All The Emperor’s Men (Part 3): Reichsarmee Cavalry

Having flipped to painting Napoleonics for a few weeks, I’ve now flopped back to painting my Seven Years War armies, starting with some cavalry regiments for the Imperial Reichsarmee.  These were yet another über-stalled project, as I painted the first regiment in 1997 and it’s taken me nearly 25 years to paint the remainder… 🙂

In Part 2 of this series I covered the units I’d painted thus far for the Reichsarmee.  These regiments represent pretty much the entire cavalry arm of the Reichsarmee, which to be honest, wasn’t very much and what there was wasn’t very impressive.  Most of the squadrons were raised from dozens of tiny district contingents (some contingents being as weak as a single man and horse), with only a few (two squadrons of Pfalz cuirassiers) being regular troops.  As in Part 2, I’ll group them by Imperial district or Kreis (‘Circle’).

The Electoral Rhenish District (Kurrheinischen Kreis)

As one of the richer Imperial ‘Circles’, containing as it did the dominions of the Elector-Archbishop of Mainz, the (‘Baby-Eating’) Elector-Archbishop of Köln, the Elector-Archbishop of Trier and the Elector-Palatine (Pfalz), this district was meant to provide 1,800 cavalry to the Reichsarmee.  However, the three Elector-Archbishops completely failed to meet their commitments in this regard, leaving it to Pfalz to raise a single regiment of horse, the Kurpfalz Cuirassier Regiment.

The Kurpfalz Cuirassiers (also referred to in some sources as the ‘Hatzfeld Carabiniers’) were formed from the 2nd and 3rd Squadrons of the Pfalz Prinz Friedrich Michael von Pfalz-Zweibrücken Cavalry Regiment and the Oberrheinische Kreiseskadron.  Each squadron had three companies and the regiment had a total paper strength of around 450 men.  Despite being formed from elements of the standing army of Pfalz, the regiment did not perform well and no better (or worse) than the other cavalry regiments of the Reichsarmee.  Despite that and despite suffering very heavy casualties at the Battle of Rossbach, they (along with the rest of the Reichsarmee cavalry regiments) remained in action for the duration of the war.

The two contingents forming the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers had different uniforms, though I’ve used Old Glory 15s Austrian Dragoon figures for both contingents.  Both contingents had a white coat without lapels, straw-coloured smallclothes, black neck-stocks, white belts and an unlaced hat with black cockade.  It’s not clear if they wore cuirasses during this period, but if they did, they were probably worn under the coat (I’ve left the waistcoats black to give that impression).  The Prinz Friedrich Cuirassiers had red cuffs, collar and linings, with yellow ‘metal’, a mixed red & white aiguillette and yellow shabraques and holster-flaps with white lace edging.  

The Oberrheinische Kreiseskadron had light blue colourings instead of red, with white ‘metal’ and light blue horse furniture, edged with narrow white piping.  There is no information on trumpeters of either contingent, so I’ve painted a trumpeter for the Prince Friedrich Cuirassiers in reversed colours of red with white facings. 

Standards are also not recorded, though Pfalz regimental standards were usually white with very elaborate designs featuring the arms of Pfalz on the obverse and the Virgin Mary on the reverse, while the squadron standards are thought to have been light blue with the Palatinal monogram on the obverse and various district arms on the reverse.  Given the vagueness of the details, I must confess that I’ve used a spare Austrian cuirassier standard, as it has the Virgin on the reverse the Imperial eagle on the obverse.  It’ll do until something better comes along.

Upon his appointment to command the Reichsarmee in 1758, Prince Friedrich Michael of Pfalz-Zweibrücken reinforced the Reichsarmee cavalry arm with the Pfalz Kurfürstin Leibdragoner-Regiment.  This regiment was expanded at around the same time from three to five squadrons (each of two companies), for a total of around 800 men.  This regiment wore red coats with black lapels, cuffs and collar, red linings, yellow ‘metal’ and aiguillette, straw smallclothes, an unlaced black hat with black cockade, white belts and red horse-furniture with yellow lace edging.  One company was designated as Horse Grenadiers and these wore a brown-black bearskin cap with brass plate and red bag, piped and tasseled yellow (shown on the right).  

I have the Kurfürstin Leibdragoner-Regiment waiting in the Lead-Dungeon to be painted, but they might have to wait a while.  The regiment did not get off to a good start, as over 500 men were captured in May 1759.  However, they quickly made good the losses and the regiment was back up to five squadrons by the time of the Combat of Strehla in August 1760.  

One other Pfalz cavalry regiment to join the Reichsarmee was a mysterious unit by the name of the Husarenkorps Merckel.  This was apparently raised in 1760 and comprised four squadrons, but nothing more is known about it.

Franconian District (Fränkischen Kreis)

Franconia raised two cavalry regiments for the Reichsarmee; the Bayreuth Cuirassier Regiment and the Ansbach Dragoon Regiment, each organised as five squadrons, each of two companies, raised from dozens of tiny contingents (23 for the Bayreuth Cuirassiers and 27 for the Ansbach Dragoons).  Each regiment had a paper strength of around 700 men, though when they went to war in 1757, the Bayreuth Cuirassiers were only able to field 353 men, with the Ansbach Dragoons faring little better with 519.  The French Marshal Soubise, commanding the combined Franco-Imperial Army in Saxony, also considered both regiments to be ‘Poor’.  Nevertheless and despite disasters such as Rossbach and Zinna, both regiments actually increased their strength and spent much of the rest of the war close to their paper strength.

The Bayreuth Cuirassiers wore white coats with red lapels, cuffs and linings and yellow ‘metal’.  Many depictions show the coat as being pale straw-coloured in Prussian style, but that uniform wasn’t adopted until 1775.  This was worn over a buff leather jerkin edged in red lace, though all that was hidden by a black cuirass, which had white metal fittings and was edged with red cloth.  A red sash was apparently worn around the waist and went over the cuirass (though this may have been a 1775 addition).  Breeches and belts were white.  Neck-stocks were black.  The hats were edged with yellow lace and had black cockades with red corner-rosettes.  Horse furniture was red, edged yellow.  I’ve used Old Glory 15s Austrian Cuirassier figures for this regiment.

Trumpeters are recorded as wearing reversed colours of red coats with white facings, all richly decorated with golden lace (the county of Bamberg is recorded as complaining about the expense of the trumpeters’ lace).

Descriptions of the standards are very vague, though the squadron standards seem to have been red and probably featured the black Imperial eagle on the obverse and county heraldry on the reverse.  The regimental standard was probably similar, though in white.  I confess to having again used a spare Austrian cuirassier standard here.

The Ansbach Dragoons wore white coats with light blue lapels, cuffs and linings, a mixed light blue & white aiguillette and white ‘metal’.  The lapels and cuffs were decorated with white buttonhole lace; three on each cuff and four pairs on each lapel.  Smallclothes were straw, belts were white and neck-stocks were black.  Hats were laced white, with a black cockade and no corner rosettes.  Horse furniture was light blue, edged with white lace incorporating a light blue zig-zag pattern.

I’ve again used Old Glory 15s Austrian Dragoons for these lads, though for some reason the light blue facings look very pale in these photos; undoubtedly an artefact of the lighting conditions when I took the photos.

Officers of the regiment wore silver lace instead of white and had red sashes striped with black.  Drummers are known to have worn reversed colours of light blue coats, faced white, probably decorated in mixed light blue & white lace.

The Ansbach Dragoons‘ standards are described in suitably vague terms.  As usual, the regimental standard was coloured white, while the squadrons had dark blue standards edged in silver and decorated with the arms of the various counties making up the regiment.  It’s not clear if these were square or swallow-tailed in shape.  Again, I’ve opted to use a spare Austrian standard (a swallow-tailed dragoon Leibstandarte) for the time being, until something better comes along.  Maverick Models produce a square, dark blue standard for the ‘Bamberg Cuirassiers’, which is a regiment that didn’t exist at this time.  It’s possible that this is the standard for the 6th Company of the Ansbach Dragoons, as they carried the arms of Bamberg.

Swabian District (Schwäbischen Kreis)

The Swabian District raised two cavalry regiments; the Hohenzollern Cuirassier Regiment and the Württemberg Dragoon Regiment

However, the Württemberg Dragoons only ever reached a maximum strength of 138 men and only had 101 men ready for action at Rossbach.  They are therefore far too small to be represented on table (except perhaps as a couple of figures escorting a general or some such).  That said, they’re an interesting little unit, as their bright blue uniforms, with black facings, yellow linings, yellow ‘metal’ and straw smallclothes did make them look almost exactly like the Prussian Normann Dragoon Regiment (DR 1) and as a consequence they did suffer a nasty case of mistaken ‘friendly-stab’ at Rossbach, when they were overrun by Austrian hussars, who stole their standards! History doesn’t record if the Austrians ever gave their standards back, but the Württemberg Dragoons did change their coat colour to dark blue in an effort to prevent a repeat of the incident!

I did actually discuss the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers in Part 2, as they’re the solitary regiment I painted way back in 1997, but I’ll repeat myself again here.  The regiment was organised as four squadrons, raised from a whopping 61 contingents and having a total paper strength of 600 men, though at Rossbach had only 483 men fit for service.  The regiment was regarded by Marshal Soubise as probably the worst of the Reichsarmee cavalry arm. 

The uniform of the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers was very similar to that of the Bayreuth Cuirassiers described above, with white coats, red facings and horse furniture.  However, they had white ‘metal’ and white lace edging to hats and horse furniture and straw breeches.  It is also not known for certain if they actually wore cuirasses.  Nevertheless, I’ve used Old Glory 15s Austrian Cuirassier figures.

The regiment’s standards are well-recorded and were of a very simple design, as shown above.  The regimental standard was white and the squadron standards were ‘golden’.  The Württemberg Dragoons carried standards of a near-identical pattern.  I was still keen enough to paint my own standards in the 90s (not that we had much choice)!

Anyway, that’s it for now.  I’ve been continuing to write up my ‘Tricorn’ rules over the last few weeks, but it’s a slow process.  I will hopefully be able to continue working on it while sipping sangría by the pool in Tenerife next week! 🙂 I’ve also been working on my SYW British cavalry and following our last game, King Frederick placed an Urgent Operational Requirement for some Freikorps, so I’ve also done two battalions of those wretches, plus skirmishers.  It was a quiet week in work, so I also managed to paint the first of four Artillerie de la Marine (infantry) regiments for the 1813 Campaign.  So there’s lots more to come when I get back…

Hasta la vista!


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, Tricorn (18th Century Shako Rules). Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to All The Emperor’s Men (Part 3): Reichsarmee Cavalry

  1. Steve J says:

    I must admit to a real fondness for the Reichsarmee, even though they were pretty useless as a force. But how could you not resist the sheer variety of units, uniforms and ‘names’ in the force? As ever you troops are a joy to behold:).

  2. Martin Radcliffe says:

    The rate and quality of your painting never ceases to amaze me. Puts me to shame ,and I operate solely in the much simpler painting realm of ACW.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Martin, that’s very kind of you. My rate of painting will drop to zero once I retire (too many distractions at home), but that’s still 15 years or so off yet! 🙂

  3. Neil Youll says:

    Ahhh: Tenerife. I have missed winter sunshine. Enjoy.

  4. Neil Youll says:

    Shame. Hope she feels better soon

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Neill! Just been to the hospital. Thankfully nothing life-threatening, but potentially long-term bloody annoying… 🙁

  5. Pingback: The Combat of Zinna 1759: A Scenario for ‘Tricorn’ | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

  6. Pingback: ‘All The Emperor’s Men’ (Part 9): Yet More Reichsarmee Units! | Jemima Fawr's Miniature Wargames Blog

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