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Örjan Martinsson


A detail from an illustration of the battle of Gadebusch 1712 which was made by Magnus Rommel who participated in the battle as Swedish quartermaster general.

In the beginning of the Great Northern War the Swedish Carolean soldiers did not look quite like they are commonly depicted in modern illustrations. The hats had not yet developed into tricornes even if they were not far removed from them. They usually had two sides folded up in various combinations, including some that looked like tricornes from the front but like floppy hats from behind. The first unambiguous evidence of tricornes among Swedish soldiers are from 1704 and 1705, and they probably spread quite rapidly at that time.

Not even the for Caroleon soldiers so characteristic turnbacks were in general use in the beginning of the war. In the infantry they appear to have been non-existent, but a few examples of cavalrymen wearing turnbacks can be found even before the war began. Since Charles XII himself preferred to be depicted with cavalry boots and turnbacks, it is likely that they soon became standard in at least the cavalry. When they were introduced in the infantry is more uncertain and the first evidence of the infantry having turnbacks is not earlier than from an illustration of the battle of Gadebusch 1712. The artillery did not introduce turnbacks until the 1720s. But if it was Charles XII who was responsible for the introduction of turnbacks then it is likely that the infantry had turnbacks already before the Russian campaign 1707–1709. Because Charles XII would have had very limited opportunities to influence the appearance of the uniforms during his exile in the Ottoman Empire 1709–1714.

At the bottom of the page there is a presentation of how the uniforms are depicted in contemporary paintings of the battle of Narva and Düna. A more detailed article about the evolution of the Swedish Carolean uniform is also available.

Information about the colour of the neck cloths is scarce and in uncertain cases I have depicted them as white without explanation (this despite the fact that the most common colour was black). However, an overview of what is known about the neckcloth colours can be found on this page.

"Indelta" Cavalry & Dragoons   "Adelsfanor"   Enlisted Dragoons
 Livregementet till häst  Swedish  Liv-dragoon Regiment
 Östgöta  Bremen-Verden  Ingermanland
 Småland  Pomeranian    W. A. von Schlippenbach's
 Södra Skånska  Livonian    G. E. d'Albedyhl – Schreiterfeldt
 Norra Skånska  Estonian and Ingrian    A. J. von Schlippenbach – Skogh
 Riksänkedrottningen   Stånd Dragoons  Bremen
 Bohuslän Dragoons  Uppland  Verden
 Västgöta  Skånska  Pomeranian
 Jämtland Company  Västgöta  Meijerfelt's
 Åbo & Björneborg  Finnish  Hielm's
 Nyland  Gotland  Dücker's
 Karelska (Viborg)   Land Dragoons  Taube's
 Karelska Dragoons  Estonian  Horse Grenadiers
  Männing Cavalry  Ösel  H. O. d´Albedyhl's
 Uppland 3-männings    Livonian  Gyllenstierna's
 Skånska 3-männings    Laurentzen's Free Dragoons  French
 Västgöta 3-männings   Enlisted Cavalry  von Schwerin's
 Åbo, Nyl, Viborg 3-männings  Drabant Corps  Smiegelski's
 Åbo Double Regiment  Vallacks (Niester, Polish)  Bassewitz'
 Nyland Double Regiment  Bremen  Vietinghoff's
 Karelska Double Regiment  Pomeranian  Bender
 Uppland 5-männings  Estonian  Tyska (German)
 

Note that the Finnish cavalry regiments are described on a separate page together with the Finnish infantry regiments.


Livregementet till häst
(Life Regiment on Horse)


1700


1707


1710


The colour of the shabraques (which had three crowns in yellow in the outer corners) is only mentioned for the year 1700 and described as just "blue" while the coat and its lining is described as light blue. For the years 1703/06 Höglund writes that the coat was light blue with blue lining.
 


Östgöta Cavalry Regiment


1700-?


?-1709


1710-1718


1719-


The cloaks on all pictures follow the description of those that were ordered in 1717 (blue cloak with blue collar and yellow lining). For the year 1700 it is only mentioned as “blue" and for 1710 Höglund writes that the whole uniform, with the exception of white hat lace, identical with the one from 1700.

The appearance of the shabraques is only described for the year 1700 and in the order from 1717 (which was not delivered in time for the Norwegian campaign in 1718). They are identical with the only difference that the latter mention that a griffon in yellow wool decorates the outer corners.
 


Småland Cavalry Regiment


1700-?


?-1709
 


1710-


Södra Skånska Cavalry Regiment
(South Scanian)


-1700

1701-1703

1703-?

1711-

Ten-year-old uniform which was donated to Skånska 3-männings Regiment after the outbreak of the war. Colour of hat lace, buttons and shabraque unknown.

Old light blue coats were used to manufacture vests but recruits had leather vests and leather breeches in 1704. Button and shabraque colour unknown. Hats with silver lace 1704. New uniform issued 1706/07 but not described in the sources.

Colour on hat lace, buttons lining and cuffs not mentioned. Only 223 cavalrymen had approved equipment at the general muster in 1711.


Norra Skånska Cavalry Regiment
(North Scanian)


1702-?


?-1709


1710-

The shabraques were decorated with the royal cypher and crown. Uniform issued before 1702 is unknown.

No uniform information between 1702 and 1710.

Button colour as well as the cloak’s lining and collar not mentioned.


Riksänkedrottningens livregemente till häst
(Queen Dowager's Life Regiment on Horse)


1702-1708


1708-1713


1714-1720

Uniform before 1702 is unknown, but old hats with narrow gold lace from 1701 were recycled in 1715.

When the regimen received new uniforms in 1708, the colour on cloaks and coats did not match the prescribed cloth samples. Colour of the shabraques not mentioned

Button colour unknown.


Bohuslän Dragoon Squadron


1702


1712


Västgöta Cavalry Regiment


1700-?


?-1713


1714-
Button colour and shabraques not mentioned.


Jämtland Cavalry Company


1695-?


?-1722
The company is reported in 1717 to have had 125 hats as well as blue cloaks together with grey karpuses and old grey cloaks.


Swedish Adelsfana


1689-1704


1704-1709


1710-?

The shabraques had a blue royal crown in the outer corners.

Recruits received in 1705 hats with white lace instead of silver lace as well as grey piecoats instead of cloaks.

The appearance of the shabraques are only described for the period of 1689-1704.

According to Anders Larsson, lace on both the hat and the cloak’s collar were white (Höglund have silver hat lace). Received in 1713 (partially) and in 1716 (completely) new uniforms but these have not been described in the sources.


Other Adelsfana Units


Estonian Adelsfana & Livonian Adelsfana
1700?

Estonian Adelsfana
1708/09

 

Pommeranian &
Bremen-Verden Adelsfana

 

 

Höglund describes uniforms that are identical with the Swedish Adelsfana (1689-1704) but provides no dates for the Baltic units.

Höglund only writes that they had hat, blue coat, leather vest and leather breeches. But the regiments in the Baltic provinces appear to have been uniformly dressed at this time, so both the Estonian and Livonian Adelsfana probably looked like the picture above.


Uppland 3-männing Regiment


1700-1704

1704-1709?

1712-1719

1719


Had both white and black neckcloths in 1700. The uniform issued in 1704 is unknown. The one that was issued in 1712, when the regiment was restored, had the same colours as the one from 1700. The regiment received new uniforms in 1719, which consisted of: hat with lace, vadmal pie coat, vadmal coat, vest made of leather or vadmal and a black neckcloth. However, it was disbanded the same year and the cavalrymen were transferred to Uppland Stånd Dragoons. The colour of the shabraque is not mentioned at any point in time.
 


Other 3-männings and 5-männings


Skånska 3-männings
1701-1711

Skånska 3-männings
1711-1721

 

Västgöta 3-männings
1704-1716

Uppland 5-männings
1710-1715

Were given Södra Skånska’s ten-year-old uniforms when it was raised in 1700 and still wore these when the Danes invaded Scania 1709. Colour of hat lace, buttons and shabraque unknown. The shabraques were however blue in 1712.

Colours of the lining, cuffs, vest and breeches are not mentioned.

Coat and cloak of vadmal without description of colours. Hat lace not mentioned either.

Hat lace and button colour unknown, but in 1716 they had pewter buttons and the trumpeters had white lace. The colour of the shabraque is not mentioned at any point in time.


Stånd Dragoons
"Estate Dragoons"


Uppland
1704-1709


Skånska
1702-1706


Skånska
1707-1709


Västgöta
1704-1712

Silver hat lace in 1707, no mentioning of the colour before then. The Regiment's company and command journal from 1702-1704 reveals that their hats were cocked and coats had turnbacks.


The colour of the shabraques and pistol covers are only mentioned for Uppland Stånd Dragoons. But because theirs were yellow in 1704 and the Öselska Land Dragoons, which were recruited in the same way, also had yellow shabraques, I have made the assumption that all Stånd Dragoons were issued yellow shabraques (with a blue edge?) at that time.

The uniforms for the Finnish Stånd Dragoons are completely unknown and the Gotland Stånd Dragoons are only known to have had blue coats in 1705.


Land Dragoons

The uniform for Laurentzen's Free Dragoons is completely unknown. This unit, which existed 1701-1706, was raised by the burghers in Wenden, Wolmar, Walk and Lemsal.


Estonian Land Dragoons
1701 (according to Kroon)


Ösel Land Dragoons
1703-1708


Livonian Land Dragoons
1701 (according to Kroon)


Livonian Land Dragoons
1708 (according to Höglund)

Hat lace and shabraques are not mentioned but the pistol covers were black.

Höglund states that they had karpus, grey vadmal coat with pewter buttons and yellow cuffs, leather vest, leather breeches. At the muster the same year complaints were made of coats without lining and other deficiencies.

Hat lace unknown, but yellow was a common colour in Lewenhaupt's corps.

Shabraques are not mentioned.

Höglund states that they in 1701 had blue karpus with yellow lining, pie coat with pewter buttons, blue coat with pewter buttons, leather vest, leather breeches and likely blue shabraques and pistol covers. In 1706 the breeches were blue.

The only details that are mentioned are: hat, blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs. But compare with his description of the 1701 uniform.


The Drabants Corps


1700-?


?-1716


The uniforms are only described for the year 1700 and then really only in the form of lists of how much material was used for them.
 


Enlisted Cavalry Regiments


Estonian Cavalry Regiment
1697-?

Bremen Cavalry Regiment
1701-?

Pomeranian Cavalry Regiment
1702-?

Vallack Regiment
 Niester Dragoon Reg.
Polish Regiment on Horse
Red coats in 1718

According to Lars-Eric Höglund, the shabraques were white, while Anders Larsson states that they were red. No one mentions any colour on the edge, but it is my own "compromise" that matches the coat.

The shabraques were decorated with the royal cypher and crown in yellow.

The shabraques were decorated with count Mellin’s coat of arms in the outer corners. Colour of the vest is unknown. According to Anders Larsson, they had silver lace hat, collar and cuffs.


Livdragonerna
(Life Dragoons)


Narva 1700


Kliszow 1702


Fraustadt 1706


Poltava 1709


With the exception of the neckcloth, the Life Dragoons appear to have had the same uniform colours throughout the war. When the regiment was raised in 1700 they received black neckcloths, in 1707 they received blue and white striped neckcloths and in 1716-18 black and white neckcloths were issued to the life dragoons.

However, the colour of the hat lace is only mentioned in 1707 when it was made of gold, while in 1700 it is only stated to have been made of camel hair.

The colours of the shabraque and pistol covers are also uncertain because they are only mentioned for the year 1700. According to Höglund, the shabraque was then was yellow with a blue edge and the pistol covers were yellow. Anders Larsson writes that the pistol covers were made of yellow baize and leather, and that the shabraque was made of "blue cloth decorated with yellow and silver lace around it".
 


Enlisted Dragoons


W. A. Schlippenbach's
Dragoon Regiment
1703-1709


Schreiterfeldt's
Dragoon Regiment
1703-1709


A. J. Schlippenbach's (Skogh's)  Squadron
1701


Skogh's
Dragoon Squadron
ca 1708

Yellow pistol covers. Colour on cuffs and lining unknown

Colour on cuffs, lining, buttons and hat lace unknown. Was called G. E. d'Albedyhl until 1704.

Vest, buttons and shabraque unknown. Became Skogh's squadron in 1706.

The only mentioned colours are blue for the coat and leather for vest and breeches.

The yellow colour on cuffs, lining and hat lace for the three regiments above is guesswork based on the fact that the regiments in Lewenhaupt’s corps appear to have been uniformly dressed.


Bremen Dragoons 1700-1704
The uniform that was issued in 1704 is unknown.


Verden Dragoons
1703-?

According to Höglund, the pistol covers had the same colour as the cuffs (chamois-yellow). While the shabraque is specified as blue, with blue and yellow edge for privates, and yellow edge and silver lace for non-commissioned officers.

Anders Larsson describes the shabraque as blue with "silver and blue/yellow round cord studded". For non-commissioned officers they were "of blue cloth with "a hand's breadth" chamois coloured cloth band around and on either side of the yellow band a blue/yellow/silver cord. Corporals' cord of white/blue/silver".

According to Höglund, the pistol covers and shabraques were blue with a white edge. For non-commissioned officers, these were also blue with silver lace.

Anders Larsson describes no pistol covers and only the non-commissioned officers' shabraques, which were blue with a silver lace two times around and between these a serpentine-shaped narrower silver lace.

My shabraques follow Larsson's description of the non-commissioned officers, but with white instead of silver.


Pomeranian Dragoons
1703-?


Meijerfelt's Dragoon Regiment
1706-1709
Button and shabraque colour unknown.

Anders Larsson describes the shabraques as blue "with a thick gold-yellow camel hair lace embedded and then with a 2-finger wide golden yellow thick camel hair lace studded. In the middle with a blue winding seam studded".

The non-commissioned officers' shabraques and pistol covers were "of blue cloth with with a wide gold lace and another 1 ½ finger wide lace".


Hielm's Dragoon Regiment
1705-1709


Dücker's Dragoon Regiment
1705-1709

Yellow pistol covers with blue edge. Blue shabraques decorated with the royal cipher in yellow edged with yellow and black thread.

According to Anders Larsson: "Blue cloth shabraque underlined with black linen. Studded with a yellow wide camelhair ledge and with a narrower one of the same kind which is also made with yellow cloth and decorated with blue and yellow lace."


Taube's Dragoon Regiment
1704-1709


Gyllenstierna's and d'Albedyhl's
Dragoon Regiments
1706-1709

According to Höglund: yellow pistol covers with blue edge. Blue shabraque with yellow edge, laced with blue and yellow cord. The pictures above follow the illustration in Höglund's book.

Larsson describes the shabraque as blue "with blue and yellow edge, yellow name cipher and crown in the outer corners. A blue/yellow round cord attached with blue/yellow lace. Yellow pistol covers with a blue band around."

Raised in 1706 as one regiment but was soon split into two.


Horse Grenadiers
1706


French Dragoon Regiment
1707-1715

Was never fully recruited. Its commander (Hagen) at one point stated that he had recruited 200 men, but he died in a duel in November 1706 and it is unclear what happened to these men thereafter.

 

Was originally a French grenadier regiment captured at the Battle of Blenheim. Transferred to Saxon service and was again captured at the Battle of Fraustadt after which it entered Swedish service as an infantry battalion. Was captured by the Saxons in the Battle of Kalisz but returned to the Swedish army and then converted into a dragoon regiment.


Schwerin's
Dragoon Regiment
1710-1715


Smiegelski's Polish Dragoon Squadron
1711-1713


Bassewitz'
Dragoon Regiment
1711-1715


Bender
Dragoon Regiment
1712-1715

Formed by the ethnic Swedes in Bender.


Vietinghoff's
Dragoon Regiment
1714-1715


Tyska (German) Dragoon Regiment
1716?

Only a proposal for uniforms and it is unclear if it was issued. The shabraque is not mentioned. The regiment was formed in 1716 by the remnants of the other regiments in Pomerania. When it was mustered in the late winter, early spring of 1716, it had very diverse uniforms. They consisted of hats with or without lace, or karpuses. Grey, blue, red, brown or black coats. Camisoles of leather or blue or brown cloth. Leather breeches or grey vadmal breeches.


A detail of Daniel Stawert's battle painting from 1706 of the Battle of Narva that hangs inside Drottningholm Palace.

The pictorial evidence of the appearance of the uniforms at the beginning of the war comes mainly from battle paintings of the battles of Narva and Düna. The pictures at the top and bottom are details from these, but a more detailed description of what they show can be found in Erik Bellander's book "Dräkt och uniform" (page 217-218). The descriptions are quoted here and begin with the account of Daniel Stawert's paintings in Drottningholm:

Narva. Among the foot soldiers in the foreground is a soldier in a long, blue coat, where the skirts are not folded up, and a hat with a brim particularly folded at the front. The cavalrymen wear blue coats, one of which is fur lined and one of which has red lining, red collar and drooping red cuffs. The cloaks are blue, one of them fitted with a medium blue, distinctly angular collar. Two cavalrymen wear red cloaks. No turnbacks can be discerned. In two cases there is a hat with a fur brim and a red hill. it is almost a matter of karpus here. Otherwise, the headgear consists of a hat, which is more folded up than before and sometimes approaches the tricorne type.

Düna. The foot soldiers wear long coats without turnbacks. The hats are more or less turned up, some three-sided. A couple of non-commissioned officers wear hats that are high-slung in the front. One clearly has white socks. The same applies to the cavalrymen, who lack buff coats. The hats are not triangular. a Saxon cavalryman, on the other hand, has turnbacks.

Another battle painter from these first years of the Great Northern War was Joh. Lithén (ennobled Litheim), who followed Dahlberg in the field. His presentation of the Battle of Narva shows, among other things, the following details. The cavalry, which dominates the foreground, has indistinct turnbacks. The hats are folded up all around but not fastened. Only two officers and a couple of privates have a three-sided raised, but not attached, brim. A cavalryman wears a karpus-like headdress. Almost all cavalrymen have long hair, an officer and some privates have also a hair pouch. The foot soldiers wear hats with irregularly folded up brims, in one case a hair pouch.

Battle paintings give a good indication of what the contemporary uniforms looked like, but they definitely cannot be compared to photographs of battles. To the extent that the artists did not have enough information about something, they used their imagination to fill in the knowledge gaps. A lot of battle paintings are therefore very unreliable. In the picture below, for example, we see a blue-clad cavalryman with red lining on his coat in the Battle of Düna. No regiment with that colour combination took part in the battle.

 
A detail of Daniel Stawert's battle painting from 1707 of the Battle of Düna that hangs inside Drottningholm Palace.

See also the Swedish infantry uniforms and the Finnish regiments' uniforms There si also a more detailed article about the Evolution of the Swedish Carolean uniform.

References

Bellander, Erik. Dräkt och uniform. Stockholm (1973).
Höglund, Lars-Eric – Sallnäs, Åke. Stora nordiska kriget 1700-1721 - Fanor och uniformer. Karlstad (2000).
Höglund, Lars-Eric – Sallnäs, Åke. Stora nordiska kriget 1700-1721, II. Karlstad (2003).
Larsson, Anders. Karolinska uniformer och munderingar åren 1700-1721. Östersund (2022).

The information from Kalle Kroon comes from an e-mail he has sent me, but I have published it on my blog.