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Russian Infantry
of the Napoleonic Wars


"The [Russian] infantry was generally composed of athletic men
... but generally of short stature, ... inured to extremes of weather and hardship; to the worst and scantiest food;
to marches for days and nights."
- Sir Robert Wilson
"... the Russians are very brave." - Karl von Clausewitz

1. Introduction: Russian Infantry.
2. Equipment.
3. Uniforms.
4. Organization.
5. Training and Tactics.
6. Best Regiments.

"The Russians had to be beaten down
man by man ... our soldiers fired
upon them at 25 paces, they continued
their march without replying,
every regiment filed past,
without saying a word, or
slackening its pace for a moment.
The streets were filled with
dying and wounded, but not a groan
was heard ... You might have said
that they were firing at shadows.
At last our soldiers charged the
Russian soldiers with the bayonet,
and only when they pierced them
could be convinced that they were
dealing with men." (- Baron de Marbot,
Battle of Golymin

"When desperately wounded, the
Russian soldier would drag himself
eastward simply to die a few yards
nearer his homeland."
(- Haythornthwaite
- "Russian Army" Part I

In the battle of Valutina Gora,
"a considerable column of Russian
grenadiers made a bayonet charge
against a battalion of the [French]
7th Light and another of the 12th Line.
In this melee a lieutenant of voltigeurs
of the 12th (M.Etienne) flung himself on
the Russian general and having hit him
twice on the head with his sabre, took
him prisoner in the midst of his men."
(Britten-Austin - "1812
The March on Moscow" p 212

Russian infantry in 1812.
Picture: General Raievski 'The Hero of Borodino'
and the Russian infantry in 1812.

General Blucher directed Russian 2nd Grenadier Division toward
the burning village of La Rothiere. The Astrakhan Grenadiers
and Little Russia Grenadiers charged into the village and drove
Marshal Ney's Young Guard at bayonet point.
The Guard broke and fled and was only rallied in the northern
part of the village "by officers beating men back into the ranks."
Hilaire writes: "The carnage became dreadful; General Decouz,
an officer of known worth, commanding the 2nd Young Guard Division
was dangerously wounded. General Baste, who just recently commanded
the Sailors of the Guard, fell dead, after prodigious acts of valor."

In 1799 in Italy, Suvorov sent Russian officers to the Austrians
to instruct them how to employ the bayonet. The Austrians felt
humiliated and offended.

In Borodino in 1812, the attacking Westphalian infantry met
the Russians marching with fixed bayonets. A Russian officer recalled:
"When they saw us, they melted down as quickly as snow in the spring !"

In the battle of Morungen, the Russian Yekaterinoslav Grenadiers
used musket butts against French voltigeurs. The grenadiers said:
"These shorties are not worthy of our bayonets" and drove them away
just with musket butts, guffawing with laughter."
(Sir Robert Wilson - "Campaigns in Poland 1806 and 1807")

"Lads, shoot at everything French,and keep up the scare with bayonets!"
- NCO of grenadiers, Battle of Maloyaroslavetz, 1812

In Borodino, the Colonel of French 30th Infantry Regiment was captured
in the Great Redoubt by a gruff NCO Zolotov of 18th Jager Regiment.
He pushed and prodded the Frenchman with a bayonet and then
marched him as a kind of living trophy straight to headquarters,
paying no heed to the trail of blood the general was leaving
behind from his numerous bayonet wounds.

Introduction: Russian Infantry.
"Bullet's an idiot, bayonet's a fine chap"

Russian infantry in 1812, 
picture by Parhaiev Picture: Russian infantry in 1812. Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia.

Sir Robert Wilson writes: "The [Russian] infantry was generally composed of athletic men between the ages of 18 and 40, endowed with great bodily strength, but generally of short stature, with martial countenance and complexion; inured to extremes of weather and hardship; to the worst and scantiest food; to marches for days and nights."

Charles Emmanuel de Warnery writes in his 'Remarques sur le militaire...' that the Russian privates surpassed all European counterparts since "they are always in good humor, even when in the greatest misery." (Napoleon's pampered Old Guard was nicknamed 'The Grumblers'. The Bavarians and the British troops
can be also be considered as well fed and supplied.)

According to French author Loraine Petre the powers of marching of Russian foot soldiers were marvellous. For days at a time they would march regularly every night and yet fight all day with the very minimum of rest and food. Despite the abuse, mistreatment and poor food it was the private and not the Russian officer or general, who won the admiration of western observers and military men.

The vast majority of Russian infantrymen were uneducated countryfolks. The illiteracy ratio was higher than in other European countries. In 1790s only 1 private in 24 was literate, 1 in 6 among corporals and 4 in 14 among the sergeants. The worst situation was in the infantry. Those of the soldiers who came from the Baltic Provinces, Poland or Ukraine had better chances of education than those from Russia itself. De Tolly was one of the few generals who strongly believed that education of soldiers was one of the most important things. He and his officers taught many of soldiers how to read and write.

Officer of jagers 
in Germany 1813, 
by Oleg Parhaiev. The Russians had a bad reputation for drinking. The troopers received 3/8 litre of ‘liquor’ but prefered kvas, a native beer. Anything stronger than beer was often diluted with water. Each private, combatant and noncombatant carried a wooden “bottle” protected by leather.

In June 1812, an officer of 26th Jäger Regiment recalled: "Here the column was allowed a short halt. The soldiers were issued a portion of spirits at an unusual time -after the midday meal- and then yet another glass for each man. Afterward it was ordered to take spirits, of which we had no shortage, along on the road ... The ample spirits rejuvenated our soldiers. They forgot the heaviness of their loads, the exhausting marches, and by their talk scorned the imminent dangers. In our ranks singing broke out. The more fanciful started dancing, entertaining themselves and cheering up the others. Our drunken march continued the whole night without rest, so that even the sober became tired." (Kharkevich (compiled by) - "1812 in Diaries, Notes, and Memoirs of Contemporaries; Material of the Military Archive of the Main Staff. Series III. Wittgenstein's Corps.")

According to Bulgarin, in the battle of Heilsberg (1807), Grand Duke Constantine brought 2 wagons of “grain wine” and suhary for his uhlan regiment before they go into action. Borodino was rather an exception in this aspect where there was no drinking and still the Russians fought like lions.

Polish revolutionary leader Tedd Kosciuszko fought the Russian on several occassions, and wrote: "When they are on the offensive they are fortified by copious distributions of alcohol, and they attack with a courage which verges on a frenzy, and would rather get killed than fall back. The only way to make them desist is to kill a great number of their officers ... The Russian infantry withstand fire fearlessly, but their own fire is badly directed ... they are machines which are actuated only by the orders of their officers."

Russians versus Austrians in 1812.
Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia. Picture: Russians (left) versus Austrians (right), France's allies in 1812. Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia.

Despite the French and British army's fame from bayonet use, it was probably the Russian army who used the bayonet the most times in Napoleonic wars. The suvorovian motto was '"The Bullet's an Idiot, the Bayonet's a Fine Chap' (pulia duraka, no shtyk molodets).
The Russian bayonet attack was fierce and well-known throughout Europe. In Russian military manual issued in June 1812 was clearly stated "The bayonet is the true Russian weapon and the push of the bayonet is far more decisive than musketry"

A witness of the battle of Smolensk recalled that "I found the commander of the regiment, Major-general Tsibulsky, in full uniform, mounted on horseback among his marksmen. He replied that he was unable to restrain his men, who after exchanging a few shots with the French repeatedly tried to dislodge them by bayonet assaults, without awaiting orders. Even as he spoke, there was a shout of "Hurrah" from the line of men.
He [Tsibulsky] began to shout, even drove the marksmen back with his sword. At his presence, his command was obeyed, but only a few paces from him the cry of "Hurrah!" resounded again and again, and the men flung themselves on the enemy.... Light wounds were ignored until the wounded fell from exhaustion and loss of blood." (Tarle - "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia")

There were also cowards, as in any other army. According to Kutuzov in 1805 at Austerlitz two battalions of Novgorod Musketier Regiment "ran away without offering the slightest resistance". The Podolsk Musketier Regiment lost all six Colors at Austerlitz. In Bautzen in 1813, behind the Russian infantry was posted a screen of Cossacks, whose function was to act as military police and stop any frightened individual. (Nafziger - "Lutzen and Bautzen" p 225) In Austerlitz in 1805, General Losakov abandoned his musketier regiment and fled to the city of Lvov. After war he was degraded from general to the rank of private.


The Moscow Grenadier Regiment received
large number of British "Brown Bess" muskets

Equipment of Russian Infantry.
"Hair powder is not gunpowder, curls are not cannons,
a queue is not a sword, and I am not a German..."
- Suvorov to Tsar

Russian musket and rifle
of the Napoleonic Wars In the beginning of Napoleonic Wars the inferior quality of powder and muskets plagued Russian infantry. Another problem was the outdated metallurgical and gunpowder industries.

Between 1805 and 1809, the manufacturers limited production to 2 calibers, and in 1809 to one caliber. But the old weapons were still in use. In the beginning of 1812 the armament of the infantry included Russian and foreign weapons of 28 different calibers. Factories at Tula and Sestrovetsk produced between up to 170,000 weapons a year.

The Russian musket of 1805-pattern weighed 5.16 kg while the 1808-pattern only 4.46-4.47 kg. The 1808-pattern musket was 145.8 cm long (with bayonet 183 or 188 cm) and it had caliber 17.78 mm.

Although many regiments were armed with the new musket of 1808-pattern, in some units were still used old Russian muskets of various calibers. Many muskets were so worn out with firing that they were non-functional.

Many muskets were purchased in other countries, including 60,000 from Great Britain. The Moscow Grenadier Regiment received large number of British "Brown Bess." See below:

British infantry muskets.
Source: Nosworthy's - With Musket, 
Cannon, and Sword. Picture: British infantry muskets. Source: Brent Nosworthy - "With Musket, Cannon, and Sword."

There were thousands of captured weapons. The French Charleville musket was considered by many Russians as the lightest and best made, the British were larger and more durable, the Prussian, Swedish and old Russian muskets were considered as unwieldy.

The ammunition was kept in a cartridge pouch worn on a deerskin crossbelt 6.7 cm wide, over the left shoulder. The black leather pouch held 60 cartridges.

In November 1808 was ordered that the bayonet should always be carried fixed, as for the grenadiers and musketiers, as for the jägers.

Between 1803 and 1812 the factories in Toula (Tula) issued 20,000 rifles. In June 1808 the rifle was withdrawn and used only by NCOs and 12 marksmen in each jager company. The rifle had barrel with 8 grooves, it was 66-cm long and of 16.51 mm caliber. It weight (without bayonet) was 4.09 kg and its total length with the sword-bayonet was 153.7 cm.

Besides weapons the infantrymen carried tools. The second rank of every company carried 20 ax (each 73.2-cm long), 10 shovels and 5 pick (kirok) and hoes (motika). The iron parts of axes and shovels were kept in special covers made of used cloth.

In 1811 halberds were withdrawn from all grenadier regiments, and the sergeants and NCOs who had them were given muskets with bayonets and, consequently, cartridge pouches with crossbelts.


"I don't like war, it spoils the soldiers,
dirts their uniforms ..."
Grand Duke Constantine

Uniforms of Russian Infantry.
"A soldier has no time for smartness on campaign."
- Kutusov in 1812

Many Russian generals in that time were excessively concerned with details of dress, which in the case of some officers became an obsession. Their soldiers were busy for hours polishing the leather pouch and carbine belt, boots, buttons, and headgears. Tsar Alexandr had more relaxed attitude on uniforms than his father, although still not being as practical as was Suvorov or Kutuzov who were rather exceptions in this aspect.
While seeing the soldiers during campaign polishing their white leather belts, Kutuzov stopped and said: "I don’t want any of that. I want to see whether you’re in good health, my children. A soldier has no time for smartness during a campaign.”

Once a year each infantryman received 2 pairs of boots, 3 pairs of stockings, 1 headwear, 1 knapsack, 1 coat, 1 pair of trousers. Once every two years he received 1 greatcoat. The Russian cloth factories were obliged to sell part of their production in a fixed price for the army. In general the production was insufficient and additional uniforms were purchased from Britain, the major supplier of clothes and arms to Russia.

The style and design of Russian uniform changed several times, being influenced by the Prussians and the French. The Prussians covered themselves with glory during the Seven Years War and Tsar Paul (1754-1801) took them as example on which he dressed his troops disregarding the Russian national tradition and different climate. For example coats were tighter and soldiers had to wear the very unpopular in Russia gaiters. They also wore Prussian caps, adopted the Prussian motto of “Gott Mit Uns” (God With Us) and had to powder and plait their hair.
The greatness of Frederick the Great faded away in the military glory of Napoleon Bonaparte and during the reign of Pavel’s son, Tsar Alexandr, the Prussian military fashion was replaced by the French. But when Russia’s political and military position in Europe was greatly strengthened after defeating Napoleon, the Russian uniforms became the model for several western armies. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Russians must have been most flattered when in 1815 the Prussian army adopted to big degree the style and design of Russian uniforms.

The average and minimal temperatures in Russian regions differ. In the European regions of Russia the average winter temperature sometimes falls below -15 °C; however, sometimes it is much colder: even down to -30 °C for a month or two. One of the factors for these temperatures is Russia's geography: it is as northerly as Canada. (Brr). Winter is a common excuse for military failures of invaders in Russia (General Winter and General Snow. Failure in spring or fall is excused by General Mud :-)
Surprise surprise, such weather required warmer clothes for the troops !
The Russian infantrymen of Napoleonic Wars wore voluminous greatcoat (called shineli) made of rough cloth. The army had to wear the greatcoats for seven months, from October 1st to May 1st.

grenadier of grenadier regiment
in 1802-1805. Russian Infantry 1804-1807.
Picture by Patrice Courcelle, France Left: Russian grenadier in 1802-1805 wearing the old-fashioned mitre cap and greatcoat. Picture by Viskovatov, Russia.

Right: Russian infantrymen and grenadiers in 1804-1807, wearing shakos and greatcoats. Picture by Patrice Courcelle, France.

The greatcoat was a very popular wear although restricted faster movements on battlefield. Officer Shimanski wrote: "Running in a greatcoat, I was fatigued..." (Russian greatcoats were longer than those worn by the French and German troops).

The greatcoat was either brown-grey, grey, brown, dark green or black. In 1811 the greatcoat cuffs became colored, which do not appear to have been universal. In the beginning of 1814 campaign was ordered to wear on the greatcoat a white cloth strip to be tied around the left arm as a "field sign" to distinguish Allied troops.

For parade the greatcoat and haversack were removed.
In 1808 the round knapsacks used by lower ranks since 1802 were exchanged for rectangular ones and made of black leather. In the beginning of Napoleonic Wars the Russian infantry usually removed the knapsack before combat. It happened in Austerlitz and in December 1806 at Garnovo. At Garnowo the infantry (in the wood) to make the good reception of the French threw off their knapsacks. A vicious hand to hand combat in the wood followed. Davout's infantry pushed the Russians back and they were unable to recover their 4,000 knapsacks. Later on however this custom was almost abandoned.
Between 1810 and 1815 there were only few cases where the backpacks were actually taken off before combat. And even then it was done by one or two battalions rather than entire brigades. The backapacks were not left on the ground but were taken to the rear by other battalions.

In a very cold weather they additionally wrapped a cloth made of linen or wool around their feet, inside of the boots. This cloth was called onuchi (pronounced as onoochee) and had to be washed quite often as the feet easily sweated.

NCO of Orel Regiment in 1812-1813,
picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia In 1809 was ordered:

  • "the greatcoat is to be rolled 6.5 inches wide and worn over the left shoulder so that the soldier can freely hold the musket behind it.
  • the lower ends of the greatcoat are to be tied
    with a strap and buckle 3.4 inches from the end.
  • greatcoat and knapsack leather straps are not to be whitened.
  • the left knapsack strap is to be worn over the left shoulder on top of the greatcoat.

    Picture: NCO of Orel Infantry Regiment in 1812-13, by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia.
    The leather crossbelts were made of deerskin. They were white for musketiers and grenadiers and black for jägers (light infantry). Several jäger regiments which were transferred from musketiers 2 years earlier, still retained their white crossbelts. The crossbelts supposedly have being cleaned and whitened by the soldiers, but that was not rigorously obeyed during campaign.
    He wears grey, comfortable trouers, and his shako is protected with an oil-cloth.

    In 1802 was ordered that the green coat (not the grey greatcoat) would be "double-breasted, of dark-green cloth, with a standing collar of a special color for each Inspectorate; with cuffs the same color as the collar; with dark-green flaps on the cuffs; with red kersey lining, with brass buttons and two shoulder straps, of a special color for each regiment in an Inspectorate... In November 1807 was issued an order for all grenadier regiments: "collars and cuffs of coats, as well as collars of greatcoats, are directed to be of red cloth".
    In 1814 a single breasted coat was introduced.

    In April 1812 the musketier regiments were assigned shoulder straps according to seniority within divisions. In 1810 all grenadiers were ordered to wear red shoulder straps. In 1814 the grenadier and the newly formed grenadier-jäger regiments were ordered to adopt yellow shoulder straps with initials in red, instead of the red shoulder straps with yellow initials. Regiments who wore yellow shoulder straps were ordered to change into blue ones and those with light blue change to green piped red. All these changes were not actually adopted before the end of Napoleonic wars.

    Picture: headwears of infantry in 1802-05, by Oleg Parkhaiev
    1 - grenadier mitre-cap (1802) of Life Grenadiers
    2 - grenadier mitre-cap (1802) of Pavlovsk Grenadiers
    3 - fusilier mitre-cap (pattern 1802) of Astrakhan Grenadiers
    4 - grenadier shako (pattern 1805)
    5 - jager shako (pattern 1803)
    6 - grenadier officer shako (unofficial)
    7 - kaski (pattern 1802) of Lifeguard Preobrazhensk

    In the beginning of Napoleonic wars the tall and strong grenadiers wore mitre caps. In 1802 they were almost the same form and size as under Tzar Paul. In February 1805 in grenadier regiments the mitre caps were replaced with new ones.
    In 1803 (two years before Austerlitz Campaign) all lower ranks in musketeer regiments who were authorized hats were given shakos.

    Below is a picture of uniforms worn by the Russian infantry in Austerlitz Campaign in 1805.

    Picture: Russian infantry in Austerlitz Campaign in 1805. Picture by Andre Jouineau, France.
    Upper row: NCO, musketier, grenadier, grenadier with rolled greatcoat, drummer
    Lower row: infantryman in greatcoat, officer in parade uniform, officer in campaign uniform.

    In 1809 there were several changes introduced in the grenadier regiments.
    The shako cords (etishkety) were introduced:
    - - - white for privates
    - - - white with a mixture of black and orange for NCOs and musicians
    (In 1811 white cords with only their tassels having black and orange mixed in.)
    Colors were assigned for shako pompons:
    - - - white around green center for I Battalion
    - - - green around white center in the II Battalion
    - - - red around yellow center in the III Battalion
    Company-grade officers of grenadier regiments were ordered to wear a shako instead of the hat when in formation, with silver cords with a mixture of black and orange, only the tassel and ring being wholly silver. The powdering of the hair was discontinued for officers in grenadier regiments.

    In 1810 in the jager regiments, the carabiniers and strelki were given short swords patterned after the swords in the rest of the infantry. In 1811 these carabiniers and strelki were ordered to have tall black plumes on their shakos of the same pattern as those confirmed at this time for grenadier regiments: black for privates; black with a white top with an orange stripe down its middle for NCOs; and red for drummers and fifers. (Within few day however the plumes were abolished for the strelki.)
    The grenadiers and strelki of jager regiments were also ordered 3-flamed grenades on their shakos.

    In 1811 all grenadiers, carabiniers, strelki, fusiliers, and officers had their former thick black plumes replaced with new and narrow ones.

    New shako called kiver was introduced in 1812. See picture -->
    It was received only by some units, other regiments wore the old ones, even as late as 1814. The shako of the grenadiers and musketiers had brass chinscales. The jägers however had their shako held on the head with the help of one leather chin belt. There were white cords (peltizi) attached to the shako. The cords for officers were silver. If during campaign the cords were not lost they often were looped around the pompon.
    During long march the shako was protected with a special cloth cover and the cords were removed. If shako was covered the plume could be removed and kept atop of the knapsack. The shako cover was made of thick cloth saturated with wax. The cover was most often black. In some cases on the cover was a company number in yellow, although it was unofficially.

    During long marches and in the camp the soldiers wore more comfortable forage round cap.

    In summer the soldier no longer wore black, tall boots.
    Instead they wore the elegant white one piece trousers-gaiters. See picture -->
    For winter these would be replaced with white (dark green for jagers) one piece trousers-gaiters with black leather "false booting."

    During campaign, and in many battles, the infantrymen wore trousers. These were made of canvas or linen and could be grey, brown, green. The trousers were comfortable and liked by the men, they were worn despite the repeated orders from regimental officers.

    A yellow brass badge was fixed to the cartridge box. It differed in shape between various branches:
    - - - in the guards heavy infantry the plate had a St.-Andrew's star
    - - - for grenadiers it was in the form of a grenade with three flames.
    - - - for musketiers in the form of a grenade with one flame.
    - - - for the jägers it had a regimental number.

    Officers' uniforms resembled those of the rank-and-file, though their coats had longer tails. The junior officers were distinguished with epaulettes. The senior officers' (majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels) epaulettes had a fringe hanging from the edge. Officer wore a gorget at his neck bearing a black and gold double eagle.

    The gorgets were silver for 2nd lieutenants, silver with gilt edge for lieutenants, silver with gilt edge and eagle for 2nd captains, gilt with silver eagle for captains. The officers also wore the sash wrapped twice around the waist and knotted on the left side. The sash was of silver fabric, with 3 interwoven horizontal lines of black and orange.

    During campaign the officers wore green frock coats, grey breeches or grey trousers with red stripes, and bicorn hat or shako. They also carried the black knapsack but the gorget and sash were omitted.

    NCO's pompon was quartered in red and white and his collar's upper edge was pipped white. The drummers and fifers wore infantry coats with the addition of 6 white shevrons on each sleeve, 6 white lace loops on the breast, and 3 on each cuff flap. The grenadiers' drummers wore red instead of black plume. Drums were copper with white cords, and hoops painted in white and dark green triangles. The drum apron was usually of light brown hide.

    Uniforms of Russian infantry in 1812 Campaign, picture by Andre Jouineau, France.

    Uniforms of the Russian Army, 1801-1815
    Pictures by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia

    Infantry Division
    Guard Preobrazhensk Lifeguard
    Semenovsk Lifeguard
    Izmailovsk Lifeguard
    Lithuania Lifeguard
    Finnish Lifeguard
    Jagers Lifeguard

    1st (Grenadiers) Life Grenadiers
    Pavlovsk Grenadiers
    St. Petersbourg Grenadiers
    Yekaterinoslav Grenadiers
    Count Arakcheiev Grenadiers
    Taurida Grenadiers

    2nd (Grenadiers) Kiev Grenadiers
    Moscow Grenadiers
    Fanagoria Grenadiers
    Astrakhan Grenadiers
    Little Russia Grenadiers
    Siberia Grenadiers

    3rd Chernihov
    20th Jägers
    21st Jägers

    4th Tobolsk
    4th Jagers
    34th Jagers

    5th Perm
    23rd Jagers
    24th Jagers

    (quartered in
    3rd Jagers
    35th Jagers

    7th Pskov
    11th Jägers
    36th Jägers

    8th Archangelsk
    Old Ingermanland
    7th Jagers
    37th Jagers

    9th Nashebourg
    10th Jagers
    38th Jagers

    10th Yaroslav
    8th Jagers
    39th Jagers

    11th Kexholm
    1st Jagers
    33rd Jagers

    12th Smolensk
    New Ingermanland
    6th Jägers
    41st Jägers

    13th Vielikie Louki
    12th Jägers
    22nd Jägers

    14th Tula
    25th Jagers
    26th Jagers

    15th Vitebsk
    13th Jagers
    14th Jagers

    16th Nyslott
    27th Jagers
    43rd Jagers

    17th Riazan
    30th Jägers
    48th Jägers

    18th Vladimir
    28th Jagers
    32nd Jagers

    (stationed in
    Georgia and
    17th Jagers Jagers

    (stationed in
    Georgia and
    9th Jagers
    15th Jagers

    (quartered in
    2nd Jagers
    44th Jagers

    22nd Vyborg
    Staryi Oskol
    29th Jagers
    45th Jagers

    23rd Rilsk
    18th Jagers



    24th Hirvan
    19th Jägers
    40th Jägers

    (quartered in
    1st Marines
    2nd Marines
    3rd Marines

    31st Jägers
    47th Jägers


    26th Nizhegorod
    5th Jägers
    42nd Jägers

    27th Odessa
    49th Jägers
    50th Jägers

    28th garrison units
    in Siberian and Orenburg
    29th garrison units
    in Siberian and Orenburg
    30th, 31st,
    32nd, 33rd,
    34th, 35th,
    36th, 37th,
    38th, 39th,
    40th, 42st,
    42nd, 43rd,
    44th, 45th,
    46th, 47th
    In March 1812 was ordered to form
    18 new infantry divisions (30th-47th)
    from the 2nd 'replacement' battalions
    (without their grenadier companies)
    and 4th 'reserve' battalions.
    (The 2nd 'replacement' battalions
    were not detached from 19th-20th Div.
    stationed in Georgia and the Caucasus.
    Their 'reserve' battalions were disbanded.)

    Russian opolchenie Picture: opolchenie in 1812, by Oleg Parkhaiev.

    The opolchenie (militia) was raised in autumn of 1806. It was raised again in 1812. Serfs formed the bulk of the opolchenie, they were chosen by ballot from every 4-5 men per 100 aged 17 to 45 and required the permission of their landlord.
    The middle classes; clerics, professionals and intelligentsia joined the opolchenie voluntarily.
    The NCOs came from training battalions and retired soldiers. The officers came from noblemen and those who had served in the Army before. The nobility elected the generals and officers of the opolchenie.
    Some sources state the opolchenie numbered not less than 420,000 men, a more realistic figure would be just over 200,000 men. The opolchenie took an active part in the military actions at Borodino, Polotsk, Viazima, Krasnoi and Charniki, and many other battles. These cohorts were used as a source of replacements to fill out the depleted line units late in the war as well as employed as independent combat units.
    At Maloyaroslavets, pike armed Opolkenie were used to fill in the 3rd rank of the units that had been mauled at Borodino. There are repeated references to the St. Petersburg Opolchenie being absorbed into line units during the period around the second battle of Polotsk. They were not confined to direct military uses but also allowed the release of regulars from logistic tasks. These included maintaining garrisons, trains, parks, camps, stores, and worked as nurses, miners, policing, guarding prisoners and so forth. (Source: "The Opolchenie" by Dr S. Summerfield)

  • ~

    Such were the shortages of ammunition
    that some troops were trained to fire
    with clay bullets.

    Training and Tactics.
    Russia was the land of useless formalities.
    The taste for parades was carried beyond all bounds.

    In the very beginning of 19th century the Russia infantry was trained according to linear tactics explained in "Voinskim Ustave o polevoi piehotnoi sluzhbe 1796 goda." It suffered horrible defeats in 1805 at Austerlitz and in 1807 at Friedland. The army required changes in organization, training and tactics.

    In 1807 A. I. Hatov published "General Essay on Tactics" (Obshchii opyt taktiki). In 1808 was published book "Notes on the Latest Changes in the Drill". In 1808 gathered a committee to create regulations (ustavy) for infantry, cavalry and artillery. Unfortunately it produced very little. By the beginning of the Great Patriotic War in 1812 only ustavy for the infantry were ready. It was called Voinskii ustav o piehotnoi sluzhbe. It consisted two parts. The first one was called "School of recruit or soldier" (Shkala rekrut ili soldat) and emphasized accuracy of fire. The second was called "School of company training" (O rotnom uchenii)

    Rear Guard under Dorohov in 1812.
Picture by Chagadayev, Russia. Unfortunately Russia was the land of useless formalities. The taste for parades was carried beyond all bounds. Parade ground precision was what was instilled into recruits and musketry training was neglected.
    Only few high ranking commanders had more practical mind. General Mikhail Kutusov writes: "Teach them (infantrymen) to turn and to march as a front in platoons and in sections. Do not look for any kind of beauty, or burden the men with anything which might detract from the essentials of the business."

    Barclay de Tolly stressed the importance of target-practice in 1810, and in 1811. His works were titled "Instructions for Target Practice" and "Code of Infantry Service."

    Generally the Russians formed their infantry division in two lines. In the first line was first infantry brigade of 4 battalions formed either in lines or columns. Approx. 140-210 m (200-300 paces) behind was the second line. Here stood the second infantry brigade of 4 battalions formed in columns.
    In front of the division was jager brigade (partially) in skirmish order.

    The Russian infantry defended villages in this way: Jagers in skirmish order occupied the outer buildings and gardens. Inside the village in the streets stood individual companies, they if necessary supported the most threatened parts of the skirmish line. Behind the village stood reserve; one or several battalions formed in column(s).
    Church and cemetary were defended by grenadiers.

    General Konovnitzin In the summer of 1811 were conducted divisional maneuvers. In such maneuvers participated infantry, cavalry and artillery. Special attention was paid to the cooperation of the three arms and to skirmishing but multi-divisional maneuvers were rare. During the army maneuvers in May 1812 the 3rd Infantry Division under General Konovnitzin (see picture) was held up as a model for the army. In the battle of Borodino, the 3rd Infantry Division defended Bagration Fleches against Davout's French infantry and then together with the elite 1st Grenadier Division faced Prince Poniatowski's Polish infantry.

    The Russian infantry advanced in four cadences:

  • tchyi shag of 60-70 paces per minute
  • skoryi shag of 100-110 paces per minute
  • udwonyi shag of 140-160 paces per minute
  • rapid pace used by skirmishers and sometimes by the formed infantry

    During long marches infantry movements were sometimes sped up by the use of horses and wagons. In 1812 in Vyazma one battalion of the 5th Jäger Regiment was transported on horseback to the battlefield. In June 1813, General Worontzov transported 6 grenadier and 1 jäger battalion on wagons to keep up with light cavalry and Cossacks. Only higher orders prevented the brilliant capture of Leipzig.

    Generally the Russian infantryman was not the best shooter in Europe to say the least. The men were trained in firing quick volleys by entire platoons and battalions. Only few commanders trained their troopers in aiming their muskets and emphasized the accuracy of fire.

    General Kutuzov. Kutuzov (see picture) insisted that troops must be inspected and tested in aimed fire. Barclay de Tolly writes: "The purpose of the training is not in that the men would pull the triggers evenly and all at the same time, but that they would aim well..." He also issued several orders on the training in aimed fire.
    Kutusov's and de Tolly's efforts brought little fruit because the individual soldier was allowed only 6 or even less rounds per year. In comparison the British 'Rifles' and Prussian jägers and Schützen were allowed 60 rounds per man. To make things worse for the Russians it was ordered that regiments, which participated in combat were to be given no ammunition for training. Such were the shortages of ammunition that some troops were trained to fire with clay bullets. (Zhmodikov "Tactics of the Russian Army..." Vol. II, p. 12)

    Besides the shortages of lead bullets, the Russian powder was of lower quality. Many muskets were so worn out with firing that they were non-functional. Prussian Colonel Muffling mentions that in 1814 three newly raised Russian battalions were attacked by French cuirassiers. The Russians delivered volley at 60 paces killing not a single man or horse ! Not discouraged by their failure they held their ground. The cuirassiers retired.

    General Langeron described a firefight at Austerlitz: "Soon, the French lines initiated a very sharp and very murderous fire of musket and canister upon the brigade of Kamensky which in a moment had many men rendered hors de combat. (Kamensky's brigade) answered with a less sharp and badly directed fire, the majority of our soldiers fired in the air... in justice I ought to say that despite the superior number of the enemy, despite their little experience of war and the effect on them of an unforseen attack on their rear, despite the noise of gunfire, which many of them were hearing for the first time, they maintained themselves admirably for nearly 2 hours and in these two hours more than half of the two regiments were left dead." (Langeron - "Journal inedit de la Campagne de 105; Austerlitz" p 75)

    Russian infantry, 
movie War & Peace The line formation had been standard during the XVIII Century but lost popularity after the French triumphs with columns during the Revolutionary Wars. Column was the favorite formation for the Russians. Any movement in line was inconvenient, while columns moved faster and easier maneuvered.
    Russian infantry battalion (4 companies, 8 platoons) could be formed in one of several types of columns. Column however was defficient in firepower, only the front ranks could use their muskets effectively. The column had no chance in a musket duel against the line.

    Infantry Tactics during the Napoleonic Wars.

    The deeper the column was the heavier casualties it suffered from artillery fire. Not only a direct hit could kill many soldiers, a cannonball rolling and ricocheting was breaking men's legs.

    The column on battlefield could be either company or half-company wide. If it was one company wide then the four companies stood one behind the other with full or half intervals. It means the distance between companies was prescribed as equal to full or half frontage of a company. This type of column was the best formation for movement and maneuver.

    There was also closed column with only 3 paces intervals between companies. Bayonet charges were caried out either in "attack columns" (half-intervals) or in closed columns. Closed columns and hollow squares were used against cavalry.

    Wide intervals between battalion columns allowed numerous Russian artillery and cavalry to move freely between them. Unfortunately the Russian columns were often so placed that it was possible to pound them well with artillery before they were charged.

    General Bennigsen In the battle of Borodino, Kutuzov ordered the 3rd 'Grenadier' Corps be placed so the French would not be able to see it. Later that day General Leontii Bennigsen (see picture) visited this corps and ordered to move it forward without informing the commander in chief.

    Only some Russian commanders used terrain as a cover. For example in the battle of Borodino some infantry columns used depressions and ravines as shelter from French artillery fire. Russian artillery officer, N.E.Mitarevski, wrote that his gunners "couldn't see friendly infantry, but when it was necessary, they appeared as if from out of the ground." (Zhmodikov - "Tactics of the Russian Army ..." Vol. II)

    Far more often however the Russian infantrymen were not allowed to use terrain as cover or lie down on the ground to lessen the casualties. As an example is a situation in Leipzig in 1813, described by Digby-Smith:
    Prinz Eugen under fire in Leipzig.
Source: George Nafziger - 
Napoleon at Leipzig. "The situation of the Russians on Klux's right, in the open fields ... was much worse. Lacking any cover at all, they suffered very heavy losses from artillery fire. Shahovskoi ... reported to Prinz Eugen that his men were being destroyed. The prince rode slowly along the line. At each battalion, his question 'How many men have you lost ?' would be answered with a silent gesture to the lines of dead lying where they had fallen. ... [Prinz Eugen] did nothing to alleviate the situation ... That the prince ... lacked sufficient initiative to move his divisions out of the French line of fire, or at least have them lay down, beggars belief. It was Borodino all over again (where Prinz Eugen had commanded the 4th Infantry Division); the Russian commanders had learned nothing and continued to squander their men to absolutely no avail." (Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig" p 86)

    There were not many admirers of skirmish formation in Russia, one of the few were Suvorov and Kutusov. Kutusov wrote several sets of notes on light infantry already in the 1780s.

    The skirmish line was formed by the Russian infantry this way: the soldiers of 1st rank formed the front chain, the soldiers of 2nd rank formed the second chain, while the 3rd rank formed a reserve behind the center.

    The skirmishers acted in pairs with 2 or 5 paces intervals between pairs, maneuvered according to drum signals and moved at a run (150-200 paces per minute). They were trained to use terrain features, to fire from standing, kneeling or lying position.

    Jägers (light infantry) were usually the ones sent to skirmish. If there was insufficient number of jägers the line infantry or grenadier regiments sent their own skirmishers.

    The troops were sent to skirmish by platoons or companies, which relieved each other in turn, or by entire battalions and even regiments. For example a day before the Battle of Eylau, the Arkhangel Musketier Regiment (line infantry) was deployed as skirmishers to cover the withdrawal of the 4th Division. In Krasne in August 1812, the 49th Jäger Regiment (light infantry) was placed in front of the village in skirmish order.

    There were disagreements about the use of large number of skirmishers. Published in 1811 "On Jäger Training" recommended the use of entire jäger battalion (4 companies of 2 platoons each) in skirmish order. The grenadier and strelki platoon were kept in reserve behind both flanks of the skirmish line formed by the remaining six jäger platoons.

    Barclay de Tolly was against using large number of skirmishers. He wrote in 1812: "in the beginning of a battle one is to push out as few skirmishers as possible, but to keep small reserves, to refresh the men in the chain and [to keep] the rest behind formed in column. Heavy losses cannot be attributed to skillful actions of the enemy, but to excessive numbers of skirmishers confronted to the enemy fire."
    In Berezina in 1812, a large number of jagers and line infantry were thrown into skirmishing in the overgrown terrain. They were shattered by French cuirassiers and 1,500 were taken prisoners ! (Riehn - "1812: Napoleon's Russian Campaign" p 384)
    In 1813 de Tolly prescribed forming only 1/3 of the whole number of men sent to skirmish. (Zhmodikov - "Tactics of the Russian Army" Vol. II p. 29)

    Russian General Prince Eugene Wirtemberg wrote that in Russian army was a tendency to push out a lot of skirmishers and only in 1813 the right proportion was found (only part of battalion and not the entire unit was sent out as skirmishers).

    It was said that until 1806 the Russian skirmishers were below European average. During the numerous wars however they improved. The Prussians, who fought the Russians in 1812, considered the jägers to be competent skirmishers. According to Prussian officer von Clausewitz, the Russian jägers at Borodino fought in the skirmish line with great dexterity. (Clausewitz - "The Campaign of 1812 in Russia" 1992, pp 162-157)

    Chichagov however claimed that Russian infantry had not enough wit and adroitness to fight in skirmish order. Barclay de Tolly considered the French skirmishers superior to the Russians in agility and marksmanship and more effective in the woods. Only after 1812 the abilities of French skirmishers declined.

  • ~

    Organization of Russian Infantry.

    In 1800 Russian monarch ruled the lives of 35 milion souls in the European part of the empire. In comparison France had 30 milions, Austria 25, Britain 18, and Prussia only 5. France however was able to recruit more men than Russia and in shorter time because had much smaller territory, better administration and finances.

    There was a big gap between the theoretical and the actual strength of the Russian army. One example below:

    Pskov Musketier Regiment, 13 February 1807
    enlisted actually in the ranks
    9 2
    51 27
    NCOs 120 70
    privates 1,745 939
    Source: regimental history of Pskov Infantry
    Regiment published in 1883 in Moscow

    By September 1805 Russia had:
  • 13 grenadier regiments (heavy infantry)
  • 84 musketier regiments (line infantry)
  • 22 jäger regiments (light infantry)

    NCO of jagers in 1812-1816.
Picture by Viskovatov. officer and private 
of 21st and 22nd Jagers 
in 1805-1807.
Picture by Viskovatov Pictures: officer and private of 21st and 22nd Jagers in 1805-1807 (left) and NCO of jagers in 1812-1816 (right). Picture by Viskovatov.

    Generally the jägers, see pictures, were superior marksmen to the musketiers. (Petre-"Napoleon's Campaign in Poland,1806-7")
    Additionally in every jager company all NCOs and 12 best marksmen were armed with rifles.

    The jagers were the shortest men in the army. The minimum height requirement in 1812 for the jägers was below 2 arshin and 2 vershok. In 1813 it was heightened to 2 arshin and 4 vershok.

    If there was lack of short recruits the jagers took replacements from already trained soldiers. In 1812 was ordered that half of the replacements would be taken from the 2nd rankers in the musketier regiments. (- Ulianov p 11)

    In October 1810 there were:

  • 14 grenadier regiments
  • 96 - 14 (became jägers) = 82 musketier regiments
  • 32 + 14 (new regiments) = 46 jäger regiments

    In 1811:

  • 14 grenadier regiments
  • 97 infantry regiments
  • 50 jager regiments

    In 1811 the regiment comprised of three battalions: 2 field (1st and 3rd) and 1 (2nd) depot. In 1811 in every jager battalion was formed a grenadier (carabinier) company. In November 1811 many regiments (but not the grenadier regiments) received a 4th battalion, known as a "reserve battalion". In March 1812 the 4th "reserve" battalions joined the 2nd "depot" battalions in the so-called Supply Army. The grenadier companies were taken away from the depot battalions and formed converged grenadier battalions and divisions.

    It was ordered that every year each grenadier regiment will receive 15 best soldiers selected from every regiment of two assigned divisions. Each guard regiment received 6 such men. See below an example:
    Infantry Division
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - - - Jager Regiment: 15 best carabiniers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - - - Jager Regiment: 15 best carabiniers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    Infantry Division
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - Infantry Regiment: 15 best grenadiers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - - - Jager Regiment: 15 best carabiniers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - - - - - - Jager Regiment: 15 best carabiniers and strelki sent to a grenadier regiment, and 6 best to the Guard in St.Petersbourg
    - - - - - Grenadier Regiment: received the 180 best men from all the above regiments, and sent his 6 best grenadiers and strelki to the Guard.

    In 1813 three jäger regiments (51st, 52nd and 53rd) and four infantry regiments were raised. Soon however the new infantry units were converted into jägers becoming the 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th Jager Regiment.

    In 1813-1815 Russia had:

  • 14 grenadier regiments
  • 57 jäger regiments
  • 97 infantry regiments

    In April 1814 the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 14th, 26th, and 29th Jäger Regiment became grenadier-jägers (they kept their old numbers). In August 1815 the grenadier-jägers were renamed 1st-6th Carabinier Regiment and their numbers were replaced by other jager units. In 1816 the 7th Carabiniers was formed.

    In 1815-1816 seven jager regiments were disbanded:
    51st became 8th, (the 8th after being converted into 3rd Carabiniers released its number)
    52nd became 47th, with the 47th taking the released number 14th (14th Jagers was converted into carabiniers)
    53rd became 20th, with the 20th taking the released number 1st (1st Jagers was converted into 1st Carabiniers)
    54th became 21st, with the 21st taking the released number 3rd (3rd Jagers converted into 2nd Carabiniers)
    55th became 26th, (the 26th after being converted into 5th Carabiniers released its number)
    56th became 29th, (the 29th after being converted into 6th Carabiniers, released its number)
    57th became 46th, with the 46th taking the released number 17th (17th Jagers converted into 7th Carabiniers)

    In October 1814 the Kexholm Grenadier Regiment was renamed to His Majesty Kaiser of Austria Grenadier Regiment and St. Petersbourg Grenadier Regiment was renamed to His Majesty King of Prussia Grenadier Regiment. The two units formed the 1st Brigade of 1st Grenadier Division of Grenadier Corps.

    The Russian infantry in 1813-1814 was in a poor shape. The sorry state was due to one of the most exhausting military campaigns in history. The regiments began 1812-Campaign in almost full strength, well-clothed and well-armed. They fought in large battles (Polotzk, Smolensk, Viazma, Krasne, Berezina and the bloodiest of all, Borodino) and covered long distances, from central Russia to western Europe. When the regiments marched into Germany and France they consisted of small core of crusty veterans. Gradually they were supplied with raw new recruits but very rarely brought up to full strength. The regiments were weak, instead of the usual 2-3 battalions many fielded only one. Only the regiments of grenadiers had 2 battalions on average and some of the guard units had even 3.

    Organization of regiment until 1810:

  • jager regiment had 3 jager battalions (x 4 jager companies)
  • musketier regiment had 1 grenadier battalion (x 4 grenadier companies)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . - - - - - - 2 musketier battalions (x 4 musketier companies)
  • grenadier regiment had 1 grenadier battalion (x 4 grenadier companies)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . - - - - - - 2 fusilier battalions (x 4 fusilier companies)

    Organization of regiment until 1810
    Infantry Regiment Jäger Regiment




    Grenadier Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company

    Grenadier Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company

    Grenadier Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company

    Grenadier Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company


    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company


    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company




    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company


    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company


    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Organization of regiment after 1810:
  • jager regiment had 3 jager battalions (x 1 carabinier and 3 jager companies)
  • infantry regiment had 3 infantry battalions (x 1 grenadier and 3 infantry companies)
  • grenadier regiment had 3 grenadier battalions (x 1 grenadier and 3 fusilier companies *)
    * - only in His Majesty's Grenadier Regiment all were grenadier companies.

    Organization of regimental staff in 1811-1815:
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Chef (Shef) - in the rank of general
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (he often served as commander of a brigade or division and was not present)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Regimental Commander (Polkovyi Komandir) - in the rank of colonel
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Battalion Commander (Batalionnyi komandir) - in the rank of leutenant-colonel
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Majors (Majory) - they were second in command in the battalions
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Kaznachei - in the rank of lieutenant
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Quartermaster (Kvartirmeister) - in the rank of lieutenant
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 ADC to Chef (Adjutant Shefa) - in the rank of leutenant or ensign
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 ADC to btn. commanders (Batalionnyi Adjutant)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Captains (Kapitan)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Regimental Drummer (Polkovoi Baranashchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Battalion Drummer (Batalionnyi Barabanshchik) - stood with the grenadier platoons
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Non-combatants: surgeons, crafstmen, 9 musicians (stood with grenadier platoon) 8 fifers
    In 1812 Barclay de Tolly (Minister of War) issued order that if company's strength fell below 44 men the regimental musical band would be disbanded and the musicians will serve as soldiers.

    Organization of regiment 1811-15
    Note: in 1812-1814 the losses were very heavy
    and many regiments fielded only 1-2 battalions.
    Infantry Regiment Jäger Regiment




    Strelki Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company


    Strelki Platoon - - Grenadier Platoon
    Grenadier Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company

    Infantry Platoon - Infantry Platoon
    Infantry Company




    Strelki Platoon - - Carabinier Platoon
    Carabinier Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company


    Strelki Platoon - - Carabinier Platoon
    Carabinier Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    Jager Platoon - Jager Platoon
    Jager Company

    The infantry company had 2 infantry platoons, the jager company of 2 jager platoons, and the grenadier company had 2 grenadier platoons. In 1810 ordered that the grenadier company will be divided into grenadier and strelki platoon.
    The grenadiers and strelki were saved from any corporal punishment, they were elite troops of the battalion. The men of grenadier platoon were expected to be good marchers, brave, strong physically and mentally, with good disciplinary record. From the Instructions by Barclay de Tolly, dated February 22 1815 (old style): "The 'strelki' of the grenadier companies, in addition to the excellent conduct and bravery, must distinguish themselves by the art of marksmanship." No longer height requirement was obligatory. (- Ulianov p 28)

    When battalion (4 companies of 2 platoons) was formed in line, the grenadier platoon stood on the right, while the strelki platoon on the left.

    Organization of company:
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 First Lieutenant (Poruchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Second Lieutenant (Podporuchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Senior NCO (Feldfebel)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Portupei-Praporshchik - (NCO, came from gentry)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Podpraporschik
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Kaptenarmus (a NCO responsible for clothing, ammunition, weapons etc.)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Junior NCOs (Mladshyi Unterofitzer)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Drummers (Barabanshchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . Grenadier Platoon had 2 drummers and 1 fifer
    . . . . . . . . . . . . Strelki Platoon had 1 drummer and 1 fifer

    . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 privates grenadiers and fusiliers

    Organization of infantry company according to diagram in
    Zhmodikov's "Tactics of the Russian Army in the Napoleonic Wars" Vol. II (p 9):
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Captain (Kapitan)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 First Lieutenant (Poruchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Second Lieutenant (Podporuchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Ensign (Praporshchik)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Senior NCO (Feldfebel)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 NCOs (Unterofitzery)
    . . . . . . . . . . . . ?? Privates

  • ~

    "The tenacity of Russian grenadier equals
    that of the very best French and English regiments."

    "Sir George Cathcart, who saw the Russians
    in them the honorable testimonial
    that they are 'incapable of panic.'

    The Best Regiments of Russian Infantry.
    In 1812 the resolute 26th Jager Regiment sang while marching:
    "We are not afraid of [Marshal] Oudinot -
    he is nothing but a piece of sh...t!"
    - Harkevich "1812 god v dnevnikakh,
    zapiskakh i vospominaniiakh sovremeninikov"

    French and Russians in
bayonet fight for the
Great Redoubt.
Battle of Borodino. Generally the best were the Guard regiments, followed by grenadier, jager and musketier regiments. We have selected eight regiments (3 grenadiers, 3 infantry, 2 jagers) which - in our opinion - are the best. They have distinguished themselves on battlefield, captured enemy's color and guns, or put up a gallant fight to beat off the enemy.

    GL - Gieneral-Lieutenant
    GM - Gieneral-Major
    Plk. - Polkovnik (colonel)
    Pplk. - Podpolkovnik (lieutenant-Colonel)

    In April 1813 the 1st, 5th, 14th, and 20th Jägers were awarded badges for their shakos with the inscription “For excellence” (Za otlichie).
    In April 1814 the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 14th, 26th, and 29th Jägers, in recognition of the distinction they showed in the war, were renamed to Grenadier-Jägers.
    In April 1813 for their distinction during the 1812 campaign, the Life Grenadiers and Pavlovsk Grenadiers became part of the Imperial Guard, and the Kexholm and Pernau Infantry, for similar distinction, became Grenadiers.

  • His Majesty Grenadier Regiment
    Other names: Life Grenadiers, Tzar's Grenadiers

    It was the senior grenadier regiment. In 1805 it had 3 grenadier battalions instead of the usual 1 grenadier and 2 fusilier battalions. In 1809, although the regiment was a line unit it was part of 1st Guard Division. In terms of height and physical strength of the troopers this regiment was probably the best right after the Guard. In 1813 the giants were admitted into the Imperial Guard.
    Chef: 1801-1825 Tzar Alexander
    Commander: 1809-1817 GM Graf Pavel A. Stroganov (in 1812 GL)

  • Pavlovsk Grenadier Regiment
    The grenadiers wore old-fashioned mitre-caps until the end of Napoleonic Wars. In 1807 for their gallant fight at Friedland Tzar Alexander ordered that, alone of the infantry, this regiment should henceforth retain its mitres "in the state in which they left the battlefield as visible mark of its bravery and Our grace." (The mitre caps however were not worn by their officers.) In 1812 at Polotzk one battalion and detachment of Grodno Hussars, was cut off by French cuirassiers and four infantry battalions. The Pavlovsk grenadiers however fought so valiantly that they even captured and brought in 100 prisoners !
    In 1812 at Loshmiana they met French infantry. Soon there were only scattered debris of the enemy.
    Pavlovsk Grenadiers routing
Swiss infantry in Kliastitzi
in 1812. At Kliastitzi (see picture) the depot battalion of this regiment, while under hail of fire, passed through a flaming bridge at full speed and took by storm all the building defended by the Swiss and French infantry.
    At Krasne the Pavlovsk grenadiers were under heavy artillery fire when they received order to attack a column of French sappers, pioneers and miners. The fight was short, the enemy perished. When another column of infantry appeared, the grenadiers charged with bayonets and put the enemy into flight. The French commander tried to stop the flight and was taken prisoner. (Glinka - "Pisma russkogo ofitzera" Part II)
    In 1813 for their valor in combat the Pavkovsk grenadiers were admitted to the Guard. In 1814-1815 in France due to their mitre caps they were the third most often depicted troops, after the wild Cossacks and the Scottish Highlanders in their kilts. The mitre caps were retained to the beginning of the XXth Century (600 caps were still in 1917). Some caps still bearing the scars and bullet holes of Friedland! J. S. Stanhope wrote: "and the marks made by the musket balls in these caps are considered as so many decorations, and , therefore are never repaired."
    1807 - Oct 1813 GM Dmitrii P. Neverovski (in 1812 GL)
    1813 - 1815 GM Petr S. Makarov
    1812 - 1813 Plk. Egor H. Rihter

  • Georgian Grenadier Regiment
    At Aslan-Doos, together with 17th Jäger Regiment (total 2,200 men and 6 guns) they defeated 24,000 Persians with 12 guns. In 1810 they gallantly stormed Ahalakalak. In 1811 they were renamed to Caucasus Grenadier Regiment.
    Chef: 1810-1811 Plk. Petr S. Kotliarevski
    Commander: Sep 1807 - 1811 Mjr. Fedor I. Ushakov

  • Moscow Infantry Regiment
    This unit was one of the oldest regiments, it was formed in 1700. In 1805 at Durenstein they defeated 100th Line Regiment. The enemy lost 100 men, 1 Color and 1 Eagle. In the same campaign they also captured Color of 103rd Line Regiment. At Krems they captured a squadron Color of French 4th Dragoon Regiment. In 1812 they fought gallantly at Gorodechna(o) and in 1814 at Brienne and La Rothiere.
    Chef: 1803-1814 GL Dmitrii S. Dohturov (in 1810 General of Infantry)
    1808 - Oct 1812 Plk. Fedor F. Monahtin
    Sep 1813 - 1815 Pplk. Ivan F. Kostromitinov (in April 1814 Plk.)

  • Pernau Infantry Regiment
    It was formed in 1806 and already in 1807 at Heilsberg they captured French Color. At Eylau they captured another trophy, battalion color of French 55th Line Regiment. This unit fought with valor in the war against Sweden. In 1807 at Friedland they captured battalion Color of 69th Line Regiment. In 1812 they distinguished themselves at Wiazma. At Borodino they repulsed cavalry attack and then charged against the cavalry with bayonets. In April 1814 they were admitted to grenadiers.
    Chef: 1806-1814 GM Pavel Choglokov (in 1813 GL)
    1812 - 1813 Pplk. Alex. A. Lachinov
    1813 - 1817 Pplk. Alex. N. Zhemchuzhnikov (in May 1814 Plk.)

  • Poltava Infantry Regiment
    In 1812 at Krasne they captured Color of 35th Line Regiment and Color of 4th Chasseur-a-Cheval Regiment. In 1813 at Leipzig they captured 11 guns.
    1807 - Dec 1812 Plk. Anton I. Libgart
    1813 - 1814 GM Pavel N. Ushakov-III
    1808 - 1812 Pplk. Ivan T. Konshin
    1812 - Feb 1813 Pplk. Nikita F. Boboiedov
    1813 - 1816 Pplk. Davydov

  • 17th Jäger Regiment
    In the war against Persia, at Askerani, approximately 360 jägers (+120 musketiers) with 2 guns, were surrounded by 20,000 Persians. They withstood all attacks for two weeks, although only 150 survived. At Ashlan-Doos, together with an infantry regiment (2,200 men and 6 guns) they defeated 24,000 Persians with 12 guns. They also captured 5 Colors and 500 prisoners, while 1,200 Persians were killed and wounded. In 1816 they became the 7th Carabinier Regiment. (Kersnovskii - "Istoriya russkoi armii" Vol I, pp 194-293)
    1811 Plk. Ivan A. Snaksarev
    1811 - 1815 Plk. Illia P. Zhivkovich
    1809 - 1810 Plk. Petr S. Kotliarevski
    1814 - 1815 Pplk. Ivan I. Parfenov

  • 28th Jäger Regiment
    This regiment was raised in 1806. In 1813 at Plagwitz they captured Color of the 146th Line Regiment. In August 1813 at Lowenburg they captured Color of 148th Line Regiment.
    Chef: 1808-1814 GM Petr I. Kornilov-I
    Commander: 1808 - July 1813 Pplk. Fedor S. Tandelfeld

  • Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading.

    For bibliography see our article "The Russian Army".
    Pictures by Viskovatov, Chagadayev, Parkhayev and others.
    Karl Fedorovich Baggovout.
    Petr Ivanovich Bagration.
    Mihail Bogdanovich Baraclay de Tolli.
    Leontii Bennigsen.
    Mihail Mihailovich Borozdin-I.
    Mihail Semenovich Vorontzov.
    Nikolai Vasilievich Vuich.
    Dmitrii Sergeievich Dohturov.

    Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

    Russian Infantry - - - - - Russian Cavalry and Cossacks - - - - - Russian Artillery

    Russian Imperial Guard

    Battle of Heilsberg 1807
    Bennigsen vs Napoleon
    Battle of Borodino 1812
    The bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic wars
    Battle of Dresden, 1813
    Russians, Austrians and Prussians
    crushed by Napoleon
    Battle of Leipzig, 1813
    The Battle of the Nations,
    the largest conflict until World War One.
    Battle of La Rothiere 1814
    Russians under Blucher defeated Napoleon.

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies