Tag Archives: Herbert Knotel

The Ghost of Robert Rogers, now taking the Queen’s schilling

One of the key figures in the historically abhorrent but no less entertaining AMC series Turn, portrayed by Angus Macfadyen, was Robert Rogers, the famed irregular whose unit excelled in combat along the frontier during the French and Indian War.

Color mezzotint of a representation by Johann Martin Will of Robert Rogers, published by Thomas Hart Anne S K Brown Military Collection

Known as Wobomagonda (white devil) among the Abenakis, the frontierman gave birth to what was known then as “ranging” warfare, with his men being the Rangers, a scratch unit that had American Indians as well as freedmen in its ranks.

His men were no red-uniformed line infantry, ready for set-piece battle. 

Knötel, Herbert, Rogers Rangers, 1758. Ranger of Rogers’ Company. Summer dress (1949)

Knötel, Herbert, Rogers’ Rangers, 1758. Ranger of Spikeman’s Company, Winter dress (1949)

His most lasting piece of military guidance is, of course, his 28 Rules of Ranging also seen in as a more concise 19 Standing Orders.

A defacto loyalist, as in 1775 he still nominally held a British officer’s commission, Rogers tried to wrangle an appointment from Washington but was spurned, which led him to raise the Queen’s Rangers in 1776– a unit he was cashiered from the next year. The Queen’s Rangers, led at the time by the unremarkable Maj. James Wemyss was decimated at Brandywine when used as traditional infantry, leading the unit to be resurrected by John Graves Simcoe. After the war, the Rangers were sent to Canada and quietly disbanded.

As noted by the British Army today, “After the loss of the North American colonies, the British Army lacked a forested frontier where it could usefully employ a ranger unit and the capability ceased to exist in its pure form,” with later “Ranger” units such as the Central London Rangers, The Connaught Rangers, The Royal Irish Rangers, and The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, holding the name as more of an honorific title than as descriptor for a force designed for a specialist ranger role, or that they used unconventional tactics.

Now, the newly formed Ranger Regiment in the British Army– to be stood up with volunteers drawn from across the infantry as well as from four battalions folded into its organization, 1 SCOTS, 2 PWRR, 2 LANCS, and 4 RIFLES — will officially carry the legacy of the American-born Robert Rogers.

True to form, it will be part of the Army Special Operations Brigade and will be tasked with “unconventional action.

As per the Army:

While the new Rangers might not have to abide by the original 28 Rules of Ranging – including turning up to evening parade with a ‘firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet,’ they will be self-sufficient and highly resourceful, just like the Rangers of the past.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Herbert Knotel

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sunday, I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Herbert Knotel

Born in 1893 in Berlin, then the capital of old Hohenzollern Prussia and that of Imperial Germany as a whole, Herbert Knotel was the son of renowned uniformologist and military historian Richard Knötel (1857-1914). The elder Knotel pioneered uniform art and in many cases drew from preserved examples whenever possible.

His father’s uniform books are classics that endures to this day as is his massive 1,000-plate Große Uniformkunde, which young Herbert assisted with.

Herbert found himself as a officer in the Prussian Army and, assigned to Hindenburg’s 1st Army was wounded at Tannenburg during WWI. He finished the war as a Hauptmann in a horse cavalry unit on the Eastern Front.

With the world turned upside down in 1919, he returned to Berlin and took up the family business, both expanding and preserving his father’s inherited work and producing original plates of his own while helping run the Berlin Zeughaus Museum.

He was meticulous, first sketching his art, then using watercolors for shading and fill work and finishing with acrylics.

Lancer of Berg by Herbert Knötel (From the Library of Tony Broughton)

Lancer of Berg by R. Knötel for reference (From the Library of Tony Broughton)

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When the Soviets occupied Berlin in 1945, Knotel was commissioned to cover the uniforms of that force in an epic 50-plate set, drawing many from officers and enlisted he met from Zhukov’s Red Army. These were later combined with over 100 images of the Tsarist army uniforms to create a single volume.

The woman, seen on theatricals event in January 1946, probably frontline Artist

“The woman, seen on theatricals event in January 1946, probably frontline Artist”

“The commander of the Special Operations Group, who selected the watch for me and my wife”

“The captain of the Polish infantry unit as a part of the Soviet Army – 1945”

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(Dig the swim gear on the pioneer)

(Dig the swim gear on the pioneer)

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Knotel died in 1963.

A huge cross-section of his work, including the Soviet set, is maintained online at the Anne S.K.Brown collection.

The modern tome that best covers his (non-Soviet) work is Herbert Knotel’s German Armies in Color: As Illustrated in His Watercolors & Sketches by Andrew Woelflein and Napoleonic uniforms by Col. John Robert Elting.

Thank you for your work, sir.