The Prussian army was the force of the state of Prussia and existed from 1701 until the dissolution in 1919.
Like almost no other force, the Prussian army has shaped the connection between the military and civil society up to the present day. Through its military strength, Prussia gained the status of a major power within Europe after the Seven Years War of 1756-1763. By the defeats in the Napoleonic wars in 1806 was carried out by Gerhard von Scharnhorst a comprehensive reformation of the armed force, so that today one speaks of an old-Prussian army (1644-1807) and the New-Prussian army (1807-1919).
The origin dates back to the Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648. Before and during this time, Brandenburg had recruited mercenaries for warfare and dismissed them after the war. After the Thirty Years' War, Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg began on June 5, 1644 in a meeting of the Privy Council with the establishment of a standing army. Just two years after the beginning of the lineup, the army consisted of 14,000 men, 8,000 regular soldiers and 6,000 armed militia.
Friedrich Wilhelm also enforced the essential principles later applied in the Prussian army:
- Linking the advertising system with the duty of local farmers' sons
- Recruitment of officers from the local nobility
- Financing of the army by the electoral domain revenues
In the Second Swedish-Polish War (1655-1660) and the Swedish-Brandenburg War, the army was able to prove its effectiveness. At times the army consisted of up to 30,000 men during the wars.
When in the year Friedrich III. crowned king in Prussia, the army was no longer referred to as kurbrandenburgisch, but adopted the name royal Prussian. During the 18th century, only the name Prussian was used in the interior and exterior area.
At the beginning of the Prussian army only 6 ranks were used:
- Mannschaften (Crews)
- Unteroffiziere (Noncommissioned officers)
- Subalternoffiziere (Subaltern officers)
- Hauptleute (Captains)
- Stabsoffiziere (Staff officers)
The rank of crews was used for the ordinary soldiers. Also common was the weapon type designation. Only with the infantry the 2nd crew rank of the private was used. After 1859 with the introduction of the rank of corporal at the artillery, the rank of privateer in the cavalry was used. In addition, names such as Obristwachtmeister and Obrist were replaced by Major and Colonel.
With a reform from 1866, the ranks were standardized and introduced signs that were not common before.
- The corporals wore a button (the so-called corporal button) with the Prussian eagle oneach collar side. The lance corporals wore the larger award button of the sergeants andsergeants on each side of their collars, as well as the saber tassels of the non-commissioned officers.
- Noncommissioned officers without Portepee carried golden or silver braid in the collar andthe impacts of the weapon rock. Säbeltroddel or bayonet knot with a brush mixed in theland colour. The sergeants carried in addition a big honouring button.
- Noncommissioned officers with Portepee (sergeant, patrolman, vice sergeant and vice patrolman) carried in addition the officer's side gun with Portepee.
- Deputy officers wore the badges of the vice sergeant (or vice watchmaster) with the underbelt of the officers. The epaulettes had a weave edging.
- Second lieutenants and main people carried a shoulder piece (piece of shoulder) from several Pattschnüren lying next to each other. Whereupon was, made of metal coined/shaped the numbers or signature marks, which carried also the crews. A simple second lieutenant did not carry a star, a first lieutenant carried a silver star, a captain had two silver stars. The Epauletts was without fraying, otherwise like the shoulder pieces.
- The Epauletten of the staff officers had twisted cords durchzogene with silver. With the major without star, the lieutenant colonel had a golden star, a Colonel of two golden stars. Whereupon was, made of metal coined/shaped the numbers or signature marks, which carried also the crews. Epauletts with silver fraying, otherwise like the shoulder pieces.
- The generals possessed an oak leaves embroidery at the collar and the impacts. At the shoulder pieces the golden twisted cords were silver-through-worked. Major general without star, lieutenant general a star, general of the infantry etc. two stars, colonel general of three stars and the general field marshal of two crossed command staffs. Epauletts with golden fraying.
With the introduction of a standing army and the construction of textile factories, the first Kurbrandenburgische, later the Prussian uniform could be issued.
The basic color of the uniforms was blue, as was customary for the time in the resource-poor Protestant states in northeastern Europe such as Sweden.
Infantry from 1644 to 1709:
The infantrymen wore a blue skirt that was open at the front, as well as a neck band, waistcoat, pants and stockings in regimental colors. These wide loafers with clips, a large cartridge pouch and a wide, open hat or grenadier cap.
The officers differed by higher quality fabrics, cuts and embroidery on the uniform. Signs of their state were also Sponton, sword and the sergeant.
Infantry from 1709 to 1806:
After an army reform in 1709, the uniform was further unified. For this, all ranks wore the same blue skirt, which differed by level only in quality. In addition a white or yellow vest and a same-colored trousers.
The leggings were initially white, from 1756 black, with low shoes. Boots were mostly worn only by the staff officers and generals. Sleeves, borders, collars and cuffs were in regimental colors. Likewise, the respective regiment was recognized by the shape of the cuffs as well as the color and shape of the buttons, borders, loops, threads and embroidery. Headgear was the tricorne, with the grenadiers the grenadier cap.
Officers could be recognized by the portepee, the sash, and the collar. The officers differed by the embroidery on the skirt. From 1742 the generals were recognized by an ostrich feather on the hat brim. NCOs could be recognized by a smooth wire on the hat and tears on the sleeve cuffs and sidearm. Since 1741 in the Guards and since 1789 generally the NCOs were from vice sergeants also carry the Portepee.
Hunters wore a green skirt with a green vest and rather olive-colored pants with black leggings, from 1760 boots.
Infantry from 1806 to 1871:
Due to the defeats in the Napoleonic wars and the subsequent army reform, the new Prussian armed forces were equipped with new uniforms, which were strongly based on those of the French.
Furthermore, blue remained the primary color. The new skirts were according to the fashion very short, the pants pulled up, sometimes now rather gray, very high stand-up collar, skirt and pants cut very tight. As headgear, the chaco was introduced in a tall and wide shape. Pauldrons or epaulets to distinguish the ranks were introduced in 1808.
From 1843, the spiked helmets replaced the choco, from 1853 the so-called private button on the collar was introduced as a rank insignia and from 1866 the officers got their final epaulets.
Infantry from 1871 to 1919:
Until the outbreak of World War I, the uniform of the Prussian army, now integrated in the German Empire, remained virtually unchanged. From the year 1907 came the first experimental models of the field gray uniform for war operations in the armed forces. At the beginning of the war, the color of the new combat uniform was changed to green gray, although the term "field gray" was retained. The Pickelhaube was also replaced during the war by the steel helmet M1916.
The Hussars wore an attila in regimental colors with string trim and underarm cords. Some regiments wore a fur coat.
The dragoons wore a tunic of cornflower-blue cloth with different colored collars, cuffs, and epaulets, depending on the regiment. The helmet was similar to that of the infantry.
The Uhlans had a ulanka (tunic) of dark blue cloth with epaulettes and depending on the regiment different colored collar, serves and thrusts. As a headgear a chapka was worn.
Amongst the cuirassiers, the Koller was made of white Kirsey with the same color collar and epaulets, depending on the regiment with different colored cuffs, edgings, lugs and collar plates. Headgear was a steel helmet (Cuirassierhelm).
The hunters on horseback had a koller and tunic of gray-green cloth with light green epaulets and cuffs. Blackened steel helmet as a headgear.
Flags of the Line Infantry Regiments of the Prussian Army
Organization and structure:
The organization distinguishes between the old-Prussian and the Neuprussian army after the army reforms of 1806.
Old Prussian Army:
In the Old Prussian army, the focus was clearly on the infantry and the cavalry. The artillery was paid less attention, these were mainly placed in the garrison artillery.
The infantry was divided into
- 1st Regiment
- 2nd Battalion
- 3rd Company
- 4th train
The regimental strength was not uniform until 1680, only then the target strength was regulated to 1,390 men.
The cavalry was divided into
- 1st Regiment
- 2nd squadron
- 3rd Company
- 4th train
The unification of the regimental strength entered into force in the cavalry only from 1720 and said the target strength per regiment to 728 men and 742 horses.
The artillery was lower part in
- 1st Regiment
- 2nd Battalion
- 3rd Company
Number of all artillery pieces until 1786:
Number of field guns until 1786:
Until 1806 was at the
- Infantry 60 Infantry Regiments
- Cavalry 35 regiments
- Artillery trained 4 field artillery regiments, a mounted artillery regiment and 17 garrison artillery companies.
The total strength of the Prussian army until 1806:
List of the old Prussian regiments with the German name:
After the defeats in the Napoleonic wars and the complete defeat of the old Prussian army, Prussia was set by the French in 1807 after the peace of Tilsit hard conditions on his military. Under the leadership of Gerhard von Scharnhorst, this made it possible to carry out a comprehensive reform of the army and to adapt the organization to the new conditions of modern warfare.
One of the most important innovations was the amalgamation of the individual branches of service. These mixed troops should be able to react to a variety of conditions as quickly as possible during a battle. Furthermore, the associations were extended by 3 major associations, which breaks down the subdivision as follows:
- Army Corps
Furthermore, the general compulsory military service was introduced and the soldiers thus conscripted were grouped together in the Landwehr and placed alongside the lines of (professional) army.
Also, the administration was grouped by the distributed authorities in a central war ministry.
Until 1914, the Neuprussian army comprised the following units:
- 166 infantry regiments
- 14 hunter / shooter battalions
- 9 MG departments
- 86 cavalry regiments
- 76 artillery regiments
- 19 foot artillery regiments (fortress artillery)
- 28 pioneer battalions
- 7 railway battalions
- 6 telegraph battalions
- 4 aviator battalions
- 1 motor battalion
- 19 train departments (supply and replenishment units)
The total strength of the Prussian army until 1888:
List of Newprussian regiments:
- The leadership of the army
- The Chief of the Army: Kaiser Wilhelm II
- The military retinue of kings and emperors
- The military cabinet
- The War Department
- The general staff
- The General Staff of the Army
- The Great General Staff
- Assigned to the general staff
- The country photograph
- The plank chamber
- The army corps
- I. Armee-Korps
- II. Armee-Korps
- III. Armee-Korps
- IV. Armee-Korps
- V. Armee-Korps
- VI. Armee-Korps
- VII. Armee-Korps
- VIII. Armee-Korps
- IX. Armee-Korps
- X. Armee-Korps
- XI. Armee-Korps
- XII. Armee-Korps
- XIII. Armee-Korps
- XIV. Armee-Korps
- XV. Armee-Korps
- XVI. Armee-Korps
- XVII. Armee-Korps
- XVIII. Armee-Korps
- rod troops
- Body of Gendarmerie
- Castle Guard's Company
- rod troops
- 1. Garde-Regt. zu Fuß
- 2. Garde-Regt. zu Fuß
- I. Bataillon Colbergisches Infanterie-Regiment
- Füsilier-Bataillon Leib-Infanterie-Regiment
- Kaiser Alexander Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr.1
- 1. Ostpreußisches Grenadier-Bataillon
- 2. Ostpreußisches Grenadier-Bataillon
- Kaiser Franz Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr.2
- Pommersches Grenadier-Bataillon
- Westpreußisches Grenadier-Bataillon
- Schlesisches Grenadier-Bataillon
- 3. Garde-Regt. zu Fuß
- 4. Garde-Regt. zu Fuß
- Königin Elisabeth Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr.3
- Königin Augusta Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr. 4
- 5. Garde-Regt. zu Fuß
- Garde-Grenadier-Regt. Nr.5
- Grenadier-Regt. Kronprinz (1. Ostpreuß.) Nr.1
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich Wilhelm IV. (1. Pommersches) Nr.2
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich Wilhelm I. (2. Ostpreußisches) Nr. 3
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich der Große (3. Ostpreußisches) Nr.4
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich I. (4. Ostpreußisches) Nr.5
- Grenadier-Regt. Graf Kleist v. Nollendorf (1. Westpreußisches) Nr.6
- Grenadier-Regt. König Wilhelm I. (2. Westpreußisches) Nr.7
- Leib-Grenadier-Regiment König Friedrich Wilhelm III. (1. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 8
- Colbergsches Grenadier-Regt. Graf Gneisenau (2. Pommersches) Nr.9
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich Wilhelm II. (1.Schlesisches) Nr.10
- Grenadier-Regt. König Friedrich III. (2.Schlesisches) Nr. 11
- Grenadier-Regt. Prinz Carl von Preußen (2. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 12
- Regimenter 13 - 40
- Infanterie-Regt. Herwarth v. Bittenfeld (1.Westfälisches) Nr. 13
- Inf.-Regt. Graf Schwerin (3. Pommersches) Nr. 14
- Inf.-Regt. Prinz Friedrich der Niederlande (2. Westfälisches) Nr. 15
- Inf.-Regt. Freiherr von Spart (3. Westfälisches) Nr. 16
- Inf.-Regt. Graf Barfuß (4.Westfälisches) Nr. 17
- Inf.-Regt. von Grolman (1.Posensches) Nr. 18
- Inf.-Regt. von Courbière (2.Posensches) Nr. 19
- Inf.-Regt. Graf Tauentzien von Wittenberg (3. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 20
- Inf.-Regt. von Borcke (4. Pommersches) Nr.21
- Inf.-Regt. Keith (1. Oberschlesisches) Nr. 22
- Inf.-Regt. von Winterfeldt (2.Oberschlesisches) Nr. 23
- Inf.-Regt. Großherzog Friedrich Franz II. von Mecklenburg-Schwerin (4.Brandenburgisches) Nr. 24
- Inf.-Regt. von Lützow (1. Rheinisches) Nr. 25
- Inf.-Regt. Fürst Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau (1. Magdeburgisches) Nr. 26
- Inf.-Regt. Prinz Louis Ferdinand von Preußen (2. Magdeburgisches) Nr. 27
- Inf-Regt. von Goeben (2. Rheinisches) Nr. 28
- Inf.-Regt. von Horn (3. Rheinisches) Nr. 29
- Inf.-Regt. Graf Werder (4. Rheinisches) Nr. 30
- Inf.-Regt. Graf Bose (1. Thüringisches) Nr. 31
- 2.Thüringisches Inf.-Regt. Nr. 32
- Füsilier-Regt. Graf Roon (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 33
- Füsilier-Regt. Königin Viktoria von Schweden (Pommersches) Nr. 34
- Füsilier-Regt. Prinz Heinrich von Preußen (Brandenburgisches) Nr. 35
- Füsilier-Regt. General-Feldmarschall Graf Blumenthal (Magdeburgisches) Nr. 36
- Füsilier-Regt. von Steinmetz (Westpreußisches) Nr. 37
- Füsilier-Regt. General-Feldmarschall Graf Moltke (schlesisches) Nr. 38
- Niederrheinisches Füsilier-Regt. Nr. 39
- Füsilier-Regt. Fürst Karl-Anton von Hohenzolern (Hohenzollernsches) Nr . 40
- Regimenter 41 - 60
- Infanterie-Regiment von Stülpnagel (5. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 48
- Infanriere-Regiment von Alvensleben (6. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 52
- Regimenter 61 - 80
- Infanterie-Regiment General-Feldmarschall Prinz Friedrich Karl (8. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 64
- Infanterie-Regiment Herzog Friedrich Wilhelm von Braunschweig (Ostfries.) Nr. 78
- Königlich Hannoversches 6. Infanterie-Regiment
- Regimenter 81 - 100
- 2. Oberrheinisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 99
- Regimenter 101 - 120
- Regimenter 121 - 140
- Regimenter 141 - 160
- Regimenter 161 - 176
- Jäger-Bataillon (Pommersches) Nr. 2
- Jäger-Bataillon (Brandenburgisches) Nr. 3
- Regiment Garde du Corps
- Kürassier-Regiment Graf Wrangel (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 3
- Kürassier-Regiment (Westpreußisches) Nr. 5
- Kürassier-Regiment (brandenburgisches) Nr. 6
- 1. Brandenburgisches Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 2
- 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr. 1
- 2. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr. 2
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 3
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 4
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. (Pommersches) 5
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 6
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 7
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 8
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 9
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 10
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 11
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 12
- Husaren-Regiment (1. kurhessisches) Nr. 13
- Husaren-Regiment (2. kurhessisches) Nr. 14
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 15
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 16
- Husaren-Regiment Nr. 17
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 1
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 2
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 3
- Ulanen-Regiment (1. Pommersches) Nr. 4
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 5
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 6
- Ulenen-Regiment Nr. 7
- Ulanen-Regiment (Ostpreußisches Nr. 8)
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 9
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 10
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 11
- Ulanen-Regiment Nr. 12
- Jäger zu Pferde
- 1. Westpreußisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 35
- 2. Westpreußisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 36
- Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 71
- Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 72
- 1. Westpreußisches Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 11
- 2. WestpreußischesFußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 15
- Westpreußisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 17
- transport troops
- Westpreußisches Train-Bataillon Nr. 17
- Special Formations, War Formations, Free Corps, etc.
- Königlich Preußisches Freikorps von Lützow 1813 - 1815
- Bavarian army
Connection between the army and the state:
Like no other army, the Prussian army shaped the image of a state and its inhabitants. Up to the present Prussia is associated with militarism and German virtues. The foundation for this view was put by Frederick William I, who also made history as a soldier king. He combined the state and society like no other with the military. So he assumed all the institutions, estates and interests of the army. The state and the army were given a unified constitution, and the army was the leading element in social and economic development.
Also at the royal court made this development noticeable, because no longer the nobility but senior officers went in and out and enjoyed great reputation with the king, who from 1725 even wore only a uniform.
When Friedrich Wilhelm's son Friedrich II died, the French statesman Count Mirabeau is said to have said: Other states have an army. Prussia is an army that owns a state.
The end of the Prussian army:
After the founding of the German Empire in 1871, a unified German army was founded, which was composed of the four provincial armies (Saxon army, Bavarian army, Württemberg army and Prussian army) together. In peacetime, the countries were responsible for their own armed forces, with the proclamation of the war, these were merged and were subject to the command of the German Emperor and the army command.
After the First World War, the provisions of the Versailles Treaty required Article 160 that the size of the German force on land should be only 100,000 and in the Navy only 15,000. Thus, starting in 1919, began to transfer the existing troop units in the new Reichswehr and dissolve the old armed forces of the countries.
You can find the right literature here:
The Politics of the Prussian Army: 1640-1945
THE INFLUENCE EXERTED IN GERMAN DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY
Prussian & Austrian army uniforms in 1742-1770
This illustrated uniformes book was belonged to the general and writer Ferdinand Friedrich von Nicolai with the name of : “uniforme des trouppe” and is now preserved in the Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart. The author is not better known. It show mainly the uniforms and accoutrements of Prussian and Austrian army in the second part of XVIII century. So, infantry, cavalry, artillery and other coprs are well present in his color plates. There is also some plates related the Saxon uniforms.
Armies of Bismarck's Wars: Prussia, 1860–67
On July 3rd, 1866 a Prussian army overwhelmed and defeated an Austrian army near the fortress city of Königgrätz in a bloody battle that lasted all day. At a stroke, the foremost power in Germany and central Europe had been reduced to a second rate player. The event caused anxiety and alarm in the capitals of the western world. How was an upstart country like Prussia able to upset the balance of power in Europe? Only sixteen years before it had been put in its place by Austria with the treaty of Olmütz. Its performance as an Austrian ally had been less than stellar in the 2nd Schleswig War of 1864 despite its defeat of the Danes at Düppel. Yet within five years a Prussian led army would humble France and a Prussian King would be crowned Emperor of a united Germany. The history of the world would be changed forever.
The story of this army is the subject of a new book by Bruce Bassett-Powell The Armies of Bismarck’s Wars – Prussia 1860-1867. He chronicles its growth from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the reforms of the eighteen sixties followed by a full account of the wars against Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866. He shows how the confluence of three men’s lives; King William I, Helmuth von Molkte and Otto von Bismarck provided the essential ingredients that created this victorious army. The growth and influence of the General Staff is examined along with the recruitment and training of officers and men. He fully describes the organization of the army and the fledgling navy as well as the weapons with which they fought. In particular he gives a detailed account of their dress and accoutrements accompanied by 24 full page color illustrations depicting over 70 uniforms.