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"SYW Austrian Battalion Size " Topic

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Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2008 7:15 p.m. PST

I've done a little study of several sources on the size and organization of the Austrian battalions in the SYW, posting the results on my blog:

To make a long story short, I arrived at 600 as a reasonable number to use as a battlefield strength.

Also posted is a picture of the first ever Austrian Grand Review in the basement of Der Alte Fritz.

Yogah of Yag09 Feb 2008 7:33 p.m. PST

Thanks for the info and stirring photos!

So…1200 per Aus. regiment (in 1756-7, following Duffy, "Instrument", pp. 234 ff.) would be correct?

All these numbers and divisions are making me yearn for the simpler days of masses of barbaric hordes! LOL :)

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2008 11:19 p.m. PST

Well, if you want to see masses of native hoards, then check my blog for the new posting of pictures from the Sudan game that we played today.

Paris Guard10 Feb 2008 12:40 p.m. PST

How do you organize your French and Prussian bns, vs the Austrians at 60 figures, 1:10? Using Old Glory 15's, I am using 48 figures for both Prussian and Austrian (I think I calculated them at about 75% of theoretic strength – worn down), with some of the units at 42 as though more "run down. I use 36 for the French with their Grenadiers and Chasseurs pulled away to form their own composite battalions. My figures are mounted 3 to a stand for French gren and chass, so they can be put back with their parent units – 42 figures.


von Winterfeldt10 Feb 2008 11:31 p.m. PST

I had the impression that at the beginning of the 7Yw the Austrian Army fought in 4 ranks and a regiment had 4 battalions of 4 companies each (ignoring the grenadiers), usually one battlion stayed at the depot.
Daun introduced a new organisation after Kolin, 3 ranks and the regiments in 2 battlions each of 6 companies (ignoring grenadiers, for the 6 company organisation 600 rank and file seem to be quite low.

Keef4411 Feb 2008 3:48 a.m. PST

Alte Fritz – I think it may have been my post on the SYW Yahoo Group you are responding to. Your very useful research and the replies of others seem to indicate that the larger Austrian battalion (at least on the battlefield) might just be a figment of rule writers imaginations. I will certainly be discarding the notion and making my Prussian and Austrian battalions the same size. Interesting that a new rule set on the way (Die Kriegskunst, by Angus Konstam and others) is still convinced that the Austrians had bigger battalions.

Once again, an excellent response. Many thanks.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Feb 2008 8:01 a.m. PST

Paris Garde: my first Austrian units were 54 (4 stands of 12 and one "command stand" of of 6 figures). I am thinking of increasing the Austrians to 60 figures (4 stands of 15) and based the same as the French and Prussian (4 by 15).

Truth be told, we are not sticklers for precise movement of the divisions within the battalion, so the basing really comes down to symmetry and what is function in a wargame. For 15mm figures, I'd consider 4 stands of 12 or maybe even break them down further into zuge of 6 figures (2 files by 3 ranks).

Winterfeldt: yes, the Austrians began the SYW with a 4 rank formation, but seem to have gone to 3 ranks beginning in 1757. Somewhere I had a reference to the Austrian battalion strength at Leuthen and it averaged out to about 500 men per infantry battalion and about 380 men per cavalry regiment (which were around 850 men at full strength). These numbers reflect extensive fighting and campaign erosion of the unit strength and sort of strengthen my conviction (a gut feeling only) that 600 men is a good theoretical number to use for most armies during the SYW.

Keef44: glad to be able to help. It is not the definitive answer, but at least it puts the information in one place so that gamers can pick and choose what works best for them.

docdennis196811 Feb 2008 8:05 a.m. PST


As we discussed earlier old notions never totally go away. It is sometimes due to the fact that "new" rules developers use "older" wargame concepts for their research, and do not actully try to seek out the historical records like the earlier mentioned sources. I am no scholar of the 18th Century, but I certainly respect the efforts of those who are! These sources clearly show that the "Big Btn" Austrian concept is mostly a wargame myth.

One advantage to a gamer who has built his very large Austrian Btns is that he could accept the reduced size idea and have two Btns by splitting them in half and maybe adding a second command stand for a full regiment of two btns. Or he could simply ignore all this chatter and keep them like he has them and have fun! Not a terrible concept either!

grafthomond11 Feb 2008 10:17 a.m. PST

Der Alte Fritz. Love the website, very inspirational. I see where you are coming from with your analysis of Austrian battalion size. There was obviously a huge potential difference between actual and book strength. I have just gone through a similar thought process for my Napoleonic Austrians! However, as Winterfeldt points out, the strengths Duffy gives in Instrument of War, i.e. 584 men plus battalion staff, is for the earlier four-company structure. This changed at the start of the war to a six-company structure. These where genuine extra companies, not just a re-shuffling of men, since the number of battalions per regiment was reduced to allow for this. Assuming the same number of men per company, this makes about 876 men plus the battalion staff. There is another source which you haven't picked up on. This is Michael Hochedlinger's "Austria's Wars of Emergence 1683-1797". Dr Hochedlinger is a member of staff at the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna. On page 302 he tabulates the changing composition of infantry battalions. He gives a peacetime company strength of 136 fusiliers or 100 grenadiers and a wartime strength of 140 and, again 100, respectively. Judging by the strength he gives for the overall number of men in the regiment(2,760) these figures probably include officers. This gives about 840 men per battalion, though it may be that the third battalion is smaller than the first two, in which case he may agree closely with Duffy, i.e. pushing 900 per battalion. Simon Millar, in his Kolin Osprey, gives an average strength of 629 men per battalion. As Duffy notes it was the small size of these units which caused them to be formed only three ranks deep on this occasion. This both supports your arguement (that about 600 is a typical campaign strength) and undermines it (in that the Austrians thought their units were unusually weak). Despite Prussia's canton system of recruitment, I suspect that in the field Prussian units became at least as depleted (on average, not in a specific instance) as their Austrian counterparts. They may have even suffered more heavily. Given that Prussian battalions had a lower established strength, no more than 750 (including uberkompletten and uberuberkompletten which were a dwindling resource as the war progressed), then I feel it is likely they ended up with somewhat smaller units in the field as well. Though perhaps not by as much as if often assumed, Millar gives an average of 609 men at Kolin. Once again, thank you for putting the effort into your great website!

Ulenspiegel11 Feb 2008 11:16 a.m. PST

From the German General Staff work on Leuthen I get an avarage strength of an Austrain battalion of about 630 men.

For thr Prussians we get an avarage about 470 men per battalion.

Austrian forces: 65,000 men, 85 bats., 125 squadrons (my assumption 100 men per squadron).

Prussian forces: 35,000 men, 48.5 bats., 133 squadrons (my assumption 100 men per squadron).


von Winterfeldt11 Feb 2008 12:21 p.m. PST

At Kolin – there should have been still the old 3 war battalions per regiment and 4 company per battalion?

One could sort this out by looking at the OdB – about how many battalions a regiment fielded.

I was under the impression that the six company battalion was introduced after Kolin as well as with the new fighting instructions which were then issued officially in 1759 by Daun.

crogge175711 Feb 2008 12:56 p.m. PST

Most regts had adapted to 3 bts warfooting in 1757, except for the Netherlands stationed ones, and perhaps a few others. Dauns army at Kolin included a lot of 3rd garrison bats, I believe. I'd say the large footing (double supernrs.) Prussian bats. with a 255 files should be considered as larger than Austrians. A 600+ Austrian effectives early in campaign should be quite close to reality. The main reason was Austria's inferior recruiting system which caused many regts being below strength even with the beginning of a campaign. Instructions of the 1759 campaign preparations ordered Austrian grenadier coys to be maintained at a 100 men effectives during the campaign, I recently read in Tempelhof's books this might have been ordered even before (???). At least up to 1759, the Prussians would usually take to the field with book strength, really. In 1760 they did not, because of the massive losses in 1759 (Kunersdorf and especially the desaster of Maxen with a 19.000 being taken prisoner. The 900+ force for an Austrian bat. was rather theoretical, I'd say. The Generalstaff also has a record of the 1756 figures with only few regts of above 2.000 men, Italians with less.

crogge175711 Feb 2008 1:02 p.m. PST

Sorry, 1756 Austrian inf with average 2.300 or a little below. (I can look it up)

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Feb 2008 11:49 p.m. PST

Lots of interesting comments on this thread – I appreciate the feedback. It would be interesting to see some of the unit strengths from the muster roles.

Ulenspiegel12 Feb 2008 12:13 a.m. PST


The German General Staff did not use Tempelhoff's numbers for the Austrians at Leuthen because they were considered too high (~90 000 in contrast to 65 000 of the authors of the historical department).

Some of the Prussian infantry regiments had only one combined battalion at Leuthen due to the previous high losses, some peletons were commanded by ensigns, so for me it is not very likely that the Prussian infantry had authorized strengths in 1758 and 1759.


grafthomond12 Feb 2008 7:45 a.m. PST

Just another thought on average unit strengths. As I mentioned above, I have just been through this thought process in relation to my Napoleonic Austrian army. In this period it is widely accepted they had large battalions. I tried to verify this by recourse to actual recorded strengths – many based on a trip to the Kriegsarchiv. As might be expected, the variation was huge. A fair number were well over established strength; check out the grenadier battalions at the start of the 1809 campaign for instance. But in the main I came up with two conclusions. Firstly, a mean average strength, because of the variations, isn't that useful. I can't remember the exact figures, but the mean average for battalions at Aspern was something like 6-700 men. But the mode average (the most frequently encountered strength, to the nearest 100 men) was a considerably different at 1,100 men. The mean was reduced significantly by a few skeleton units. My second, and most important, conclusion was that any attempt to come up with an average, even a relative average, unit strength was doomed to failure. There is simply too much variation. I realise that for wargamers this isn't very helpful, but I think there has to be an element of live and let live on this issue. Many standpoints can be robustly defended. Notwithstanding the above, I would be interested in seeing actual examples of individual unit strengths in the field (rather than averages or army totals) if anyone has anything.

von Winterfeldt12 Feb 2008 10:50 a.m. PST

My problem is – that the sources are not clear or contradicting, question

What was the Austrian infantry organisation at the beginning of the 7YW?

4 battalions of 4 companies each?
(a strength of 600 men seems very reasonable then)

2.nd Question

Was the infantry at the beginning of the 7YW already in two field battalions of 6 companies?

Then I find 600 men quite low.

When was this 6 company orgisation introduced, it seems that the 1769 regulations are re presenting that change at the beginning or during the 7YW.

crogge175713 Feb 2008 7:06 a.m. PST

Ulenspiegel et al.

Sorry if I had not been clear. I was referencing to strength figures when taking to the field (May/June) at the commencement of a given campaign. Off course, for Leuthen (December 5 !!!) you'd be looking at much lower figures. The original question was, I believe, whether the Austrian bataillon was larger than the Prussian during the 7YW on average !!!.

Taking 1757 figures, available to me, I recall the June 18 Prussian effectives tables with Fredericks army opposing Daun, just before Kolin with a good number of regts. listed with around 1.600 total excl. the grenadiers. that's 800 for a bataillon in June !!! (I'm missing the table of the original Generalstaff (GStb) vol 3 my reprint edition doesn't have it, although it's listed in the content and I had a copy done in library of it before. Dumped all copies on receiving the reprint edition. Shouldn't have done so :-((( )

Tempelhof made a nice – and elaborate – calculation on Prussian and Austrian forces at the battle of Prague, 5 May 1757 as he was apparently missing the detailed "Tageslisten" with his sources. It extends over some pages, and is quite interesting, for we can draw from the turn of mind of a veteran and contemporary. Basically, it's a lecture for any "will be general in command" how to estimate your own and your opponents force, in case you find yourself engaged in a battle all within 18th. c. horizon of knowledge. No doubt – a good thing to be aware about. He informs the inquiring reader that no regiment marches into battle with it's listed force. You will have to subtract a certain amount. You might want to do this using the following "moderate" calculation:

assume regts with book strength and subtract (based on "rules of probability") 1 NCO & 2 men per coy/esc being with the baggage, account for 9 sick, worn out/fatigued or troopers missing mounts; account for 3 deserteurs = total of 15 missing. Any "Kommandierte" not accounted for.
For what it's worth, for once, this is an approach. Generalstaff books says he was pretty close with the Prussian figures, however, having been with the King's army then, he failed to take account for the much higher desateurs rate with Schwerin's army that accounted for the former Saxons and other "poor patriots", as Schwerin complained (IR Treskow with 200+ in only three weeks or so !!!) Therefore true Prussian force was lower than his estimation.

Now back to the Austrians:
Tempelhof has a detailed list of the Austrian infantry at Prague. Having deducted the sick and fatigued, as he noted (subtracting his "moderate" 9 per coy ???) he presents the tables. Just picking out a few. A strong one: L'Empereur with 2 bats, 2 gren coys = 1.756 men (2.393 incl. depot bat in 1756 in GStb!); a weak one: Bethlem same force with 1.261 (1.548 and depot bat 450 in 1756 acc. to GStb). Few are 1.700+, most are 1.500+ here, hongarian Gyulay with 1 bat, 2 gren coys with 842. Strongest are the recently joined auxilliaries Mainz & Wurzburg with 1.840 & 1.781.
Charles de Lorraine's rapport June 10 has 34.007 inf, and 4.713 grenadiers in Prague, as Tempelhof notes.
GStb vol. 4 has the table of Austrian Grand Army effectives (Dienst-Tabelle) end of August 1757 well before action of Moys (Vienna archives). Inf. of 56 regts with 84 bats, and 88 gren coys with total of 64.797 men (depot bats not included). That would make for about 700 average for a bataillon not including grenadiers with 100 or below per coy. By summer desertation set in for supply difficulties – "moderate" calculation should modify desateurs rate now !

To me, the figures imply an Austrian 800+ bataillon being a rare thing. Certainly in 1756 and early 1757. But from now on quite below that.

von Winterfeldt13 Feb 2008 12:33 p.m. PST

Very interesting, but first – in case to be able to make assesments about field strength, what would have been the organsiation, 4 companies versus 6 companies, what would be the paper strength.

A battalion of 6 company sould be bigger than one of 4?

crogge175714 Feb 2008 2:40 a.m. PST

Haven't looked at Duffy, but Generalstaff introduction of Austrian Army org. in vol 1 says all regts with 2 field bataillons with 6 coys/divisions, 2 gren coys and one depot bat with 4 coys. Except were the 4 national Netherlandish regts d'Arberg, Ligne, Losrios, and Saxe-Gotha that kept it's 4 bat. organisation with 4 coys/divisions each (fielded 500 to 550 men in summer 1757, based on French strength report July, as each 1 bat of these 4 regts served with the French Lower Rhine army in 1757.

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