KINGDOM OF DENMARK-NORWAY
 


 

COLORS OF THE DANISH LINE INFANTRY REGIMENTS 1808-14
 

The Kingdom of Denmark-Norway did its best to steer clear of the wars of Napoleon but the country's strategic position, controlling the entrance to the Baltic Sea, brought pressure from both sides. In 1807 Napoleon demanded  an alliance that would put the considerable Danish Navy at France's disposal. For Britain this was intolerable as the Royal Navy depended on imports of timber and naval stores from Scandinavia. The British government therefore presented Denmark with an ultimatum demanding the handover of all Danish warships. When King Christian VII answered with a flat refusal a British fleet entered the Baltic in August 1807. Troops were landed on Zeeland and Copenhagen, where most of the Danish fleet was stationed, was blockaded and placed under siege. A two-day bombardment of Copenhagen by the British blockading squadron, which destroyed more than 1,000 buildings and killed some 200 civilians, finally forced the Danes to ask for an armistice on 5 September. Under its terms they were compelled to surrender eighteen ships of the line, eleven frigates and forty smaller vessels—virtually the entire Danish Navy. The British also destroyed two ships of the line incomplete on the stocks and some other ships, and seized all Danish naval stores. In return they undertook to evacuate Zeeland within six weeks. This exercise in realpolitik—an unprovoked attack on a neutral country—was controversial at the time and remains so today. The embittered Danes were driven into an alliance with France though without their fleet they could play no major role in the war.

In 1813 Denmark still stood in alliance with France and the Emperor demanded a Danish corps for northern Germany so as to free French troops for service elsewhere. Behind the scenes, however, the Danish king, now Frederick VI, was attempting to conclude an alliance with the ascendant Allies. What he got instead was an Anglo-Swedish ultimatum demanding that Denmark renounce her alliance with France, give up Norway and place her army under Swedish command. This was too much for Frederick, who decided that Denmark had no choice but to stick by France. Accordingly a so-called Auxiliary Corps was made available for service in north Germany; it became part of the French Army's XXIII Corps, commanded by Marshal Davout. The commander of the Danish troops was the King's brother-in-law, Prince Frederick of Hessen. The Danish Army was in good fighting trim at the time: well armed and equipped, well drilled, and well officered. Unlike other armies whose depleted ranks had been filled and refilled with raw recruits, most Danish soldiers had been serving with the colors for three or four years. Thus the Danish Auxiliary Corps that took the field in 1813 was of superior quality.

Denmark and Norway were separate kingdoms in personal union under the Danish crown and had separate military establishments. The Danish Army's line infantry consisted of fifteen regiments, each with four battalions. The life regiments of foot despite their title were not royal guards but they were considered to be the elite regiments of the line. The line infantry uniform was red, faced and piped in the distinctive color or colors of the regiment, e.g. black piped white for the 3rd Jutland Infantry Regiment. Each regiment received a king's color—a square version of the Danish national flag or Dannebrog—and three regimental colors. The former bore the crowned royal cypher in each corner; the latter has a small canton of the Dannebrog, a field of the regimental facing color and royal cyphers in three corners. In the center was the regimental badge: the crowned arms of the individual or province from which the regiment took its name. The "flames" were mostly in the piping color or in red for regiments with no piping but there were exceptions, e.g. the 1st and 3rd Jutland regiments both has black facings and white piping so to difference their colors those of the 1st Jutland had red flames. The colors were about six feet square, made of silk, with the insignia painted on. The first battalion of the regiment carried the king's color and the other three battalions each carried a regimental color. The light infantry (two Jægerkorps and three Skarpskyttekorps totaling ten battalions) carried no colors. Their uniforms were dark green with black facings and white piping.

Note on the Illustrations: Christian VII died in 1808 and was succeeded by his son, who became King Frederick VI. The royal cyphers in the corners of the infantry colors were not changed however, as the colors themselves were only replaced when they became worn out. The Copenhagen Infantry Regiment, raised in 1808 with personnel from three disbanded Marine battalions, may possibly have been issued with colors bearing the royal cypher of Frederick VI.
 



 

QUEEN'S LIFE REGIMENT OF FOOT  •  Dronningens Livregiment til Fods

 

DENMARK LIFE REGIMENT OF FOOT
Danske Livregiment til Fods

 

NORWAY LIFE REGIMENT OF FOOT
Norske Livregiment til Fods

 

1st JUTLAND  INFANTRY REGIMENT
1. Jyske Infanteriregiment

 

2nd JUTLAND  INFANTRY REGIMENT
2. Jyske Infanteriregiment

 

3rd JUTLAND  INFANTRY REGIMENT  •  3. Jyske Infanteriregiment

 

OLDENBURG INFANTRY REGIMENT
Oldenborgske Infanteriregiment

 

FYENEN INFANTRY REGIMENT
Fynske Infanteriregiment

 

SCHLESWEG  INFANTRY REGIMENT
Slesvigske Infanteriregimen

 

HOLSTEIN INFANTRY REGIMENT
Holstenske Infanteriregiment

 

COPENHAGEN INFANTRY REGIMENT  •  Københavns Infanteriregiment
 



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