Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Landwehr Collection Part 2: Upper and Lower Austria

Continuing with our photographic exploration of the irregular troops of the 1809 campaign we come to those of Upper and Lower Austria. The Upper Austrian Landwehr had a particularly undistinguished history, deserting in droves, with only a single battalion remaining by Wagram! The Lower Austrian Landwehr were made of somewhat sterner stuff. Both were officially to wear grey peasant smocks, but some were issued line pattern coats and others had line great coats.  I'm sure more than a few wore little more than rags as well!

These fellows are rather well equipped with the red facings (if any) seen on all Landwehr of these regions on both their collars and cuffs, as well as regulation black "corsehuts" (turned up hats rather like the Austrian Jager hats of the same era). The officer has even added a very non regulation plume and red "sausage"-like plume to his hat... out to impress the fine ladies in Vienna, I'm sure. The flag bears the ancient crest of Austria - red- white -red.

Although you can't see it in these photos, these dandies have even added a thin line of red stitching close to the outsides of their white straps, further reinforcing their locale of origin. I've labeled these simply as "Manharstberg" Landwehr - the Lower Austrian Landewhr were mostly in groups by district ("viertel" - I'm passably familiar with in German although hardly a scholar or even fluent) with the kind of endless appellations that inspire a love of bureaucracy in the German soul (sorry, Ingo, and my other German friends - please realize that is both tongue in cheek and affectionate at the same time), so this unit would technically be something like the 3rd "viertelunterdemManhartsberg" landwehr. Gill, who has a great list of all of the Landwehr raised (theoretically, at least) in volume 3 of "Thunder on the Danube", wsiely abbreviates this to 3rd UMB, which is efficient if a bit characterless!

This next unit is simply labeled "Lower Austrian Landwehr"; let us suppose it is the 2nd "vierteloberdemWienerwald" Landwehr. Sometimes you'll see this translated as "Vienna Woods" Landwehr, but really it means the district "over" the Vienna Woods, not literally from the Woods themselves. Again Gill would make this the 2nd OWW. Sounds painful, if you ask me, but I suppose if I had to write out as many Orders of Battle as he has in his books (an absolute Godsend to the wargamer - BUY these great, great books!), I'd go for the abbreviation, too.

Anyway, these guys still managed to scrounge some red fabric for their collars, but they wear non-regulation (gasp) brown floppy peasant hats and black leather work. Herr Oberst will not pleased be! Anyway, the reverse of the flag once again has the ancient arms of Austria, this time borne on an imperial doppeladler - a bit fancier, perhaps by way of compensation for their less inspiring attire, eh?

Now these natty looking gentlemen are the First Battalion, Vienna Volunteers. They were raised from the upper classes of the City, and paid for their own uniforms, giving them a bit more leeway as to style. Still the basic Austrian landwehr pattern of grey coat with red facings remains, but they are well enough off to have collars, cuffs, and even turnbacks. Being volunteers (Freiwilliger), they are entitled to wear *pointed* cuffs in place of the standard *round* ones of the ordinary Landwehr - oh, be still, my pounding heart!  Ahem... well, I'm sure they hoped the uniforms evoked something of that response in their sweethearts before marching off in the cold and the rain of April 1809, where they arrived just in time to retreat with the rest of the army after Napoleon's brilliant "Seven Days in April" reversal of Berthier's blundering.

The head of the column as it crosses a bridge, evocative perhaps of their gallant conduct in the fighting at the bridge over the River Traun at the Battle of Ebelsberg. The white hatbands are inspired by an illustration in David Hollins' invaluable Osprey on "Austrian Auxilluary Troops, 1792-1816", which is the source and/or inspiration for much of this material. Out of print - buy it if you can find it!  Thanks to Dan Beattie for pointing it out to me.  The illustration is for an NCO, so it may have been intended as a sort of rank distinction, the way the "Kaiserlicks" used bands around the tops of shakos, but I thought the look was classy and hardly a real expense for a privileged and famous unit. The standard reverse is obscured, but here I used the full arms of the city of Vienna on a grey field with a white border - pure speculative fancy on my part, I'll confess.

The last unit for this instalment is the 3rd Battalion, Vienna Volunteers, wearing a much simpler uniform, but still probably a sizable cut above the run of the mill Austrian militia. The reverse of the flag is the simplified and also ancient Arms of Vienna, "Gules, a Cross Argent". They also wear the cockade of (Upper/Lower) Austrian Landwehr, red-within-white.  A total of 6 battalions of Vienna Volunteers were raised in 1809.

Once again, the units are far too uniform in appearance compared with what reality would be. So shoot me, LOL!  For my own troops, I'm der Kaiser, and I want even my Landwehr to have some style, and for the units to readily distinguishable. Indeed, it isn't readily apparent from the pictures, but each of these four units is actually in a different shade of grey. OK, I know that's pretty obsessive... but that's a common trait for physicians like myself.

Next time - Bohemia, Moravia, and the Erzherzog Karl Legion.

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