Frei Korps von Kleist 

Drummer and Bagpiper


The Frei-Corps von Kleist was the largest of Frederick’s irregular forces and eventually grew to be the size of a small army consisting of Infantry, jäger, dragoons, hussars, ulans and artillery. The various units were raised between 1759 and 1761 by Colonel Freidrich Wilhelm Gottfried Arnd von Kleist who commanded the 1st Prussian (Green) Hussars in 1759 and 60. The Kleist Freikorps saw much service during the Seven Years War in Saxony and Pommerania. They were finally disbanded at wars end.

This plate shows a drummer and bagpiper of the corps when much of von Kleist’s corps was in Breslau. The drummer’s coat is laced with red tasseled loops on the front in the 1-2-1 sequence and with five on the sleeve. The sleeve loops seem to be a feature of the Kleist Corps musicians. He wears red breeches tucked into Hungarian boots and his drum has a brass shell with light green hoops bearing equally spaced black grenades each with a white flame.

The bagpiper is very interesting and comes from an illustration in a manuscript with no attribution. It shows the Bagpiper with an Oboist and Cymbalist all dressed identically. One assumes, given the dress that they are Ulan musicians. Pipers with goatskin pipebags were common in Poland. They also have the common features of Kleist musicians … the lace bars on the arms and the wavy lace round the edge of the coat, or cape. 

​Standard carried by some Kleist units

This plate appears in 
Uniformology Book No. 23
Free Korps of the Seven Years War