The Black Brunswicker
The Black Brunswickers were a volunteer corps raised by German-born Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1771–1815) to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke was a harsh opponent of Napoleon Bonaparte's occupation of his native Germany. Formed in 1809 when war broke out between the First French Empire and the Austrian Empire, the corps initially comprised a mixed force, around 2300 strong, of infantry, cavalry and later supporting artillery. Distinctively attired in black broadcloth with a silvered death's head badge on their hats, the volunteers were nicknamed the Black Horde or the Black Legion; their more commonly-known title was the result of the Duke's temporary capture of the German city of Braunschweig (Brunswick) from the French in 1809. The Black Brunswickers earned themselves a fearsome reputation over the following decade, taking part in several significant battles including the pre-Waterloo engagement at Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815, where the Duke lost his life.