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"Austrian Grenzer Skirmish Tactics" Topic


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Comments or corrections?

Mr Steve01 Aug 2016 9:19 a.m. PST

On the Devon Wargames blog are the last two bags of OG 7YW era figures that I have photographed for those who are interested . Sipahi Cavalry and Tartars.

Also included are some Sipahi from " By Fire and Sword" and a comparison. For my taste the horses are a bit big.

devonwargames.blogspot.co.uk

marshalGreg01 Aug 2016 10:11 a.m. PST

This would be for the period 1809 and on [to reflect the change that occurred with them from 1790s/revolution period] where there was a change to their use and training.

The infantry at this time has string indication of using 2 rank tactics with the third rank in 3 groups of two rank reserves, some x yards forward, with approx zuge in strength from each further forward in the two man teams, spread out by designated Y yards apart.

So my question becomes…
a) Did the Grenz, and perhaps the jager, apply a different skirmish tactic than their REG infantry counterparts and if so what?
OR
b) Essentially used the same (but sending more groups forward than the REG infantry counterparts) and is that description about spot on?

Look forward to hear from the experts!

MG

Ravenfeeder01 Aug 2016 10:48 a.m. PST

From Dave Hollins "Austrian Auxiliary Troops 1792-1816" (Osprey 1996)
"The Exercierreglement fur die k.k. Grenzinfanterie, authorised in May 1808 were based on the 1807 Infantry Regulations, but added light evolutions; all formed drill, which was time-consuming to practise, was abolished and remaining evolutions simplified. The regulations emphasised marksmanship – all Grenzers were to be trained as marksmen including the musket-armed troops – and skirmishing."

So although they could fight as formed Line troops, the Grenz did have a much more evolved skirmisher/light infantry role – a role at which they excelled. It's only that period 1798-1808 when they acted more as inferior line troops.

Dave Hollins is not on these boards any more unfortunately, but you could track him down on other fora for a fuller explanation.

SJDonovan01 Aug 2016 11:34 a.m. PST

You can find Dave Hollins on the General de Brigade forums. He always seems to answer very promptly when questions about Austrian troops are raised. generaldebrigade.fr.yuku.com

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Aug 2016 7:46 p.m. PST

It's only that period 1798-1808 when they acted more as inferior line troops.

The Grenz didn't act like inferior line troops, they were treated as inferior line troops because of the riots and unrest among the border troops back home. The Austrians didn't trust them.

Even so, they still treated them as light infantry. The Advance Guard, which was made up of light troops continued to have Grenz as part of that formation. At Austerlitz only Grenz troops made up the infantry in the Austrian Advance Guard on the Allied right. The light infantry instructions in the 1808 regulations made no changes to the previous light infantry practices, though now they were codified.

Durando02 Aug 2016 1:01 a.m. PST

For latter campaigns within the 1840s they fought both as regular line as well as skirmishing

marshalGreg02 Aug 2016 5:56 a.m. PST

Can any one shed some light as to the difference in the prior light infantry instructions as compared to the 1808 regulations?

I believe that is the element missing from my information to acquire a complete picture of the situation.

thanks
MG

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2016 7:10 a.m. PST

marshalGreg:

My understanding is that in basics, they were identical. The major difference is before 1808, Grenz were often employed as companies, much as the British 95th Rifles. After then, they were kept in regimental formations and deployed more like the French Legere regiments.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 7:11 a.m. PST

I would highly recommend The Military Border in Croatia by Gunther Rothenberg. It is an excellent reference on the Grenz and is a study of the 'institution' beginning in 1740 and continuing to 1881.

The period concerned, 1790-1814, is covered in chapters 5 and 6 (pages 79-121) and does cover the change in the Grenz, for a variety of reasons, from the free-wheeling light troops of the Seven Years' War through the attempts of the Austrian government to change them to line troops, which wasn't that effective, and did lessen the overall value of the Grenz as light troops, coupled with very heavy losses in Italy in 1796-1797.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 8:46 a.m. PST

The Military Border in Croatia by Gunther Rothenberg.

is an excellent book, and one of the few on the topic in English, but it was written in 1966, fifty years ago. There is are many more sources available to use on the internet than were available to Rothenberg…a physical issue, not a negative about Rothenberg's scholarship. All the books he references, I have in pdf form. There are a number of other books written on the subject since then.

The chapters 5 and 6 provide the background on the military border institution and the political complications, but the military aspects are broad generalizations that don't answer the thread question.

von Winterfeldt04 Aug 2016 8:59 a.m. PST

before it ends like the tambour major thread, some quotes from

McLaddie – about precisely the same topic

"Some examples:
PP. 104-106 Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze: aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, Volume 4 by Fr. Vaníček
§. 9. The war 1805
a) The border contingent.
There were 17 infantry Grenz regiments of three battalions, each with four companies, together 2762 men in the field
At the end of the war fourth and fifth battalions were set to defend its borders. Garrisons were used to form the battalions, composites of several regiments in many cases:
In Italy.
The Italian army commanded by Archduke Karl allotted Grenz in his army in the Order de Battle: 18th October
A) On the right wing: The Division Vukasovic: Brigadier Sommariva: three battalions of Lik, a battalion of Otto, three battalions of the second Banal Grenz regiments. In the Division Simbschen, Brigadier Frimont: three battalions of St. George Grenz.
B) In the center: Division Nordmann, Brigadier: two battalions Warasdin and a battalion of Gradiskaner Grenz regiments; Nordmanu Brigade, two battalions Gradiskaners.
C) On the left wing: The Division Rosenberg, Brigadier Radetzky: Sluiner three battalions, Lowenberg in the Division, Brigade Lowenberg: three battalions of the first Banal Regiment.
D) In the body of troops in South Tyrol: three battalions and two battalions Ogulin Otocaner Grenz. (don't have a clue what this means)
In the short campaign on Italian soil, there was an awkward battle at Verona on 18 and the victorious battle of Caldiero 30 October. At the battle at Verona, which Massena engaged the Division Vukasovic Forcing passage of the Adige:
Examples of Grenz companies used individually and in battalions as skirmishers:
At Aliste n Otocauer and St. George. A Banal company with a line battalion occupied the suburb of St. George and another Banal company to occupy Parona. A vanguard of General Camus attacked St. George, but was rejected by the Austrians. As general of the offensive at Sommariva, General Veronetta dispatched Colonel Keller with a battalion of the second Banal Regiment to establish communicate the established company at Parona. In vain, Field Marshal-Lieutenant Vukasovic went into the mountains with the Banal Otocaner to defend against the French skirmishers. After fierce resistance, he was forced to go back to the Monte Tondo.

On the 18 of November. The enemy division Duhesme was caught crossing the Adige, by the Tocane line battalion under the command of Ohristlieutenant Soreth in Quinzano, with three Grenz companies in support of the regiment Auffenberg. At the retreat was Lieutenant Colonel Soreth the rear guard of General Hillinger, while Field Marshal – Lieutenant Vnkasovic with a portion of the Banal regiment withdrew to Auffenberg la Albertini.
The Austrians of the brigade Hillinger, including the withdraw to La Albertini, where the Banal Grenz with Otoèanern were ready to fight with the field-marshal-lieutenant Vukasovic: The Grenz "led [He means acted as the rear guard] the retreat of the Monte Tondo. At 4 clock in the evening of that day was Major Mihailjevic was ordered to sacrifice his St. George Battalion attacking the French from the heights of la Albertini to establish a connection with the Tyrolean Corps. The attack took place during the biggest rain storm which appeared at 10 o‘clock at night on the flank on the hill, after which the French evacuated the position."
During Massena's advance on 29 October, after the battle of Caldiero, a battalion of the second Banal engaged "a column of French Voltigeurs" at Avesathale and maintained their position until noon, at which time the battalion received orders to retreat. At San Michele the vanguard of General Frimont, consisting of the St. George Warasdin battalions, fought the advancing enemy with great determination and then slowly pulled back into the position at Caldiero….
§. 10. The war 1809 pp.114-115
The Austrian army was organized by Archduke Karl and formed 11 Army Corps, including two that formed the reserve.
a) The border contingent.
Each of the 17 border infantry regiments made two field battalions in the strength of 2966 men, including 240 scharfschützen and 44 artillerymen and a reserve battalion of 1,437 men, the 13 regulated regiments also had a militia/Landwehr battalion of 675 men from that the Grenz insurrection. [Feldacten Østerrike Military journal 1822]
Here is where we have the Grenz Regiments in two battalions of 6 companies. So, it was reorganization after 1805. Also, there are now 20 Grenzscharfschützen per company, the numbers doubled since 1800. The
scharfschützen were armed with rifled carbines. The schützen were traditionally armed with short rifles [carbines] as were such units as the 95th Rifles. The Baker Rifle was often referred to a carbine. I haven't seen anything stating this specifically, only that the Grenzscharfschützen is translated as "sharpshooters" and ‘snipers.'
Of which were allotted: the Third Army Corps two battalions Peter Wardner; the Fourth Corps: two battalions Banat and two Wallach-Illyrian Banat; the Fifth Corps: two battalions Border and two battalions Gradiskaner; Sixth Corps: two battalions Warasdin cruisers and two St. George; Seventh Corps; two battalions Transylvanian, Second Corps; Székely Székely and eight squadrons of hussars, Eighth Corps and two battalions of the first two of the second Banalisten, the Ninth Corps;two battalions and two Ogulin Slniner. [In other words, the Grenz were evenly divided between the Corps.]
b) In Germany. A example of Grenzer Actions from Vaníček's volume 4
The border troops of the German army were the vanguards of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth army corps and the division of Jelacic Vorrlickung in the advance against Munich. [the Bravarians].
On the 16th of April, the Gradiskaner Grenz were in the Radetzky Brigade, which formed the vanguard of the fifth army corps. On the Isar at Landshut an honorable fight began against the Bavarians, who wanted to prevent the passage there. The Gradiskaners opened a brisk fire on the bridge. The sharfschützen from 8 Companies were stationed in the houses on the Austrian side. The afternoon passed with the General Radetzky adding two companies of sharfschützen to the Gradiskaners in the avant-garde…
The traditional place for light infantry was in the vangaurd or Advance Guard corps. We find Grenz with Jagers exclusively used in these forces from 1792 to 1815.
I can provide a lot more examples. I just had these in one place…"

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 9:07 a.m. PST

…but it was written in 1966, fifty years ago…

So when is the 'drop dead date' for books, scholarship, etc., and their usefulness?

Valmy9204 Aug 2016 9:26 a.m. PST

Brechtel,
There is no drop dead date for scholarship. However, I do think that it is worthwhile pointing out that it is 50 years old and that there has been additional research since then that may question or refine some of Rothenberg's findings. (It might have been helpful to throw in a title or two of more recent works.)

One thing that did disappoint me when using Rothenberg was that he was focused on institutions and was short on the kinds of tactical usage that I was looking for at the time. Not a criticism of his scholarship, just that it didn't really address what I was looking for (which seems to coincide with what the OP here is looking for).
Phil

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 9:41 a.m. PST

So when is the 'drop dead date' for books, scholarship, etc., and their usefulness?

Absolutely not. Please note my opening comment:

The Military Border in Croatia by Gunther Rothenberg. is an excellent book, and one of the few on the topic in English,

It DOES mean that there is half a century of further scholarship and thousands more sources readily available--that weren't available to Rothenberg.

I have over 5,000 primary and secondary sources on my computer. That doesn't make me a better scholar, but it does give me huge resources at hand whenever I need them, which Rothenberg did not have. Compare that to Rothenberg's bibliography. What, a little more than two hundred? He only had access to physical books he owned, could get through libraries or those sources he had to travel to…when he knew about them. And of course, corresponding by mail with others. I'm old enough to remember those times…

As Phil notes, Rothenberg's book gives the background, but does not the answers to thread question.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 10:27 a.m. PST

Part of the answer to the thread question is the effectiveness of the Grenz as light infantry. And that is covered by Rothenberg not only in The Military Border in Croatia but in Napoleon's Great Adversary, which was first published in 1982 and updated and republished in 1995.

Austrian Field Marshal Lacy stated in a memorandum dated 5 Decembe3r 1782 that 'it must be decided once and for all whether the Grenzer are to be considered regular troops or a mere militia. If they are considered regulars they must be properly exercised and trained and this will give them very little time to devote to agriculture.'

Austrian General Klein remarked that the Grenzers of the Seven Years' War period were 'a much better light infantry that the present regulated and drilled Grenzer.'

Regardless of your opinions to the contrary, and despite the number of volumes downloaded, which isn't a novelty, nor is it an advantage over books in hard copy (I have 'quite a few' of both and built a library onto my home to accommodate my personal library-I have found it much easier to use a book in hand than on the computer screen), Gunther Rothenberg is still the best authority on the Austrian Army of the period regardless of the year he wrote them and when they were published.

And Napoleon also remarked on the declining ability of the Grenzers as light infantry in Correspondence XXXI, Page 320, 'Notes sur l'art de guerre.' He refers to them, though, as the 'Hungarian insurrection' not either Pandours or Grenzers, but the meaning is quite clear.

von Winterfeldt04 Aug 2016 11:27 a.m. PST

as soon as brech chips in – it seems to run like

TMP link

Rothenberg is a bad source compared to the knowledge of Dave Hollins, brech better forget it in case you are interested in the Austrian Army and better consult German sources.

This sounds like Dave Hollins

"xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Inactive Member 07 Nov 2007 3:17 a.m. PST !
The Grenzers were supposed to be dual-capability, much like the idea behind the French legere infantry (why not – after all, the French copied the idea!), although the line drill was simplified for them. However, while they formed army outpost lines, advance-guards etc., forget all this close-in skirmishing, as that was done by the line infantry themselves with the third rank (contrary to popular myth, this was available throughout the period and the 1807 reg only formalises it and the training required). the Austrian philosophy was that the lights were used for outposts, villages, bad ground etc. while the line fought in the suitable flat-ish ground (Aspern and Wagram being rather more the latter). The Grenzers did suffer heavy casualties and the attrition of the Frontier from the Turkish wars onwards meant that they were not so experienced and lacked the numbers. They did well in Dalmatia considering that most of the units there were reserve companies formed in ad-hoc battalions."

and

"Brownbear 08 Nov 2007 12:01 p.m. PST !
Dave thanks. Can you give more detals about the third rank use of skirmishers? Was the third rank reorganised in a seperate unit/company so that in fact the austrians fought in 2 ranks? Were all the third rank used or just a part etc.
Where can I find more information about the usage?"

and

"xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Inactive Member 09 Nov 2007 2:49 a.m. PST !
This was a hot issue ten years ago (not much changes!), so I specifically looked into it for my Osprey Warrior on the Austrian Grenadiers and Infantry. It took about ten minutes to disprove the then prevailing view that the Austrians did not skirmish pre-1807!

The experience of the 7YW led to the 1769 reforms. Although at thaty stage, there was still an expectation that the Grenzers and some volunteer light infantry would do all the screening and skirmishing, the line infantry third rank were given the option of other uses. The third rank of each company could taken off and combined with the third rank of the next company. They are called Zug (platoon or squad) in the regs, but a Zug technically was a quarter company, so I called these ad hoc units "large Zug". They could be used to extend the line, deepen the line, flank guards, etc. so there is nothing unique about UK infantry fighting in two ranks.

The Grenzers took heavy casualties in the Turkish War of 1788-91, such that in Belgium in particular, they were in short supply and there wasn't much available in the way of volunteer light units. Nevertheless, the Grenzers gave the French a hard time as Duhesme says in his writings. However, of course, the wars quickly developed into very large army actions and with the advantage of numbers, the French could spare quite large numbers for both the screening/bad ground and close-in skirmishing roles. While the Grenzerts could handle the first, the infantry had to look to their own resources for the close-in work. Some units broke down into open order completely, but Coburg's 1793 Instructions specifically turned these third rank "large Zug" units into hit squads, which were very effective when combined with light cavalry in clearing French skirmishers.

Following the defeat in Belgium in 94, there is the usual inquest into the defeat and there are various arguments about skirmishing and using line infantry. It could appear to any Austrian commander, who was usually significantly outnumbered anyway, that there were swarms of French skirmishers, who were picking off his men, so this tactic rather than the simple fact of numbers was one of the reasons suggested for the defeat. However, the correct view prevailed – namely that he, who has the infantry formed up on the contested ground, wins the battle – or as Charles put it in the 1796 Observationspunkte "All this skirmishing decides nothing" (and no example has ever been advanced that it did). However, there was still the problem of dealing with taking villages, woods, bad ground etc. Consequently, the 1796 Punkte allow up to 1/3 of the infantry to be used in those tasks, when there is no light infantry around – although the latter was the preferred method as I noted in my article on Wurzburg (free section of Magweb under Age of Nap magazine). The key remained therefore to keep the line formed up as much as possible but to retain the possibilities for all or part fo the third rank to be used for various purpsoes, including close-in skirmishing.

From 1792 to 1805, there are regular requests for yet more light infantry from the field commanders, but the 1805 campaign showed quite clearly that Austria had lost its cavalry dominance. Likewise, it was obvious that warfare was moving towards ever larger amies with denser formations and skirmishing is starting to fall out of the battle accounts all together. Nevertheless, screening the main line formation and contesting bad ground were still important – so the Grenzers, Jaegers and Freikorps are mostly used for this. A key disadvantage for the Austrians was a lack of trained infantry anyway and close-in skirmishing was still required. hence the 1807 regs place the brightest men in the third rank, from where these "large Zug" units could be deployed as per the 1769 regs.

It is clear that most authors, who talk about 1807 reactions and "new" regulations have not in fact ever read them. The section on skirmihing is really a manual for training a bright, but newish recruit in the practicalties of skirmishing. Beyond that for the NCO and junior officers, it lays out how the skirmish line was formed with the pairs out front, supported by the formed "large Zug" units further back, which could reinforce the outer screen or be the positiion the screen could fall back on etc. It sets out the drum beats and distances involved in ideal conditions. This is illustrated in a plate in the Warrior and it is quite well-described as happening at Teugn-Hausen in that fashion. By Wagram, the Austrian accounts are again pointing back to an "as required" approach. Unfortunately, too many authors have focused on Radetzky's comments about the Austrians "not understanding skirmishing" – Radetzky was a cavalryman and indulging in the kind of language that all reformers use, although the comment also reflects the lack of trained troops by 1813.

However, perhaps the most illuminating point is to apply the same test to the French – Terry Crowdy's French Imperial period Infantry Warrior shows a French skirmish line plate hooking into the original Austrian plate. As Terry says, the French were much more ad hoc and indeeed, if you apply the "1807 reaction" approach as meaning skirmishing only happened under formal regualtion, then it is only Davout's Corps in 1811, which ever skirmished! That I hope illustrates a lot of the nonsense, which has been written about Austrian "1807 reaction" skirmishing."

I like the 5 response rule.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 2:34 p.m. PST

Part of the answer to the thread question is the effectiveness of the Grenz as light infantry. And that is covered by Rothenberg not only in The Military Border in Croatia but in Napoleon's Great Adversary, which was first published in 1982 and updated and republished in 1995.

Actually, how the Grenz were employed or what tactics were used isn't the same as asking how effective their performance was in using them.

Austrian Field Marshal Lacy stated in a memorandum dated 5 December 1782 that 'it must be decided once and for all whether the Grenzer are to be considered regular troops or a mere militia. If they are considered regulars they must be properly exercised and trained and this will give them very little time to devote to agriculture.'

Austrian General Klein remarked that the Grenzers of the Seven Years' War period were 'a much better light infantry that the present regulated and drilled Grenzer.'

Both comments were made before 1793. Neither speaks to HOW the Grenz were used, only that there were problems and the Grenz didn't perform as well as they did in the SYW--thirty years before. [Neither did the Prussians or British 1792-1800…natch.]

Rothenberg does say on the same page as the the two quotes of Lacey and Klein on the same page as the following: p.25 Napoleon's Great Adversaries:

In the Austrian Army, light infantry missions, scouting and skirmishing, commonly were entrusted to the Grenzer, though there were complaints that training them as line infantry had spoiled their natural aptitude for these duties.

In all, two paragraphs are given to the Grenzer and most of the two have been quoted here. Sooo… Rothenberg also agrees with how the Grenz were used, in general terms.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Aug 2016 2:40 p.m. PST

And thanks, VW for digging that section out.

von Winterfeldt14 Oct 2020 8:10 a.m. PST

the Austrians did even introduce a special drill regulation for their Grenzer to emphasize light infantry duties

link

Prince of Essling19 Oct 2020 5:01 a.m. PST

Specialgeschichte der Militärgrenze: aus Originalquellen und Quellenwerken geschöpft, by Fr. Vaníček
Volume 1 link
Volume 2 link
Volume 3 link
Volume 4 link

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2020 3:26 p.m. PST

I never really bought into the 'dumbed down' version of this.
Yes I can believe the autocracy wanted to regulate and 'militarise' what were in effect, loose rural war bands, but the beating out and loss of skills always appeared a simplification of convenience.

What it really meant was- we don't trust them to do the job to protect us, so we won't let them!

As much as I'd like to read, I just can't do German!
cheers

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2020 8:03 p.m. PST

Those loose rural bands were upset when they were sent all over central Europe when it was their job to defend the borders with the Ottoman Empire…protecting their homes as well.

So they mutinied, which led the military to question their loyalty…and willingness to not go haring off when skirmishing.

None-the-less, the Grenz continued to be used almost exclusively as light infantry throughout the wars, regardless of various generals' opinions.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2020 4:56 a.m. PST

The original purpose of the Grenz as light infantry was for la petite guerre, or the partisan war. The Austrians did not integrate their operations with the line units on the battlefield.

That came later when the French regularized their light infantry and integrated troops in open order with the line in formed units.

Brownand20 Oct 2020 5:27 a.m. PST

Brechtel: sources please

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2020 6:36 a.m. PST

See Christopher Duffy's The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, Chapter 7-'On the Wilder Fringes' pages 268-288.

Of particular interest are two paragraphs on page 279:

'Mesnil-Durand, Joly de Maizeroy and Saxe were among the authorities who called for a closer working of regular and skirmishing tactics. Marshal Broglie did something to put this notion into practical effect when he assumed command in western Germany in 1760. He upgraded the grenadiers, established a company of chasseurs in each battalion of the line…'

'Broglie and his fellows encoutered much opposition from conservative circles, but in his officially approved Regulation of 1764 he was able to explain how regulars could be employed in skirmish order to prepare the way for columns of attack. The seeds had been sown…'

From War in the Age of Enlightenment, 1700-1789 by Armstrong Starkey, 139:

'The Hapsburgs made good use of their border people, the Croats, a name in the eighteenth century embraced Orthodox Serb and Albanians, as well as Catholics. Essentially they were militiamen required to do part-time service, but during the midcentury wars the Austrians enrolled Croat regiments of infantry and hussars to serve in central and western Europe…Although there were attempts to make them more like regular troops, it was understood that they were best at petite guerre: patrols, raids, and outposts, a form of war that was considered natural to them…'

'During the War of the Austrian Succession, the Hapsburg government raised large numbers of Hungarian light cavalry and tough irregulars from their military border with the Ottoman Empire. The hussars, Croats, and Pandours, as they were known, played havoc with Frederick's vulnerable communications and logistics…They were in the field again during the Seven Years' War, forcing Frederick to seek countermeasures against what was known as petite guerre, or partisan war.'

So what occurred was the employment of semi-disciplined irregulars who specialized in raids, ambuscades, and other irregular tactics (la petite guerre) and were not employed in conjunction with regular infantry on the battlefield. That came later, after the Seven Years' War and the reform period of the French army (1763-1789) and the mistaken Austrian attempts to regularize the Grenz/Croats.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2020 2:22 p.m. PST

So they mutinied, which led the military to question their loyalty…and willingness to not go haring off when skirmishing.

None-the-less, the Grenz continued to be used almost exclusively as light infantry throughout the wars, regardless of various generals' opinions.

Yes this was what I was alluding too, and how I consider, in light of more recent information, how much better they were than 'mainstream English' publications make out**.

That an 'hussar' regiment became regularised and admitted to the Army (11th Szecklers who fought well and hard) yet other [infantry] units were treated with somewhat contempt seemed to me as bureaucratic indifference and racist.

Again I'd point out the failures most highlighted at Austerlitz were by Allied command, not the troops in the action- thus the Kienmayer Grenz (5 bns) attack on Telnitz commencing before 0700 was adequate, paced and reinforced as it escalated from a probing skirmish to eventually an all-arms assault with Russian involvement carried the position.
The defenders – 3eme de ligne, knew they'd been in a battle.

If ever there was a wargamers-like birds eye view of a battle, it was that of Dhokturov and Buxhowden sitting up slope at Augezd who failed to encompass or flank the position sooner.

And by the way- why is it never mentioned in any detail or commentary of the battle that 'supposedly' one of the 3eme de ligne battalions was dressed in the 'experimental' white habit? Never?
If ever there was a circumstance where 'whites' on both sides could have caused confusion in the [initial] darkness and lingering fog in the valley, this was surely it!

regards d
cup

**[In that regard I'm growing increasingly disappointed in the 'Ossprays' of this world- dubious commentaries and non-sensical sidebars and captions that do nothing to support the topics chosen etc.]. As I've had to 'reacquaint' myself with information for modelling that I've long forgotten, opening some of these tomes has been next to useless and I've found certain 'authorship' of authoritve tomes both then and now dubious and specious.**

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Oct 2020 7:34 p.m. PST

seemed to me as bureaucratic indifference and racist.

SHaT1984:

There was a strong sense of 'natural dispositions' among Europeans concerning the various ethnic groups, believing that certain things couldn't be taught, but were part of various cultures' talents and typical traits. That is why Scharnhorst can speak of the French 'natural intelligence' in skirmishing, why the British hired so many Germans for their light battalions, particularly before 1810? Their natural propensity for skirmishing.

In that regard I'm growing increasingly disappointed in the 'Osprays' of this world-

Yes, the books are fairly uneven, sometimes from the most unexpected places. I was shocked by Paddy Griffith's Osprey book on French Tactics. It had some real howlers in it, unworthy of Paddy.

Whirlwind23 Oct 2020 10:02 p.m. PST

It had some real howlers in it…

Can you remember what they were?

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 2:56 a.m. PST

McLaddie,
oh I know of course- being a mere colonial we've had it for years here under 'Brit rule' and custom.

Thankful we evolved slightly differently to some but its hard to see racsim creep in via refugees and some malingerers- weird that 'dark folks' actually work against each other, so the world reaps the misery caused by 500 or so years of unimpeded colonisation and conquest.
2020 turning out to be quite a year ain't it!?
d

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 3:49 a.m. PST

…why the British hired so many Germans for their light battalions, particularly before 1810? Their natural propensity for skirmishing.

Interesting…I do hope you are not applying that to either the Austrians or the Prussians, both of whom are Germans…

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 10:05 a.m. PST

Interesting…I do hope you are not applying that to either the Austrians or the Prussians, both of whom are Germans…

Nope, just the German ethnic groups the British hired for the 60th and Rifle brigade etc.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 11:12 a.m. PST

Don't you mean German nationalities? Hessians, Brunswickers, Wurttembergers, Badeners are all ethnic Germans, but are citizens/subjects of different countries/nationalities during the period under discussion.

What is, by the way, a 'German ethnic group'?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 11:13 a.m. PST

Just for fun, how many German units in the British army were riflemen between 1760 and 1815?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 11:33 a.m. PST

Whirlwind:

Well, there are any number, which knowing Paddy, are hard to explain, particularly when other parts are on-target. Here are just two:

1. At the bottom of page 24 Osprey's French Tactics, there is a side bar "Analysis of French Infantry Attacks, 1792-1815"

He cites a sample of 226 attacks as his base.

He goes on to note that 174 of those attacks, or 78% were carried out in Column. Only 13% in line, 8% in mixed order and 1% in skirmish order. [Compare this to Lynn's analysis of 100+ engagements for the Armee du Nord in 1794. Far different]

Interesting, until you look at the bottom where it is stated that 148 or 65% of the attacks were on rough or narrow ground.

Of course, on rough or restricted ground it would be natural for ANY army to use columns to advance. So 65% restricted terrain, 78% attacks in column.

Paddy writes above the 'analysis':

In classic theory the column had always been the recommended formation for 'affairs of posts', such as the storming of a breach in a fortress wall, and the sample studied above turns out that as many as 65 percent of the 226 attacks were launched over rough or narrow ground.
Bold mine…turns out? Just happens to be?

So, why did he choose over half of all attacks being carried out over rough ground??? By accident? How many attacks over THIS terrain were in column?

What does that prove? The French chose rough ground to attack over more than half the time? What?

It is a useless piece of information as given. It tells you very little about French tactics, and nothing about why or how those particular attacks were chosen at the end of the section on attacks by line and column.

2. On page 22, he gives a history and analysis of L'ordre mixte

It is three paragraphs long. The first gives beginnings of the mixed order but down-plays one of the Revolution's uses that introduced a wider French use of the mixed formation by saying "there might typically" be a central battalion to give fire and one each flank to protect the flanks from cavalry. The mixing of regular and recruits in the amalgamations' demi-brigades of three battalions saw this mixed order used quite a bit. Often recruits were placed in columns on the ends of a battalion of regulars in line before the three battalions were totally mixed. So far, the paragraph misses an important development in the formation's use, but solid.

Then in the second paragraph, Paddy supposedly details variations of the arrangement, by mentioning McDonald's 'monstrous column' and Ney's corps at Friedland in a 'grotesque' version with one division in line and the other all in column.

That's it for examples of further uses by the French, though were any number of examples during the Napoleonic era where the French used the more conventional mixed formation, something he ignores and presents just two monstrous and grotesque examples. Why?

In his last paragraph, the why is obvious: Dismissive of the formation:

In practice, however, the whole idea of l'ordre mixte smacked of an over-theoretical solution. If there was a cavalry threat, the central line might be seen as too thin, whereas if there were an artillery threat, the columns on the flanks would be too vulnerable. It is noticeable that although Bonaparte continued to advocated l'ordre mixte through out his wars, rather few of his subordinates seem to have adopted it when not directly under his eye. In his memoirs(which appeared after Bonaparte was safely dead), Marshal Marmont was openly critical of his command of infantry tactics. Both of them had been trained as gunners, but Marmont believed that he understood infantry much better than his master.


Three things stand out:
1.the supposed weaknesses of the mixed order applies to line and columns formation equally, so? It is a rather weak analysis at best, ignoring the purposes for the formation given already.

2. The question is whether it worked, not whether it smacked of the "over-theoretical." The British, Austrians and Russians used the formation up to 1812 and later. Myer's Brigade at Albuera used the classic mixed 3-battalion formation to fend off French cavalry. More than one whole Russian division at Borodino used mixed order during the battle. What it used a lot? Very little? By what criteria do we decide when the formation had specific benefits for specific circumstances?

3. Marmont does not mention mixed order in his critique of Napoleon's mastery of infantry tactics, that I know of. IF Marmont did, that would have been great to quote. Paddy says few used it when not under Napoleon's direct view… but how many is few? 8%? How often under Napoleon's view? Why mixed order was chosen in those cases is not mentioned, nor success or failure rates, even when the purposes for the formation are in the first paragraph.

Osprey books are 'condensed', so one can't give a lot of detail, but what detail is given should be representative of the topics. The arguments provided should use the detail given and hold up when studied further. Paddy mixed some really solid information with some really bogus presentations.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP24 Oct 2020 1:06 p.m. PST

It tells you very little about French tactics, and nothing about why or how those particular attacks were chosen…

Hammer head meet nail_ the most obvious is that the 'theoretical' use of pre-planned tactics/ formations on parade ground became next to useless in 3D topography, and a clued up officer would know it.

You haven't said 'how' such data is created (if it is indeed explained). What constitutes a 'line' or column attack; how is manoeuvre differentiated; is the 'contact' static or encounter; committed or developed..?? etc.

Way back when I started my own informal 'analyses' of events (that I later used to justify certain 'rules') but that slowed down reading so much I flagged it after a few books.

The ongoing modern (meaning post Napoleonic theorists and historians, not just gamers) mass-debating of imploring of 'data' to reach a 100% solution to an infinite variable problem is to my mind a waste of time and money- like the billions spent of 'space' exploration when wars, virii and famine are still decimating the 'civilised' world.

I'm guessing PG became mired in facts and figures so the mind does strage things to single focus subjects. But then our [reading] history is littered with 'opinions' disguised as facts until somebody cracks them. I still like the Siborne letters.

BTW, some 'Prussian' Germans were involved of course, as Blücher pointed out a good few got away in 1807 via the RN and employed by the Brits (much like the 'Free French' who escaped France in 1940 and sunsequently went on to fight very well in North Africa- side by side with Freybergs Kiwis on ocassion).

Looking at the laughable commentary among my 19thC British military book collection on the 'superiority' of their army makes me cringe a little. [I don't have the PG title btw]. Good to know though',
dcupno star

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2020 8:39 a.m. PST

You haven't said 'how' such data is created (if it is indeed explained).

It isn't explained.

The ongoing modern (meaning post Napoleonic theorists and historians, not just gamers) mass-debating of imploring of 'data' to reach a 100% solution to an infinite variable problem is to my mind a waste of time and money.

Some of that impetus is created by the enormous amount of raw data now easily available on the internet, where it wasn't up until the late 1990s.

Unfortunately, I think the issue has too often been framed as needing either a 100% solution or the effort is a waste of time, both with historians and wargamers… though simulation designers haven't taken that tact. They view the issue as more of 'what percentage of amassed data is both doable and gets the level of results needed?'

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2020 1:40 p.m. PST

Agreed.

I'd note that this quote (from above) is both self-contradictory and ridiculous in supposition/ result:-

"the attrition of the Frontier[smen] from the Turkish wars onwards meant that they were not so experienced and lacked the numbers. "

You can't have it both ways- "the attrition of" means combat and experience IS gained; sure there are losses. When isn't there? New recruits/ callups- trained?
However- "not so experienced and lacked the numbers"- yet numbers were increased over time; by loss in battle you have gained experience and by training a corps you build an homogenous esprit.

So despite the source it can't be taken literally. If the intent was that by 1809 mass conscription watered down the 'level' of expertise in certain functions, it needed to be stated that way.

Given the other excellent detail on composition and battle experiences, is there a link to 1805 in Germany?
cheers dcup

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