Prussian Line Infantry Organisation

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Prussian Army >> Prussian Line Infantry Organisation

Introduction

The Prussian army closely followed military innovations. It was the first to take advantage to the flintlock musket and to adopt the iron ramrod.

The numbering system so often used to designate the various units was in fact introduced in 1784 and became an official designation only on October 1 1806. Prior to this, all regiments, except the Garde, were known by the name of their commander. This is also true of the converged grenadier battalions.

Composition and Organisation

In 1748, a normal two battalions regiment counted a total of 1,603 men (excluding regimental staff):

  • 50 officers
  • 118 non commissioned officers
  • 37 drummers
  • 6 fifers
  • 252 grenadiers (including 12 carpenters)
  • 1,140 musketeers

From 1753, carpenters carried no musket and served the battalion guns.

In 1756, a normal two battalions regiment counted a total of 1,832 men:

  • 50 officers
  • 118 non commissioned officers
  • 6 oboeists
  • 6 fifers
  • 38 drummers
  • 12 pioneers/carpenters
  • 262 grenadiers and 20 supernumeraries
  • 1,220 musketeers and 100 supernumeraries

On February 1 1757, 38 Prussian infantry regiments, who had taken cantonments, saw each of their company, including their grenadier companies, reinforced by 30 additional men. The regiment who had not previously doubled their supernumeraries were not reinforced. Similarly, the infantry regiment Münchow Fusiliers, Duke von Württemberg Fusiliers, Rohr Fusiliers, and the Pionneers, the former Saxon infantry regiments and the standing grenadier battalions [[V. Rath, VI. Plötz and IV. Lossau, received few reinforcements.

Regimental Staff

The regimental staff included:

  • 1 colonel
  • 1 lieutenant-colonel
  • 2 majors (also counted as battalion staff in our article)
  • 1 Regiment-Tambour (drum major)
  • 6 oboists
  • 1 gunsmith
  • 1 armourer
  • 1 auditor
  • 1 provost
  • 1 chaplain
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 1 Regiment-Feldscher (regimental surgeon)
  • 12 Company-Feldschers (company surgeons)

Each regiment also counted some supernumeraries: troopers without musket used to replace fallen troopers. In 1756, this approach was replaced by the “Front” where supernumeraries were assigned to each companies.

Organisation of a Regiment

In 1756, a regiment usually counted two battalions. Each battalion consisted of 5 companies of musketeers and 1 company of grenadiers.

Musketeer Battalion

In 1748, a musketeer battalion counted 658 men (including battalion staff and excluding the grenadier company) and included 5 companies:

  • 21 officers (including 1 adjutant)
  • 50 non commissioned officers
  • 16 drummers
  • 570 musketeers
  • 1 fifer

In 1756, a musketeer battalion counted 706 men (including battalion staff and excluding the grenadier company) and included 5 companies (140 men each).

The reinforcement of January 1757 brought the total strength of a battalion of musketeers to 856.

Grenadier Battalion

In 1756, , after the doubling of the supernumeraries, a converged grenadier battalion counted 634 men (excluding carpenters) and consisted of 4 companies (150 men each):

  • 18 officers
  • 36 NCOs
  • 20 musicians
  • 560 privates

After the reinforcement of January 1757, a grenadier battalion counted 720 troopers, for a total of 754 men including staff.

Battalion Guns

Each infantry battalion had 2 battalion guns. At the beginning of the war, these guns were usually 3-pdrs. However, some 6-pdrs were also available to battalions deployed in the first line. Thus, a standard regiment counting 2 battalions would have had 4 battalion guns. Each battalion gun was manned by 8 men: 4 were artillerymen and 4 infantrymen belonging to the battalion. From 1758 to 1762, Frederick II gradually introduced one 7-pdrs howitzers per battalion.

Battalion Staff

The battalion staff included 1 major and 5 commissioned officers.

Organisation of a Company of Musketeers

In 1748, a musketeer company counted a total of 140 men. More precisely, it consisted of:

  • 4 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
  • 10 non commissioned officers
    • 2 gentlemen including 1 color bearer
    • 1 senior sergeant
    • 2 sergeants
    • 1 captain at arms
    • 1 fourier [regimental quartermasters assistant]
    • 3 corporals
  • 3 drummers
  • 1 company surgeon
  • 114 musketeers
  • 8 supernumeraries

In 1756, a musketeer company counted a total of 140 men. More precisely, it consisted of:

  • 4 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
  • 10 non commissioned officers
    • 2 gentlemen including 1 color bearer
    • 1 senior sergeant
    • 2 sergeants
    • 1 captain at arms
    • 1 fourier [regimental quartermasters assistant]
    • 3 corporals
  • 3 drummers
  • 1 pioneer/carpenter
  • 114 musketeers
  • 8 supernumeraries

Organisation of a Company of Grenadiers

Grenadiers were first introduced in the army of Brandenburg in 1676.

Grenadier companies were introduced into the Prussian infantry regiments in 1735. Thus each regiment usually counted two grenadier companies (one per battalion).

From 1740, in the field, the grenadier companies were separated from their parent unit and formed converged grenadier battalions. These converged grenadier battalions consisted of four companies (usually two companies of two different regiments). The grenadiers of the Garrison regiments were also grouped into standing grenadier battalions. The converged battalions used during the Seven Years' War are listed in our article on the Prussian army.

In 1748, a grenadier company counted a total of 155. More precisely, it consisted of:

  • 4 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
  • 9 non commissioned officers
    • 1 senior sergeant
    • 2 sergeants
    • 1 captain at arms
    • 1 fourier [regimental quartermasters assistant]
    • 4 corporals
  • 1 company surgeon
  • 3 drummers
  • 2 fifers
  • 6 pioneers/carpenters
  • 120 grenadiers
  • 10 supernumeraries

In 1756, a grenadier company counted a total of 150. More precisely, it consisted of:

  • 4 officers
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 second lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
  • 9 non commissioned officers
    • 1 senior sergeant
    • 2 sergeants
    • 1 captain at arms
    • 1 fourier [regimental quartermasters assistant]
    • 4 corporals
  • 3 drummers
  • 2 fifers
  • 1 pioneer/carpenter
  • 125 grenadiers
  • 6 supernumeraries

Sappers

To do

Colour-bearers

Here follows an excerpt from William Faucitt's 1757 translation of "Regulations for the Prussian Infantry" explaining how the colour bearers were organized:

Chapter I, Article IV:

" Two of the ten non-commissioned Officers to every Battalion-company, are to be gentlemen; one whereof must be the Color-bearer: of the eight, which remain, are one chief-Serjeant, two Serjeants, one Captain at Arms, one Fourier, and three corporals. The Grenadier-companies having no Colors, are consequently without color bearers, their ninth non-commissioned Officer, is therefore a Corporal. The eldest of the two Gentlemen, appointed to every Battalion-company, carries the Colors, and is called the Color-bearer. This is a post, which all persons that come into the Prussian Army, are first obliged to serve in, from which they are appointed Officers according to seniority. This rule is never deviated from, but upon extraordinary occasions; neither can anyone be promoted to the rank of an officer, who is not a Gentleman born, as no commissions are allowed to be sold."

References

Duffy, Christopher: The army of Frederick the Great, 2nd ed., The Emperor Press, 1996

Engelmann, Joachim and Günter Dorn: Die Infanterie-Regimenter Friedrich des Grossen, Podzun-Pallas, 2000

Faucitt, William: Regulations for the Prussian Infantry. To Which Is Added, the Prussian Tactick, Being a Detail of the Grand Manoeuvre, as Performed by the Prussian Armies, London: 1759

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 1 Pirna und Lobositz, Berlin, 1901, pp. 116, 125

Heilmann, Johann: Die Kriegskunst der Preussen unter König Friedrich dem Grossen

La Barre Duparcq, Edouard de: Elements of Military Art and History: Comprising the History and Tactics of the Separate Arms; the Combination of the Arms;and the Minor Operations of War, translated by George W. Cullum, New York: 1863, pp. 55-58

Kendal, Colin: Military Answers - Prussian Battalion Guns, 18th Century Military Notes & Queries No. 5

Yahoo Lace Wars Group Message 901, 3427, 4150, 23563, 23606

Yahoo SYW Group Message 225, 3217, 3424, 4602, 5001

Acknowledgment

Sunil Unni and Christian "BigDuke66" Hecht for their collaboration at this article