Home Forums Horse and Musket General Horse and Musket Hapsburg Empire – why no Imperial Guard?

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  • #10924
    Marshal SinCere
    Participant

    Is there a good reason why the Hapsburg Empire never had Guard units during the horse and musket era?

    Given that France, Russia, Spain, Britain, Prussia and many of the smaller nations had Guards it seems a little odd to me that Austria had no designated Guard units. I know that Austrian armies often used combined grenadier formations in the Napoleonic era, but its not the same thing.

    Also, most of the Napoleonic rules I have seen automatically rate “Guard” units as being better than non-guard units (even Grenadiers), so this historical oddity with the Hapsburg organisation obviously has an effect on wargame performance. Is this right? Was this just a difference in terminology used by the various powers or a more fundamental difference?

     

    #10979
    Sparker
    Participant

    Their Grenadier battalions were their tactical reserves. I’d say it pretty much is the same thing….they were kept out of the line and concentrated under the Army Commander’s hand for the key point.

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #10982
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    I think that the designation Guard was a relatively newfangled idea, the Austrians tended to be a bit slow.  I agree with Sparker, their Grenadier Bns were their guard.

    #10992
    Cerdic
    Participant

    I’ve always thought it was a bit odd.

    Yes, their Grenadier battalions fulfilled the same battlefield role. But the idea of a special body of troops to provide personal protection for the sovereign was fairly universal everywhere else. In one form or another!

    #11009

    Because the Hapsburgs were just too cool for that sort of candy-ass crap. When your nobility sponsors your armies regiments, you have no need for a guard. Every soldier is, in theory, some noble person’s guard. 🙂

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #11054
    General Slade
    Participant

    I’ve often wondered why the Austrians didn’t have guard units. Pretty much everyone else seems to have felt the need for them.  Maybe Thaddeus is right and the Hapsburgs felt safe enough without them.  After all, who in their right mind is going to try to assassinate an Austrian Archduke?

    #11058
    3rd95th
    Participant

    LOL – now that would be  a great alternative history thread for a certain other forum to club themselves to death with!

    “What would Europe look like today if the Habsburg Empire had guard units?”

    DO NOT GO THERE!

    FORGET YOU HAVE READ THIS!

     

     

    μολὼν λαβέ

    #11075
    Steve Burt
    Participant

    An interesting question is “Why do guard units get graded as better than line units in many sets of rules?”

    Many guard units never saw combat for extended periods, and there is very little evidence of them performing better on the battlefield.

    Obviously there are exceptions (such as the French Imperial Guard in the 1814 campaign where they saw plenty of action), but the guards=superior equation is perhaps not so fixed as many gamers like to think.

    #11077
    willz
    Participant

    Yes but guard units are popular as they generally have cooler uniforms.

    #11082
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Cooler uniforms, the Austrians didn’t even bother to paint theirs, just primed them and put ’em on the table!

    #11087
    Glenn Pearce
    Spectator

    The root of your problem is your looking at wargame rules that often have too many categories or classes of troops. The Napoleonic ones are especially prone to this. I think any rule system that has more then three basic types of troops is overrating some and underrating others. Above average/well trained, average/trained and below average/poorly trained are the three that I use. So most countries guards, grenadiers or known crack troops are all considered to be above average. All experienced line troops average, most militias, green troops and most irregulars below average. To say that a major power without guards does not have troops that are equal to those that do I think is wrong.

     

    I think the Austrians considered their combined grenadier units crack troops that were just as good as anybody else’s guards. I seem to recall that the first four line regiments were also considered to be amongst their best. Like all elite or crack units these battalions/regiments have a mixed service record. My recollection is that when any of these Austrian units appeared the French knew they were no push overs, which is exactly how the Austrians felt when French Guards or combined grenadier/elite units appeared.

     

    All the major powers had elite/crack troops that were well known and respected on the field of battle. I think trying to separate these into more then one group is a mistake. Also keep in mind that some units were newly raised with very few if any veterans. I would not include those units until such time as they had proven themselves.

     

    So the Austrians did not need any guard units to compete against the French. They had their own elites/crack troops that were just as capable. The true advantage that the French had was due to the size of their population they were able to produce a lot of elite units. Also being in an almost endless war for so long they were able to generally field a more experienced army that was able to support a large number of elite units.

     

     

     

    #11099
    willz
    Participant

    “Grizzlymc wrote” Cooler uniforms, the Austrians didn’t even bother to paint theirs, just primed them and put ‘em on the table!

    Yes but how much easier and quicker to get your regiments on the table if all uniforms were white, though might make it a bit confusing on the battlefield.

    #11315
    Etranger
    Participant

    “Grizzlymc wrote” Cooler uniforms, the Austrians didn’t even bother to paint theirs, just primed them and put ‘em on the table!

     

    Yes but how much easier and quicker to get your regiments on the table if all uniforms were white, though might make it a bit confusing on the battlefield.

    Hard to get all those grass, mud and bloodstains out though! Perhaps the Austrians were sponsored by Persil?

    I’d agree with Glenn, there were plenty of elite Austrian units, they just weren’t called  ‘Guards’.

    #11323
    willz
    Participant

    Ah that would make an interesting flag, the first foot Persil guards”.

    #11325
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    Actually white is easy, you use pipeclay.  I preume that once parade is over, you wash the clay out to make it lighter.  When people talk of discoloured white, they are not looking at freshly clayed uniforms.

    #11414
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    An interesting question is “Why do guard units get graded as better than line units in many sets of rules?” Many guard units never saw combat for extended periods, and there is very little evidence of them performing better on the battlefield. Obviously there are exceptions (such as the French Imperial Guard in the 1814 campaign where they saw plenty of action), but the guards=superior equation is perhaps not so fixed as many gamers like to think.

    I suppose that there are a couple of reasons why we might do so:

    We could use pay as a means of rating troops (mainly within not between countries), as a rough and ready reflection of how much they were valued by their government.

    We could look for any proper selection mechanism i.e. were troops who were accepted for general service not accepted into this unit.  The British 43rd and 52nd and 95th early in the Napoleonic Wars fall into this category.  Additionally, we could look at troops who received specifically recorded extra training.  Or we could look at the “hand-picked veterans” of the French guards or the grenadier battalions.  I strongly feel that this should never be used as a simple “power-up” however – units that lose their picked veterans should perform worse.

    We might be tempted to say that officers and soldiers in guards units were more highly motivated by their positions of preferment to maintain that position by actual battlefield performance (but this only lasts as long as the preferment lasts – shades of the retreat from Moscow, perhaps?).

    “Seeing combat for extended periods” is a distinctly double-edged sword.  I would guess that for that to be a factor, the troops would have to be a – successful and b – not suffer losses that were too great.

    Personally I’m also interested in how much troops’ motivation should affect outcomes – or put another way, in percentage terms, how much more likely is the best battalion/regiment we can imagine from the Napoleonic Wars (the Old Guard? the 95th? the Russian Guards?) to achieve a given mission than the average line infantry battalion, how much less likely is the worst (mutinous Spanish militia?  Neapolitans in Spain?)?

     

     

     

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #12135
    Ben Waterhouse
    Participant

    There was a Palace Guard in the old days, but was only for ceremonial. Spiffy uniform though… Palace Guard

    #12170
    Peeler
    Participant

    I think we should all have at least a full large Brigade of those smart fellers 

    #12175
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    C’mon peeler, you need a corps to offset all the old guard grenadiers and the squadrons of Napoleons that always appear on wargames tables.

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