Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Bordurian Army in the 18th century


Until 1697 Borduria was garrisoned by Ottoman troops and Bordurians were conscripted into Ottoman service or served as auxiliaries and levies in Ottoman field armies. In the more mountainous south of the country, most Bordurians fought on foot and were equipped with a variety of muskets, bows, crossbows and edged weapons. In the north, where it was flatter and where there was a stronger influence from the countries to the north there was a tradition of mounted warfare, with armoured lancers and mounted bowmen forming the bulk of fighting units, supported by units of musketeers and polearm-equipped infantry in the Polish style.

After the accession of Constantine Cantacuzene as Voivode and later Autocrat, there was a gradual westernisation of the forces available to Borduria. With the humbling of the Boyars, feudal levies were abolished and all forces were slowly brought under royal control. The first formal regiments formed were organised as musketeers with Polish-style uniforms and were termed Hajduks. These were recruited from across the country and were initially supplemented by locally-raised companies of soldier-peasants known as Militani. Cavalry continued to use the lance, but armour soon fell from favour. Units of dragoons were also raised and these were equipped in the western style from the beginning.

By 1730, western-style infantry regiments were supplementing or replacing the traditional Hajduks. Eventually, most of the remaining Hajduk regiments were converted to become Jägers and light infantry. Three regiments of Hajduks were merged with the existing Militani militia units, to serve as light infantry and skirmishers wearing western-style uniforms but keeping their traditional title of Hajduks. In times of peace, these Hajduks served as gendarmerie as well as border guards. In the south of the country, irregular militias continued to exist along the border with the Ottoman empire, musket-armed but dressed in their local, Ottoman-influenced style.

The cavalry also westernised, with hussars and dragoons forming the bulk of the mounted arm, but with some lancer units remaining. In 1735, the first regiments of western-style line cuirassiers were raised.

Prussian influence became clear in the uniforms that the Bordurian army adopted, with the fusilier cap becoming popular with most infantry units, eventually becoming the standard for all Bordurian line regiments. Hussars wore the mirliton cap, in the Prussian style, as did the regiments of Hajduks. The lancers retained a more traditional, eastern-style uniform.

Uniform colours were slowly standardised and by 1740 consisted of green coats and red or buff small clothes for line infantry and grey for jägers. The Hajduks wore red, green or brown uniforms. Artillery also had red uniforms. Dragoons wore green coats, with buff small clothes and cuirassiers adopted red. The hussars and lancers retained a variety of colourful uniforms with no standardisation.

The Pazniks were the Autocrat's Life Guards and consisted of three regiments of musketeers, one of lancers and one of cuirassiers. The foot guards wore white uniforms with red facings and small clothes and black tricorn hats and the cuirassiers white with green facings. The lancers wore black and red uniforms in the traditional style.

In addition to the locally recruited regiments, there were a number of regiments of troops recruited elsewhere, mainly in the German states, but also in the Low Countries and from Russia. These Freikorps (Frajkorps in the local tongue) were the Von Schtupp, Schmodt, Blotten and Schtroumf regiments of infantry and the Schtroumpf and Swedzaky Hussar regiments. Freikorps infantry regiments were distinguished from Bordurian ones by their predominantly white uniforms. The uniforms of the Freikorps Hussar regiments also contained some white.

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