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AUSTRIA

Background

The Cavalry

The Artillery

Organisation & Tactics

Arms & Equipment

Flags & Standards

The Infantry - Uniforms

The Grenz Infantry

The Military Borders in Croatia, Slavonia, Hungary and Transylvania were a narrow strip of land along the frontier, where every able-bodied male was a peasant-soldier, guarding against Turkish incursions. In wartime they could form light battalions for service with the field army. Training them as ordinary infantry in the later 18th century, however, had somewhat lessened their natural aptitude for scouting and skirmishing.

In 1792 there existed 17 Grenz (Border) regiments, each of two field battalions armed with a combined rifle/shotgun, and an artillery detachment with three 3pdr. guns. Despite a large 'paper' establishment (nominal strength of 56,644 in 1799), losses in the Turkish was and adverse economic conditions had reduced those available for active service to only 13,000. When regiments joined the field army, they left behind a local reserve of two Landes-Defensions-Divisions.


The Grenz


Privates of Grenz-Infanterie the left hand man wears the brown uniform with a red cloak, the right -hand man the white 'service' uniform, complete with Barentatzen on the cuffs.
(Print By: Ottenfeld)


In the 1790's composite battalions were formed for active service, and they fought well in Italy, Switzerland and Germany. However, reinforcements were difficult to find, as the frontier defences had to be maintained; and unrest__leading to mutiny in June 1800__was caused by reports of conditions at home. Some generals thought that the 'shiftless, false, and totally undisciplined' Grenzers should be disbanded; but an investigative commission decided that the organisation should remain. It declared the futility of training them as Line infantry, which negated their value as skirmishers, was contrary to their temperament, and impossible to reconcile with their part-time training, as the men had to maintain their farms in order to live. Successive re-organisation led to Grenz regiments in 1805 mustering three battalions of four companies each, but ill-equipped, partially trained and somewhat ineffective; some 48,000 men served at that time.

The raising of the establishment to three battalions of six companies each, and a new code of law for the Military Borders (May 1808) did little to alleviate the economic hardships or the resentment of the peasants at having to supply so many men for active service. Nevertheless, it was Grenzers who mounted in 1809 the heroic defence of Marlborgeth and Predil, the 'Austrian Thermopylaes'. Though nominally light infantry, they continued to be neither one thing nor the other.

In 1809 the 17 Grenz regiments each had two field battalions of 2,966 men, 240 sharpshooters and 44 gunners, plus a reserve battalion of 1,437 men. Each of the 13 regular regiments (the Transylvanians, Nos. 14 - 17, counted as 'irregulars') had a Landwehr battalion of 675 men. The defeat of 1809 led to ceding of territory to France, regts. 1-4, 10 and 11 going into French service; by 1814 all had been recovered.