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  SAXONY
 



 

 

Örjan Martinsson

Saxony's standing army was not created until 1681 by Prince-Elector Johann Georg III. Wen he died ten years later the army consisted of 10,000 men which was increased to 12,000 men by the successor Johann Georg IV. That was however not enough for Augustus the Strong who became Prince-Elector in 1694 and who continued to expand it so that it consisted of 18,000 men when the Great Northern War began. After the outbreak of war, the army continued to grow so that by the summer of 1702 it would have reached a total strength of 25,000 men. However, the losses at the Battle of Kliszow and continued setbacks during the war in Poland led to a weakening of the Saxon army, which had increasing difficulties in maintaining the nominal strength of its regiments. The Battle of Fraustadt and the subsequent Swedish occupation in 1706-07 marked the low water mark for the Saxon army whose remaining regiments were effectively halved. When Augustus the Strong re-entered the war in 1709, he had promised Peter the Great to invade Poland with 10,000 men, which was complicated by the fact that he no longer had that many soldiers at his disposal. But the Saxon army would subsequently grow and even surpass the strength it had had in 1702. When Saxony's participation in the fighting ended in 1717, its army had reached a strength of 29,900 men.

Infantry

At the beginning of the war, a Saxon infantry regiment consisted of 15 companies of 150 men each (including a company staff of 17 men). Each regiment had a grenadier company, but it is uncertain whether it was included among the 15 companies or formed a sixteenth company. In addition to this, there was a regimental staff consisting of 21 men.

In the winter of 1701-1702, the army was reorganised. The number of regiments was increased, but these would now only consist of twelve musketeer companies and one grenadier company. There are two different organisational plans, but the differences concern only the staffs and not the number of privates. Both plans are reported below with the extra staff in plan 2 in red text.

1702: An infantry regiment consisted of 1,169 or 1,232 men
 
Regimental Staff Musketeer Company (12 in total) The Grenadier Company
1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Major
1 Regimental Quartermaster
1 Adjutant
1 Judge-advocate (Auditeur)
1 Field Preacher
1 Regimental Surgeon
4 Colour Sergeants
(= not in plan 2)
1 Regimental clerk
1 Provision Master
1 Wagon Master

5 Oboists
1 Provost
  1 Captain
1 Lieutenant
1 Second Lieutenant
1 Ensign
(Capitain)
(Lieutenant)
(Sous-Lieutenant)
(Fähnrich)
  1 Captain
1 Lieutenant
2 Second Lieutenants
1 Feldwebel
1 Fourier
1 Führer
4 Corporals
(Feldwebel)
(Fourier)
(Führer)
(Korporal)
1 Feldwebel
1 Fourier
6 Corporals
1 Clerk
1 Surgeon
4 Fourier-Schützen
2 Drummers
2 Provision servants
(Musterschreiber)
(Feldscherer)
(Fourier-Schützen)

(Tambour)
(Proviant-Knecht)
1 Clerk
1 Surgeon
4 Fourier-Schützen
4 Musicians (Spielleute)
2 Provision servants
12 Lance Corporals
60 Privates
(Gefreiter)
(Gemeine)
12 Lance Corporals
60 Privates
Sum: 21 or 22 men Sum: 88 or 93 men Sum: 92 or 96 men

Ranks in grey background are non-commissioned officers whose titles are difficult to translate to English. A fourier was in charge of providing quarters and provisions to the company. To aide his work he had fourier-schützen at his disposal (Schütze can be translated to both "shooter" and  "soldier").

Each regiment that was in Austrian service in 1702-1705 also had a regimental artillery with the below composition. It is unknown if the other Saxon regiments also had regimental artillery.

1 Gunner lance corporal
6 Gunners
6 Carpenters
9 Gun and carriage servants
(Kanonier Gefreiter)
(Kanoniers)
(Zimmerleute)
(Stück- und Karren Knecht)

In 1705, a regiment would consist of a regimental staff and 16 companies distributed to two battalions, giving a total strength of 1,391 men.

1705: An infantry regiment consisted of 1,391 men Colonel's, Lieutenant Colonel's and Majors' Companies   Other Companies (11 in total)
Regimental Staff   Inhaber's Company  
2 Colonels (including the "Inhaber")
1 Lieutenant Colonel
2 Majors
1 Quartermaster
1 Adjutant
1 Judge-advocate (Auditeur)
1 Field Preacher
1 Regimental Surgeon
8 Surgeon's assistants
1 Gefreitenkorporal
8 Oboists
1 Provost
1 Captain-Lieutenant
1 Second Lieutenant
1 Ensign
1 Lieutenant
1 Second Lieutenant
1 Ensign
1 Captain
1 Lieutenant
1 Ensign
1 Feldwebel
1 Sergeant
1 Fourier
4 Corporals
1 Feldwebel
1 Sergeant
1 Fourier
4 Corporals
1 Feldwebel
1 Sergeant
1 Fourier
4 Corporals
2 Musicians
2 Servants (Knecht)
2 Musicians
2 Servants (Knecht)
2 Musicians
2 Betjänter (Knecht)
16 Grenadiers
64 Lance corporals and privates
16 Grenadiers
64 Lance corporals and privates
16 Grenadiers
64 Lance corporals and privates
Sum: 31 men Sum: 94 men Sum: 94 men Sum: 94 men

The infantry regiments that served as auxiliaries to the Maritime Powers in 1707-1713 consisted of 12 companies of 66 men with a total strength of 825 men including officers and staff. But the actual strength rarely exceeded 660 men and these units were therefore considered battalions.

Garde du Corps

Before the name change in January 1701, the Garde du Corps was called the Leibtrabantengarde (Life Drabant Guard). This unit originally consisted of two companies, but in 1699 it was expanded to four squadrons, each consisting of three companies (also called "brigades"). Each squadron had its own colour on its horses; grey, black, dark brown and light brown.

In August 1701 the Garde du Corps was reorganised so that it now also included the "Grands Mousquetaires", the Carabiniers and the Horse Grenadiers. which had already been formed in 1698/1699. This combined unit now consisted of four independent companies, each led by a general, with the king himself as overall corps commander. Each company had its own color on its horses and consisted of two brigades which in turn were divided into two "sous-brigades".

The Garde du Corps was disbanded in 1702 and the personnel formed the stem of four new cuirassier regiments. But on 30 July, 1703, Augustus the Strong ordered that a new Life Guard on horse consisting of four corps be created. The new corps consisted of drabants, carabiniers, horse grenadiers and dragoons. The men for the drabant and carabinier corps came from two companies each from the Jordan and Reichenau cuirassier regiments, while the men for the horse grenadier and dragoon corps came from the Kurprinz dragoon regiment. Each corps was divided into three brigades. On the same day, another elite unit was established which was inspired by the Swedish Drabant Corps. Namely, a 180-strong Chevalier Guard which consisted of officers only, this too was divided into three brigades.

In the autumn of 1707, a new reorganisation of the Life Guard on horse resulted in the old name Garde du Corps being restored and the differences between the four corps disappeared. Henceforth all the corps consisted of drabants and they were still divided into three brigades each.

In the table below, the German word "ober" (= upper) has consistently been translated to "Chief".

1699   1701   1703   1707
Corps Staff Corps Staff Life Guard Staff Garde du Corps Staff
1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant Colonel
2 Majors (Obrist-Wachmeister)

1 Adjutant
1 Chief Judge-advocate
1 Field Preacher
1 Kettle-drummer
1 Provost

1 Major
1 Preacher
1 Provost
1 Chief Judge-advocate
1 Chief Quartermaster
1 Adjutant
1 Field Preacher
1 Staff Surgeon
1 Commandant

1 Chief Judge-advocate
1 Chief Quartermaster
1 Adjutant
1 Field Preacher
1 Chief Surgeon
1 Kettle-drummer
1 Chief Provost


4 S
quadrons

4 Companies

4 Corps
(Drabants, Carabiniers,
Horse grenadiers & Dragoons)

4 Corps
3 Captains
3 Lieutenants
1 Cornets
1 Captain
2 Captain-Lieutenants
4 Lieutenants
4 Second Lieutenants
2 Cornets
1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Major
3 Captains
3 Lieutenants
1 Cornet
or Ensign
1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Major
3 Captains
3 Lieutenants
1 Cornet
3 Wachtmeisters
1 Quartermaster
9 Corporals
8 Brigadiers
8 Sous-brigadiers
12 Corporals
3 Wachtmeisters
1 Quartermaster
12 Corporals
3 Wachtmeisters
1 Quartermaster
12 Corporals
1 Surgeon
6 Trumpeters
1 Saddler
1 Farrier
1 Surgeon
1 Aide-Major
1 Judge-advocate
1 Kettle-drummer
4 Trumpeters
2 Saddlers
2 Farriers
1 Surgeon
1 Kettle-drummer
5 Oboists
6 Trumpeters
or drummers
1 Saddler
1 Farrier
1 Surgeon
4 Trumpeters
1 Saddler
1 Farrier
1 Provost
135 Drabants
(150 from May 1700)
200 Privates 150 Privates 150 Drabants
Sum: 665 men
Sum 725 men
Sum: 1008 men Sum: 759 men Sum: 744 men

Cuirassiers and Dragoons

A cuirassier regiment consisted of 12 companies when the war began and was reduced in the winter of 1702-1703 to eight companies and consisted of the personnel in the table below. These then fought in squadrons consisting of two companies. At the beginning of the war, the squadrons could also consist of three companies. In the literature, both Höglund and Qurengasser state that the companies consisted of 58 men, but the table below follows Daniel Schorr.

Regimental Staff   Cuirassier Company (12 in total)
(8 in total from the winter of 1702-03)
1 Colonel
1 Lieutenant Colonel
1 Major
1 Adjutant
1 Regimental Quartermaster
1 Judge-advocate
1 Field Preacher
1 Regimental Surgeon
1 Kettle-drummer
1 Provost
(Obrist)
(Obrist-Lieutenant)
(Major)
(Adjutant)
(Regiments-Quartiermeister)
(Auditeur)
(Feldprediger)
(Regiments-Feldscherer)
(Pauker)
(Profos)
  1 Captain
1 Lieutenant
1 Cornet
(Rittmeister)
(Lieutenant)
(Cornet)
1 Wachtmeister
1 Sous-Fähnrich
1 Fourier
3 Corporals
(Wachtmeister)
(Sous-Fähnrich)
(Fourier)
(Korporal)
1 Clerk
1 Surgeon
1 Trumpeter
1 Provision servant
1 Farrier
(Musterschreiber)
(Feldscherer)
(Trompeter)
(Proviant-Knecht)
(Fahnenschmeid)
60 Privates (Gemeine)
Sum 898 men (602 men from the winter of 1702-1703)

No plan of organisation for the dragoon regiments is known, but they seem to have been organised in the same way as the cuirassiers. The dragoon regiments had grenadiers, but it is unclear if they were distributed among all companies or concentrated in a separate company (and if so, if that company was counted among the eight regular companies or was an extra ninth company). The regimental staff of the dragoons should have looked the same as the cuirassiers but with the addition of upwards of 5 oboists. The companies should have been distinguished by having drummers instead of trumpeters, and a capitain and a fähnrich instead of rittmeister and cornet.

Artillery

By the end of 1699, the Saxon artillery was organised into one Ammunition Company, three Cannon Companies and one Miner Company, as well as pontoon sections.

In the autumn of 1701 it consisted of a colonel, a lieutenant colonel, two majors and six companies of three officers and 75 privates each. In addition to this, engineers, a Pontoon Company and 480 wagons were also included. It appears that each company had six to eight artillery pieces.

A special Fortification Corps was formed in 1712.

Militia

Since 1612 Saxony also had a militia ("Landesdefensionswerk") whose infantry was recruited by drawing lots in the cities and "amts" into which Saxony was divided. The cavalry was made up of the "Ritterpferde " raised by the nobility. Unlike the regular army, the militia was to be used solely for defence and could not be sent abroad. But even for defence it proved to be of little value. When Charles XII invaded Saxony in 1706, most of the militiamen refused to serve and those who were supposed to defend Leipzig simply returned their weapons to the arsenal and went home when Swedish troops approached. As a consequence of this, Augustus the Strong concluded that the "Landesdefensionswerk" was a waste of money and abolished it in 1708.

A new militia was set up in 1709 by dividing Saxony into eight circles. Each circle was to recruit a so called Circle Regiment (Kreis regiment) consisting of three battalions, which in turn were divided into four companies each. These circle regiments were disbanded in practice as early as 1716, although on paper they existed until 1756 (when Saxony was occupied by Prussia).

Read also: Campaigns of the Saxon Army, Infantry uniforms, Cavalry uniforms, Artillery uniforms.

References

Höglund, Lars-Eric – Sallnäs, Åke – Bespalov, Alexander. Stora nordiska kriget 1700-1721, III. Karlstad (2004).
Qurengasser, Alexander. The Saxon Army in the Great Northern War (article in Great Northern War Compendium). St. Louis (2015)
Stenius, Stefan. Sachsen och Preussen i den nordiska krisen 1709. (article in Karolinska förbundets årsbok 1949)
Schorr, Daniel. Notes on the Saxon Army 1700-1716 (article from 2008 published in the now defunct website www.northernwars.com).