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"Prussian Fusiliers-main role?" Topic


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Field Marshal05 Mar 2014 12:02 a.m. PST

This has some bearing on how I put together my units for next years Waterloo game.
What was the main role for the fusilier battalions in a Prussian regiment in 1815?
Where they used as a skirmish unit in front of the 2 musketeer battalions? Or were they mainly used as a standard infantry battalions that could on rare occasions skirmish?

Cardinal Hawkwood05 Mar 2014 12:24 a.m. PST

this is a good start
link

Glengarry505 Mar 2014 12:25 a.m. PST

Prussian doctrine was to have the fusiliers forming the vanguard and supported the skirmish line in front of regiment, (usually 2 regiments per brigade).

Musketier05 Mar 2014 8:21 a.m. PST

By 1815 the Füsiliers were the mainstay of the firefight, in a fairly thick skirmish line (depending on terrain and the frontage to be covered) often supported by artillery. Sometimes a cavalry squadron got attached to keep enemy skirmishers at bay, but that is difficult to represent on the tabletop.

Empires at War Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Mar 2014 9:06 a.m. PST

Musketier

I think that would work well with Napoleonic Command where skirmishers don't like cavalry!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2014 1:58 p.m. PST

From my understanding, the fusilier battalions always deployed in two ranks and deployed by company from 1788 when the first fusiler instructions were issued to the end of the war. Does anyone have different information. I noted with the link provided by Hawkwood, that the site says that the 1812 fusiliers deployed the third rank as skirmishers… while I only know that the line and landwehr followed that practice.

Oliver Schmidt05 Mar 2014 2:15 p.m. PST

Here a primary source, a useful translation of parts four and five of the Prussian 1812 regulations. Since 1809, Füsiliere and Musketiere alike deployed in three ranks, but usually detached the third rank to form extra platoons for skirmishing.

link

Sparker05 Mar 2014 4:40 p.m. PST

Skirmishing!

Basically a Fusilier Bn could do everything the Musketeer Bns could do but was better at skirmishing. So typically in an 'all arms abteilung' 'battle group' would be the infantry unit told off to skirmish in front of the formation.

But all the Prussian Infantry units could also perform this function at need. Conversely if you are in a situation where you don't need skirmishers – I can't imagine one, but if you were – the Fusilier Bn could fight as a formed unit just as well as the Musketeer Bns of a Regiment.

Late War Prussian organisation is infinitely flexible and versatile!

Personally I base my Fusilier Bns as skirmisher units, because thats how they probably spent 90% of their time in battle…

So here in the bottom right hand corner the figures on the 'coffee coaster' is how I base them – in Black Powder terms another two such bases for a total of 3 to form the Fusiler Bn of the Regiment:

picture

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Mar 2014 10:04 p.m. PST

Oliver:

The 1812 regulations don't mention the Fusiliers at all, but speak only about the Line battalions, giving instructions on how to use the third rank pretty much as described by Brunswick in his 1792 Instructions. The Fusiliers had a separate regulation. Did that provide instructions for Fusiliers forming in three ranks and deploying the 3rd as skirmishers? This is what the brigade instructions say:

The Fusiliers open combat of the infantry, which for this partly dissolves into a Tirailleurs line. If they are detached, then their place is taken by the third rank of the first Battle Line.

I have not seen the 1809 regulations, but there were several revisions from 1807 through 1812, for both line and light/jager units.

So, if I am missing it, where is the instructions for the Fusiliers, or the statement that they form as the line?

Oliver Schmidt06 Mar 2014 3:19 a.m. PST

The tactical parts of the 1788 regulation for Füsiliere fell out of use after 1806/07.

The Instruction zum Exerciren der Infanterie of 16 July 1809 states (p. 27): "Everything said in the above instruction will be applied equally in the line and in the light infantry."

It doesn't prescribe explicitely a formation in three ranks in the first 26 pages, but it mentions the existence of a third rank.

In the 1812 regulation, no difference is made between Musketieren, Füsilieren and Grenadieren (except that the two latter don't have colours):

link

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2014 8:26 a.m. PST

Oliver:

Thank you for that. As most light infantry [French and Russian Jagers, for instance] deployed in two ranks when anticipating any skirmishing, and the Fusiliers main work had always been skirmish action, it is surprising that they would go back to three ranks after 1807. definitely wanted to be different….

I will have to find the 1809 regs. Are they on google or elsewhere on the web?

Oliver Schmidt06 Mar 2014 10:29 a.m. PST

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any version online.

I got my photocopies in 1998 from John Cook.

Another important regulation is the Instruction über den Gebrauch des dritten Gliedes., of 27 March 1809.

By the way, the 1812 regulation for the infantry was nothig but a slightly altered version of an earlier regulation of 1811. More in this thread (German only, scroll down a bit):

link

matthewgreen06 Mar 2014 11:02 a.m. PST

If you have Adkin's book on Waterloo (which I recommend if you are doing a project on 1815) have look at the maps showing the Prussian approach. They will give you a good idea of how the fusilier battalion were used – which is pretty much as Sparker suggests.

Mostly their skirmish platoons would be deployed, so they would in effect have six companies in two ranks, rather than four in three ranks. This is, incidentally, not a bad way to represent Prussian infantry in general in this period – except that a battalion should not have all six deployed in a single line.

I have read somewhere that the fusilier companies were expected to operate more independently of each other than their musketeer comrades – but that may be another throwback to the earlier regs.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2014 12:10 p.m. PST

Mostly their skirmish platoons would be deployed, so they would in effect have six companies in two ranks, rather than four in three ranks. This is, incidentally, not a bad way to represent Prussian infantry in general in this period – except that a battalion should not have all six deployed in a single line.

Matthewgreen:

Okay, so you are saying that the companies were deployed as companies and they would be in two ranks? [in effect…]

I have read somewhere that the fusilier companies were expected to operate more independently of each other than their musketeer comrades – but that may be another throwback to the earlier regs.

They could and did, but whether this was 'expected', I don't know. The earlier regulations for the Fusiliers had no provisions for or restrictions against Fusilier companies operating separately. I know they did at times during the French Revolution and concurrent Polish Insurrection.

Sparker06 Mar 2014 2:07 p.m. PST

Thanks Matthew, nice to have some back up!

Look I am not normally one to recommend Peter Hofschorer's work but his Osprey on Prussian Napoleonic Infantry Tactics is a must-have for anyone interested in working out the full versatility of Prussian tactics in the post reform late war period.

A Facsinating army to play, and to my mind really a precurser of modern all-arms battle group tactics, and a clear forerunner to Wehrmacht 'Mission orientated orders' and flexible tactical doctrine.

Just a damn shame they left the Kuirassiere in Berlin!

matthewgreen06 Mar 2014 3:34 p.m. PST

According to the standard diagrams, the third rank, when deployed would form up as four platoons, each in two ranks until deployed into the skirmish chain. The original companies would also have two ranks. What I don't know is how the command of these four platoons worked – but in numbers terms you get two companies.

Since most wargames rules use the British model of deploying whole companies into the skirmish line (which the French used to a great extent), I am struggling to think of ways that third rank Prussian and Austrian tactics can be represented on the tabletop.

Sparker07 Mar 2014 1:01 a.m. PST

Well with Black Powder of course you don't need that level of granularity – a skirmish unit or element is as such, it don't really matter where it comes from…

Its far more important, to my mind, to be able to replicate the overall, holistic all-arms flexibility the Prussians enjoyed at the brigade (small 'b' for brigade, call it abteilung or what you will) that allowed a battle group of 2-3 infantry battalions, a battalion of skirmishers, perhaps an artillery battery and a couple of squadrons of cav to operate together all sharing the same doctrine and the field grade officers all known to each other…

really quite an astounding level of prescience for those days viewed from our perspective of combat teams and battle groups…

Musketier07 Mar 2014 3:42 a.m. PST

@ matthewgreen: If memory serves, the four skirmish platoons were treated as one company (1/3 of four making a little less than two), in the sense that one captain from the battalion was detailed to command them, and in that role would be on horseback.

@ Sparker: Thank you for your comemnts, Sir! It's a great relief to find someone, and a professional at that, appreciating the finer points of the reformed Prussian army's combined-arms tactics.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2014 7:44 a.m. PST

According to the standard diagrams, the third rank, when deployed would form up as four platoons, each in two ranks until deployed into the skirmish chain. The original companies would also have two ranks. What I don't know is how the command of these four platoons worked – but in numbers terms you get two companies.

matthewgreen:
This makes more sense. The simplest way to go from formed to skirmish line 'chain' of two man files [they were still considered files in a skirmish line] was to start with two ranks,which is why so many nations had their light infantry form that way.

In all armies, there was basically three methods for commanding a multiple company-plus skirmish formation: a designated commander, expected to take command when such groups were formed, usually at the division/Prussian brigade level, or the senior light captain or major or even colonel, or a staff or field officer picked at the moment.

Since most wargames rules use the British model of deploying whole companies into the skirmish line (which the French used to a great extent), I am struggling to think of ways that third rank Prussian and Austrian tactics can be represented on the tabletop.

It would depend on whether the rules allow for two-rank formations such as the British compared to three rank. IF they do, then is is simple with skirmish stands out. If not, then it does get a little complicated….

von Winterfeldt07 Mar 2014 9:00 a.m. PST

The instruction of the Füsiliere for skirmishing were modified already in 1798 – according to Jany by a hand written regulation by the King – presumably this was also printed for the regiment Unruh Nr. 45 in 1798.

From now on each section of a "Zug" was used to build the skirmishing chain which enabled that it could be formed quicker.

As for later, Oliver knows probly more than anybody else of us.

In case I remember correctly, the Füsilier Batailone formed the first battle line, it would be up to the brigade commander to decide how to deploy them.

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