Bavarian Line Infantry Drill

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This article is based on "Verordnung Nach welcher die Churfürstl. Bayrische Infanterie die Exercitien zu machen, und sich sowohl im Feld, als in Besatzung zu verhalten hat". The relevant sections have been translated into English by Ibrahim90.

Drill procedure

Basic stance and marching

When under arms, the soldier was by default to have his arms at the shoulder. Soldiers within a rank were to stand so that each file would have no more space than that required for the soldiers to touch elbows with each other (p. 26). While not explicitly stated, the use of an 8-foot Kurtzgewehr to dress a 4-rank line, suggests that the space between each rank was 2 feet.

The Bavarian infantry regulations stated that the soldier was to hold his head and neck straight, for his eyes to look directly ahead, and to give off an intimidating air. The hat was to be positioned with the front peak over the left eye and pulled close to the same eye. However, the hat was never to be pulled back. Instead, it should be tilted slightly forward. Their eyes were to look to the right, though the Bavarian manual states that this is to be done without cocking the head to the right (p. 26).

The body of the soldier was to be carried erect, his stomach slightly tucked, and chest slightly outstretched. The feet were to be splayed out, and heels no more than a half-foot apart. The musket was to be carried so that it is near-vertical, with the arm neither too low nor high, but as comfortably relaxed as a soldier can carry the weapon. The musket was to be pressed against the body as firmly as possible, with the thumb and index finger placed around the corner of the stock, and the remaining three fingers at the bottom of the stock.

As in other armies, the soldier was expected to be absolutely silent and still.

The 1754 regulations specified that the soldiers were to march in the Prussian style: the knee kept straight, feet kept parallel to the ground and slightly splayed out, while the soldier balanced on the other leg, in a manner reminiscent of the modern British slow march.

Loading and Firing

The Bavarian soldier was taught to load his weapon in 13 steps and 27 motions, which includes the recover arms. A notable feature is the comparative simplicity of many of the instructions (see e.g., the command "Pulver auf die Pfanne"). Another feature is the merger of what other armies would consider break down into several steps. These steps--taken from the 1754 regulations and in the original spelling--are as follows from the shoulder arms:

1. Das Gewehr hoch i. The soldier turns the musket with his left hand so that the lock faces outward. At the same time, the right hand is to grab the weapon just behind the lock. All this was to be done sharply, but without jerking the weapon, and the elbows kept square (lit. "high"). ii. The soldier was to then lift the musket off his soldier, and move his left hand so that it is just in front of the feather spring, in such a way that the thumb rests along the stock (i.e., parallel to the barrel). The musket will then be brought up so that the left hand will be at eye level. The barrel was to be turned toward the body, and at a reasonable distance, not too far from the body (N.B., the distance was not specified, but it was likely within a span of the solder).

2. Macht euch fertig!" i. The soldier slightly elevates the right elbow, places his thumb on the cock, the index just before the trigger guard, the middle finger on it, and the last two fingers behind the trigger guard (N.B. How that is supposed to look is not entirely certain; the author suggests a somewhat Vulcan-like effect to the hand). The soldier then immediately cocks the musket and lowering the elbow as this was done. The musket was to be brought closer to the body as this was being done.

3. Schlagt an! i. The soldier steps back with the right foot, toe to point to the right. At the same time, the musket was leveled, with the butt set high and firm on the right shoulder, with the cheek rested on it a little. The index finger was to move to the trigger. The left hand at this time was to move forward so that it finds the center of balance for the musket, with the left arm is slightly bent, the right arm held close. The soldier was expected to slightly stoop. Soldiers were expected to aim "as Jaegers do"--that is, by having a good cheek weld, and looking down the barrel (N.B.: older drill manuals had the soldier look straight ahead when aiming, without bothering with a cheek weld. It is likely that this drill manual meant to abolish this older aiming method)

4. Setzt ab! (recover arms) i. The soldier steps forward and recovers the position of Macht euch Fertig.

On the parade ground, the soldier was told to present again, followed by:

6. Feuer! i. The soldier briskly pulls the trigger. If there was a misfire, the soldier was warned not to pull twice. As the weapon goes off, the soldier was expected to look into the fire and at where the soldier was aiming, and not twitch or otherwise turn their head from the flash. ii. The soldier immediately lowers the musket, and holds it parallel to his belt, or as far down as comfort will allow. The weapon was to be held close to the body, and place the pinky finger on the cock-screw. iii. The soldier then half-cocks the firelock.

7. Pulver auf die Pfanne! i.The soldier brings his hand back and firmly slaps the cartridge pouch, then retrieves the cartridge. ii. The soldier then brings the cartridge to his mouth. iii. He then bites the cartridge open, then brings the powder to the hand. This was done by clenching the fist around the open end of the cartridge, and in this position canting the first toward the cartridge; however, the soldier does not yet pour the powder. The drill afterward specifically states that the thumb and index finger were to close the cartridge shut.

8. Schliest die Pfanne! i. The soldier then taps gently against the pan, to fill it with powder ii. The three smallest fingers are then brought against the hammer. iii. The pan is then closed by slightly bending/sinking the elbow back, and the soldier keeps his hand in place after the pan is shut.

9. Zur Ladung das Gewehr! i.The soldier brings his right hand, clenching the cartridge, to the butt-stock, and pushes it down. At the same time, the left hand will turn the musket around so that it is close to the body; this is done in a way that places the left thumb over the barrel. He then lets the weapon sink as far down as his left arm will comfortably allow, and the right hand is grasped close to the muzzle. The muzzle should also be close to the body. The feet and body were to remain in the same position as they did when shutting the pan //(i.e., unlike the French, Prussian, and Austrian methods, but similar to the British 1757 manual exercise, the Bavarians did not rotate left to load)//.

10. Die Patrone in die Lauf i. The cartridge is then inserted into the barrel. ii. The powder is then poured out iii. The soldier then brings his hand to the ramrod, and grasps it between his thumb and index finger. The former--and the hand overall--stays straight, whereas the index finger was bent.

11. Den Ladstock Heraus! i. Pull out the rammer as far as the right arm will permit. ii. The soldier then brings his hand down to finish pulling out the rammer. The rammer was then reversed with the thumb and first two fingers, then brought down so that the tulip is brought against the belt. He then shortens the rammer to within a span. He then brings up the rammer to the muzzle. The rammer is to be kept parallel to the musket for this step. iii. The soldier then inserts the rammer into the barrel. iv. He then shoves the rammer in firmly, then quickly grabs the rammer at the muzzle.

12. Den Ladstock in seinen Ort! i. The ramrod is pulled out in two movements, gripped with the thumb and two forefingers. The rammer is then inverted, and the pointed end of the rammer is shortened to within a span of the pointed end. ii. The musket is put through the first rammer pipette/barrel band. It is then pushed down with the thumb and two fingers, till the pointed end reaches the bottom pipette or barrel band. iii. The soldier then places the palm of his hand on the ramrod tulip, and pushes the rammer back into its place. The hand will grasp the muzzle, with the elbow slightly raised.

13. Schultert das Gewehr! i. The soldier pulls the musket toward his left shoulder with his right hand. He then moves the right hand to the neck of the stock, so as to extend his arm fully. He then immediately brings his left hand under the musket, firmly hitting the butt-stock. The weapon is rotated so that the rammer faces the soldier, and the hands are in front and to the lower right of the left shoulder. All the while, the soldier is to turn left, so as to face the front. //(N.B. The result is similar to the British method)//. ii. Both hands bring the musket to the shoulder arms position. iii. The right hand is then briskly brought away from the musket, so that it rests, palm outstretched, by the cartridge pouch.

In battle, the command to recover arms was only used to cease firing. The soldier was expected to simply prime and load on firing, as in the Prussian Army.

Individual use of the Bayonet

Lower your fire-lock; this example is from the Prussian army, but applies to the Bavarian Army
Source: Pagan's collection

Vorwerts faelt das Gewehr (Lower your fire-lock):

At the command: Vorwerts faelt das Bajonet! (original spelling):

i and ii. The soldier was to assume the "das Gewehr hoch!" position. After this: iii. The soldier steps back with the right foot, and levels his musket onto the left arm, so that the musket is between the thumb and forefinger, and the tips of the index and middle fingers reach the frizzen-spring. The left hand was not to be overly bent doing this. Meanwhile, the right hand was to grip the musket at the neck of the stock. The overall result is identical to the Prussian method. The Regulations of 1754 officially prohibited the older pike-style use of the bayonet, as was still officially prescribed in the British Army at the time.

Unit Deployment

N.B. Zug and platoon in this time were not interchangeable. Zug simply refers to a sub-division of the company--a meaning closer to the modern understanding of what a platoon is (and indeed, "Zug" nowadays means "platoon" in German.). However, the platoon (Peloton) in this time was a tactical unit used for fire control. Under the Bavarian scheme, a company comrpised 8/5 of a platoon, but was ideally composed of 3 Züge. To avoid confusion, the term platoon will be strictly used to refer to the tactical unit, and Zug for the subdivisions of the company.

Diagram which depicts a typical Zug (bottom), and one with the sharpshooters (top) – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Battalion deployment: overview

In battle, a fully formed battalion was to form with the two companies of grenadiers on the right, the first battalion to their left, and the second battalion on the far left. This was to be the case, regardless of the position of the regiment within a line. The manual of infantry exercise provided a provision for multi-battalion regiments (such as the footguard), with the more junior battalions to deploy left of the senior two battalions; in the event that two or more battalions were understrength, the Bavarian manual called for treating them as a single battalion, supplemented where needed by units from the whole regiment. This was to be the case, whether on the drill square, on parade or in battle. In that event, the component units within such a composite unit would still be arranged by seniority.

1st and 2nd Battalions of Fusiliers, as deployed by companies. The Regiment is marching down the page, so that the right flank is to the left of the image. Note that the battalions are deployed in the standard 3-rank deep formation – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Within a battalion in battle, the fusiliers were to form four divisions, composed of two platoons each, for the purpose of platoon fire. The platoons, deployed in four ranks, were defined by the number of files it was to have. In this case, the ideal battalion was 150 files across. In this scheme, six of the platoons were to occupy 19 files, and two were to occupy 18 files of the battalion. On the flanks of the platoons in combat were to be deployed the corporals, who would be issued muskets.

While the above scheme assumes that the men are to deploy four deep, the regulations contradictorily state that the fusiliers and grenadiers were to be deployed three-ranks deep. However, provision was made for battalion and regimental commanders to deploy four-deep, if they were of the belief that the enemy could best be received with a deeper formation.

Company deployment

A company in wartime ideally had three Züge; a company could march by these, or have the Züge form a line, or march in a route column. Provisions were however, made for a company with two Züge, which will be discussed below. The position of the NCO's, drummers, and officers will be discussed as part of a march by Züge, then line, then column of march (where applicable).

Company of fusiliers, when marching by its Züge. Ideally, there were three such 'Züge, but the regulations provided for the possibility of two 'Züge – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Within a company, the men were arranged by height, with no distinction made between privates and lance-corporals. The tallest third of the men were to be the front rank; the next tallest in the third rank, and the shortest third in the second rank. When the unit was to deploy into four rank, the shortest quartile of the men were isntead to be in the third rank. Within each rank, the tallest man was to be on the right flank, and the next tallest on the left; the men were to then alternate between filling in each flank of the rank, so that the shortest man within a rank would be in the center of that rank. This meant that the shortest man in the company would be in the center of the second rank in a 3-deep formation, and center of the third rank in a 4-deep formation. The men thus arrayed could now be split into Züge. The first Züge would have the tallest men of every rank; the second the shortest, and the third the next shortest.

Fusilier Compan; this is the arrangement when the battalion marched by companies, and when the company initially deployed in line – Copyright: Kronoskaf
Grenadier Company in Line – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Position of higher ranks in a company


When marching by Züge, The corporals were to be positioned on the wings of each of the Züge, without regard to height. As there were six corporals, it meant that one corporal was on each flank of a Zug.

When the company deployed into line, the corporals were to be positioned such that the tallest corporals will be on the left flank of the company. The implied result is that the main line of the infantry company would be flanked by the six corporals, three on either side (N.B. The instructions, written in Bavarian German, were difficult to follow. Any corrections are welcome)


The senior company sergeant was to be four paces behind the last rank, directly behind the first Zug (the Captain's Zug); the junior company sergeant was to assume the same position directly behind the third Zug (The lieutenant's Zug), and the Fourier was to be directly behind the second Zug (the Ensign's Zug. If there were only enough men for two Züge, the Fourier was to deploy with the senior sergeant.

These deployments applied whether the company was in line, or marching by Züge.


When the company marched by its Züge, the officers were to be front and center of their respective Züge. Page forteen somewhat contradictorily specifies that the front Zug would be the one led by the captain, the ensign led the second, and the lieutenant brought up the rear of the third (the sergeant assigned to the third Zug going in front). While the regulations do not directly state this, the officers were likely four paces in front of the Zug proper.

When about to march, the Regimental flags were taken out and put in the charge of the captain of the first company. In the march itself, the flags would then be given to the color guard, which was a designated Zug (also called Fahnen-Zug)

When a company formed into line, the field officers were to form a line four paces ahead of the company's front. The captain was to be in the center of this line, the lieutenant in front of the right flank of the company, and the ensign/subaltern in front of the left flank.

Other soldiers

When the company marched by its Züge, the fifer and one drummer was to be part of the first Zug, and a drummer each for the second and third Züge. If the company only had two Züge, the first Zug was to have the fifer and two drummers, and the second a single drummer. Specifically, the musicians were to be between the first and second ranks in a 3-rank system, and between the second and third ranks in the four-rank system. However, when the ranks closed during wheeling, the musicians were to move to the front of their Zug. It is implied that regardless, the musicians would be on the right of the Zug.

When marching off (either in a route column or on dismissal), the drummers were to move to be behind and left of the captain, and the fifer was to move behind and to the right of the captain. The pioneers was to march ahead the the column, axe shouldered and blade facing out; behind and to either side, the Fourier-Schutzen were to follow, arms shouldered. The captain would have then been following these two men.

On deployment into line, The musicians and pioneer were to deploy immediately right of the first rank of the company.

In all cases above, if there was insufficient space for the standard formation, the musicians and relevant NCO's were to be placed in front of the right flank of the company.

Platoon exercise: overview

Fusilier companies

Once the fusilier companies of a battalion were fully deployed next to each other, the officers would count off the number of files for each platoon and division. The divisions were numbered from right to left, as were the platoons. Thus a division was strictly composed of two contiguous platoons.

Once the files were counted off, the officers aside from the youngest captain or staff-captain assume the following positions relative to the divisions, by order of seniority:

The first officer in seniority was to be on the right flank of the 1st division.

The second officer was to be on the left flank of the 4th division.

The third officer was to be on the right flank of the 2nd division

The fourth officer was to be on the left flank of the 3rd division.

The fifth officer would be on the right flank of the 2nd platoon, 1st division.

The sixth officer would be on the left flank of the 1st platoon, 4th division.

The seventh officer would be on the right flank of the 2nd platoon, 2nd division.

The eighth officer in seniority would then be on the left flank of the 1st platoon, 3rd division.

The most junior (youngest) captain then assumes a position front and center of the battalion, in front of the colors; the few remaining officers would then be arrayed by seniority on either side of the flag, from right to left.

The Musicians were then to be divvied up as follows:

3 drummers and a fifer were to be on the right wing of the first Zug of the first division.

3 drummers and a fifer were to be on the left flank of the second Zug of the fourth division.

3 drummers and a fifer were to be to the left flank of the first Zug of the second division.

3 drummers and a fifer were to be to the left flank of the first Zug of the third division.

and 3 drummers, to be on the right flank of the first Zug, of the fourth division.

If available--as in an ideal battalion--the surplus fifer from the battalion would then go to the battalion's grenadier company; this would have to be the fifer with the best record. If, however, there was a shortage of musicians, the musicians present were to be divvied up between the flanks of the battalion, and the color guard, with more drummers assigned to the flanks. Regardless, once all the drummers assume the above positions, one of the drummers could then be sent to stand with the lieutenant colonel; this, however, was optional.

Companies in Platoon Exercise; this was to be used on the battlefield when the unit is fully deployed. This was to allow platoon fire, which was conducted by divisions, from right to left. Note the depiction of a four-rank formation: this was allowed in the regulations, but three ranks was considered the default for the battlefield – Copyright: Kronoskaf

Grenadier companies

The Grenadiers, in contrast, deployed in four platoons, in two divisions. As a result, each platoon in a company was commanded, from right to left, by the captain, the junio lieutenant, the sergeant, and then the senior lieutenant of the grenadier company.


Verordnung Nach welcher die Churfürstl. Bayrische Infanterie die Exercitien zu machen, und sich sowohl im Feld, als in Besatzung zu verhalten hat


User:Ibrahim90 for the initial version of this article