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|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
By T. Snorrason
Maps and drawings by Chr. Würgler Hansen
On the 28th April 1809 Major von Schill of the 2nd Regiment of Brandenburg Hussars marched out from Berlin with his regiment fully equipped for war. The next month hell broke loose in Northern Germany. With his regiment and the troops which joined him as he raised the standard of rebellion, he managed to create a crisis for Napoleon, who was busily engaged in Austria. Although von Schill did not reach his goal of raising all the German states in a revolution against the tyrant he became the hero of the later uprising of 1813-1814.
Who was this Major von Schill?
He was born in 1773 on the family estate at Gothof, in Silesia. In 1789 he came as a Standartenjunker to the hussar regiment, in which his father had served as a colonel in the Seven years war. By chance, General Kalckreuth saw him, thought there was something special about him and offered him a post in his regiment of dragoons. Von Schill, however, showed no signs of being of great military talent, and at the age of 33 he was still only a second lieutenant.
Then came the war of 1806, in which he took part. On a patrol after the sanguinary battles of Jena and Auerstedt, he and his patrol were suddenly surrounded by French cavalry and asked to surrender. Von Schill refused and started a fight, in which he was seriously wounded, but managed to escape. In a miserable state he reached the castle of Colberg, where some Prussian troops were still assembled. From now on his life of adventure started.
In Colberg, which was the last stronghold of the Prussians, he raised a small troop of cavalry from men, who had been separated from their units. With this troop he made, with considerable success, several raids against the French. Slowly his strength increased, but when Gneisenau took over the defence of Colberg, most of his troops were taken from him.
The castle of Colberg was the only Prussian place, which had never been taken by the French, and when peace came, the garrison and its two leaders, Gneisenau and von Schill, were looked upon as heroes by the whole of Prussia.
After the peace in December 1807, the army was reduced. Those regiments, which had not behaved very well were disbanded. Von Schill had the honour to be raised from second lieutenant to major and commander of a regiment consisting of the men he had led at Col- berg. His four squadrons were given the title of “2nd Brandenburg Hussars”. The light infantry, which had fought under him, was turned into a battalion of light infantry, as a part of the King's Life Regiment, under the title of the “Light Battalion von Schill”.
In the years after the Prussian defeat, the German states and Austria awaited the time for an uprising against Napoleon. Numerous secret societies developed under leaders such as Stein, Jahn, Dörnberg, Katte and the Duke of Brunswick. In Hessen the leader was Colonel Dörnberg, who planned a general uprising on the 22nd of April 1809. The time was thought auspicious, as the French had difficulties in Spain as well as in Austria. The northern parts of Germany were very short of French and Allied troops. Furthermore, it was hoped to raise the population in a guerilla movement as in Spain, and that the former German troops in French service would rebel. The plan for the uprising was that Kassel, the main city of Westphalia, should be attacked and King Jerome be taken prisoner. By chance the plan was revealed to the King, and Colonel Dörnberg, whom the King did not suspect of taking part in the uprising, was sent off with the Guard-Chasseurs to subdue the revolt raised in Wolfshagen. On the march the Colonel stopped and invited the troops to follow him in a revolt to liberate their country. A few joined him, but the rest returned to Kassel and reported what had happened.
Dörnberg continued and collected those troops, who had rebelled in the towns around Kassel and a squadron of cuirassiers. With this force he started to march on the city. On the way they met troops from the Westphalian Guards who had all remained loyal to the King, and after a short fight the rebels were repulsed.
Von Schill had been engaged in the plans of a general uprising, but although he had heard of the unsuccessful risings, he decided to try his luck himself.
After his march from Berlin he addressed the men and asked them, if they were willing to follow him. All the men joined him with loud acclaim. The Prussian authorities tried to stop him, when they heard of his march, but he decided the dice had been cast. On the march toward the middle of Germany the news of the Austrian defeat at Regensburg reached him. The success of his expedition depended on Austrian victory - and Napoleon was advancing towards Vienna.
Von Schill asked his officers advice and several plans were discussed - either to join the Austrian forces through Bohemia or march to the coast and there be taken on board an English fleet and join the forces fighting in Spain. Von Schill could for the moment not settle on any plan and declared that first they must prepare for the attack, which was awaited from the French.
On the 5th of May an engagement took place between the revolutionaries and a contingent of Westphalian troops. Altogether the French were only able to put in the field two companies of the French 22nd Line Regiment, four companies of the 1st Westphalian Line Regiment and two six-pounders, all under the command of General Uslar. This little corps amounted to about 1.000 men and most of them were raw recruits.
Against them von Schill had about 400 hussars, 60 mounted riflemen and 50 infantrymen. The affair ended with the rout of the Westphalians and about 200 of them being taken prisoner. Von Schill lost five officers and 70 men.
On the 4th of May almost a whole company of the Light Infantry battalion von Schill deserted from Berlin and marched to join the rebels. On the 12th of May they joined with much enthusiasm at Arneburg. By this time so many had gathered under the standard of rebellion that a full battalion of light infantry could be raised.
The fact that Napoleon did not ignore the events in the North can be seen from the 6th French Army bulletin, dated 9th May at St. Polten, in which it is said that a certain Schill, a sort of brigand who had the title of colonel and who in the Prussian campaign had committed many crimes, had marched together with his whole regiment from Berlin with the ridiculous idea of raising the whole of Germany in fire and insurrection. The Emperor declared that a Corps of Observation on the Elbe should be raised. It should be under the command of Marshall Kellerman and consist of 60.000 men. The avantgarde of this corps should already be on its way to Hanau.
It would, however, take time before it would be possible to send any corps of Observation, as Napoleon needed all the troops, he could gather in Austria. As the French did not trust the Westphalians, and since most of them were recruits, they started instead to collect the Dutch troops, who were garrisoned along the river Weser.
At this time von Schill made his worst mistake, he stayed inactive, unable to determine what to do. For a time he restored the ruined castle of Dömitz on the river Elbe, which he had taken in a raid. After having worked on this place for a time, he saw that this was no solution, as the French under general Gratien had collected what they could of available troops and now marched against him. He sent an envoy to the English to enquire about the possibilities of being taken away in an English fleet from Stralsund, but the envoys did not reach their destination in time, as they were delayed too long in Hamburg.
It was now important for von Schill to try and mislead the French about the route he would choose, and he therefore sent two strong patrols to Liineburg and Wismar, to demand food and billets for the whole corps. The patrol on its way to Liineburg was surprised by the Dutch under command of Gratien and only just succeeded at the last minute in retreating to Dömitz. The other patrol was more successful, and von Schill decided to follow the route to Stralsund and through that strategy deceive Gratien. But to gain enough time, it was thought necessary to hold Dömitz as long as possible, a forlorn hope which could only mean death for those who volunteered. The defence was taken over by Lieutenant von Francois with about 400 men.
On the 18th of May von Schill left Dömitz and marched toward Niendorf, and two days later the first Dutch troops showed up at Dömitz, and as von Schill at the same time had come so far to the north that it was meaningless to hold Dömitz, he ordered the defenders to leave. They succeeded after a sharp fight.
His march towards Wismar was successful, as it made Gratien anxious about Hamburg and Lübeck, and the latter decided to march on these cities, while von Schill used the time to reach Stralsund via Rostock.
Stralsund, which was an old fortress, had after the war in 1806 been in French hands. The French had destroyed the outworks and had drained away the water around it. Yet, there were considerable military supplies from earlier times. The fortress had a garrison of 100 Polish uhlans, some Mecklenburg troops and a small unit of French artillery. The French general, Candara, who was the governor of Pommerania and held the command at Stralsund, did not wait till von Schill reached Stralsund, but decided to meet him at the defile at Damgarten, a very easy place to defend.
On the 24th of May von Schill came to the place and commanded the attack, which ended successfully for him. The Mecklenburg Life Grenadier Company was taken prisoner, the French artillery refused to surrender and was cut down, while the rest of the garrison fled. The booty was great and consisted, for example, of an artillery-park of some hundred cannon (among them two fully equipped batteries) and plenty of powder. Besides this there was plenty of other military equipment. Von Schill's losses were very small, and he had taken 30 officers and 200 men prisoner and captured four colours.
Although earlier he had not been able to decide what he should do, he now arranged to defend Stralsund instead of going to the island of Rügen and from there with an English fleet to Spain. He wished to use Stralsund as a base for future expeditions into Northern Germany. The fortress was strengthened as fast as possible, the water let in around it. The militia of Rügen was raised, as the troops he had with him were not strong enough to defend a place like Stralsund, although numbers of recruits had come to his colours.
In all he had four squadrons of hussars, four of uhlans, four of mounted riflemen and about 1.800 infantry, mostly experienced men from the last war. To this came the newly raised militia of which only about 600 had arrived, when the Dutch-Danish attack on the town took place. Of artillery he had 450 pieces, however, only 51 of which had crews, which could handle them properly.
Against von Schill were the allies of the French, the Dutch regiments under Gratien and a Danish force under General von Ewald. The Dutch consisted of the 6th and the 9th Line Infantry Regiments, three squadrons of cuirassiers, a detachment of mounted gendarmes, a battery of horse artillery with ten six-pounders and two howitzers, in all about 3,000 men.
The reason for Denmark taking part in the action was that Denmark had joined France after the English bombardment of Copenhagen and the subsequent taking of the fleet in 1807. As the news of the uprising by von Schill reached the Danish King and he heard that the corps was moving towards the Danish border (the feint made by von Schill), he ordered the Danish Major-General von Ewald to go to the Southern border to take the command of a force, which should support the force of General Gratien. At this time the strength of von Schill was greatly exaggerated and said to be between 14,000 and 30,000.
The Danish force consisted of:
Officers Men Horses
Staff 8 26 26
1st and 2nd battalion, Oldenborgske Infanteriregiment
(except the grenadier company) 29 1.322 33
3rd battalion Holstenske Infanteriregiment 10 628 5
4th and 5th companies
2nd battalion Holstenske Skarpskyttecorps 4 167
One troop Holstenske Ryttere 1 21
2nd and 6th squadrons Husarregimentet 7 193
Eight light three-pounders foot artillery 1 105 33
Two three-pounders horse artillery 1 34 27
Total 61 2,496 355
In these numbers are also included musicians, orderlies, sick, etc. The fighting men numbered a little over 2.000 altogether.
At Wismar, the Danish corps joined the Dutch. From here the march went via Neuburg, Alt-Carin, Retschow and Conow. At Alt-Karin the Danish General let the Danish troops halt and scolded them for marching so badly, even if they were not used to warlike conditions. This little speech had the desired effect, and from then on their performance was, as it should be. On their way towards Stralsund the troops were greeted with friendliness by the population, but if the truth be told, they would rather have seen the troops of von Schill.
In the morning of the 30th of May the advance guard met some of von Schill's cavalry for the first time. It was a patrol of nine men. The N.C.O. refused to surrender and was cut down.
At four o'clock in the morning of the 31st of May the troops made ready for the attack. Knapsacks were worn, as the train was not allowed to follow too closely. The march was made in the following order: the head of the advance guard was some Dutch Cavalry, then followed the riflemen of the Regiment Oldenborg in open line supported by pickets of hussars followed by Dutch gendarmes and cavalry. Then came the rifle company of the regiment Holsten and two Dutch cannon, covered by four companies of Dutch voltigeurs together with two Danish hussar squadrons en colonne with the troops of Holstenske Ryttere. After this came three squadrons of Dutch cuirassiers and six Dutch cannon from the horse artillery. A little behind came the main body en colonne: the 6th and the 9th Dutch Line Infantry, four Dutch cannon, the 1st battalion Oldenborg, four Danish cannon of the foot artillery and the Danish horse artillery covered by two companies of Dutch riflemen. Two companies of the regiment Oldenborg covered the baggage.
In front of Triebseerthor the troops formed up for the attack. The avant-garde went forward and threw the outposts back to the town. Two Dutch cannon were placed on some small heights in the front, and the rest of the corps marched to the left, behind a little hill. Von Schill now thought that the attack would take place at Triebseerthor, when the infantry had formed in columns of attack. Instead the rest marched around the town to the other gate, Knieperthor. Around one o'clock the troops made ready for the attack. At the same time the avant-garde, which had been halted at Triebseerthor, arrived at Knieperthor. Von Schill, who still took it for a ruse, took little note of the attack, which now started.
General Gratien ordered the 6th Dutch Line Infantry and the 2nd battalion Oldenborg to storm the outworks in front of the gate. The Danish General von Ewald took comand of the attack and sent the rifle companies of Oldenborg and Holsten forward. They pushed the enemy riflemen back, but were not able to advance further. Then Gratien ordered the 9th Dutch under Colonel Vezier forward, but this was still not enough, and the avant-garde, which came from Triebseerthor together with the rest of the troops, was sent forward. Now the attack was made with such force and speed that the troops of von Schill did not even have time to raise the draw-bridges that connected the fortress to the plateau. One reason for the comparative ease of the achievement was that the defence of the gate was made up of militia, from whom the panic spread to the few regular troops posted here. The attack lasted about half an hour, and now all the allied troops stormed into Stralsund. The defenders split up into several parties without any plan. Some went to the harbour, others to the town square, where von Schill himself with a squadron of hussars waited for the attack on Triebseerthor. The rest of the hussars had gone to the walls to fight as infantry. The fighting in the streets was very hard, as quarter was seldom given by either side.
Small detachments were placed at the gates to prevent any of the enemy escaping while the rest stormed into the streets. Soon after, the order of the regiments collapsed and the soldiers became a rabble. There is an interesting account of the street fighting by an eye-witness, who was a corporal in the 9th Dutch Line Regiment, which gives a most vivid picture:
“After the gate was taken, von Schill's hussars retreated to the market square. His infantry, which for the most consisted of the mob and wore no uniforms, ran into the houses and were hidden by the citizens. A great number fled to Rügen. As soon as we had come through the gate, we split up and marched through different streets to the market square. Together with about ten of my comrades, we followed a side alley. On the way most of them stole away to plunder. Followed only by a single companion I reached the market square, and we found ourselves in the rear of the enemy corps, which faced the street that ran to the newly taken gate. I considered it foolish to stay here alone and said to the soldier, who had followed me that it would be best to turn around and go back to our comrades. "Yet I have never turned my back to the enemy," answered, the old Pole, "and will not do it today. If you are afraid, then go." This scornful answer made me angry and I decided to stay, however mad and meaningless it was. In the meantime the old one went to a door and knocked. A girl came pale and trembling to the window. "Brandy," he roared and the girl came with a bottle and a glass. This was too small for him and he threw it into the paving-stone and demanded an ale glass. He got this, filled and drank it in a single draught. Then he snatched his gun, went forward a few steps and fired at the enemy. The shot did not hit anybody, but the hussars, who until now had been engaged with our riflemen, who attacked them on their front, now saw us and at once three men turned around from their rear rank and attacked us. I placed myself between a house and a tree, so that I had the latter on my left and shouted to the Pole that he should do the same. But the brandy had turned him into an Alexander the Great, and he went forward to meet the black death-angels and fell to their first stroke. The one, who had sabred my comrade, fired his pistol at me and turned back. The other two trotted against me with their sabres raised and the man in front shouted "No pardon, Dutchman". I answered him with a bullet, which sent him to the ground. At the same moment the other attacked. I took him with my bayonet and in my favourable position he could not reach me with his sabre. Infuriated by this he took his pistol and presented it to my head. At once I thrust my bayonet into the breast of his horse. It gave a jump, the pistol went off, and the bullet whistled into the air. In the same instant the hussar threw his pistol into my face and took to the sabre again. The blow made me confused and instead of keeping my thumb on the side of the barrel, I kept it across. This my opponent saw, cut along the gun and cut my thumb off. Due to this I of course dropped the gun from my left hand and at the same time the hussar gave me a cut at the head that was so heavy that I fell to my knees and the blood poured down over my split shako. Now despair seized me. With my last strength I took the gun by the barrel and gave my opponent, who was just about to deal me a further cut, such a heavy blow in the temple that he tumbled dead from his horse. At the same moment my strength failed me and I fainted.”
In the meantime the fighting continued in the streets. The men of von Schill fired particularly at the enemy officers, which caused great losses, but still the allied forces pressed forward against the market square, where the last resistance took place, and here von Schill fell.
Who killed von Schill?
There are several explanations to this question, but it seems that he had been wounded in the street fighting and at the market square received a heavy cut from a Danish hussar followed by a bullet from the same, and perhaps some shots from the Dutch infantry, who had come to the square.
According to the official Danish version, given with a medal to a Danish hussar, it happened thus: “The hussars Caspar Lorenz and Jasper Crohn captured an enemy officer in the market square. He asked for pardon and Lieutenant-Colonel von Fries (a Danish officer) kept the hussars from cutting him down and rode away again. Jasper Crohn, who in vain asked him to follow and feared for his attempt to escape, cut him down and then shot him with his pistol. As the corpse was recognised by everyone present as von Schill, the Dutch picked him up, took his military order, and carried him away. Only until his order was produced by a Dutchman, who was an experienced soldier and knew the value of such evidence, was there any doubt about, who had killed von Schill.”
The uniform of von Schill is described as of hussar type with a forage cap. He was mounted, when he was cut down.
After von Schill had been killed, the fighting slowly died down. Most of the corps was captured, few escaping. About 150 hussars succeeded in cutting their way out under the command of Rittmeister von Brünnow, some escaped by boat to Sweden and others to Prussia. The officers, who reached Prussia, were arrested and sent to prison for some time.
Those who were captured by the French fared worse. Eleven officers were brought for a court-martial and sentenced to death. The same day the verdict was announced, they were shot.
The officers of von Schill being excecuted. On 16. September 1809 the 11 officers were placed in front of a French firing squad. Their last words, before being shot, were: "Long live Our King". The 10 fell by the first salvo, while the 11th, von Wedel, only had his arm shattered. The heroic painting by Hering shows him just, as the second salvo is going to be fired.
The privates were brought to the French galleys at Toulon and were not released, until Napoleon was defeated in 1814. Those of the privates and N.C.O.s, who were Westphalians, fourteen in all, were shot by order of King Jerome.
The losses of the Dutch-Danish force were eight officers (among these one Dutch General and two Dutch Lieutenant-Colonels), three N.C.O.s and 47 men dead, 15 officers, 22 N.C.O.s and 149 men wounded.
After the affair of Stralsund the Danish corps took part in the pursuit of the Duke of Brunswick, who had at the same time started an uprising similar to that of von Schill. The Duke reached the coast and escaped after some smaller engagements with Dutch and Westphalian troops. The Danes did not try to catch him.
THE UNIFORMS OF THE DANISH TROOPS WHO TOOK PART IN THE ACTION
Figure 1 shows a General in the special uniform of a General Officer. It is crimson with light blue collar, lapels and cuffs with gold embroidery. Epaulettes gold with three silver stars. Turn-backs white or buff. Dark blue pantaloons with gold embroidery. Black boots with gold edge and tassels. Gold sash with crimson stripes. Black hat with silver edge and white feather border and plume. Sabre knot gold with crimson stripes. If a general had a regiment, he wore the uniform of the regiment with general's epaulettes and the special sash. Gilt hilted sabre in black leather and gilt scabbard.
Figure 2 shows an Adjutant in uniform as such. It is crimson with dark blue collar, lapels and cuffs with silver embroidery. Pantaloons dark blue with silver embroidery. Yellow sash with crimson stripes. A crimson plume, which was the special mark of officers doing staff service. Shabraque dark blue with crimson lining and silver edging.
Figure 3 shows an officer of the Guide Corps. This corps was specially trained for staff service and was formed from specially picked NCOs and officers. Crimson coat with black collar and cuffs, both edged with silver, and with two silver ornaments. Silver epaulettes. Yellow sash with crimson stripes. White pantaloons. Black boots with silver edge and tassels. Sabre of white metal. Black shako with silver chin scales, and gold and crimson cords. The aiguillette on the right shoulder silver. Yellow plume with crimson top.
Figures 4, 5 and 6 show the Line Infantry. Red coats, cut in a style which was out of fashion in the rest of Europe, with the two turned up flaps in the front instead of turn-backs for the privates. The flaps were buff. Collar, lapels, shoulder straps and cuffs in the regimental colour. Trousers either white or dark blue depending on the time of year. Some wore short black gaiters, but this was mostly in the Light Infantry at this period. A black cartridge box was worn on a white cross belt over the left shoulder. Grenadiers had a yellow grenade on their cartridge box. The grenadiers and musketeers carried a bayonet from their waist belt. The riflemen carried no bayonet, but a special sabre called a “hirschfänger” (sword-bayonet), which could be fastened to the musket and used as a bayonet. Grenadiers had in addition to the bayonet, an infantry sabre with a red sabre knot. The buckle on the waist-belt was yellow metal. On the back was worn a brown knapsack in white slings. Grey greatcoat. The head-dress for musketeers and riflemen was the shako, and the grenadiers wore a bearskin cap. The shako had white cords and plume for musketeers and green for riflemen. Black cockade. The button and loop below the plume are in the button colour. The bearskin cap was made of brown fur and had a red bag with piping and tassel in the button colour. Yellow metal plate. White plume with light blue top. The officer has yellow cords with crimson stripes. Musket slings black. All leather white except for the riflemen who had black in most cases. NCOs wore an epaulette on the right shoulder.
Officers had long crimson coats with buff turn-backs and piping on the pockets. Sashes yellow with crimson stripes. Pantaloons white or dark blue, perhaps with gold or yellow embroidery. Epaulettes in the button colour. The officers of the musketeer and rifle companies wore shakos with yellow and crimson cords and plumes like the companies. Bicornes were not allowed for officers, except for the staff and general officers. Sword knot gold with crimson stripes.
Figure 4 shows a musketeer of the Holstenske Infanteriregiment, while figures 5 and 6 show a grenadier officer and private of the Oldenborgske Infanteriregiment. (No grenadiers took part in the action.)
The uniform of the Skarpskyttebataillon (the light infantry battalion) was of the same pattern and with the same details, only the colours differed. The dominant colour was dark green and the lapels, cuffs and collar were black lined with white, and the different regiments were distinguished by the piping on the shoulder straps and the colour of their buttons. Their plumes were always dark green, except for their grenadier companies, who had bearskin caps with a green bag and a green plume with a red top. They were armed with rifles and had the “hirschfänger” (sword bayonet). Pantaloons were grey or white. Figure 10 shows a rifleman of the Holstenske Sharpskyttekorps.
The artillery consisted of both foot and horse artillery. The cut of the uniform was like that of the infantry. Red coats for privates and crimson for officers. Dark blue flaps and turnbacks.
The horse artillery is shown in figures 7 and 9. The trousers of figure 7 have a red stripe down the side and black leather on the inside and cuffs. White or yellow gloves. Sabre with yellow metal hilt carried in a black leather scabbard with yellow metal fittings. Shako with white plume, yellow metal plate bearing the letters “R.A.” (Ridende Artilleri), and yellow and red cords. The officers had cords of gold and crimson. Gold epaulettes. Pantaloons with gold embroidery. Boots with gold edging and tassel. Fittings on the sword belt silver. White plume. Figure 8 shows an artilleryman of the foot artillery. The tuft on the shako is blue.
The cannons were painted red with the metal parts painted yellow.
The only Danish cavalry which took part in the action at Stralsund were the heavy cavalry and hussars. The cut of the uniforms of the heavy cavalry (“ryttere” in Danish) was like that of the infantry. Flaps and turn-backs buff. Collar, lapels and cuffs were in the regimental colour. White plume and cords of yellow and red. On the yellow metal plates on the shako is the letters “R.R.”, which stands for Rytter Regiment. Yellow gloves. Dark blue trousers, black leather inside and red stripes down the side, the officers perhaps gold. The troopers sword knot was black. In action the shoulder-belts were worn across to protect against cuts. Their armament consisted of a sabre, pistols and carbine. Shabraques were red with white edging and straps for the troopers, for the officers they were crimson edged with a band of the button colour, either gold or silver and this band edged by stripes of the regimental colour. For parades yellow pantaloons and black boots with tassels were worn.
Figure 11. Officer of the Holstenske Ryttere.
Figure 12. Trooper of the Holstenske Ryttere.
Figure 13. Officer of the Hussar Regiment. 'Shachtelhue' (cap) black with white plume. Silver bands around the top, bottom and the band going down the front. Cords gold with crimson. Dolman light blue with crimson collar and cuffs. Pelisse crimson with black fur. All buttons, lining and lace silver. Shoulder belt silver Sash crimson with silver. White or yellow pantaloons Black boots with silver edging and tassels. Sword knot gold with crimson. Sabretache light blue with silver embroidery and the King's monogram with a crown above, all in silver. Slings red with silver fittings. The troopers wore the same uniform but with white instead of silver, and red cords around the “schachtelhue”. The armaments consisted of a sabre, pistols and carbine The troopers had a red shabraque with light blue Vandykes edged with white, while the officers had crimson only, lined with silver (perhaps they were like those of the cavalry officers described above). The harness was black with small white shells. Some may perhaps have worn the French black colpack, as it was allowed in the regulations.
The line infantry and the hussars had their colours and standards with them in the action. The hussars carried two, one for each squadron. They were crimson with a silver dove in the centre carrying a blue strip in its mouth on the one side and the King's monogram on the other side. The different infantry regiments had different colours. The 1st and 2nd battalions of the Regimen: Oldenborg, which were old line troops, carried one colour for each two battalions of musketeers. The colour was that of the lapels and had in the centre the arms of the country. The riflemen had no colours and the grenadiers carried a special one. This was red with a white cross. For both types of colour there was the King's monogram in the corners and the colours of the musketeers had in addition a little Danish colour in the top corner towards the pole. Cords were gold with crimson The 3rd and 4th battalions were formed on the old militia, landeværn, which had been disbanded after their failure in 1807 against the English. These battalions who had no grenadiers, but instead a company of riflemen, carried two grenadier-colours for each battalion.
An infantry regiment consisted of one grenadier company, three rifle companies and 16 of musketeers, all divided into four battalions.
If anyone is interested, also informations on the uniforms of the Dutch and von Schill forces can be put up.
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
Very interesting article, thank you. I would be very interested in the Dutch and Von Schill's forces
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
you can have both, I just have to find the articles in old issues of Chakoten.
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
DUTCH TROOPS UNDER NAPOLEON IN THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND
by Louis Ph. Sloos
Organisation and uniforms
The Kingdom of Holland (1806-1810) was ruled by one of Napoleon's brothers, under the name of Lodewijk (Louis) Napoleon. During the turbulent Napoleonic era Dutch troops fought on most of the battlefields all over Europe (1).
On May the 4th 1809 the Dutch occupation force, garrisoned in Northern Germany to maintain the continental system, received the message that Major von Schill had rebelled and was leaving Berlin marching on the Kingdom of Westphalia.
About 5.000 Dutch troops under command of the French Lieutenant-General Gratien were sent to help the 1.500 Danish troops under command of General Ewald and both were ordered to march on von Schill (2) to stop the rebellion.
As von Schill did not have the strength to withstand the oncoming forces, he instead entrenched himself with his 2.500 - 5.000 men at Stralsund.
The gruefull slaughter in the streets of Stralsund after the storm under command of general Gratien has been recalled in many books and magazines of several languages (3).
In 1806-1807 a Dutch infantry-regiment had a paper strength of 3 battalions, each consisting of 9 companies. In each battalion the first and the second companies were formed respectively as grenadiers or voltigeurs.
Exactly how a regiment was organized is still a matter of speculation. In 1837 general J.H. Kessman (4) calculated it to 1.974 men. A regimental staff of 24 men and 3 battalions each with a staff of 11 men. Each company is put at 71 men.
Another contemporary officer Ernst van Loben (5) put the strength of a regiment to 2.460 men, as he calculated a company to 3 officers, 6 NCOs, 8 corporals and 72 privates. The regimental and battalion staffs are given the same strength as above.
On December the 1st 1808 all 3rd battalions were disbanded, and from now on all regiments consisted of only 2 battalions, each with eight companies.
The paper strength of a cavalry regiment was 752 men with 527 horses. Regimental staff 22 men and 17 horses. A regiment should have 5 squadrons divided into 10 companies. Each company had 73 men and 51 horses.
6th and 9th Infantry of the Line:
Shako. Black with white cords. On the left side a black cockade fastened by a white boutonniere and button. Over the cockade a pompon in company colour.
From 1809 the pompons became red for the 1st and dark blue for the 2nd battalions, in the centres of the pompons the company number. On the front of the shako was placed the regimental number in white metal.
Coat White with vertical pockets. All pipings in regimental colour. Collar, facings and cuffs were grass green for the 6th regiment and black for the 9th regiment.
(From January 1808 the facings and cuffs of the 9th were changed from black to white, while the collar stayed black.
Trousers. White. Short, pointed and black gaiters with white buttons were worn.
Equipment. White leather belts with black cartridge box.
Grenadiers. These wore the same uniforms as the fusiliers with the following deviations: black bearskin on which was a brass-plate embossed with a grenade. White cords and tassels. Red plume. The flat plate on top of the bearskin was in the regimental colour and decorated with a white cross. Brass chin-scales. Red epaulettes and sabre-knot. White grenades on the turn-backs.
Voltigeurs. These wore shakos like the fusiliers, on which sometimes are seen the regimental number over a white hunting horn. Conical green pompon. Green epaulettes and sabre-knot. The collars of the voltigeurs were white.
Officers. Uniformed like the privates, only their coattails were longer. Epaulettes, shako-cords, tassels and boutonnieres all in silver. Gilt gorget on which was a silver-badge showing the Royal Arms of Holland: a climbing lion surrounded by trophies. This coat of arms was also embossed on the sabre-belt plaque.
Short black leather boots with leather-coloured collars.
Gilt sabre-hilt and black scabbard with gilt fittings. Sword-tassel gold. Cloak sky blue.
The system of epaulettes seem to have followed the contemporary French pattern.
All officers and privates wore their hair powdered and tied in a short pig-tail fastened with a black ribbon.
NCOs. These had the following distinctions:
Corporal: 2 white chevrons of camel's hair.
Sergeant: 1 chevron of silver galloon. Sergeant-Major: 2 chevrons of silver galloon.
The chevrons were shaped like upturned Vs, and were placed between cuff and elbow.
Fourier: 1 chevron of silver, placed between elbow and shoulder.
Helmet. Iron helmet with brass crest and chin-scales. The pattern like that of the French cuirassiers (8). Turban of black bearskin. Black shade with brass-rim. Black horsetail and tuft. On the left side a small red plume.
Coat. White with sky blue collar, lapels, cuffs and turn-backs. On the turn-backs were red grenades. Flat, yellow buttons. Vertical, sky blue pipings on the pockets ornated with 3 buttons. 2 buttons in the back. Red epaulettes. Waistcoat. White. Breeches. White. Boots. Black with spurs of steel. Equipment. All leatherwork and gloves were made of light-yellow leather. The bandoleers were worn crossed. Black cartridge box with a brass-grenade.
Sword with brass basket-hilt and iron-scabbard. Sword-knot and strap (tarragon) light-yellow. In wintertime white pelerine-cloaks were worn.
At Stralsund the regiment had not yet received their cuirasses, which first arrived shortly after the campaign against von Schill had ended.
Officers. Uniformed like the troopers, only longer coattails. Epaulettes in gold like all the other trimmings of rank. The sword had a gilded hilt and scabbard.
Trumpeter. Sky blue coat with yellow facings. White collar piped yellow above and beneath. On the collar a yellow boutonniere. Lapels white piped yellow and decorated with 7 yellow boutonnieres on each side. White epaulettes. The helmet plume was red (4/5) over white. The horsehairtail of the helmet presumably white. Trumpetcords blue/white. The trumpeter was armed with hussar-sabre, carbine and pistols. Shabraque, pistol-holsters and valise were sky blue with yellow edging. On both the shabraque and valise was yellow grenades.
2nd company of the Horse Artillery
Dolman. Dark blue with collar, pointed cuffs, braids and laces, all in scarlet. Five rows of copper buttons. Light blue hussar-sash with red knots, cords and tassels, ending in the so-called "whip". The whip was the endings of the sash hanging down over the right hip being fastened in front.
Trousers. Dark blue with red galloon going over the buttocks. The front-side decorated with red hungarian knots.
Shako. Black with a red/scarlet plume placed at the front. The colour of the plume was in a darker hue than was used for the uniform. Red cords and a gloss, black band around the shako-top. Brass chin-scales. On the front of the shako a brass-plate embossed with the regimental number.
Equipment. Black shoulder-belt decorated with a grenade, 2 laurel-twigs and a reamer, all in brass. On the black cartridge box was the initials RA (Rijdende Artillerie) in brass. Black sabretache in black belts with copper-fittings. The sabre had brass hilt with black leather grip. Wooden scabbard covered with black leather, and decorated with so much copper trimmings, that it almost covered all the scabbard. Tarragon of black leather. Black hussar boots, blacks tassels and copper spurs. Gloves yellow/white leather.
Trumpeters. Red dolman with light blue braids and tresses. Red trousers with blue lace and knots.
Coat. Completely dark blue, with collar, turnbacks and pockets piped red. White metal-buttons. Trousers. Dark blue with red lace along the seams.
Heavy cavalry boots. Black shako with red pompon. Chinstraps and shako-plate in white metal. Black belt and cartridge box. Sabre with ironhilt and scabbard. Black sabreknot. Gloves yellow-white.
Coat Dark blue, with dark blue collar, lapels, shoulder-straps and turn-backs. Cuffs and all pipings red. Buttons of copper.
Waistcoat. Dark blue. Black short gaiters with copper buttons. Black shako with red cords. A red grenade on the front. Black cockade with white fixing. A flat red pompon on the left side. The pompon was coloured from inside out: red-white-blue. Belts white and on the one holding the black cartridge box two copper reamers. Sabre with copper hilt. Black scabbard with copper trimmings. White riffle-sling. Matchlock of brown wood.
Tetes de Colonne
The tetes de colonne (the heads of the column) were the sappers, drummers, fifers, trumpeters, hornists, "jingling johnnies" together with the drum-major. All dressed in bright, almost vulgar uniforms, as no dress regulations for tetes des colonnes were issued until 1812. From the French Revolution to 1812 this fashion raged, especially as military music became more and more poignant with still greater bands.
It almost seemed ludicrous, the way the regiments tried to outsmart one another in fancy dressing, but from painters of Napoleonic statuettes and lovers of uniforms you will of course and understandably never hear such complaints.
The Kingdom of Holland was naturally very influenced from France, and the Dutch tetes des colonnes followed suit inventing colourful uniforms.
Around 1809 every Dutch infantry regiment of the line had its own drum-major and each battalion its own drum-corporal. The battalion counted 18 drummers and 9 fifers and for each company there was 2 sappers. Each regiment furthermore had a regimental band consisting of 19 musicians with the following instruments: 2 trumpets, 2 French horns, 1 or 2 trombones, 1 bassoon, 1 serpent, 2 clarinets, 2 flageolets (flutes), 1 big drum and 1 small drum, cymbals, triangle and 1 or 2 "jingling johnnies".
The "jingling johnnies" were often carried by negroes dressed in Oriental costumes, which were curious reminiscences from the wars against the mosulmen around 1700-1730 and the fashion after Napoleons trip to Egypt.
The "jingling johnnie" was a European misunderstanding of the Turkish signs or standards for high-ranking officers, and should represent "conquered" Turkish colours. It was not really a musical instrument, as it was only decorated by a number of small bells, but also those could find use in the at that time very loved "Turkish music". No notes or any melody, just as much noise as possible was the order of the day - and all the regimental musicians took part in the good fun.
The most important source on Dutch uniforms and especially the "tetes de colonne" is the manuscript "Abbildungen der Uniformen aller in Hamburg seit den
Jahren 1806 bis 1815 einquartiert gewesener Truppen", by the brothers Christopher und Cornelius Suhr. Among many other countries it contains 35 pictures in watercolour showing Dutch troops of the period. Not much exist in Holland on the subject as the troops for most of the period were out of the country.
The Suhr plates with Dutch soldiers of the period can be found on
Uniforms of the Tetes de Colonne
Drummers and fifers. These had uniforms cut like the privates, but were further distinguished by trefoils in regimental colour with white laces and fringes.
Drum-majors. These were elaborately distinguished with white or silver boutonnieres on collar and lapels. Lace around the collar and lapels, and trefoils of silver-lace and with fringes.
In the 6th regiment the drum-major wore a long-tailed coat with green facings. The drum-major of the 9th wore red coat with black facings laced white. On the lapels were 10 pointed silver-boutonnieres. Silver-lace around lapels, collar, cuffs, pockets, along the seems and on the back of the coat. Black trefoils with silver-lace and fringes.
Along the lower sleeves double silver-chevrons. The headdress was a two-cornered hat, which for the 9th had broad silver-lace and was edged with light blue feathers. On top of that a high white plume with black top, surrounded by 3 light-blue ostich feathers.
The hat for the 6th was adorned with light-blue feathers. The plume was white with green top and beneath that 3 sloping light-blue ostrich feathers.
Sappers. These had their firm place in front of the téte de colonne of the regiments. In battle they were even placed in front of the drum-major, as their work were to clear the way for the troops through all kinds of obstacles. The sappers were the first to lead attacks on towns, and with their axes and their other tools. They were of course very useful in the street-fighting at Stralsund, when it came to forcing doors and windows.
An example is the house in which the musicians of von Schill had hidden. The house was broken into by the sappers, and the captured musicians were lead into the garden, where they were bayoneted one by one (9).
The sappers of the 6th regiment were according to Suhr dressed in dark blue tailcoats with red facings piped light green. On the overarm red crossed axes. Red epaulettes. As headdress a black- brown bearskin-cap with a brass-plate embossed with 2 crossed shovels. White cords.
The feather was red-white-blue like those of the grenadiers from same regiment. White belts. Apron and tool-covers in black leather. On the cartridge-belt a brass grenade, and for one of the shown figures further a pair of crossed axes in brass.
In 1806 after becoming King, Lodewijk decided to create a new design for flags and colours, and in December the same year the final pattern was decided on.
On 17th February 1807 the battalions of regiments no. 6 and 9 were issued the new battalion colours. As at the same time war was raging in Germany, only some small regimental detachments were present for the ceremony, when the colours were personally presented by King Lodewijk Napoleon on the Malieveld in Haag (10).
Afterwards deputies transported the colours to Bremen in Germany, where both the regiments had their headquarters, and on the 22th March 1807 (11) general Jean Francois count du Monceau presented the new colours to the regiments.
Today not much is known about, how Dutch colours looked like at the time of the Kingdom of Holland. Not even the drawings by Suhr give any clues.
In 1898 the Dutch military painter, Jan Hoynck van Papendrecht (1858-1933), discovered 2 colours at Chelsea Hospital, England (12). Both these colours were battalion-colours from 5th Infantryregiment. Possibly the colours have been captured during the British invasion of Seeland, Holland, as the 5th Line took part in the fighting at Veere.
The measurements are 80 x 80 cm and the border was divided up in segments of red and blue, the central area was white.
The basis of the avers is the same green field. The lettering in gold on the avers is as follows:
DE KONING AAN
HET 5de REGIMENT INFANTERIE VAN LINIE * 2de BATTALION
* the text for other units is: Regiment ligte Infanterie, Artillerie or Cavalerie combined with unit-numbers.
On the reverse is a painting in natural colours of the Dutch lion. The lion in natural colours on a green field is holding a silver sword and arrows. Golden crown with red lining and blue pearls. All lettering in gold.
Some other descriptions of the colours for 2 unknown regiments give the one of a white flag with golden tassels and cords and in the centre a golden lion surrounded by trophies. The second is described as having blue background and a centre similar to the above mentioned.
Dutch soldiers, who were wounded at Stralsund, were by decree of 9th November 1809 awarded the emblem of the wounded with the right to carry it.
1. "Van der Weser tot de Weichsel", by Marco van der Hoeven.
2. For leading the assault on Stralsund Lieutenant-General Gratien in 1809 was awarded the very rare Commanders Cross with diamonds of the "orde der unie" (order of the Union). The decoration was instigated on the 23rd of November 1807 by Lodewijk Napoleon. Every class of the Order had a numerus fixus, respective 30, 40 and 450. That number reached, new candidates could only be nominated supernumerary and had to wait their turn until a number became vacant.
3. The most important contemporary source on the events at Stralsund is the diary of Hubert J.J.L. de Stuers, adjudant to general Carteret. A transduction of the diary can be found in the Dutch magazine Haagsche Stemmen, No.41, 1889.
4. Kessman, J. H., "De Militaire Spectator", 1837.
5. van Loben, Ernst: "Bijdragen tot de kriegsgeschiedenis van Napoleon Bonaparte".
6. According to the just published standardwork on the Dutch hussars: "Het regiment Huzaren Prins Alexander", by A. Rens, it is proclaimed, that the 2nd Dutch Regiment of Hussars also took part in the fighting at Stralsund. It is not quite clear to me, from what source the author draws that information. However, it is not quite impossible that one or more hussar companies accompanied the 2nd Cuirassiers. (According to Danish sources only some unidentified "mounted gendarmes" were present as points for the advance-guard. The figures given in Dutch sources for the cuirassiers have to be a mistake. At the most 3 squadrons will amount to 450 men and 323 horses.
7. Both Danish and German sources set the the total strength about 5.000 for the combined Dutch-Danish force, each country taking part with ca. 2.500 men. The Dutch figures seem somehow influenced by the high figures for the 3 squadrons of the 2nd Cuirassiers.
As the paper strength of a cavalry regiment with 5 squadrons should be 752 men with 527 horses, it is difficult to believe that 3 squadrons with 2.203 men and 1.540 horses were present at Stralsund.
Sources: Den Danske Hærs Historie, by O. Vaupell, København, 1876.
Stormen på Stralsund, by F.L von Bardenfleth, København, 1846.
Schill Rebellenzug 1809, by Helmut Bock, Berlin, 1972.
8. Les Cuirassiers, by Cdt. Bucquoy, p.88 (TS).
9. Hoeven, M. van der, p.60.
10. Raa, F.J.G. ten, p.62.
12. Jan Hoy neck van Papendrecht 1858- 1933. Amsterdam: De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1986, by Bartes, J.A.C.
Bas, F. de, Prins Frederik der Nederlanden en zijn tijd, Schiedam : Roelants, 1891.-dl 2 p. 718-719.
Bosscha, J., De nederlaag van Schill. In: Neérlands heldendaden te land van de vroegste tijden af tot in onze dagen, Leeuwarden: Suringar, 1835. - vol. 3 p. 261-276.
Hoeven, Marco van der, Van de Weser tot de Weichsel: Het leger van het Koninkrijk Holland en de Duitse veldtochten van Napoleon 1806, 1807 en 1809, Amstetxiam : De Bataafsche Leeuw, 1994. - p.96 : ill.
Kruijer, J., "Het leger van het Koninkrijk Holland 1806-1810 (1, 4)". In: De Tinnen Tafelronde, no. 3, 1987, p. 13-16, no. 4, 1988; p. 13-19.
Raa, F.J.G. ten, De uniformen van de Nederlandsche Zee- en Landmacht hier te lande en in de Kolonien, 's-Gravenhage : van Cleef, 1900.
Rens, Arie, Het regiment Huzaren Prins Alexander: de geschiedenis van het "Hofregiment" 1672-1994, Amsterdam: Management Press, cop. 1994. - 322 p. : ill.
Ringoir, H., Hoofdofficieren der infanterie van 1568 tot 1813 / door H. Ringoir's-Gravenhage: Sectie Militaire Geschiedenis van de Landmachtstaf, 1981. - 228 P-
Roo, J. van, "Een schilderachtig allegaartje: Hollandse muzikanten in Hamburg 1806-1809". In: De Tinnen Tafelronde, no. 4 (1989), p. 12-15.
Stuers, Victor de, "Voor 80 jaren : de Hollanders te Straalsund (31 mei 1809)". In: Haagsche Stemmen, no. 41, 1889, p. 505-512.
Wilde, F.G. de, "Legeruniformen tij- dens het Koninkrijk Holland". In: De
Tinnen Tafelronde, No. 2, 1969, p. 2-22.
Wilde, F.G. de, "De Nederlands infanterie onder Lodewijk Napoleon". In:
De Tinnen Tafelronde, Afl. 1 (1968), p. 4- 6.
Wilde, F.G. de, "De uniformering van de 'Tete de Colonne' 1700-1813". In: Armamentaria, Delft : Stichting 'Vrienden van het Legermuseum', 1993. - afl. 28 p.
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
Contemporay water colour by von Prangen of the fighting at Stralsund von Prangen shows hussars with and without pelisse, and with either tight yellow or dark blue trousers. Surprisingly enough all the hussars are also shown with the above mentioned new shabraque, only decorated with white lace, and not with the usual Vandykes.
About the artist F.W.C. von Prangen not much is known, except that in 1810 he has been at Glückstadt, a small Danish town in Holstein. There he has observed some of the Danish troops 1809.
Uniforms of Freikorps von Schill
by Gerrit Haase
After the Prussian disaster 1807 against Napoleon the whole army had to be totally reorganized and modernized. On 1. July 1809 in acknowledgement of its service against the French the former Freikorps von Schill was transformed into the new 2.Brandenburg Hussarregiment.
The former corps of von Schill consisted of: Originally the former corps of von Schill consisted of 5 squadrons:
1. and 2. Dragoon-squadrons each with 2 officers, 12 NCOs, 96 men and 111 horses. The 3. Dragoon-squadron, which only consisted of 30 men and 30 horses, was split and the men divided between the 1. and the 2.Dragoon-squadrons.
1. Hussar-squadron had 1 officer, 12 NCOs and 108 hussars with 124 horses, while the
2. Hussar-squadron had 1 officer, 8 NCOs and 69 hussars with 105 horses.
In June 1808 the dragoons were transformed into hussar units, and by A.K.O. of 7. September 1808 the cavalry of von Schill was officially named the "2. Brandenburgische Husaren-Regiment" and joined as such the regular Prussian army. A week later on 14. September 1808 a further A.K.O., in special recognition of its commander, gave the regiment its final name "2. Brandenburgische Husaren-Regiment von Schill".
According to the Paris Convention of 8. September 1808 the regiment had: 1 Kommandeur, 1 Staff-officer, 2 Rittmeisters, 2 Staff-Rittmeisters, 2 Premierlieutenants, 1 A.D.C., 1 Regimental Quartermaster, 16 Second-Lieutenants, 1 Staff-trumpeter, 1 Wachtmeister (senior NCO), 4 Portepée-Fähnrichs (Officer-cadets), 4 Sergeants, 36 NCOs, 48 Corporals, 392 Hussars and 12 Trumpeters. Total 527 men. In the above numbers are included the mounted " Jäger-detachement" of 1 Officer, 1 Wachtmeister (senior NCO), 2 Oberjägern (NCOs), 1 Junker (officercadet), 39 Jagers and 2 Trumpeters. "Jägerdetachments" were a new creation of formations consisting of semi voluntary units. The idea was that such units could form the training ground for volunteers and officer aspirants. "Jägers" were not dressed in regimental uniform, but in simple dark green coats, normally with red facings.
The regiment was formed into 4 hussarsquadrons and a mounted "Jäger-detachement" (in German "Jäger" means hunter and can, a little akwardly, be explained in military terms as equivalent to sharpshooter or rifleman. "Jägers" were considered an elite formation and acted as such).
The position in the new Prussian army of the 2.Hussarregiment was unique. It served as an elite unit especially formed to search out, implement and train any new methods of formation and warfare. If anything was found useful, i.e. change of the uniform or the organization, it was ordered to be introduced into the rest of the army. As an example all Prussian regiments each received their own "Jäger-detachements", after the idea had proven successfull by von Schill.
The officers of the regiment were comparatively young and were especially known for their strong patriotism and eagerness to seek adventure. As a curiousity, but at the same time as a sign of comradeship, all officers in the regiment were known to titulate each other with the German "Du" instead of the formal "Sie", certainly a tradition previously unseen in the very formalistic Prussian army.
It was a crack regiment and the discipline in top. On 10. December 1808 the King as a special favour honored the regiment to be the first armed Prussian unit to enter Berlin.
The colours of the regimental uniform was carefully designed and overlooked personally by the King, Friedrich Wilhelm III, and was as follows: Dolman
Hussars: dolman darkblue with 15 yellow wool-braids on the breast. Yellow buttons. No shoulderstraps or ornaments on the shoulders. Red cuffs ornamented with yellow Hungarian knots in form of a lily. High stiff red collar, reaching to the earlobes and edged with yellow braids.
NCOs: as distinction they had NCO-lace on the collar. It was placed along the neck opening and lower edge of the collar. The lace was also on the cuffs between the yellow knots and the red cuff.
wore NCO-lace on the cuffs and was further decorated with "swallow-nests" on the shoulders. The colour of the swallow-nests was red with possibly oblique, gilded lace. The swallow-nests of the staff-trumpeter had gilded fringes below.
on the breast they had 18 gilded braids and also richer embroideries on collar and cuffs. Gloves leather coloured. The officers and NCOs had cuffs on their gloves.
Hussars: dark-blue and of the same length as the dolman. It was lined with white sheepskin. Collar and edging also in white sheepskin. Braids as on the dolman.
NCOs and trumpeters: lining of black sheepskin.
Officers: lining of grey fur (imitated Astrachan).
Hussars: the headdress was an improved version of the testmodel M. 1805. It was made of black felt and had an eye-shade made of black leather. The sides were stiffened by two leather-straps placed as a V. Over the eye-shade was a big black
cockade of cloth with a thin white border around. It was kept in place by a yellow band-agraffe with yellow button. On the top band of the chakot was placed the black-white national cockade. The 2 yellow cords were fastened on the right side. Brass chin-scales. The chakotcover, which normally was carried, except on parades, guard duties and on Sundays, was made in black oilskin. On parade a high white featherplume was worn. On daily
work, in the quarters and on stable duty a field cap (Feldmütze) was worn. It was made of the same grey cloth as the cloaks and decorated with a dark blue cloth-braid on the lower part.
NCOs and trumpeters: cords in black-white. The plumes of the NCOs had a little black top. Red plumes for the trumpeters.
Officers: agraffes and buttons golden. Plumes white.
In the field, both officers and hussars always wore their chakots with a cover of oilskin.
Trousers and Boots
Long grey overalls with a broad buttoned red stripe. This kind of trousers were first introduced by von Schill in his Freikorps 1807 (possibly as useful plunder from French cavalry). 1808 such trousers were implemented into all units of the Prussian army. Down along the insides and around over the ankles the trousers were covered with black leather. Black boots were worn beneath the trousers.
Made of red wool and with yellow knots, (in German the knots are called "Knöpfen", which normally means buttons.) The knots were placed exactly beneath each other. According to A.K.O. of 23. October 1808 the sash no longer should be wound 3 times around the waist, from now on only a single time.
Sabre, Sabretache and Cartridge Pouch
The sabre had a curved blade and a simple iron-hilt. Several of the officers preferred sabres, either of English origin or sabres captured in battle from the French. The hand-slings were made of black leather for the hussars and NCOs, while the officers were distinguished by the silver-black portepeé of the infantry. Sabre-belts of black leather. The sabretache was made in brown leather for the hussars and NCOs, while those of the officers were in black leather. The front was covered in red cloth with a broad, yellow edging. In the centre were the initials FWR embroidered in yellow wool.
Officers had as distinction all the yellow decorations in gilded braids.
Cartridge pouch and bandoleers were in black leather.
Hussars were armed with black-stained carbines (length 91 cm). Further they carried 2 black-stained pistols. In every squadron 12 picked men served with rifled carbines, specially trained for outpost duty.
Trumpets were made in brass and had banderols in red-yellow.
Hungarian "Bocksaddle". The saddlecloth was of black sheepskin with a red cloth-border. The valise was grey and on its left side hang the oilskin-covered foddersack and cooking utensils.
All saddlery black.
Standards were never carried by Prussian hussars in the field.
The cavalry of the "Old Prussian Army" (before 1806/07) took great care and pride in having special and uniform horse-colours for each regiment, but after the turmoil 1807 it was not possible, neither thought useful, to adhere to such old customs. Yet it is thought that trumpeters still rode white or grey horses.
The mounted "Jägers"
Dark-green coat with red facings and yellow buttons. Grey overalls with red stripes. Chakot in black oilskincover. On their rifles it was possible to fasten a special straight blade, instead of the usual straight sabrebayonet, a so-called a "Hirschfänger" normally issued to the "Jagers" on foot. (The German word "Hirschfänger" stands for a long straight huntingknife used to deliver stags with). Possibly the model was like the short sabre carried by the contemporary Prussian
artillery. The normal "Hirschfänger" was too unhandy for any mounted unit, even if the troopers were trained to serve both as cavalry and infantry. The horseequipment of the "Jägers" is thought to have been like that of the hussars, but the only known and certain thing is that the rifle was fastened in a special "shoe" and carried with the butt upwards.
Other Rebellious Units taking part 1809
Beside the Hussarregiment von Schill the following units and detachments took part in the advents 1809:
From Leibinfanterie Regiment No.8 came 4 officers, 18 NCOs and 133 men. Most of the followers had earlier served von Schill 1807-08 as members of the "Leichten Infanteriebataillon von Schill".
Their uniform was the new Prussian dark-blue for infantry. The regimental facings were: collar and cuffs ponceau-red. White shoulderstraps. White buttons. Black chakot without any feathers or slings, as it was worn with black oilskincover. As a special feature they carried black leatherbelts and were armed with fascineknives instead of the customary in- fantrysabre.
Joining were also a rather high number of former Prussian officers, who in disgust had taken leave after the events 1807-8. They possibly wore their old regimental (pre-1807) uniforms.
A number of "Ulanen" (lancers) took service, possibly no more than a squadron. Their uniform consisted of black chakot in oilskincover and a dark-blue jacket with dark-blue turnbacks. Black collar and cuffs. White shoulderstraps. Grey overalls. Grey coat. Black leather equipment. Some ulans wore red sashes. The armament consisted of sabre and lance. The colour of their pennons are unknown, but possibly white- red. Their horse-equipment would likely be like that of the hussarregiment.
After the fightings at Damgarten 3 officers and 80 men from 2. Herzoglich Mecklenburg-Schwerinschen Bataillon joined the Corps of von Schill. Their uniform was a black chakot with a red-yellow-blue cockade, on the front a brass lozenge. Any parttaking grenadiers would be distinguished by red feathers, slings and epaulettes. Their singlerowed coats were darkblue with red collars, cuffs and turnbacks. White buttons. Grey trousers and black gaiters. Officers wore tricornes with feathers. All descriptions point very much in the direction of contemporary French uniforms and equipment.
Contemporary sources also mention some Westphalian deserters, possibly from either 1. or 5. Westphalian Line infantry Regiment. Their uniforms and equipment was like that of the French army, only differing in colours. Their coats were white in form of a spencer with brass buttons. White trousers or in the field often grey pantaloons. Black gaiters. Grey overcoat.
1.Regiment: darkblue collar and cuffs. White lapels, turnbacks and cuffslashes. Darkblue edgings on lapels, shoulders- straps, slashes and turnbacks.
5.Regiment: greenish-yellow collar, lapels, cuffs, cuffslashes and turnbacks. White edgings on lapels, cuffslashes and turnbacks.
On the turnbacks the fusiliers had white stars, grenadiers red stars and the voltigeurs yellow horns. Grenadiers were distinguished by red epaulettes, while the volitigeurs had yellow.
The chakots were like those of the French. Made of black felt with a strengthening V in black leather. On the front a brass lozenge. Brass chin-scales. Pompons in companycolour: 1.lightblue, 2.white, 3. yellow, 4. darkgreen.
Grenadiers red and voltigeurs green or yellow. On parade the grenadiers wore red plumes, while the voltigeurs had green with yellow tops. In the field normally oilskincovers were worn.
By the steady increase in rebellious forces from various sources, for instance von Schill enrolled former Prussian soldiers at Arneburg, it was in May 1809 possible to form additionally 2 infantry- companies.
They were equipped with bluejackets with black collars and cuffs, and had white shoulderstraps. Grey trousers and black gaiters. Instead of chakots these troops were issued black round hats, on which the left brim was turned upwards. (Some of the men and equipment can possibly have originated from the former Swedish garrison of Stralsund, as the contemporary Swedish troops wore such hats and blue jackets. O.a). The missing agraffes on the hats were substituted by yellow lace. The leather equipment of the companies is mentioned as being in both white and black.
As it was not possible to furnish all the newcomers with firearms, the two new companies were instead issued pikes, and for that reason the two companies naturally were named "pikeniers" - pikemen.
Posssibly von Schill had ideas refurbishing these two companies, as it is known that an order for 500 new uniforms was almost completed on 31. May, but they obviously never came into service.
An officer from Mecklenburg taken prisoner described these "pikeniers" as a bunch of unreliable rable and "sansculottes", who made a very negative impression in comparison to the regular troops of von Schill.
Nothing is known about its strength or organization, neither is anything known on their uniforms. A possibility could be that some wore old Prussian uniforms pre 1806, other can have worn the uniforms of the former Swedish "Stadtartillerie" of Stralsund.
Death mask of von Schill.
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
Colour plate with the troops of Holland and von Schill
by Chr. Würgler Hansen and Hans Chr. Wolter
The coloured plate on uniforms worn by the Dutch forces and the Corps of von Schill is based on the work on different artists. These are Christopher Suhr, F.L. von Bardenfleth, Wolfgang Janke, and R. Knotel.
The Dutch forces participating in the expedition on Stralsund in 1809 formed a part of the X Corps commanded by King Jerome of Westphalen (The Dutch Auxiliary Corps).
The following Dutch units were engaged in the assault on Stralsund:
- 6th Regiment of Infantry (2 Battalions)
- 9th Regiment of Infantry (2 Battalions)
- 2nd Regiment of Cuirassiers (3 Squadrons)
- 1 Battery of Horse Artillery (10 6 pds. Cannons and 2 Howitzers)
- A Detachment of Gendarmes (uncertain).
The sources at our disposal does not make it possible to describe with certainty the uniforms worn by The Corps of von Schill. The only type of uniform known is from the 2nd Brandenburg Regiment of Hussars, which formed the core of the corps. When departing from Berlin on April 28, 1809 the corps consisted of 2nd Brandenburg Regiment of Hussars (527 Hussars and 47 Chasseurs at horse - the uniforms of the chasseurs remaining unknown to us).
The degree of confusion, which arose within the field of uniforms, is conveyed by a series of episodes:
- From the fortress of Kothen von Schill acquired a sergeant together with 50 guardsmen from the Lifeguards of the Duke of Anhalt-Kothen. The guardsmen wore full dress and were supplemented by additional uniforms and 5 horses.
- As a result of a raid on Halle the captain of horse Briinnow enlisted 150 Westphalian recruits in full uniform.
- At Dodendorff von Schill engaged himself together with 400 hussars, 60 mounted chasseurs and 50 chasseurs on foot.
- Von Schill's infantry was armed with pikes. Their uniform included blue coats with black collars and cuffs and white shoulder straps. The round hat was turned up in front and decorated with a yellow ribbon instead of an agraffe. They wore grey trousers and black bootees. Leather was either black or white. The uhlans wore a similar uniform with a shako and a grey great-coat. Leather was white, and some uhlans wore a red sash round the waist (W. Janke, 1938).
- At Altmarkt von Schill incorporated some former Prussian horse soldiers and armed them with lances and sabres.
- Von Schill was joined by his late light infantry.
- From Rostock von Schill obtained weapons and articles of clothing to equip his recruits.
- The garrison at Damgarten included infantry and hussars from Mecklenburg as well as Polish cavalry.
- Von Schill's soldiers dressed themselves in uniforms previously worn by the captured Mecklenburgers - among them the Life-Grenadier Company. "After the engagement a strange procession appeared, when von Schill's soldiers - some without uniform and some very scarcely dressed - at the very battlefield exchanged their clothes with their prisoners pulling on their brilliant uniforms" (Bardenfleth, Stormen på Stralsund, København 1846). General Gratien writes in his rapport that at Stralsund the artillery was manned by old Swedish deserters and that "von Schill's infantry consisted of 2 strong companies of chasseurs, which he had brought from Berlin, former hunters and poachers, Prussian and Austrian deserters, who had joined him, tramps assembled, and a part of the soldiers from Mecklenburg, who had been taken prisoner by him, but later turned their weapons against us".
The light infantry of von Schill is also shown on the plate. Actually, a drawing depicting 4 examples of uniforms from the Corps of von Schill in 1807-08 exists. That drawing shows a soldier of the light infantry, which is possibly identical with the light infantry joining von Schill at Rostock. The drawing has been found in Paris before the First World War in the collection of M. Zam, and it is reproduced by R. Knotel, Plate XVII, no. 52.
The colured plate shows:
1 6th Regiment of Infantry, Fusilier
2 9th Regiment of Infantry, Officer
3 6th Regiment of Infantry, Voltigeur
4 9th Regiment of Infantry, Grenadier
5 6th Regiment of Infantry, Grenadier Fifer
6 Horse Artilleiy, Officer
7 6th Regiment of Infantry, Fusilier Drummer
8 Horse Artillery, 2nd Coy., Gunner
9 9th Regiment of Infantry, Voltigeur
10 2nd Regiment of Cuirassiers, Trumpeter
11 2nd Regiment of Cuirassiers, Trooper
Von Schill's Forces
12 Light Infantry
13 2nd Brandenburg Regiment of Hussars, Officer
14 2nd Brandenburg Regiment of Hussars, Hussar
A little disagreement between the artist Mr Christian Würgler Hansen and the author of the article Mr L.P. Sloos has occurred. According to Mr Sloos the figure No.8. (Horse Artillery) has placed his plume wrongly. Only the 3rd company, which did not take part at Stralsund, had its plume on the left side, all other companies had their plumes placed frontally. According to Mr Wurgler Hansen his drawing originates from Knotel Vol.V. Blatt 37, which is supposed to be based on Suhr.
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
Colour plate on Danish troops at Stralsund 1809
based on contemporary sources like J. Senn, F. Schack von Brockdorff, F.W.C. von Prangen, F.C. Gröger and the so-called Hamburger-manuscript by C. Suhr.
by T. Snorrason and Hans Chr. Wolter, plate by Chr. Wurgler Hansen
Danes by Suhr see:
In 1809 a Danish infantryregiment was formed by 4 battalions - 2 of the line and 2 of so-called "annekterede" battalions, which were formed on the earlier landmilitia ("landeværn"). After the disaster in 1807 afflicted by the English, the landmilitia had been disbanded as useless, and in 1808 the younger members were turned into second-class lineinfantry to strengthen the army.
An "old" lineregiment (before 1808) mustered 2 battalions with 10 companies. One was a grenadiercompany, another was a rifle-company ("jægere"), and the remaining eight companies were musketeers.
The "old" regiments carried 5 painted colours, 1 grenadier- ("Dannebrog") and 4 musketeercolours. The 4 painted colours of an "old" regiment numbered a white one "livfane" (life colours) and 3 painted in regimental facing colour. All musketeer-colours had the regimental facing-colour and were decorated with either provincial arms, or for the royal regiments the royal coat of arms guarded by two "national wild men" armed with clubs. Two cords with tassels in gold and crimson hang from the pikehead C7 in gilded brass.
After 1808 all regiments were reinforced with two "annekterede" battalions, each consisting of four companies of musketeers and one of riflemen. Each "annekteret" battalion carried 2 colours reusing the old ones from the militia. From around 1809 it seems that most of the battalions only brought a single colours into the field, even if this was not decreed until several years later.
The size of the colours varied, i.e. 1,10 x 1,10 m or 1,80 x 1,80 m. The older ones (of 1785) were the biggest.
By order of 21.6.1809 the 3'rd Battalion Holstenske Infanteriregiment was given permission, as token of their bravery at Stralsund, to exchange one of their militia-colours to a regular one, similar to those of l'st and 2'nd battalions.
At Stralsund no Danish grenadiers took part.
The above colours will later be changed to colour pictures.
The Danish uniform of 1809 had a rather outdated look, as it still was the 1789 Model, based on the Russian uniform introduced by general Potemkin. It was red, short and without turnbacks, as these had been replaced by 2 white "flaps" on the front. Many soldiers cut off the flaps to mend the rest of the uniform or just because it was fashionable. Collar, lapels, cuffs and shoulderstraps were all in regimental
Their long trousers were tight fitting and either white or dark blue depending on the time of the year. Short black gaiters were coming into service, as the long trousers wore out.
NCOs of the musketeer companies wore from 1805-07 their epaulette on the left shoulder at the same time, as they were rearmed with rifles and cartridge-boxes in bandoleer, instead of the earlier cumbersome halberd. Possibly NCOs still carried infantry sabres with tassels.
Drummerboys were distinguished by red "swallow-nests" piped white.
The rifle-companies used crescent-horn blowers instead of drummers.
Normally, rifle-companies were distinguished by having all their belts in black leather, while those of the musketeers were white.
The musketeer was armed with musket and bayonet, while the rifleman carried rifle and sword-bayonet ("hirschfänger").
All infantry wore the newly introduced chakot Model 1808. Cordons were yellow mixed with red and the cockade black. Musketeers had white feathers and the riflemen green. According to regulations the feathers should have the same height as the chakot, but of course it varied in real life. NCOs wore heavier cordons and tassels on their chakots.
Officers had crimson coats with white turnbacks, on which were white piped pockets with 3 buttons beneath. Their epaulettes were in button-colour and they wore a yellow, red striped sash.
Mounted infantry-officers had crimson, later red shabraques edged with 2 stripes (possibly white or silver) ending in a loop-ornament, in fashion like common troopers. This model seems to have been introduced for all officers around 1809. Earlier models are not known.
All officers wore chakots, as only staffofficers and generals were allowed to wear bicornes.
Generals normally wore the uniform of their regiment, but could also wear the special one, scarlet with light blue facings and goldembroidery.
Rifle Corps ("Skarpskyttekorps"= sharpshooters) were uniformed and equipped like the riflemen of the lineinfantry, only that their uniforms were dark green with black facings. The units carried no colours.
As for cavalry in the Stralsund expedition only 1 troop of heavy cavalry ("ryttere" - riders) and 2 squadrons of hussars took part. The heavy cavalry rode big horses, and the troopers were of big stature.
Ryttere - heavy cavalry
The uniforms of the heavy cavalry were like those of the infantry, only with bigger buttons and with paille flaps and turnbacks. On their chakots were brass-plates stamped with the initials "RR" (Rytterregiment). Troopers wore yellow gloves with gauntlets. Their armament consisted of sabre, pistols and carbine. The shabraques were red with white laces. The valise was red. Saddlery black.
The old officer-shabraque was crimson with broad bands of either gold or silver (button-colour) edged with the regimental colour. Around 1809 also the cavalry seems to have adopted the above mentioned new and simple model for officers,
but of course the old ones were allowed in use until worn out.
The hussars were dressed like their European contemporaries. The only special feature is the headdress, the so-called "Schachtelhue". It was a felt-cap like the Prussian "Flügelmütze", but without a wing. Hussars had white decorations, while officers had theirs more elaborate in silver. The officers' pelisses were crimson instead of red. The officer-shabraque was like that of the infantry-officer, but the officer horseharness of the hussars was richly decorated with small, white African snail-shells, ie. kauris.
Each of the hussar-squadrons brought their own standards with them into the action at Stralsund.
Artillery-uniforms were like those of the infantry, only with dark blue "flaps" and turn-backs.
In 1808 the 3 pounder foot-artillery was turned into mobile ("kørende") artillery, in an attempt to increase the mobility of a cumbersome system not changed at least since 1767. The guncrew of 10 men were placed with 4 men on the canon itself (1 on each side of the barrel and 2 in a special and clumsy constructed seat on the gun-carriage. 4 men were placed on top of the ammunition waggon, like in Austria, while the last 2 were mounted.
The horse-artillery had on their chakot's brass-plates with the initials "RA" (Ridende Artilleri). Their dark blue riding-trousers had a red stipe along the seams.
All equipment of the artillery was painted in dark grey with all metalparts black.
The Guidekorps was a hand-picked and highly trained little detachment, which served both as mounted and on foot. They assisted the Quartermasterstaff, and among their duties were terrain knowledge and assistance in preparing the marching routes and camps.
For further information on Danish uniforms in the period a well meant suggestion is that you invest DKr. 295,- in the splendid book "Den Danske Hær i Napoleonstiden 1801-1814", published by the Danish Army Museum 1992. (Address: Frederiksholms Kanal 29, 1220 Copenhagen K., DENMARK)
|| THE ASSAULT ON STRALSUND 1809
Thank you. Very interesting!
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