Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


Between Inspections and Corps:  The Russian Divisional Structure, 1806 - 1810

Transformation of Divisional Concept, 1807-1810

By Robert Goetz

From 1807 through 1810 a series of organizational adjustments changed the composition of the Russian Divisions.  Adjustments made in June 1807 included the designation of the Guard as a division and the creation of a new division from regiments drawn from existing divisions.  The extension of the divisional organization to the eastern inspections occurred in February 1808 and Replacement Recruit Depots were created in October of that year.  In 1809 the divisions were substantially reorganized with regiments transferred among the divisions, but the structure of the divisions remained the same.  At the same time, the fact that many of the divisions were fighting wars outside of Russia – up to 18 of the 22 divisions in Europe and the Caucasus in 1809 with the remaining four divisions defending the Baltic and Black Sea coasts  - resulted in the formation of divisions that do not seem to have been attached to a specific geographical territory.  Finally, in 1810 Regimental Replacement Battalions were established and the first permanent corps were introduced.

During this period two significant deviations from the original structure emerged.  First, some of the new divisions appear to have been formed exclusively as operational units for use in the war with the Turks.  Second, while the original structure of the divisions assigned infantry, cavalry and artillery to each division, the cavalry appears to have remained separate from the infantry divisions in subsequent reorganizations.  These deviations effectively changed the concept of the division from a force of all arms (infantry, cavalry and artillery) to a body of infantry supported by artillery.  This foreshadowed the transition to the corps as the force of all arms.  This shift in the underlying concept of the division, coupled with the formation of a depot system and Regimental Replacement structure, completed the essential framework for the establishment of a French-inspired corps d’armée structure in 1812.

Organizational Adjustments

In June 1807 adjustments to the original divisions were ordered.  These changes, decreed while many of the affected divisions and regiments were on campaign in Poland, do not appear to have been implemented until after the Treaty of Tilsit in July 1807.  A decree of 1 June ordered all artillery brigades attached to the western divisions to be brought up to the same number of companies:  two battery or heavy artillery companies, two light artillery companies, one horse artillery company and one pontoon company.  This explicitly excluded the Caucasus and Siberian artillery while the Orenburg Inspection, which lacked any field artillery companies, was unaffected.  With the expansion and adjustment of the artillery came a reorganization of the infantry.  The Guard, along with the Leib Grenadiers from the original 1st Division, became the new 1st Division.  The remaining regiments in 1st Division, augmented by Libau Musketeers from 16th Division to replace Leib Grenadiers, were renamed the 21st Division.  This renumbering appears to have been purely cosmetic, the designation of “1st” implying primary importance and seniority and therefore being assigned to the Guard.  The 1st Artillery Brigade that was formerly attached to the 1st Division was renumbered the 21st and attached to the 21st Division.  At the same time, the seventh regiments of the 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Divisions and a regiment from the 18th Division were formed into a new 22nd Division and the 22nd Artillery Brigade was created for the new division.  As with the Caucasus divisions, the 22nd Division received no specific cavalry regiments.  The 22nd Division appears to have been created to create more uniform divisions.  With the formation of the 22nd Division, all of the divisions in the west contained six infantry regiments, organized into three two-regiment brigades.  Some additional shifting of regiments also occurred in conjunction with these adjustments to even up the allocation of regiments to divisions. 

The 1807 adjustments produced greater regularity in the formation of the infantry of the divisions, but appear to have introduced a departure from the organization of the division as a force of all arms.  One possible reason for this is the stability in the composition of the army’s cavalry arm.  Two new light cavalry regiments were authorized in April 1807 but no new dragoon regiments were authorized.  The allocation of the new cavalry regiments to divisions is not specified, but it seems likely that once their formation was complete they would have been assigned to the 15th or 22nd Divisions because these divisions were lacking cavalry.  It is also possible that they simply remained unassigned, as was the case with several uhlan regiments.

The minor changes to the divisional structure in 1808 and 1809 require only brief mention.  The Orenburg and Siberian Inspections were organized into the 23rd and 24th Divisions respectively on 5 February 1808.  On 12 August 1808 a new infantry regiment was formed from three garrison battalions and assigned to 9th Division.  In 1809 there was a considerable rearranging of regiments among the divisions, but without any significant change in overall structure or even total strength of the divisions.  In this year an additional musketeer regiment was transferred to the 1st (Guard) Division and several other regiments shuffled among the divisions to maintain them at equal size, at least with regard to infantry.  At the same time, the 23rd and 24th Divisions were reorganized into three divisions, the 23rd, 24th and 25th, presumably due to difficulties of command over the considerable distances on the eastern frontier.  It is interesting to note that the 13th, 18th and 19th Divisions – the divisions located on the Black Sea coast, in Georgia and in the Caucasus – were oversized while the eastern divisions were only brigade strength.  The final divisional organization is shown in Table 5.


Table 5:  Composition of Divisions, September 1809[i]

Division
or Inspection

Infantry

Cavalry

Artillery

Grenadier Regiments

Musketeer Regiments

Jager Regiments

Total
Battalions

Cuirassier Regiments

Dragoon Regiments

Hussar
Regiments

Uhlan Regiments

Total Squadrons

Position Batteries
(12 pdr)

Light Batteries
(6 pdr)

Horse Batteries
(6 pdr)

Pontoon Companies

1st Division
(Guard)

4

1

1

18

1

0

1

2

20

2

2

1

1

2nd Division

2

3

1

18

1

1

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

3rd Division

1

3

2

18

1

1

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

4th Division

0

5

1

18

1

1

0

1

20

2

2

1

1

5th Division

0

4

2

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

6th Division

0

5

1

18

1

1

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

7th Division

1

4

1

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

8th Division

1

4

1

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

9th Division

1

4

1

18

1

1

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

10th Division

1

4

1

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

11th Division

2

3

1

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

12th Division

1

4

1

18

0

2

0

0

10

2

2

1

1

13th Division

0

6

2

24

1

3

0

0

20

2

2

1

1

14th Division

0

4

2

18

0

2

1

0

20

2

2

1

1

15th Division

0

4

2

18

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

1

1

16th Division

0

5

1

18

0

2

0

0

10

2

2

1

1

17th Division

0

4

2

18

0

2

0

0

10

2

2

1

1

18th Division

0

4

2

18

0

2

0

0

10

2

2

1

1

19th Division

0

5

2

21

0

5

0

0

25

2

3

0

0

20th Division

2

4

2

24

2

2

0

1

21st Division

0

5

1

18

0

0

0

1

10

2

2

1

1

22nd Division

0

5

1

18

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

1

1

23rd Division

0

2

0

6

0

1

0

0

5

2

2

0

0

24th Division

0

1

1

6

0

2

0

0

10

0

0

0

0

25th Division

0

3

1

12

0

0

0

0

St. Petersburg Reserve Artillery

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

Kiev Reserve Artillery

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

6

0

0

0

Moscow Reserve Artillery

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

2

Unassigned

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

3

40

0

0

0

0

Total

16

96

33

435

7

36

12

7

390

61

47

20

23

 

Establishment of a Depot System

The most notable omission in the 1806 divisional adjustments was the lack of any depot system to process recruits and to replenish the regiments on campaign.  This omission is perhaps explained by the short duration of the 1805 campaign with France:  the 90-day campaign did not allow time for replenishing depleted units, so there was no demonstrable need to change the established practice.  In contrast to the Russians, the French had developed a highly effective depot system that allowed the French army to maintain its strength even in prolonged campaigns.  Columns of soldiers marched from the regimental depots in France to join the regiments on campaign.  In 1806, for example, recruits caught up to their regiments in the vicinity of Berlin.[ii]  By contrast, the Russian regiments suffered a steady depletion while on campaign.  Recruits were not processed in regimental depots but rather distributed to the regiments directly from recruit processing centers, presumably to receive the bulk of their training with the field battalions.[iii]  Lacking an efficient system for replacing combat losses in the regiments, the Russian practice was to maintain a large reserve of regiments within Russia as a supplementary army. 

On 30 October 1808, this omission was partially corrected with the establishment of the first depot system.  The new depots were established “to avoid the deficiencies connected with the hasty distribution of recruits” and replaced the centralized processing centers with more effective recruit training centers.[iv]  A network of Replacement Recruit Depots were established, each consisting of 6 companies.  Twenty-nine depots were originally authorized, although only twenty-seven were actually created.  These depots, in effect regional recruit processing and training centers, reduced the distance recruits had to march from their villages to the processing locations and from there to their regiments, and provided essential basic instruction for the recruits. 

The Replacement Recruit Depots did not address the need for a system of supplying replacements for regiments on campaign, but this was addressed almost exactly one year later when Replacement Battalions were authorized for the regiments (12 October 1810).  This established regimental depots consisting of the three fusilier or musketeer companies of the 2nd Battalion of each regiment.[v]  On 8 November 1810, the existing cavalry replacement squadrons and half-squadrons were disbanded and a new system of Replacement Squadrons paralleling the infantry model was established.[vi]  One of the three center squadrons in the 5-squadron regiments and one of the three center squadrons in each of the two battalions of the 10-squadron regiments would form the Replacement Squadron.  With these two reforms, the process of sending raw recruits directly to the regiments was replaced by a two-step process where recruits passed first through the Replacement Recruit Depot, then to the Replacement Battalion and finally to the field regiments.  In addition to improving the training of recruits, the Replacement Recruit Depots and Replacement Battalions provided a ready reserve that could be mobilized as a support force in wartime.

The Barclay Reforms of 1810

In January 1810, Barclay de Tolly became Minister of War and immediately began reorganizing and reforming the army.  A major component of Barclay’s reforms involved the reorganization of the Russian army according to the French model, with formal corps and divisions in a two-tier structure.  The entire series of organizational reforms extends beyond the period of study, but it is useful to briefly address the first of Barclay’s organizational adjustments occurring in October 1810 as these demonstrate the completion of the transition from the Inspections to the prototype of the Russian corps d’armée.  The establishment of Replacement Battalions (described above) on 12 October 1810 logically separated the regimental depot from the physical (peacetime) location of the division.  On 19 October 1810, fourteen musketeer regiments were redesignated as jäger regiments to produce a uniform organization of all divisions with four musketeer regiments and two jäger regiments organized into three brigades.  Finally, on 26 October the divisions were grouped into a corps structure. 

The first corps simply grouped the divisions together in the regions in which they were operating.  (See Table 6)  The divisions that had been involved in the war against Sweden, either in the invasion of Finland or in defending the Baltic coast, were assigned to the first three corps.  The 1st Corps consisted of 5th and 14th Divisions, the 2nd Corps of 6th, 17th, and 21st Divisions and the 3rd Corps of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Divisions.  From subsequent adjustments and considering the composition of the Army of Finland in 1812, it appears that 1st Corps remained in Finland, 2nd Corps occupied the St. Petersburg area, and 3rd Corps defended the Baltic coast.  The 4th Corps included primarily the divisions that had been committed to the 1809 campaign against Austria in Poland and presumably remained on the western frontier.  This corps included the 7th and 15th Divisions along with the replacement battalions of 9th, 10th and 18th Divisions.  It therefore appears that it was intended for the corps to include five divisions after the withdrawal of the 9th, 10th, and 18th from the Army of Moldavia.  The composition of the 5th Corps was not specified, but the gap in the numbering seems to have been left open for the divisions in the Army of Moldavia.  Five divisions were active in Moldavia and were not assigned to other corps, suggesting that these were intended to form the 5th Corps.[vii]  The 6th Corps was formed from the Caucasus divisions, the 19th and 20th.  On 28 October, the cavalry was formally reorganized into brigades and each brigade assigned to a corps.  The artillery brigades appear to have remained attached to the infantry divisions.[viii] 

Table 6:  Allocation of Divisions, 1806-1810

Division

Winter 1806-7

Spring 1807

1808

Spring 1809

Autumn 1810[ix]

Guard

St. Petersburg

Poland

Re-designated 1st Division June 1807

1

Finland

Finland (d)

St. Petersburg (d)

St. Petersburg (d)

St. Petersburg

2

Poland

Poland

Baltic Coast

Baltic Coast

3rd Corps

3

Poland

Poland

Baltic Coast

Baltic Coast

3rd Corps

4

Poland

Poland

Finland

Finland

3rd Corps

5

Poland

Poland

Finland

Finland

1st Corps

6

Poland

Poland

Finland

Finland

2nd Corps

7

Poland

Poland

Poland

Poland

4th Corps

8

Poland

Poland

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

9

Moldavia/Poland

Poland

Poland

Poland

Moldavia/4th Corps

10

Moldavia/Poland

Poland

Poland

Poland

Moldavia/4th Corps

11

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

12

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

13

Black Sea Coast

Black Sea Coast

Black Sea Coast

Black Sea Coast

Black Sea Coast

14

Poland

Poland

Finland

Finland

1st Corps

15

Ionian Islands

Ionian Islands

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia/4th Corps

16

Forming

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia

17

Forming

Poland

Finland

Finland

2nd Corps

18

Forming

Poland

Poland

Poland

Moldavia/4th Corps

19

Caucasus Inspection to February 1807

Caucasus

Caucasus

Caucasus

6th Corps

20

Caucasus

Caucasus

Caucasus

6th Corps

21

1st Division until June 1807

Finland

Finland

2nd Corps

22

Formed June 1807

Moldavia

Moldavia

Moldavia


Note:  Detachments from 13th Division also operated in Moldavia; detachments from 1st Division operated in Poland in 1807 and in Finland in 1808-9.

The result of these adjustments was to complete the separation of the divisions from geographic regions and replace the division with the corps as the standard force of all arms.  The corps structure would evolve over the course of the following year, but the Barclay reforms effectively mark the end of the Catherinian system of divisions, which had served as the underlying structure of the Russian army for almost half a century.

 

 

 

 

Notes

[i] The allocation of regiments shown is as given in Viskovatov.  Unassigned regiments include the Tatar Lithuania and Volhynia Lancer (Uhlan) Regiments and the Lubny Hussar Regiment.  The Tatar and Lithuanian Horse Regiments had been redesignated as Lancer Regiments and increased to 10 squadrons in November 1807.  Cavalry in the Caucasus was not explicitly assigned to divisions but suported the 19th and 20th Divisions.  Similarly, the Cavalry in Siberia supported 24th and 25th Divisions.

[ii] Paul Jean Foucart, Campagne de Pologne, Paris, 1882., I, foldout tables.  Details on the detachments of recruits received by each regiment from depots in France are noted in the foldout organizational tables for each corps.

[iii] Mikhailovsky-Danielevsky notes that 8,000 recruits were sent to the Army of Moldavia in the winter of 1807-8 but does not provide any details on the logistics of this or how the recruits were allocated to the regiments.  The Russo-Turkish War was one of the few wars during this period lasting more than one year in which there was time to send recruits to replenish the regiments in the field.  Alexander Mikhailovsky-Danielevsky, Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, translated by Alexander Mikaberidze,  Pisgah, Ohio, 2002., I, p. 31.

[iv] Viskovatov, 10a, p. 15.

[v] The grenadier company of the 2nd Battalion would march with the 1st and 3rd Battalions in wartime and would be combined with other grenadier companies to form Combined Grenadier Battalions which were then collected into brigades and divisions.  Viskovatov, 10a, pp. 17-8; 55. 

[vi] Cavalry replacement squadrons had been established in 1803 to train recruits for the cavalry regiments.  Each cavalry regiment of 10 squadrons had one replacement squadron.  Each cavalry regiment of 5 squadrons had a replacement half-squadron.

[vii] The omission of the 5th Corps may also be an error by Viskovatov.

[viii] Viskovatov notes the 16th Division with 2nd Corps instead of the 6th but this is in error as the 16th Division was actively involved in the war against the Turks and was physically separated from the other divisions assigned to the corps.  The 6th Division had been operating with the 17th and 21st in Finland.  Also, Viskovatov includes the 25th Division in 4th Corps, but the 25th Division was a designation given to forces in Siberia prior to the November 1811 renumbering.  This in all probability refers to the 15th Division.  Viskovatov, 10a, pp. 18-19.

[ix] The depots of 9th, 10th and 18th Divisions were assigned to 4th Corps, suggesting that these divisions were to be included in this division upon the conclusion of the Turkish war.  The Corps were formed from divisions in the same general region as follows:  1st Corps – St. Petersburg area; 2nd Corps – Finland; 3rd Corps – Baltic Coast; 4th Corps – Polish Frontier; 5th Corps – omitted, but apparently reserved for forces in Moldavia and on the Black Sea Coast; 6th Corps – Caucasus.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2002

 

Organization Index ]



Search the Series

© Copyright 1995-2004, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.

Top | Home ]