Freikorps (Legions)

Freikorps (Legions).

Freikorps (Legions), small military detachments, made up of volunteers and led by partisans, supported the operations of the army by raids behind enemy lines. Frederick the Great used Freikorps during the Seven Years’ War (Freiregimenter, Freibataillone), who fought alongside hussars in the little war against the Austrians. They recruited primarily among foreigners, prisoners of war, and deserters. Unlike regular troops, Freikorps were permitted to occupy houses and villages etc. The German Freikorps of the War of Liberation (1813–1814), Lützow’s, v. Thielemann’s, v. Colomb’s, showed great patriotism, discipline and courage. See also «Francs-tireurs, Freiwillige Jäger, Guerrillas and Partisans».

The French army employed similar corps of volunteers and legions, like the Chasseurs de Fischer or Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont-Prince, sometimes composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery, during the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War.

General Casimir Pulaski and Colonel Charles Armand Tuffin, marquis de la Rouërie, raised and commanded legions during the American Revolutionary War.


  • Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, 6. Auflage 1905–1909
  • Widdern, Cardinal v.: Die Streifkorps im deutschen Befreiungskriege 1813 (Berl. 1899)

Military Glossary