Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


 


Prussian Reserve Infantry: 1813-15

Part II: Organisation

By Robert Mantle

 

It is one thing to declare mobilization; another to form a collection of men into an army. Reserve Battalions of the Prussian Infantry were officially established on March 1 1813, and until July were considered as part of their parent, or Stamm-Regiment.

In March 1813, the Prussian Regular Infantry consisted of twelve Regiments. Each had two numbers; one was its precedence in the Line, and the other, precedence in the province it recruited from.

No. 1

First East Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 2

First Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

No. 3

Second East Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 4

Third East Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 5

Fourth East Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 6

First West Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 7

Second West Prussian Infantry Regiment

No. 8

Foot Guard Regiment

No. 9

Leib* Infantry Regiment (Brandenburg)

No.10

Colberg Infantry Regiment (2nd Pomeranian)

No.11

First Silesian Infantry Regiment

No.12

Second Silesian Infantry Regiment

Note that the Foot Guard Regiment was numbered in the Line, following the practice of the pre 1807 army.

* Leib, untranslatable literally, carries the same meaning as 'Life' as in 'Life Guards'. In this context it implies an elite Infantry Regiment, the status of which was midway between a Guards Regiment and an ordinary line unit.

Each regiment consisted of two Musketeer Battalions of four companies each, equivalent to British Centre Companies; a Fusilier Battalion of four Companies, used as light troops, and two Grenadier Companies, grouped in independent Battalions.

The total strength of a battalion was approximately 750, all ranks. In addition, a third Musketeer Battalion existed but these seem to have acted in a training rôle before 1813.

The occupation of East Prussia had been followed by the call-up of the Rserves in that province. As they were mobilized before the main body of Reservists, their titles were slightly different and were later changed:

Reserve Musketeer Battalion No1 became the 1st East Prussian Reserve Battalion

Reserve Musketeer Battalion No 2 became the 2nd East Prussian Reserve Battalion

Reserve Musketeer Battalion No 3 became the 3rd East Prussian Reserve Battalion

Reserve Musketeer Battalion No 4 became the 4th East Prussian Reserve Battalion

Reserve Fusilier Battalion No1 became the 1st Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion

Reserve Fusilier Battalion No 2 became the 2nd Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion

Reserve Fusilier Battalion No 2 became the 3rd Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion

The battalions established in the rest of Prussia, and the East Prussian Battalions raised on the declaration of war with France were given the title of Reserve Musketeer Battalions, eg, 1st Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment No 11. The only exception was the Brandenburg Reserve Battalion, which was retitled 'I Reserve (Musketeer) Battalion, Leib Infantry.

In contrast to their titles, the organisation of Reserve Battalions was relatively simple. Each Regular Regiment became the Stamm or parent Regiment to several Reserve Battalions, formed partly of Reservists who had served in its ranks and partly of raw recruits. (It was impossible for them to be composed entirely of experienced men, for the reasons outlined in the previous section.) To mould this collection of men into units, the Stamm Regiments supplied a cadre of officers, NCOs and musicians. In the early part of the 1813 campaign, up to the armistice of June 4, the Reserve Battalions operated with their Stamm Regiment. Their men were enthusiastic but many had little training and they were plagued with shortages of every kind.

Napoleon's victories at Gross Görschen (or Lützen) and Bautzen proved indecisive and both sides welcomed the armistice of June 4 as a chance to build up strength. While diplomatic pressure was successfully brought to bear on Austria, the Prussian Landwehr completed its basic training and was considered ready for action, swelling the army's ranks yet further. Meanwhile, Britain had been sending aid in the form of money, arms and uniforms. While only small numbers of British troops ever took part in the main struggle against Napoleon, the Royal Navy ensured a constant flow of subsidies. Many Reservists acquired proper uniforms in this period -- the War Ministry also took the opportunity to make some administrative changes.

On July 1, the Foot Guard Regiment (No 8) was removed from the line and retitled the First Foot Guard Regiment, while a Second Foot Guard Regiment was established. In consequence, Regiments 9 to 12 were renumbered one place lower. To fill the 12th place, a new 12th Regiment was created from Reserve Battalions; it was known as the Brandenburg Infantry Regiment, No 12 and ranked as part of the Regular Army. [But for the sake of this study will be considered as a Reserve unit because of its origin.]

On the same day, thirty-nine Reserve Battalions were officially grouped into twelve Reserve Regiments, althought the actual union of the attalions often did not take place immediately. The three Battalions of the Ninth Reserve Regiment, for example, were not united until August 7. The new Regiments were usually of three Battalions, like the Regulars, although the 1st, 3rd and 5th had four - the IV Battalion was usually broken up and its personnel used to fill up the ranks of the other three. The Battalions were numbered I - IV. Several Battalions were formally Reserve Fusilier Battalions; these usually became the III Battalion of the Regiment, following the example of the Regulars. The Component Battalions of the 12th Infantry Regiment and the twelve Reserve Regiments were drawn from various sources.

Brandenburg Infantry Regiment No 12

I Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Leib Infantry Regiment, formerly 1st Brandenburg Reserve Battalion

II Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Leib, Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 1st West Prussian Infantry Regiment

1st Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 1st East Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

1st East Prussian Reserve (Musketeer) Battalion, formerly the 1st Reserve Musketeer Battalion

III Battalion

1st Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion formerly the 1st Reserve Fusilier Battalion

IV Battalion

2nd East Prussian Reserve (Musketeer) Battalion formerly the 1st Reserve Musketeer Battalion. This battalion was disbanded on 26 March 1815.

2nd Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

I Reserve Fusilier Battalion 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

3rd Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

3rd East Prussian Reserve (Musketeer) Battalion, formerly the 3rd Reserve Musketeer Battalion. On August 17 1813, this became the I Battalion

III Battalion

2nd Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion formerly the 2nd Reserve Fusilier Battalion

IV Battalion

4th East Prussian Reserve (Musketeer) Battalion formerly the 4th Reserve Musketeer Battalion. On August 17 1813, this became the II Battalion

4th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment

5th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 4th East Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Musketeer Battalion, 4th East Prussian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Musketeer Battalion, 4th East Prussian Infantry Regiment

IV Battalion

3rd Lithuanian Reserve Fusilier Battalion, formerly the 3rd Reserve Fusilier Battalion. This Battalion was disbanded on December 12, 1813

6th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st West Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

IV Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st West Prussian Infantry Regiment

7th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 2nd West Prussian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 2nd West Prussian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 2nd West Prussian Infantry Regiment

8th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

III Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

III Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Colberg Infantry Regiment

9th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Colberg Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Colberg Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

IV Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Colberg Infantry Regiment

10th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

III Musketeer Battalion, 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment

11th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

II Musketeer Battalion, 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

I Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

II Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment

12th Reserve Infantry Regiment

I Battalion

IV Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Leib Infantry Regiment

II Battalion

V Reserve Musketeer Battalion, Leib Infantry Regiment

III Battalion

III Reserve Musketeer Battalion, 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment

This organisation was retained by the Reserve Infatry from the re-opening of hostilities on August 10 to Napoleon's first abdication. During this period, the French were driven from Germany, and Prussia regained her territories around Magdeburg and Westphalia, bringing in more recruits. By the end of the War, the Army consisted of four categories of troops: regulars, Reservists, Volunteers and Landwehr. Hard campaigning had taken a toll of men, uniforms and equipment; a period of recovery was long overdue.

While the Congress of Vienna debated a peace settlement, the Prussian Army was given a thorough 'overhaul'. On September 25 1814, Von Boyen's Conscription Laws introduced universal peace time service, first with the rgulars and then witht eh Landwehr. Now that Prussia had regained her territories, and acquired new ones laong the Rhine, a large Rular Amry was needed, and the Reserve Infantry Regiments became Regular units on March 25 1814 and Infantry Regiments Nos 13-24. The titles assigned to them and Regiment No 12 were as follows:

No 12

2nd Brandenburg Infantry Regiment

No 13

3rd Silesian Infantry Regiment (ex 1st RIR)

No 14

3rd Pomeranian Infantry Regiment (ex 2nd RIR)

No 15

4th Silesian Infantry Regiment (ex 3rd RIR)

No 16

3rd West Prussian Infantry Regiment (ex 4th RIR)

No 17

4th West Prussian Infantry Regiment (ex 5th RIR)

No 18

1st Westphalian Infantry Regiment (ex 6th RIR)

No 19

2nd Westphalian Infantry Regiment (ex 7th RIR)

No 20

3rd Brandenburg Infantry Regiment (ex 8th RIR)

No 21

4th Pomeranian Infantry Regiment (ex 9th RIR)

No 22

1st Rhineland Infantry Regiment (ex 10th RIR)

No 23

2nd Rhineland Infantry Regiment (ex 11th RIR)

No 24

4th Brandenburg Infantry Regiment (ex 12th RIR)

By this time, the army had mobilized again, as Napoleon had escaped from Elba. Regiment No 12 and all the ex-Reserve units except the 13th, 16th, 17th and 20th Regiments took part in the Waterloo campaign. The 18th Regiment suffered the heaviest casualties of any Prussian Infantry unit: 21 officers, 49 NCOs and 740 men killed or wounded -- and gained 33 Iron Crosses in one afternoon's fighting round Placenoit. They and the 15th Regiment, committed straight from an exhausting cross-country march against fresh troops of the Imperial Guard, bore the brunt of the struggle and it was fitting that the ex-Reservists should have a rôle on the final victory.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2000

 

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