Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


 

Austrian Infantry Regiments and Their Commanders 1792-1815:

By Stephen Millar

The purpose of this series of articles is to compile and then present data about Austrian infantry regiments and their commanders during Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (20 April 1792 to 4 July 1815). It is hoped the information provided will give researchers a solid foundation for subsequent study into the regiments of the House of Hapsburg-Lothringen.

In addition to Internet sources (listed at the end of each section), two German-language print sources from Vienna were consulted:

1)      For Infantry Regiments Nrs. 1-62: “Osterreichischer Militar-Almanach Fur das Jahr 1799 (Nro. X)” by Carh Graffer [dated 27 April 1799].

2)      For Infantry Regiments Nrs. 1 and 20: “Geschichte der K.u.K. Wehrmacht: Die Regimenter, Corps, Branchen und Anstallten von 1618 bis Ende des XIX. Jahrhunderts,” [published 1893-1900] by Alphons, Freiherr von Wrede.

The first systematic numbering system for Austrian Army regiments was introduced by Emperor Josef II on 8 August 1769. Before that date, regimental identification was usually based on the name of the current colonel-in-chief (or ‘proprietor’) – ‘Infanterie-Regiment Kaiser Josef II’ – or sometimes the unit’s recruitment area (the term ‘Linien-Infanterie-Regiment’ replaced ‘Infanterie-Regiment’ in 1798).

The 1769 reform is a useful starting-point to identify Austrian regiments, colonels-in-chief and field commanders during the pre-Revolutionary Wars period. However, researchers of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are often confronted with conflicting or misleading information for the years 1792-1815. In his Internet article ‘Numbering of the Austrian Army Regiments 1769-1815,’ Lubomir Uhlir defines the problem:

“From our point of view, the numbering was a useful for even today it simplifies our recognition the units of the Austrian army. However, even after introduction of systematized numbering the situation might not be always definite. Under one and the same number, there could be several different regiments listed (often in the cavalry where this was even more complicated by transfers between particular categories), some of the numbers might have been unoccupied (after regiment’s disbanding etc.) so the numbering did not always create a consecutive sequence and an unused number could be allocated to a different regiment at a later date. There even existed a possibility of renumbering a regiment without changing its category.”

Researchers will also discover several regiments bearing similar surnames of colonels-in-chief during the same time-period. During the 1813 Leipzig Campaign, there were Line Infantry Regiment ‘Graf Colloredo-Mansfeld’ Nr. 33 (Hungarian), Line Infantry Regiment ‘Wenzel, Graf Colloredo-Waldsee’ Nr. 56 (German), and Line Infantry Regiment ‘Joseph, Graf Colloredo-Waldsee’ Nr. 57 (German). These three colonels-in-chief were Feldmarschalleutnant Hieronymus, Graf Colloredo-Mansfeld [1809], Feldmarschalleutnant Wenzel, Graf Colloredo-Waldsee [1784] and Feldmarschalleutnant Joseph, Graf Colloredo-Waldsee [1769]. Other well-known families provided several colonels-in-chief during the 1792-1815 period, including Eszterhazy von Galantha,  Gyulai von Maros-Nemeth und Nadaska, and Wallis von Karighmain. In some sources – especially in orders-of-battle – a colonel-in-chief’s title or surname may be abbreviated, which may lead to misidentification.

Also, contemporary and modern sources can be misleading in regards to a particular officer’s rank during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In his memoirs for the 1805 Campaign, Baron de Marbot refers to “old field-marshal Jellacic [Franz Jelacic de Buzim].” This Croat officer was promoted to Generalmajor in 1797 and to Feldmarschalleutnant in 1800, but never reached the grade of Feldmarschall. A number of modern sources refer to ‘Field-Marshal Mack von Leiberich’ [Karl, Freiherr Mack von Leiberich (1752-1828), the ‘de facto’ Austrian commander for the early part of the 1805 Campaign]. This is incorrect; the highest grade this Bavarian-born officer reached was Feldmarschalleutnant in 1797 (deprived of his rank in 1807 after the Ulm disaster, Mack von Leiberich regained it in 1819).

In common with other continental European armies, Austrian infantry regiments during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars had a two-part designation: the title and surname of the current colonel-in-chief (or ‘proprietor’) and a regimental number. To identify regiments with no current colonel-in-chief – usually the result of his death – the practice was to place the word ‘vacant’ before his title (for example: Infantry Regiment ‘vacant Freiherr Kray von Krajova’ Nr. 34).[1] When a new colonel-in-chief was appointed, the regiment would assume his surname for the duration of his term.

There were four exceptions to this rule. Infantry Regiment Nr. 4 was given the title ‘Deutschmeister’(in 1814, the regimental title was expanded to ‘Hoch und Deutschmeister’) and Infantry Regiments Nrs. 5 and 6 (Garrison Regiments Nr. 1 and 2) never had colonels-in-chief appointed to them. The fourth unit – given the regimental number ‘64’ – had Feldmarschalleutnant Jean-Gabriel, Marquis de Chasteler de Courcelles as its colonel-in-chief, but was referred to as the ‘Tyroler-Feld-Jaeger-Regiment’.

In many sources, regimental designations are abbreviated. The above example – Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Kray von Krajova’ Nr. 34 – might appear in a different form (Infantry Regiment ‘Kray’ Nr. 34 or Infantry Regiment ‘Freiherr Kray’ Nr. 34). In order to avoid any confusion with surnames [see Introduction above], the full title and surname of each colonel-in-chief appears in the information below.

Five new units were formed during the French Revolutionary Wars: Hungarian Infantry Regiments Nrs. 60, 61 and 62 in 1798; Infantry Regiment Nr. 63 (Walloon) in 1799; Infantry Regiment Nr. 64 (‘Tyroler-Feld-Jaeger-Regiment’) in 1801. A fourth newly-formed Hungarian regiment in 1798 was given the number ‘48’, which had been left vacant (the previous Italian regiment was disbanded three years before because of ‘political unreliability’).

There were also several important changes to the infantry numbering during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1808, the two Garrison Regiments (Infantry Regiments Nrs. 5 and 6) and the ‘Tyroler-Feld-Jaeger-Regiment’ were disbanded. A further eight regiments – Nrs. 13, 23, 38, 43, 45, 46, 50 and 55 – were also disbanded after the Wagram campaign. These numbers were reassigned in 1813-1815 to newly-raised units, the exception being Infantry Regiment Nr. 45 (which was reformed in 1816).

In 1816, there were 58 infantry regiments (Nrs. 1-63), with the regimental numbers 5, 6, 46, 50 and 55 remaining vacant.

Graffer’s “Osterreichischer Militar-Almanach Fur das Jahr 1799 (Nro. X)” only covers Infantry Regiments Nrs. 1-62 [at the time its printing, Infantry Regiment Nr. 63 had just been formed; Infantry Regiment Nr. 64 was formed two years later]. He lists the following infantry regiments as being vacant in 1799: Nrs. 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 24, 25, 34, 35, 36, 37, 41, 44, 48, 60, 61 and 62.

It should also be noted that although the term ‘Line Infantry Regiment’ replaced ‘Infantry Regiment’ in 1798, the earlier term has been used for consistency throughout the information below.

Notes:

1. Kray von Krajova does not appear in Graffer’s publication. The infantry regiment is listed as ‘vacant Antal Eszterhazy Nr. 34’.

The author would like to extend his thanks to Robert Fletcher and Ondrej Tupy for providing information from these sources.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2004 - April 2005

 

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