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AUSTRIA

Background

The Cavalry

The Artillery

Organisation & Tactics

Arms & Equipment

Flags & Standards

The Infantry - Uniforms

The Landwehr

The concept of a national militia or Landwehr was always viewed with unease by the authorities: as Archduke Charles wrote, they were potentially dangerous if the population were dissafected, and 'make it appear as if we have large masses of combatants and so induce a false sense of security'. By spring of 1808, however, even he conceded that a militia was required; and in June the Landwehr was formed, service being compulsory for all men aged between 18 and 45, unless they belonged to exempt categories or were army reservists. It was estimatedthat Austria could raise 180,000 Landwehr and Hungary 50,000, but such numbers were never attained; the Hungarian Diet refused to sanction it, and it was thought dangerous to raise it in Galicia, whose Poles were believed dissafected. The organisation was divided into 'normal' and volunteer units in three 'directorates' (Bohemia, Moravia, Inner Austria, Upper/Lower Austria); establishment was 170 battalions, each of four to six fusilier companies and two Jager or Schutzen companies, armed with rifles. Officers were recalled from the retired list, and units were to train on Sundays and at an annual three-week camp; but training was patchy and officers indifferent. Between five and ten battalions were to form each brigade__though when the Landwehr actually saw service they were usually attached to line formations. Except for the wolunteer units (by definition more committed), the majority did not distinguish themselves; discipline was poor (one battalion attacked its commander with bayonettes), and the Minister of War described them as 'a body without a soul' and useful only in supplying drafts to the regulars.

In 1809, Upper Austria mustered 12,200 men in 15 battalions; about three-quarters deserted upon the approach of the French, leaving only the volunteer units prepared to fight, as three battalions did with great gallantry at Ebelberg. After the defeat of 1809 Napoleon demanded the de-activation of the Landwehr; but registers were kept, and in 1811 it was decreed that when re-formed, they would form the fourth battalions of each Line regiment.

Officer and privates of the Hungarian Insurrection
(By: Ottenfeld)

The system is illustrated by the Styrian Landwehr, of which there were 13 battalions: five in the Graz district, two in the Brucker district, two in the Judenburg district, two in Marburg and two in the Cilli district. In the first Graz and in each of the Brucker battalions there were two rifle companies, the best equipped and most active men, usually merchants, students and foresters. An order of June 1808 specified the uniform for Inner Austrian Landwehr, districts being distinguished by their facing colours: Styria (Steiermark), white; Carithia (Karnten), and Triest, red; Carniola (Krain, light-blue; and Salzburg, yellow. Uniform comprised a grey-green or dark green short coat with facing-coloured collar, cuffs and shoulder strap piping, and white buttons; white or pike grey breeches, black gaiters, and a 'round hat' 15cm high, with a 9cm wide brim usually turned up on one or both sides, bearing a cockade in provincial colours (green and white for Styria). White leather belts were worn, black for NCOs (but actually more widespread); NCOs also had sabres with white-and-green or green knots, and the usual canes. Officers wore bicorns with silver loop and button, silver and white tassels and provincial cockade; a green tail-coat with shoulder strap on the right; grey breeches with camel hair braid on the outer seams and as thigh knots; and carried a sabre with a silver and white knot on a black glazed shoulder belt. Rank markings were one, two or three silver loops on the collar for Unterleutnant, Oberleutnant and Hauptmann respectively; field officers had silver-edged collar and shoulder straps, and silver braid on the breeches. Jagers wore a waist belt with a cartridge box at the front instead of shoulder belts, and carried a powder horn on green cord over the left shoulder; their bayonette was suspended from the same belt, though NCOs also carried a sabre.