Saturday 20 November 2021

The flags of the French Volontaires de Hainaut, formerly those of the Arquebusiers de Grassin

I return briefly to my beloved French flags. Kronoskaf and the website Nec Pluribus Impar say that the Volontaires de Hainaut carried the flags of the Arquebusiers de Grassin, which I cannot find confirmed anywhere else, but as the thought pleases me I shall go along with it, as it means the flags can be used both in the WAS and SYW.

The Arquebusiers de Grassin were first raised January 1744. At first they consisted of 1300 men in total, including 900 fusiliers in nine companies, 100 grenadiers in two companies and 300 cavalry in six companies. An additional 200 cavalry were raised in 1745 but in 1748 they were progressively reduced to a total of only 340 men by December that year. In August 1749 they were incorporated into the Volontaires de Flandres.

Their somewhat exotic uniform is well known.

They saw much action in the War of Austrian Succession. At Fontenoy in May 1745 they were thrown into the Wood of Bary. At the battle of Rocoux along with the Fusiliers de la Morlière (with whom they often fought) they spearheaded the attack on the village of Hans, contributing to the withdrawal of the enemy left wing followed by the retreat of much of the rest of the enemy army. They were opposed by Pandours and Croats during much of the action. At the end of the action they attacked the Dutch artillery which withdrew, although the Grassins captured 22 guns and more than 60 artillery carts with teams. They also attacked and attempted to destroy bridges over the Meuse which the enemy was using in its retreat. At the battle of Lauffeld they were similarly employed on the right of the army but overthrown by the British cavalry. They were also at the siege of Huy in August 1746.

The Volontaires de Hainaut were raised in April 1757 by splitting the Volontaires de Flandres in two. The unit consisted of six companies of 70 men each, including 30 dragoons. In February 1758 it consisted of eight companies of 75 men each - 40 fusiliers and 35 dragoons. The unit became the Legion de Hainaut in December 1762, the Legion de Lorraine in 1768 and was disbanded in 1776.

The Osprey on the light troops of Louis XV has a useful summary of the unit's activities in the Seven Years War (and Kronoskaf has a more detailed account). The Volontaires de Hainaut saw much action in the Seven Years War. They first saw action at the battle of Hastenbeck in 1757, then took part in the surprise attack on Harbourg, where they captured hundreds of enemy soldiers and several flags but the unit was captured after the surrender of the garrison of Minden in March 1758, following a stubborn resistance. It was re-raised by a new commander, Thomas-Auguste de Grandmaison, who was the author of La Petite Guerre, a treatise on partisan and light troop warfare. Having been sent to Germany the unit fought at Bork, Minden, Mardorf, Nordecken and Laughaus in 1758, rescued Bercheny's hussars in a fight in July 1760 and then captured Minden in August. Its most famous feat was its capture of the infantry of G'shray's Prussian Frei Korps at Nordhausen in August 1761.

And this is the fusilier uniform in 1757:

And these were the later SYW flags of the Volontaires de Hainaut:

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Prague Prussian Flags Project - Flags of Prussian Infantry Regiment 29 von Schultze

Chefs: from 17th April 1747 Major General Hans Caspar Ernst von Schultze, later Lieutenant General, died 2nd December 1757 of wounds received at Breslau; from 5th January 1758 (to 1764) Major General Carl Gottfried von Knobloch, later Commandant of Schweidnitz

In 1756 IR29 was with Schwerin's 2nd Silesian Corps which withdrew on October. In April 1757 IR29 marched to join the King's Army. At Prague on May 6th, after the failure of Winterfeldt's attack, it was with Hautcharmoy's Division leading the breakthrough south of Kej but at the Rokenitz Brook suffered heavy casualties ((Duffy, Army of Frederick the Great, 1st Edition, henceforth AFG1, shows at least 25% casualties) until saved by the advance of Schwerin's wing of the army. At Kolin on 18th June it was given the task of taking the Krzeczhorz Heights on the left flank with the advance guard under Major General von Hülsen. After repeated attacks which appeared to have succeeded by 5.30pm, Austrian counter-attacks completely overcame the Prussians who were defeated with heavy losses on the entire battlefield.  (AFG1 shows at least 40% casualties in IR29.)

With Bevern in August the regiment took up a fortified position on the River Lohe at Breslau, and in the defeat on 22nd November Lieutenant General von Schultze was mortally wounded. Breslau then surrendered to the Austrians. IR29 was reduced to only one-tenth of its numbers and the remainder retired to Berlin to be reformed.

In 1758 IR29 joined Prince Heinrich's Saxon Corps, whose task was to protect Saxony against much superior enemy forces. Major General C. H. von Wedell was its chef for only three months until transferred to IR26. At Hochkirch on October 14th the regiment lost at least 75% casualties (AFG1).

In the spring of 1759 the regiment was part of the advance into Franconia but then fought at Kunersdorf on August 21st and suffered heavy losses in the infantry fight on the Kuhgrund (AFG1 shows at least 45% casualties). One battalion was taken prisoner at Maxen on November 21st. The remaining battalion occupied Breslau in 1760 and the grenadiers fought at Liegnitz and Torgau (losses at Liegnitz were at least 20% (AFG1); the grenadiers of IR29 were combined with those of IR31).

Having been recruited up to full strength again IR29 joined the Goltz Corps in 1761 and experienced the advance through Gostin and Krölin and the subsequent breakthrough across the Spie Brook to the Württemberg Corps on October 2nd. But the regiment was then surrendered by its chef von Knobloch at Treptow on October 25th.

In 1762 it was in garrison in Breslau, and then both the regiment and the grenadiers took part in the siege of Schweidnitz from August 8th to October 10th; possession of Schweidnitz was crucial in deciding the ultimate control of Silesia by the Prussians at the end of the war.

Christopher Duffy (Army of Frederick the Great, 1st Edition) says: "Badly mauled at Kolin, Hochkirch and Kunersdorf. One battalion lost at Maxen". Of its grenadiers, he says: "Distinguished at Liegnitz. Suffered heavily at Kunersdorf and Torgau". Despite its unlucky record in the SYW, the regiment was in favour with Frederick after the war.

And this was the uniform in 1756: