‘All The Emperor’s Men’ (Part 1): Imperial Auxiliary Troops of the Seven Years War

The Rot-Würzburg Regiment defends Leuthen Churchyard against the Grenadiers of the Prussian Garde, 5th December 1757

First an apology to lovers of all things Jungle Green, Khaki Drill and Olive Drab and/or tracked; I’ve still got stacks and stacks of WW2 and Cold War stuff to post here (and more besides), but I’m on a bit of a Seven Years War roll at the moment…

As mentioned a few months (and 800 figures) ago when I rediscovered my SYW mojo, I kicked it all off by painting the Würzburg ‘Red’ Regiment, which was raised by the Archbishop-Elector of Würzburg, in return for Austrian cash, to serve as an auxiliary corps under Austrian command.  This regiment was one of many raised by the states of the Holy Roman Empire to fight in the Seven Years War.  These regiments fall generally into two groups; first, those raised at Austrian (and sometimes French) expense to serve as auxiliary units under the command of the Austrian Army (or occasionally the French Army) and second, those raised to serve as part of the Imperial Reichsarmee.  

I started painting a Reichsarmee/Imperial Auxiliary force back in the 1990s and at the time painted eleven battalions, generals and four regiments of cavalry.  Since November I’ve added a further 29 battalions, plus artillery and generals and there’s still plenty more to come, particularly in terms of cavalry and a few infantry battalions to complete the order of battle for the Battle of Rossbach.  I’ll probably then add some more infantry and cavalry units for the later battles featuring the Reichsarmee.  In the meantime, here are a few of the units I’ve already painted:

Imperial Auxiliary Corps Serving With The Austrian Army

Württemberg

In addition to maintaining its treaty commitment to the Reichsarmee, the Duchy of Württemberg also raised an Auxiliary Corps of ten infantry battalions, three grenadier battalions and a company of artillery essentially to serve as a mercenary force in order to swell the Duke’s coffers.  Serving initially with the Austrian Army (disastrously so at the Battle of Leuthen), the French later paid for the corps and at one point, the Duke even considered accepting offers from the British to fight on the other side! 

Followers of this blog will probably remember that I painted the entire Württemberg Auxiliary Corps in my first personal painting challenge last November, so I won’t go into detail again here.  Just follow the link (or click on the photo) back to the earlier article.  I will at some point expand this army to include cavalry, which did fight when under French command.  I’ve got a pile of spare Old Glory Austrian Horse Grenadiers who will make passable Württemberg Horse Grenadiers and some spare Austrian Cuirassiers who might become the Cuirassier Regiment ‘Von Phull’.

Bavaria

Again in addition to maintaining its commitment to the Reichsarmee, the Electorate of Bavaria raised a divisional-sized Auxiliary Corps of ten battalions at Austrian expense, bringing badly-needed cash into Bavaria’s struggling treasury.  Although badly hammered at the Battle of Leuthen and perpetually under-strength, the corps operated under Austrian command for the duration of the war. 

As with the Württembergers and as regular readers will know, I recently painted the entire Bavarian contingent as a personal painting challenge, with the ultimate intent of completing the order of battle for the Battle of Leuthen.  I won’t therefore go into details of regiments and uniforms here.  Just follow the link or click on the picture above to the relevant article.

Würzburg

In addition to its commitment to the Reichsarmee, the Prince-Diocese of Würzburg signed an agreement with Austria to supply two regiments of infantry, each numbering a little over 1,800 men (two battalions (each of six companies) plus two grenadier companies per regiment).  Provided that the Bishop raised one regiment at his own expense, Austria would pay all costs for the second.  The first regiment was raised in 1756 and was known as the ‘Red’ Regiment (Roth- or Rot-Würzburg) from its facing colour.   Unlike so many Imperial contingents, the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg paid close attention to his tiny army and the Würzburgers proved to be excellent troops.

Joining the garrison of Prague alongside another Imperial auxiliary regiment, the Mainz ‘Lamberg’ Infantry Regiment (which I will be painting soon!), the Rot-Würzburgers were soon in action during the successful defence of the city against the Prussians in 1757.  

In the meantime, the second regiment, entitled the ‘Blue’ Regiment or Blau-Würzburg (again reflecting the regimental facing colour) was raised and sent to reinforce the Reichsarmee in Franconia, where it was soon in action against Prussian raiders.  In August 1757, the Reichsarmee combined with Marshal Soubise’s French army and the combined armies invaded Prussian-occupied Saxony.  Despite his defeat against the Austrians at Kolin and his subsequent retreat from Bohemia, Frederick was swift to respond and his army smashed the combined Franco-Imperial Army on 5th November 1757 at the Battle of Rossbach.  The Reichsarmee in particular was very quick to break, though the Blau-Würzburg Regiment, alongside similarly-superb Hessen-Darmstädt Kreis-Infanterie Regiment, held their ground and withdrew from the field in good order.

Sadly I haven’t yet painted Blau-Würzburg, though they are on my ‘to do’ list.

Following Frederick’s withdrawal from Bohemia after his defeat at Kolin, Rot-Würzburg was assigned to a field army for the Austrian invasion of Silesia.  The regiment’s finest, though bloodiest hour came on 5th December 1757 at the Battle of Leuthen when, with the Austrian left flank collapsing, Rot-Würzburg was assigned the key task of holding Leuthen Church.  Rot-Würzburg held their position against ever-increasing odds, until at last Frederick committed the grenadiers of his Garde Regiment (as shown in the painting at the top of this article) and the regiment was finally thrown out of the position.  Rot-Würzburg had suffered the loss of 24 officers and 755 men killed or captured during its defence of the churchyard and only 217 men remained unwounded.

Both regiments were rebuilt and fought in numerous other engagements and both eventually served with the Reichsarmee, though there was apparently a bitter enmity between them.  Nevertheless in 1761, with casualties and expenses rapidly mounting and with Blau-Würzburg reduced to a single battalion, the Bishop of Würzburg was forced to amalgamate the two regiments into a single regiment.

Imperial uniforms mostly fell into one of two camps: ‘Prussian Style’ and ‘Austrian Style’.  Würzburg uniforms were very much in the Austrian camp, being indistinguishable from Austrian ‘German’ infantry uniform and I’ve therefore used Old Glory 15s Austrian (German) Infantry figures.  The coats and smallclothes were white, with red lapels, cuffs, turnbacks and neck-stocks (no collar or shoulder-strap).  Buttons were white metal.  Hats had white lace and red-over-white pompoms.  Grenadiers had brown-black bearskins with a front-plate (variously described as brass or white metal) and a red bag with white piping.  Officers had yellow silk sashes.  Drummers had the same uniform with the addition of white-laced red swallows’ nests.

The flags are taken from Kronoskaf, and are interpretations based on a surviving description of the flags.  I’ve used the images to create flags that I then printed on my laser-printer.  I don’t know how many flags each battalion carried, but I’ve followed the usual pattern of a white Leibfahne for the 1st Battalion and a (red) coloured Ordinärfahne for the 2nd Battalion.

As the Würzburgers went with the large Austrian-style six-company battalion organisation, I’ve gone with large 16-figure units for these chaps.  The Grenadier companies would normally have been detached, but I’ve attached them to the right flank of each battalion simply because a.  Old Glory 15s are now only supplied in packs of 25 figures and b. I have an enormous stash of spare Austrian grenadiers! 🙂 

Saxony

Saxony was very quickly knocked out of the war by Frederick’s invasion of 1756, with the Saxon Army being conscripted en masse into the Prussian Army.  However, a number of regiments remained within Saxon-ruled Poland and the King of Saxony placed a number of these under Austrian command, namely the Karabiniergarde, the Graf Renard Uhlans, the Graf Rudnicki Uhlans, the Graf Brühl Chevauxlégers, the Prinz Karl Chevauxlégers and the Prinz Albrecht Chevauxléxlegers

The two Saxon-Polish Uhlan regiments proved to be superb light cavalry and highly skilled in the petit guerre of scouting and raiding, though didn’t take part in any major battles (which is fortunate, as I can’t find any decent figures for them).  However, the others were assigned to Marshal Daun’s main army in Bohemia and excelled themselves at the Battle of Kolin (with the exception of the Karabiniergarde, who were routed by Prussian Dragoons).  Saxon cavalry throughout history have often been among the best in Europe and these regiments were no exception to that rule.  They fought on with the Austrian Army throughout the Seven Years War, even after the re-creation of the Royal Saxon Army, though by the end they were apparently ‘dressed in rags’. 

The Karabiniergarde was one of two Saxon Guard Cuirassier regiments, the other being the Garde du Corps.  It had been assigned to the Warsaw Garrison since 1754 and therefore escaped the surrender of the Saxon Army at Pirna in 1756.  At full strength the regiment had 514 men organised into four squadrons, though the contingent sent to join Marshal Daun’s Austrian army in Bohemia had only around 350 men organised into two squadrons, hence the small size of the unit shown here.  The remainder were presumably kept back to garrison Warsaw.

These figures are Freikorps 15 figures, painted by my mate Gareth Beamish for the late Doug Weatherall’s collection and now in my own collection.  I’ve recently given them a new standard using the Kronoskaf image and printed on my own laser-printer.  However, the uniform doesn’t match the one described in the Kronoskaf article, as the Karabiniergarde is there described as having white/silver hat lace and edging to the horse furniture and its trumpeters were dressed in red coats with white facings and lace. 

There is a very good reason for this mistake… Back in the pre-internet 1990s, our ONLY source for Saxon uniforms was the 1970s-vintage booklet by Pengel & Hurt.  I’ve just had a look and this booklet doesn’t actually mention the Karabiniergarde at all and the uniform shown is therefore the one described in Pengel & Hurt for the Leib-Cuirassiers.  Doug had labelled them as ‘Leib-Carabiniers’, so had understandably got the two regiments confused.  We’ve all been there… Anyway, I won’t be correcting them, as these lads fought hard for Doug and I won’t dishonour them now! 🙂 

The Saxon Chevauxlégers (above) are often defined in wargame army lists as ‘light cavalry’.  However, while the literal translation obviously means ‘Light Horse’, the French definition of that term simply meant anyone lighter than a fully-armoured gendarme!  So in the French army, ‘Chevauxlégers’ were the main heavy cavalry type, being routinely issued with cuirasses and armoured skull-caps and classed heavier than Dragoons; not exactly what might be termed ‘light cavalry’. 

In the Saxon Army, the troopers of the Chevauxlégers were given the title of ‘Dragoon’ and clearly filled that niche in the Saxon order of battle, being used for scouting but also eminently capable of charging hard in the line of battle, so I class them as Dragoons rather than putting them on a par with Hussars.  However, there is one small fly in the ointment in terms of classification, in that the three regiments shown here were initially mounted on Polish horses which were normally classed as light cavalry mounts.  However, once assigned to the Austrian Army they would have received Austrian remounts.  There was a fourth regiment, the Graf Rutowsky Chevauxlégers (captured at Pirna), which was mounted on heavier German breeds.

The Chevauxléger Regiments were each organised into four squadrons, with 762 men at full strength.  When committed to the Austrian Army in 1757 they were fairly close to full strength and in 1759 they actually exceeded 800 men per regiment!  One of the eight companies (i.e. half-squadrons) in each regiment was designated as the elite Carabinier Company, though I’ve never found any information regarding special uniform distinctions for these men and they were probably dressed the same as the rest.

I painted these sometime around 1997/98 for our demo game of the Battle of Kolin (back in those days I’d paint all my flags!).  I used Old Glory 15s Austrian Dragoon figures for these troops and I really like them.  Lovely sculpting and stacks of character!  However, I ended up with a whole pile of spare Horse Grenadier figures (the old pack contained roughly 22 Dragoons, with command figures for two regiments and eight Horse Grenadiers).  But no matter, as those figures will eventually become the Württemberg Leib Grenadier à Cheval Regiment and the Prussian ‘Kleist’ Freikorps Dragoon Regiment.

The Graf Brühl Chevauxlégers wore an iron grey coat with lapels, cuffs, turnbacks, collar and waistcoat in bleumourant (a bright shade of light blue), white metal buttons and a white aiguillette on the right shoulder.  Breeches and gloves were straw-coloured.  Neck-stocks were red.  Belts were white.  Horse furniture was bleumourant with white-red-white-red-white lace edging and ‘AR3’ cyphers in red, edged white, on the rear corners and holster-caps.  The hat had a white cockade and bleumourant rosettes in the corners.  Pengel & Hurt describe yellow hat-lace (gold for officers), while Kronoskaf describes white hat-lace (silver for officers).  Officers wore silver & crimson sashes.

The trumpeters and drummers of the Graf Brühl Chevauxlégers wore bleumorant coats with white facings and yellow lace on lapels and cuffs, as well as yellow lace swallows’ nests on the shoulders.  Most unusually, they are recorded as being mounted on piebald horses.

The 1st Squadron carried a white Leibstandarte decorated with the arms of the Kingdom of Poland in the centre and ‘AR3’ cyphers in the corners.  The other three squadrons each carried an Ordinärstandarte in bleumourant decorated with a large crowned ‘AR3’ cypher in the centre, above a green palm wreath, with corner medallions comprising the heraldic badges of Saxony, Poland, Lithuania and the Marshal of the Holy Roman Empire (a ceremonial office held by the Elector of Saxony).  Staves were silver and the finials were gold.

The Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlégers wore a uniform very similar to that of the Graf Brühl Chevauxlégers, except that the distinguishing colour this time was green (described by Pengel & Hurt as grass green) and the horse furniture had plain white cyphers, with yellow stripes on the white edging instead of red.  Kronoskaf and Pengel & Hurt again disagree on the colour of the hat-lace; P&H again say yellow, while Kronoskaf says white.

The trumpeters and drummers of the Prinz Albrecht Chevauxlégers again followed the same pattern, having green coats with white facings.  The lace this time was white.  Their horses again were piebald.

Standards were of exactly the same pattern as before, except the Ordinärstandarten were ponceau red.

The Prinz Karl Chevauxlégers had very different colourings to the other regiments, having bright green coats with cuffs, turnbacks, collar and waistcoat in poppy red, yellow metal buttons and a yellow aiguillette on the right shoulder.  Pengel & Hurt and Kronoskaf disagree on the lapel-colour; P&H says green lapels, while Kronoskaf says red.  Breeches and gloves were straw-coloured.  Neck-stocks were red.  Belts were white.  Horse furniture was bright green.  Pengel & Hurt describe the edging as plain yellow, though Kronoskaf describes yellow-red-yellow-red-yellow lace edging.  This time there were no cyphers on the horse furniture.  The hat had yellow lace (gold for officers), a white cockade and red rosettes in the corners.  Officers wore silver & crimson sashes.

The trumpeters and drummers of the Prinz Karl Chevauxlégers had poppy red coats with green facings and yellow lace, this time including upward-pointing lace chevrons on each sleeve.  There was no specified horse colour for the trumpeters and drummers of this regiment.

The standards again followed the same pattern, though the Ordinärstandarten were now poppy red.

Saxon general officers all wore a standard regulation uniform which came into service from 1753.  It consisted of a ponceau red coat with cuffs and collar in the same colour.  The collar, cuffs and pockets were edged in a double row of gold lace, as were the front seams of the coat.  The waistcoat was straw-coloured and had another double-row of gold lace down the front  seams, with a line of red between the gold.  Breeches were straw and white gloves were usually worn.  The hat was edged with straight or scalloped gold lace and split white ostrich feathers, with a white cockade held in place with a gold strap.  The sash was mixed silver and crimson.  Horse furniture was crimson with gold lace edging.

This figure was originally a Prussian general by Old Glory 15s.

Anyway, ’nuff for now!  Next time I’ll post up some units of the Reichsarmee.

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Seven Years War & War of Austrian Succession, Seven Years War Austrian Army, Seven Years War Minor German States, Shako Rules. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to ‘All The Emperor’s Men’ (Part 1): Imperial Auxiliary Troops of the Seven Years War

  1. Paul says:

    Fantastic work (and work-rate!) – they’re a great spectacle. 800 since November is truly impressive, especially given the quality of the finished product. I’ve managed about 120 AB 18mm’s, which is good going for me. I must try harder!

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Paul! 🙂 I must admit that I do have a tactical advantage… though this is probably the most concentrated painting effort I’ve ever put in (and for no apparent reason!).

  2. Dinos Antoniadis says:

    A wonderful display of your prolific work and beautifully painted, massive armies!
    I am awed by the richness of information your provide in this article, a real treasure trove! I’ll store it as a source of inspiration, thank you for this!
    -Blau Wurtzburg is in my to to list.
    -If you discover proper Saxon Uhlan figures in 15mm, please let me know.
    -I would also like to find about a dozen Austrian horse grenadiers, but I don’t see such on Timecast’s site. Can I do a decent proxy with French fur hat cavalry?
    Following with great interest! Cheers!
    DintheDin

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Dinos! 🙂

      I must confess that I haven’t been looking too hard for Saxon Uhlans, simply because I didn’t feel I needed them. I know that OG 15s, Eureka and Blue Moon don’t do them, but they might be found in one of the larger, older ranges such as Essex, Minifigs or Freikorps 15?

      Re Horse Grenadiers: I really don’t understand what OG 15s have done with their range. They used to come in bags of 100 infantry, including about 8 sets of command and other bits and pieces such as a mounted colonel. So you could do eight 12-figure battalions, six 16-figure battalions, four 24-figure battalions with two flags apiece or three 32-figure battalions, etc. The packs still had their issues (such as having to buy enormous quantities of elite company figures, bad research such as grenadier standard-bearers, etc), but they were good for wargamers at any scale. Cavalry were 30 per bag (31 for Prussian cuirassiers – the extra being a Garde du Corps vexillium), including enough command figures for two regiments. Now they’ve changed it to 24-figure infantry packs, with only one set of command, including a single standard-bearer, so they’re only of use to me now if I convert officers into standard-bearers and dip into my reserve stash. The cavalry have gone the other way, to 9-figure units, so if I use those I’ll be buying stacks of superfluous command figures. And as you’ve noticed, they’ve dropped figures such as Horse Grenadiers. What were they thinking…?

      Anyway, yes, the French cavalry in bearskin should be fine. I don’t have any myself, but you can see the tricorned OG 15 French cavalry figures standing in for Swedes on this blog. The OG 15s Horse Grenadiers have front-plates on their bearskins, which a lot of Austrian Horse Grenadiers didn’t have, so you’re probably better off using French anyway! In fact, I’m using them for the Kleist Dragoons, who will look fine from the front, but the back of the cap is totally wrong – the Kleist Dragoon cap was a fur-fronted Prussian Fusilier cap, so had the metalwork and spike at the back, not a cloth bag… But what the hell… 🙂

  3. Steve J says:

    That’s a lovely looking set of units, make no mistake about it! Nice to have a dash of history too:)

  4. Martin H says:

    I too have been searching for Saxon-Polish Uhlans in 15mm for SYW, and, whilst it s true they are mostly an adornment to an army, I am now more determined than ever to find some, because its been such a challenge. The nearest I have found – not that near – are some Essex cossacks, but they have no obvious command figures to join the unit, so I’ve held off buying.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Yes, I’d be very keen to get some. No, they didn’t turn up to a major battle, but they will be trotting around our campaign map, so would be very nice to have.

  5. Pingback: ‘All The Emperor’s Men’ (Part 2): The Reichsarmee | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

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