Thursday, October 21, 2010

The army of Nassau-Ringgwürm with the Confederation of the Rhine

When a large part of the lands were ceded to Bavaria, the Nassau-Ringgwürm army was torn apart.  As mentioned previously, the Jager-Garde was incorporated into the Bavarian army.  The Leib-Battalion, the Von Pfaffenhofen infantry regiment, and the artillery were retained and reorganized along French lines to serve with the Confederation of the Rhine.  Even the venerable Nassau-Ringgwürm Leib Dragoner regiment was converted into a regiment of chasseurs.

All this spawned considerable discontent amongst both officers and men, resulting in protests, mutinies and even desertions.  All were ruthlessly dealt with by Nassau-Ringgwürm's new masters.  In retaliation, a series of duels led inexorably to sabatoge and even assassination.  Soon the whole situation seemed likely to end in open revolt.

However, just when the army seemed on the verge of complete disbandment and Nassau-Ringgwürm on the road to full-fledged rebellion, the astute young Landgrave correctly realized that any attempt to overthrow the Imperial authority would, at this point in time, be doomed to failure.  Surrounded by enemies, with Austria licking its wounds and Prussia in thralldom, no significant help could be reasonably expected; any insurrection would be quickly and thoroughly crushed.

In an attempt to prevent things from going out of control, he was able to successfully circulate a secret letter amongst the officers, asking for their patience and loyalty.  He realized that if the army were to make too much trouble, the Emperor would eradicate what was left of Nassau-Ringgwürm off the map completely, in which case it was most likely never to return.  

It was a delicate situation.  Thus the forces of Nassau-Ringgwürm were to remain at their posts and  keep the army and what was left of the enclave in being- even if it was now in the service of the detested Napoleon.  They were to maintain the sense of honour and professionalism that had always been the hallmark of the warriors of Nassau-Ringgwürm.  Their day of liberation would come, but in the meantime they were to serve their new masters with diligence, if not necessarily with enthusiasm.

In 1810, the whole force was sent to Spain to help their French overlords in their vain attempt to pacify the country.  They served with distinction- and some loss- in numerous engagements large and small.  

Then one day not long before the Battle of Salamanca, two companies of the Leib Batallion were in hot pursuit of a band of Guerrillas when they found themselves cut off from the French army by a whole brigade of Portuguese infantry.  They soon became involved in a small but hotly-contested engagement.  Inevitably, but only after having offered very stiff resistance, they were compelled to surrender after a lengthy struggle.  

Being now reunited with the Landgrave (who, as you will recall, was at that time in the service of the British with the KGL) , the prisoners were warmly welcomed- the Landgrave personally commending them on their courage- and they volunteered to a man to once again serve their hereditary lord with the KGL.  

Ultimately, when the Landgrave decided to create the Freikorps Pfaffenhofen he was allowed to take these men with him to central Europe,  where they were to form the cadre of the new corps.

Those left in French service- infantry, cavalry, and the artillery- were to remain in Spain as part of the Confederation of the Rhine  contingent until 1813, when they were ordered to Mayence (Mainz) to serve with the garrison there.   By this time they were not trusted by the French command, and they suspected-rightly- that the French intended to disarm and intern them there, and to have them hand over their arms to French troops.  

This was of course a slap in the face of their honour, as well as being in direct breach of the terms of service.  So it was decided that they would attempt to go over to the allies.  In a notable night operation, they successfully broke through the French lines and were joyfully reunited with the Landgrave, with whom they served for the remainder of the war,


  1. As a passionate aficionado of 'original' uniforms, I'm curious about those of the Nassau-Ringgwuermers in French alliance!

  2. Me too! I'm not yet fully decided, but I'm thinking of using the uniform of the (historical) 2nd Nassau regiment, but in dark blue with orange facings instead of green.

    For the cavalry, French chasseurs au cheval but again in blue/ orange.