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Regimental flags of the Imperial Russian Army (ca. 1750)

Last modified: 2021-08-26 by valentin poposki
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About these flags

Colours of Seven Years’ War do not resemble those of the Napoleonic period: Line infantry regiments carried two colours per regiment — one white and one coloured. The white colour bore a brown double-headed eagle in the centre, with a coat-of-arms on its breast. Regiments which had their own coat of arms (which was the same as the arms of the town or city which the regiment was named after) bore the arms of Moscow on the eagle; regiments which did not have their own coat of arms also bore the arms of Moscow on the eagle, but below the eagle was a scroll which bore the regimental name.

The coloured colour bore in the centre a gold crowned cartouche. In the cartouche was either the coat of arms of the regiment, or the cipher of the Empress. The sheet was either red, green, orange, sky blue, medium blue or yellow, with a small wavy ’flame’ in each corner poiting towards the centre of the sheet in a contrasting colour (usually red, but alos yellow or green). The sheet was 182 cm × 266 cm; the staff was 355 cm, and was painted red. The finial was a plain spearhead; it, and the cords and tassels were probably silver.

The regiments of the Guard and those of the Corps of Observation were different from those of the line. Those of the Guards bore a double eagle in a richly decorated field of red (Preobazhenski), sky blue (Semenovski) or green (Izmailovski); regiments had one white and seven (Preo.) or five (the others) coloured colours. Those of the Corps of Observation regiments depicted a double eagle perched on a trophy of arms, all resting on a cloud, and a flame in each corner. The sheet was 142cm x 213cm. The sheets were coloured white, blue, cherry, green, light blue or yellow, with flames in either gold, raspberry red, white or yellow - but it is not known which regiment carried which pattern.

The best source for Russian colours remains Zvegintsov [zwe63]; there is a little in Wise. In the 1970s a booklet entitled Russian Infantry flags of the Seven Years’ War by R.D. Pengel and G.R. Hurt was self-published in Birmingham [pgh7X]. This has much more detail than Wise [wis77], and uses sources other than Zvegintsov, but is difficult to get hold of these days.

Ian Sumner, 05 Jul 2000

There were very substantial changes in Russian regimental flags late in the 18th century. There are a couple of reasonable sources:

  • Konstam and Younghusband, Russian Army of the Seven Years War, London, Osprey 1996 (Men-at-Arms 297 and 298)
    • Vol. 1 (297) has infantry flags:
      • Plate G:
        • 1. Preobrazhensky Guards,
        • 2. 1st Grenadier Regt,
        • 3. 1st Observation Corps.
      • Plate H: 1.Moscow Musk Regt pre 1745,
        • 2. Apcheron Musk Regt,
        • 3. Moscow Musk Regt post 1745
    • Vol. 2 (298) has cavalry flags:
      • Plate G:
        • 1. Novotroitsk Cuirassiers,
        • 2. Archangel Dragoons,
        • 3. Tobolsk Dragoons.
      • Plate H:
        • 1. Horse Guards White Standard,
        • 2. Horse Guards White Red Standard,
        • 3. St Petersburg Horse Grenadiers
  • A second source is is Wise, Military Flags of the World in Color, New York, 1978: [wis78]: plate 31, with 184. Horse Guards White Standard, 185. 1st Grenadier Regt, 186. Moscow Musk Regt pre 1745
  • Leonov and Ulyanov, Regularnaya Pekhota 1698-1801 (Moscow, 1995) has several dozen infantry flags for this period: line, p.110-112; guards, p. 121; inscriptions are in Russian.
Norman Martin, 05 Jul 2000