were Infantry Regiment 3 ‘Kahlden/Anhalt-Bernburg’, which consisted of three battalions and three detached grenadier companies, Infantry Regiment 6 ‘Grenadier-Garde’ (see below), which consisted of a single battalion (designated and dressed as grenadiers) and a detached grenadier company and Infantry Regiment 15 ‘Garde’, which consisted of three battalions (one of them designated and dressed as grenadiers) and three detached grenadier companies.
Above: Musketeer Regiment 25 ‘Von Kalckstein’ (again).
Above: Musketeer Regiment 29 ‘Schultze’. This became ‘Wedel’ in January 1758, though the post of Chef became vacant again in April of the same year, as Carl Heinrich von Wedel was instead offered Musketeer Regiment 26 (former ‘Meyerinck’). The regiment was known as ‘Vacant Wedel’ for the rest of the Seven Years War, though some sources, most notably Duffy, refer to the regiment as ‘Knobloch’ from 1758 on.
Above: Infantry Regiment 6 ‘Grenadier-Garde‘. This unusual regiment was the only single-battalion infantry regiment in the army and had once been the (in)famous regiment of palace footguards of Frederick’s father, Frederick-William I, known as the ‘Potsdam Giants’. Frederick-William famously had a weakness for tall soldiers and if volunteers and conscripts could not be found within his own domains, he would buy tall soldiers from other monarchs and would even resort to kidnap when likely candidates were identified in other countries! Most bizarrely, he even attempted to start a grenadier breeding programme, using similarly-large women!
When Frederick-William died in 1740 the regiment had grown to 3,200 men and was ridiculously expensive to maintain. Frederick II immediately reduced the regiment to a single battalion and designated his own regiment, the 15th as the new ‘Garde‘ (which was expanded to three battalions using transferees from the down-sized 6th).
As a mark of their historical lineage, the 6th retained the title ‘Grenadier-Garde‘ and the entire battalion was dressed as grenadiers. The only other permanent battalion in the army to be dressed as grenadiers was the III Battalion of the 15th ‘Garde‘ Regiment. The 6th and III/15th were therefore the only grenadier battalions in the entire Prussian army to carry colours and I’ve given these lads a Kompaniefahne. The regiment’s Leibfahne was exactly the same, though had a white centre with blue scroll, instead of the blue centre with white scroll shown here (I made one mistake though – the corner ‘medallions’ should have blue backing for both Kompaniefahnen and Leibfahne).
On the subject of grenadier standard-bearers: Old Glory 15s always included a pile of the bloody things in their grenadier packs, along with lots of officers wearing mitre-caps… Of course as mentioned above, only two grenadier battalions in the entire army had colours and Prussian grenadier officers NEVER wore mitres and instead wore hats. Consequently, I have a lot of spare, redundant figures… 🙁 As I’ve mentioned before, Old Glory’s research did seem to consist purely of looking at the pictures in an Osprey book and not reading the text…
Note also that even though the 6th ‘Grenadier-Garde‘ were all grenadiers, they still had the usual company of ‘flanking’ grenadiers that was detached in wartime to form part of a combined grenadier battalion. The same was true of III/15th ‘Garde‘.
Another oddity that crops up in research is that Duffy refers to the 6th as the ‘Garde-Grenadier-Bataillon‘ and the III/15th as the ‘Grenadier-Garde‘. Kronoskaf and various German sources such as Bleckwenn refer to the 6th ‘Grenadier-Garde‘ and the otherwise untitled III/15th ‘Garde‘, with the only titled battalion of the 15th being the I/15th ‘Leibgarde‘. I’ve gone with the Germans on this…
Above: Garrison Regiment 5 ‘Mützschefahl’ was one of fourteen such regiments in the Prussian Army, being primarily responsible for the garrisoning of Prussia’s fortresses. This regiment had a change of Chef in 1759 and was renamed ‘Sydow’ (aka ‘Jung-Sydow’). Most of these regiments initially consisted of two battalions and two grenadier companies apiece, though the 9th & 13th Regiments had only one battalion and one grenadier company apiece, while the 12th Regiment had a single battalion with no grenadiers. The ‘New Garrison Regiment’ (being the un-numbered 14th regiment) instead had eight independent companies and two grenadier companies.
In peacetime the Garrison Regiments were permanently-manned in contrast to the bulk of the ‘regular’ army, which would be placed on furlough and only called up for annual training and war. Most of their grenadier companies were therefore massed into permanent grenadier battalions in peacetime and were known as ‘Standing Grenadier Battalions’ (see below) and in wartime these battalions mostly served with the field armies. Additionally during the Seven Years War, Frederick ordered most of the Garrison Regiments to expand to four battalions, so that the 1st & 2nd Battalions could serve in the field, leaving the 3rd & 4th Battalions to continue garrison duties. No additional grenadier companies were formed.
Above: The uniforms of the Garrison Regiments were extremely drab, with dark blue waistcoats and breeches matching the coats and no hat-lace. The only distinguishing feature for each regiment was the colour of the cuffs and hat-pompoms. However, the detached grenadier companies could sometimes have a very different uniform including white or buff waistcoat and breeches. Aside from the 1st and 2nd Garrison Regiments, who had colours of the usual pattern with the central ‘black eagle’ motif, the colours of the Garrison Regiments had Frederick’s ‘FR’ cypher in the centre and were usually very plain, with a single coloured field, though the 3rd and 4th Regiments had black corner ‘darts.
When I painted this regiment in the pre-internet era, my only (printed) references made no mention of regimental Leibfahne other than those of the 1st and 2nd Regiments, so I gave the regiment a pair of black Kompaniefahnen. However, more recent research shows that these regiments did have Leibfahnen and in this instance would be a plain white flag, with details the same as the Kompaniefahnen.
As mentioned above, the regimental grenadier companies were detached in wartime and combined with those of another regiment to form a semi-permanent grenadier battalion. These grenadier battalions would not necessarily serve in the same army or even the same theatre of war as their parent regiment.
Each Grenadier Battalion was identified by the name of its commander and in latter histories by the number of their constituent regiments (e.g. GB 3/6 ‘Kleist’ being the battalion formed from the 3rd & 6th Regiments and commanded by Major Kleist). All grenadier battalions formed for the Seven Years War remained in the same groupings for the entire duration of the war, though as they were known by their field commander rather than an absentee aristocratic regimental Chef, the battalion name could change frequently as commanders were killed, wounded or transferred. So GB ‘Kleist’ became ‘Hacke’, ‘Wechmar’, ‘Enckevort’, ‘Plotho’ and back to ‘Hacke’ again as the war progressed. Consequently it’s a lot easier to track them by their regimental numbers, even though these weren’t used at the time.
The Austrians used grenadier companies in a very different manner, generally keeping them with their parent regiments on the march, though detaching them on the eve of battle to be assigned on an ad hoc basis as baggage guards, or to defend a specific location, or to beef up the Grenze skirmish screen and only occasionally as combined grenadier battalions.
Oh and with the exception of IR 6 and III/15 mentioned above, GRENADIER BATTALIONS DIDN’T CARRY FLAGS! Figure manufacturers please take note…
Above: Grenadier Battalion 13/26 was formed from the grenadier companies of Musketeer Regiment 13 ‘Itzenplitz/Syburg’ (in their pale straw facings and silvered caps) and Musketeer Regiment 26 ‘Meyerinck/Wedel/Linden’ (red facings, yellow lace and brass caps). This hard-fighting battalion got through quite a few commanders (and associated name-changes) during the course of the war (more than any other unit in the army, in fact!), being successively known as ‘Finck’, ‘Bornstädt’, ‘Kreckwitz’, ‘Homboldt’, ‘Billerbeck’, ‘Schwerin’ and ‘Kalckstein’.
Above: Grenadier Battalion 47/g7 was formed from the grenadier companies of Füsilier Regiment 47 ‘Wietersheim/Rohr/Grabow’ (yellow facings) and Garrison Regiment 7 ‘Lange/Itzenplitz’ (crimson facings). The battalion was initially named ‘Wangenheim’, then became ‘Carlowitz’ and lastly ‘Bock’. Note that this was the only grenadier battalion to include Garrison Grenadiers that wasn’t a Standing Grenadier Battalion.
Since painting these some 25 years ago, both Bleckwenn and Kronoskaf disagree with me re the colour of these Garrison Grenadiers’ breeches and waistcoats. They should probably have white breeches and waistcoats instead of dark blue.
Above: Standing Grenadier Battalion 1 was unusual in that it comprised the grenadier companies of three regiments: Garrison Regiment 3 ‘Hellermann/Grolmann’, Garrison Regiment 4 ‘Grape/Jungkenn Müntzer/Lettow’ and the New Garrison Regiment. The battalion was initially named ‘Kahlden’, but changed successively during the war to ‘Wangenheim’, ‘Buddenbrock’ and ‘Carlowitz’.
However, as mentioned above, I was painting these based on my only printed sources of the time – the relevant Osprey book by Haythornthwaite and Duffy’s ‘The Army of Frederick The Great (2nd Edition)’ and therefore based these uniforms on those of the parent regiments (with the exception of the New Garrison Regiment – these grenadiers were mentioned by Haythornthwaite as having different uniforms).
Having since got my hands on Bleckwenn’s four-volume guide to the uniforms of the Prussian Army, I find that these grenadier companies wore totally different uniforms to those of their parent regiments. Bleckwenn describes the grenadiers of G3 as having red facings and white smallclothes (the mitre cap is not described), while those of G4 again have red facings, but also have red smallclothes, white metal buttons and an old-fashioned red cloth-fronted mitre cap, blue bag, red band and white piping. Bleckwenn also shows an alternative silver mitre cap with blue bag, white band and white piping.
Kronoskaf meanwhile shows the same brass-fronted mitre for all three contingents, with brass band, red bag, yellow piping and red-within-white pompom. Buttons are brass for all. G4 and the NGR both have straw-coloured smallclothes, while G3 has white.
Above: Standing Grenadier Battalion 6. I’m pleased to report that this time the grenadiers of this battalion did at least wear a uniform that vaguely resembled what I’ve painted! The battalion comprised the grenadiers of Garrison Regiment 6 ‘Lattorf/Saß’ (orange facings and pompoms) and Garrison Regiment 8 ‘Nettelhorst/Quadt’ (black facings with rose-pink pompoms). The battalion was initially named ‘Plötz’, but changed during the course of the war to ‘Rohr’ and ‘Busche’.
I’ve mostly got these uniforms correct, though both Bleckwenn and Kronoskaf describe the smallclothes as being white, not dark blue. They also describe the backs of the mitres as being in the facing colour (orange and black respectively), piped white. I followed the Osprey and did them dark blue, piped in orange for GR6 and pink for GR8. 🙁
Anyway, that’s enough for now! Next time I’ll look at some Prussian cavalry regiments, which I’ve hopefully painted at least half-right… 🙁