|2nd Romanian Border Guards Regiment nr.17 “Nasaud”
The 2nd Romanian Border Infantry Regiment of Năsăud, the first all-Romanian unit to be formed by the Imperial Court in Vienna, was established by Empress Maria-Theresa on the 16th of April, 1762. The main reasons for the creation of confining districts and border regiments in Transylvania were the intention of increasing the Empire’s military power, a bolstering of the defences of the Southern and Eastern frontiers of the Empire, the prevention of emigration (“morbus transilvanicus”), the limiting of the local nobility’s influence by way of maintaining military forces faithful to central rule, the renewal of ongoing efforts to prevent smuggling and contraband and the creation of a sanitary filter. Confessional limitations and restrictions initially imposed on the volunteers were eventually relaxed and ultimately abandoned. In 1798 the Border regiments were numbered separately from Line Infantry regiments, thus the Năsăud unit also received the designation of the 17th Border Regiment.
Military training took place during Sundays and in holidays with the addition of periodical training manoeuvres and drills at Company, Battalion and, finally, Regimental level. The weapons which were used by the troops, while provided by the state, had to be maintained at the soldiers’ own expense. These territorial troops had to provide for their own expenses during peace-time. The “Rules and Regulations of the Military Frontier” regulated the entirety of the social, religious and economic life, alongside the education, the financial and legal institutions present in the area – area officially known as Military Frontier. Important privileges, assistance and exemptions were granted to the Frontier population. The Regiment’s firearms were composed mainly of muzzle-loaded flintlock muskets and, for the unit’s artillerymen, pistols. The close-quarters combat weapons of the Regiment were the curved short-sword and the socket bayonet.
The unit participated in the following campaigns:
-1778-1779: The war against Frederick the Second, king of Prussia, also known as Frederick “The Great”. The Romanian unit was honoured for its performance, by way of Imperial decree (22nd of March, 1779), with the award of one of the eight military colours captured in battle against the Prussian army.
-1788-1791: The Russo-Austro-Ottoman war. In the year 1788, the Regiment fought fiercely in the battles of Dorohoi, Botosani, Baia, Larga, Vaslui and Falticeni, while also participating in the battles of Harlau and Adjud. The unit crossed the Carpathians, fighting in Valea Muierii, Moeciu and the Bran Pass, before finally striking out into Muntenia where it took part in the intensely disputed battles of Câmpulung, the confrontation near Bucharest and the battle of Giurgiu. The Regiment then crossed the Danube river, finally participating in the battle of Nicopolis.
-1793-1796: The Romanian Grenzers (Border-Infantry) led gruelling battles against the Grand Army of Revolutionary France on the Rhine front, distinguishing themselves in the battles and combats of Zabérn , Bundenthal, Schwartzfeld, Aschaffenburg, the Strassburg forest and the Hagenau wood, in the fields between the fortified cities of Mainz and Talbach.
-1796-1797: The battles against Napoleon Bonaparte in Northern Italy. With heroics fit for legend, the Romanian troops fought bravely on the river Piave, at the battle of the Bridge of Arcole, at Rivoli, in the valley of the river Po, at the fortress of Mantova, in the passes of the Alps and in Switzerland at Graubünden.
Other battles which took place during the wars with the French Empire were the battles of Troppau, Luziensteig, Osterach, Stockach, Emingen, Philipsburg, Sinzheim, Munthingen (1799), the battles of Marengo , Lehnfeld şi Hohenlinden (1800), the battles of Ulm, Kremsmünster, Pratzen (1805), the battle near Warsaw against Polish troops (1809), the battles of Lepizig, San Marco, Verona, Vezza, Tonale, Val Camonica (1813), the battles of Kremsmünster, Toscolano and Salo` (1814).
-1848-1849: The war against the revolutionary Hungarian army. The Regiment was represented at the great popular gathering near Blaj. It refused to swear an oath by the new Hungarian constitution and to have its military colours changed with Hungarian ones. The unit’s standard was defended in a brutal hand to hand struggle against armed forces in a barracks in Budapest, then smuggled back to Năsăud by the junior officer Macarie Pop, where, later on, it was kept in theGreek-Catholic Church. The Border-Infantrymen of Năsăud fought courageously in the battles of Glodeni , Voivodeni, Gherla, Someşeni, Dej, Ciucea, Romuli, Ghinda, Piatra, Mocod, Tihuţa, Cândreni, Sărăţel, Baiersdorf, Măgheruş, Prundul-Bârgăului, Valea Tăutului, Bistriţa, Reghin. The Regiment also aided in the training of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Romanian Legions in Transylvania and fought through the whole campaign. The unit was joined in the battle by the Border-Guards of Bukovina and, finally, by the Army of the Russian Empire.
On the 22nd of January 1851, after 88 years of existence, through the High Resolution of Emperor Francis Joseph, transmitted to all Border Regiments, alongside the Order 3598 of the Military High Command, all Romanian Frontier Regiments in Transylvania were disbanded. The decision was taken because a highly trained, armed Romanian military force, that had proven its growing national conscience, was perceived as a threat by the local nobility and, in the end, also by the Imperial Court in Vienna. Such a force, which had proven its worth and skill in previous conflicts, had the ability to oppose any authority which undermined its national interests. These fears were made all the more urgent by the fact that promises which had been made to the Grenzers had not been upheld, regarding their most stringent and justified national aspirations, and demands of equal rights and opportunities.
The 2nd Wallachian Nr. 17 Border Infantry Regiment of Năsăud, in its almost 90 years of active duty, took part in 20 military campaigns, in the course of which it fought 133 battles, having lost on the fields of honour, all over Europe, more than 3 000 fallen soldiers.
The glorious traditions of this elite unit were revived by King Carol II. of Romania, by creating, on May 8th 1933 the 1st Border Infantry Guards Battalion in Bistrita-Nasaud.
The Regulations of August 1808, which remained unchanged until the disbandment of the unit in 1851, suffered only minor changes and modifications. They expressly stated that the uniform of the border troops was the following:
– Shako or a matching peaked cap, for wear in barracks, a single-breasted tunic of brown cloth with one row of 10 silver buttons (the Regiment’s specific colour), with its laps neatly trimmed to a round ending. They were also short and rolled off. The collar was straight while the cuffs ended in corners and the piping was green, the Regiment’s other distinctive colour. The cuffs also had ornaments made of white braid stripes, named „Bärentatzen” (bear claws).
– A tie of black cloth.
– Light-blue skin-tight breeches, with braided gold-and-black thread.
– Laced boots, sometimes worn with leggings, or traditional peasant-style “Opinkas”.
– Cartridge-pouch and bayonet scabbard (holster) suspended on two wide black-leather belts, worn diagonally and crossed on the chest.
– Knapsack made of brown calfskin, worn on the back via two black-leather belts, with an additional horizontal belt across the chest. The soldier’s cloak, made of black cloth, was carried rolled up and attached to the knapsack.
– A canvas bread-bag, worn diagonally over the left shoulder.
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Emperor Francis Joseph the First decorated the unit’s standard with the Gold Medal, at the time it was the only battle standard in the entire Imperial Army to be awarded said award. Gold medals were also awarded to junior officers Bob and Despot Dănilă.
Silver medals were awarded to Corporal Botta, Junior Corporal Şinca Dumitru and Privates Ion Spiridon and Holocea Pantelie, alongside two other Grenzers.
The Bravery Medal, First Class, was awarded to Lieutenant Dumitru Rusu and junior officer Macarie Pop.
The Bravery Medal, Second Class, was awarded to Corporal Tănase Borgovan, Sharpshooters Luca Creţu and Ioan Mureşian and Private Dionisie Nicolau.
A unique emblem, present in the free bottom corner of the battle standard, made up of a shield with the inscription “Virtus Romana Rediviva”, mounted by an eagle.