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    General Slade
    General Slade

    I’m currently painting some Russians for the War of the Second Coalition.  As I understand it, in the field Russian musketeer, jager and grenadier battalions were composed of five companies during this period (except combined grenadier battalions, which were four companies).  From the little I have read about Suvorov, he favoured the bayonet over the bullet and liked using attack columns to close with the enemy.  My question is, how were these columns generally formed?  Did they usually have a single company frontage, so that the five companies of the battalion were lined up behind each other?  Or was some other system used?

    Also does anyone know whether the company strength of the combined grenadier battalions was the same as that of the regular grenadier battalions (which would mean that the combined grenadier battalions were roughly twenty per cent smaller than the regular ones)?


    Chris Pringle

    From the little I have read about Suvorov, he favoured the bayonet over the bullet and liked using attack columns to close with the enemy.

    … to the extent that he seriously offended his Austrian allies by making their troops rehearse bayonet assaults because he said they weren’t very good at them, when he arrived in Italy in 1799 to take over command of the allied army there.

    (Sorry, can’t help with your actual question.)


    Translator/co-editor of Clausewitz’s “Napoleon’s 1796 Italian Campaign

    Bloody Big BATTLES!





    General Slade
    General Slade

    Cheers Chris,

    I didn’t know that about Suvorov.  He clearly knew how to make himself popular!

    I have found an answer to the second part of my question in a painting guide produced by John Chadderton of Eureka Miniatures: http://www.eurekamin.com.au/ideas/EurekaGuides_1799RussianInfV1_0.pdf taken from their website: http://eurekamin.com.au/ideas.php?postid=70

    It says: “Official regimental strengths might be well in excess of 2,000 men (depending on the regiment) but in the field, and with their grenadier companies detached, Musketeer and Grenadier Regiments typically numbered from 1,200 to a little over 1,500 men (600-800 men a battalion). The regiments in Suvarov’s army in North Italy all started the campaign with close to 1,500 men, while Korsakov’s regiments at the Battle of Zürich mostly listed between 1,250 and 1,350 men. The four company Combined Grenadier Battalions usually returned strengths of approximately 600 men at the onset of a campaign.”

    So it does seem that the Combined Grenadier Battalions were somewhat smaller than the regular ones.



    Alexandre Heroy

    Company organization was almost the same (and by coincidence exactly the same total counting non-combattants, servants, etc.: 171 billets), so yes – the 4-company battalions would be smaller :

    1798 “State” for an Army Grenadier, Fusilier or Musketeer company

    captain or staff-captain
    ensign (*absent* for grenadier companies)
    company sergent-major
    sub-ensign officer candidate (*absent* for grenadier companies)
    8 junior under-officers, i.e. corporals
    1 sapper
    138 grenadiers, fusiliers or musketeers – 2 platoons of 23 files each
    3 drummers (*4 drummers* for grenadier companies)
    2 fifers (*only for* grenadier companies)
    1 barber-medic
    1 infirmary attendant
    1 carpenter
    1 ambulance wagon with driver
    1 bread wagon with driver
    1 tent wagon with driver
    1 ammunition wagon with driver
    3 ammunition carts or caissons with driver
    5 officers’ servants (*4* in grenadier companies)

    See : PSZRI 18.308 of 5.I.1798 (O.S.)

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Thanks Alexandre,

    That’s great information.   It’s interesting that the grenadier companies had more drummers and had fifers as well.   I will have to see if I can find some fifer figures to join my grenadier commands.


    Alexandre Heroy

    As to the Russian use of columns for attacking in 1799-1800, I think it was like this …..


    On the left, a regimental attack formation :
    — 2 companies of skirnishers in front
    — 2 battlions then form their remaining 4 companies formed “closed up” on platoon front (thus ~23 files x 24 ranks+file closers), with the regimental guns between them
    — then a 4 company combined grenadier battalion in reserve in the same formation

    On the right, a battalion attack formation :
    — 1 company = 2 platoons of skirmishers in front
    — 2 companies = 4 platoons formed in 4 columns “closed up” on section frontage (thus ~6 files x 12 ranks+file closers)
    — then 2 companies formed in 2 columns “closed up” on half-platoon frontage (thus ~12 files x 12 ranks+file closers)

    Suvorov was very interested in hitting the same point with repeated strikes, as he assumed that the first striking force would not remain in cohesion after contact (either chasing a fleeing enemy or scattered in individual combat). So, he liked to have a second strike force ready to follow the first.

    He had an interesting twist to this …. He would bring the first strike force up into enemy cannister range (under 200 m). He would send out the skirmishers and open up wiith the regimental guns. When the enemy decided to fire, he trained his officers to watch for the beginning of the application of the lintstocks to the pieces and immediately give the order to “RUN!!!!”, leaning forward and carrying their guns, to the first strike force. The skirmishers would peel off to protect the flanks, and the first strike force would move forward just in time to have (most) of the cannister shot go over their heads! The strike force would sprint to the enemy as fast as they could and only lift their guns and present their bayonets at the end. The idea was to get across the “kill zone” without giving the enemy artillery time to reload nor for enemy infantry to fire more than once. Apparently this also worked about as well against cavalry as it did infantry … which is not surprising as this was all rather similar to cavalry maneuvers.

    And he *did* expect the infantry to really melee with their bayonets, using practise drills of straw-stuffed mannikins in enemy uniforms and live practise with staves to train his men.

    His writing is very strange, even in Russisn. But here is his “Science of Victory” in modern spelling and punctuation (which the orignal lacked) :
    He might have known he was sometimes nearly unintelligble, as he added little drawings to illustrate his points. However, these were mostly so obscure and, well, strange, that they likely did more to confuse readers than help them.

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Thanks Alexandre,

    That is absolutely brilliant.  The frontage of the individual columns is much narrower than I expected and it hadn’t occurred to me that a battalion might be divided into a number of small columns to make an attack.

    I’m not sure how I will model this on the wargames table.  I had been planning to mount the troops for each battalion on 4 or 5 company-width bases but it sounds like I should do 8 or 10 platoon-width bases instead.

    It is interesting to hear that he actually reckoned to charge cavalry as well (mind you I don’t think I have ever seen a set of rules that would let me get away with doing that).

    Thanks again for taking the time.  I really appreciate it.



    Alexandre Heroy

    I really enjoy digging up answers, so thanks to you for really interesting questions!

    I do not know why rules do not admit of infantry charges on cavalry. Suvorov did it routinely and it was also done at Eylau and Borodino, and I am sure elsewhere. And I would very surprised if only Russians did this.

    Russians (really everyone) used the platoon as the basic sub-element of the battalion.
    It is confused by the French who (for 6 and 9 company army battalions) used a peloton (platoon) that was company-sized. It was not really a company (it was equalized, and it was formed by height of the men, etc.). The French guard used 4 company battalions, and so their peloton (platoon) was a more typical half-company in size.

    Modelling at the platoon level for a “battle-sized” wargame in any but the smallest scale is very challenging (basing, figure count, etc.). And then there is actually trying to play the game with all these small units.
    So I play skirmish.

    Do not forget, the Russians also did often deploy in “typical” line formations in the Suvorov era. He wrote somewhere that since the godless heathen French had used columns so successfully in the years after the Revolution, then they could be met and defeated with columns of good Christian soldiers and the Will of God. He really preferred lines and regimental and battalion squares (note again the use of both regimental and battalion formations, and use of a rather substantial skirmisher screen in all cases). He, like most Russians, thought squares should be mobile, not static (compare Neverovskiy’s retreat on Smolensk in 1812).

    By 1812, the Russians had more or less standardized on using a much expanded number of jäger battalions for firing from open order and then French-style “attack columns” by battalion for shock combat by heavy infantry. Virtually all of the units at Borodino were so formed. “Deprecated”, if you will, were extensive use of deployed lines and extensive detaching of skirmishers from parent formations.

    Anyway, thanks again for a great topic!

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Thanks Alexandre.  If you are happy to keep answering the questions I am more than happy to keep asking them.

    The diagrams you showed are really interesting because they suggest that the skirmish screen could be formed from regular line (or grenadier?) companies rather than from the Jager battalions.  This came as a surprise for me because I think I have fallen for the notion that during this period only the French knew how to skirmish and everyone else was stuck in the past using outdated linear tactics.

    From the description you give it sounds as if the Russians used one of the five companies as a ‘flank’ company to provide skirmishers, which I think is different from the practice of the Austrians and Prussians who generally took men from the third rank to bolster the skirmish screen.  (Though in Peter Hofschroer’s Osprey Prussian Napoleonic Tactics 1792-1815 he also shows the flank platoons of an 1806 fusilier battalion deploying as skirmishers).

    With regard to battalion guns, I’ve done a word search in Viskovatov but didn’t come up with any results.  Were they attached to grenadier as well as musketeer battalions? And am I right in assuming that combined grenadier battalions didn’t have them?  Battalion guns have always puzzled me because whilst I can see how they worked in defence I am unclear what happened to them when a unit was attacking.   In your diagram for a regimental attack they are placed between the two attack columns so I suppose that maybe a gap was left in the skirmish screen so that the battalion guns could fire during the advance?

    Your replies to this thread have been a real eye opener for me and have also given me an excuse to buy more figures (which is always good).  My Russians are 15mm 2nd Gen Minifigs, they are lovely figures but they are doing a very upright, parade ground march.  Now that I know that Suvorov’s men were given the order: “RUN!!!!” when attacking the enemy I shall invest in some of the current, 3rd gen range, where the figures are charging at the enemy (apart from the drummer – who ironically seems to be out of step with everyone else):

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by General Slade General Slade.
    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by General Slade General Slade.

    Alexandre Heroy

    Correction : It was only in January 1801 that Grenadier battalions were to be composed of 1 Grenadier compnay and 5 Fusilier companies (except in the Leib-Grenadier regiment). Previously, a Grenadier battalion had been composed of 1 Flank company and 5 Grenadier companies. A Combined Grenadier battalion would thus be either the 4 Fkank companies of two Grenadier regiments or the 4 Grenadier companies of two Musketeer regiments.


    The skirmish screen could be formed from any type of troops.

    I think the most typical was to send out 1 of the 5 grenadier or musketeer “center” companies (leaving a very managable 8 platoon formed battalion).
    This get back to your original question, were the Combied Grenadier battalions smaller? Well, they would be the same size (8 platoons) as a grenadier/musketeer battalion that had detached its grenadier company to be combined and 1 of its “center” companies to skirmish.

    Did the Russians use the third rank to skirmish? I suppose so, as it seems to be often mentioned (in scecondary sources). But maybe not Suvorov, as I did not find any mention of him doing this. Actually, he was a big supporter of having 3 ranks, writing something like : “A Soldier alone will be lonely, and Two together will be more than twice …. but Three together wil be more than thrice …. Three will be All, just as the Trinity demonstrates.”

    Actually, the whole “third rank skirmishers” idea strikes me as very hard to do with column formations. Even with lines, it blurs small-unit relationships (“When I am in formation, I work for Corporal Ivanov, along with my brothers in the files nearby …. if I am sent to skirmish, most of my brothers do not go and I must follow Corporal Kuznetsov.”). The Russian use of whole units for skirmishing used the *opposite* approach : the first and second ranks made the shooting pairs, the third rank formed a centrally placed reserve.


    The Jäger were very few in this period, and armed with rifles. Only 20 battalions until May 1797, when they were ordered to double each batalion and become regiments (1 of which was later dibanded, leaving only 19). But these were smaller than usual battalions:

    1798 “State” for an Army Jäger company
    captain or staff-captain
    company sergent-major
    4 junior under-officers (corporals)
    64 jäger (16 shooting pairs per platoon)
    2 hornists
    1 barber-medic
    1 infirmary attendant
    1 ambulance wagon with driver
    1 provisions wagon with driver
    1 ammunition cart or caisson with driver
    4 officers’ servants

    They were usually used in the avant-guard and rear guard and to occupy woods or built-up areas – maybe more like “Schützen” than later Russian Jägers.

    Suvarov had very few of the total 20 regiments :
    1st Jäger : descent on Holland with Hermann : disbanded March 1800
    2nd & 3rd Jäger : Finland
    5th & 6th Jäger : Switzerland with Rimskiy-Korsakov
    7th & 8th Jäger : Italy with Suvorov
    9th & 11th Jäger : west Ukraine with Gudovich
    4th, 10th & 12th Jäger : Lithuania with de Lacy
    13th & 14th Jager : south Ukraine
    15th & 16th Jäger : Crimea
    17th & 18th Jäger : Caucasus
    19th & 20th Jäger : Siberia
    Although at peace with foreign powers in 1798, Russia had ended a war with Sweden in 1790, with Turkey in 1792, with the Polish-Lithuanians in 1794, and with Persia in the Caucasus in 1796. Even the Tlingit in Alaska were temporarily pacified. But their interest in the war with France needed to be balanced by all these other security issues.


    Under Catherine, the usual regimental artillery was 2x 3-lber guns per battalion of musketeers and 2x 8-lber unicorns for grenadier battalions (and perhaps 2x 6-lber Coëhorn mortars for some Jäger battalions, such as in mountainous areas). From 1796, the allocation of regimental artillery was supposed to be 2x 6lber cannon and 1x 1/4 pud (12-lber calibre) unicorn per grenadier or musketeer battalion, and 2x 3lber unicorn per jäger battalion. I think the general intention was to use the 4x 6-lbers together in the center of the regiment’s formation with the two unicorns placed on the regiment’s flanks. I am not too sure, as this organization was supplanted in 1800 and, as noted below, not used by Suvorov.

    From March 1800 the whole regimental artillery was collected into artillery companies under artillery command, though often assigned back to the infantry (1/2 light artillery company per heavy infantry regiment). Prior to that, the equipment was sent by the artillery along with gun commanders and senior artillerists, the infantry regiment provided the soldeirs to do the less-trained tasks, all under the infantry regiment’s commander. I think it would be up to the local commanders if the Combined Grenadier battalions had any guns assigned to them – the unicorns seem most likely, if any.

    Suvorov did not use *any* of these.
    He wanted lighter guns that could be broken down for ease of transport by mules.
    40x 3-lber Piedmontese/Sardinian mountain guns were to be taken from Austria’s Italian arsenals and delivered to the Russians at Airolo. Some Piedmontese gunners went also sent to aid in training for the Russian artillerists. Since only only about 1/3 of the mules promised by the Austrians for transporting both the guns and provisions were delivered, only 25 guns were used. There was a total 5-day delay waiting for the Austrians, and Suvarov went utterly ballistic. The Cossacks were dismounted and packs were made up for their horses to carry provisions, the mules took the mountain guns.


    Alexandre Heroy

    Correction/Addition :
    I wrote above ” From 1796, the allocation of regimental artillery was supposed to be 2x 6lber cannon and 1x 1/4 pud (12-lber calibre) unicorn per grenadier or musketeer battalion”.

    However, Viskovatov (quoting HIGHEST confirmed personnel tables for Field and Regimental Artillery, 12 March 1798), says 4x 6lber cannon and 1x 1/4 pud (12-lber calibre) unicorn per grenadier or musketeer *regiment* (except for the Life Grenadiers who had 8 of the unicorns).

    That would strongly imply that the intention was :
    2x 6-lber gun per 5-company Grenadier or Musketeer battalion
    2x 1/4-pud unicorn per 4-company Combined Grenadier battalion
    2x 1/4-pud unicorns per 5-company Life Grenadier battalion (they had 4 battalions).

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Thanks again Alexandre, that’s wonderful stuff.  I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a comprehensive answer.  I’m clearly going to have to do some reading about Suvorov because he sounds like a fascinating guy and I love the fact that he managed to bring his religious beliefs/mysticism into his support for troops forming in three ranks.   Prior to starting on this project the only thing I knew about Suvorov was what I had read in A. G. Macdonnell’s Napoleon and his Marshals where the author comments on his “unbelievable ugliness of face” and goes on to write: “Tsar Peter III promoted him from captain to colonel in order to remove the monstrosity from the Imperial Guards, and all looking-glasses had to be covered up wherever he went.”(Macdonnell’s book is a very enjoyable read but you get the impression that the author is from the: ”When the legend becomes fact, print the legend” school of history writing).

    I like the fact that I can further characterise my Suvorov army by having mule teams to carry the regimental artillery.  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I have got some colonial mule teams lurking somewhere in the lead pile that I can press into service.  Now, I just need to do some research on Piedmontese artillery uniforms.


    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by General Slade General Slade.

    Alexandre Heroy

    Actually, I was never as interested in the 1799 campaign as I became afer your questions.
    So, thanks to you, too!

    I don’t know how long the “shanghai’d” artillerists stayed with the Russians, or if they had been de-mobilized and would thus look like civilians. But, assuming they still had their uniforms from the short-lived Repubblica Piemontese, then I think the figure on the far right is how they looked :
    (minus the Piedmont cockade, of course)

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Happy to help!  I hope your renewed interest doesn’t lead to too much expense when it comes to buying books and figures. (On a side note, I do wish people would ask a few more questions on TWW.  I’m by no means an expert on anything but I am always happy to have an excuse to drop what I am doing and go and get the books off the shelf).

    Even if it is not strictly accurate I do like the idea of having the odd Piedmontese gunner keeping an eye on things so I am going to have a look for an appropriate figure.  Judging from the picture you provided it looks like they were still sporting tricornes rather than the more flattened out ‘chapeaux’  that seems to have been the fashion of the time so I will have a look through my SYW and AWI figures to see if I can find a likely candidate.  (The one advantage of starting lots of projects and never finishing any of them is that I have a lot of figures sitting in boxes waiting to be called into the ranks).

    I’ve been thinking about the attack columns you described earlier.  Initially, I was surprised at how narrow their frontage was and thought they might be quite unwieldy.  However, on consideration I suppose that there are advantages to this.  If you are not planning to deploy into line once you have closed with the enemy but rather intend to plough straight into him, then it doesn’t really matter how wide your frontage is.  In fact, the narrower the frontage, the more columns you can deploy to hit a single line (this is a tactic that normally seems “gamey” if used on a wargames table but maybe would be justified for troops under Suvorov’s command?).  And I could be wrong about this but I feel that a narrow, deep column might actually be less vulnerable to enemy fire than and broader, shallower one, since artillery fire from anywhere except directly ahead would pass through fewer ranks of men.


    Jonathan Gingerich

    The proportions, 2 pieces per battalion, were kept pretty close the entire era, even if the guns were gathered into companies.



    What a fine read this thread is.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.



    Alexandre Heroy

    In case anyone else likes these details, I looked up the four Combined Grenadier battalions with Suvorov ….

    Сводно-Гренадерский подполковника (затем, полковника) Ломоносова батальон / Lieutenant-Colonel (later, Colonel) Lomonosov’s Combined Grenadier battalion
    — composed of the four Flank companies of the Moscow and Yekaterioslav Grenadier regiments
    — mid April 1799 : 670 men, 2x 1/4-pud unicorn
    — late September 1799 : 330 men, exchanged unicorns for 1x Piedmontese 3-lber mountain gun
    Ломоносов Григорий Гаврилович / Lomonosov Grigoriy Gavrilovich
    — 17.III.1767 born
    — 1775 listed in service
    — 18.IX.1794 promoted second-major over complement in the Kazan Cuirassier regiment
    — 1796 promoted premier-major in the Moscow Grenadier regiment
    — 24.I.1797 commander from its formation of the Combined Grenadier battalion of the Moscow and Yekaterinoslav Grenadier regiments
    — 1798 promoted lieutenant-colonel
    — 9.IV.1798 chevalier of the Order of Saint-Anne 3rd class
    — 3.V.1799 promoted colonel
    — 14.V.1799 chevalier of the Order of Saint-Anne 2nd class
    — 24.X.1799 granted leave from service *
    — 28.XII.1799 departed service in the rank of major-general
    — 10.IX.1810 died at his home at Bolshaya Morskaya Street № 159 in Saint-Petersburg – wife Karolina Semyonovna, 4 sons & 1 daughter
    * The Combined Grenadier battalion was then commanded by the newly-promoted Major Gryazev of the Moscow Grenadier regiment.

    Сводно-Гренадерский подполковника (затем, полковника) Дендрыгина батальон / Lieutenant-Colonel (later, Colonel) Dendrygin’s Combined Grenadier battalion
    — composed of the four Grenadier companies of the Apsheron and Murom Musketeer regiments
    — mid April 1799 : 623 men, 2x 1/4-pud unicorn
    — late September 1799 : 339 men, no guns
    Дендрыгин Спиридон Дмитриевич / Dendrygin Spiridon Dmitriyevich
    — 1754 born
    — 1764 listed in service
    — 27.VII.1792 promoted second-major in the Apsheron Infantry regiment
    — 1794 chevalier of the Order of Saint-Vladimir 4th class
    — 26.XI.1795 promoted premier-major – chevalier of the Order of Saint-George 4th class (№ 1218) “For the storm of Praga [Warsaw] 24 October 1794”
    — 24.I.1797 commander from its formation of the Combined Grenadier battalion of the Apsheron and Murom Musketeer regiments
    — 1798 promoted lieutenant-colonel
    — 28.VI.1799 promoted colonel
    — 1800 commander of the Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem
    — 5.VII.1800 retired due to the effects of wounds in the rank of major-general
    — 13.II.1801 appointed active state counselor, inspector of the Kizlyar quarantine in the Caucasus
    — 1804 left civilian service

    Сводно-Гренадерский майора (затем, подполковника) Калемина батальон / Major (later, Lieutenant-Colonel) Kelemin’s Combined Grenadier battalion
    — composed of the four Grenadier companies of the Tambov and Tula Musketeer regiments
    — mid April 1799 : 614 men, 2x 1/4-pud unicorn
    — late September 1799 : 397 men, no guns
    Калемин Лука Фомич / Kalemin Luka Fomich
    — 1768 born to a poor noble family
    — 1776 listed in service, ranker in the Life-Guard Preobrazhskiy regiment
    — 1780 listed sergeant in the Life-Guard Preobrazhskiy regiment
    — 1791 promoted captain in the Tula Infantry regiment
    — 1793 transferred to the Tambov Infantry regiment
    — 26.IV.1794 promoted second-major over-complement
    — 7.V.1794 wounded by cannister at Polyana (near Grodno)
    — 1798 commander of the Combined Grenadier battalion of the Tambov and Tula Musketeer regiments, replacing Major Kaver pf the Tambov Infantry regiment
    — 9.VII.1799 promoted lieutenant-colonel
    — 4.VIII.1799 chevalier of the Order of Saint-Anne 2nd class, with brilliants
    — 2.X.1800 promoted Colonel
    — 14.IV.1803 commander of the Rylsk Musketeer regiment
    — 24.VI.1804 army colonel, commandant of the city of Troitsk in Siberia
    — 1811 retired

    Сводно-Гренадерский подполковника Санаева батальон / Lieutenant-Colonel Sanayev’s Combined Grenadier battalion
    — composed of the four Grenadier companies of the Butyrsk and Arkhangel Musketeer regiments
    — mid April 1799 : 608 men, 2x 1/4-pud unicorn
    — late September 1799 : 326 men, exchanged unicorns for 1x Piedmontese 3-lber mountain gun
    Санаев Василий Данилович / Sanayev Vasiliy Danilovich
    — 1751 born at Christopol (Kazan governate), staff-officer’s son
    — 1763 listed in service
    — 14.VII.1788 promoted second-major over-complement in the Suzdal Infantry regiment
    — 1792 second-major in the 1st Orenburg Field battalion
    — 26.XI.1795 chevalier of the Order of Saint-George 4th class (№ 1274)
    — 29.XI.1796 major in the Butyrsk Infantry regiment, transferred with his battalion at the formation of the regiment
    — 24.I.1797 commander from its formation of the Combined Grenadier battalion of the Butyrsk and Bryansk (later Arkhangel) Musketeer regiments
    — 1798 promoted lieutenant-colonel
    — 13.VII.1799 chevalier of the Order of Saint-Anne 2nd class
    — 29.X.1799 retired due to the effects of wounds *
    — 1800 chevalier of the Order of Saint-John of Jerusalem
    — 1808 died at Christopol – single, owning 15 hectares and 5 serfs
    * The Combined Grenadier battalion was then commanded by the newly-promoted for bravery Major Chizhov of the Tula Musketeer regiment.

    General Slade
    General Slade

    Thanks Alexandre, it’s always nice to have some flesh on the bones and it’s handy to know how the combined grenadier battalions were constituted and which ones had mountain guns (I haven’t bought my 3lbers yet but I have started painting my mules to carry them).



    I have been following the thread with interest. Lots of great information on an otherwise part of the wars with very little available information.

    Your comment about using the third rank as skirmishers is something I can add to. As I understand it, it was common practice [French, Austrian, Prussian and British] to detach them by company/platoon with the file closer at the end in nominal command–something between 30-60 men depending. Each company section would have practiced separately and with other ‘sections’ from platoon third ranks. Each section would have one or more NCOs and a commanding officer for the entire group would have already been designated when and if the third rank was needed…regardless of how many of the third rank were sent out. Obviously, how well such deployments went depended on how well the infantry was practiced and comfortable with the process. Because of equalizing that often occurred, soldiers were often working closely with others that weren’t part of their parent section or platoon. It was always done by at least company because anything else created some awkwardness for the battalion in maneuvering.

    You gave a link to a diagram of how Suvorov/the early Russians deployed his/their troops:  

    From your description, I wasn’t sure whether this diagram above was showing a brigade deployment or two separate methods [divided along the vertical from the blue arrow at the top] left and right with no relationship between them. What am I missing?

    That link didn’t lead to the larger website [for me at least]. I would be very interested in the sources of the information you provided, particularly about the skirmishing about the above diagram and later when you wrote: “The skirmish screen could be formed from any type of troops.” I’m collecting information for a book.

    Best, Bill


    • This reply was modified 7 months, 1 week ago by McLaddie McLaddie.

    Alexandre Heroy

    The linked diagram was two separate cases, not a brigade.

    The diagram comes from an illustration in a recent edition of “Science of Victory”. As I said, Suvorov’s writing is not exactly a model of clarity …. but the diagram seemed to be at least one reasonable and workable interpretation – and showed method of deploying that might be used in a game to good effect. It was also the only illustration that showed the 2x 5-company battalions + detached flank/grenadier companies of the 1799 campaign. I would not take it as “gospel” without much additional research. Sadly, the “Infantry School” of the era did not inlcude instructions about regiment/brigade-level evolutions.

    “The skirmish screen could be formed from any type of troops.”

    It’s in the “Science of Vicotry” (linked), also the “Instructions for the the Suzdal’ Regiment” – maybe elsewhere.

    Really there was no choice : the rifle-armed Jäger were just too few. Suvarov had 20 battalions of heavy infantry, and only 4 half-sized battalions of Jäger – a 10:1 ratio. By September, if not earlier, the Jäger were all grouped in an avant-garde under Bagration and not even brigaded with the heavy infantry. Also, the battalions of 5 “center” companies made a very convenient package of 2 platoons for skirmishing and 8 platoons formed (with 8 also in the Combined Grenadier battalions).

    There was no 1798 “Instructions”. The 1796 Instructions was based on a slightly different “State”.


    It has a rather mangled use of 4 sub-divisions, and 2 sub-divisions of a comany and 5 or 8 sub-divisions of a battalion. There are also two different words used inconsistently with the meaning of “platoon”. Probably only Tsar Paul really understood it. Suvorov and many other did not use it, but just maintained the 1763 Instuctions, with local modifications. Suvorov said of the 1796’s 3/4 arshim pace (compared to the prior 1 arshin) something like : In HIS IMPERIAL WISODM, our beloved sovereign has reduced my movements by 25%! – thankful to HIM and to GOD my men and I may now rest while marching!”

    The State in 1796 included over-complement men, which were to make up full stength companies when needed. Equalization and ranking by height was done once in the Spring, and file/rank position was kept – explicitly so that the soldier would know his mates (“дабы всякой солдат шеренгу свою, возле и перед собою стоящего знать мог”). There is no mention of repeated equalizing as in the French Reglement of 1791 or daily equalizing in (later, 1813) French instuctions for sous-officers. Actually, they had a prayers with morning turn-out in the Russian service, when the French would have been equlaizing!

    My impression is that the Russians did not equalize with the same rigor as the French, even in 1798 and after. They did not count recently received recruits as rankers until so qualified. I think they used them much as the prior over-complement, when needed, to fill up to equality as opposed to moving men. That is an impression, gleaned more from the absence of intructions about daily or repeated equalization and instead a few scattered specific mentions (such as “after losses at XXXX, we equalized and our company got many new men from the Yth company”). This impression is re-inforced by relatively detailed instructions for leaving blank spaces in the 3rd rank when companies were not equal found in the 1811 School.

    There remains, indeed, much to research.


    Sorry to get back to you so late.  Thank you for that information. Great stuff and a big help in my research efforts.

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