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  • #88852
    Paskal
    Spectator

    Hi everybody,

    In what year in the nineteenth century, the British battalions went from 10 to 8 companies?

    Thank you

    #88865
    General Slade
    Participant

    I think it was first done in 1822 as part of a cost-cutting exercise when every battalion, except those serving in India, was reduced from ten to eight companies.  See Fortescue’s A History of the British Army Volume XI (1815-38) for details: A History of the British Army Volume XI (1815-38)

    However, it changed again in 1825 and for a while there were six field companies and four depot companies.  It had changed again by the time of the Crimean War when there were eight companies per battalion but I’m not sure when this became the standard organisation.

     

    #88866
    Grimheart
    Participant

    My source says the same as the General.  (from ” The British Infantry 1660-1945″ by Frederick Myatt)

    1822

    India and East Indies, 1071 me in 9 service companies and one recruiting company in the UK

    Battalions else where were 654 men in eight companies

    1825

    All battalions reverted back to 10 companies of which 6 were service and four were depot.

    The idea was that the depot unit would quickly replace any ineffectives in the service unit keeping it reasonably up to strenght.

    The service companies totaled 612 all ranks (86 privates per company)

    The depot elements totaled 297 all ranks (56 privates per company)

    Hope that helps

    Interest include 6mm WW2, 6mm SciFi, 30mm Old West, DropFleet, Warlords Exterminate and others!

    #88867

    You might ask here:

    http://www.victorianwars.com/index.php

    They have a dedicated Sikh Wars forum, too!

    #88964
    Paskal
    Spectator

    Thank you to all

    I looked up Hansard (British Parliament transcripts) and came across a debate in 1860 where the evolution of depots was being discussed which had a number of changes between the 1820s and later 1850s.

    https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1860/may/04/organization-of-the-infantry

    #88966

    Lucan, by Gawd!*

    I wonder how many members were awake at the end of that? 

    Seriously, though, thanks for this, ‘parts’ of which were certainly interesting. 

    My own battalions for the Sikh Wars will nevertheless consist of eight companies, for no other reason than frugal practicality: that’s the way the OG packs work out.

    I’ve been mocked for this, but am I downhearted? No!

    * Is he still the most notorious Earl? The 7th appears to have made some inroads to the title. . .

    #88967
    General Slade
    Participant

    The noble Lord was definitely on the long-winded side.

    From what I could gather before I nodded off it seems that at the beginning of the Crimean War service battalions were officially meant to be just six companies but this was felt to be inadequate so two companies from the depot battalions were sent as well.  I assume then that the companies were strictly administrative rather than tactical units or it would have created all kinds of confusion when performing manoeuvres.

    #88969

    Are you referring to all companies, or just the two depot companies? Would the men from them be distributed among the field companies? That would be understandable.

    I take it from Paskal’s other posts that he’s interested in the conditions at the time of the Sikh Wars. In looking at the returns, it appears the numbers in the field in India were higher than the c. 600 Grimheart cites: the average is around 800 per battalion  (a few were higher). That would seem to imply more than six companies, but I can’t find definitive information.

    #88970
    General Slade
    Participant

    I was referring to all the companies.  I don’t think the six original companies were increased in size by distributing more men to them.  Instead two extra companies were added to the battalion.  That makes me think that the company must have been an administrative rather than a tactical unit because the process of doing something like forming a square must be different when using eight sub-sections rather than six.

    Mind you, this is just a supposition on my part and trying to understand the intricacies of how formations actually manoeuvred tends to make my head spin.

    #88972
    Paskal
    Spectator

    At the beginning of the first Sikh war, the battalions were of 8 companies, including one of grenadiers and a light …

    30 years earlier, the battalions were at 10 companies including one of grenadiers and a light …

    I’m only talking about companies of ‘ combat ‘, not the depot companies.

    It should be noted that the companies are tactical units since some of them can be detached.

    There must be a specific date or at least a specific year, or the battalions have gone to eight companies.

    #88974
    General Slade
    Participant

    I agree that the fact that individual companies were detached does suggest that they could be used as tactical units.  However, say you have got an eight company battalion and you detach the light company, how do you form a square with the seven remaining companies?  My guess would be that you have to re-form the seven remaining companies into eight sub-units of roughly equal strength.

    For that matter, if your battalion is in line and you detach one of the flank companies you presumably have to do some shuffling about to keep the colour party in the centre of the line.

     

     

    #88975
    Paskal
    Spectator

    If the light company is detached and only it and that it was necessary to form a square, the light company certainly returned before the choc, as did all the light companies of the infantry of line when they were detached, if it is not the case, the grenadier companies could be divided into 4 sections, each of them forming a corner of the square, because the corners were the most fragile parts of a infantry square.

    #88976
    General Slade
    Participant

    Oh, okay, thanks, that makes sense.  So with a battalion in line with the light company detached did the grenadier company split in two and form at either end of the line to maintain symmetry or did the colour party just move along a bit?

    #88977
    Paskal
    Spectator

    No it’s too complicated for a situation where there is little danger (if the batailon remains online, it’s all good) in this case the company of grenadiers (which can also be detached) remains in its place …

    But gradually, in the colonial wars ,all the companies were taught to become independent, but from when?

    #88978
    General Slade
    Participant

    That I don’t know.   I’ve been trying to identify when the British Army stopped using elite flank companies (lights and grenadiers) and I haven’t even been able to find that out.

    #88994
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    That I don’t know. I’ve been trying to identify when the British Army stopped using elite flank companies (lights and grenadiers) and I haven’t even been able to find that out.

    Flank companies were abolished in the 1860s.

    Concerning the other question: Company numbers in the Crimea were effectively doubled at one point, with 8 field and 8 depot companies per battalion. Battalions per regiment also fluctuated through the century. Company manpower strengths were fiddled about with too. This isn’t a subject that has a one line answer.

     

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #88997
    General Slade
    Participant

    Thanks NCS.   A few years back when I first decided to give the Crimean War a go and I read that battalions only had eight companies I wrongly assumed that they had done away with the elite flank companies.  I was quite surprised to discover they were still hanging around on the fringes of the battalion.

    #88999
    Paskal
    Spectator

    This isn’t a subject that has a one line answer, yes, because if we knew what year the reform took place, we could answer it in only a 4-digit number.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Paskal.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Paskal.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Paskal.
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    #90059
    Paskal
    Spectator

     

    I finally found !

    Obviously these are  the center companies that disappeared when the number of companies decreased.

    It was during the Cardwell Army Reforms and was in place between 1868 and 1874.

    Regimental reorganization and renumbering of coys took place following the Order of 1871.

    Also the answer is 1871 !

     

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