Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Danish Army of the Napoleonic Wars, Part 10: Flags and Standards

NOTE: see also the numerous examples of painted flags shown in the various pictures of my Danish Napoleonic wargame units depicted in parts 2-9, as well as the images of the arms of some of the provinces and/or territories of the Kingdom of Denmark in part 1.

The King's Livguard of Horse

Each of the two small squadrons carried a very ornate flag bearing the Royal Arms of the King of Denmark on a light blue background for the first squadron, and on a red background for the 2nd squadron.  Here is the Royal Coat of Arms for the Kings of Denmark from 1819 on; some of the emblems ion the heraldic shield have changed from pre - 1815 due to the dissolution of the personal union of Denmark and Norway under the Danish crown that was a result of the Congress of Vienna. Norway was joined to Sweden by personal union instead, compensating Sweden for the loss of Finland to Russia in 1809, and fulfilling a promise made to the Crown Prince of Sweden (the former French Marshal, Bernadotte, whose descendants are the Swedish royal family to this day).

The Kettledrum of the Livgard til Hast had a related banner with a similar design upon it:

Sketch of the Kettledrum banner from the Text to Chr. Wurgler Hansen's plate on
 "Der Kongelige Livgard til Hest". 

The flags were of a similar design to the Kettledrum banner above (note the differences in the charges on the pre-1815 shield), i.e., no mantle in the background. The outer and inner stripes were white, with the middle stripe bordering the flag being red or light blue depending upon the squadron for the kettledrums, probabl;y only a single white border stripe on the standards. The "savages"acting as Supporters of the arms are a reference to one of the titles of the Kings of Denmark, "King of the Wends". Not nearly as well muscled as on the more modern rendition above, are they?!

Line Infantry

Danish Line (and Liv) Infantry Regiments carried 2 patterns of standards. All were painted onto silk, rather than embroidered. Light Infantry units were not issued flags.

The first pattern, somewhat analogous to the King's Color of British infantry regiments, was the same for all regiments, and was carried by the Grenadier Company, and also the 3rd and 4th battalions of the Regiment. This was simply the Dannebrog (Danish national flag, a narrow white cross on a red field), with the royal monogram in gold, "C7" or (if changed in 1808 or later, as it should have been but often was not), "FR VI" in all four corners, surrounded by a green wreath. This pattern is well illustrated in the pictures accompanying Part 2  and Part 3 of this series. Evidently flagpoles could be black, red, yellow or white; as far as I know the color of the pole was not a regimental or battalion distinction, however.

The second pattern was different for each regiment, again somewhat reminiscent of British Regimental colors, following a common style, as illustrated by the sketch  flag of the Holstein Infantry Regiment, illustrated below:

The field of the flag was in the facing color of  the regiment (thus Light Yellow, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Black, Dark Green or White, depending upon the regiment). In the upper corner of the flag adjacent to the pole was a small Dannebrog, white cross on red (the cross was apparently silver for units with white facings/flags). The remaining three corners were occupied by the royal monogram, as for the first pattern; the wreaths were apparently gold if the field of the flag was green, as the green wreath wouldn't show well on  a green background). In the middle of edge of each side of the flag was a "flame' or "pile-wavy" decoration of a contrasting color. There was evidently no system to determining the color of this element, known examples including yellow, white, red ad dark blue; for this flag they were red. Finally, the center of the flag was occupied by the Arms of the Region or namesake of the Regiment, in this case, the arms of Holstein, a white heraldic nettle leaf on a red field, embellished by a small white over red shield superimposed on the leaf design.

"FR-VI" Royal Monogram used on some flags from 1808 on, as old ones were replaced.

Other known examples of this pattern include:

2) Schleswig:  Light Blue field, Dark Blue flames, arms of Schleswig (2 blue lions on a yellow (or gold) shield. (see below and also Part 1 for the shield, and Part 2  for the flag).

Schleswig -Yellow with 2 blue lions

3) Oldenburg:  Black field, Red flames, arms of Oldenburg (the ruling house of Denmark)

Oldenburg - two red bars on a yellow/gold shield.

4) 2nd Jutland: White field, Red flames, Arms of Denmark in the center
5) 3rd Jutland: Black field, White flames, Arms of Denmark in the center

Jutland/Denmark: Yellow shield, Blue lion, nine red hearts

King's Livguard of Foot

Evidently, there was at least one flag for each of the 4 companies. Shown below is a sketch of the flag of the 4th company from the reign of king Frederick VI. White field, Dannebrogs of red and silver on white, Monogram and lettering in Gold.

Light Dragoons

Followed the same general pattern as the Infantry second (regimental style) colors, one flag per squadron,. Known examples:

1) Jutland Light Dragoons: Dark Green field, Yellow flames, central shield same as for the Jutland Infantry regiments, but surrounded by a gold wreath. Red scroll with gold letters reading "Fortes Fortuna Junat" above the shield, gold letters MDCCCIV below the shield (for 1804, date of issue of the flag), gold "C7" monograms in the corners.

2)  Prince Frederick Ferdinand Light Dragoons: White flag (odd for a regiment with black facings!), no flames, Arms of Prince Frederick surrounded by a blue ribbon bearing the Order of the Elephant. Gold FR VI monograms without wreaths in the three corners. Gold inscription "Hs Hglge H Prinds Fr. Ferdinands" above the shield, and "Regt. Lette Dragoner" below.

Sketch of the Arms of Prince Frederick Ferdinand (the charges represent Denmark upper left, Schleswig upper right, and Sweden (three yellow crowns on blue) bottom. 


Each squadron carried a Crimson flag with a silver Dove, carrying a light blue ribbon in its beak on one side, and the royal monogram in silver on the other. See Part 6 for my interpretation of this flag.

Heavy cavalry

The Ryttere Regiments presumably carried flags similar to those of the Light Dragoons, but I am not aware of any known examples.

Warflag has some flags (some speculative or with minor inaccuraciesd) for Denmark at :

Finally, Napflag has better quality, more accurate flags for six of the Infantry regiments, including the Queen's regiment at:


  1. Peter, have you considered aggregating all of these entries to produce one comprehensive Danish pamphlet? Are the sketched flags your handiwork?

    Nice job!

    1. Thanks, Jon.

      The idea of this series was to update the old article I did nearly 30 years ago with new information. It could be put into a published form , I suppose, but the market would be very small, so I think it is best as blog posts.

      Oh, and yes, the sketches here are all mine except as otherwise noted.

  2. Great series and resource Peter!

  3. In terms of painting and assembling units, this rounds things off very nicely.

    1. "Exactly!"

      I have a bit more historical information to present, then a short post on the Norwegian army, which included some ski troops.

  4. Another interesting, thorough post. Well done.