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For your convenience, I have placed links to all the charts listing uniform and helmet details for all Regiments and Battalions that wore the Waffenrock, as well as related color plates at the bottom of this index page. These plates will open in a new window.
The Waffenrock 1842 - 1895
In 1842, Preußen (Prussia) introduced a new pattern of uniform for all foot-troops consisting of a uniform called a Waffenrock to be worn with a tall leather spiked helmet called a Pickelhaube. This form of dress was considerably different from the short Kollet (a waist-length jacket with tails) worn with the high leather Tschako during the Napoleonic wars.
Der Bunte Rock in Preußen. Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, (1981)
The Waffenrock and Pickelhaube can be considered the first "modern" military uniform and helmet which still shows their influence in today's military dress. The new Waffenrock introduced by AKO on 23 October 1842 was made from a high quality wool known as "doeskin" with eight 25 mm buttons closing the front. The Waffenrock was cut low and hung beneath the sleeves with a raw edge. The collar was high, measuring 7 cm and was the same color as the Waffenrock, except for two large colored patches on either side of the front collar, which which gave the appearance of a red collar with the center rear 1/3 being blue. Shoulder straps were the same color as worn previously on the Napoleonic era Kollet with numbers sewn in Rundschnur (rounded cord) pattern. This pattern of shoulder strap stayed in use until 1853 when it was changed to "Blatschnur" which was either chain-stitched or flat cord numbers.
Dunkelblau (dark blue) Waffenrock were typically worn by Infantry, Feldartillerie (Field Artillery), Fußartillerie (Foot Artillery) Regiments, Train (Supply), Pionier (Pioneers) and most other units. Hellblau (light blue) Waffenrock were worn by the majority of Dragoner (Mounted Infantry) Regiments (except Hessen) while dark green Waffenrock were worn by Jäger (light Infantry) Battalions.

Issued Waffenrock tend to be quite dark while Eigetumsstück (privately purchased) Waffenrocks are much lighter in color. Officer's Waffenrock, when compared to an issued Waffenrock from the same unit, are considerably lighter in color as they were privately purchased. Conjointly, the lighter color was probably deemed "more fashionable" than the darker issued Waffenrocks of the men.
The fashionable Waffenrock soon spread throughout the German-speaking Kingdoms, Duchies and principalities that fell under the Preußen sphere of influence. Below are the dates when the Preußen Waffenrock was adopted:
  • Baden 1849
  • Bayern (Bavaria) 1849
  • Braunschweig - 1886
  • Hessen 1849
  • Oldenburg - 1849
  • Sachsen (Saxony) 1849
  • Württemberg - 1849-1864. Again in 1889 (see below)
When Bayern adopted the Waffenrock in 1849, it did not adopt the very dark blue for the infantry. Bayern infantry maintained a lighter sky blue color of the Napoleonic pattern tunics worn up to that time.

Sachsen (Saxony) also deviated from the Preußen colors by outfitting her Artillery, Pioneer, and Schützen units in dark green Waffenrocks.
Although the Waffenrock was eventually adopted throughout the German-speaking land under the Preußen sphere of influence, many Kingdoms, Duchies and principalities retained their own distinctive forms of uniforms for many years. Braunschweig in particular, retained their unique corded Waffenrock pattern until 1886, as worn by a soldier in the photo to the left from Braunschweigisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.92. Up to 1886, Braunschweig wore a uniform called a Polrock. It was black, with kornblumenblau collar, cuffs, and shoulder straps in black cord. When Braunschweig joined the North German Confederation 18 March 1886, they adopted the Preußen pattern Waffenrock for the X Armee Korps, with blue piping around the red Brandenberg cuffs, with white shoulder straps and red cypher as well as the Preußen pattern Pickelhaube with the Braunschweig eagle Wappen.
Prior to 1864, Württemberg troops wore a uniform similar to the Preußen pattern Model 1842 Waffenrock. In 1864 Württemberg introduced a unique pattern of double-breasted Waffenrock which was updated to the M1871 which is the example shown. This Waffenrock was worn until 1889 when the Preußen M1867 pattern was adopted. These Württemberg Waffenrock are often misidentified as Ulan Ulanka, but are significantly different cut with a straight top "flap" to the double-breast while Ulanka are scalloped and also have piping on the false side of the double breast.
An AKO on 25 April 1867 announced significant refinements to the Preußen pattern Waffenrock. The collar became "softer" and slightly rounded on issued tunics, except if Litzen was worn in which case they remained squared. The collar was lowered to 4.75 cm and now came completely in the color of the arm of service to match the cuffs. Red for Infantry and Jäger, light blue for Train and black for Artillery, Pioneer and Verkehrstruppen (Transportation Troops). Dragoon regiments wore a variety of colors depending on the regiment. The sleeves cut was given more volume to improve comfort and the shoulder straps were in regimental facing colors. Gilt or silver buttons (with a few exceptions) matched the color of the metal fittings on the Pickelhaube. In 1875 the tin buttons utilized on the M1842 Waffenrock for regiments with "white" buttons were finally changed to "Britanniametall" (German silver).
The cuffs on Waffenrock were made in a variety of patterns, such as Brandenburg, Swedish or Sachsen (Saxon). Both collar and cuff were piped in the color of the Army Corps, and were piped in white, yellow, red, light-blue, green, or are void of colored piping. The vertical panels of the cuffs, particularly the Brandenburg, can be in a variety of colors depending on the unit. Common colors are red, white, green, and blue. Polish cuffs similar to those worn on Ulan tunics were worn on a few obscure units such as Landwehr-Kavellerie and Württemberg Landjäger-korps. The common cuff patterns are shown below. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge.
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Sachsen (Saxon)
Sleeves carried Brandenburg or French cuffs with three buttons or Swedish cuffs with two buttons, or even Polish cuffs with one to four buttons dependant upon the Regiment. Regiments wore buttons made from brass, or tin for "white" buttons. For Garde (Guard) units both collar and cuffs were decorated with ornamental bars known as Litzen. Litzen come in white or yellow for Mannschaften, silver or gilt for officers depending on the unit.
For all known patterns of Litzen, please see the "Litzen Plates" on the "Uniform Details" charts for all Regiments at the bottom of this page.
The rear skirt had two large buttons attached above the rear skirt formation which were used to carry the extra weight of the belt and its attached equipment. Note that there is no rear vent in the M1867 Waffenrock rear skirt. The rear skirt was given an actual vent on the M1895 Waffenrock. In each rear skirt liner were two pockets, which were accessed through a long vertical slit opening after 1895.
Sachsen (Saxon) Waffenrock had a unique pattern of rear skirt with reduced buttons and straight piping. The bottom edge of all Sachsen Waffenrock are piped.
Issued Waffenrock were completely lined, usually in two different fabrics. The top was normally lined with a heavy-weight cotton or linen material, usually in white or off-white. The bottom was normally lined with a heavy-weight cotton, linen, or silk material, usually in black. The Waffenrock was void of any external pockets, so there was usually a horizontal or vertical interior pocket on the wearer's left breast, or sometimes on both sides. Inside the tunic at the waist, two cloth straps adjusted the tunic to the wearer.
On issue Waffenrock, the liner was usually stamped with Bekleidungsamt (Army Clothing Depot) markings and could include the year of the stamping, issuing army corps, and size information.
By 1871, the establishment of the German Empire resulted in the re-numbering of Regiments and Battalions to reflect their position within the greater German Army. Bayern, (Bavaria), however, retained her own Army Corps and did not renumber her units. The Waffenrock was maturing as the national dress for the Army. These period illustrations show the variances of coloration within one branch of service. The illustrations below are from Das kleine Buch vom Deutschen Heere Lipius & Tischer (1900) and show some of the different Waffenrock coloration adopted by the different arms of service. Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge.

Please note that for specific details of uniforms for every Regiment or Battalion, refer to the "Regiment and Battalion Charts" at the bottom of this page.
Infanterie (Infantry)
  • Preußen - Dunkelblau (dark blue)
  • Bayern (Bavaria) - Hellblau (light blue)

Jäger (light infantry)
  • Preußen - Green
  • Bayern (Bavaria) - Hellblau (light blue)
  • Sachsen (Saxon) - Stahlgrun (dark steel green)

Artillerie (Artillery)
  • Preußen - Dunkelblau (dark blue)
  • Sachsen (Saxon) - Green

Pionier (Pioneer)
  • Preußen - Dunkelblau (dark blue)
  • Sachsen (Saxon) - Green

Dragoner (Mounted Rifles)
  • Preußen - Kornblumenblau (cornflower blue)
  • Hessen - Stahlgrun (dark steel green)
  • Württemberg - Hellblau (light blue)

An AKO on 25 April 1895 announced the final refinements to the Waffenrock. The collar height on issue Waffenrock ranged from 4.5 to 5 cm, however, privately purchased Waffenrock invariably have higher collars ranging from 6 cm to 7 cm. Buttons were reduced in size from 25mm to 21mm. The rear skirt was given an actual vent on the M1895 Waffenrock, allowing the two rear skirt liner pockets to be accessed through a long vertical slit opening between the rear scallops. The color of the Waffenrock ranged from light to dark blue or green and the collar and cuffs came in a rainbow of colors as did the shoulder straps. The Waffenrock was to stay in this form until the eventual replacement by the M1907/10 Feldgrau Feldrock.
The link to this photo shows a very small selection of 1895 shoulder straps worn by Mannschaften (Other Ranks) on the Dunkelblau Waffenrock up to 1914. For a full list of strap cyphers as of 1900, please refer to the link for "Shoulder Strap Plate 1" and "Shoulder Strap Plate 2" at the bottom of this page.
Click to Enlarge
Regiment and Battalion Charts

The following links will foward you to charts listing all Regiments and Battalions of the Pre-1914 Imperial German Army that wore the Waffenrock. Each chart will present specific details of the uniform and helmet for each unit. Unless listed separately, Bayern (Bavarian) units are grouped with the units of that branch of service.
Reich's Infantry Regiments Bayern Infantry Regiments Jäger and Schützen
Feldartillerie (Field Artillery) Bayern Feldartillerie (Field Artillery) Fußartillerie (Foot Artillery)
Dragoner (Mounted Rifle) Pionier (Pioneer) Train (Supply)
Verkehrstruppen (Telegraph, Flieger, Eisenbahn etc)
Uniform and Helmet Wappen Charts

The following links have color plates that are connected with each arm of service. These will open in a new window. These plates are also available on the individual branch of service pages above.
Shoulder Strap Plate1 Shoulder Strap Plate 2 Feld Artillerie Plate 1
Litzen Plate 1 Litzen Plate 2 Litzen Plate 3
Helmet Wappen Plate 1 Helmet Wappen Plate 2
Dragoner Plate 1 Dragoner Plate 2
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