The Liechtenstein Army of 1866
Article researched by CT. Photos from the Liechtenstein Landesmuseum

Officers' Uniform, Helmets, Shakos, Firearms, Musical Instruments and the Standard of the Veterans of the Liechtenstein Army
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

Background to the Liechtenstein Federal Contingent
Following the Napoleonic Wars the German Federal Parliament in Frankfurt (of which Liechtenstein was a member) called upon every state to provide an armed force in case of war. The size of the armed force was set at 1.5% of the population, so the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein's contingent was 82 men in 1862.

As a very small mountainous country sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria, it was unique among the many small German states in not having a land border with any member of the German Confederation other than Austria.

Schloss Vaduz. the home of the Princes of Liechtenstein
Photo from Wikipedia by Michael Gredenberg

The Liechtenstein military contingent was raised in 1836, when they reached agreements with the similarly small states of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen about the formation of a joint battalion.

The Liechtenstein contingent was organised as one light infantry Sharpshooter Platoon or Scharfschützenzug, of the joint Hohenzollern battalion. In 1866, it consisted of an officer (Oberleutnant), a staff sergeant (Feldwebel), two sergeants (Sergeanten), four corporals (Korporale), three Lance Corporals (Vizekorporale) and 71 soldiers.

The army was unpopular at home in Liechtenstein with protests in 1848 demanding that it be disbanded. This was mainly because of the cost on tax payers for this ineffective force but also the fact that their soldiers were commanded by foreigners. The commanding officers had since 1836, been seconded from the Austrian or Bavarian armies.

The contingent took a part in suppressing the Baden Revolutionaries in 1849 at the Battle of Oos but suffered no casualties. The veterans of the campaign were later awarded a campaign medal.

Liechtenstein Medal for Veterans of the Baden Campaign, 1849
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

That same year, Prussia annexed Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Lichtenstein's short alliance with those other two tiny states ended. This left Liechtenstein's tiny force without either a geographical or command connection to the other German armies.

In 1859, Oberleutnant Peter Rheinberger a native of Liechtenstein who had previously passed his Prussian army officer training in Sigmaringen, was appointed as commander of the contingent. He was the first and only Liechtensteiner to command their army and his uniform is displayed at the Liechtenstein National Museum. He soon set about reforming the small force, along with his trusty Feldwebel Andreas Walch. They both remained in their positions until the army's later disbandment.


The Austro-Prussian War of 1866
As the German Confederation was drawn into the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the smaller German states chose their sides, Liechtenstein under Prince (
Fürst) Johann II predictably sided with her larger neighbour, Austria though chose not to fight fellow Germans but be deployed to the Italian Front instead.

Leaving two soldiers behind to guard the princely palace, the 80 strong unit set off to occupy the Stilfserjoch (now known as the Stelvio pass, and famous for its road with 48 hairpin bends) in South Tyrol near the Swiss border.

After a few weeks there from July to September 1866 and seeing no action, they returned to Liechtenstein along with their Austrian Kaiserjäger liaison officer, Leutnant Radinger. Having gone to war with 80 men and returned with 81, this is often repeated in folklore as the only time an army has gone to war, suffered no casualties and come back with more men. Despite the nice story, he was their liaison officer after all and simply saw them home through his native Austrian territory. Soon afterwards he returned to Vienna.

Following the war, the German Confederation and the Frankfurt Parliament was dissolved and so the Liechtenstein contingent was no longer demanded. It was disbanded by Prince Johann II on 12 February 1868 being replaced by a civil gendarmerie. They have not raised an army since. And with the dissolution of the Confederation, Liechtenstein's ties to the other German states were cut forever.

They did not take part in the Franco-Prussian War nor the German Unification of 1871, remaining isolated as the last of the many former tiny independent states of the German Confederation. The Principality of Liechtenstein remained neutral in both World Wars and has not raised an army since.


Liechtenstein army uniforms were in black piped in red. National cockades were white with a red centre.

1836 Uniforms
The original uniforms consisted of a black double breasted coatee, piped in red with collar, cuffs, shoulder straps and coatee tail turn-backs in red. Buttons were in white metal. Officers wore collar and cuff Litzen and shoulder epaulettes. NCOs also had Litzen and were distinguished in rank by diagonal bands of lace on the left forearm. Trousers were matching black piped in red down the outside edge. A tall black shako was worn with white metal insignia on the front, white metal chin-scales and topped with a national coloured cockade.

Updated Tunics
At some point in the 1840s or 50s the tunic was re-designed following Austrian fashion, though still in black with red piping. The front remained double breasted with two rows of plain buttons and piped down the right hand side. The cuffs were now plain turn-back with one piping band and two cuff buttons. The standing collar was black with red piping all around. The tunic was also piped around the lower edge.

Rank was shown in the Austrian style with stars on the collar. The officer wore three stars, so presumably NCO ranks wore one and two.

M1845 Shako
In 1845 the shako was scaled down in height from the tall shako of 1836. It bore an eight pointed star bearing the
Liechtenstein crowned shield and a national cockade at the top. On parade a black horsehair plume was worn.

M1859 Helmet
In 1859 a Bavarian style crested helmet, the Raupenhelm was introduced. I
t was identical to the Bavarian design, even having the Bavarian Lion chin-scale attachments. As a light infantry unit, they wear the green plume of the Bavarian Jäger too. The only differences are the Liechtenstein star and crowned shield in yellow metal and national cockade on the left hand side.

An Austrian-style Kepi with a national cockade and short loop of lace around a lower button with a black leather peak and chin-strap, was also worn. From the only known period photographs, this is mostly likely what was worn by the contingent on the 1866 Campaign.

Possible timeline of Uniform Changes
I have not been able to find the uniform regulations of the Liechtenstein army. Based on the very few illustrations and photographs that I have seen (most which are on this page), I would guess that there were three main changes of uniform. If any reader has more reliable information please contact me here.

1836- Coatee tunic, tall shako, white metal fittings
1845- Austrian style tunic, shorter shako, white metal fittings
1859- Austrian style tunic, Bavarian style helmet, yellow metal fittings.

Andreas Kieber, the last surviving member of the Liechtenstein Army and a veteran of the Austro Prussian War, c1935
He still wears his old uniform with a marksmanship lanyard and Raupenhelm with rifle and bayonet.
Photo from Last Stand on Zombie Island Article



Sources and Links

Liechtenstein National Museum - Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

Excellent Liechtenstein Military History Article in German by Fabian Frommelt &, Rupert Quaderer

Der 1866er Feldzug des fürstlich liechtensteinischen Bundeskontingentes

War History Online Article

Last Stand on Zombie Island Article

Thanks very much to CT for his excellent research starting this page.



Liechtenstein Officer and Solider, 1836
Unknown Artist at Wikipedia

Private Bernhard Schädler, 1866
He wears the later style black tunic piped in red and the and kepi cap worn on campaign.
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

M1845 Shako
Note the white metal eight pointed star bearing the Liechtenstein crowned shield in white metal, the national cockade and parade plume.

Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

M1859 Raupenhelm
Note that it is identical to the Bavarian design, even having the Bavarian Lion chin-scale attachments. As a light infantry unit, they wear the green plume of the Bavarian Jäger too. The only differences are the Liechtenstein star and crowned shield in yellow metal and national cockade on the left hand side.
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

Kepi c1866 with national cockade
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

Officers Uniform c1868
This is the only known surviving uniform of the Liechtenstein Army and belonged to their commander, Oberleutnant Peter Rheinberger. The shako has its parade plume and star bearing the Liechtenstein crowned shield, the uniform has the black double breasted tunic with red piping. Note the Austrian style rank stars on the collar as well as the two medals, the Liechtenstein Medal for Veterans of the Baden Campaign of 1849 and the Austrian Medal for Veterans of the Italian Campaign of 1866 and dark green marksmanship lanyard.
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum

Long Service Awards
From top to bottom, third class in black for 10 years service, second class in silver for 15 years and first class in gold for 20 years service. These awards all bear the monogram of Fürst Alois II, which was replaced from 1858 with a J for Johann II.
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum


The Veterans of the Liechtenstein Army in 1896
Liechtensteinisches LandesMuseum