On 19 November 1813, through a Cabinet Order, Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm III approved the formation of a Pioneer Korps from the Mansfelder Bergleuten. The majority of the unit was to come from Mansfeld and Eisleben; however, the enlistment area was extended to the salt mines and other mining areas of Wettin, Löbejün and the Unterharz. On 23 November 1813, the director of the Eislebener Bergamt, the Oberbergmeister of Veltheim, called for the formation of a volunteer pioneer battalion composed of Mansfeld mountain men, huntsmen, and miners. Because of their importance in the mining industry the men of Mansfeld had, as long as anyone can remember, been exempted from military service. Copper and silver were particularly in demand during wartime, so the Mansfelder miners assisted the war effort in ways other than fighting. Under the famine created by the earlier Napoleonic wars, and as a result of the need for copper and silver declining, the Mansfelder miners and their families suffered most. The breath of revolution and the hopes of a better life caused more than 600 men to volunteer for service as early as December 1813.
The Mansfelder Pioneer Battalion served fairly autonomously and operated as companies attached to different Korps. The second and third company marched on 22 March 1814 to Preussisch-Minden and later to Erfurt. They assisted in laying siege to Magdeburg. The first company arrived later with the battalion staff to complete the Magdeburg campaign. In the spring of 1815, when Napoleon returned from exile on the Isle of Elbe, the battalion was called on again and the fourth company marched with Blücher against Paris. The first and second company participated in the storming of Maubeuge, Sambre and Meuse and were part of the march through the Ardennes, as far as Longwy.
The Mansfelder Pioneer Battalion was officially disbanded on 27 March 1816.
10 members were awarded the Iron Cross and the battalion was awarded two Russian St. George’s Orders, fifth class.
This is an original officers Tschako from the Mansfelder Pioneer Battalion. This battalion was always identified by the glistening silver oval with crossed hammers appearing on their Tschakos:
The Mansfelder Pioneer were originally outfitted with uniforms already in stock. The Tschako chosen for them was the Fusilier type:
There are several holes in the Tschako body where other fittings had been placed. There is no historical record of the Mansfelder Pioneer ever wearing cords on their Tschakos so the fittings on the fusilier helmets were removed:
It would have been another question as to authenticity if these holes were not present:
This Tschako has had some work. First and foremost this piece has been blocked in order to bring it back into a round shape. Unfortunately this blocking caused a "pull" in the liner which caused it to buckle and created a dimple or wave in the tongues:
The stretching, or pull, is evident here:
The Tschako is made of a combination of leather and fiber. The bell crown is a heavy fiber board which somewhat resembles a mailing tube. The outside of the bell is covered in a heavy felt, most of which is missing now. The dome is thick leather and is very roughly tanned on the inside. This rough, almost fuzzy, interior is often evident on other period pieces. The inside is lined with a cloth which is sewn and applied much the same as paper mache and there is a reinforcement sewn in to support the Feldzeichen:
The chinscales have been restored using the original scales. The staples are not original to this piece and they are made of round stock. The leather for the chin straps and the tubes has also been replaced, but the leather for the chin straps themselves is thinner and much softer than the original. This was done originally to avoid excessive weight being applied to the Feldzeichen area:
The original scales have a slight curve and measure 39mm at their widest point:
The length is appropriate for the leather chin strap:
The rosettes are original and are held on with bent pins. These bent pins are much thicker than would be found on most Pickelhaubes:
The Feldzeichen is very large and is made of silver bullion thread. This larger sized Feldzeichen apparently continued in use for officers until the 1860's:
The Landwehr emblem is non-magnetic and is held on with bent pins:
The Mansfelder Pioneer identifying feature is a silver oval with crossed hammers. The oval is made of coin silver, about .825, and is held on by the screw fastener attached to the hammers:
The hammers are made of brass and have a single screw going through a hole in the silver oval and holding the whole thing in place. There is an unusual brass wingnut attached on the inside to the course threads on the hammers:
All together it gives an attractive appearance:
The top of the bell crown is thick leather:
The silk band around the top of the bell crown is in excellent shape and is, in part, a give-away as to age. Silks were weighted with soluble salts and minerals after 1840 which caused them to have a slight glow under black-light. This band is completely dark under black-light. As a matter of fact, absolutely nothing on this Tschako glows under black-light:
The leather on the shoulder is extremely stiff and curled in some places. The stitching is finely done and, again, does not glow under black-light:
The Tschako, not including the Feldzeichen, is 8.5 inches tall when measured from a flat surface. It is shown with a Model 1915 Tschako for comparison:
This Tschako has had some work done in the hopes of keeping it alive. It is, after all, 203 year old cardboard.
There is still a reenactment group for this battalion. For more history or information you may visit their site at:http://www.mansfelder-pionierbataillon. ... /home.html
The sword can be viewed here:viewtopic.php?f=36&t=11147
The medal can be viewed here:viewtopic.php?f=13&t=11059