Imperial Army of Austria


Infantry Patterns 1792 - 1815

Austrian line Infantry regiments carried two flags per battalion, the 1st battalion having one Leibfahne and one Ordinärfahne, other battalions having two Ordinärfahnen. The cavalry regiments had one Liebstandarte per regiment carried by the 1st squadron, and an Ordinärstandarte carried by every other squadron.
The sudden death of Leopold II in 1792, with Franz II taking over the regency, resulted in a minor adjustment which created the flag now known as the 1792 pattern, in which the initials F. II. replaced the original J.II. There was no other change.
Although new infantry patterns were authorised in 1804 and 1806 and cavalry patterns in 1806, regiments continued to carry their old flags until they were worn out, these older flags frequently being 'updated' by having alterations painted on the originals. The 1792 and 1804 pattern infantry flags measured approx 168 x 140 cm. The 1806 infantry pattern was slightly larger at approx 176 x 140 cm. The cavalry standards all measured approx 80cm square. All flags and standards were carried on a stave painted in a spiral design of black, yellow, red and white bands, although some may have been in two colours or only one. The staves were topped by a gilt spear shaped finial.

My main source for this was F. Kaindl: Von den gemalten zu den gewebten Feldzeichen (Schriften des Heeresgeschichtlichesmuseum in Wien 1969 Vol4 pp.39-49). You are right to say each battalion carried two flags, the 1st carrying a Leib and an Ordinar, the others carrying two Ordinar. The pattern is the 1780 pattern of Joseph II, which picked up the full Habsburg coat of arms and really expressed his policy of relying on the Austrian resources and not the Holy Roman Empire's. It only changed in that the Buchstaben (initials) got a bar through them and J became F. An Imperial Decision of 22nd June 1805 reduced the flags to one per battalion, the Grenadier battalion of each regiment under the Mack changes carrying the Leibfahne, as it was the senior battalion, the others having one Ordinarfahne each. This changed back to the old system when the army reverted to its old organisation at that stage - ie; Leibfahne plus one Ordinar for the 1st (Leib) Battalion, two Ordinars for the others. Then it all changed again in 1808 to one flag per battallion again. Nevertheless, aside from 1805, the Grenadier battalions which only formed up in wartime just picked up one spare Ordinarfahne, usually but not necessarily from the senior parent regiment depot. Only in 1805, when each regiment had its own Grenadier battalion as the senior unit did Grenadiers carry a Leibfahne. This rotating leibfahne is a myth. The Jaeger battalions never carried flags and the Landwehr seem to have had spare Ordinarfahne, aside from the ones issued in Inner Austria. The Grenzers used the usual system, except that after 1807, all battalions appear to have carried one Ordinarfahne. The so-called 1804 pattern standard was issued under a patent of 11th August 1804, but the production order only went through on 28th March 1805. It cannot be established how many were actually made. However, it appears that only a couple were made - one of which is in the HGM in very good condition. Two new flags were presented to IR4 Deutschmeister in June 1806 before the 1806 pattern was decreed, although one of these was probably a new Leibfahne to replace the one lost in 1805. IR4 were the regiment based in Vienna, so they may have got a yellow 1804 pattern, but it doesn't appear that any others were issued.


The Infantry flags from Top to Bottom:

1792 infantry pattern
1804 infantry pattern
1806 infantry pattern

Ordinarfahne on left, Leibfahne on right.

The Cavalry standards from Top to Bottom:

1792 cavalry pattern
1806 cavalry pattern

Ordinarstandarte on left, Leibstandarte on right.