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The Soldiers of Hesse Nassau: Operations in Pomerania

The Soldiers of Hesse Nassau: Operations in Pomerania

The Soldiers of Hesse Nassau

Operations in Pomerania: Sieges of Graudenz, Colberg and Stralsund.

Translated by Greg Gorsuch

The great operations against the Prussians were finished; our allies from Hesse and Nassau would not wage open war against the Russians and would not appear at Eylau or Friedland:  but they would be employed in siege warfare, and we will find the Hessians under the walls of Graudenz (Grudziądz), the soldiers of Nassau under those of Colberg (Kołobrzeg), and finally the two contingents gathered in front of the Swedish fortress of Stralsund.

FIRST OPERATIONS IN SWEDISH POMERANIA

At the beginning of the year 1807, Marshal Mortier, with the 8th Corps brought to nearly 30,000 men, had received from Napoleon, an order to ensure the execution of the continental blockade, the mission of occupying the Hanseatic towns as well as Mecklenburg, and to guard the mouths of the Weser, the Elbe, and the Trave.  He was to operate against the Swedish corps commanded by General Essen:  the latter, landed with 15,000 men in Swedish Pomerania, counted on the support of the English and firmly occupied Stralsund and the island of Rugen where defensive work was carried out.

Mortier established his headquarters at Anklam, on the right bank of the Peene, and, while remaining in contact with the Grand Army, he marched against Stralsund at the end of January, with the hope of bringing down this place after a bombardment and then seize Rugen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Marshal Mortier, Commanding the 8th Army Corps (Based on a contemporary print)

 

 

 

Arrived in front of the Swedish fortress, he immediately began the investment, had established approach batteries and built a work intended to prevent communications between the place and the island of Rugen.  But the reinforcements sent from Stralsund to the other threatened points, and especially those which he himself had to lead in front of Colberg, obliged him to leave before Stralsund at the end of March only the Grandjean Division itself: General Essen, informed of the reduction of the siege corps, took the opportunity to attack Grandjean: the latter was driven back to Stettin, where he arrived on 7 April after suffering heavy losses.

At this news, the Emperor ordered Marshal Mortier to march on Stettin with part of the troops of the siege corps of Colberg, and to rally the Grandjean Division there; he sent reinforcements to him and the Marshal resumed the offensive on the Peene.  The four Nassau battalions stationed in Berlin each sent 2 companies to Pasewalk where Mortier assembled 12,000 men; Colonel von Schäffer, commanded this detachment from Nassau, came himself to the assembly on 15 April.

The following day, the French marched on Ferdinandshof:  the Swedish General Armfeld established himself there and posted part of his troops to Üeckermünde with Colonel Kardell; Armfeld, vigorously attacked by our troops and the Nassau companies, was defeated and thrown back with great losses on Anklam.  On 17 April, General Baux was sent with the 72nd Regiment and the Nassau detachment against Colonel Kardell who was cut off at Üeckermünde: the Swedes lost 500 prisoners and 2 cannons there; their debris only escaped destruction by a rapid embarkation on the gunboats which took part in the combat.

Following these events, an armistice was signed on 18 April between Mortier and the Swedes; the 8th Corps then established itself in cantonments between Pasewalk and Stettin, and the Nassau companies soon returned to Berlin.

Let us leave our allies of Nassau in the Prussian capital and return to the Hessians who left Berlin and Spandau at the end of 1806 to go to Bromberg, on the Vistula, where they passed to the division of General Rouyer, under the orders of Marshal Ney commanding the 6th Corps of the Grande Armée.  During the night of 26 to 27 December, 40 Prussian hussars burst into Bromberg:  but the Hessian light horses soon drove back these enemy scouts.  A few days later, on 14 January 1807, Lieutenant Dalwigk, of the Hessian light horses, took at Freystadt a Prussian convoy of 14 carriages of flour destined for the fortress of Graudenz.

From Bromberg, Ney moved the Hessians through Thorn and Gollup to Strasburg and Lautenburg. They established themselves in observation on the line of the Drevens, covering the left flank and the rear of the 6th Corps against the movements of the enemy which could come from Graudenz and Marienwerder.  The situation of the Hessians was very distressing:  the soldiers had no coats, their shoes were in a pitiful condition and many men walked with bare feet:  so there were a large number of sick people.  The Major General, informed, delivered to them 3,696 coats, as many pants, 1,500 pairs of shoes and 60 pairs of boots…

FIRST BLOCKADE OF GRAUDENZ

The Hessians stay on the Drevens was not of long duration: from 17 January 1807, Rouyer’ s division, under the orders of Bernadotte commanding the 1st Corps of the Grande Armée, received the order to go blockade Graudenz, a very strong place located on a height overlooking the Vistula north of Thorn.  The Hessians left on 20 January with some French dragoons of the 18th Regiment:  the next day, in a reconnaissance of the place, the light horse had a first engagement with Prussian Jägers at Engelsburg, and on the 22nd a second at Réhkrug; that same day General Rouyer attacked the town of Graudenz with the 3 battalions of Hessian fusiliers of Colonel Schäffer and the skirmishers of the brigades of the Guard and the Corps.  He was at the head of these troops, with General Werner; during this time the 2 battalions of the “Crown Prince” brigade and 160 French hussars threaten the fortress in the north and in the east and helped to repel a counterattack; with no other loss than 3 killed, 15 wounded and 10 prisoners, the Hessians entered the city on the heels of the Prussians who were confined to the fortress.

That same evening General Rouyer wrote to General Werner:

Please, Mr. General, send a second officer of your staff to the Prince of Ponte-Corvo to whom I report how distinguished the Hessian troops behaved in the days of yesterday and the day before yesterday.  Let them know, by means of a plan of the day, how satisfied I myself was with their conduct and the good order they observed in the attack on Graudenz.

As a result of this brilliant fight, the fortress was invested.  It was defended by 4,000 Prussians under the orders of a Frenchman of origin, the Homme-de-Courbière.

But the Russian offensive on the lower Vistula on 12 January forced us to lift the blockade of Graudenz on the 27th: the 1st Corps gathered near Lobau as well as the 6th, and Rouyer took the Hessians to Rheden;  he failed to be kidnapped at Bialakowo on the night of 28-29 by a detachment of Prussian Corps Guards belonging to General Borstell’s corps: Lieutenant-Colonel Debaine, Rouyer’s first aide-de-camp, the two picket officers and 30 Hessian soldiers of the Guard brigade were taken prisoner by the Prussians, while the General’s six escort light horse defended themselves with carbines in their stable, saddled their horses and managed to escape:  as for General Rouyer, he jumped out of a window, without boots, gets well off and arrived at Rheden with his feet half frozen:  the Hessian General Werner had to temporarily take command of the division, which passed to the 10th Corps; this army corps had been commanded until then by Marshal Victor, but the latter having been taken prisoner by enemy scouts on his way by carriage from Graudenz to Colberg, his command had been entrusted to Marshal Lefebvre, under whose orders the troops destined for the sieges of Graudenz, Colberg and Danzig were placed.

Rouyer’s division received on 31 January the order to fall back on Thorn; the Hessians did the garrison service there and managed to make a certain number of coats with sheets of all colors requisitioned in Graudenz:  all these coats were given to the 3 fusilier battalions, sent on 2 February to Bromberg to support the rejection of General Dombrowski from Danzig.  Lefebvre reviewed the 6 Hessian battalions on the 4th and reproached General Werner for the weakness of his troops:  in the retreat to Thorn many soldiers without coats and shoes had fallen ill as a result of the cold, the cases of freezing had been numerous and there were a large number of frozen ears, noses, hands and feet.

The defeat of the Russians at Eylau led to a new offensive by Bernadotte’s corps which moved to Osterode, and that of Lefebvre which marched on Freystadt with the 6 battalions of musketeers and the artillery of Hesse,[1] 2 French light infantry battalions, 6 horse artillery pieces and the Spanish cavalry division reinforced with Polish cavalry and light horse from Darmstadt.

During the march of Lefebvre from Rheden on Lessen, on 8 February, the Hessian light horse, in the vanguard, fell at Groß Schönwald on Prussian dragoons which they drove back and pursued:  the Captain von Münchingen distinguished himself in this engagement, and on the 10th, near Garnsee, he charged around 60 Prussian cavalrymen, from whom he took 36 men and 20 horses.

SECOND BLOCKADE AND SIEGE OF GRAUDENZ

On 11 February, the second capture of the city of Graudenz and the new investment of the fortress took place. General Zayonchek took command of the blockade corps and the Hessians were temporarily dispersed:  3 battalions were sent to Marienwerder with General Rouyer; Marshal Lefebvre took General von Nagel’s Hessian Brigade (du Corps Regiment and 1st Guard Battalion) to Preußisch Eylau, then sent it to Thorn where the Darmstadt troops who remained under Graudenz[2]  also joined it; only Poles remained in front of this place.

Marshal Lefebvre witnessed, on the road to Marienwerder, a fight against the partisans of General Rouquette belonging to the Lestocq corps by 2 companies of French light infantry, the Spanish Division and the Hessian light horse:  the latter pursued the Prussians as far as Weisshof, and the enemy withdrew to Mèwe with a loss of 8 officers, 236 men and 191 horses; the Marshal, congratulating the Hessian horsemen, addressed these words to them:  “We will no longer say brave like a Frenchman, but brave like a Hessian!”

On 3 March, the troops of Darmstadt returned under Graudenz whose blockade was to be transformed into a regular siege, and they relieved the Poles recalled to the Grand Army.  General Savary, commanding the siege troops,[3] had the village of Neudorf located near the town attacked on 16 March and taken: it was General von Nagel who carried out the operation with the Regiment du Corps; the 1st Guard Battalion and the 2nd Crown Prince were in reserve; this affair during which the light horses stopped a counter-attack coming from the town, costing the Hessians only 2 killed and 31 wounded.

A few days later, on 16 April, Sergeant Mohr, from skirmishers of the Hessian Guard, approached with 3 men the hornwork of the town.  Soon stopped by an enemy sentry, he shouts: “Halt! Patrol!” and advanced alone as far as the Prussian sentry, whom he abruptly bodily took by the arms and brings back prisoner to the Hessian camp; decorated for this feat of arms, Mohr was moreover, as was customary, invited to the table of the commander of the siege corps.

It was in front of Graudenz that the Hessian regiments finally received from their depots the new coats made in Darmstadt; these precious clothes, the absence of which had been so harshly felt, arrived at the same time as a detachment of reinforcements.

The trench was opened on 28 May:  the capture of Danzig allowed the large artillery necessary to beat down the town to be brought; the first parallel was open during the night of 28 to 29 June, 480 meters from the rampart.  But the armistice of 29 June suspended hostilities which ended on 9 July, when peace was signed at Tilsit with Prussia.

The French and allied troops of the siege corps were then directed on Stralsund because the kings of Sweden and England continued the war against France.

An order from the Chief of Staff, dated 8 March, had prescribed the dispatch of a Hessian battalion to the Imperial Headquarters:  the 2nd Battalion of the Hessian Guard, immediately directed to Osterode (11 March), followed the Emperor to Finkenstein[4] (1 April), Mohrungen, Deppen (Kalisty), Altreischau.  The 1st Battalion of this same regiment, which came on 27 April to Marienwerder, met with the 2nd at Altreischau and the entire Guard Regiment accompanied the Imperial Headquarters on Preußisch-Eylau, Domnau, Friedland (16 June) — where it crossed the battlefield and left 200 men there to transport the wounded and bury the dead; it arrived on 19 June at Tilsit, was in Königsberg on 13 July, in Elbing on the 24th, in Driesen on 12 August; the Emperor having returned to Berlin, the Guard Regiment went to Stettin (17 August), meeting in Stargard with the Crown Prince Regiment and left with the latter for the siege of Stralsund.

SIEGE OF COLBERG

The stronghold of Colberg, on the left bank of the Persante and a quarter of a mile from the North Sea, included an enclosure with external works, reinforced by a third line of entrenchments, redoubts, arrows, batteries; detached support points, solidly organized before the front of the town, completed the whole of the defense:  that of Wolfsberg was the most important because of its command over the city.

We will not repeat the detailed history of the siege of Colberg here:[5] we will only recall its general lines, so as to be able to follow the troops of Nassau during the two short stays they made in front of this town.

General Teulié who had invested Colberg with Italian troops at the end of February; General Loison received command of the siege corps (24 April) on arriving in front of the place of reinforcements which included the 8 companies of Nassau of Colonel de Schäffer previously placed at the disposal of Marshal Mortier for his attack against the Swedes.  These troops left Berlin with Colonel Schäffer who received on this occasion from General Clarke the following letter:[6]

Berlin, 22 June 1807.

My dear Colonel,

It is with great sorrow that I see you leaving Berlin with the majority of your brigade, and yet I must perhaps be reproached for having contributed a little to depriving it of opportunities to acquire fame, if it was not during the hostilities of the Swedes when your presence and that of the brave men whom you commanded were so useful to the 8th Corps of the Grand Army.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. General Teulié, Commanding the troops investing Colberg (After the engraving by Parmiani)

 

 

I could not bring myself to part with those who have supported me so well in maintaining good order, not only in Berlin, but also in a large part of the government entrusted to me.

This is what prompted me to pray to His Majesty the Emperor and King to keep you here as long as He has deigned to allow it.

I owe you a lot in particular, my dear Colonel, to you who are the soul of this excellent brigade of Nassau and who inspired in it the love of discipline and the good spirit which drives it.

 You have therefore responded to the wishes of your worthy Prince and have earned the confidence of all French people.

 My best wishes accompany you to Colberg, where I hope you will find the opportunity to show yourself as good allies of France and as real soldiers.

 I do not want you to leave me, my dear Colonel, without taking away a small token of my friendship, and I hope you will keep it because of that of which you have given me proof.

 Thank your whole corps for me and tell them that I will never forget its good way of serving and the rights it has acquired to my esteem and my attachment.

 I embrace you, my dear Colonel, with all my heart.

 Major General, Governor General of Berlin, Secretary of the Imperial Cabinet,

CLARKE.

 

On their arrival in front of Colberg the companies of Nassau were installed in the bivouac on the Wald Feld, to the right of the line occupied by the troops of the siege, between the Polish regiment of Prince Sulkowski and the regiment of the Duchies of Saxony; they remained there only until 28 April: relieved at this time by 2 battalions from Württemberg, they returned to Berlin where the rest of the Nassau brigade had stayed.

The siege of Colberg did not really begin until the end of April, when the Prussian Major Gneisenau came to take charge of the defense:  an active defense if ever there was one; the new governor relentlessly built works to delay the approaches of the assailant, who was obliged to advance step by step and to remove by force all the roadblocks opposing its march; he made Wolfsberg the main fulcrum of the place, put the suburb of Lauenburg into a state of defense, developed the flooding network:  in short, forty-five days after the opening of the trenches, General Loison could barely start the regular siege.

To put an end to this recalcitrant place, the Emperor brought the force of the siege corps to 14,000 men: the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions of Nassau bet from Berlin and arrived on 26 June in front of Colberg: at this time, the brave General Teulié died as a result of a wound received in the trench, but the fortress was blockaded on both banks of the Persante, the Wolfsberg (now Fort-Loison) fell into the hands of the besiegers whose approaches had reached, on the Kloster Feld, up to the limit of the flooded area stretching south of the suburb of Lauenburg.

The 3 battalions of Nassau, joined with the French 3rd Light Infantry Regiment, under the orders of General Fririon, found their former bivouacs in Wald Feld, to the right of our lines, and supplied each day, upon their arrival, 300 men to the trench and 5 picket companies. They took part in the battles fought on the attack fronts on 29 and 30 June, and attended, without being engaged, the general attack on 2 July: the Maikühle, a work which commanded the port, and the port itself being captured by the besiegers since the day before, it was against the fort of l’Embouchure, the last work of the place, that the attackers were marching:

While the bombardment continued with regularity and fires broke out, on all sides in the place, the troops of the siege left Fort-Loison and marched on the fort of l’Embouchure. The Prussians came to the aid of the threatened work, and the fight became fierce: finally, the assault columns were formed and would rush forward, when a French officer and a Prussian officer brought the news of the armistice concluded on 25 June at Tilsit between Prussia and France: the fire was immediately interrupted on both sides, and, under the clouds of smoke from the powder that the wind had not yet blown away, besieged and besiegers held out their hands in sign of esteem and peace.[7]

Peace having been signed on 9 July between Frederick William and Napoleon, the battalions of Nassau did not remain any longer in front of Colberg:  they were urgently sent to Marshal Brune, whom the Emperor was directing on Stralsund at the news that the King of Sweden had resumed hostilities.

SIEGE OF STRALSUND

Following the armistice concluded between Marshal Mortier and the Swedes, the Grandjean Division, which remained alone in Swedish Pomerania, had passed, at the beginning of May 1807, under the orders of Marshal Brune in charge of forming an observation corps between the Weser and the Oder, with headquarters in Schwerin.

On 12 May, the King of Sweden arrived in Stralsund: he secured by treaty the aid of a Prussian corps which would participate in the operations of the Swedes: Blücher, in Rugen, organized this corps with escaped Prussian prisoners and volunteers, reinforced it with part of Schill’s troops who came by sea from Colberg, and finally landed in Pomerania at the beginning of June.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Marshal Brune (After the lithograph of A. Tardieu.)

 

 

 

 

Not content with the support of these Prussian troops, the King of Sweden obtained from the English Government, by the London Convention (17 June), that a corps of 8,000 Anglo-Germans would land immediately at Rugen: encouraged by these aids, the King denounced the armistice on 3 July: operations could start again on the 13th.

As soon as the armistice was denounced, Marshal Brune received as reinforcements some of the troops of the former Colberg siege corps, and in particular the 3 battalions of Nassau of Colonel von Schäffer who entered the Pino Division.

On the other hand, the Hessians gathered at the headquarters of Grandjean having also become available as a result of peace with Prussia, on 17 July leaving the camp established in front of this town and also left for Stralsund where they were quartered in reserve on 5 August, in Franzburg and Richtenberg.

Brune crossed the line of demarcation on 13 August and Pino marched by Demmin on Grimmen:  abandoned by Blücher as a consequence of the stipulations of the armistice, and by the English who re-embarked to carry out operations on Copenhagen, the Swedes isolated and discouraged, withdrew to Stralsund, of which Brune immediately began the siege; Pino’s division was placed to the right of the contravallation line in front of Voigdehagen and close to the sea; the battalions of Nassau, on the extreme right, occupied the redoubts known as 4,5 and 6.

On 6 August, in a brilliant fight, the advanced troops of the Swedes were thrown back into the covered path of the town; Colonel von Schäffer took part in this affair, after which General Pino issued the following agenda:

‘I cannot congratulate the Nassau Regiment enough on the distinguished conduct they have shown in all recent affairs.  To affirm the brilliant attitude of this corps in the combat of 6 August, I bring to the attention of the troops the report of General Thouvenot.

 I am honored to say that the Nassau regiment did not fire a fusil until they came within close range of the enemy, and that they pursued them to their works.’

While Nassau was still fighting on 11 August in front of the town, the Hessians settled in the Pütte Camp, where they were rallied with all the troops of the contingent who were not before Graudenz (Guard Regiment, Crown Prince Regiment, artillery), and by a volunteer battalion from Darmstadt.[8]  The Hessian artillery would join the park, where French, Spanish, Italian, Bavarian, Dutch, Baden and Grand Duchy of Berg batteries are next to each other.

The opening of the trenches takes place on August 15, the Emperor’s feast day, under the protection of a thick line of skirmishers, while the music plays in the camps: it is carried out up to 500 paces of glacis of Fort Franken and the bridgehead; the construction of the batteries begins without further delay and approaches are pushed forward.

Part of the inhabitants of Stralsund took refuge in Rugen, where the king of Sweden had his artillery and ammunition transported, had decided to give up the town to the French and to withdraw his troops in Dänholm and the Island of Rugen. On 18 August, the Swedes spiked all the artillery pieces of the advanced works, broke their carriages and embarked, taking all the existing boats, barks and means of passage from Stralsund. Brune immediately occupied the place and gathered there by land 200 boats which would allow him to continue operations against the islands of Dänholm and Rugen. Batteries kept the enemy gunboats away, and the bombardment of Fort Dänholm blew up the only powder magazine of the Swedes.

During the night of 24 to 25 August, General Fririon with 1,200 men moved on 160 boats across the arm of the sea which separates Stralsund from Dänholm; he seized the fort, advanced into the island as far as the redoubts where the Swedes have taken refuge:  the latter, giving up their defense, capitulated and left us masters of 17 officers, 500 men and 14 pieces of cannon; Fririon had only 15 killed and 26 wounded, despite the fire of the enemy gunboats. The Nassau battalions and the Hessians took part in this glorious affair, as a result of which Marshal Brune wrote to the Grand Duke at Darmstadt that ‘the Hessians fought with an intrepidity which deserves the highest praise’.

Continuing his successes, the Marshal prepared to attack Rugen:  he received from Stettin, Anklam, a large number of crafts and could now carry 3,500 infantry with artillery and 80 horses at the same time; the larger of these ships were armed into floating batteries to protect the passage of the expedition against Swedish warships.  The first troops to land on the island had the task of removing the Swedish coast batteries and returning the pieces, subsequent landings to be made under the protection of this artillery:  then, we would advance in the Isle…

But this daring program was not carried out:  in fact the King of Sweden had left Rugen on 31 August, leaving General Toll full powers to deal with the abandonment of the island to the French:  this decision came from the discouragement of the Swedish army abandoned by its allies, and the approach of the equinox which was to make embarkation and crossing very difficult for the Swedes; also, General Toll signed on 7 September an agreement by which the Swedes undertook “to have evacuated Rugen” before the 27th of the same month.

Forty-eight hours later, Brune began to occupy the island (9 September).  The troops from Nassau, who fought on 27, 28 and 29 August, were taking part in this operation; the 4th Battalion remained at Dänholm; the 2nd and 3rd went from the camp of Pütte to Rugen where they temporarily formed a brigade with a regiment of Berg; they would not leave these locations until 14 November, at which time the entire contingent returned to Berlin and then returned to the Duchy of Nassau.

Colonel von Schäffer received the following letter upon his departure from Stralsund:

‘I am instructed by His Excellency Major General Pino to express to you all his satisfaction for the services rendered by your brave regiment.  The entire division has the greatest regard for the Nassau Regiment, which has always set an example of zeal, fearlessness and discipline.

We look forward to seeing you again in the future, and we will faithfully keep the memory of having served together.’

The Chief of Staff of the Pino Division,

MAZUCHELLI.

 

The 3 battalions from Nassau met on 24 November in Berlin with the 1st Battalion and the mounted jäger squadron[9] who had continued to serve there.  They left for Bayreuth where they entered for some time into the observation corps of General Legrand (9-17 December), arriving in Frankfurt on 31 December and were reviewed on 1 January 1808 in Königstein by Duke Frederick William of Nassau, who appointed Colonel von Schäffer as a general.

After occupying Rugen until 20 October, the Hessians were quartered on the banks of the Peene between Demmin and Anklam.  The light horse, with 4 Bavarian squadrons and 2 squadrons from Würzburg, ensured the service of the outposts under the orders of the Bavarian Colonel von Mussel:  they were reinforced on 27 October by the arrival of 285 men and 286 horses brought from Darmstadt by Colonel Chamot, in 28 stages of 26 to 28 kilometers and 4 days of rest; the colonel covered nearly 100 miles and lost on the way only 1 non-commissioned officer, 1 rider, 3 saddle horses and 2 draft; the regiment was then formed into 3 squadrons; it had 11 officers, 349 men, –36 officers’ horses, 351 troop and 15 draft.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. General Legrand Commanding the Bayreuth Observation Corps (After the lithograph by A. Tardieu.)

 

 

 

It was on 11 November that the Hessians received the order to leave for Bayreuth:  the movement was made in 2 columns; the first, with General von Werner, was made up of the regiments of the Corps, Crown Prince and Light Horse; the second, with Colonel Hopfenblatt, comprised the Guard regiment, the volunteer battalion and the artillery. Through Prenzlau, Berlin, Magdeburg, Leipzig, Hof, Bayreuth and Würzburg, the Hessians entered the Grand Duchy, and reached Darmstadt on 30 December 1807: on the order of the Grand Duke, they ‘made a solemn entry in campaign dress, the men in coats, the officers in uniform, each having kept a mustache and beard as they were worn in war’.

Following this campaign, the Hessian contingent adopted the French model silver epaulettes for officers, and the bayonet scabbard for the troops. On 25 August 1807, the Grand Duke had created the Hessian order For Merit intended mainly to reward military service and brilliant actions; General von Schäffer had received the Cross of Officer of the Legion of Honor.

In the Duchy of Nassau, the Marksburg garrison company was split and provided a 2nd company which occupied Diez and Ehrenbreitstein.  In February 1808 it was created territorial companies of jäger, to ensure the service in the interior of the country in the absence of the active troops in campaign.

These were the circumstances in which our allies of Hesse and Nassau first marched under our eagles. The slowness of their organization and their setting in motion gave rise to the well-deserved reproaches of the command; their armament, like their clothing, also left much to be desired:  we have seen that it was necessary to arm certain German contingents with new fusils  and to distribute to certain others coats, breeches, boots and shoes.

But the attitude of the Rhine soldiers was good before the Prussians, as before the Swedes. Supervised and trained by French troops, placed under the orders of experienced general officers, they learned quickly through contact and example and were soon to justify, during the next campaigns, the good reputation they had established. acquired in the Grande Armée, at Jena, under Graudenz and before Stralsund.

 

[1] The 3 fusilier battalions did not join the division until 8 February at Engelsburg.  The Hessian artillery, after its arrival in Berlin, had received on 5 November 1806 the order to rally the park of the 7th Corps (Augereau) at Weissensee.  From there, it had gone through Custrin and Bromberg to the outskirts of Warsaw, had attended without being engaged in the fight of Gołymin (25 December) and had returned to Bromberg, then to Thorn (19 January 1807) where it was united with the Hessian Brigade.

[2] The 1st and 2nd Fusilier Battalions, the 1st Battalion of Crown Prince, the skirmishers of the Fusiliers of the Guard and of the 1st Battalion of the Guard, with 2 cannons, under General von Schäffer.

[3] These troops include:  1 infantry regiment and Berg’s light horses, 2 Polish infantry regiments and the Würzburg regiment (situation of 1 April 1807).

[4] 1 officer and 20 men of the Hessian Guard were on duty every day at the Imperial residence, as well as 1 Polish brigadier and 6 horsemen.

[5] One will find the account of the siege of Colberg in the 4th volume of this study:  Le Régiment des Duchés de Saxe, pp. 13-37.

[6] Veling, p. 159.

[7] The Regiment of the Duchies of Saxony, p. 36.

[8] This battalion, formed in 1807 with volunteers from the Starkenburg reserve brigade, was dismissed after the war.

[9] The Emperor had indicated his desire to have the Nassau cavalry in the army:  the existing company was immediately split up and formed into 2 companies, the 1st of which left Biebrich on 20 May 20 1807 and came to Berlin.