Saxony (Sachsen) Military Records

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When looking for an ancestor who may have served in the Saxon army at some point, the following advice applies (issued by the Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden):

"Um Angehörige der sächsischen Regimenter sicher ermitteln zu können, müssen die militärische Einheit und der ungefähre Zeitraum der Zugehörigkeit zur sächsischen Armee bekannt sein".

(To retrieve accurate data about a member of the Saxon Army one needs to know the military rank and the approximate time frame in which this person served).

The Saxon army[edit | edit source]

The army existed as a standing army from 1682 to 1918. During the time Saxony was an Electorate the army was known as the Kurfürstlich Sächsische Armee, then became known as Königlich-Sächsische Armee during the time Saxony was a kingdom (1807-1918). When Saxony was part of the Norddeutscher Bund, the army was the Saxon contingent of the contingent army. Until 1871, Saxony’s army remained legally independent.

The architect of a standing army in Saxony was the Elector Johann Georg III. He convinced the Saxon lords that it was not such a good idea to raise a mercenary army each time they needed to do battle, and then release the men again. He estimated the cost to be greater than maintaining a standing army. He succeeded, because in 1682 six infantry regiments consisting of eight companies and five cavalry regiments were formed.

After the Nordic War (1700-1721) the fighting power of the Saxon army was increased, and an army of 30,000 Saxons formed. Four military divisions were established and for the first time, barracks were built. After the Second Silesian War (1733-1745), the Saxon army was reduced to 17,000 soldiers.

To get a better idea of how the Saxon army was organized go to

More detailed information about the Saxon army can be retrieved here:

A brief military history[edit | edit source]

When military conflicts arose, a sovereign lord had to rely on his vassals to provide armed soldiers. It was not really dictated how many men were liable for military service, but it was a matter of honor to supply as many as possible. Later the so called Ritterrolle (muster roll) determined how many men were to serve based on the property of the vassal. Besides the knight, the Church and cities had to provide soldiers in the event of war. Such was the procedure in the 17th century. At the time of the Thirty Years War the vassals were unable to provide soldiers and horses because the methods of fighting had become more brutal (gun powder instead of duels) and men were reluctant to go to war. Instead of supplies the vassals now provided money with which the sovereign hired troops. With time this method was not longer sufficient and instead of hiring soldiers, levying rolls were established. From 1709 to 1711 the cities were obliged to supply soldiers from among their twenty to twenty-four years-old men, who already served, the rest were recruited through the lottery. The soldier's gear was supplied by the cities. The idea of a standing army emerged. 3000 men were to be on duty at all times. In 1663 it became mandatory for all places to provide soldiers. In 1711 four regiments were installed which served as the standing army. Regiments were divided into field and county regiments, they contained volunteers and sons of the rural population. In 1742 tables were established by administrations who listed all men between 15 and 35, married or not, in their respective villages and cities. These tables were handed in to the government. In 1780 recruiting districts were attached to the regiments from which soldiers were enlisted. By 1810 it was no longer allowed to recruit soldiers, all men now came under the draft. In 1811 special administrative authorties were made responsible for the draft. In 1825 a soldier was enlisted for 8 years active duty and 4 years in the reserves, in 1834 it was six years active duty and 3 years reserves, in 1852 he had to serve 6 years active duty. By 1888 compulsory military service was  between age 17 to age 25.

Source: Verlohren, Heinrich August. Stammregister und Chronik der Kur- und Königlich Sächsischen Armee von 1670 bis zum Beginn des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts

The Family History Library has some nominal rolls from the Freistaat Sachsen. They can be found under Königreich Sachsen, subject military of the inidvidual towns or in the catalog of the Family History Library Keyword search: Militärstammrollen  

Military Websites[edit | edit source]