Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

 

Military Paper Award

 

The Development of the Russian Inspectorate, 1762-1806:

Part IV: Conclusion

By Robert Goetz

The division/inspection system of 1763-1806 constituted a pragmatic compromise between the canton system of Prussia, which spread the regiments evenly throughout the country for their maintenance and demilitarized portions during peacetime to reduce costs, and maintaining a large permanent army in a state of constant preparedness on the frontiers.† Given Russiaís unique problems, it proved an effective solution and allowed Russia to react more effectively to crises in all quarters, from intervention in Poland to war with the Turks and from the suppression of the Pugachev rebellion to active participation in western wars against Prussia and France.†

From studying the inspection system and the mechanics of mobilization, the limitations of Russiaís military are revealed.† The mobilizations of 1799 and 1805 took place over an extended period of time.† Further limitations were imposed by the need to defend a vast frontier, a need that tied down roughly a third of the total Russian army.† Finally, the lack of an efficient depot system and logistical infrastructure for sending reinforcements to regiments on campaign seems to have required approximately 50% of the remaining forces to be withheld as a reserve in order to ensure that Russia could continue the war into the next year and/or to respond to shifting alliances or instability.†

Considering these factors, the commitment of forces demonstrated in both campaigns appears to have been very close to total.† In 1799, 26 musketeer and grenadier regiments were engaged with the French (20 in the west and 6 with Hermannís landing force), an estimated 26 additional regiments were allocated to the northern and southern reserve corps and the remaining 23 regiments secured the northern, southern and eastern frontiers.† Therefore, it seems that the commitment of one-third of total forces to the war against the French represented the full commitment of available resources.† Similarly in 1805 an estimated 60 of 110 regiments were committed to the war with France with an estimated 11 regiments committed to the reserve corps and the remainder on the frontiers.† In the case of 1805, the more substantial commitment of forces certainly reflects the improved relations with Prussia and perhaps improved mechanisms for providing regimental depots for reinforcing regiments on campaign.† It is important to note, though, that Prussian recalcitrance prevented Bennigsenís corps of an estimated 10 regiments from playing an active role in the campaign and uncertainty regarding the Turks sidetracked additional forces.

Against the refined military power of Imperial France, additional organizational limitations would be revealed, which would force broader organizational changes. The speed of Napoleonís advance in 1805, coupled with late Russian mobilization, effectively ended the campaign before all Russian troops could arrive in the theater of operations.† Moreover, the experience of Austerlitz demonstrated clearly that delays and confusion resulting from ad hoc higher operational formations was counterproductive.† These limitations would be addressed in the next series of major reforms in 1806.

 

 

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2002

 

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