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"Old French Guard or not?" Topic


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gamer118 Apr 2017 7:04 a.m. PST

Anyone familiar with the period normally considers the French old guard to have the best units of the time, period. Certainly some rules sets think so. In my reading it seems to me that some of the other nations not only had guard units but some that were just as fearless, capable and dangerous as any unit of the old guard.
The British German Legion for example, and what about the Russian Pavlovski Guard, I read the only infantry unit that charged Cavalry! I also wonder about the Polish guard lancers, I think Napoleon used them as part of his personal body guard for awhile, that must say something?
So what do you guys think? Do you agree that there were elite units of some of the other nations that would equal the famous old guard units on the battle field? Are there some you guys can think of I have left out? Perhaps even other French units that don't get the credit they deserve? Or may be the old guard was not as superior as there reputation on the gaming table suggest?

Green Tiger Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

Its all a matter of opinion really – just last night I read a contemporary account that expressed the opinion that although the hussars were excellent troops the infantry of the KGL were pretty ropey.

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 7:24 a.m. PST

A great deal of it was a matter of reputation. The Old Guard had a reputation for being the best, and pretty much everyone bought into that, friend and foe alike. So their foes were intimidated and the Guard, itself, felt compelled to uphold that reputation.

Who asked this joker18 Apr 2017 7:26 a.m. PST

The French Guard Corps was a first rate corps. The Old Guard Grenadiers and Chasseurs were probably the best in the world at the time for some value of "best". However, as you point out, the Pavlovski Grenadiers and the British Guards would give them a run for their money in any case. The difference between any of the units involved would be pretty small as far as training and morale were concerned. Being lead by one of the finest military minds of all time goes a long way to having continued success.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 7:49 a.m. PST

Agree with the general thread – one thing is that being the highest regarded unit in an army that pretty much had 15 years of beating the pants off their enemies (in some cases, eventually) will make you a pretty good outfit

And having said this my French Napoleonic army – which I was organizing over the Easter weekend – has three infantry corps, two cavalry corps, a hefty artillery reserve and not a single Guard unit

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

You are going to find varying opinions among contemporaries just as you do today.

The Imperial Old Guard had a few things going for it that other Nations' guard units as a whole, did not:

1. The Old Guard comprised VETERAN soldiers of proven combat performance from across the French army, rather than the upper classes such as the British or Russian Guards, where belonging to the Guards was more of a social status than military.

2. They were chosen from an army with a long winning streak, which certainly enhanced their reputation and feelings of being 'the best.'

3. Their reputation preceded them, so just being Old Guard aided their combat strength. Like WWII, when Allied infantry and tankers were told that there was a 'Tiger' up ahead, there was a real desire to avoid that area.

The Pavlovski Grenadiers, unlike the British Guards, were veteran soldiers who stayed in the same unit their entire lives. The British Guards actually had untried battalions and such inexperience showed at times, such as Talavera.

Of course, that didn't make the Imperial Old Guard invincible, but it certainly put them on a rarefied level.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

popcorn

Mike Target18 Apr 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

"rather than the upper classes such as the British "
Huh? The actual OR's in the British foot Guards battalions were drawn from the same dregs of humanity as they were in every other British infantry battalion.

The officers were slightly more likely to be closer to the Gentry perhaps, but even there, amongst all the Guards battalions only about 1/6th of the officers were related to the Gentry, and that was certainly reduced in time of war.

4th Cuirassier18 Apr 2017 8:17 a.m. PST

The Polish lancers were Old Guard.

42flanker18 Apr 2017 8:32 a.m. PST

'dregs of humanity'…

We know that you're being a little tongue and cheek, are you not?

marshalGreg18 Apr 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

A significant difference is the British Guards would have many unseasoned recruits much like the regular line( but the better of such), where the old guards brought in season veterans with viable results/came by recommendation for their replacements.
Also the old guard had a height that had to be met >5'11" IIRC. ( yes the Russian guard had something like this also).
So they make an incredible tough force to defeat- and IIRC they were never really defeated per say ( 1st of the OGGren and OGChass that is… as for the Gren a cheval and the Polish Lancers).

MG

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

The Old Guard were probably the most experienced units of the time. To become a member you had to have had a certain minimum number of years service AND to have participated in a minimum number of campaigns and major battles.

I would probably put the British 95th rifles up there as well. They performed a different function to the Old Guard, but we're probably as good at their job as the Guard were at their's!

Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 9:20 a.m. PST

I think that Mike's point is that the British Guards recruited from the same pool as the rest of the Army. Whereas Napoleon's Old Guard was selected from proven soldiers of experience. The strength of their British counterparts was the regimental system which, in the Duke of Wellington's words, made such 'fine fellows' from the 'scum of the Earth'. (Whether they were all such 'scum' is another, and ongoing, discussion.)

gamer118 Apr 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

Thanks guys, I have a home made rule set for convention play that works great. I don't mind giving the old guard the best bonuses if they deserve it, which I think they do. I just thought it would be interesting if I could justify giving some units of other nations that same level and have a reasonable historical bases to do so. There are certainly accounts of other nations elite units doing some pretty impressive "old guard" quality work on the field, wouldn't you guys agree?
Thanks for the input and as many of you have said and know, if you read enough you will find conflicting info….

Whirlwind18 Apr 2017 10:12 a.m. PST

So what do you guys think? Do you agree that there were elite units of some of the other nations that would equal the famous old guard units on the battle field? Are there some you guys can think of I have left out? Perhaps even other French units that don't get the credit they deserve? Or may be the old guard was not as superior as there reputation on the gaming table suggest?

One way to think about it is selection (were the soldiers assigned to the unit specifically supposed to be the best); training (were the soldiers given specific training to make them better); and experience (how much combat experience did the soldiers have without suffering defeat). The Old Guard at most periods would score highly on the first and the third; and in some periods, the second as well.

Even from 1811, the Old Guard was struggling to get enough qualified soldiers into its ranks and this was exacerbated after the disasters of 1812 (and 1813); plus presumably the increasing requirements for more cadres for the additional Guard units. Only 1st Grenadiers and Chasseurs were full of soldiers fitting the requirements that had been previously required. The personnel sent to the other units could fairly be described as veterans, but they weren't more veteran than many British or Russian soldiers by this point.

So as a bottom line summary:

Old Guard 1805 – 1809 – should be a definite step up from other units.
Old Guard 1810 onward – 1st Grenadiers and 1st Chasseurs retain their advantage, the others should be as good as, but no better than, a good veteran British or Russian unit.

If you want units to match the best Old Guard units, I would suggest the British Light Infantry/Rifle units (43rd, 52nd, 95th only) in the period 1805 – c.1811; many of the infantrymen were specially selected (or rather, those not cut out for it had been taken out of the unit); specially-trained at Folkestone; had some successful combat experience in Denmark and Portugal and Spain before the attrition of campaigning really set in. I'm not entirely convinced by this, but I don't think it is unarguable.

I hope that helps

Mike Target18 Apr 2017 10:21 a.m. PST

"We know that you're being a little tongue and cheek, are you not?"

Sir, I am astonished you find it neccessary to ask!


One of the "strengths" of the Foot Guards Bttns was (IIRC) nothing to do with any superhuman qualities or special training, but simply due to the fact that they tended to be kept as close to full strength as possible , even in the field, in a way other, more mundane, units were not.

Having a few hundred more muskets than anyone else definitly give you that edge.

I can't help wandering if something similiar applied to the Old Guard too…I can't see Boney letting wastage, and a thinning of their ranks over time affect their performance.

Lord Hill18 Apr 2017 10:31 a.m. PST

I think Mike's comment about the British Guards only being "better" than the British line in terms of numbers is a good one. As he says, a volley from a thousand muskets would have been much more effective than from 450.

There are some accounts of the Guards being better disciplined – I recall an observer in the retreat to Corunna noting that you could tell a distant unit were the Guards because they were still marching in step.

At Waterloo, the 2nd and 3rd Guards obviously did well at Hougoument but I believe some parts of the 1st Guards got themselves into a bit of a pickle at one point.

Man for man, I'd say any of the hardened veterans from the Peninsula regiments would be the "best" British regiments present in 1815 (Rifles aside) – i.e. any of the Highland regiments, 40th Somerset Foot, 28th Gloucs Foot, 4th Kings Own, 23rd Welch Fusiliers, 52nd Oxfordshire, 51st West Riding. Many of the OR in those units had fought in 13 (or more) major engagements over the previous 7 years, some going back to Egypt in 1801.

marshalGreg18 Apr 2017 11:46 a.m. PST

Yes the British guards took a bit of a shellacking at Quatre Bra as well with some 500+ casualties of which most of the officer staff in less than 2hrs of action. They did take some significant ground but then again the forces they were up against had been fighting for some 3 x that amount of time, if not longer. They were also essentially saved by the Basso Wood.

MG

Timbo W18 Apr 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

Would you say that the French line units suffered by their most experienced soldiers being taken away into La Garde?

Mike the Analyst18 Apr 2017 12:24 p.m. PST

Remember also that British recruitment often came from the militia into battalions in the UK. Battalions returning from active service usually discharged the seasoned other ranks into the newly arrived replacement battalions whilst the cadre returned to the UK to recruit led by experienced NCOs and officers.

dibble18 Apr 2017 12:58 p.m. PST

Would the 1st Foot Guards have lost 600 men to desertion had the Duke retreated at Waterloo?

As for the 'Shellacking' at the Bossu Wood. The Guards took the wood, lost many in the close quarter battle clearing it but then took lots more casualties from artillery fire as they tried to emerge out of the other side. The French cavalry tried to inflict more casualties but were themselves driven off by the Guards retiring to the wood's edge and turning on their assailants and Brunswicker squares also had a hand in it.

Here is a link to an excellent discussion of the incident at Bossu Wood, full of first hand accounts and recollections.

TMP link

Marcel180918 Apr 2017 1:13 p.m. PST

Certainly after 1812, many of the "true" veterans were gone and had to be replaced with veterans from the line and of more recent campaigns, so the overall quality was less, nevertheless their reputation was still intact and this could be a serious morale boost for them and the troops they supported or serious element of fear for the enemy if they realised they were facing the Imperial guard…
By 1815 I have my doubt about the real fighting qualities of the guard. To Timbo W. Yes I think especially after 1812 with the expansion of the guard in difficult circomstances, left the line troops in need of quality recruits…

Marcus Brutus18 Apr 2017 1:49 p.m. PST

The New York Yankees have the highest payroll in MLB and put together the "best" team bar none in the game yet their on field performance fluctuates considerably. I see this as a important parallel and reminder in assigning quality to a unit. One can have the most experienced (ie. best) recruits but that does not automatically equate to on field performance. There is something like "team spirit" that is an intangible but critical to how a group functions. I think there is a lot to say for guys staying together in a company, year in and year out. If the Old Guard deserves a higher rating than other troops it has something to do with more than experience.

Mike Target18 Apr 2017 3:03 p.m. PST

"Would you say that the French line units suffered by their most experienced soldiers being taken away into La Garde?" I was going to bring this up in my last post and didnt have time; In the final pushes of WW1, the Germans put their best troops into specialist battalions intended to lead the way. The consensus seems to be that this did make the rest of the army poorer as a result due to lacking their skills and expertise. When they were ground down (by virtue of being up at the sharp end) they left the amry as a whole bereft of their skills.

In the British army in both periods that experience is spread across all units to a greater degree- losing one or two is not so onerous, and the rest can take up the slack.

On balance I do not think that the French suffered from this over-concentration in the same the WW1 Germans did due to the less lethal nature of the musketry involved, and the fact their best units weren't leading from the front so much, at waterloo not turning up until it was pretty much all over bar the shouting anyway- but I think it will strengthened the Guard at the cost of the Ligne/Legere.

I suppose in wargames terms you could rationalise it as – "you can give the Old Guard as many "+1's" as you like, but for each you grant them every other Ligne/legere unit in the army gets -1. " Whereas the British just get +1 across the board.

On the point about team spirit: its all very well and good for a while, but after a point a unit gains too much experience, and loses its edge, like the 95th at Waterloo.

Lord Hill18 Apr 2017 4:04 p.m. PST

after a point a unit gains too much experience, and loses its edge

I wonder if that is actually "battle fatigue"? I would argue that the overwhelming feelings of relief that the war had finally ended in 1814 (after 20 years on and off) is almost impossible for us to comprehend.
To then be told, a year later, that you're going BACK into combat was clearly too much for many a veteran.

Khusrau18 Apr 2017 5:03 p.m. PST

Similar effect noted in experienced British Divisions at D-Day, with both 7th Armoured and 51st Highland being considered not to have lived up to their reputation. Many veterans had been fighting since 1940/41 and there was reputedly a sense of 'let all these new green divisions do their bit'. Self preservation is a noted aspect of veteran units.

nsolomon9918 Apr 2017 5:08 p.m. PST

I would contribute to this thread by saying that I feel there were some excellent, truly crack troops in all of the main allied armies – Austrian Grenadiers, Prussian, Russian and British Guards at different periods – but I agree with most of the comments above that the Old Guard were a cut above everyone else for most of the period.

I also note the comment about the Pavlov Grenadier Regiment being part of the Russian Guard. The Pavlov's were another brave, crack regiment but they were only transferred into the Russian Imperial Guard in April 1813. In the great campaigns of the Russian Army 1805, 1807 & 1812, when the Russian Army stood largely alone against the might of Imperial France the Pavlov's were considered a line Grenadier Regiment and were brigaded as such along with Musketeer and Grenadier Regiments. Yes, they were allowed to retain their Mitres but that didn't make them equivalent to the French Old Guard.

Most good rules sets I've played over the last 35+ years have sufficiently granular rating systems to reflect the differences between even the elite formations of each of the armies.

I think thats important and one of the great attractions of wargaming the period.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 5:58 p.m. PST

Huh? The actual OR's in the British foot Guards battalions were drawn from the same dregs of humanity as they were in every other British infantry battalion.

The officers were slightly more likely to be closer to the Gentry perhaps, but even there, amongst all the Guards battalions only about 1/6th of the officers were related to the Gentry, and that was certainly reduced in time of war.

Mike: Well, almost all guard officers had to be accepted by the colonel of the regiment and almost all guard officers bought their commissions which cost more than regular regiments. The guard enlisted men were hand-picked for size, if not for background, though no convicts or 'dregs' were accepted into the Guard regiments.

I think that Mike's point is that the British Guards recruited from the same pool as the rest of the Army.

There is some truth to that, but that pool was rather large and the Guard regiments got to pick what were seen as the best from that 'pool.'

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 6:00 p.m. PST

Would you say that the French line units suffered by their most experienced soldiers being taken away into La Garde?

That was a complaint at the time. In the end, 1813 and after, Barras, who was a Old Guard Chasseur, states that men were rotated in and out to regular regiments. He was.

Edwulf18 Apr 2017 6:06 p.m. PST

If we are strict about the term elite then, afaik, only the Old and Middle Guard and those battalions of of light infantry like the 95th and 4/60th 5/60th regiments in which marksmanship was a requirement can be classed as elite.

British Guards, while excellent, had no special recruitment standards for ORs and officers only needed to be able to afford the uniform and mess fees. They were a very high class line unit. Many less glamorous line units were just as capable as the guards.

dibble18 Apr 2017 9:07 p.m. PST

Other than the Guards and Rifle units the 1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 23rd, 27th, 28th, 40th, 42nd, 43rd, 45th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 71st, 88th, 90th and 92nd of red coated regiments were just as good as the Imperial Guard afaiac. There are probably more but then I'll have to have a look into the regiments for a recap.

Paul :)

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 10:24 p.m. PST

Guards infantry of all nations get +1, Old Guard get +1 and reroll 1's ;)

basileus6619 Apr 2017 4:59 a.m. PST

Good… in what sense? I mean: better shots, better at maneuvering in the battlefield, better at changing formations while under fire, better at closing with the enemy regardless casualties, better at retaining cohesion despite casualties in NCOs and Officers. What exactly do you mean by "better"?.

For instance, in this case if you are thinking that "better" means that they would close to cold steel with the enemy, but I am thinking as their ability at skirmishing, I would considered that the 95th Rifles was "better", while you would think that affirmation nonsense.

I think that any meaningful discussion should define the terms beforehand, otherwise we will go round in circles.

marshalGreg19 Apr 2017 7:32 a.m. PST

Hmmm!
Perhaps the definitive example, and hopefully someone can present in some detail, what the 1813 Old guard
( who were probably not to the same level as the prior to 1813 but after 1805 unit)
had accomplished on the march to, then at the battle of Dresden itself, which shows an accomplishment of a level no other guards units had presented during the Napoleonic period.

MG

Whirlwind19 Apr 2017 11:24 a.m. PST

Other than the Guards and Rifle units the 1st, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 23rd, 27th, 28th, 40th, 42nd, 43rd, 45th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 71st, 88th, 90th and 92nd of red coated regiments were just as good as the Imperial Guard afaiac. There are probably more but then I'll have to have a look into the regiments for a recap.

This might be arguable for, say, 1814. I don't see how this argument could be made for 1806 – 1810.

Whirlwind19 Apr 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

Perhaps the definitive example, and hopefully someone can present in some detail, what the 1813 Old guard
( who were probably not to the same level as the prior to 1813 but after 1805 unit)
had accomplished on the march to, then at the battle of Dresden itself, which shows an accomplishment of a level no other guards units had presented during the Napoleonic period.

I'd be interested in this too. Does anyone know of any primary source accounts for this?

Rod MacArthur19 Apr 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

Much of being an elite unit is a feeling of superiority, which some may call arrogance. British Guards may not have had as much combat experience as the French Imperial Guard, but they were convinced of their own superiority. During the Napoleonic Wars British Foot Guards also had more than 100 years of unbroken tradition to uphold, which made them very steady, through a strong desire to not disgrace that history.

That system is why the British Army still maintains such Regimental Traditions.

Rod

Whirlwind19 Apr 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

The British guards as a unit may have fought in rather more actions than their French counterparts. But the individual French Guardsmen would definitely have had (much) more combat experience, at least before 1813.

dibble19 Apr 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

This might be arguable for, say, 1814. I don't see how this argument could be made for 1806 – 1810.

I do. The thing is that those regiments were well trained and disciplined. They also had a tradition which each succeeding generation of those regiments strove to upkeep. Which is one of the reasons that the regiments were able to beat French regiments at the first time of asking, even though they had had no real combat experience. Even in failed expeditions the regiments acquitted themselves well and to cap it all, the sheer bloody mindedness added in the mix put them on a par with anything the French had. Oh! It didn't matter if it was the senior battalion or not either!

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 3:50 a.m. PST

In this thread we touched two main things that would, in game terms, make a unit better.
1 cohesion/ elan/ fighting spirit+ tradition upheld, and sometimes upholding reputation and / or class obligations ( think, French ancient regime royal guards, Chevalier Garde, knights- winged hussars and the like.

2 experience (but as stated with a bit of preservation, although in the close order battlefield it can be harder to set together with preceding usual claims). Being picked up and able to stand up to it, plus cadres, quality cadres always helps ( ww2 Germans?).
Old guards definitely had all this, the rest of the guard less so, but probably still the cadres and need to uphold reputation.

In most battles they did little, or late, were fed better, less toils, overall much less attrition, so even more veterans.
Besides in games it is mostly: better, but better than whom?

Russian elites had a tendency to be slaughtered in each campaign, so not too sure about experience, even if still quite ok for cohesion and reputation to uphold.
Remember pre ww1, sense of Honour had a real meaning, and in the non empty battlefield, you can hardly stay hidden in a hole, or run without it more or less known to your peers.

4th Cuirassier20 Apr 2017 6:28 a.m. PST

Much of being an elite unit is a feeling of superiority

This.

The Prussians and Austrians had plenty of veterans too, but unfortunately, they were veterans mostly of defeats at French hands. The superiority of the French elites was down not to experience but to experience and hence expectation of victory.

A soldier who has fought in two battles and won both is, I suspect, a more reliable soldier than one who's been in ten battles and lost eight of them.

Edwulf20 Apr 2017 6:54 a.m. PST

In 1810 the 40th,45th and 88th were still very experienced units having been in Spain for 2 years (the 40th and 45th staying in Portugal while Moore fked Spain) and had all fought in South America in 1807. The 45th also had been in action in the Caribbean in the 1790s so still had some guys left from that.

Also it's not just experience. It's also regimental/national/local pride and the spirit of the unit. The 88th had a hard brawling Irish reputation to up hold. The 45th as a unit did contain a very high proportion of Nottinghamshire men which one imagines helps the unit with its identity.

The 33rd in America (1780s) are often described as being a model unit. So sometimes the officers just have a culture or work ethic that makes an ordinary unit much better.

Whirlwind20 Apr 2017 9:37 a.m. PST

The thing is that those regiments were well trained and disciplined. They also had a tradition which each succeeding generation of those regiments strove to upkeep. Which is one of the reasons that the regiments were able to beat French regiments at the first time of asking, even though they had had no real combat experience. Even in failed expeditions the regiments acquitted themselves well and to cap it all, the sheer bloody mindedness added in the mix put them on a par with anything the French had.

But do most of those factors not apply to most of the major combatants in the wars?

Lord Hill20 Apr 2017 10:35 a.m. PST

A soldier who has fought in two battles and won both is, I suspect, a more reliable soldier than one who's been in ten battles and lost eight of them.

I think that's a great point. And how about being in 13 or more engagements and winning every one of them? (like many of the British regiments listed above).

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

Yes, you are right, I forgot recent fights and expectations.
Then on this it depends, in game terms what you rate: being beaten does not decrease experience but morale. You can be skilled at many things and have low expectations, thus low morale. If we rightly assume a lot in the figth is about morale, then good manouevre, efficient shooting ( in horse and musket not post 1900) but not too steadfast.

Whirlwind
It does not seem to apply to all. Take your Brits in 1700s, not very many of them among allied armies, fighting together for years, then still those few did regularly way more for their numbers than their allies.

Also the way troops are teated, as cattle or condescending, or as brothers in arms, in a way. Think most middle east or African troops, now and past under colonial rules. Or I think it might apply to French post 1792 and the feodalistic society they fight. And Britain is in between in their ways.

In the end, what was achieved, the reputation at the time and not late 19th century nationalistic writings, should guide us for rating troops.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2017 11:38 a.m. PST

Yes, you are right, I forgot recent fights and expectations.
Then on this it depends, in game terms what you rate: being beaten does not decrease experience but morale. You can be skilled at many things and have low expectations, thus low morale. If we rightly assume a lot in the figth is about morale, then good manouevre, efficient shooting ( in horse and musket not post 1900) but not too steadfast.

Whirlwind
It does not seem to apply to all. Take your Brits in 1700s, not very many of them among allied armies, fighting together for years, then still those few did regularly way more for their numbers than their allies.

Also the way troops are teated, as cattle or condescending, or as brothers in arms, in a way. Think most middle east or African troops, now and past under colonial rules. Or Argentine conscripts vs Israeli conscript (discounting the actual training time ). Or I think it might apply to French post 1792 and the feodalistic society they fight. And Britain is in between in their ways.

In the end, what was achieved, the reputation at the time and not late 19th century nationalistic writings, should guide us for rating troops.

HANS GRUBER20 Apr 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

One study in the old Courier based unit quality on desertion rates. I don't know how accurate regimental records might be. It would be interesting to see how French units in 1813 performed using this criteria.

Le Breton20 Apr 2017 1:48 p.m. PST

Russians made units into Guards as a reward for outstanding unit performance. Example are the Pavlovskiy Grenadiers and the Emperor's Militia Battalion (which became the Life-Guard Finland Regiment.

The recurring staffing of the Guards worked, normally, up to 1810 :
--- after minimum 3 years service in a musketeer battalion, soldiers would be promoted for falwless records, "aptitude" (dedication, staunchness) and size to fill vacancies the grenadier battalion of their regiment
--- each year, the musketeer regiments each supplied their 20 best grendiers to the grenadier regiments as replacements
--- these went to fusilier battalions of the grenadier regiments, and after minimum 3 years flawless service could be promoted to fill vacancies in the grenadier battalions in the grenadier regiments
--- each year the grenadier regiments each supplied their 6 best grenadiers to the guards

Note the problem for jägers : no grenadier regimetns and they were more quickly stepped up to the guard jägers, whihc might explain somewhat why this regiment was not really any better than other good line jäger regiments.

From 1810 :
--- after minimum 3 years service in a musketeer company, soldiers would be promoted for flawless records, "aptitude" (dedication, staunchness) and height or marksmanship) to fill vacancies the grenadier company of their battalion (large men in the grenadier platoon, markmen in the strelki platoon)
--- each year, the musketeer regiments each supplier their 20 best grenadiers to the grenadier regiments as replacements
--- these went to fusilier companies of the grenadier regiments, and after minimum 3 years flawless service could be promoted to fill vacancies in the grenadier companies in the grenadier regiments
--- each year the grenadier regiments each supplied their 6 best grenadiers to the guards

Individual soldiers could be promoted more quickly for specific acts of heroism.
Guard NCO's actually serving were typically promoted out of the ranks of the Guards. Prominent nobles would sign their young sons on as Guards NCO's to give them greater seniority – often totally fictionally.
The calls for Guards replacements could be increased to replenish losses, and in some cases particularly apt recruits (typically from the Saint-Petersburg area) mght go to the Guards if even more numbers were needed.

Guards officers and NCO officer aspirants were chosen by the war college (ministry) and approved by the Emperor, and this could include patronage appointments for the Guards cavalry and heavy infantry (the "stylish" regiments), as well as appointments only for merit.

Russian Guards infantry probably had less of the skills or the élan of French Old Guards. But they were experienced and dependable and had no thoguht of any life or social existence other than as Guardsmen. After decades of active service they might be assigned to a garrison or invalid command, or a military settlement on th eCentral Asian frontier. But they had no home other than the Guards to which they could ever return. They would endure any number of losses without breaking – likely in hope of a reward in Heaven that they could never hope to attain on earth. And they were not held back as an ultimate reserve or to protect the head of state and his claim to power. They were used routinely in battle.

Mick the Metalsmith21 Apr 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

Desertion before a fight might not be an indicator of a low morale unit during a fight. To a certain extent it leaves the dedicated core behind to actually fight.

CaptainSi21 Apr 2017 9:49 a.m. PST

If you are going to compare British line and French guards, compare their performance in adversity. E.g the retreat from Moscow and the retreats to corunna / from burgos where a great many of the British regiments (not all), disintegrated.

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