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"Prussian Freikorps" Topic


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1,510 hits since 9 Nov 2020
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Comments or corrections?

von Schwartz09 Nov 2020 6:00 p.m. PST

During the war the Prussians raised a number of Freikorps units, mostly infantry, some mixed infantry and cavalry. It was always my belief that they were destined for more rear echelon duties such as convoy escorts and garrison to free up regular unit for front line duties. During some recent research I have been finding significant numbers in OOBs and frequently in the 1st or 2nd line. Were these units sufficiently trained to be utilized as line infantry in massed formation and if so how frequently. Or were they destined primarily for rear echelon and kleine krieg operations and operating in more open order formations?

Glengarry509 Nov 2020 6:52 p.m. PST

Look up Wallmoden's Korps. In 1813-1814 this was a multi-national corps (that included Russians, Hanovarians, Swedes, the Hanseatic League and other small German states) that included a number of Prussian Freikorps in the Army of the North. While not in the main theatre of the war (IE against Napoleon) they were more substantial than a raiding corps and fought at least one battle against french troops that I know of.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP09 Nov 2020 7:19 p.m. PST

Unfortunately Wallmoden's Korps and the others named by Glengarry5 are Napoleonic, not Seven Years War.

At the back of Christopher Duffy's The Army of Frederick the Great is a list of all of the units in his army, including the freikorps, with the actions in which they were involved. Some examples:

Freibataillon #4 (Angelelli/Collignon) -- Distinguished at Breslau and Hochkirch. Captured at Landeshut, but restored and a second battalion raised. Almost wiped out by the French at Nordhausen 27 March 1761, but restored.

Freikorps #12 (Kleist) -- By far the largest and most effective of the bodies of free troops. Hussars raided into Franconia and present at Kunersdorf; hussars and dragoons at Torgau; hussars, Croats and jager at Freiberg.

Freibataillonen #15, 16, & 17. At Freiberg.

Jim

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2020 3:36 a.m. PST

Get the second edition of Duffy. His opinion of the military virtues of the Freikorps went up substantially between editions.

There's a lot of variance, but they weren't garrison troops. All the Freikorps were capable of raids, escort duty and kleine kriege. Most of the infantry was capable of standing in line of battle as well. On balance, more flexible than the line, but not first choice for assault troops.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2020 2:55 p.m. PST

I always use mine as light infantry, though I would not complain if folk deploy them as line units!

14Bore10 Nov 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

I have a few Freicorp units in my Prussian army Lutzow and others. I use them as light inf or almost off board. But Helkwig's and Schill's ( brother of Schill in the 1809 uprising)cavalry get involved in the general melee

von Schwartz10 Nov 2020 5:03 p.m. PST

Thanks, I'm just trying to figure out how I should base them. The rules I'm going to use have different frontages for line and freikorps. Guess I should base them for line frontage and just space out the bases when they are in open or skirmish order. The Grenz and French chasseurs seem to be only used as light/open order troops.
Herky – good to hear from you again, apparently you came through COVID with no lasting ill effects.
ColCampbell – My copy of Duffy is regrettably long gone but I do remember that he ranked many if not all of the units. As far as the engagements that they took part in, a good deal of that information is available on Kronoskaf but it still doesn't specify if they were operating in line as regular infantry or open order, hence my question.
Thank you all for your contributions.

Tricorne197112 Nov 2020 9:54 p.m. PST

Most Frei Korps should be based and used as line infantry.

von Schwartz13 Nov 2020 12:38 p.m. PST

Yeah, probably the most practical, like I said if and when I wanna use them as lights, I'll just space out the bases.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 1:52 a.m. PST

Von Schwartz, I just went through my copy of Duffy, and read the sections on Frei Korps, Hadik, the Austrian commander lumped them together with his Croats, and referred to them as light troops, they certainly seem to have performed the same functions.
In battle, they were sometimes used as a forward line to soak up enemy fire, and reserve their fire till 'amongst the enemy'.
Von Seydlitz thought of them as 'Guard Dogs', "Feed them well and keep them chained up during the day, and let them loose at night to keep watch on the house and the surroundings"
At the end of the war, Frederick disarmed the Frei Korps at gunpoint and dismissed them, and incorporated the foreign NCO's and men into regular battalions or garrison regiments.

von Schwartz14 Nov 2020 6:45 a.m. PST

Well, that would explain the rather low morale ranking given to them in the Koenig Krieg rules. I do like Seydlitz's analogy though.

Hey, one other item, have you ever heard of the Schwarze Brigade or the Black Legion von Favrat. I saw in in kronoskaf, looks like it would be interesting to paint up and use as there are hussars, dragoons, grenadiers, and jagers. The only information I could find with my limited research materials was that they were about a battalion in size but no other ideas as to their composition, Frederick never authorized them so it is doubtful they aver saw action.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2020 4:54 p.m. PST

Sorry, Von Schwartz, I looked through Duffy again and found no reference.
I imagine Von Kleist's legion might give an idea as to a possible composition? – though maybe not so large?

Garde de Paris15 Nov 2020 8:54 a.m. PST

As "the Colonel" noted above, Von Kleist "Legion" was quite large. It began when he commanded the 1st Hussars – Two odd shades of green for the uniform with Colpak headgear. It was two "Battalions" of 5 squadrons each, 10 squadron total. I believe the full regiment was at Rossbach.

Later (1759) he added Frei Hussars, possibly also 10 squadrons: red dolman, collar and cuffs. Dark green pelisse. Red breeches, but some may have had buff breeches.

Then (1760) he added squadrons of dragoons in dark green, with the interesting helmet, in dark green. Eventually 10 squadrons.

Also added uhlans in 1760. No information on number of squadrons.

In 1761, he formed a battalion of foot, the later a second. Dark green swallow-tailed coat, mirleton, tight breeches. His version of Croats. Some jagers (2 companies) as well, and some artillery: 2 6pdrs, 2 3pdr, one 7 pdr howitzer. Dark green uniform, cuffs, waistoats and breeched, with light green turnbacks (Osprey #248 – Fred's Specialist Troops).

Actually seems he had his own cavalry corps!

GdeP

von Schwartz15 Nov 2020 3:55 p.m. PST

As I recall von Kleist had his own little private army at its peak with 2 battalions light infantry the "Green Croats", and 3 companies jaegers, 10 squadrons Horse Grenadiers, 10 squadron Hussars, 10 squadrons Uhlanen, and artillery consisting of 2-3lb, 2-6lb guns, and a 7lb howitzer. A nice little corps, has everything you need.

von Schwartz15 Nov 2020 3:57 p.m. PST

I imagine Von Kleist's legion might give an idea as to a possible composition? – though maybe not so large?

Possibly, but as I noted above von Kleist had a large contingent, the Schwarze Brigade was supposed to be about 1 battalion in size.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2020 1:30 p.m. PST

The Schwarze brigade was dissolved by Frederick when it had grown to Battalion size.
I imagine it may have grown rather larger had it been left to its own devices, or especially if Frederick had supported it, hence the name Schwarze brigade?

von Schwartz18 Nov 2020 4:16 p.m. PST

The Schwarze Brigade = The "Black" Brigade

Who knows, maybe I'm related?

von Winterfeldt22 Nov 2020 8:59 a.m. PST

I highly recommend to read

Wernitz, Frank : Die Preußischen Freitruppen im Siebenjährigen Krig 1756 – 1763 – Entstehung – Einsatz – Wirkung, Pozdun Pallas Verlag 1994 as well as the military works of Frederic himself.

The Freikorps may have started originally to free the regular line units from the chores of the Kleinen Krieg but at the battle of Freiberg they fought side by side with the line units – the army of Prinz Heinrich had quite a significant number of Frei Regimenter, out of 31 battalions 7 were free battalions and out of 72 squadrons – 19 free cavalry – for more one has to study the battle.

However we don't have to forget that also the regular Prussian line was maybe not the same as it had been at the beginning of the war so that Frei Bataillone were good enough to fight side by side, a two tale telling story.

Anyway – the Frei Battailone and Frei Corps emerged as a very versatile fighting force out of the 7YW and found to the dismay of their leaders to be disbanded.

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