German Infantry Organisation

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> French Army >> German Infantry Organisation

Introduction

At the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, the French Army counted twelve German regiments. These German regiments counted one, two or three battalions. Their organisation differed from the organisation of the French infantry regiments.

In these regiments, orders were given in German.

Composition and Organisation of a Brigade

The brigade was a formation which existed only in time of war. French and foreign regiments consisted of 1, 2 and more rarely 3 or 4 battalions. This made for very small combat units. Therefore, 2 to 4 infantry regiments were grouped into a single brigade consisting of 5 or 6 battalions.

The brigade was placed under the command of the senior officer who ranked as brigadier or, when several brigadiers were present, by the most senior brigadier. The rank of brigadier was created in 1667 during the reign of Louis XIV. It was suppressed by the regulation of March 7 1788. The brigadier had no specific uniform and wore the uniform of his own regiment.

In contemporary relations, most of the time only the brigade was referred to. Since the brigade was designated by the name of its senior regiment, we often lose track of the position or progression of certain infantry regiments “lost” because they were incorporated within a brigade. Usually foreign regiments were grouped into distinct brigades (Swiss brigades, German brigades, etc.). Two senior regiments were not usually incorporated into the same brigade but would rather be associated to more recent regiments.

Composition and Organisation of a Regiment

Regiments were ranked according to their seniority. This was THE rule regulating precedence in the French army of this period. However, they were always designated by a name.

Regimental Staff

The regimental staff comprised:

  • 1 colonel
  • 1 lieutenant-colonel
  • 1 major
  • 1 assistant-major
  • 1 interpreter
  • 1 chaplain
  • 1 surgeon
  • 1 auditor
  • 1 provost
  • 1 clerk
  • 1 tambour-major
  • 2 archers (provosts)
  • 1 executioner

The regulation of January 1 1755 had restored the privilege of the colonel and lieutenant-colonel to command the two senior companies, this permission had previously been abolished in February 1749.

Each German regiment had a recruiting staff of 3 officers and 12 NCOs stationed in Alsace.

Organisation of a Battalion

Most German regiments counted 8 companies per battalion, to the exception of Royal Deux-Ponts Infanterie which had only 6 companies per battalion. Therefore, these battalions totalled (excluding staff) 42 officers and 680 men. For its part, Royal Deux-Ponts Infanterie totalled 30 officers and 678 men.

After the reorganisation of January 1760, each battalion of the eight surviving regiments counted 27 officers and 684 men.

Organisation of a Company from 1756 to 1760

A company consisted of:

  • 5 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 second-captain
    • 1 first-lieutenant
    • 2 second-lieutenants
  • 1 ensign (a lieutenant present only in the two first companies)
  • 8 NCOs
    • 3 sergeants
    • 1 fourrier
    • 2 captain of arms
    • 3 corporals
  • 1 fourrier-schutz
  • 6 grenadiers
  • 6 ansepessades (lance-corporals)
  • 61 fusiliers
  • 1 carpenter
  • 2 drummers

Exceptionally, the companies of Royal Deux-Ponts Infanterie were organised differently:

  • 5 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 second-captain
    • 1 first-lieutenant
    • 2 second-lieutenants
  • 10 NCOs
  • 1 fourrier
  • 8 grenadiers
  • 91 fusiliers
  • 3 drummers

Organisation of a Company from 1760

After the reorganisation of January 1760, the battalions of the eight surviving regiments were organised in:

  • 1 grenadier company of:
    • 3 officers (the second-captain and second-lieutenant kept their assignment but would not be replaced when leaving)
      • 1 captain
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 1 sub-lieutenant
    • 1 ensign (a lieutenant present only in the two first companies)
    • 7 NCOs
    • 44 grenadiers
    • 1 drummer
  • 8 fusilier companies, each of:
    • 3 officers (the second-captain and second-lieutenant kept their assignment but would not be replaced when leaving)
      • 1 captain
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 1 sub-lieutenant
    • 13 NCOs
    • 64 fusiliers
    • 2 drummers

References

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 5 Hastenbeck und Roßbach, Berlin, 1903, Appendix 10

Vial, Jean-Louis: Nec Pluribus Impar