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Introduction of the Brandenburg-Prussian Canton System of Military Recruitment [Kantonreglement], issued by Frederick William I ("the Soldier King"), as an Order to General Field Marshal Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein (May 1, 1733)

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Each and every one of the new recruits should be given a small crest around his hat, from the old crests that the regiment gives up when they receive new hats. All these recruits should be provided not only with new passes from the captains of each company, according to which canton they are given, but they should also swear to the king, the regiment, and the company where they are placed.

You should also, as the commander of the regiment, diligently keep a roll of the recruits of each company, how many and what kind they are, who have left the country and have remained hidden [conniviret] because of the recruiting. You must try to get them again, because I do not want any to slip through or any to hide so that others have too heavy a burden.

Those who reside in this disctrict and canton and have not grown [tall] should not be recruited at all. No one who has a house and farm should be recruited, or you will suffer my most serious displeasure and the loss of your honor and reputation.

The cities specified in the enclosed document are not granted to your regiment in the disposition; therefore you and the commander of the regiment can distribute such among the companies which have received the worst cantons.

Enclosed you are also receiving the patent circular order, which I am issuing to the priests of the district assigned to your regiment. You should instruct such preachers to announce this order from the pulpits, and also [give] each preacher the names of the locales of his congregation that are assigned to your regiment for recruiting, so that while reading my edict he can read off such locales at the same time.

I do not doubt that you and the commander of the regiment will endeavor yourselves hereby to maintain the regiment in good condition and to institute this beneficial system well, justly, and impartially, and this order should be executed beginning on the 1st of May. I am

Your wholly affectionate king,

F. Wilhelm
Potsdam, the 1st of May 1733

To the Regiment von Finckenstein

Source: Eugen von Frauenholz, Das Heerwesen in der Zeit des Absolutismus [The Army in the Age of Absolutism]. Munich: Beck, 1940. (Entwicklungsgeschichte des deutschen Heerwesens. Unter Mitw. von Walter Elze und Paul Schmitthenner hrsg. von Eugen von Frauenholz. Bd. 4.) [(The History of the Development of the German Army. With the cooperation of Walter Elze and Paul Schmitthenner, edited by Eugen von Frauenholz. Vol. 4)], pp. 243-45.

Reprinted in Helmut Neuhaus, ed., Zeitalter des Absolutismus 1648-1789 [The Age of Absolutism 1648-1789]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung. Edited by Rainer A. Müller, Volume 5. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1997, pp. 458-64.

Translation: Ben Marschke

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