Austrian Regular Infantry
By Mike Embree
Artwork by Keith Vincent
Editor's Note: This paper was first published as a pamphlet by the Napoleonic Association in the late 1970s. The Napoleonic Association has very generously given us permission to place it on the Napoleon Series. It is reproduced in its entirety except for those parts that cover wargaming. Click here for more information on the Napoleonic Association.
Part I: Organisation
In 1806, with the advent of Erzherzog (Archduke) Karl as Generalissmus, the Austrian army underwent a considerable reorganisation. The Archduke was a manifestation of the idea that the infantry should be self-supporting, and as a consequence all line regiments lost their regimental artillery.
Line regiments were all organised on the same basis, and consisted of 3 fusilier battalions and 2 grenadier companies.
The three fusilier battalions had 3 'divisonen' each (until 1809, the 3rd battalions had only 2). Battalions were numbered 1-3, divisions 1-9, and companies 1-18 consecutively through the regiment. The grenadier companies were numbered 1 and 2. All companies were also assigned the name of the commander, and were generally known by that name.
The command of the regiment was assigned as follows:
A 'German' company had 8 gefreyten (senior privates), as did the 'Hungarian', but whereas the former had 160 gemeinen, the latter had 180. A grenadiers company had 120.
Grenadier companies were formed from the grenadiers of each regiment, and were combined with the grenadiers of other regiments into autonomous battalions.
Tactically, the infantry used a 3 rank system, a company forming in this manner on almost all occasions. Battalion movement was usually by the column of companies, i.e. one behind the other, and this formation was used for storming, etc. In a fire-fight, the battalions would fight in line. The 1st (Leib) battalion of a regiment took the right of the line, with the 2nd in the centre, and the 3rd on the left. March step was 95 paces to the minute. All officers from the rank of major upwards were mounted. The infantry was generally well-disciplined, and could manoeuvre well, but the highly developed sub-unit system sometimes found difficulties in broken country.
Generally speaking, 2 infantry regiments formed a brigade which was named after is CO, and was sometimes numbered as well. Higher organisation was on an extremely ad-hoc basis, and was changed to suit circumstances. This could cause problems of control, but had the advantage of flexibility. A 'normal' corps would be made up of several divisions, in trun broken down into brigades, though the corps of 3 brigades plus artillery, etc was not unknown. In much the same way, light troops could be attached to infantry divisions, though again, they were usually formed in light divisions and kept with the grenadiers.
Grenadiers were brigaded together, and these brigades formed, together with light divisions, a 'reserve' corps. This was not an organisational entity, simply a corps of elite troops at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief (in Germany, in 1809, there were 2 in existence). Battalions or brigades could be detached from the reserve as and when necessary. The heavy cavalry and artillery were usually a part of this reserve, and not under (line) corps control.
Every regiment had a number in the line which accorded to its status and seniority. In addition, the reigment possessed a name which was normally that of the 'regiments-Inhaber', or colonel-in-chief. Permanent titles, such as that of regiment Nr 4 were occasionally granted as an honour. There has been some confusion regarding the identification of regiments since their names did, of course, change at times. The list of regiments given will, I hope, alleviate that confusion to some extent.
Regiments number 5 and 6 (1 and 2 Garrison regiments) were disbanded in 1807, when it was decided pointless administrating these troops as regiments since they did not operate as such. These numbers remained vacant until 1851.
After the loss of territory resulting from the Treaty of Vienna in 1809, it became necessary to disband 8 line regiments. These were numbers 13, 23, 38, 43, 45, 46, 50, and 55. Four of these units, reformed in 1814, recruited from the Italian provinces; these being -
During the 1813-15 campaigns, 1 and sometimes 2 Landwehr battalions were attached to each line regiment, and most operated in the same corps. A description of these troops is inappropriate here.
As stated previously, grenadiers operated in independent battalions separately from their parent regiments. These battalions bore the name of their commanding officer.
Grenadier Divisionen in 1809
Grenadier Divisionen in 1813 - 1815
The relationship between the grenadiers and their regiments was maintained as much as possible in the pursuance of esperit de corps. Whereas grenadier regiments were raised in other countries, this was though by the KK army to be detrimental to the line infantry, and the regimental bonds were consequently continued.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2001
Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2001
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