Saturday, March 8, 2008

Frederick's Garde du Corps

Der Alte Fritz greets his Garde du Corps cuirassier regiment (CR13) after the victory over the French at Ritterbruck. Elite Miniatures cuirassiers, Foundry general in red galarock and Foundry standard bearer. Frederick figure is from the Suren range and his escort are Staddens. Building by Herb Gundt and all figure painting by Der Alte Fritz.

This afternoon we fought the Battle of Ritterbruck, March 8, 1758 between the army of Lt. General Chevert and the King of Prussia, Frederick II. It was a spectacular victory for the Prussians who seemed to have come of age with respect to their cavalry arm. The Garde du Corps covered itself in glory, having captured two standards from the French Commissaire-General and Royale regiments of heavy cavalry. The Garde du Corps also won three melees and was driving the French cavalry off the field by the end of the game.

The Prinz von Pruessen (CR2) or Gelbe Reiter regiment also captured the standards of the Rutowsky cheveauleger regiment and the that of the Austrian Modena cuirassier regiment. The Jung-Krakow dragoons (DR2) and the Black Hussars (HR5) also made key contributions to victory over the vaunted French cavalry. The infantry arm covered itself in glory as well, particularly the Alt-Braunschweig (IR5) regiment, which drove off two battalions of the enemy infantry, captured a 6-pound cannon, and drove off a squadron each of hussars and light lancers.

King Frederick congratulates the commander of the Garde du Corps after the battle.

Today's battle brings to mind the scene in the movie "Patton" where, after defeating Rommel in a battle in North Africa, George C. Scott (as Patton) exclaims, "Damn it Rommel, I read your book!" In much the same manner, I feel that after watching Monsieur Chevert run circles around the Prussian cavalry in so many of our battles, that enough lessons were learned that we were finally able to beat the vaunted French cavalry at their own game. I apologize if this comes across as bragging, for that is not my intent, and I have the utmost respect for Bill Protz and his cavalry acumen. It is just that turning the tables on Bill, using his own tactics, proved successful beyond all imagination.

The Garde du Corps
My own version of the Prussian Garde du Corps, organized into 3 squadrons, consist largely of figures from Elite Miniatures SYW Prussian range. These are big 30mm figures, even though they are advertised as 28mm figures. As such, they are a perfect fit for the 30mm Surens and Staddens that we use in our SYW armies. The regiment has a unique Roman-style vexilum banner as shown in the picture below. As far as I know, the only company that makes this figure is Wargames Foundry. They no longer list it in their range, but if you give Bernard at the Foundry a call, he will probably be able to find a command pack for you. The Foundry command group includes an officer wearing the spectacular formal galarock that was worn for special occaisons. It was too nice not to include it my regiment, so I painted the figure and added it to the command stand as shown below. I placed the Foundry figures on Elite Miniatures horses so as to give the appearance of being equal in size. Elite horses are a bit larger than Foundry horses, which appear to small to my eye, relative to the size of the figures. I think that they look much better atop the Elite horse. I had to place some epoxy putty underneath the saddle of the Foundry rider so that he would sit more firmly on the Elite horse.

Garde du Corps command group. The officer in red coat and the standard bearer are Foundry figures. The other figures are from Elite Miniatures.

The Garde du Corps was created by Frederick II when he became king in 1740. It was originally one squadron strong with 160 riders. Its function was literally to provide an escort for the king and guard his life. The King added two more squadrons in 1756 just prior to the start of the Seven Years War. It was distinguished at Rossbach, Zorndorf and Hochirch and was usually brigaded with the Gensdarmes (CR10) cuirassier regiment. Its station was at Charlottenburg so that the unit could provide escort and protection to the king at his palace in Potsdam. The regiment also held a high level of social prestige.

The Garde du Corps received its baptism of fire in the War of Austrian Succession, at Hohenfriedberg in 1745, where it fought on the right flank against the Saxon cavalry at Pilgramshain. They helped put the Saxon cavalry to flight and smashed two Saxon grenadier battalions, capturing seven standards and two flags in the process.

All three squadrons of the Garde du Corps. Click on this and the other pictures to enlarge.

One final story about the regiment relates to its performance at Zorndorf in 1758. It was part of Seydlitz's attack from the Prussian left flank that day and augmented by the DR4 dragoon regiment. They attacked across the Zabern Grund and into the Russian cavalry, smashing them and breaking five battalions of infantry and capturing fifteen guns and five flags. Captain von Wacknitz shouted out, "a battle must not be considered lost until the Garde du Corps attacks!" The regiment reformed and attacked once again on the right wing, stopping Demiku's Russian cavalry on that wing as well.

After the battle, Seydlitz reported to Frederick that, "the Garde du Corps under Captain Wacknitz has done wonders!" and so Frederick promoted Wacknitz to Lieutenant Colonel on the spot. I daresay that its tabletop version performed similar wonders at Ritterbruck today. I will probably write up an after action report and post the pictures tomorrow evening.


  1. Jim,

    Great photos . . . and a nice bit of historical information as well.

    Congratulations on the victory . . . and I'm looking forward to the actual battle photos tomorrow.

    -- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

  2. Jim
    give you joy of your victory! Figures look excellent and some super info too!
    best wishes

  3. Jim, How would your minden figures measure compared to old glory.Thanks...Bill

  4. Jim,

    Great looking cavalry! The Margrave of Carpania congratulates his Germania (Prussian) friends on their victory over the Gallians and Imperium.


  5. The Minden figures are thinner than the Old Glory figures and maybe a couple of mm's taller, but the chunkiness of the Old Glory will make the OG figures look bigger. We use nearly every make of figure in our armies and the OG figures are nice looking. It's all a matter of your personal taste in figures.

  6. Your figures from different manufacturers seem to mix well. I think a lot of that is down to your consistent painting style that ties them all together.
    Nice work and interesting bits of history!

  7. Thanks. I was pondering using Minden figures for a few Brunswick units to fight my Beerstein boys. Possibly be named the Barony of Boozewick...Bill

  8. Congratulations to the commanders of your Horse, Sir. There's nothing quite like pulling off a coup with cavalry.

    Nice figures too, keep up the good work.

  9. Nice figures. Congrats on the victory at Ritterbruck.

    It was nice to see the Elite Miniatures cuirassiers in this post and also the Elite Miniatures french cavalry in a previous post. Now I know what they look like I'll be ording some.

    You picture of the Garde Du Corps has reminded me I need to finish my Wittenberg Household cavalry.

    -- Allan