während der Napoleonischen Kriege}
1. Organization, Strength and Tactics.
Interview with Oliver Schmidt - "The Prussian Infantry"
2. Infantry of the Royal Guard.
3. Line Infantry.
4. Light Infantry.
5. Landwehr Infantry.
Topics: 1. Prussian Rifles - 2. Training of Jägers and Fusiliers - 3. Grenadiers' Uniforms -
4. Morale of Volunteer Jägers - 5. Organization of Regiment, Battalion and Company
Interview with Oliver Schmidt - "The Prussian Infantry"
Organization, Strength and Tactics.
"The infantry of Prussia in 1806 was 'a museum piece' reflecting the great days of Frederick the Great imposing in appearance but decidedly disappointing in performance. and outdated in training. This was evident as early as Valmy in 1792, but few improvements had been wrought 14 years later. The cult of the past was unshakeable, the tactics rigid, the supply train enormous, and a day's march of over 10 miles was considered excessive. Its leadership was also antiquated, except for Prince Louis Ferdinand. The disasters of Jena and Auerstadt and the succeeding weeks, and the humiliations of Tilsit at length brought reform under the inspiration of Scharnhorst." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars" p 210)
In 1806 the infantry consisted of 60 infantry regiments (2 battalions each, total of 120 musketier battalions), incl. the regiment of Foot Guard. There were also 27 grenadier, 24 fusilier and 3 jagers battalions.
. . . . . . 18 officers (and 4 surgeons)
. . . . . . 56 NCOs
. . . . . . 12 drummers and 8 fifers
. . . . . . 8 sappers
. . . . . . 600 grenadiers and 40 reserves
. . . . . . There were also:
. . . . . . riflemen: 40 Schutzen with 1 bugler.
. . . . . . artillerymen: 1 NCO and 17 privates
. . . . . . 19 officers (and 4 surgeons)
. . . . . . 48 NCOs
. . . . . . 5 drummers and 7 buglers
. . . . . . 8 sappers
. . . . . . 520 fusiliers and 40 reserves
. . . . . . There were also:
. . . . . . riflemen: 40 Schützen with 1 bugler.
. . . . . . 22 officers (and 5 surgeons)
. . . . . . 60 NCOs
. . . . . . 15 drummers (and 6 oboye players for the I Battalion)
. . . . . . 10 sappers
. . . . . . 600 musketiers and 50 reserves
. . . . . . There were also:
. . . . . . riflemen: 50 Schützen with 1 bugler.
. . . . . . artillerymen: 1 NCO and 17 privates
~ 1806 ~
In December 1808 a regiment's strength was regulated at 2 musketier and 1 fusilier battalion. The grenadiers still were part of the regiment but on campaign they were detached. They were grouped into Grenadier Battalions, one of which was attached to each of the army's six brigades.
In December 1812 eight 'Militia' battalions were raised by Bulow in East Prussia.
In 1813 the Prussian army consisted of 4 categories of troops:
~ 1813 ~
In 1815 Prussia had 32 line infantry regiments (3 battalions each) Below is list of regiments.
The Prussian infantry used closed columns instead of squares against cavalry. When enemy's cavalry approached the outer files filled the gaps between the troops. Such compact formaion was formed quickly, the troopers in 1st rank outstretched their bayonets while those in 2nd rank fired. The men in 3rd rank loaded the muskets and passed to the 2nd rank.
General von Clausewitz was not happy with the method the Prussian infantry defended villages. He wrote: "We use up our troops too fast in stationary combat. Our officers call for support too soon, and it's given them too readily. The consequence is that we suffer more dead and wounded without gaining any ground, and we transform our fresh soldiers into burnt-out husks."
Infantry of the Royal Guard.
On picture: Prussian Foot Guard in 1808 in Konigsberg, by Knotel.
Their dress-parades, inspections, reports, salutes, bearing in the presence of officers and on guard, were wonderfully regular, accurate, and according to the
The Guard Jäger Battalion (Garde-Jäger-Bataillon ) has its origins back to the wars of King Frederick the Great. In 1813 and 1814 they fought in numerous engagements but didn't see any action in 1815. They wore dark green coats, red collars and cuffs, grey trousers, shako covered with oilcloth, cartridge box with brass star. They were armed with rifles and bayonets.
In 1813 and 1814 the Prussian guard was attached to the Russian Imperial Guard. In 1815 the Guard Brigade and Grenadier Brigade were part of a separate corps.
The Royal Guard have participated in some heavy fighting during the campaign of 1813 in Saxony.
The Foot Guard Regiment and Guard Jäger Battalion had very high losses at Großgörschen (Lutzen).
They did fight at Leipzig and at Paris. The Guard Jägers took part in a lot of minor skirmishes troughout the 1813/14 campaign.
The line infantry included musketiers and grenadiers. The line infantry formed the biggest part of the army. For example in 1806 there were 147 battalions of line infantry (120 musketier and 27 grenadier) in comparig to only 27 battalions of light infantry (24 fusilier and 3 jägers).
The average height of Prussian infantryman (in 1811) was 1.63 cm. The minimum height for the recruits was 157 cm but for the guard was 175 cm. "The grenadiers (and guardsmen) were the tallest, although probably the tallest musketeers will have been a bit taller than the shortest grenadiers. Prussian Fusiliers should have been the smallest and most agile men of the regiment, but in fact, they were just the smallest..." (Oliver Schmidt)
The Prussian grenadiers were not a precious elite kept in reserves and out of harm's way. They participated in numerous combats, especially those units attached to the advance guard.
Two grenadier battalions participated in as many as 20-30 combats (!), the remaining four in 12-15 combats on average. In 1815 the two best battalions (see below) became part of the 1st Grenadier Regiment (1. Grenadier-Regiment-Kaiser-Alexander). The third battalion of this regiment had 15 combats.
French cuirassiers and dragoons attack Prussian infantry at Etoges, 1814.
Picture by W. Kossak
The Fusiliers, Jägers, Volunteers Jägers and Schützen (on picture) were the Prussian light infantry. They were to make use of woods, bushes, buildings, gardens, walls and hills. A member of the Prussian 12th Brigade describes attack on Probstheida near Leipzig: "We [skirmishers] moved up via Meusdorf and the brickworks against Probstheida. The first thing that hit our skirmishers - of which I was one - was an artillery crossfire. It didn't take long for us to be scattered. We reformed and threw ourselves into a sunken road up against the loopholed garden wall of the village. We waited until the French had fired a full volley at our main body, jumped out of the road and rushed forward to take half the village. The surprised French fell back before us, abandoning a battery of 10 guns in the centre of the village." (Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig" p 195)
The light infantryman had greater allowance of practice rounds per year than the line troops.
In 1812 the target practice was:
The Landwehr accepted men aged 25 to 40, too old and weak for the regular troops.
They were equipped not by the central goverment and ministry of war but by provinces.
The men wore either a black or dark blue Litevka coat with white, dark blue or grey
trousers. Each regiment had three battalions of 4 companies.
"The Prussian Landwehr regiments adopted and carried in the field many unofficial designs of flags prior to the issuing of the order of 30th September 1813 which prohibited their further use. From October that year until 1816 when a new official Landwehrfahne was introduced it seems that these units were without flags." (warflag.com)
In June 1815 were the following Landwehr regiments:
The performance of the Landwehr in combat varied. They stampeded on several occassions and also
had some splendid actions. Digby-Smith writes: "The Prussian Landwehr received their baptism of fire at Lowenberg. The Schweidnitz battaalion braved canister
fire and threw the enemy back at the point of the bayonet. They were only taken out of the line when they ran out of ammunition, and when they marched past Yorck he had his line regiments oresent arms to them.
Blucher wrote: 'At first it was only so-so with the Landwehr battalions, but now that they've had a good taste
of powder, they're as good as the line battalions.' Napoleon, however, had a very different opinnion of them.
When he saw some captured Landwehr, he wrote: 'The enemy infantry is absolutely wretched;
this encourages me." (Digby-Smith, - pp 18-19)
Uniforms of the Prussian Infantry and Landwehr.
In 1718 Prussian king Frederick Wilhelm drew back from the manners and fashions of Frenchified Europe and invented a solemn and simple military dress. This however didn't last long and from mid 1700s until Napoleonic Wars the French style more or less again dominated the European and Prussian fashion of military. In 1813, due to financial difficulties there was little uniformity in the Prussian army. The Prussians wore their own uniforms, uniforms supplied by Britain, and captured French uniforms. In 1815 majority of the new regiments that were formed from reserve, foreign, and volunteer troops had not received their new uniforms of line infantry before the campaign began. Regiments' appearances were not unified, some individuals wore altered French uniforms, while others wore red coats and shakos from England. Their knapsacks were mix of Prussian, Swedish, British and French ones. Some wore even blue trousers or civilian ones. Since 1815 the Prussian uniform was modeled on Russian design as Russian military enjoyed great reputation after the Napoleonic Wars. (See picture ext.link)
In 1813-1815 the officers wore waist sash (cloth of silver with two black embroidered lines), grey trousers with a red stripe and gilt buttons down the seams worn over or under the boots (not gaiters). Officers carried packs. In 1814 officers' shoulder straps were abolished and epaulettes were issued.
(because they went down only a hand's width above the ankle)
In the Elberfeld Manuscript (which will be available in print soon http://www.vs-books.de/elber.htm) there are several images of Prussian line infantrymen with white trousers worn over the gaiters, most of them of 1815. By the way, in the same year, there are also long grey trousers found, which are worn over the gaiters - this seems to be an intermediary pattern between the earlier short grey trousers and the long grey gaiter trousers."
Generally the Landwehr infantry wore either black or dark blue Litevka coat with grey or white trousers. The collar and cuffs were in the provincial colour (see diagram below).
Weapons of Prussian Infantry
The muzzle-loading smoothbore flintlock musket, not the bayonet, was the first- and most-employed weapon. When in early 1700s the Prussian infantry adopted the metal ramrod they found they could fight in three ranks while the Austrians who used wooden ones needed four to maintain the same rate of fire. The Prussian weapons were one of the best in Europe. During Napoleonic wars (1800-1815) however the Prussian muskets were just average European quality.
The Prussian grenadiers, fusiliers and musketeers were armed with muskets. The musket (1809) was 143.5 cm long. The stock was black for fusiliers and brown for fusketeers. The fittings were brass and the sling was red. Additionally some were armed with British (more than 15.000 infantrymen), Russian, French and Swedish muskets.
It was the practice always to carry the bayonet affixed to the musket by grenadiers and musketeers. (Some sources mention only combat situations) The fusiliers were light infantry and were more flexible in this aspect.
Because the infantry had several types of muskets (mostly Prussian, but there were also captured French and supplied by Great Britain) there were problems with ammunition. For this reason in 1815 some battalions exchanged their weapons in order to have only one type of musket within the same unit.
Interview with Oliver Schmidt.
1. Prussian Rifles.
2. Differences in Training Between Jägers and Fusiliers.
3. On Grenadiers' Uniforms.
4. Morale of the Freiwillige Jägers (Volunteer Jägers)
5. Organization of Regiment, Battalion and Company.
In the company of Muketiers or Fusiliers formed up in the regulation strength prescribed on 12th January 1813 the distance between the ranks is 2 Fuß (63 cm) measured from back to breast. The Unteroffiziere's rank is 2 Schritt (146 cm) from the third rank of the company. The Seconde-Lieutenant's rank is 2 Schritt (146 cm) behind the Unteroffiziere's rank. The men are equally distributed into two Züge (platoons), who were numbered according to their position in the battalion, counting from the right of the battalion deployed in line. The 1st company consists of the 1st and 2nd Zug, the 2nd company of the 3rd and 4th Zug, etc. The senior company or Zug (with the lower number) was always formed up on the right. The files were also counted starting from the right. Each Zug was divided into Sektionen, which should have 6 or 5 files. If there were not enough men to fill the last file on the left of the Zug, the place in its second and third rank was to remain free.
The senior and the junior Seconde-Lieutenant are behind the comapny's first Zug, the second Seconde-Lieutenant is behind the company's second Zug. The Feldwebel's position is behind the 2nd file of the company's first Zug. When Kapitain or Premier-Lieutenant leave their position, they are replaced by the Unteroffizier from the third rank behind them. When the Kapitain commands the whole company, his place is taken by the senior Seconde-Lieutenant. When the battalion was formed up in line, at least one Unteroffizier of each company was detached to the colour section. All the drummers and buglers were formed up in one rank behind the right wing of the 5th Zug, at a distance of 2 Schritt (146 cm) behind the rank of officers. If there were musicians, they would be formed up behind the left wing of the 4th Zug.
pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp . . ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp
.pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppU . pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppU
. . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . U . . . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . F
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S . . . . . . . . . . S
K Kapitan (1)
Above is a Prussian infantry company according to the regulation of 12 January 1813 and its formation according to the 1812 regulation for infantry. Unfortunately, it was not printed in my Osprey title. From the same date, the officers of the battalion were to consist of 1 staff officer as battalion commander (A "staff officer" - Stabsoffizier- can be any rank above Kapitan/Hauptmann and below general. For example: Major, Oberst-Lieutenant or Oberst), 1 adjudant (usually a Seconde Lieutenant), 1 "Rechnungsführer" (account manager, usually also a Seconde Lieutenant) and 17 other officers distributed to the companies. These officers were lower officers: probably 1 captain, 1 Premier-Lieutenant and 1 Secode-Lieutenant per company - there will have been variations.
From 2 December 1808, in peacetime, a regiment had 1 staff officer as commander (who will have been assigned a lieutenant from the regiment as adjudant).
Per battalion, there was 1 Büchsenmacher (gun maker) and per regiment 1 Büchsenschäfter (gun stock maker). For each battalion, there was a Bataillons-Tambour (named Bataillons-Hornist - battalion bugler - from 1811), and in addition 1 Regiemtns-Tambour. The regiments were allowed 10 regular (paid) "Hautboist"s (musicians), but most officer corps put together some money to increase this number in order to afford a bigger regimental band.
In each company, a few men carried an axe, a pickaxe or a spade. The soldiers disliked the extra weight. These items could hinder the aiming of the second rank. In May 1815, on its own initiative, the I/23. Infanterie-Regiment had formed an extra section of 12 pioneers, who had been picked from the companies. On their left shoulder they carried axes instead of muskets and wore a shovel and a pickaxe on a sling over the back. They formed up in one rank with the NCOs, behind the Color party. At Ligny they smashed doors and windows of houses which had been occupied by the French, making it much easier to dislodge the enemy. (No beard was required for the sapper.)
The battalion of jägers (or Schützen) had the same organisation, but according to the regulation of 12 January 1812 they had lesser numbers of rank and file (but the same number of officers as the regular infantry battalions): 40 NCOs, 9 buglers, 452 Jäger or Schützen
According to regulations issued on 24th February 1813 the detachments of Freiwillige Jägers were formed in 2 ranks if below and in thre ranks if above a strength of 100 men. On parade, the detachment stood on the right flank of the battalion. Marching past a superior, they were at the head of the battalion, in front of the musicians, the battalion commander and his adjudant at their (the volunteers') head. For exercise, the detachemnt is 50 paces behind the middle of the battalion in line. In attack column (compare my Osprey Warrior), the first platoon of the detachment between the 2nd and 3rd platoon of the battalion, the second platoon of the detachment between the 6th and 7th platoon of the battalion (Means, the attack column is two platoons wide and 5 platoons deep). They should be used for skirmishing, also for detachents and field duties, but shouldn't be fatigued too much. Their main purpose was to train the volunteers to become officers later - at least those who were apt for it.
When the two regiments of grenadiers were formed, they were organised along the pattern of the other infantry regiments: therefore their 3rd battalion was a battalion of Fusiliere (in which everybody, not only the men of the third rank, was to be trained as skirmisher). So each of the two Grenadier-Regimenter consisted of: 1. Bataillon, 2. Bataillon and Fusilier-Bataillon. However, the men of all the battalions were called Grenadiere. So you will find the denomination "Grenadier of the Fusilier-Bataillon of the Kaiser-Alexander-Genadier-Regiment".
In the Landwehr in the course of the campaigns in some regiments one battalion did specialise as Füsiliere, there is an order by Blücher of June 1815 that all the Landwehr regiments which did not yet have a Fusilier-Bataillon should appoint one.
Sources and Links.
Schmidt - "Prussian Regular Infantryman 1808-1815", Osprey 2003
Hofschroer - "Prussian Light Infantry 1792-1815" 1984
Craig - "The Germans" , published in 1991.
Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig"
Duffy - "Frederick the Great" , Rutledge 1985
Duffy - "The Army of Frederick the Great" New York 1974
Holborn - "A History of Modern Germany 1648-1840" publ. in 1982
Petre - "Napoleon’s Conquest of Prussia 1806", Greenhill 1993
Simms - "The Struggle for Mastery in Germany" St. Martin’s Press 1998
Information supplied by Oliver Schmidt of Germany.
flags from warflag.com
Napoleon, His Army and Enemies