06/09/2023 at 14:24 #190362HeroyParticipant
Mostly boring details, but maybe a little interesting ….
1. Davout wrote on 6 December, to Berthier, “Les cinq régiments de la division Friant, beaucoup affaiblis par les marches forcées et vraiment extraordinaires qu’ils venaient de faire, ne comptaient pas 4,000 baïonnettes au moment où elles se présentèrent à l’ennemi” – [The five regiments of Friant’s division, greatly weakened by the forced and indeed extraordinary marches that they had made, did not amount to 4,000 bayonets at the moment when they presented themselves to the enemy].
2. The number was reduced in Davout’s reports written weeks later, “bayonets” being replaced by by “men” or “combattants” and the duration of Friant having only a fraction of his men seeming to lengthen : “la division Friant n’était forte, au commencement de l’action, que de 3,300 et quelques hommes …. la moitié de son monde à rester en arrière” [Friant’s division was no stronger, at the beginning of the action, than 3,300 plus a few men …. half of his command had remained in the rear] & “au jour de la bataille, elle ne comptait pas 3,300 combattants” [on the day of the battle, they did not amount to 3,300 combattants].
3. Modern writers seem to take on this lower number, and then treat it as a total (all ranks). For examples, Goetz has 3,158 (all ranks) and DeLaMater & Bowden have 3,100 (all ranks).
4. To the figure of 4,000 “bayonets”, one would need to add officers, nco’s, musicians, drivers, artisans and medical staff for a total a bit above 5,000 (all ranks). This compares to a total of 6,312 (all ranks) per the 1843 French staff “Memorial”. This would imply about 20% missing at the moment when Friant’s division entered the battlefield, if judged by the staff “Memorial” and Davout’s first report. Perhaps unusual for Davout or Friant, but I would think having 20% trailing a march, any march, was not too unusual – some trailing by minutes, most trailing by an hour or more, and perhaps some trailing by more than a day.
5. Therefore I would think that about 80% of the strength of Friant’s division per the 1843 French staff “Memorial” arrived together at the battlefield and that most (all?) of the remaining 20% arrived as a stream of perhaps 2% per hour thereafter.
6. It is most likely a coincidence, but the difference between about 4,000 “bayonets” upon the division’s entrance to the battlefield and the total of 6,312 (all ranks) equals the figure given in the 1843 French staff “Memorial” for the 33e de ligne (all ranks) – the last of the five regiments to arrive.
15e léger strength
1. The 1843 French staff “Memorial” Tome VIII gave the 15e léger 754 men (all ranks) at Austerlitz, counting both the 1st & 2nd battalions (each of 6 companies of chasseurs) and the voltigeurs with Heudelet. This figure was adopted by the regimental history in 1875, which reported 31 men killed (of which 3 officers per Martinien in 1899) and 246 wounded (of which 19 officers) – or overall 37% losses based on a total of 754 men (all ranks) : very heavy, but quite possible.
2. The figure of 754 men (all ranks) aligns well with the archival record of 44 officers and 841 other ranks, total 905 (all ranks), as of late October reported by Nafziger – yielding a loss of 151 men (all ranks) or 17% from marching over 5 weeks. Note that the 15e léger was not engaged at Mariazell on 8 November.
3. An officer of Friant’s staff wrote of the commitment of the 12 chasseur companies at Sokolnitz, “The 15th Light, of which the elite battalion was with General Oudinot and of which the voltigeurs were with General Heudelet, then amounted to not more than 500 bayonets. So, when General Friant conducted them to Sokolnitz, he said to them, ‘Now, my little 15th – advance !’ and his little 15th performed prodigies of valor.”
See : https://books.google.com/books?id=aCFBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA99
4. Most (all?) recent French and English language accounts of Austerlitz make substantial reductions to align the unit strengths to totals for the division quoted by Davout in reporting later to Napoléon. Goetz gives the 15e léger 380 (all ranks) for the 12 chasseur companies and the voltigeurs. DeLaMater & Bowden in “Napoleon’s Finest: Davout and His 3rd Corps – Combat Journal of Operations” give a report of the 12 chasseur companies at 628 (all ranks), but estimate 300 (all ranks) present at Austerlitz. At these levels, casualties of 277 killed and wounded (all ranks) would have essentially wiped out the 15e léger, which did not happen.
5. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that the 12 chasseur companies numbered had about 628 men (all ranks) and the voltigeurs had about 126 men (all ranks) at Austerlitz. More specifically, my *estimate* is
— 12 chasseur companies : 3 staff officers (commandant Dulong, battalion adjutants Licasse & Charpentier), 12 captains (Devismes, Delombre, Ducarouge, Ménard, Hesse, Dorrival, Marteau, Bontems, Serre, Croisier, Deville & Dufour), 21 lieutenants & sub-lieutenants, 100 nco’s & drummers, 492 chasseurs (41 chasseurs per company)
— 2 voltigeur companies : 1 staff officer (major Geither), 2 captains (Reyniac & Desailly), 5 lieutenants & sub-lieutenants,18 nco’s & cornets, 100 voltigeurs (50 voltigeurs per company)
108e de ligne strength
1. The 1843 French staff “Memorial” Tome VIII gave the 108e de ligne 1,637 men (all ranks) at Austerlitz, counting the 1st & 2nd battalions (each of 1 company of grenadiers, 6 companies of fusiliers & 1 company of voltigeurs). The regimental history in 1895 reported 145 men killed (of which 7 officers per Martinien in 1899) and 324 wounded (of which 8 officers) – or overall 29% losses based on a total of 1,637 men (all ranks) : heavy, but fairly typical for a major battle.
2. The figure of 1,637 men (all ranks) compares with the archival record of 60 officers and 1,649 other ranks, total 1,709 (all ranks), as of late October reported by Nafziger – yielding a loss of 72 men (all ranks) or a bit over 4% from marching over 5 weeks. Note that the 108e de ligne was engaged at Mariazell on 8 November, reporting 1 officer wounded. These figures would require excellent march discipline, but both Davout and Friant had a reputation for achieving exactly this. Napoléon is reported to have said that Friant gave his veterans “legs” like no other general. The 15e léger, by contrast, had not been long under Friant’s command, joining up with the division only in late September 1805.
3. Most (all?) recent French and English language accounts of Austerlitz make substantial reductions to align the unit strengths to totals for the division quoted by Davout in reporting to Napoléon. For example, Goetz gives the 108e de ligne 818 (all ranks) for 18 companies. DeLaMater & Bowden give the report of 1,637 men (all ranks), but estimate 800 (all ranks) present at Austerlitz. At these levels, casualties of 469 killed and wounded (all ranks) would have been nearly 60% of the 108e de ligne – exceptionally high, but not impossible.
4. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that the 108e de ligne had about 1,637 men (all ranks) at Austerlitz. More specifically, my *estimate* is
— 18 companies : 5 staff officers (colonel Higonnet, commandants Lamaire & Chevalier, battalion adjutants Otenin & Higonnet), 2 captains of grenadiers (Galmard & Schmitz), 16 captains of fusiliers & voltigeurs (Bourgeois, Bouchot, Gorin, Contossé, Millot, Bienvenu, Masson, Joly, Skenardy, Jolly, Bonaventure, Grassoreille, Mourette, Péquignot, Lalance & Le Roy), 33 lieutenants & sub-lieutenants, 255 nco’s, drummers & cornets, 110 grenadiers (55 grenadiers per company), 1216 fusiliers & voltigeurs (76 fusiliers/voltigeurs per company)07/09/2023 at 11:39 #190401OotKustParticipant
>>but maybe a little interesting ….
Sorry had a laptop problem and then accidentally cut off my fibre… oh dear… ! About 10 hours ago.
Anyway, yeah I’m familiar with some of the numbers and certainly the nuances of this somewhat ‘composite’ force.
Most gamers don’t realise- I say with some caution, because many only follow gaming rules, and ‘scenarios’ written to work those rules, rather than have an in-depth knowledge of what they are trying to recreate.
It became apparent to me, that a Marshal, in charge of his own Second (#2) Infantry Division, a nearly complete Dragoon Division (5 regiments), and a detached/ attached for over two weeks Dragoon Regiment (1er Dragons) that he assigned, mid-forced march to GBD Heudelet.
This makes not a gamers army, but it sure could be. The rest of Davouts Corps, as noted, was ‘in service’ on the far side of Vienna, and hence couldn’t achieve N.’s infamous ‘last minute dash’ to reach the battlefield that he ordained time and again. A day later they were part of the ‘pursuit’, but not the day of battle.
Of course what Davout did, apparently without any written orders, or even verbal- no records exists AFAIK, either beforehand or on the day, was take over those bodies of troops from Legrands Division (#3) of Marshal Soults corps that he found in-situ along the Goldbach and the key villages [of Tellnitz and Sokolnitz] they held. He incorporated these units, obviously with the acquiesence of those Generals, since their own Marshal was no-where to be seen the whole day. And he both informed and cooperated with GBD Margaron who’s command had been sliced down to pretty much to just the 8e Hussards as the far right (Southern wing) flank guard.
Trying to make that work under most rules would be a disaster. On the numbers I have many of them and the same Returns/ Situation as Nafziger used and published. I’ve not concerned myself with actual numbers, with exceptions, but with the role of regiments and their battalions in the structure.
My notes contain “15e Legere- 2 cies – only 64 men total (*) described as “Voltigeurs”. This is from Davouts reports I think. And it points to the attrition in manpower that occurred, not in the campaign segments prior, but also in the 90km forced march from Vienna over 3 days and nights.
The 15e Legere [1er/ 2eme] battalions of chasseurs you notE above as 12 companies [Edit- the Carabiniers having been detached], also had received a heavy dose of conscripts (again Davout) and thus their actions were exceptional in very constrained environments. They may well have suffered a setback had they been in open country against a greater mass of men, rather than the environs within Sokolnitz Village.
I’ve taken the Napoleon-Series Officers Killed/DoW data and am reworking the numbers to show them by unit- so a spreadsheet is required. This will give us some more notional information about the losses and combats.
On the 108eme de ligne– another unit of some stature from Hohenlinden no less, exactly 5 years earlier…
Regarding the successful and surprise assault of Heudelets’ 108e de ligne (and 15e Legere Voltigeurs) bayonet charge through Tellnitz; after the initial action against the 7e Jaeger, they reformed in the Northern quadrant of the villages roadways.
Having done so Duffy on p110 states:
He [Oberst Baron Mohr with the Hessen-Homberg Hussaren] launched an attack… the Austrian hussars laid about them with all the greater zeal because they mistook the 108th for Bavarians, whom they hated.
I wondered about this; Why did Austrians think the 108th were Bavarians? and
Why did they ‘hate’ them?
Surely a friendly ally a few months earlier could hardly have caused an affront to have such a reaction.
One must understand there was smoke residue from the several hours intermittent combat and fog/ mist still blanketing the area, which is how a couple of squadrons could manoeuvre and perform a flank attack on a unit that was otherwise in line and facing the East.
So I can see that there could be grounds for mistaken identity, after all there was the ‘friendly fire’ incident only minutes later as well.
Do we have any corroboration of this encounter as its source is not noted, though it does follow the brief statement from the KreigsArchive documentation he used?
My mind goes to pale greatcoats perhaps being worn (which my unit are not!), whether grey or pale blue would be subjective when viewed in the circumstances given. I can’t see any other reason that could lead to such an act.
Despite the effusive Austrian wording of the encounter, “cutting down MOST of the force, scattering the rest”, no Eagle was taken, although the days tally of officers killed and wounded was 15 according to Martinien. Certainly the IIICorps losses were extensive for the direct elements included in combat.
So although the 108e ‘broke’ into a rout across the northernmost bridge of Tellnitz, they soon rallied out of sight of the Russians who did not pursue- and neither did the successful Austrian cavalry, probably due to the hanging fog, which must have been relatively dense still about 0830, deep in this lower part of the Goldbach valley.
The rest of the Division was yet to arrive and fight, over Sokolnitz. Davout wasn’t at this Tellnitz skirmish either- he was off looking to guide Friants other brigades toward Sokolnitz, and doing his own reconnaisance there himself.
I think the motions of all these esteemed Generals were inspiring. Their level of excellence and cooperation was simply superb. I’d say that initial reports may have quoted high numbers, because as in all things, the technicalities weren’t known, and therefore slight inaccuracies formed.
I agree that the popular ‘Engish language’ history has been smudged to make the numbers stack up and support the propaganda that it was all due to a very nice plan.
I can’t see that Davout would have changed his views and documents except when corrected by his own ‘Situations’ and generals reports as they came to hand.
When I visited Vincennes I had no intimate knowledge of the level of intervention by Davout (III Corps), and hence, no intention of ever modelling it. So I have no original data on them of which I’m aware, as I was totally focussed on Soutls IV Corps d’Armée. But I will check. Certainly I have Situations for the Cavalry Reserve and its constituent Divisions (all of them).
davew07/09/2023 at 17:45 #190412HeroyParticipant
““15e Legere- 2 cies – only 64 men total (*) described as “Voltigeurs”. This is from Davouts reports I think”
I did not find it in any source prior to about 1995. Please do provide anything earlier.
“can’t see that Davout would have changed his views and documents”
Unless so instructed by Napoléon ?
And it was a fluid situation, I think : men trickling in from when Friant’s division first entered the battlefield until the rnd of the day. What count do you report ? And of course, one didn’t really count them as the battle started, just estimated.
The reported losses argue against the lower numbers : 90% for the 15e léger and 60% for the 108e de ligne, if we take the lower starting numbers. Such casualty ratios – they would have been (i) exceptionally high, and (ii) not effecting the officers (where we have the Martinien to list them) as much as the men, when actually officers tended to have a higher loss “ratio” than other ranks.
Put another way, 2 battalions of the 108e de kigne should have numbered about 2150 full strength, all ranks. If we believe only 800 made it to the battle field, then they were about 37% of their establishment at Austerlitz. But, they were 100% of establishment in officers from colonel through captain (I listed the names – all confirmed at Austerlitz). Yes, senior officers straggle less than recruits. But almost 2/3 of a unit does not evaporate while leaving the officers essentially untouched. If nothing else, some of the officers would have been sent to round up the laggards, or returned as cadres to the depot, or assigned as staff officers, or grouped together as a compagnie de tirailleurs gentilhommes, or something.08/09/2023 at 11:14 #190439OotKustParticipant
>>And it was a fluid situation, I think : men trickling in from when Friant’s division first entered the battlefield until the rnd of the day. What count do you report ?
Sorry had a laptop problems- again–
I will research and get back to you-
Certainly concur Friants Div must have been strungout what with a night-time forced march; no more than 3-3.5 hrs sleep then another 10+ ~15 kms march in the fog, fortified before leaving K.Raygern c-0530 with a triple ration of spirits.
My notes say “After 1000~ Friant leading with Lochet arrived opposite the West of Sokolnitz and given broad information on the Russians occupation and positions,…”
We know Davout helped rally and reorder/ reform the 108eme and 3eme de ligne together approximately WNW of Tellnitz. He also was aware of the accidental clash between the retiring 26e Legere (going South) and his 108eme -going North. So he must have spent about 45 minutes soldifying their ranks and encouraging the wounded before Friant finally arrived North of his position.
It doesnt appear he was with GDV Friant, but arrived there outside Sokolnitz very soon afterward. But IIRC he went off rather quickly to hurry along GBD Kister as well, no doubt based upon information provided by Friant and/ or aides.
Funny some fools writing about them have ‘inverted’ the Brigade numbering in sequence of ‘arrival’; whereas their designation by ie Generals ‘seniority’ , was actually 3-2-1 due to their respective ‘start’ positions and distances they had to cover.
The disparity between regimental strengths in Moreaus 1800 army and tthe 1805 one is amazing to me. Again I say, figures N. could only dream of… his Marengo (Berthiers Army of Reserve) force very nearly wiped out.
TBC…….20/10/2023 at 13:52 #191720Buck SurduParticipant
This was very interseting. Thanks for sharing.
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