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The Napoleon Series > Publications > Despeche In English

Prussian Horse Artillery in the Campaign of 1815 – Part 2

By: Uwe Ehmke and Edmund Wagner

Translator:  Justin Howard

This article previously appeared in Issue 3 of the German-language magazine Depesche, which is published by our partner, Napoleon Online. We appreciate the kindness of the editor, Markus Stein, for giving us permission to publish the translation.

Uniforms of the Other Ranks and NCOs

As with the rest of the Prussian army, in 1815 the horse artillery was in the process of changing uniform, a process which had begun in 1814. Thus, at that time both the old and the new uniforms were to be found, although it can no longer be ascertained beyond doubt which batteries had already been completely re-equipped and which still wore the old uniforms.


A) 1808 Model

The pattern for this model was that of the shako of the 2nd Brandenburg Hussar Regiment (von Schill).

Black felt shaft with black leather edging, top, chevrons, peak and chin strap. Interior lining is linen.

On the front a brass exploding grenade underneath the round – later oval – woollen cockade (black centre, white outer ring).

The privates’ shakos had a white woollen band on the top edge; for sergeant-majors, NCOs and bombardiers, this was made from gold braiding.

On campaign, the leather chin strap was replaced by a pair of brass chain scales and the shako was covered with a black waxed cloth, which could be closed at the back.

On parade, the shako was decorated with yellow woollen cords – sergeant-majors (mounted), NCOs, artillery sergeant-majors (on foot), artillery sergeants, staff trumpeters and trumpeters were distinguished by black and white woollen cords.

B) 1814 Model

Although slightly lower than the previous model, the leather top had a larger diameter. Otherwise, it was identical to the 1808 model.

The 1814 model was only widely introduced in 1816, so in 1815 examples were only sporadically to be found.

C) Other Headgear

In isolated cases, in particular in Battery Number 15, the “Tarleton” helmet of the British Horse Artillery was worn.


A) 1808 Model

Short-tailed Kollett made from dark blue cloth. Loose-fitting, to allow freedom of movement and also so that the Kamisol (waistcoat) with sleeves could be worn underneath in winter. The Kollett reaches to the hip. Lining is linen and possibly also padding of the breast with old horse blankets or scraps of old uniforms.

Black cloth collar. This was supposed to be worn opened, such that the corners of the collar were 2 inches apart and the cravat underneath was thus visible. Ponceau-red piping on the front and lower edges.

Swedish cuffs made from black cloth. Ponceau-red piping along the edge of the cuff.

Turnbacks of dark-blue cloth with wide black lace and ponceau-red piping.

Shoulder straps in the colour of the province to which the particular battery belonged, thus white for Prussia, ponceau-red for Brandenburg and yellow for Silesia.   

The flattened round brass buttons, of which there were 26 in all, were distributed about the Kollett as follows:

2 rows of 8 each on the breast

2 on each of the cuffs

1 to button each of the sleeves

2 at the waist

1 on each of the shoulder straps.

The rank of sergeant-majors (mounted), artillery sergeant-majors (on foot), NCOs, and artillery sergeants were distinguished by golden lace on the collar and cuffs; bombardiers on the other hand only had golden lace on the cuffs. Trumpeters and staff trumpeters could be recognised by the golden lace as well as the “swallows’ nests” from black cloth with 7 golden lace chevrons. However the specific distinction for the staff trumpeter is uncertain – maybe golden fringes on the swallows’ nest?

B) 1814 Model

The only difference to the previous model was the appearance of the collar, which was worn closed and was piped ponceau-red on the upper and front edges. Rank distinctions as above.


This was made from dark blue cloth, though it’s not possible to make any definite statement about the length – in some cases they reached to the knee. In general, the tails were supposed to reach to the lower end of the buttocks and the front was supposed to overlap by a width of two hands. The collar was higher and the sleeves longer, to ensure that the Kollett was completely covered. The litewka had a pocket on each side. The body was lined with white baize and the sleeves with linen.

Collar made from black cloth with ponceau-red piping.

German cuffs from the basic cloth with ponceau-red piping.

Shoulder straps as on the Kollett.

The litewka had 18 brass buttons, distributed as follows:

2 rows of 6 each on the breast

1 to button each of the sleeves

1 on each pocket

1 on each of the shoulder straps.

All of the other ranks wore the same style of litewka.

NCOs were distinguished by lace on the collar. Swallows’ nests were not worn with the litewka.

Prussian Horse Artillery during the War of Liberation


This was made from dark grey cloth, was supposed to reach to the ankle and be so loose-fitting that it could also cover any articles of equipment, e.g. the valise, which were attached to the saddle. The body was lined with cloth from old greatcoats and the sleeves, buttonholes and buttons were lined with linen.

Collar and shoulder straps as for the Kollett.

While dismounted or while serving the guns, the greatcoat could be rolled up and worn over the shoulder and was then buttoned together at the waist be means of a loop.


A) Breeches

The white cloth breeches were not worn on campaign. They reached from the hip to the ankle – band and flap were lined with linen.

B) Overall trousers

These were made from grey cloth and reached to under the rib cage. On the right side there was a pocket, though it was covered by the Kollett.

The inside leg and the ends of the trouser legs were reinforced with black riding leather. It was up to the battery commander whether the outer seam of the trouser leg was piped ponceau-red. 12 brass buttons along this outer seam. Although these buttons were ordered to be removed in 1815, the order was generally not followed until 1816.

C) Stable trousers

These were made from grey or white linen, and were lined with baize.


A) Duty boots

Hungarian style, made from black leather, with nailed-on spurs.

These were principally worn on parade.

B) Short boots

They were also made from black leather, but only reached to the underside of the calf. Worn on campaign and for stable duties.


Made from black wool.


Made from grey drill fabric. Single row of 8 buttons, made of lead.


Made from grey wool. They were supposed to reach to the calves.


For privates on foot, simple gloves made from grey cloth. For all other ranks, white leather gloves.


Made from dark blue cloth. At the lower end a wide band made from black cloth with ponceau-red piping. Linen lining. See Figure 2.


Prussian Horse Artillery Forage Cap


2 shirts and 2 pairs of shoe uppers belonged to the small items of uniform.

Each soldier received a small amount of money for cleaning and sewing utensils, brushes, nosebags and horseshoes.

Equipment and Weapons


Barrel sash, sabre strap and cartridge-box belt were made of white leather.

Fittings and buckles were brass.

The cartridge-box belt for privates was slightly wider than that for other ranks. In addition, the belt for privates had a brass star, chain and vent pick as well an iron pricker.


Made from black leather. Brass ornament on the flap (see Figure 3).


Prussian Horse Artillery Cartridge Box Brass Ornament

The iron ramrod for the pistols was fastened to the cartridge-box by means of two white leather straps on the top edge of the flap.


All ranks carried a pistol as well as a hussar sabre.

Sergeant-majors (mounted) and artillery sergeant-majors (on foot) had red Russian-leather sword knots with silver port epée.

NCOs, artillery sergeants, bombardiers, staff trumpeters and trumpeters had red Russian-leather sword knots with black/white woollen tassel.

Privates had red Russian-leather sword knots with white woollen tassel, the button of which was white for the 1st Battery, ponceau red for the 2nd Battery and yellow for the 3rd.


Prussian Horse Artillery during the War of Liberation

Description of the Plate

Fig. A –           Private of Battery Number 15 after H. Knötel. Note the helmet of the British Horse Artillery as well as the black                         cartridge-box belt of the foot artillery. The collar is shown worn unhooked, i.e. open.

Fig. B –           NCO with 1808 Model Kollett after an illustration on an army postcard.

Fig. C –           Private with 1814 Model Kollett. Here the collar is also shown unhooked.

Fig. D –           Bombardier with 1814 Model Kollett.

Fig. E –           Trumpeter with 1814 Model Kollett.

                                                                                                             (To be continued)


Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2010


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