Bavarian Army

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Bavarian Army Memorial in the Feldherrnhalle in Munich

The Bavarian Army was the army of the Electorate of Bavaria and from 1806 of the Kingdom of Bavaria . It existed as a standing army from 1682 until the transition of military sovereignty from Bavaria to the German Empire in 1919.

Even if the Bavarian armed forces were never able to compete with the armies of the major European powers in terms of their size , they gave the Wittelsbachers enough room for maneuver to develop the middle power Bavaria from a territorially divided small state into the second largest federal state of the German Empire after Prussia as part of an effective alliance policy .


An imperial Bavarian flag 1745: The imperial eagle on a golden background was sewn onto the Bavarian flag. Musée de l'Armée , Paris

The electoral mercenary armies before 1682

Before 1682 Bavaria had already waged many wars, under Maximilian I (1597-1651), head of the Catholic League , Bavaria had become a leading military power in the Empire in the Thirty Years' War , but the Elector, as elsewhere, only had wars only when needed Troops . As the first forerunner of a war ministry, Maximilian I founded the so-called court war council as early as 1620. Generals in Bavarian service such as Tilly , Pappenheim and Mercy played a decisive role in shaping the war in the empire, and France itself was attacked under the army leader Johann von Werth . After the war Maximilian began to rebuild his country. In order to have the financial means, the army was released as soon as possible.

Under Elector Ferdinand Maria (1651–1679), soldiers were recruited on the account of the Elector, no longer on the account of the colonels in charge. From 1664 a newly organized army was formed, and membership of the Catholic denomination was promoted when officers joined the Bavarian army. The elector himself pursued a strict policy of neutrality and stayed out of armed conflicts, but accepted subsidies from France, which he put into the expansion of the army. Between 1662 and 1664, however, Bavaria took part in the Turkish Wars with auxiliary troops .

From the foundation in 1682 to the beginning of the coalition wars in 1790

Due to the Imperial War Constitution of 1681, Bavaria was also obliged to provide troops for the Imperial Army . The establishment of a standing army was thus necessary, but the nationalization of the war system was also a general element of absolutist power politics. On October 12, 1682, the recruited troops were taken into Bavarian service in a field camp near Schwabing . Seven regiments of infantry , two regiments of dragoons and four regiments of cuirassiers and an artillery corps were set up. Even then, the medium blue color was characteristic of the mass of Bavarian infantry (from 1684 for the whole), while the cuirassiers and artillery wore light gray skirts; Dragoons had red or blue skirts. The army distinguished itself under the elector Maximilian II. Emanuel (1679–1726) during the Turkish wars, especially during the conquest of Belgrade in 1688. The elector was the last to take part in the battles himself as a commander in Bavaria.

In the War of the Spanish Succession, Bavaria fought on France's side . The composition of the army in 1701 was essentially the same as in the Turkish Wars, except that there were now three regiments of cuirassiers and three dragoons. In July 1704 Max Emanuel's generals Maffei and Arco then lost the battle at Schellenberg . After that, the Great Hague Alliance of the Emperor with England and the United Netherlands, with Eugene of Savoy and the Duke of Marlborough, deployed their best generals against Bavaria and France. After the devastating defeat in the battle of Höchstädt in the following month, the Bavarian army was effectively dissolved, but small remnants fought until the end of the war, for example in the battle of Ramillies . Bavaria was occupied by the Austrians , a popular uprising , led by the Bavarian State Defense, was bloodily suppressed in the Sendlinger Murder Christmas and the Battle of Aidenbach . In 1715 the elector was able to take control of Bavaria again and immediately rebuilt the army. As early as the spring of 1716, Max Emanuel offered the emperor troop aid for the new war against the Turks , which Vienna accepted the following year.

In 1738/39 the Bavarian elector then sent a strong Bavarian auxiliary scorpion for the emperor into the Turkish war to support the emperor, as in 1717 , which promptly suffered heavy losses.

The attempt by the Bavarian Elector Karl Albrecht (1726–1745) to obtain the imperial crown in the War of the Austrian Succession was successful, but ended again with the occupation of Bavaria by Austria. After initial successes, Bavaria's army, allied with France, Saxony and Prussia, acted unhappily under the command of Ignaz von Törring . The situation improved temporarily after Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff had entered the service of the new emperor. 1742–45, the Bavarian troops themselves became imperial , which was also propagated by new flags with an imperial double-headed eagle and gold badge.

In the spring of 1745 Bavaria left the war and finally gave up its great power politics. As a result, the army was neglected and rigid austerity measures did not stop at it. At the beginning of the Seven Years' War , in which Elector Maximilian III. Joseph (1745-1777) reluctantly involved against Prussia, the army of eight infantry, two dragoon and three Kürassierregimentern, and a consisted Brigade artillery. In 1757 one of the cuirassier regiments was disbanded and distributed to other regiments. With the Dragoons only one company was mounted per regiment. Infantry regiments consisted of two battalions with four fusilier companies (130 men each) and one grenadier company (100 men) and two 4-pounder battalion guns. The nominal strength of around 1,800 men per regiment was never reached in the field. The Leib-Regiment had three battalions, of which only two were in the field. A tiny corps of hussars existed for the tasks of the field police . Ten battalions of infantry were made available to Habsburg as part of the obligations for the imperial army . They fought lucklessly in 1757 near Schweidnitz , Breslau and Leuthen , and in 1758 near Troppau , Olmütz and Neisse .

As a result of the union of spa Bavaria with the Electoral Palatinate and the Lower Rhine duchies Jülich and Berg under the Palatinate line of the Wittelsbach family with Elector Karl Theodor (1777–1799) in December 1777, the infantry grew by eight regiments and took over a lighter blue as the coat color from the Palatinate. The conflict of the War of the Bavarian Succession, which broke out due to the unification, was mainly characterized by supply problems and therefore also called the Potato War, was largely uneventful for the Bavarian army. In 1785 the infantry uniform changed to the basic color white, the cuirassiers took off their armor .

At the time of the unification of the parts of the empire in 1788, Bavaria had around 2½ million inhabitants. The standing army comprised 5,678 infantry, 1,220 cavalrymen and 310 artillerymen. There were 18 regiments that had their own names and, with the exception of the mixed body regiment, each recruited in one of the two parts of the empire. Their nominal strength was each 1005-1013 men divided into 2 battalions with ten companies.

Reorganizations from 1789

Scene from the Russian campaign ( Battle of Borodino ).

The urgently needed reforms took place in 1789–91 under the direction of Count Rumford . The year 1790 brought a fundamental reform of the Bavarian army: all field troops received a uniform of uniform cut and instead of a hat a leather helmet with a horsehair tail . This was named "Rumford-Kaskett" after the then war minister and author of the reform. The reorganized army should have a peace-keeping strength of 35,000 (1,216 per regiment), and 37,000 men (1,456 per regiment) during the war. The corresponding ordinance was issued on September 18, 1789. The structure existed on January 1, 1790

  • 2 regiments of hunters (2 battalions each with 8 companies),
  • 4 regiments of grenadiers (2 battalions each),
  • 14 regiments of fusiliers (2 battalions each),
  • 1 garrison regiment (1 battalion),
  • 1 artillery regiment,
  • 2 regiments of cuirassiers (4 squadrons each),
  • 2 Chevaulegers regiments (4 squadrons each),
  • 2 regiments of dragoons (4 squadrons each),

An academy was set up for this purpose. The service obligation was extended from six to eight years, the pay increased. Theoretically, the rise of men to officers was possible. The staff of a regiment consisted of 16 people: the commander (colonel), a deputy (lieutenant colonel), 2 majors, adjudants and junkers (cadets), plus a regimental quartermaster, an auditor (military judge), a senior and junior doctor and interns , a regiment drum (musician), a profoss (military policeman) and a gunsmith. In terms of officers, each company had a captain, a lieutenant and a lieutenant.

The expansion achieved a staff of 20,000 men and 800 mounted men by 1791. 700 served in the artillery.

The massive armament was driven by the fear of the European aristocracy of the bourgeois revolution in France in 1789 and its aftermath. From 1793 in the course of the First Coalition War , in which Kurpfalzbayern fought on the side of the coalition under Lieutenant General Ysenburg , the areas on the left bank of the Electoral Palatinate Bavaria were occupied. The contingent to be deployed in the First Coalition War was initially 4 battalions, a total of 2054 men. The Treaty of Pfaffenhofen , signed on September 7, 1796, provided for the withdrawal of the Bavarian army from the coalition. In fact, during the Second Coalition War in November 1798, the Treaty of Munich incorporated the Bavarian troops into the emperor's army.

For the infantry, they returned to the traditional light blue uniform color and in 1801 the caterpillar helmet, which was soon characteristic of the Bavarian army, was introduced for all branches of service .

At the end of 1798 there were officially 15,679 men in service, divided into:

  • Bavarian regiments
    • 1st Grenadier Leib Regiment (1061 men)
    • 2nd Grenadier Regiment (850)
    • 2nd Feldjäger Regiment (899)
    • 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th fusilier regiments (together 4901)
    • Garrison Regiment (1 battalion)
    • Artillery Battalion (587)
    • 1st Cuirassier Regiment (615)
    • 2nd and 3rd Chevauleger Regiment (together 1213)
    • 2nd Dragoon Regiment (523)
  • Rhenish Palatinate regiments
    • 2nd Fusilier Regiment (633)
    • 9th Artillery Company (103)
    • 1st Chevauleger Regiment (408)
    • 1st Dragoon Regiment (384)
  • Lower Rhine regiments
    • 3rd, 4th and 10th Fusilier Regiment (together 1667)
  • Independent units
    • 2 companies of the 2nd Feldjäger Regiment
    • 1 battalion of the 1st Feldjäger Regiment
    • 1 battalion of the 5th Fusilier Regiment (551)
    • Artillery Command (28)

In fact, when Max IV Joseph (1799-1825) came to power, only about 8,000 infantrymen and 700 cavalry men were adequately equipped. The young elector, who in the ancien régime himself had been colonel in the French regiment of foreigners, the Royal Deux-Ponts , made building a modern armed force one of his main tasks. The line infantry was initially reduced to ten regiments, which were given nominal strength again.

Fusilier regiments 4, 7, 11, 13 and 14 were dissolved on June 6 and September 8, 1799, respectively, in order to achieve target strengths for the fulfillment of the coalition obligations. The other fusilier regiments became infantry battalions. In regimental strength there was also a Feldjäger regiment as well as the Grenadier Leibregiment and the Grenadier Regiment Kurprinz.

This classification became obsolete as early as 1800 after receiving English subsidies . The rearmament allowed the formation of a guard from the two grenadier regiments and two brigades. This provisional structure was formalized in 1801 with further renaming. The army was reformed by capable generals like Deroy , Wrede and Triva on the French model and soon became Germany's most modern armed force. The Bavarian army was the first in Germany to abolish corporal punishment . In addition to the field army, which is largely based on conscription , a national guard with three classes was set up (1st class: reserve battalions of line regiments, 2nd class: Landwehr , 3rd class: civilian military ).

In 1800 one had to fight reluctantly on Austria's side against France , but when Austria invaded Bavaria for the fourth time in 100 years after the outbreak of the Third Coalition War in 1704, 1742 and 1778, it was faced with a powerful army. She only backed away in order to connect with the advancing Grande Armée Napoleon and then to strike back. This was done quickly, methodically and thoroughly. 30,000 Bavarians took part in the successful siege of Ulm and the subsequent liberation of Bavaria. In the battle of Austerlitz they secured Napoleon's flanks and supply routes. As a result, the Kingdom of Bavaria came into being .

The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss brought the Bavarian infantry a gain of three regiments from the province of Würzburg and a battalion from Bamberg. In addition, there was another, formed from the imperial contingents of the smaller Swabian areas that were added to Bavaria.

The cabinet order of May 12, 1803 structured the army as follows.

  • Franconian Division, Würzburg site,
  • Upper Bavarian Brigade, Munich,
  • Lower Bavarian Brigade, Landshut,
  • Bavarian Cavalry Brigade, Munich,
  • Swabian Brigade, Ulm and
  • Bergische Brigade, Düsseldorf (ceded in 1806)

The nominal strength of a line regiment was now 2692 men (with 9 horses) in 2 battalions with 10 companies, 2 of which were for grenadiers. Light battalions were half that size. In the field there were then 2000 or 1000 men, the rest stayed in the home barracks. As of March 27, 1804, there were 12 line regiments and six light battalions. The actual strength in the few following peace years was around two thirds of the target level. The cantonal regulations of January 7, 1805 introduced compulsory military service. Because of numerous exceptions, the burden was mainly borne by the little people, i.e. farm boys and craftsmen. The constitution of 1808 explicitly provided for a standing conscript army. Men between 18 and 40 were compulsory for eight years. From 1805 there was a central reserve battalion from which the needs of other units could be replenished. The following year the company size was therefore increased to 185 muskets. The nominal strengths of the regiments were reduced to 2436 in 1811, as the conscription law of that year reduced compulsory service to six years.

Kingdom of Bavaria 1806 to 1871

In 1806/07 the Bavarian army forced several Prussian fortresses to surrender during the Fourth Coalition War .

In 1808 the Bavarian War Ministry was established . A hunter battalion, which became Bavarian in 1806 in Tyrol, was set up in 1807 and was so weakened by numerous deserters from 1809 that it was disbanded in 1811. The unrest in the formerly Austrian province of Tyrol , which Napoleon Bavaria had allocated as a reward, developed in 1809 into a popular uprising that could only be put down with French help. When Austria invaded Bavaria again in 1809, the French army was mostly tied up in Spain , so that Napoleon's renewed campaign against the Habsburgs was initially only carried out with troops from the Rhine Confederation , predominantly Bavaria. In the Battle of Wagram , the Bavarians' mission was decisive.

The ordinance of May 8, 1809 provided for the establishment of 6 reserve battalions, each with 2 companies, nominal strength 135 men. In 1809 four more were added.

Obelisk on Karolinenplatz , memorial for the fallen soldiers of the Russian campaign in 1812

In the Russian campaign in 1812 the Bavarian army suffered terrible losses. The eleven regiments sent to Russia with the Grande Armée initially had 1,615 men in the field, the six light battalions 808 each. The battle of Polotsk in mid-August 1812 demanded a high blood toll; essentially only Bavarian cavalry advanced in the direction of Moscow . Of the 33,000 or so men who marched out in 1812 (including reinforcements sent to them), only about 4,000 returned. Since hardly any survivors returned from the Russian campaign, Bavaria took part in the Battle of Leipzig in March , mainly with reservists, after switching sides . There was almost no Bavarian officer who was under 50 years old. The situation hardly improved until the battle of Arcis-sur-Aube on 20/21. March 1814. However, more conscripts were raised. By 1815 the team had grown to 65,000, a number that was retained until the end of Max Joseph's reign.

In 1814 there was a Grenadier Guard regiment, 16 regiments of line infantry , two battalions of hunters , seven regiments of Chevaulegers (including one of the Landwehr), a regiment of Uhlans , two regiments of hussars, a regiment of Garde du Corps , two regiments of artillery on foot and one on horseback. In 1815, two cuirassier regiments were formed from the 7th (national) Chevaulegers regiment.

First lieutenant of the Grenadier Guard Regiment around 1814.

Pressed by the Crown Prince and Wrede, King Max I Joseph turned away from France with a heavy heart and moved to the Allied camp shortly before the Battle of Leipzig . Wrede's attempt to stop the Grande Armée's march through in the Battle of Hanau in 1813 ended with a minor defeat for the Bavarian-Austrian corps he commanded. In the French campaign of 1814 , initially unsuccessful for the Allies , he made up for the defeat and was able to win valuable victories over his former ally in the battles at Arcis-sur-Aube and Bar-sur-Aube .

Hussars and Uhlans were disbanded in 1822.

In 1826, on the basis of proposals from the Military Savings Commission, an infantry regiment was converted into two jäger battalions and the Grenadier Guard Regiment became an infantry body regiment . The Garde du Corps became the 1st Cuirassier Regiment, half of the previous 1st Regiment was merged with the 2nd Regiment. Unlike his father, King Ludwig I (1825–1848) did not have to wage war and did not shy away from it. to finance structures like the Odeon with “defensions money” (the defense budget) , thereby provoking protests. However, a representative building for the War Ministry in Ludwigstrasse was built under his government. The largest and most expensive construction project in Ludwig's reign was the rebuilding of the Ingolstadt state fortress .

Under his successor Max II. Joseph (1848–1864), around 1854 the Bavarian army consisted of 77,200 men in two army corps, each with two infantry divisions and one cavalry division; plus the artillery with 192 guns and the genius corps . Bavaria provided 35,600 men with 72 guns to the German armed forces. The fortresses were Ingolstadt , Würzburg , Germersheim and Passau , as well as the federal fortress Landau with an exclusively Bavarian occupation. However, of the nominal staff of around 70,000, at most 70% were present and the rest were “intentionally unassembled”. The king financed large barracks such as the Maximilian II barracks .

The mobilization ordered as part of the German War on May 10, 1866 was not completed until June 22, at which time the Prussian army was almost in Bohemia . This war was very unfortunate for the army. The Bavarian Commander-in-Chief Prince Karl , who was also subordinate to the southern German federal troops, learned in Meiningen of the surrender of the Hanoverians after the battle of Langensalza when he was hurrying to the aid of the Kingdom of Hanover . Since the Prussians advanced quickly, a union with a federal corps further west under Prince Alexander of Hesse was not possible, whereupon the Bavarian troops withdrew to Kissingen . After fierce fighting, the Bavarian army withdrew to Schweinfurt and Würzburg (only the Marienberg fortress and a district could be held here). On August 1, a Prussian reserve corps occupied Nuremberg .

Bavarian soldiers in the battle for Bazeilles on September 2, 1870, drawing by Richard Knötel

The difficulties of the Bavarian army were essentially blamed on the Bavarian state parliament and the military leadership. Due to the budget cuts, which were always passed by parliament, the Bavarian War Ministry was unable to carry out maneuvers above the brigade level . Apart from Prince Karl and the Prince of Thurn und Taxis , no Bavarian general had ever commanded a division . The role of Chief of Staff von der Tann was also criticized in the newspapers .

Because of this criticism, King Ludwig II (1864–1886) appointed the experienced colonel and later General von Pranckh on August 1 as the new Minister of War. Von Pranckh had already gained political experience as adjutant to the War Minister von Lüder and made a decisive contribution to the modernization of the army with his Bavarian army reform . In addition to organizational reforms of the military, this also included the introduction of new rifles and machine weapons, which were initially obtained from abroad, especially America, before Bavarian manufacturers such as Cramer-Klett in Nuremberg or the Augsburg machine factory received armaments orders. In 1868 the conscription system was also abolished and compulsory military service introduced, organized according to the Prussian model. The Landwehr order of 1826 provided for a real war effort of the Landwehr for the first time, which also took place in 1866. However, the civil military was dissolved in 1869.

When the relationship between France and Prussia came to a head as part of Leopold von Hohenzollern's candidacy for the throne , the Bavarian Minister of War von Pranckh had the two Bavarian army corps mobilized on July 14, 1870. They moved within the III. Army under Friedrich Wilhelm von Prussia ( 1st Army Corps under von der Tann , 2nd Army Corps under von Hartmann ) in the Franco-German War . The Bavarian troops stormed Weißenburg under von Hartmann , successfully took part in the battles at Wörth , Beaumont , Sedan and the siege of Paris . Almost 6,000 Bavarian soldiers died during the war, more than half of them from diseases.

Siegestor in Munich

The Bavarian Army in the German Empire 1871–1918

Helmet jewelry with the motto " In Loyalty Feast "
Trial shooting of the 5th Infantry Regiment in the area near Bamberg with the Pickelhaube introduced in 1886 ( lithograph by Anton Hoffmann )
Royal Bavarian Infantry Regiment No. 10 "König" Ingolstadt. Sergeant in parade suit around 1910

In the imperial constitution of 1871, Bavaria was able to secure the most extensive reservation rights, particularly with regard to military sovereignty. Similar to the Kingdom of Saxony or Württemberg, the army had independent troops, its own war ministry and its own military justice system . In addition, their units were excluded from the consecutive numbering of the Imperial Army . The army was only sworn in to the Kaiser as a federal general in the event of war . Bavaria also kept the light blue color for the infantry uniforms, the caterpillar helmet that was used until 1886, the Chevaulegers and some other peculiarities. Nevertheless, the uniform cut, equipment and training were adapted to the Prussian model. With the introduction of field gray uniforms, only the cockade and a white-blue diamond border on the collar indicated the Bavarian origin. Prince Regent Luitpold (1886–1912) accepted the increasing integration of Bavaria into the empire, but resisted several times on issues of centralization in the military area - albeit mostly unsuccessfully. For this purpose, a magnificent building for the Bavarian Army Museum , which was founded in 1879 and is now located in the New Palace of the former state fortress of Ingolstadt , was built at the Hofgarten in Munich .

Bavarian troops leave Fürth train station "with never-ending hurray and farewell greetings", August 1914 (German postcard)

At the beginning of the First World War, the Bavarian Army had a presence of 4,089 officers , doctors , veterinarians and civil servants, 83,125 non-commissioned officers and men and 16,918 horses. With the start of mobilization on August 1, 1914, the supreme command of the mobile army, which up to this point had been subordinate to the IV Army Inspection , passed to the German Kaiser. The troops remaining in Bavaria were still under the command of the Bavarian War Ministry . The Bavarian Army was transported to the Western Front as the 6th Army with the three Bavarian Army Corps, reinforced by the I. Bavarian Reserve Corps , the Bavarian Cavalry Division and other units under the command of Crown Prince Rupprecht . For example, the Bavarian army fought at the battle in Lorraine and in the Vosges (until early September 1914) for the last time in its history as a unified troop formation; The initially exclusive subordination of the Bavarian troops to Bavarian command began to dissolve as early as autumn 1914 as a result of the reorganization and reorganization measures of the German army. Prince Leopold of Bavaria acted victoriously as Commander-in-Chief in the East from 1916 while the Southern Army was under Felix von Bothmer's .

Around 200,000 members of the Bavarian Army were killed in the First World War. The Bavarian Army had not only fought on the Western Front, its units had also been deployed in Hungary, Russia, Syria, Palestine and the Ukraine.

Although the empire fell in the course of the November Revolution in 1918 and King Ludwig III. (1912–1918) released the oath on his person through the Anifer Declaration , Bavaria's military sovereignty was not yet revoked. However, the turmoil surrounding the suppression of the Munich Soviet Republic and its “Red Army”, which was built up under Rudolf Egelhofer , prompted the new Bavarian government to renounce military sovereignty in the Bamberg constitution of August 14, 1919. After the end of the war, the regular Bavarian troops had already been demobilized to such an extent that the fight against the Soviet republic was carried out by non-Bavarian Reichswehr troops and free corps.

Tradition after 1919

Article 160 of the Versailles Treaty limited the size of the (not only Bavarian) land army in the entire German Reich to 100,000 and that of the navy to 15,000 professional soldiers . The maintenance of air forces , tanks , heavy artillery, submarines and capital ships was prohibited to the Reich. At the same time, the general staff , military academies and military schools were disbanded .

Most of the soldiers were released; many found it difficult to find their way into civilian life after the war.

The Defense Act of March 23, 1921 finally ended the military sovereignty of the states, but left Saxony , Württemberg , Baden and Bavaria a limited degree of independence. The Free State of Bavaria was a specialty in that Wehrkreis VII comprised the entire state area, with the exception of the Palatinate . Only Bavarian citizens served in the Bavarian Reichswehr stationed here and the 17th (Bavarian) Cavalry Regiment . At the same time, Reichswehr Group Command 4 was renamed Military District Command VII. It remained directly subordinate to the Reichswehr Ministry and, as the " Bavarian Reichswehr ", enjoyed certain autonomy rights vis-à-vis the Reich government until 1924. A state commander in Bavaria was appointed by the Bavarian state government. In addition to the additional designation “Bavarian” and recruiting, the special role was also shown externally by cockades and shields in the national colors on hats and steel helmets as well as in pennants on the lances of the 17th (Bavarian) cavalry regiment. As a rule, each company had the tradition of a regiment of the old army, and in the event that the armaments restrictions of the Versailles Treaty were overcome , their re-establishment was planned.

Sculpture of the dead Bavarian soldier, in the Hofgarten memorial, Munich

The war memorial in Munich's Hofgarten, inaugurated in 1924, was dedicated as the main memorial to those who died in the World War in Munich and all those who died in the war in the entire Bavarian Army . The core of the complex is the lying figure of a dead Bavarian soldier with the inscription on the base: " Bavaria's Army / his dead ". This depiction also adorns the title page of the memorial work of Bavaria's Golden Book of Honor issued by the Bavarian War Archives in 1928 , in which the bearers or the awarding of the highest Bavarian war awards from the First World War are listed.

When the Wehrmacht was built, the army, as a reflection of federal diversity or as a bearer of concrete traditions, did not fit into the diffusely historicizing Nazi ideology of the merging of all in an amorphous national community : the last country team names were therefore abolished. With the massive formation of new units, the traditions of the old army were not assigned. However, numerous high-ranking generals of the Second World War came from the Bavarian army, including Franz Halder , Albert Kesselring , Maximilian von Weichs , Robert von Greim , Ferdinand Schörner , Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb , Wilhelm List and Alfred Jodl .

Due to the breaks in German military history , the Bundeswehr's traditional decree prohibited the assignment of specific association traditions .

organization structure

Structure and structure of the Royal Bavarian Army in 1914

Bavaria initially provided two and later three army corps in the army of the German Empire.

Officer corps

Tomb of a Jewish reserve officer of the 23rd Infantry Regiment who fell near St. Eloi in 1915 ; Jewish cemetery (Kaiserslautern)

The army officer corps had a far smaller proportion of the nobility than that of the Prussian . In 1832 there were 1.86 civil officers for each noble officer, 2.34 in 1862 and 5.66 in 1914. A definite Guard had not existed since the Guard Unit was dissolved in 1826. In the following regiments the proportion of nobility was well above average:

About 75 percent of the Bavarian generals between 1806 and 1918 belonged to the nobility.

In the Bavarian officer corps, the duel was prescribed in honor cases to preserve the status of honor, although the Catholic Church , which is dominant in the country, forbade it. Duels were from the state with relatively mild imprisonment penalties.

As a special feature, the Bavarian army had more Jewish reserve officers than in the other German armed forces, even if the proportion of Jewish reserve officers in Bavaria was below the Jewish proportion of the total population.

The rank designations largely corresponded to those in the armed forces of the other German states. A specialty was the Feldzeugmeister, who was equal to a general of the infantry or cavalry. The rank group of the lieutenants was divided into upper and lower lieutenants (later: lieutenant).

Officer Candidates

In 1805, instead of the military academy , the cadet corps was created for officer training, which was disbanded in 1920. The officer cadets were counted among the NCOs during their training, but lived in barracks quarters that were separate from the crews and NCOs. The Junker or "Officer A d spirant first class" ( sic ) ranked between Unterleutnant and Sergent , the cadet or "Officer A d spirant second class" (introduced in 1868) stood between Sergent and Sergent. In addition to the salaries of a sergeant or sergeant, they received a monthly allowance of 15 guilders .

Corps of non-commissioned officers

The Bavarian NCO corps consisted of both contract and professional soldiers . These were usually recruited from military service teams. There was a strict career separation between officers and NCOs, which led to considerable social problems during the First World War due to the fact that the officer career was largely sealed off from the advancement of qualified NCOs.

Ranks of NCOs and men, around 1870
infantry Hunter cavalry artillery
Sergeant , music master Head hunter, horn player First constable, baton trumpeter Head Fireworks
Sergent , Hautboist 1st class Second hunter Second sergeant, trumpeter 1st class Fireworkers
Corporal , battalion drum, Hautboist 2nd class Corporal, horn player 1st class, horn player 2nd class Corporal, trumpeter 2nd class corporal
Vicecorporal - Vicecorporal Chief Gunner
Private , tambour 1st class Private Private Undergunners
Commoner , tambour 2nd class Meaner Meaner Driving gunner

The ranks remained almost unchanged between 1802 and 1872.

Recruitment Process

The recruitment of the army carried out since the Constitution of 1808 a to 1868 as part Konskriptionssystems that the possibility of buying a lottery ticket by paying a longer serving deputy offered. As part of the army reform of 1868 , general conscription with the special form of " one-year voluntary military service " was introduced based on the Prussian model .


The military educational institutions were subject to the Military Educational Institutions Inspectorate established in 1866. Subordinate to her were the War Academy , the Artillery and Engineering School , the War School and the Cadet Corps. There was a NCO school in Fürstenfeldbruck from 1894 to 1919 . There was also an equitation institute for training in riding and equitable handling of horses, as well as a permanent operation course for military doctors .

Landwehr and Landsturm

Würzburg battalion of the Landwehr around 1840
Soldiers of a Landsturm Infantry Battalion in Nuremberg (1915)

1807 the old were vigilante converted to the citizens military, which has now been introduced in all the cities and market towns across Bavaria. Further reorganizations and finally the expansion to the "flat country" took place in 1809 and 1813. In 1809, based on the French model, the vigilante group was converted into a national guard. This was then converted into the Landwehr of the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1814 to 1816 . From its function until 1826, the citizen's military can be assigned to the police rather than the Bavarian army. Until this year it could only be used in the city or in the district of its regional court. The Landwehr order of 1826 provided for a real military deployment of the Landwehr for the first time, which had also taken place in 1866. However, the civil military was then dissolved in 1869.

In the context of the army reform of 1868 , the name "Landwehr" was used for older age groups in the reserve , and the term " Landsturm " was used for the oldest age groups. In the context of the Landwehr, the warrior and veteran clubs are also to be considered. These were monitored by the Bavarian military authorities until 1918.

Garrison service

Most of the Bavarian army was housed in fortresses , secularized monasteries and former castles. In 1806 the massive new barracks were built for the first time ( New Isar Barracks ). After a typhus epidemic in 1881, modern barracks were built (with buildings for married people), e.g. B. the Prinz-Leopold-Kaserne .

Bavaria had seven fortresses in 1838:

The Germersheim Fortress was still under construction at that time.

Bavaria also maintained troops in the following federal fortresses :

Germersheim Fortress was deconsolidated in 1919 according to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty .

Gendarmerie Corps

The Gendarmerie Corps was also part of the army as the state police . However, from around the middle of the 19th century, the gendarmes were subordinate to the lower civil authorities, which, however, did not affect the military character of the corps. After the November Revolution , the gendarmerie came under the Ministry of the Interior .

Military music

From January 1, 1790 on, each of the 18 infantry regiments at the staff led a "music band of 10 Hautboists ", which was musically subordinate to the regiment drum. As "signalists" each company had three reels , the pipers were abolished. In May 1791, Elector Carl Theodor had notes published for the "Churbayerische Militair-Musique plus French horn signals" for the two military police regiments. The cavalry regiments had a baton trumpeter at the staff and a trumpeter at each squadron . He got rid of the regiment drummers .

With the reintroduction of the light blue uniforms for the line infantry, musicians with braids in the color of the buttons received swallow nests in the color of the badges . Their field was not criss-crossed by wefts, but showed the monogram of the regiment holder in button color until 1804 , that of the elector under the electoral hat until 1806 and then that of the king under a crown. The collar and Use edges and sleeve seams were likewise covered with braid, the top of the sleeve also ed five of suture continuous to seam, upwardly facing chevrons, or even oblique wefts, which were distributed between cuff and shoulder at a uniform distance. Each company received a Pfeiffer again, but this was abolished in 1802 (with the grenadier companies not until 1811). Regiment rambours wore double trimmings on the collar and border, instead of a helmet the hat with button-colored trimmings, white plumage and white feather trim with light blue roots. On the thighs of her trousers were button-colored Hungarian embroidery. Since, unlike soldiers of the grenadier and fusilier companies, the drumbeats were no longer sufficient as a signal for the riflemen with their relaxed type of combat, they also received horn players. However, these did not have the aforementioned uniform features. The musicians' uniforms were also designed accordingly for cavalry and artillery.

On April 16, 1803, Elector Maximilian had the number of trumpeters in the cavalry doubled. The artillery led Tambours as "signalists".

With his army order of April 29, 1811, King Maximilian I set "music bands" of twelve "Hautboists" each, led by a " music master " and " Turkish music " (drums) for the now twelve line infantry regiments. Each had four horn players and 28 “drumsticks” as “signalists” who were trained and operated by the regiment drumstick. The four light infantry battalions set up in 1801 from the Feldjäger regiments (two more were added by 1804) each received "harmony music" (without drums) from ten "Hautboisten" under the leadership of a musician, the number of "signalists" is in Budget with two horn players and 14 tambours per battalion indicated. In the artillery regiments, the drums were replaced by trumpeters.

The drawn up on July 16, 1814 Garde du Corps Regiment led next to a trumpet player and a staff Pauker and its six squadrons of three trumpeters. They did not wear a cuirass like the rest of the regiment, but a single-breasted skirt with "changed colors", that is, the collar and lapels were in the light blue basic color of the skirt, which is actually common in the regiment, while the skirt itself was in the red badge color here. By royal rescript of August 10, 1815, the 12th, 15th and 16th Line Infantry Regiments were formed from the light infantry battalions, which also received "music bands with Turkish music".

On January 10, 1818, Army Music Director Wilhelm Legrand ordered the following line-up for the “music bands”: “4  clarinets in Eb , 4  clarinets in Bb , a flute in Eb , 2  bassoons , a trombone , a serpent , 2  invention horns, 2 horns in Eb, 2  trumpets in Eb ”, plus a small and large drum , a pair of cymbals and a“ half moon ”. With his rescript of July 1, 1822, King Maximilian I ordered the "introduction of weapons exercises for the royal Bavarian infantry", which included twelve standard marches, composed by army music director Wilhelm Legrand, to be played by heart by the music corps were. In addition, each unit had its battalion or regimental march, which the respective commander ordered.

On January 30, 1826, when the entire army was reunified, King Ludwig I stipulated a simple uniform for the musicians, eliminating swallow nests, arm trimmings, etc., banned the purchase of the additional gala uniforms customary at that time, and set the number of music corps -Personnel on "a music master, 18 main boists, 2 assigned and a music drum". He abolished the "half moon". The Grenadier Guard Regiment was included as a body regiment in the line infantry, whose 16th regiment was converted into two hunter battalions. These only had horn players as signalists and no drummers.

King Maximilian II had the brass instrument register in the music corps reinforced in 1857 at the suggestion of the Munich music master Peter Streck . He also banned marches based on motifs from Italian operas during parades , Bavarian folk songs were supposed to form the trio of military marches.

King Ludwig II increased the Bavarian infantry to 18 regiments and disbanded eight of the meanwhile ten hunter battalions. The "horn music" peculiar to the hunters persisted when the battalions were at different locations. After the founding of the empire in 1871, the Bavarian army, unlike the other non-Prussian troops, was not integrated into the Prussian army, but was largely aligned with Prussian standards in the field of military music. Ludwig II set the number of Hautboist positions per regiment at nine. The foot artillery regiments that were newly established in 1873 received music corps with infantry occupation.

In the course of the expansion of the army under Prince Regent Luitpold , the number of music corps also grew in 1900: in 1914 there were 28 music corps with infantry staff, 24 trumpet corps of the cavalry and five horn music corps. The train battalions and the airship associations had music corps without music masters.

Uniforms and badges of rank until 1872

The rank badges remained almost unchanged between 1802 and 1872. The characteristic caterpillar helmet was replaced by the Prussian spiked helmet in 1886 . However, the typical light blue basic color of the infantry and general uniforms remained. The uniform features listed correspond to the status around 1867/68, which remained valid until the Prussian model was adopted in 1872. They contain the most important peculiarities of the Bavarian army at that time.

Field marshals and all ranks of general wore a light blue uniform with scarlet lugs, collars, and lapels. White trousers were allowed in summer (but not on horseback). The buttons on field marshals with two embossed, crossed marshal's baton. The other generals buttons without embossing. As headgear, a triangular hat (eigtl. Bicorn ) with a white and blue bush made of rooster feather, plus silver star bows and tassels made of silver bouillon and blue silk. Alternatively, peaked cap with scarlet lugs and silver embroidery. The rank was recognizable by the silver embroidery on the collar and lapels: for the field marshal a thread of oak and laurel leaves, for the general of the infantry or cavalry and the field master of the artillery a double row of strips of foliage and ribbon, and the lieutenant general a similar one simple series, the major general only simple jagged embroidery. A blue-silver sash made of a silver thread-silk mixture as a badge. The saber portepee with a tassel made of silver bouillon threads and light blue silver threads, the ribbon made of silver knitted fabric, traversed by light blue silk threads.

The company officers (captain or Rittmeister, first lieutenant, subordinate) wore 1-3 horizontal metal braids (gold or silver, depending on the button color) on the front collar ends, the staff officers (colonel, first lieutenant, major) also wore a metal border on the outer edge of the collar. In addition there is a leather caterpillar helmet with fittings like the teams, but gilded; the black bearskin crest. Alternatively, peaked cap with gold or silver embroidery (according to button color). The generals' portepee on the saber.

The Junker or "Officer's A d spirant first class" ( sic ) uniform like sub-lieutenant, but without collar trimmings or officers' badges ( ring collar ), on the sword or saber the Junkersportepee (tassel made of silver thread, the ribbon made of white silk with two blue ones Stripes), the peaked cap with lugs made of silk (according to the button color). The Kadet or "Officer's A d spirant second class" (introduced in 1868) like Sergent (sic), but Junkersportepee.

The NCOs (Sergeant or 1st Sergeant / Oberjäger / Oberfeuerwerker / Obermeister, Sergent or 2nd Sergeant / Secondjäger / Fireworker / Untermeister, Corporal) 1-3 white wool braids, the outer collar edge bordered with white. The team ranks Vice-Corporal and Private wore 1 border, collar without edging, Vice-Corporal also wore the white and blue wool tassel of the NCOs on the side rifle. The non-commissioned officers wore white leather gloves, the saber hanger with a white and blue wool tassel, but for the sergeant, regimen drum and staff officers made of blue camel thread and silver thread. The sergeant's helmet with a black bearskin caterpillar (as well as music masters, regimental and battalion drumsticks, Profosse and Hautboisten ), all others the black wool caterpillar. From 1886 all ranks Pickelhaube based on the Prussian model. Alternatively, for all ranks from sergeant downwards, light blue visor cap with red lugs and a fabric crown in metal color (following the button color).

See also


  • Bavarian War Archives : The Bavarians in the Great War 1914–1918. Munich 1923.
  • Rainer Braun: Bavaria and his army , exhibition catalog of the main state archive , Munich 1987, ISBN 3-921635-10-1 .
  • Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen , Friedrichfranz Feeser : The Bavaria book of the world wars 1914-1918. 2 volumes. Stuttgart 1930.
  • Carl Friedrich von Dollmann (ed.): The legislation of the Kingdom of Bavaria since Maximilian II .: with explanations , second part (constitutional and administrative law), fifth volume, Erlangen 1869
  • Achim Fuchs: Introduction to the History of the Bavarian Army. Munich 2014. (Special publication by the Bavarian State Archives , edited by the General Directorate of the Bavarian State Archives, No. 9). ISBN 978-3-938831-49-6 .
  • Wolf D. Gruner : Das Bayerische Heer 1825 to 1864. A critical analysis of the armed power of Bavaria from the accession of Ludwig I to the eve of the German war (= military research. Department of military history studies. Vol. 14). Boldt, Boppard 1972, ISBN 3-7646-1562-1 (also: Munich, University, dissertation, 1971).
  • Military manual of the Kingdom of Bavaria , publisher of the main Conservatory of the Army, Munich 1867
  • Eike Mohr: Bibliography on the army and troop history of the German Reich and its countries 1806 to 1933. Biblio Verlag, Bissendorf 2004.
  • Karl Müller, Louis Braun: The organization, clothing, equipment and armament of the Royal Bavarian Army from 1806 to 1906. Munich 1906.
  • Wilhelm Volkert (Hrsg.): Handbook of the Bavarian offices, communities and courts 1799–1980 . CH Beck, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-406-09669-7 .
  • Hermann Rumschöttel: The Bavarian Officer Corps 1866-1914. Berlin 1973.
  • Walter Seibold, Gerd M. Schulz: The helmets of the Royal Bavarian Army 1806–1918. Bavarian military publisher Gerd M. Schulz, Gröbenzell 1999.
  • Walter Seibold, Gerd M. Schulz: Badges of service and rank of officers and civil servants of the Royal Bavarian Army 1806 to 1918. Bavarian Military Publishing House Gerd M. Schulz, Groebenzell 2005, ISBN 3-00-017435-4 .

Web links

Commons : Bavarian Military  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ GF Nafziger: Armies of the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Grand Duchy of Würzburg. 3. Edition. Self-published 1993, pp. 1-3.
  2. Entire section after: GF Nafziger: Armies of the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Grand Duchy of Würzburg. 3. Edition. Selbstverlag, 1993, pp. 1-7.
  3. ^ Herder's Conversations Lexicon. Freiburg im Breisgau 1854, Volume 1, pp. 441-444. ( Full text )
  4. Dieter Storz: The Bavarian Army 1866 , in: North against South. The German War 1866 , Bavarian Army Museum Ingolstadt, 2016, ISBN 978-3-00-053589-5 , p. 33
  5. Law on the Defense Constitution (Law Gazette for the Kingdom of Bavaria, No. 20 of January 31, 1868, pp. 261–308), digitized
  6. ^ Medical report on the German armies in the war against France 1870/71, second volume, Mittler, Berlin 1886, pp. 66–69, 428–429.
  7. ^ House of Bavarian History : Domestic Policy under Prince Regent Luitpold
  8. Georg Paul Rieß: From Fürth's story - by Georg Paul Rieß. Chronicle writer. 1914. Fourth year. Fürth 1914 (official city chronicle, single copy in the Fürth city archive). P. 81.
  9. ^ Friedrichfranz Feeser : The Bavarian Book of the World Wars 1914-1918. Stuttgart 1930. p. 183. / Bayer. War Archives: The Bavarians in the Great War 1914–1918. Munich 1923. p. 595. still assumed 188,000 dead, after only half of around 20,000 missing were suspected to be dead at this point in time.
  10. ^ Kai Uwe Tapken : Demobilmachung, 1918/1919 (military). In: Historical Lexicon of Bavaria . March 1, 2011, accessed October 25, 2011 .
  11. Figure from “Bavaria's Golden Book of Honor” in GenWiki Commons.
  12. ^ Military manual of the Kingdom of Bavaria, 1867
  13. ^ Richard Bauer: Handbook of the Bavarian offices, communities and courts 1799-1980 . CH Beck, Munich 1983, p. 363 ( limited preview in Google book search; accessed on July 9, 2017).
  14. Bayer. Main State Archives, Department IV, Munich, File A VIII
  15. ^ Andreas Masel: The Upper and Lower Bavarian Brass Music Book . Ed .: Music Association of Upper and Lower Bavaria . Vienna / Munich 1989.