Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Advice needed on Prussian Flags (1815)

I've gotten some Prussian AB flags (1808-1815) and need to identify where the Avancier(liebfahne) flag ought to go.

As you can see from the photo there are 4 flags per regiment, one identical flag for each of the three battalions and one Avancier(liebfahne) flag. Did the Avancier(liebfahne) go with the first battalion or have I gotten the wrong idea? I.e. wouldthe 1st battalion have two flags?


  1. I guess if there were 3 battalions the First would have 2 flags and the rest 1 each.

    I don't really know, though.

  2. Bit of research...

    "The two battalion flags were known respectively as the Avancierfahne and the Retirierfahne, in effect the 1st and 2nd colours of the battalions. The 1st colour of the I Battalion of a regiment was also known as the regiment's Leib-fahne. Generally speaking, the Retirierfahne of a I Battalion was of the same design and colouring as both colours of the II Battalion, whilst the Leib-fahne was in reversed colours from the other three, this being especially true with regard to flags issued after 1808.
    During the campaigns of 1813-15, only the Avancierfahne of each battalion was carried in the field."
    (Nash - "The Prussian Army 1808-15" p 92)

  3. The design and issue of flags and standards for the Prussian army of the Napoleonic wars falls into two distinct periods: pre 1806 and post 1806. Prior to the collapse of the Prussian army in 1806 the flags and standards carried by the Infantry regiments were virtually unchanged since the time of Frederick the Great. The Regiments each carried two flags per battalion. The first flag of the first battalion was the Leibfahne, the second a Regimentsfahne. The second battalion had two Regimentsfahnen. The three musketeer battalions and the two interim companies of the 60th regiment did not have flags at this time. In most cases the staff head was gilt (the Guard regiments had silver when they were raised but were later replaced with gilt). Staff heads were spear shaped and pierced with the royal monogram. Ribbons and tassels were silver with black stripes in all cases. Large numbers of flags were lost in 1806 and upon the rebuilding of the army many new flags had to be issued (1808 pattern). Those pre-1806 flags that survived were re-issued along with the new pattern. The 1807 instructions called for two flags per musketeer battalion, as previously issued, but no flags for fusiliers or grenadiers. Grenadier formations were carrying flags by 1812 but fusiliers (with the exception of the fusiliers of guard grenadier units who received flags in 1814) did not get flags until after the wars in 1815. The first flag of each battalion was known as the 'Avancierfahne' and the second the 'Retirierfahne' (thus the 'Avancierfahne' of the first battalion was also the Liebfahne). By 1813 only the 'Avancierfahne' of each battalion was carried, the returned 'Retirierfahnen' often being issued to new units as their 'Avancierfahne'; thus many flags for different regiments were identical.

  4. Hi Ken,
    Just finished nightshift so I'll try and answer this slowly. I believe the period you are doing is 1812-1815.

    As you know the Prussian Line (and guard) Infantry regiments had 3 battalion (1 fusilier, 2 musketeer).

    The fusilier did not carry a flag at this time only the musketeers (guard fusilier received flag in 1814 but were not present at 100days).
    The 1st and 2nd musketeer battalion of each regiment carried 1 flag (guard also only 1 flag).

    Also there were combined grenadier battalions West Prussian Grenadiers, East Prussian Grenadiers, Silesian Grenadiers etc formed from 2 (grenadier) companies of 1st West Prussian, 2 companies of 2nd West Prussian, 1st and 2nd East Prussian, Silesian etc detached from the parent regiment(this doesn't effect your battalion strength of 32 figures) and they also carried 1 flag.

    You will find what battalion carried the Life flag etc here:

    I don't know the AB flags but it looks as if you get a spare flag or 2 (you could use them with your West Prussian reserve battalions)
    Hope this helps!

  5. Thanks lads - I wasn't really sure what the warflag site was getting at.

    Ok, so thats one flag each for the musketeer battalions. Pity the fusiler battalion didn't have colours, I do like flags.

    another peice of bad news is that regiments from 13 onwards didn't carry flags until after waterloo. That will not stop me from issuing flags to mine!



  6. Hi Ken,
    nothing to stop you giving your fusiliers a flag each too. After all there are loads of flag men in those OG command packs!!

    With the Regiments 13 on I will be giving them flags too. Who knows what they carried? for all we know they could have had flags. The way I think about it is they were pretty much used and numberered as line regiments even though we call them reserve. In my mind the commanding officer of the regiment maybe would like to increase the morale/pride of the troops, make them the same as the rest of the Infantry so would give the main battalions a flag of some sorts (especially as the officers and NCO's came from the regular units). Just my made thinking! :-)
    Look forward to your West Prussians all flagged up!!!


  7. Paul, I feel much better for hearing that!

    Thanks for the details Phil B.