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Örjan Martinsson

Saxon Infantry Uniforms
in the Great Northern War

 
1 Polish Guard 13 Beichlingen (Wackerbarth 1703, Friesen 1714) 25 Malleraque
2 Saxon Guard 14 Reuss 26 Wolfenbüttel
3 Kurprinz 15 Bieberstein 27 Weissenfels
4 Königin 16 Löwenhaupt (Reibnitz 1701) 28 Seiffertitz
5 Benkendorf (Egidy 1701) 17 Rothenburg 29 Ansbach-Bayreuth (Seckendorff 1711)
6 Röbel (Steinau 1701) 18 Zeitz (Schulenburg 1703) 30 Seissan (Flemming 1715)
7 Tiesenhausen (Thielau 1701) 19 Weimar (Kanitz 1703) 31 Seydlitz
8 Neitschütz (Pistoris 1701, Goltz 1702) 20 Tromp (Droste 1703) 32 Flemming (Wackerbarth 1715)
9 Sacken 21 Flemming/Mannig/Seidlitz 33 Ansbach-Kavanagh
10 Venediger und Biron 22 Hayn (Nehmitz grenadiers 1704) 34 Ansbach-Castelli
11 Fürstenberg (Kaiser 1706, Braun 1716) 23 Wostromirsky (O'Gilvy 1707, Goltz 1710) 35 Dresden Garrison Battalion
12 Görtz 24 Martiniére (Joyeuse) 36 Janissary Corps
 

The uniforms of the Saxon army were most likely very typical for European armies of this age but unfortunately not much is known about them. The information I have about their infantry (and artillery) uniforms is presented on this page (the cavalry has a separate page). The sources to this information come from two publications that are not entirely consistent with each other: Daniel Schorr's article "Notes on the Saxon Army 1700-1716" (previously published on his now defunct website Northern Wars), and Lars-Eric Höglund's book "Stora nordiska kriget 1700-1721, III".

In the beginning of the war a Saxon infantry regiment consisted of 15 companies with a strength of 150 men each. Every regiment had a grenadier company, but it is unclear whether it was included among the 15 or if it was a sixteenth company. In any way this large organisation was changed at the end of 1701 and early 1702 so that an infantry regiment thereafter consisted of about 1 200 men distributed to twelve musketeer companies and one grenadier company, which then formed two battalions. In 1705 an infantry regiment consisted of 16 companies with a combined strength 1 391 men, which still was to form two battalions.

General Uniform Information

Since the army was reorganised in 1707, 1716-1717 and 1730-1733 and new uniforms were issued simultaneously, these dates could be points in time when the uniforms went through major changes.

The coat was for both infantry and cavalry red during the period 1695-1733 (thereafter white). In the beginning the coat had buttons all the way along the length but in about 1707 this was changed so that the buttons only extended to the waist. The pocket flaps were horizontal with three buttons. The cuffs also had three buttons and were together with the lining in a special regimental colour which distinguished the regiments from each others. A collar was usually reserved for the coats of officers, NCOs and drummers, but possibly the guard regiments had it as well. According to Höglund the coat evolved due to Swedish influence during the campaigns in Poland and at least one regiment had typical Swedish features such as small cuffs and turnbacks.

The vest/camisole was according to Schorr usually red but could also be in the regimental colour. However, Höglund always writes that the vest was in the regimental colour. The vest too had buttons all the way along its length. After 1707 it may have had a collar which was worn over the coat.

Breeches were usually of leather but some regiments may have had breeches of coloured cloth. One regiment is reported to have had white leather breaches which should have matched the colour of the stockings and this may have been the case in other regiments as well.

Stockings were usually grey-white or white. However, several regiments had stockings in the regimental colour.

Hats were, according to Schorr, at the outbreak of the war still of the older wide brimmed type with only one side folded up. The transition to tricornes was slow and it was until 1707 when it became standard in the Saxon army. The hat was according to Schorr edged with white or yellow lace depending on whether the coat had yellow (brass) or white (pewter) buttons. I am however not entirely convinced that such a neat system existed. Information coming from Höglund show that white or black lace was most common and that high status units had red lace on their hats (a dragoon regiment had lace in black and white). Only the artillery regiment and a company in the Garde de Corps are reported to have had (gold-) yellow lace on their hats.

Grenadier caps either had a hanging bag or had it sewn to the front plate to create a mitre shape. The front plate was usually red and decorated with the coat of arms of Saxony in brass or pewter (Kurprinz Regiment had copper plate). The bag was either red or in the regimental colour.

NCOs were mainly dressed as the privates but may have had a collar and silver lace on their cuffs and hats.

Drummers were also mainly dressed as the privates with the possible exception of lace on the collar and sleeves.

Officers were to have a gorget from 1715 and a sash in red and silver as distinctions. It is possible that this was only a confirmation of existing usage. Grenadier officers were armed with flintlock muskets.

Polish Guard
(Polnische Garde and from 1712: 1. Gardesregiment)

According to Schorr they had white facings, brass buttons and red neckcloths. Höglund adds that they had white vests, red lace on the hats and buttonholes embroidered in white. Höglund's statement that they had pewter buttons is however incorrect and is a result of a mixup with the Saxon Guard.

Both guard regiments had according to Schorr cartridge boxes of black leather with the coat of arms of Saxony in brass on the flap which was edged with red lace.

Saxon Guard
(Sächsische Garde and from 1712: 2. Gardesregiment)

Höglund writes that the Saxon Guard had the same uniforms as the Polish Guard except the buttons which he incorrectly claimed to be of brass.

Schorr states that they had white facings, white vest, black neckcloth and pewter buttons, and that the same source which mentions the Polish Guard's red neckcloths also notes that the Saxon Guard had these. It is possible that they were issued several neckcloths.

There are illustrations depicting the Saxon Guard with yellow facings (and both guards with white neckcloths) But it is likely that these show uniforms of a later date.

Kurprinz

Facings and vests lemon yellow, red neckcloths and pewter buttons. Höglund adds that the hats white lace and that the neckcloths were white. The latter does not necessarily contradict Schorr who said they were red because the soldiers may have had more than one neckcloth.

Königin
("Queen's Regiment")

According to Höglund the facings were "isabel coloured" while Schorr notes that the colour was "dark Straw". Although I interpret these colour names as referring to the same shade. Harder to reconcile are on the other hand the following information:

Höglund: Isabel coloured vest, brass buttons.
Schorr: Red vest, pewter buttons.

However, both agree that the neckcloths were white and Höglund states that the hats had white lace.

Benkendorfs Regiment
Egidys Regiment

1700
1701

(disbanded 1702)

The regimental colour was the same as for Königin, which Höglund calls "isabel" and Schorr calls "dark straw" even though these probably are the same shade. Both agree that the regiment had brass buttons but here too Höglund notes that the vest was in isabel while Schorr writes that it was red. Schorr also mentions that the neckcloths were red.

Röbel's Regiment
Steinau's Regiment

1701
1701

(disbanded 1702)

Facings and vest green, pewter buttons and a black neckcloth. Schorr notes that they also white neckcloths and Höglund mentions that the hats had black lace.

Tiesenhausen's Regiment
Thielau's Regiment

1700
1701

(disbanded 1705)

Lemon yellow facings and brass buttons. The vest was red according to Schorr but lemon yellow according to Höglund. Schorr states that the neckcloth was black and Höglund writes that the hat had black lace.

Neitschütz' Regiment
Pistoris' Regiment
von der Goltz' Regiment

1700
1701
1702

(disbanded 1705)

Facings and vest in bleumourant (pale blue) as well as pewter buttons and according to Schorr a black neckcloth.

Venediger und Biron
(2 regiments which were merged 1705 and disbanded 1707)

Biron
Wenediger
von Braun

1701-1705
1703
1706

According to Schorr Biron had in 1701 bleumourant facings and stockings, red vests and white neckcloths. Venediger had in 1705 blue facings and stockings, and black neckcloths.

According to Höglund Biron had black facings and vests while Venediger had blue facings and possibly blue stockings. I do not have any explanation to why the information on Biron is different but Höglund also mentions that the regiment's colours were coffee brown in 1706 ("dark coffee" according to Schorr).

The button colour seems to be even more uncertain. Schorr notes pewter for Biron but with brass in paranthesis, and a question mark for Venediger but with pewter in parenthesis. Höglund have no information on the button colour at all.

Fürstenberg's Regiment
Kaiser's Regiment
Braun's Regiment
 1701
 1706
 1717

Höglund states that Fürstenberg's regiment had blue facings and vests as well as pewter buttons. Schorr only mentions blue facings and pewter buttons for 1701 and writes that they in 1707 had green facings and vests as well as white neckcloths.

 

Sacken's Regiment
(disbanded 1705)

Moss green facings and pewter buttons. Höglund notes that the vest was moss green while Schorr mentions that the neckcloth was black.

Görtz' Regiment
(disbanded 1704)

Sea green facings and pewter buttons. Höglund notes that the vest was sea green while Schorr says it was red. Schorr also mentions that the neckcloth was black.

Beichlingen's Regiment
Wackerbarth's Regiment
von Friesen's Regiment

1701
1703
1717

Grey facings. Höglund states they also had grey vests and brass buttons. Schorr on the other hand have them with red vests and pewter buttons in 1701 and brass buttons in 1707. Furthermore they had white leather breaches and white neckcloths in 1701 and black neckcloths in 1707.

Reuss' Regiment
(merged with Wostromirsky after 1703)

Bleumourant (pale blue) facings and brass buttons. According to Höglund the vest was bleumourant and according to Schorr it was red. Schorr also states that the neckcloth was black.

von Bieberstein's Regiment
(disbanded 1702)

Moss green facings and brass buttons. According to Höglund the vest was moss green and according to Schorr it was red. Schorr also states that the neckcloth was white.

It is doubtful whether this regiment had completed its recruitment before it was disbanded.

Löwenhaupt's Regiment
von Reibnitz' Regiment

1701
1701

(disbanded 1707)

Dark blue facings. Höglund states that the vest was dark blue while Schorr writes that it was red. According to Höglund they had pewter buttons while Schorr notes brass buttons with pewter in parenthesis. Schorr also mentions that the neckcloth was white.

Rothenburg's Regiment
(disbanded 1702)

Sea green facings and brass buttons. Schorr adds that the vest was red and the neckcloth was black.

It is doubtful whether this regiment had completed its recruitment before it was disbanded.

Zeitz' Regiment
Schulenburg's Regiment

1701
1703

(disbanded 1705)

Green facings and brass buttons. Höglund also mentions that the vest was green.

Weimar's Regiment
Kanitz' Regiment
Bose's Regiment

1701
1703
1703

(disbanded 1705)

Grey facings and brass buttons. Höglund also mentions that the vest was grey.

 

Flemming's/Mannig's/Seidlitz' Battalions
(disbanded 1702)

Could have been different names of at least two temporary (grenadier?) battalions. No information on the uniform is known.

 

Tromp's Reg.
Drost's Reg.

1701
1703

(disbanded 1707)

According to Höglund the facings and vest were pale blue and the buttons were of brass. The colours consisted in 1706 of two dark grey and two crimson colours.

Schorr writes that the facings and vest were red in 1701 (and that they had pewter buttons and white neckcloths). In 1703 the facings and stockings were grey, the vest red and the neckcloth black. He notes brass buttons but with pewter in parenthesis.

Hayn's Grenadier Battalion
Nehmitz' Grenadier Battalion

1701
1704

(disbanded 1705)

According to Höglund the uniform is unknown but Schorr states that the facings and vest were red, buttons of brass and the neckcloth white. Schorr also writes that it is unknown whether the battalion wore grenadier caps.

Martinière's Grenadier Reg.

1703

(Joyeuse's battalion at Fraustadt)
(disbanded 1706)

According to Höglund ther uniform is unknown but Schorr writes that the breeches and stockings were blue and guesses that the cuffs were blue too. It is unknoen whether the regiment wore grenadier caps but Schorr has a speculative illustration of the uniform with a cap that looks like the image to the right (with the bag hung down).

Wostromirsky's Reg.
O´Gilvy's Regiment
Goltz' Regiment
Seissan's Regiment

1702
1707
1710
1717

According to Schorr the facings and vest were in 1701 dark grey for the privates and black for officers. The buttons were of pewter and the neckcloth was black. The officers had red breeches.

Both Schorr and Höglund states that in 1707 the facings and vest were bleumourant (pale blue) and the buttons were of brass. Schorr also states that the neckcloth was white

Höglund mentions that the colours that had been issued in 1702 and 1706 were black.

Malleraque's Regiment

1703

(disbanded 1706)

Wolfenbüttel's Regiment 1704

(Only three companies were raised before it was disbanded)

The uniforms of both regiments are unknown. The former was raised from Swiss prisoners of war taken during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Weissenfels' Regiment

Grey facings and pewter buttons. According to Höglund the vest was grey and according to Schorr it was red and the neckcloth was black.

Seiffertitz' Regiment
(disbanded 1707)

It was raised in 1705 with privates taken from the militia. These had according to Höglund light grey coats with red or blue facings. However, he thinks that the regiment most likely was issued new uniforms which are unknown. Schorr on the other hand writes that they had grey coats with red facings and vests as well as pewter buttons and white neckcloths.

Ansbach-Bayreuth
Seckendorff's Regiment
1709
1711

Raised in 1709 (as a grenadier battalion?) and became an infantry regiment in 1711.

Blue facings and vests as well as brass buttons. Schorr also mentions leather breaches.

Seissan's Regiment
Flemming's Regiment

1711
1715

(disbanded 1717)

Seydlitz' Regiment 1711

(disbanded 1717)

The uniforms of both regiments are unknown.

Flemming's Regiment
Wackerbarth's Regiment

1711
1715

Brass buttons. Schorr states that they had dark blue facings in 1711 as well as cinnamon facings and red vests in 1716. Höglund notes that they had cinnamon facings and vests.

Ansbach-Kavanagh
(Regiment from Ansbach in Saxon service 1713- 1717)

The privates wore dark blue coat with facings, vest and lining in crimson. Pewter buttons, leather breaches, grey stockings, black neckcloth and white lace on the tricorne hat. The drummers wore crimson coat and breeches, white facings, lining and lace along the sleeves. NCOs had silver edged cuffs but were other than that dressed just like the privates. Officers had crimson breeches, buttons and buttonholes in gold, white neckcloth and a sash in silver and black.

Ansbach-Castelli
(Regiment from Ansbach in Saxon service 1713- 1717)

Schorr has no information about this regiment but Höglund mentions that the coat was blue with pewter buttons and red facings. The vest was red, the breeches were of leather and the stockings were light grey.

Dresdens garnisonsbattalion

Unknown uniform. Höglund writes that it was possibly grey with red facings.

Janissary Corps

This corps was created either in 1715 or 1729 and it was disbanded 1731. This was not a combat unit but merely a palace guard located in Dresden. The uniform was in Turkish style and according to Höglund it consisted of a yellow janissary cap, yellow coat, red vest, red breeches and yellow boots. The officers wore a turban.

The image to the right show a different uniform and it is taken from Reinhold Müller's book "Die Armee Augusts des Starken" from 1984. In the text the coats are described as sea green "oberkleider" hanging all the way to the ankles and worn over yellow "unterkleider".

Artillery Regiment

In 1700 it had black hats with yellow lace (gold yellow according to Höglund). Grey coat with facings and lining in red as well as brass buttons (Schorr states that the coat possibly had a collar). The vests and stockings were red. According to Höglund the breeches were also red but according to Schorr they were of leather. Schorr also mentions that the officers had gold lace on their tricornes and a sash in red and silver which was carried over the shoulder.

Höglund states that the uniform was changed in 1717 when the coat became green with facings, lining and collar in red. The vest and breeches became straw yellow and the stockings grey. The hat still had gold yellow lace.

Carriages and wagons were painted black with the metal fittings painted yellow.

Read also about Saxon cavalry uniforms.