Danish Infantry Uniforms 1675-1676

This plate by Søren Henriksen represents the first installment of a detailed article being prepared by Torstein Snorrason on the Danish Army in the Scanian War 1675-1679. Please be patient. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

The attentive reader will immediately notice that this plate only covers one year - in contrast to the earlier plates of Søren Henriksen and P. Thrane. The simple explanation is that the plate only covers the first year of the Scanian War (Skånske Krig). This includes the first campaign in Northern Germany and preparations for the next campaign in Scania (Skåne). It is natural to cover the period of these campaigns in a later, separate plate - for reasons of new units and the introduction of proper grenadiers.

In 1677 an undertaking was begun in the direction of a more standardized uniform plan, an effort towards a national uniform. It was somewhat of a completely new fashion inspired by Louis XIV around 1670 and coincided with the introduction of the absolute monarchy in most of Europe. The King now "owned" the regiments, no longer the colonels.

The infantry normally formed in 6 ranks. Usually the pikes were placed in the center. Each company had a colour in the regimental color and with decorations, which varied from regiment to regiment. The Life (Liv) or Colonel's Company, however, had a white colour. The colours were usually carried by Ensigns.

In 1675 the regiment consisted of 12 companies, each with 10 files of musketeers and 4 files of pikemen. A company had a Captain, a Lieutenant, an Ensign, 6 Noncommissioned Officers, a Clerk (mønsterskriver), 3 Corporals, 3 Musicians, together with 10 Lance Corporals and 74 Men.

For combat the companies were divided in battalions, normally of 4 companies each with the Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel or Major as the commanders. In addition the regiment had a small, subordinate staff, which was composed of individuals, not of officer rank, who took care of the regiment's normal, routine matters.

Musketeers were armed with the matchlock musket. For this they had a cartridge bandolier with a bag for balls and a powder horn. All wore the sword on a shoulder belt as a personal close combat weapon. Bayonets had not yet been introduced. Pikes were normally of ash, 16 feet long with a steel pike head. The musicians had two drums and a reed flute resembling an oboe, together with swords in shoulder belts.

Noncommissioned officers and corporals carried the halberd. Officers carried the half pike. Proper officer distinctions had still not been introduced. In some regiments the noncommissioned officers wore so-called "apriler", or shoulder ribbons, as distinctions. Noncommissioned officers' buttons could also been made of special material. Officers and noncommissioned officers, including musicians, were responsible for their own uniform. The material was typically of finer quality, especially for officers. Likewise, they could decorate clothing with lace and other finery such as embroideries, gold and silver lace more buttons, etc. on pockets, seams, cuffs and coat edges.

 

The figures illustrate from left to right:

Musketeer of Weyhers Gevorbne Fodregiment, which for one reason or another has not replaced his matchlock for the flintlock and cartridge box, like that of the rest of the musketeers in the regiment. Adam Weyher was Field Marshall Lieutenant and in reality the senior general because of the Commanding General's, Hans Schack, illness.

Musketeer of Maximilian Rosenkrantz' Gevorbne Fodregiment. The musketeer here has procured for himself a doublelock musket, a weapon which otherwise was first introduced in 1676 and then only in small numbers. A more correct weapon would be the matchlock musket. The regiment was the only one in 1675 that had yellow coats.

Noncommissioned Officer of the Gamle Nationale Sjællandske Fodregiment (Colonel van Osten). He has supplied his own uniform. It is a little early for the waist belt for the sword and elaborate pockets, for which he without doubt had need for more buttons than were issued to the common soldier. Normally, he would have had a shoulder belt, but sword belts were also used, which can be seen in one of Möinichsen's paintings.

Officer of Feltherrens Gevorbne Fodregiment. The Commanding General (Feltherren), Hans Schack, was very sick and did not participate in the campaign. The regiment was taken over early in 1676 by the King's brother, Prins Georg (Jørgen), who transfered his previous regiment (Gamle Sydjydske Nationale Fodregiment) to the former general of Holstein-Gottorp troops, Hans Walther. Notice the gorget, which was common, but not yet a regulated officer distinction.

Officer of Kongens Livregiment. This regiment, whose name was later changed to Kongens Livgarde, must not be confused with the Livgarden, which was the guard cavalry regiment.

Musketeer of Kongens Livregiment with an (un) regulated cloak. Possibly this type was introduced a little later, but in any case it can be seen in pictures of Christian 5 in Supreme Court and at his anointment; however, it is most probably the Drabantkorpset which is illustrated. That the Kongens Livregiment had "cassocks" of the same type is evident from the Swedish Ambassador's account of the Livregiment's new uniforms in 1686. See Chakoten 1994/4.

Pikeman of the Gamle Fyenske Nationale Fodregiment (Colonel Caspar Cicignon). The Colonel fell into disfavor and was arrested after having problems replacing the large losses during the campaign in Germany. The regiment was at the point of being disbanded, but was activated again when the Colonel was released.

Drummer of the Gamle Nordjydske Nationale Fodregiment. The coat braiding was common, but the exact colors are unknown. Musicians had with few exceptions the same coat color as the common soldier. Reverse colors are known in only a few cases, for example in Hannibal Degenfeldts Gevorbne Fodregiment.

In the background a company of Feltherrens Regiment has formed up for parade in usual battle order with the four pike files in the center. For battle all of the participating pikemen were collected in the center, while the musketeers were divided on each side of the pikemen. In battle the colour was normally placed in with the pike, the officers took position in the space between the pike and musketeers or out on the flanks. In combat it was normal to have a large space between the musketeers so that they could counter-march after giving fire.

Apart from the officer of the Kongens Livregiment, which is taken from one of Möinichsen's paintings showing battle scenes from the Scanian War (painted ca. 1683) in the Audience Hall, Frederiksborg, the rest are pieced together from text material and the few contemporary pictures, which are know from the time. This of course results in different interpretations of the known material. If anyone can contribute to the cloak and cassock question around 1670-1709, please contact the author.

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