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PRUSSIA


Pioneer parade dress,
showing the short
carbine with which the
Pioneers were armed,
and the blackened
leather equipment.


Pioneer, campaign dress,
with the blanket and greatcoat
rolled and slung over
the shoulder and with waxed
shako cover. The long-hafted
spade can be seen strapped
to the side of the pack.


Background

The Cavalry

The Artillery

Organisation &Tactics

Arms & Equipment

Flags & Standards

Bibliography & Sources


Pioneer NCO, carrying
an officer's sword and
with the lace on the collar
and cuffs.


The Mansfelder Pioneer
Battalion, with blackened
leather equipment, carbine,
spade carried on the back
and the distinctive shako
ornamentation peculiar to
this formation.

The Army

The White Armband of 1814

In the last days of 1813, the Allied armies crossed the Rhine and invaded France. It has been calculated that, excluding Wellington's Peninsular Army, some 650,000 Allied soldiers were involved in the campaign of 1814. Prussians, Russians, Austrians, Swedes and Germans from many different states were all on the march into France.

At the battle of La Rothiere on February 1st, 1814, an English staff officer was wounded by a cossack. This incident emphasized the potential danger that lay in the multitude of different uniforms then being worn by the Allies and on the next day, it was ordered that the men of the Allied armies would wear a white arm band to distinguish them from the French. This armband was usually worn on the left upper arm and continued in use until after Napoleon's abdication.

The result of the order of February 2nd certainly clarified the problem of identification, but it had far-reaching effects that were not foreseen at the time. The choice of white was, perhaps, unfortunate in that it was also the traditional colour of the Bourbons, and to the average Frenchman, it signified that the Allies were fighting to place Louis XVIII once again on the French throne. This was not necessarily the case, but, nonetheless, the adoption of a white symbol inevitably helped create a climate in which it was possible for the restoration to occur.

The Technical Services

Engineer Organization - The reconstituted Ingenieurkorps was not granted any formal organization until November 4th, 1809. On that day it was decreed that the Corps would have a strength of three Fortress Pioneer Companies and a Corps of 56 Officers under the direct command of General Scharnhorst, the Chief of Engineer troops. In march 1812, a fourth Fortress Company was added to the establishment. The companies were named and numbered and were each based upon two of the permanent fortresses of Prussia. See table 11 below:





Each of these formations had a strength of 123 all ranks. Which included troops specifically designated and trained as Pontoniers, sappers and miners.

The corps expanded in step with the rest of the army in 1813. Feld-Pioneer-Kompagnien, each with a strength of 84 men, were formed for service with the field army. By the end of that year, there existed:

7 Fortress Pioneers Companies - Pommeranisches, Preussisches, Markisches (Brandenburg), Schleisisches Nos. 1,2,3, and 4.

7 Field Pioneer Companies - Preussisches No. 1, Brandenburgisches Nos. 2 and 5, Schleisisches Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.

At the end of 1813, a Landwehr Pioneer Battalion, the Mansfelder Bataillon was raised.

In 1815, the corps consisted of 17 Companies, 9 Field and 8 Fortress; and the Mansfelder Pioneer Battalion.

Uniforms of the Pioneers

Pioneer uniforms were regulated on May 28th, 1810, when it was decreed that they were to be in the infantry style.

They wore a dark blue Kollet with the collar, Swedish cuffs and shoulder straps in black piped with scarlet. The buttons were tin and all lacing was in silver. The trousers, greatcoats, boots and gaiters were all in the infantry pattern and the style of shako was that of the Fusiliers, with the Prussian pom-pon and cockade. When on active service, the shako was covered with the usual black waxed cover.

A basic infantry style of equipment was carried on which all the straps and belts were blackened but it was adapted to provide for the carriage of a long-hafted spade, head down, into a leather case, which was attached to the belt and the right side of the pack. In place of the short infantry sword, Pioneers carried a saw-backed Faschinenmesser and a small cartridge box which carried fifteen rounds and was used in place of the larger infantry item. Armament consisted of a bayonet and a carbine.

Pioneer officers wore infantry styles of dress, distinguished by black velvet facings, piped in scarlet, with silver buttons, as noted above.

The Landwehr Pioneer battalion, Mansfelder, wore a black Kollet with dark blue collar, cuffs and shoulder straps piped in red. The buttons were brass. The shako was leather-reinforced, fitted with metal chin-scales and on the front was decorated by a white, oval plate bearing brass crossed hammers, below a Landwehr Cross.


An illustration of Prussian Pioneer Corps infantrymen in the field. (c.1812)
by: Steven Heap - Campaign Magazine 1981