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"Russian Infantry Battalion Representation" Topic


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jeffreyw327 Apr 2014 8:52 a.m. PST

Deep in my heart of hearts, I know I'm going to regret this… :)

I've been out of the hobby since 2007, and with 6mm ranges being as comprehensive as they are now, it looks like I can dust off Chef de Bataillon and explore the whys and hows of tactical combat. Baccus 6mm infantry stands are conveniently 20mm, which fits with CdeB's element size of 3/4".

A Russian company, post 1810 (Zhmodikovs, Nafziger) is pretty straightforward in line (Two platoons, divided in 2 sections, with one meter in-between each element). CdeB's drill illustrations are company based, and if I just used the company in line formation as part of the overall battalion movement, all seems good.

However, from looking at the battalion formations in Zhmodikov, it looks like the maneuver element was the Section, and the width of a battalion in Attack Column, for example, would be > three sections. Actually, the same for all column formations, excepting Closed Column by Divisions.

And then, the second company of the battalion in line has a very different deployment than the others. So, in so far as I can tell, if I want to work at 1:5 or less, with the Russians, I will need to use sections as the basic element; create separate bases for battalion leadership, and separate sabots (what sabots will I need?, started all this) for the center company in line, and for companies in column and in line? Is this a reasonable conclusion?

von Winterfeldt posted some nice period drawings of Austrian drill, and that seemed very straightforward, but the Russian much less so. I'm sure I'm missing something very obvious…

Thanks in advance for any help…

von Winterfeldt27 Apr 2014 9:47 a.m. PST

From our Russian collaegue Seroga

If I may "chime" a little. OK – maybe alot. Possibly too much. But the question needs some context for an answer. I am sorry to write so much.
We will consider the Army units of the Russians for 1811 and later (some differences apply earlier). The Guard is a very little different also, but generally very similar.
The basic elements for tactical evolutions for the Russians were the "batal'on"/battalion and the "vzvod"/platoon. The "rot"/company was an administrative unit. This organization and the evolutions themselves are really similar to the French use of "bataillon" and "peloton" for tactical evolutions, and the "compagnie" as an administrative unit.
For the Russians, there are 8x "vzvod" in "active" battalions : the 1st Shef's battalion and the 3rd Commander's battalion.
For the Combined Grenadier battalions formed from the Grenadier companies of a division's 2nd Replacement battalions, for these 2nd Replacement battalions themselves, for the 4th Reserve battalion, etc. – in short, for all battalions composed of 3 companies – there were 6x "vzvod".
For an Infantry regiment as an example (others were the same, with slightly different names of the various parts), the regiment was composed as follows:
1st Shef's battalion
-- 1st Grenadier company : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov (or Marksmen) platoon
-- 1st Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 2nd Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 3rd Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
3rd Commander's battalion
-- 3rd Grenadier company : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov or Marksmen platoon
-- 7th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 8th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 9th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
2nd Replacement battalion (not used with the "active" battalions)
-- 4th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 5th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
-- 6th Musketeer company : composed of 2 Musketeer platoons
2nd Grenadier company : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov platoon (used in a Combined Grenadier battalion, in the field with the infantry division that included the example regiment)
4th Reserve battalion (inended to be used to move new soldiers from the divisonal recruiting depot to the regiment, actually often used overwise, but separate from the example regiment)
-- 1st Recruit company : composed of 2 Recruit platoons
-- 2nd Recruit company : composed of 2 Recruit platoons
-- 3rd Recruit company : composed of 2 Recruit platoons
For a 1st Shef's battalion as an example, the platoons deployed as follows :
Strel/1Gren – junior/1Mus – junior/2Mus – junior/3Mus – senior/3Mus – senior/2Mus – senior/1Mus – Gren/1Gren
One would also refer to them by "vzvod"/platoon, as follows:
8th – 7th – 6th – 5th – 4th – 3rd – 2nd – 1st
So that, for example, the junior platoon of the 3rd Musketeer company would be the 5th platoon of the formed battalion.
For Combined Grenadier battalions, recall that they are the Grenadier companies of the 2nd Replacement battalions of 3 regiments of the same division. Each will include 2 grenadier companies from Infantry regiments (a "senior" and a "junior" regiment according to Army regimental senioity) and 1 grenadier company from a Jäger regiment. They are thus composed as follows :
-- 2nd Grenadier company of the Jäger regiment : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov platoon
-- 2nd Grenadier company of the Senior Infantry regiment : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov platoon
-- 2nd Grenadier company of the Junior Infantry regiment : composed of a Grenadier platoon and a Strelkov platoon
They will deploy as follow :
Strel/Jag – Strel/SenInf – Strel/JunInf – Gren/JunInf – Gren/SenInf – Gren/Jag
One would also refer to them by "vzvod"/platoon, as follows:
6th – 5th – 4th – 3rd – 2nd – 1st
Now, finally, we can get to columns.
I would say that the Russians would often use a column on platoon frontage – either by the right (the 1st vzvod leading) or by the left (the 8th or last vzvod leading). This would be ~22 files. They could also form on a 1/2-platoon frontage for passing obstacles. They even had a rather neat "march by the flank" conversion to a column of three's.
The had a column formed on the center two platoons (called a "divizion", as did the French), which if by the right would be:
5th – 4th
6th – 3rd
7th – 2nd
8th – 1st
Naturally, if formed by the left it would be the mirror image. This would be quite similar to a French "colonne d'attaque", and I think it was the most commonly used formation on divizion frontage for action near the enemy (note that the "elite" platoons can urge the others forward). It saw wide usage at Borodino, for example.
Interestingly, the Shef (usually a general officer) formed with the Gren/1Gren = 1st platoon, but there was a major who would form with the senior/3Mus = 4th platoon.
You could also think of this as looking like as a column of companies in inverse order:
3rd Muskt company
2nd Muskt company
1st Muskt company
1st Gren company
But, as soon as they begin an evolution, the movement is by platoons. And if such a column is formed by the left, the supposed companies have their platoons in the wrong order, and so don't even look like a correct column of companies.
So, really, the formation and evolutions are by platoon.

They also had this one, also, again shown by the right:
2nd – 1st
4th – 3rd
6th – 5th
8th – 7th
This is like a French "colonne par division" and seems to have been more for ease of movement (the "elite" platoons positioned to help regulate the movement). It can quicky form, or be formed from, a column on platoon frontage.
They also had this odd one, shown again by the right (it is not a mistake : the right-most platoon when deployed ends up leading the left side of the column) :
1st – 8th
2nd – 7th
3rd – 6th
4th – 5th
This had the "elites" in advance. I do get the impression it was not much used, and may have been a parade formation. The evolutions with this column look sharp and snappy, but are very time consuming – like a drill team exhibition. Or maybe it was a "one-way-mission" column (form it once, use it once).
I have heard these books in English are well thought of on Russian tactics, drill and tactical evolutions :
George Nafziger. Imperial Bayonets. link
Alexander & Yurii Zhmodikov. Tactics of the Russian Army in the Napoleonic Wars. home.fuse.net/nafziger/CAT.HTM
I have never seen these books – YMMV.
If you know 18th/19th century Russian, I can suggest some other sources for further reading.
All of these columns could form line. However, by the period in question it is not too clear how often they actually did this.
Many know the supposed Suvorov comment "The bullet is a fool, but the bayonet is a fine fellow," Kutuzov is said to have echoed the sentiment : "Grenadiers and Musketeers – bayonets! Jägers shooting!"
Whether or not the quotes (and translations) are perfectly accurate, there is some truth in the sentiment. Despite lots of practiced evolutions (some quite involved), the Russians of 1812-1814 often tended to use the formed troops for shock, delivered from a column – and the jäger for shooting, delivered as skirmishers.
The Russian fielded 1 jäger for every 2 "heavy" infantrymen – a high ratio. For Russian use of skirmishers, see TMP link .
Seroga

Also the is for download – a boot by

Vistitskij – about the Russian regulations of 1826 which has an excellent page full of evolutions, I don't know how valid those are for the Napoleonic time, with the sad absence of Seroga, un ami, etc. our hope rests with Sasha

chasseur27 Apr 2014 10:54 a.m. PST

That was very informative and interesting. I have a friend who is putting together a Russian army at the moment and this information will be very helpful.
One question, what was the standard strength of a Russian Musketeer platoon? A Grenadier platoon?
Thanks!

jeffreyw327 Apr 2014 11:19 a.m. PST

Thanks, vonW…that matches with everything I've read to this point. And in re-reading, I realized I made a typo--yes, the maneuver element should have been "platoon," not section (long week at work). :-)

Any Russian sources would be fine--I'm very rusty since the sojourn in Montreal, but I can work through it.

xxxxxxx27 Apr 2014 11:29 a.m. PST

Jeffrey,

I have not looked at Chef de Bataillon in many years, so let me make some comments on what Russians did in the era, and let you sort out how it is done in 6mm at 1:5 for Chef de Bataillon. All the following refers to tactical employment, not administrative organization. I will also tanslate everythin into English. If you want the names of things in Russian language, I will do that too. The follwoing is fro 1811 and later. And I have chosen to show the method then increasingly employed by formed infantry for detaching skirmishers for self-protection : picked men on the flanks of platoons. The earlier method arranged the platoons differently, and detached skirmishers form the third rank.

Before anyone starts trying lots of refined drill or minor tactics, the school of Suvarov, Bagration, Kutuzov, Raevskiy and many others was rather simple : the jäger in open order shooting, lots of artillery shooting, the heavy infantry in columns on two-platoon frontage to deliver a bayonet attack. That said, the Russians did have a rather complete set of evolutions. Here is a set of plates demonstrating many of them: books.reenactor.ru/?bookid=1038
This work illustrates the "School of the Battalion" first published as the third section of the 1816 "Воинский устав о пехотной службе" (Military school for infantry service). Most authors take this 1816 publication as reflective of Russian practice for 1810-1815, based on a set of instructions for infantry published in 1811.

The typical Russian battalion was divided into 8 platoons. This was true for guard, grenadier, infantry and jäger – all the same. The exceptions were the use of 6 platoons for combined grenadier battlaions, 2nd replacement battalions taking the field without their grenadier companies and 4th recuit battalions. Their is also some specifics about the "doubled" or "thousand-man" battalions formed when the Finnish corps sent troops to join the campaign agianst the French and some odd-sized local defense forces raised from ethnic Finns in the Vyborg-Petrozvodsk area. Even the opolochenie militia infantry from Smolensk, Moscow and Petersburg used 8 platoons (I would have to check for the other militia infantry).

A platoon at absolutely maximum full wartime strength was 25 files, each of three ranks. However, this was so rarely acheived, that even the drill regulations only show 24 files. 20-24 files was pretty typical. At under 16 files, the battalion might be consolidated, the cadres sent back to reform. This happened most notably after Borodino.

The sub-units of regiments were distnguished administratively as follows:
1st shef's battalion
- 1st grenadier company
- 1st fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 2nd fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 3rd fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
2nd replacement battalion
- 2nd grenadier company
- 4th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 5th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 6th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
3rd commander's battalion
- 3rd grenadier company
- 7th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 8th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
- 9th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
4th recruit battalion
- 1st recruit company
- 2nd recuit company
- 3rd recruit company
Exceptions :
(i) all the companies of the Life-Grenadier regiment were called "grenadiers" and numbered 1st thorugh 4th in the first battalion, 5th through 8th in the 2nd battalion and 9th through 12th in the third battalion
(ii) guard and grenadier regiments did not have 4th battalions (they were recuited by selection from the other regiments), nor did some of the regiments stationed in the Caucasus and Siberia
(iii) In the guard, the 2nd battalion was a regular battalion, not replacement, and took the field with the other two battalions. This also occurred in some other cases : some regiments that were brigaded with teh guard, some of the units of the Danube army already on campaign and (I think) one or two regimetns in the Finland corps.

Noting the exception just above, the 1st and 3rd battalions took the field together. The 2nd replacement battalions were intended as depot battalions, whose center companies would be depleted to bring the 1st and 3rd battalions up to full strength. The six grenadier companies of the 2nd battalions of a division were grouped into two combined grenadier battalions (each with the grenadier company of one jäger and two infantry regiment's 2nd battalions) that initially took the field with the parent division, but were usually further grouped into combined grenadier brigades and combined grenadier divisions, under the control of the corps or army level of command. The 4th recruit battalions were supposed to be used to move recruits from divisional recruit collection stations to the 2nd replacement battalions in the regimental depot, where they would rebuild that battalion. This also rarely happened, and the 4th recruit battalions were mostly used as immediate ad-hoc replacements wherever needed. The center companies of the 2nd battalions also were used in the campaign. The six 2nd battalions of each division (without their detached grenadier companies) were grouped into a brigade and sent into the campaign, usually in a seondary role (such as serving in the garrison of Riga).

Getting away from administration, and back to tactical formations ….

In an 8-platoon battalion, the platoons were as follows :
No. 1 : grenadier platoon of the grenadier company
No. 2 : senior platoon of the senior fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 3 : senior platoon of the middle fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 4 : senior platoon of the junior fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 5 : junior platoon of the junior fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 6 : junior platoon of the middle fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 7 : junior platoon of the senior fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 8 : marksmen platoon of the grenadier company
Platoons No. 2 through No. 7 were equaiized.
Platoons No. 1 and No. 8 were equalized – if this resulted in fewer files than the other 6 platoons, then "voids" were left in the third rank.
Comment : center companies of grenadier regiments were called fusilier companies, center companies of infantry regiments were called musketeer companies, center companies of jäger regiments were called jäger companies.

In a 6-platoon combined grenadier battalion, the platoons were as follows :
No. 1 : grenadier platoon of the jäger regiment's 2nd grenadier company
No. 2 : grenadier platoon of the senior infantry regiment's 2nd grenadier company
No. 3 : grenadier platoon of the junior infantry regiment's 2nd grenadier company
No. 4 : marksmen platoon of the junior infantry regiment's 2nd grenadier company
No. 5 : marksmen platoon of the senior infantry regiment's 2nd grenadier company
No. 6 : marksmen platoon of the jäger regiment's 2nd grenadier company
All 6 platoons were equalized.
Exception : there were two grenadier divisions which did not have jäger regiments but which still formed combined grenadier battlaions from the grenadier companies of their component regiment's 2nd battalions – the usual seniority pattern was observed.

In a 6-platoon 2nd replacement battalion, the platoons were as follows :
No. 1 : senior platoon of the 4th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 2 : senior platoon of the 5th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 3 : senior platoon of the 6th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 4 : junior platoon of the 6th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 5 : junior platoon of the 5th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company
No. 6 : junior platoon of the 4th fusilier, musketeer or jäger company

A platoon formed as follows :

OZZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRZZO
-ZZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRZZ-
UZZRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRZZU

--U-----------U----------U----------U--

Where O = officer, Z = a ranker specially detailed for skirmishing based on ability to shoot independently, R = a ranker, U = nco or lance corporal acting as an nco
Commetns : the drummers (and fifers in grenadier companies), a banner group for the flags of the battalion, officers in the rank of major and above, adjudants, quartermasters, commisssaries and other non-combatants had specific places to be located and specific rôles – but not did form with the platoons. The first rank were the "best" journeymen soldiers (bravest, strongest, most attentive to orders). The second rank were the least experience soldiers, and carried entreching tools. The third rank were the oldest and most steady soldiers, and would include any lance coproals who were not needed to act as file closers. Within each rank, the tallest were on the flanks and the shortest were in the center.

The platoons of a battalion could be combined in many ways : delpoyed in line on the right (No. 1 platoon on the right), deployed in line on the left (No. 8 platoon on the right), in columns on platoon fronatge, in columns on 2-platoon (called "division") frontage. For example, a (the?) most common formation fro heavy infantry was like a French colonne d'attaque, whihc when formed on the right looked like :

No. 5 – BG – No. 4 – BT
No. 6 ----- No. 3
No. 7 ----- No. 2
No. 8 ----- No.1
Where BG= banner group around the flags, and BT= the battery of drummers (and fifers from grenadier companies)

Vertical spacing between platoons in columns could be "full" (that is equal to their frontage), "half" (= 1/2 frontage), "quarter" (=1/4 frontage) or "closed up". Their was not any horizontal spacing when deployed (and indeed an officer was thus displaced to form among the file closers of the No. 1 platoon).

Platoons could be broken down into up to 4 sections (each section was supposed to be no less than 4 ranks, so a understrength platoon might not be able to form all 4 sections). This was most often for clearing narrowed points created by the terrain, although movement by half-platoon and by section was part of some conversions.

A half-platoon formed as follows (the senior half-platoon of the platoon is shown) :

-------O-------

URRRRRRRRRRZZU
-RRRRRRRRRRZZ-
-RRRRRRRRRRZZ-

-------U-------

A section was used in even narrower spots and looked like this (the first section of the platoon is shown) :

--O--

RRRRZZ
RRRRZZ
RRRRZZ

--U--

Well, that's a start maybe.

- Sasha

jeffreyw327 Apr 2014 11:56 a.m. PST

Molodets Sasha! Spasibo… (Apparently TMP doesn't like Cyrillic)…

xxxxxxx27 Apr 2014 12:23 p.m. PST

Пожалуйста!

See, it is not TMP … it is your computer, operating system or browser. The TMP automatic-html function *does* mangle url's that have Cyrillic characters, when converting them to active links.

- Саша

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