The Imperial cavalry can be organized into four branches: cuirassier, harquebusier, dragoon and Croat.
The ideal cuirassier wore 3/4 blackened armor, however, by the early 1630’s many units favored only breast and back plate with a pot helmet as the 3/4 suits were both costly and uncomfortable. The favored tactic in the early war years was the ‘caracole’. This really meant stopping and firing pistols at the enemy before withdrawing to the rear to allow the next ranks to fire. The tactic was abandoned when the Swedes began to aggressively close after their advance.
Harquebusiers and Carabineers, an early form of dragoon not used in the ECW, usually wore a buff coat with a pot helmet and rode smaller horses. Initially formed with the intention of helping ‘shoot-in’ the cuirassier who was retained for serious action, the distinction between the two types blurred as the war progressed. Many units were raised as harquebusiers and later upgraded when better horses and equipment was made available.
Dragoons were mounted infantry and treated as such. Spanish Dragoons tended to wear yellow or buff coats with red cuffs while other Flanders dragoons wore red, blue, or green coats.
Croats were the forerunners of the Hussar and like the Hussar best suited for skirmishing, screening troops, or distracting enemy units. They tended to be Hungarian or Polish wearing fur hats and long eastern coats. Many cavalry units carried guidons which had symbols determined by the commanders.
Formed in 1630, the unit saw action in the Pomeranian campaign (September 1630 to January 1631) as part of Conti’s Baltic Corps. Later, the unit participated in Pappenheim’s expedition to Saxony (October 1632) and the relief of Stade. It was engaged at Weissenfels (November 1632). Later at Lutzen, the regiment formed part of Pappenheim’s late arrivals to the battle. The unit did not perform well routing at the first sign of trouble.
After Lutzen, the unit was part of the Corp’s sent to Westphalia. Fighting at the battle of at Hessich-Oldendorf (July 1633), the unit was part of the reserve commanded by Bonninghausen.
The unit fought at Zusmarshausen (May 1648) as part of the Imperial army under Melander. The Imperials fought a rearguard action against the French, under Turenne, who had surprised Melander. Melander was killed in the ensuing action.
The cavalry inhaber, Lothar von Bonninghausen, rose rapidly through the ranks despite serious setbacks at Magdeburg, Lutzen and Hessich-Oldendorf because of his ability to recruit troops for the Imperial cause. He was still raising new regiments as late as 1647.
Formed in 1632, the unit participated in Pappenheim’s expedition to Saxony (October 1632). The regiment went into battle at Lutzen (November 1632) ‘ill-clad’ suggesting that few troopers had armor. At the beginning of the battle, the unit was held in reserve. During Pappenheim’s advance on the left, the regiment joined the flank attack but soon dissolved into rout.
Raised in 1629, the unit saw action in the Pomeranian campaign (September 1630 to January 1631) as part of Conti’s Baltic Corps. A detachment of the regiment fought at Werben (August 1631) while at Breitenfeld (September 1631), the unit fought in Pappenheim’s command on the left wing.
Just prior to Lutzen (November 1632) the regiment was expanded to include two companies of Wallenstein’s former bodyguard. After the battle the unit changed its character becoming classified as a cuirassier unit.
At Lutzen, the commander Piccolomini rose to prominence through his skillful handing of his regiment. His repeated charges on the left wing halted the Swedish advance but his regiment suffered heavy losses. He later commanded both Austrian and Spanish Hapsburgs and took part in battles at Nordlingen, Thionville, and 2nd Breitenfeld. He was a competent but careful strategist preferring a war of maneuver to a battle. Initially a supporter of Wallenstein, Piccolomini later became his principle critic and played a major role in the removal of Wallenstein in 1633.
Formed in 1632, the unit was engaged at Lech (April 1632) and Weissenfels (November 1632). Later at Lutzen (November 1632), the regiment formed part of Pappenheim’s late arrivals to the battle. The commander, Count Jean de Merode-Varoux rose to prominence through his ability to raise Walloon regiments for Imperial service. Wallenstein had some doubts about the abilities of Merode which became apparent in his performance in 1633.
After Lutzen, the unit was part of the Corp’s sent to Westphalia. Fighting at the battle of at Hessich-Oldendorf (July 1633), Merode was killed along with many of the Walloons he had recruited after a senseless advance against a superior enemy. With his death, the level of Walloons influence within the Imperial forces dropped dramatically.
Formed in 1632, the unit participated in Pappenheim’s expedition to Westphalia (March 1632) and later Saxony (October 1632). The unit routed the Hessian horse at Hildesheim (March 1631) and was part of the relieving force at Stade. The unit was engaged at Weissenfels (November 1632). Later at Lutzen (November 1632), the regiment formed part of Pappenheim’s late arrivals to the battle meeting the Swedish onslaught on the left bravely.
After Lutzen, the regiment fought as part of Holk’s Corps which invaded Saxony. The regiment was ravaged by typhus and starved in Saxony which had been stripped of any supplies by the various campaigns. Holk died in September 1633 of the plague and the unit was transferred to Silesia in 1634 and placed in Hieromynus Colloredo’s Corps.
Part of Gallas’s army in 1637 and 1638 where it was lucky not to be destroyed or disbanded as unusually many of its compatriots were. Present at 1st Rheinfelden (February 1638) but missed 2nd Rheinfelden (March 1638).
The regiment was formed in 1632 as part of Pappenheim’s army by a former major of Jung-Tilly from the remnants of previous campaigns. The unit participated in Pappenheim’s expedition to Saxony (October 1632). At Lutzen (November 1632), the unit was part of the Corp’s occupying Windmill hill. They counterattacked the Swedish advance which was thrown back.
Formed in 1625, the unit was one of the first cavalry regiments raised by Wallenstein. The regiment was raised by General Ludwig Johann Hector Graf von Isolano. The unit took part in the Pommerian campaign under Conti from September 1630 to January 1631. A detachment fought at Neu-Brandenburg under Tilly. Later at Werben (August 1631), the regiment fought again under Tilly. Engaged at Breitenfeld (September 1631) positioned on the right wing under the command of Furstenberg. The regiment took heavy casualties losing roughly a third of its strength. The unit then fought at Alte Veste (August 1632) under the command of Wallenstein. Later at Lutzen (November 1632), the regiment fought under the command of Holk on the left wing.
After Lutzen, the unit was part of Gallas’s command joining Holk’s corps which invaded Saxony. Fought at Nordlingen (September 1634) after which it was disbanded. The Croat figures shown are from The Assault Group’s Renaissance Age and are nice figures except that they do not match well with the horses supplied.
The attached cavalry colours are speculative and are based on the coat of arms of the respective region or commander. The names stem from Imperial units at the battle of Lutzen. The most interesting unit are the Croats who later became the foundation for the Hussars of the later wars. These troops were often used as scouts while their comrades were mounted on heavier horses better suited crashing into other horse or infantry units.
Flags for Pappenheim Horse, Luneburg Horse, Tilly Horse
Flag images: http://www.ngw.nl/indexgb.htm
Text: Uniforms of the Thirty Years War by Bill Boyle in Time Portal Passage Summer 2000
Osprey’s Lützen 1632 (Campaign 68) Battles of the Thirty Years War From White Mountain to Nordlingen, William P. Guthrie, Greenwood Press, 2002.