Freiwillige Jäger (German), volunteer rifles, formed from the German youth [of the Bourgeoisie] customarily excempt from military service, following the Prussian King’s proclamation of 3 Febr. 1813. They paid for their own equipment. Officers’ positions were to be filled from their ranks preferentially, and every one of them was to be dismissed at the conclusion of the war, upon request.
Since no specific uniform regulations were provided at the inception of the Volunteer Jäger Detachments (apart from the provision that the uniform should be the same as that of the respective [parent] unit, but of a green base colour), and the Jägers were required to procure clothing at their own expense, the floodgates to arbitrariness were opened. Because of the lack of regulations, we depend almost exclusively on preserved illustrations. We found three illustrations for the detachment of the Colberg Regiment. The figure on the left, after a small oil painting of a rather childish execution, depicting the assault on a churchyard defended by French grenadiers. The figure on the right with the very odd [kepi] cap stems from the Elberfelder Bilderhandschrift (dated 3.4.1815). The main figure represents volunteer Oberjäger Rosenmeyer, after a small watercolour, titled »A Danzig [Gdańsk] Volunteer Jäger of the Year 1815. On 21 March 1865, the fiftieth anniversary of the march out from Danzig«. The person portrayed, later Major a. D. (ret.), who appears to have greatly valued the painting, bequethed it from his deathbed (April 1883) to Oberstleutnant a. D. (ret.) Möschke, who, at the suggestion of His Excellency General d. Inf. v. Zingler, kindly made it available for publication. We convey our heartfelt thanks to both gentlemen.
– Knötel, Uniformkunde. Band XVI, No. 41.
In some of his plates, Knötel differentiates Büchsenjäger and Bajonettjäger, the former armed with hunting rifle and Hirschfänger, the latter with musket and socket bayonet, who did serve in mixed units. When this is done, the rifle-armed Jäger is the shooter, the Bajonettjäger his second.
Freiwillige Jäger Miniatures
- Prussian Jäger and Volunteer Jäger, 1:72 HäT Industrie 8053
- Prussian Jäger, 20 mm Hinton Hunt BB93
- Prussian Line Infantry (Bajonettjäger)
- Prussian Füsiliers (Bajonettjäger)
- Prussian Reserve Infantry (Bajonettjäger)
- Prussian Landwehr (Bajonettjäger)
- Prussian Cuirassiers
- Prussian Dragoons
- Prussian Hussars
- Prussian Uhlans
- Prussian Landwehr Cavalry
Due to the strong influx, a separate Volunteer Garde-Jäger-Bataillon was formed and the Garde-Füsilier-Bataillon added a Volunteer Jäger Detachment as did several Line Füsilier Battalions in due course. Such a detachment numbered 100, frequently 150, and in the cavalry 60–80 men.
By the end of May 1813, 7000 volunteer foot Jägers and 3000 mounted had mustered, from which, amongst others, the famous Corps Lützow and Reiche were created. Freiwillige Jäger particularly distinguished themselves at Lützen (Großgörschen), Bautzen, Großbeeren, Dennewitz, Leipzig. Non-Prussian (e.g. Saxon, Brunswick) volunteer Jägers saw very little action.
Disbanded after the Treaty of Paris, they were called up again in 1815. Partly, they formed the cadre of later Prussian Jäger battalions.
Source: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, 6. Auflage 1905–1909
- Funcken, L. & F.: L’Uniforme et les Armes des Soldats du Premier Empire, p. 125–131, 141
- Knötel: Freiwillige Jäger-Eskadron des Brandenburgischen Kürassier-Regiments. 1813. (Uniformkunde Band XV, Nr. 15).
- Knötel: Eichsfeldisches Freiwilliges Jäger-Detachement. 1813/14. (Uniformkunde Band XV, Nr. 51)
- Knötel: Jäger-Detachement des 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiments. 1813/14. (Uniformkunde Band XV, Nr. 58)
- Knötel: Freiwillige Jäger vom Colbergschen Infanterie-Regiment. 1813–1815. (Uniformkunde Band XVI, Nr. 41)
- Knötel: Großherzoglich Würzburgisches freiwilliges Jäger-Korps. 1814. (Uniformkunde Band II, Nr. 22)
- Pivka, Otto von: Napoleon’s German Allies (3) Saxony, Tafel H3 (Lond. 1979)