Prussian Landwehr Tschako (Befreiungskriege)


Well-known member
By 1813 Prussia had enough of Napoleon Bonaparte and during the War of the Sixth Coalition the Prussians fought back. The Prussians referred to their part in the Sixth Coalition as the “Befreiungskriege” or the Wars of Liberation. A new National Pride had broken out and Frederick William III, who involved Prussia in the disastrous Fourth Coalition, needed to answer this new wave of patriotism. The Landwehr was first formed in Prussia by a royal edict of 17 March 1813. The Iron Cross and the Prussian motto “Mit Gott Fur Koenig und Vaterland” were also first adopted at this time. All men, not already serving in the army, between 18 and 45 years of age, and capable of bearing arms, were called into service for the defense of the country. On 21 April 1813 a further royal edict formed the Landsturm. The Landwehr adopted a leather and oilcloth Tschako bearing the new iron cross emblem which incorporated the new motto and the date, 1813. This eventually developed into the Landwehr oilcloth Schirmmutze which became familiar during the Great War. This is an extremely rare version of the original 1813 Landwehr Tschako:


This Tschako is made of leather which is varied in thickness. The crown is made of thick, hard leather as is the visor. The headband is made of thick leather as well, but is much more supple. The entire Tschako is tightly covered with oilcloth.


Overall this Tschako is rather homely in appearance. It seems that it’s purpose was strictly utilitarian.


The crown is thick leather and is very hard.


The upper portion of this Tschako is fully padded with layers of woven leather straps. This padding is about 6cm thick. This was said to provide “Schutz gegen Saebelhiebe” or protection against saber cuts. There is leather sewn on the inside of the Tschako that covers the woven leather straps. The padded upper portion is sewn to an extremely wide headband, 8.5cm.


The Landwehr Kreuz is 63mm and is non-magnetic. It is silver in color, probably nickel, and is held in place by bent posts. The posts cannot be seen because they are in the padded portion of the Tschako; however, a part of one post is visible and it is round with a diameter of about 1.5mm. The cross does not appear to have ever been removed from the Tschako.


A portion of the original oilskin had become stuck to the Landwehr cross and had separated from the Tschako at some point in it’s lifetime when the cross got bent or became dislodged.


A leather liner is sewn to the inside of the Tschako. There does not appear to have been an inner linen liner sewn to the leather liner. Apparently the head rested on the lower padded portion of the upper crown.


The liner shows wear and original stitching.


The stitching around the inner woven leather strap cover has never been touched.


The Tschako measures 6" tall when sitting on a flat surface. It is shown with a M1910 Saxon Schirmmutze and a M1895 Prussian Pickelhaube for a size comparison.


What this Tschako lacks in beauty is more than made up for in it's rarity.


The Landwehr existed in Germany until the end of World War II; but this guy started it all:


A few notes about collecting from this period:
100 years after the Napoleonic Wars ended centennial celebrations took place throughout Europe. Germany was no exception. There were parades, festivities, and reenactment groups that celebrated the end of hostilities. These festivities occurred during the heyday of Pickelhaube manufacturing. Many uniform items were reproduced during this period which were collectively called "Centenar Anfertigung" or centennial copy, and many were very accurate. These copies have confused collectors for years. There is a market for Centenar Anfertigungen but the difference in cost between a centennial copy from 1913 and an original item from 1813 is substantial, to say the least. Here are a few things that I have learned that may help anyone interested:
1. Tongued liners were used on Napoleonic pieces apparently as early as 1810 but they did not look like the liner in a M95 Pickelhaube. The tongues were often cut in a triangle and were often of different widths. They were not uniform in appearance. If the liner looks like a model 1895 liner it's probably an Anfertigung.
2. The leather on original pieces was not tanned in the same fashion as leather was tanned in 1895. It is darker and not as refined.
3. In 1813 they made a Tschako that looked like a Schirmmutze. In 1913 they made a Schirmmutze that looked like a Tschako.
4. The Centenar Anfertigungen were produced for reenactments, festivities, celebrations, and parades. They were not produced for actual combat. The most telling part of the Tschako mentioned above is the padded upper portion that protects against saber cuts. This speaks volumes towards originality. Copies would have no reason to incorporate this padding.
5. Copies were often over-exaggerated in size or features. It is true that Napoleonic pieces are very large but many copies are even larger. This is shown in a postcard from 1913 showing a reenactment group. I especially like the 3' wide tricorn being worn by the guy on the left.


John :)


Active member
An amazing treat! Here is an excerpt from The Great War Dawning

Foundation of the Landwehr in 1813

The history of the Landwehr dates back to the War of Liberation against Napoleonic occupation. On parallel initiatives, General Gerhard v. Scharnhorst and the Prussian minister, Count Friedrich zu Dohna, joined with General Johann v. Yorck and the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III to mobilize a Landwehr in the provinces of Eastern Prussia, Brandenburg, and Silesia as a reinforcement of the small regular army formations. This mobilization was ordered simultaneously with the active army on the declaration of war against France on 13 March 1813.

This Landwehr was mobilized by the cities of Berlin, Breslau, and Königsberg and by the counties of the provinces. The Landwehr accepted men without any military training—both volunteers and young men drawn by lot. Recruits had to be between 17 and 40 years old. The Prussian state issued the weapons. Originally only 55,000 muskets were available, so training began without weapons. Later, the Russian Czar gave 15,000 muskets to the Eastern-Prussian Landwehr; 5,000 muskets came from British supplies; and additional muskets came from Austrian stocks. Eventually, many thousands of muskets that were captured from the French were used. Finally, the Prussian Landwehr was equipped with five different types of muskets that had different calibers and fired different kinds of ammunition.

Most Landwehr formations were of very little military value, lacked training and discipline, and had a high level of desertion—particularly during marches. Exceptions were found in Eastern Prussia and in the regions of Kurmark and Neumark. Those regions had suffered under French occupation and had developed a fighting spirit to drive the French out of the country. Due to its very limited value, the Landwehr was unpopular with the people and out-of-favor with the military leaders. In the beginning, the Landwehr not only suffered from a lack of muskets, but also from a lack of uniforms and equipment. In early 1813, the only available uniform was a shako-style cap featuring a cross that was made of iron sheet with the motto: “Mit Gott für König und Vaterland” (With God for King and Country). This cross was similar to the Iron Cross created by King Friedrich Wilhelm III when he declared war against Napoleon. The Landwehrkreuz became the distinctive mark of the Landwehr and reserve personnel until 1918.

At the 1814 armistice, the Landwehr comprised 149 battalions of infantry and 113 ½ squadrons of cavalry. The numbers increased to 168 battalions and 136 cavalry squadrons during the last part of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. Battalions had four companies, each with 150-200 men. A cavalry regiment had about four squadrons, each with 70-95 troopers on average. Four battalions of infantry plus a cavalry regiment were merged into a Landwehr brigade, which was renamed a Landwehr regiment after 1815.

Value Under Fire

At the end of the Napoleonic wars, the Landwehr was still considered to have limited value and definitely not to be on par with line formations due to the following reasons:

• Lack of discipline,
• Lack of training,
• Low marching performance,
• High rate of illness,
• Poor steadiness under fire.

But compared to 1813, the Landwehr of 1815 had already significantly improved. In 1815, a few Landwehr battalions that had been mobilized in 1813 were almost comparable to line formations; whereas battalions mobilized in 1815 showed the same teething problems than the veterans had back in 1813. Landwehr formations were considered useful for defensive tasks or for small operations. They were nearly worthless for attack, and any kind of retreat generally led to complete disorganization and break-up. If Landwehr formations performed well, it was generally because experienced officers, who served as professional role models, led them based upon their decades of experience. All in all, Landwehr formations did not play a decisive role during the liberation wars.

Development after 1814

In the Military and Conscription Act (Wehrgesetz) of 3 September 1814, military service was restructured to seven years of service in the active army, then seven years in the first contingent (I. Aufgebot) of the Landwehr, followed by another seven years in the second contingent (II. Aufgebot), and retirement at the age of 39. The first contingent of the Landwehr was a mix of trained reservist from active duty and untrained men who had been previously physically rejected or had not been selected by lot. (Prussia had more potential recruits than were needed, so recruits were chosen by lot). Untrained Landwehr recruits had to undergo three months of basic training that gave them a basic knowledge of military drill. For members of the first contingent, two annual exercises of one week each were obligatory; for members of the second contingent, only one annual exercise was required.

Additionally in 1815, a Landwehr regulation (Landwehrordnung) was issued that outlined the Landwehr’s role as second-line formations and provided reliable structure. Each Landwehr regiment was assigned a fixed recruitment area, which was divided into two battalion areas. Each regiment had to mobilize two first-contingent battalions of infantry, two squadrons of cavalry and, ideally, an artillery company. For each administrative region (Regierungsbezirk), either a general or a Landwehr inspector (Landwehrinspecteur) with the rank of a senior staff officer was appointed to oversee the training and exercise of his Landwehr formations. He was also responsible for the necessary weapons and material. The inspector drew up the mobilization plans for his units and checked them during annual exercises. Between 1816 and 1818, further Landwehr formations, including Guard Landwehr battalions, were established. Permanent skeleton staffs and personnel (Stammpersonal) for each first contingent Landwehr formation were included in the budget. In the 1819 Rangliste, 36 Landwehr regiments of two battalions were listed.

Landwehr officers could either be former active officers who transferred to the Landwehr or those who were trained one-year volunteers. A third category comprised former active NCOs who had particularly good performance marks and were domiciled in the recruitment area of the respective Landwehr regiment. Soon after the liberation wars, a Landwehr myth about the role of the Landwehr in the victory over Napoleon grew and made service in the Landwehr more and more popular. On the other hand, many conservative generals remained critical over its value in any future war. General Kleist v. Nollendorff, who had influence with the king, was especially critical of the military value of the Landwehr. He supported the Landwehr only for budgetary reasons. Under the cover of the Landwehr, he could bypass the Reichstag and create 36 additional regiments upon mobilization (which had to be staffed with skeleton staffs in peacetime).

After 1815, the military value of the Landwehr again declined. As more veterans with war experience left once they turned 39, Landwehr units morphed into typical peacetime formations. The short basic training of Landwehr recruits was not enough to keep them on a par with line soldiers. Only when active soldiers transferred to the Landwehr were they provided with some semblance of professionalism.

This led to the Landwehr reform of 1819:

• Each Landwehr regiment had three battalions and had to mobilize one first-contingent and one second-contingent regiment.
• Each Landwehr cavalry regiment comprised six squadrons drawn from both contingents.
• Former Landwehr inspections were turned into Landwehr brigades; one Landwehr brigade was assigned per active division.

Landwehr officers were by now almost exclusively one-year volunteers.

During the coming years, this reform was watered down for budgetary reasons. The basic training of Landwehr recruits was reduced from three months to four weeks, and the number of exercises was drastically reduced. From 1837 until 1856, conscription for active infantry recruits was reduced to two years. This reduction meant a higher share of potential recruits were drafted, trained, and eventually transferred to the Landwehr after their active service. Despite this, only about 25 percent of the enlisted Landwehr men came from active service units.

In the 1838 Rangliste, a variety of different Landwehr formations are listed:

• Infantry regiment 33-40 (also called 1-8 Reserve Regiment) each with three battalions plus one Landwehr battalion.
• 1-4 Guard Landwehr Regiment (1 in Eastern Prussia, 2 in Berlin and surrounding areas, 3 in Silesia, 4 in Westphalia) each with three Landwehr battalions.
• 32 (1-32) Landwehr regiments—so-called provincial Landwehr— each with three Landwehr battalions.
• Eight Landwehr battalions assigned to the eight reserve regiments.

Here, for the first time, may be seen the threefold structure of active units, reserve units, and Landwehr units that made up the standard reinforcement structure of the army in the future.

The next challenge came with the revolution of 1848-49, when once again the Landwehr failed to meet expectations. Landwehr units were unreliable when operating against revolutionaries; some Landwehr battalions even refused to follow orders. In Baden, a Landwehr battalion ran under fire. In 1852, the Landwehr brigades were disbanded and the Landwehr regiments were merged together with an active line regiment to form a brigade. But this mix of active and Landwehr units turned out to be disastrous during the mobilization of 1859 when active army formations had to follow their much slower Landwehr formations so as to keep the brigades together.

In the 1851 Rangliste, the following Landwehr units are listed:

• Infantry regiment 33-40 (also called 1-8 Reserve Regiment) with three battalions each, plus one Landwehr battalion.
• Guards Reserve Infantry (Landwehr) Regiment.
• 1-4 Guard Landwehr Regiment, each with three Landwehr battalions.
• 32 (1-32) Landwehr provincial regiments, each with three Landwehr battalions.
• Eight Landwehr battalions assigned to the eight reserve regiments.

Reorganization and the Unification Wars

All the above fed into the 1860 reorganizations initiated by war minister, Count Albrecht v. Roon and supported by Crown Prince Wilhelm I, the regent of the Prussian kingdom (on behalf of his ill brother, Friedrich Wilhelm IV). Wilhelm was an extremely conservative prince, who was known as the grapeshot prince (Kartätschenprinz) due to his brutal and violent crushing of the 1848 Revolution in Berlin. He tried to roll back any kind of democratic movement and intended to cut the parliamentary power over the military budget. Therefore, the 1860 military reform was not only a military reform, but also a power struggle among the Crown Prince and the Parliament (preußischer Landtag) and his cabinet—known as the constitutional conflict.

The 1859 war between France and Austria-Hungary led Prince Wilhelm to mobilize 32 Landwehr regiments. He kept them under arms after the formal end of the confrontation. In 1860, these 32 Landwehr regiments were turned into active regiments, almost doubling the size of the Prussian army. The active army was officially named the operational army and the Landwehr and reserve formations became the occupational army (Besatzungsheer). These units were no longer called second-line formations, but followed the operational army into the field. There they secured the logistical lifelines of the operations and were prepared to join the fighting line as reinforcements.

The 1860 reorganizations paved the way for a conversion of the Landwehr and reserve formations from a kind of a militia with limited value to highly efficient units that were intended, after some field training, to be on par with the active units. There was little change after 1860 except that the first and second contingents were eliminated in 1867, and Landwehr service was reduced to five years. The Landwehr performed very well during the unification wars, particularly in France during the long winter of 1870-71. Turning the Landwehr into a highly professional reserve force instead of keeping it a semi-professional militia was important if such units were intended to operate alongside the active army.

In the war of 1866, two Landwehr divisions deployed with the operational army without actively fighting. During the initial phase of the war, Landwehr formations guarded the North Sea coast while the 1st Reserve Division, made up of Landwehr battalions, assembled close to Berlin. The 1st Guard Landwehr Division marched behind the army of the Elbe. Landwehr formations manned the fortresses along the Western border to free active formations for the operations in Bohemia. The Landwehr also occupied the kingdom of Saxony. Only two Landwehr cavalry regiments and a few Landwehr battalions came into fighting contact with the enemy. Most Landwehr units remained in their garrisons and did not enter the operational theater.

In the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the Guard Landwehr Division and four provincial Landwehr divisions were mobilized and sent into the field. Again the Landwehr had to guard the North Sea coast against expected French landing operations. To bolster those Landwehr divisions, active regiments were assigned to them. The Landwehr progressed beyond the initial tasks of forming a personnel pool to replace losses from the active regiments and of guarding the coast and rear areas. Landwehr formations fought against French franc-tireurs operating behind the German lines receiving about 1,000 casualties (2nd Landwehr Division). They also operated together with first-line formations. The 3rd Landwehr Division, with a majority of Landwehr and some active formations, reinforced the army of Prince Friedrich Karl in August 1870. 1st and 4th Reserve Divisions, both made up of Landwehr, took part in the siege of Belfort. After the occupation of Strasbourg, the 1st Reserve Division was left behind as an occupational force.

In 1870-71, 140 out of 169 mobilized Landwehr battalions operated in French territory. Seventeen Landwehr cavalry regiments were also used in France—often against French mobile guards that were threatening the German communication lines.

In the Rangliste 1870-71, the following Landwehr structure can be found:

• Guard Landwehr Regiment,
• Grenadier Guard Landwehr Regiment,
• 1-32 Landwehr Infantry Regiments,
• 33-40 Reserve Landwehr Infantry Battalions,
• 41-96 Landwehr Infantry Regiment,
• Five Baden Landwehr regiments.

Landwehr regiments were formed with two battalions each.

Baden had placed its units under Prussian command. Therefore, they were listed in the Prussian Rangliste. Under the Military Act of 30 January 1868, Bavaria introduced the Landwehr and designated 32 Landwehr areas, approximately two per active regiment. Bavarian Landwehr regiments were comprised two battalions, each battalion being mobilized by one Landwehr area. Eight Bavarian Landwehr battalions were fielded against France; the rest remained in their garrisons. However, no Bavarian Landwehr units were employed in combat actions in 1870-71. Saxony did not have a Landwehr until 1870. In Württemberg, the Landwehr was structured similar to that of Prussia. Württemberg fielded four Landwehr battalions that basically served as a personnel replacement pool for the active field units

Here the future double-role of the Landwehr could be seen: on the one hand, they filled the classical role of an occupational army, and on the other hand, they were a highly efficient reserve force used to fill the gaps in active line formations. From this time on, the Landwehr was on a positive development track, further accelerated by the Military Act (Wehrgesetz) of 11 February 1888, when the first and second contingent was re-introduced and Landwehr service was once more limited to the age of 39. A little later the Landwehr regiments and battalions were disbanded and their active skeleton staffs turned into regional Landwehr commands that were responsible for recruiting and mobilization planning. From then on, the story of the reserve formations began.

The Landwehrbezirkskommando was responsible for a Landwehr battalion area. The active brigades that were responsible for recruiting were usually assigned several Landwehr areas. Those Landwehr areas were often, but not always, identical with the borders of political counties. Such a Landwehr area was commanded by a Bezirkskommandeur, who was usually a reactivated staff officer z.D. The exceptions were Landwehr areas Berlin I-IV, which were usually under the command of active staff officers equal in rank to a regimental commander. The Landwehr area officers (Bezirksoffiziere) were usually reactivated officers z.D. One Bezirksoffizier was normally responsible for the co-operation with one or more civilian registration offices. In addition, each Landwehr area had one active officer serving as adjutant to the commander (Bezirksadjutant) and an active sergeant major (Bezirksfeldwebel) doing a similar job that of a company sergeant major in an active unit.


Well-known member
joerookery said:
An amazing treat! Here is an excerpt from The Great War Dawning

Thanks for the history Joe!

It is true that the Landwehr was basically useless when it was first formed in Prussia in 1813. It did not develop overnight and it was not a new concept. When you think about it, much of the Continental Army in the early stages of the United States was Landwehr. The initial troops lacked in everything; weapons, uniforms, leaders, etc. Jan Kube shows some early 1813 Landwehr Tschakos made of cardboard and other inexpensive materials. The Landwehr Kreuz varied drastically when first developed. They were made of iron, cloth, wool, wood, white metal, and brass. One early illustration, again by Kube, shows a Landwehr cross that's painted on. By the end of 1813 the Landwehr seems to have gained a little momentum and some things became more standardized. The Kreuz was now more standard and apparently made by several different companies. They still varied, but not quite as much. Most notable from the examples I've seen is the date. Some have 1813. (with a period), some just have 1813, and some have 1813 where the 1's look like upside down V's; like the one you show on your webpage under Landsturm.


John :)


Staff member
Excellent post John, I have learned a great deal from the various responses. Thank you for taking the time and effort to give us an opportunity to study this Tschako. Congratulations on this piece, it is a real survivor of the "passage of time"! :thumb up: