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"Grenz rifles?" Topic

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von Schwartz12 Sep 2020 3:24 p.m. PST

During the SYW the Austrian Grenz regiments typically fielded 2 battalions of 6 companies along with 2 company sized detachments of sharpshooters. Does anyone know, were these "sharpshooters" rifle armed, or just the best shots in the regiment?

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 4:09 p.m. PST

Hi there, in my sources, during the Seven Years War, Grenzer carried muskets exclusively, the only rifles issued were to the Deutches Feldjager corps (and Jagers in some of the Frei corps units, I think). They had 2 Grenadier companies, not sharpshooters, and 6 fusilier companies per battalion.
After the war, the Grenadier companies were converted to sharpshooters, and these had rifles.

von Schwartz12 Sep 2020 5:57 p.m. PST

Sorry Herky, I have to call you on that, at least according to Kronoskaf, each battalion had 6 fusilier companies, 1 grenadier company, and 1 sharpshooter company. Also, tactically speaking, each battalion was assigned a hussar squadron. Granted, I am very limited in resources as most of my military history library had to be left behind so, Kronoskaf is pretty much all I have for reference.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 2:16 a.m. PST

Very interesting! I got my info from the Osprey book on Austrian specialists. I wish I had the Duffy book to look at! – I am planning to paint up a 7 years war Austrian army soon-ish, and it would be nice to get the light troops right!

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 8:35 a.m. PST

While Duffy, in The Army of Maria Theresa: The Armed Forces of Imperial Austria, 1740-1780 (first edition, 1977), writes about the "Croats" in general in Chapter 6, he does not have much detail about their field organization.

From page 88:

"The establishment of the Croatian regiments was very large indeed, the regiments of Warasdiners and most of the regiments of the Carlstaedters owning four battalions each, with nominal complements of between 3,860 and 5,000 men. The colossal Liccaner regiment of the Carlstadt generalcy was composed of six battalions with (in 1749) a total of 5,785 officers and men. The individual Croatian battalion comprised sixteen companies of fusiliers and two of grenadiers.

According to custom, only a single Division or levy of one-third of the regiment's strength was liable to be called up for wartime service, though by agreement with the Croats the second levies were summoned up on several occasions during the Seven Years War."

And earlier in the chapter: "… the Croats mustered 34,000 infantry and 6,000 border [grenz] hussars at the outset of the new war in 1756." and "Altogether 88,000 Croats saw service in the course of the Seven Years War, making up probably more than a quarter of the army." (page 85).


von Schwartz13 Sep 2020 12:24 p.m. PST

I had a copy of "The Army of Maria Theresa: The Armed Forces of Imperial Austria, 1740-1780". Regrettably now gone. Also, at the same time I actually had a copy of Gunther Rothenberg's "The Military Border in Croatia, 1740-1881: A Study of an Imperial Institution."

Needed a couple full canteens of water to get through it, but it had it's interesting bits. Unfortunately it's been 15 years or more since I looked through it and my memory being what it is, I do not really recall any of the specifics. Currently out of print and copies go for $62.00 USD to $113.00 USD, depending on condition.

Whoa, just noticed something. ColCampbell, your notation: "The individual Croatian battalion comprised sixteen companies of fusiliers and two of grenadiers."
Was that including depot units? Also, the notation uses "battalion" or should that read "regiment"?

Rusty Balls Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2020 1:51 p.m. PST

While looking for any additional material on this I found an interesting note in Duffy's Instrument of War. Not completely on subject here but tangentially interesting… to me anyhow.

"To their undeserved discredit, the Croats were sometimes confused in the popular imagination with the semi-criminal Pandours, a free corps raised by the Slavonian landowner Franz von der Trenck."

Latter on he says "that the Carlstadters were to be given the same status as the rest of the army, apart from being termed 'Grenzer' and coming last in the order of seniority."

I always thought that Croat, Pandour and Grenzer were more or less interchangeable. Seems that Croat and Grenzer are related but that Pandour was a reference limited only to Trenk's band of miscreants.

von Schwartz15 Sep 2020 9:31 a.m. PST

I think Grenzer is probably the most accurate as they were a very important and recognized component of the Imperial armed forces as well as providing border security. They were a part of the army and not just a band of irregulars such as the pandours. Croat seems to be an older kind of catch all term used for anyone from the border areas and I have seen it used for the 17th century irregular levies from this region as well.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2020 11:01 a.m. PST

I got a copy of 'Instrument of War' Volume 1 in the post tonight, and apart from the sections quoted above, is no help in how the battalions were organised (sigh!)- at least in the section on 'Croats'. I will have to read the rest of the book to be sure though!
I guess, you pays your money, you take your choice! regarding organisation of our borderers!

von Schwartz15 Sep 2020 4:46 p.m. PST

I would recommend, Gunther Rothenberg's "The Military Border in Croatia, 1740-1881: A Study of an Imperial Institution." it's as dry as dust but I found it informative, but then I'm also the one who read the "Encyclopedia of Military History", all 1,406 pages cover to cover, helped to cure my insomnia

Tricorne197116 Sep 2020 8:38 p.m. PST

In 1994 I was with Duffy traveling up the Elbe River discussing how the Grenzers seriously annoyed the constant Prussian supply and replacement traffic. We discussed briefly that this was quite good shooting for smoothbore armed troops. Although I generally can't remember what I had for yesterday's dinner.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2020 4:08 p.m. PST

I just had another look at Kronoskaf, and the sources they use are documents from 1759-60 desribing the 'New State of the troops' in the Habsburg army, so its far from clear whether the introduction of rifle armed Scharfschützen preceeded that date. Kronoskaf is, to me, taking a leap of faith stating that these changes were in place in 1756!

von Schwartz18 Sep 2020 6:57 p.m. PST

Well Herky to be fair, I didn't see anywhere in Kronoskaf where they said the Grenzers had rifled muskets in the SYW. But HEY!, that why I started this thread!
@Tricone, yes I remember reading somewhere (damned if I can remember where) about Freddy complaining about being kept awake all night before Kolin by Grenzers sniping at him from across the river. He blamed them for his mediocre performance the next day.

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