5th Line Battalion, King's German Legion

5th Line Battalion, King's German Legion

The 5th Line Battalion of the King's German Legion was raised during the year 1805 as the fifth out of eight line battalions that the Legion levied in total.

The battalion was initially brigaded with the 6th Line Battalion of the Legion. It served from 1805 until 1816 in Ireland, Walcheren, Copenhagen , Sicily, Peninsula and Belgium.


On 18th June 1815, during the Battle of Waterloo, the battalion was nearly wiped out during the fighting in the center of Wellington's battle line, in the wake of the so called `crisis´. Around 6 o'clock Sir Charles Alten, their divisional commander, ordered Col. von Ompteda to send forward the 5th line battalion to attack the French infantry, who were pursuing the men from the 2nd light battalion KGL, retreating from La Haye Sainte. Von Ompteda, who had noticed French cavalry nearby, protested the order, but was told to obey his general by the Prince of Orange, who had overheard the exchange. Von Ompteda mounted his horse, ordered the 5th into line (they had been formed in square to fight cavalry) and, at their head, advanced on the French infantry. The enemy infantry ran, but riding out of the mists of smoke came a regiment of cuirassiers . They charged into the flank and rear of the 5th line who, with their muskets unloaded, were cut to pieces. Von Ompteda was among those killed, a colour of the battalion was lost and only 19 men escaped back to the aliied line. [Chappell p 35f]

Uniforms and equipment

Uniform and Equipment of the Legion's Line battalions was of standard British pattern of the time. In accord it was repeatedly revised during the years from 1803 until 1815. In general it comprised:
*red uniform with dark blue cuffs and collar, laced with regimental lace
*grey legwear
*white leather equipment
*Brown Bess musket
*stovepipe shako, later Belgic shakoThe principal distinction from British units was that the standard pack was painted dark blue rather than black.The 5th's light Company was partially armed with Baker rifles and was separated from the battalion at Waterloo in the midst of the battle to assist in the defense of La Haye Sainte.



*Chappell, Mike "The King's German Legion (2) 1812-1816" Osprey 2000 ISBN 1 85532 997 2

External links

* [http://www.kgl.info King’s German Legion] (in German) 2nd light battalion and 5th line battalion re-enactment society
* [http://www.kgl-linie.de King´s German Legion] (in German) 5th line battalion re-enactment group

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