Monday, September 13, 2010

Uniforms: Prussian Landwehr 1813-1815

Whilst we are waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the Landwehr next month from Warlord Games I thought I should dig out my old references to brush up on how to paint them. Being a bit of an 'old timer' for right or wrong I always turn to the Almark book "The Prussian Army 1808-1815  by David Nash" which I bought in the 70's to paint my Hinchliffe Prussians.

The size, nature and conditions of recruitment of the Landwehr inevitably resulted in a force that was poorly equipped and clothed. The Prussian economy was fully extended trying to cope with the requirements of the regular and reserve formations even before the foundations of the Landwehr and it is, therefore, not surprising to find that in the first few months of existence, its state was truly lamentable. Initially, the men of the Landwehr wore clothing that was made of shoddy, their caps protected them against neither sword cuts nor rain, and even these poor garments were in short supply. By the autumn of 1813, the worst deficiencies had been overcome and by the time of Waterloo, the Landwehr can be said to have been adequately armed and clothed.

Regulations covering the dress and equipment of the Landwehr were drawn up in March 17, 1813. The Uniform was to consist of a 'Litewka' , made of blue or black cloth. The collar was in provincial colour; in the skirts were vertical pockets, each being closed by a single button and down the front of the garment ran either one or two rows of metal buttons. The length of the Litewka varied considerably and terminated at any point from mid-thigh, to well below the knee. There was a tendency to indicate battalions within a regiment with shoulder straps similar in colouring to those used by the regular army to indicate seniority. By 1815 it was normal for a regimental number to be embroidered onto the shoulder strap.
Prussian Landwehr Infantry Privates 1814.
The head-dress of the Landwehr infantry was the Schirmutze , although English shakos were used to a limited extent by at least some Silesian units. The Schirmutze was coloured dark blue or black and it had a band in the provincial colour. By an order dated May 31st, 1814, similarly coloured piping was to be used around the top of the crown and Stegen on the sides; Stegen were the chevron-like decorations sometimes found on this form of head-dress. Some caps were peakless but normally a leather peak was sewn into the front of this cap and to the front of the crown was attached a white metal, or cloth, Landwehrkreuz which bore the inscription, 'mit Gott fur Konig und Vaterland 1813'. A black and white Prussian cockade was worn on the cap band; usually this was placed at the front directly below the 'Landwehrkreuz', but it was sometimes worn affixed to the side above the left ear.
Landwehr Infantry Captain, 4th Silesian Regiment. 1815
Breeches or pantaloons were made of dark blue or white cloth and were worn together with black gaiters and boots, although shoes and clogs were also used. In 1813, however, few gaiters were actually in use and it was not uncommon for Landwehr men to go barefoot.

Initially the Landwehr was armed with a mixture of captured muskets and eight foot long pikes, but these latter were replaced as more muskets became available and by June or July 1813, they had completely dissapeared. a cartridge box containing 60 rounds was suspended from a belt worn over the left shoulder and an axe with a long beech-wood haft, was worn on the opposite side.
Private (1) and Sargeant (2) 4th Silesian Landwehr Regiment.
Packs and haversacks were generally made from stout canvas; water bottles or gourds, on a cord or strap, were worn over the shoulder, and the practice of carryinga rolled blanket for protection, was widespread.

Landwehr officers were authorized to wear the "Interimsrock" of the regular army, together with an officer's normal clothing, but with the proviso that the head-dress was to be the standard Landwehr Schirmutze. On the Kollet the collar and cuffs were in Provincial colours. The Litewka was much favoured for campaign dress. Some officers wore the dress of the regular regiment from which they were seconded, or the dress of the Stammregiment. Landwehr formations had a similar status in relation to the regular army, as was heldby the Reserve. Owing to the way in which the Landwehr had been raised there was little regard for the authorized dress regulations and the haphazard way in which units were kitted out meant that there was often very little uniformity, even within the same regiment. Litewkas made from a variety of grey or brown cloth were used, many variations of the official patterns of Schirmutze and Litewka existed; trousers whilst being generally made in white were also coloured, grey or blue, and large quantities of captured French equipment were pressed into service.
Private Pommeranian Landwehr. Officer, 1st Elbe Landwehr.
The unusual extremes that were obtained was well illustrated by the train personnel attached to a Silesian formation who wore: 'red English hussar uniforms with a conical English shako.'

Landwehr rank was indicated in the normal way for officers, but NCOs had white lines of thin tape around their collars and cuffs. Most NCOs carried sabres.

Musicians wore red and white swallow's nests and were armed with a sabre.

Landwehr Facing and Button Colours
East PrussiaOrangeRedWhite
Kurmark & NeumarkOrangeRedYellow
West PrussiaBlackWhite
Three more provinces were added in 1814

Landwehr Flags:(From Napflags)
The Prussian Landwehr regiments adopted and carried in the field many unofficial designs of flags prior to the issuing of the order of 30th September 1813 which prohibited their further use. From October that year until 1816 when a new official Landwehrfahne was introduced it seems that these units were without flags. 

The designs shown here are based on written descriptions as there are no surviving relics. The exception being the flag of the Bataillon Sagan (3rd Bataillon 1st Schlesisches Landwehr Regiment) which has been preserved (flag at top). 

Silesian units are described as carrying sky-blue flags with either a yellow or red and white checkered Silesian eagle on it, with various slogans and sometimes with the unit designation. It has been pointed out to me by Jim Seery that the Silesian emblem was actually a black eagle on a yellow shield. The eagle wore a crown and carried a crescent and cross device on its chest. Perhaps this should be the interpretation of the yellow eagle description. The red/white checkered eagle was the emblem of Moravia (south of Silesia), perhaps the southern Silesian units used this design. 

The East Prussians apparently used a white flag with the red eagle of the Elector of Brandenburg, this eagle design was quite different to the Silesian model. The most common design in use appeared with either a white or black field with opposite coloured cross, I have assumed that the cross filled the entire width and depth of the flag, but this might not have been the case. The usual slogan on the cross was that of the Landwehrkreuz- "Mit Gott - für König und Vaterland - 1813" with the first two words on the top arm of the cross, the middle four along the horizontal arms and the date on the lower arm. 

I have included two variations on the form of the common black/white Landwehr cross and three possiblities for the Silesian designs. As very little hard information is available for these flags, these designs are pure speculation on my part and I offer them only as possibilities!

Further Information/Links:
Silesian Landwehr
Silesian Landwehr
Silesian Landwehr
Kurmark Landwehr at Dennewitz
Kurmark Landwehr 
Kurmark Landwehr 
Silesian Landwehr 


Silent said...

Hello, this is very useful information. Many thanks for posting.

Agent Orange said...

Splendid info indeed. Thanks for posting all the pics too. I am now pretty clued up on the Landwehr uniforms except for one slight conundrum about shoulder starp colours for high numbered regiments in provinces like Silesia which had more than 4 Regts raised. 1st to 4th Regts should/maybe? have had White, Scarlet, Yellow, Lt Blue shoulder straps, but can't find any suggestion as to shoulder straps used by 5th and higher Silesian Regts

Unknown said...

Hi Agent Orange, I read somewhere and the article above seems to corroborate it that the landwehr did use shoulder straps to denote regimental seniority but rather the battalions within the regiment would use them. Ie. 1st Bn. White, 2nd Bn. Red, etc.