Monday, March 3, 2008

Germans in Swedish Service

Many of the Swedish units in the Swedish army were actually Germans and Scots serving the Swedish crown. The levels of Germans and Scots recruits increased steadily throughout the war as the Swedish conscripts either died or deserted. The conscripted Swedish recruit had a poor chance of returning to Sweden. In a study by J. Lindegren, of the 230 men conscripted from the parish of Bygdea, only 15 ever returned alive to the parish. In German, there still exists the expression ‘Alte Schwede!’ (Old Swede) and it is used to express surprise around something unusual.
Many of the Protestant troops in the Swedish army were actually troops loaned from the various German States to the Swedes.  In terms of a general uniform, the Protestants favored a blue coat but wore many variations.   The Hessian foot favored the dark blue coats with red stockings and possibly red or silver cuffs. Red or gray coats with gray pants were also worn by the Hessian troops.
Most of the German regiments were raised by their colonel or a local prince and lent to the Protestant cause. The flags of these German troops varied widely. Some were similar to the Swedish and used simple geometric designs.

Unit History – Green IR
The Green regiment was the most junior regiment of the four original Swedish color regiments. It was originally raised from Prussians as part of the feudal obligations of the Duke of Brandenburg to the Polish crown. In 1627, when the regiment was marching to join the Poles, it was intercepted by the Swedes. In Isreal Hoppe’s chronicle of the Prussian campaign the following is said to have occurred:
‘Count von Thurn shouted out: “Friends or Enemies?”. To which the infantry replied: “Friends!”. The count continued: “Then shoulder your muskets!”. When this was done, he rode up and said: “Are you the King of Sweden’s men?”. “Ja, Ja!” they answered’.
Gustavus Adolophus incorporated this regiment into his army, but send the officers back to the Duke of Brandenburg with the comment that he ‘take more care of his men in the future’.
The regiment was first commanded in 1627 by Hans Kasper v. Klitzing. In 1629 command was assumed by John Hepburn. With the command of the regiment by a Scot, it has often been assumed that the entire regiment was Scottish but muster rolls show that it was primarily Prussian.
Under Hepburn, the regiment was part of the Pomeranian campaign (September 1630 to January 1631) and Gustavus’s muster against Frankfort-an-der-Oder. Later the regiment fought at Werben (August 1631), Breitenfeld (September 1631), and Lech (April 1632).
After the battle of Lech, command was given to Adam v. Pfuel. Under his command, the regiment fought at Alte Veste (September 1632) and joined Horn’s corps after the Swedish defeat at Lutzen. In Horn’s corps, the regiment fought at Pfaffenhofen (August 1633) and Nordlingen (September 1634). At Nordlingen, the regiment was brigaded with Baner, Vitzthum and Birkenfeld regiments into Pfuhl’s brigade. After the battle, the regiment was combined with the Baner regiment and went north as part of Baner’s corps. The regiment disbanded in 1635.

Three Flags for the Green IR using the 1620's design

Unit History – Red IR (Swedish 1624 – 1634)
This German regiment raised by the Swedes before their invasion of Germany fought at Breitenfeld (September 1631) in the 1st echelon as part of the Red brigade along with the Yellow, Swedish and Blue Brigades under the overall command of Teuffel. Teuffel, himself, was killed by a stray shot whilst checking a firefight between the Imperial Alt-Tilly Brigade and the Swedish Blue Brigade.
Later in 1634, the regiment was part of Horn’s forces campaigning against the Bavarian forces of Aldringer. The rough size of the force would have been roughly 8 companies. Prior to Nordlingen (September 1634), the regiment was sent to Mainz to act as a garrison force and then disappears from the records.


Three Flags for the Red IR using the 1620's design

Unit History – Thurn (or Black regiment; Swedish 1624 – 1639)
The Thurn regiment is based on one of the many German regiments serving the Swedes. The regiment was also one of four units alternatively known as the Black regiment because of its flag. The Thurn regiment was often reported as wearing blue coats. Raised for Danish service in 1624 in Northern Germany in the area around Emden, the regiment joined the Swedes in 1629 and was under the command of Claus Dietrich ‘Sperreuter’. Later in 1630 command was assumed by H. Jr. V. Thurn; after which, the unit saw action in the Pomeranian campaign (September 1630 to January 1631). Later in action at Werben (August 1631), Breitenfeld (September 1631), Bamberg (March 1632) where it counterattacked the Imperial advance but was later withdrawn, Lech (April 1632), and Alte Veste (September 1632).  
At Lutzen (November 1632) the regiment was placed in reserve and helped lead Bernhard’s final assaults in the late evening after Gustavus Adolphus’s death. At the battle the regiment was commanded by Oberst Hans Jakob Graf von Thurn.
In 1633, the regiment was part of Duke Bernhard Sachsen-Weimar Corp’s which supported Horn. After being virtually destroyed at Nordlingen (September 1634), the shattered regiment was reformed in 1634 along with Limbach, Tiesenhausen, King and Cratz Infantry Regiments into a new regiment under the command of Thurn. This new regiment then saw action as part of the Weimarian Army of 1635-39.  


Three flags for the Thurn (Black) IR using the 1620's design

Unit History – Ruthven IR (Swedish 1631 – 1639)
The Ruthven regiment is another one of the many German regiments serving the Swedes. The commander, Patrick Ruthven, was a Scottish soldier of high standing with Gustavus Adolphus. A mercenary, Ruthven, first commanded the Smaland regiment. He later served the Royalists in the English Civil War and was made Earl of Forth and Brentford by Charles I.
The regiment itself first is mentioned in 1631 as part of Christian’s army likely being a Scots Levy from 1629. In October 1631, the size was roughly 16 companies. As part of the Swedish forces it saw action at Alte Veste (September 1632).  
The regiment was not at Lutzen (November 1632) but, in 1633, the regiment was part of Duke Bernhard Sachsen-Weimar Corp’s which supported Horn. After being virtually destroyed at Nordlingen (September 1634), the shattered regiment was attached to Baner’s corps. It fought at Wittstock (October 1636) where it helped defeat the Saxons and Imperialist forces. After the battle, the regiment joined Torstensson’s corps where it was merged into other units.


Two Flags for the Ruthven IR
Text: Osprey’s The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (1) Infantry (Men-at-Arms 235)
Battles of the Thirty Years War From White Mountain to Nordlingen, William P. Guthrie, Greenwood Press, 2002.
Osprey's L├╝tzen 1632 (Campaign Series), Richard Brezezinski, 2001. 

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