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"Flag Bearers (Russian infantry)" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Osage201719 Apr 2017 3:22 p.m. PST

Hi Friends,

How many flags carried Russian regiment (1812-15) ?
And who carried them, NCOs or Ensigns ?
Any special escort for the flag(s) ?

Empires at War Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Apr 2017 3:33 p.m. PST

The two field battalions had 2 flags each carried by Ensigns. Don't know about escorts but i don't represent them in my units anyway.

Artilleryman20 Apr 2017 1:01 a.m. PST

All my sources say that the flags were carried by NCOs, not officers.

Greystreak20 Apr 2017 6:59 a.m. PST

My sources all agree with Artilleryman. thumbs up

marshalGreg20 Apr 2017 7:05 a.m. PST

There seems to be some information beginning to surface that contradicts the 2 flags in the field per battalion from 1812 on.
It seems to indicate each had the one "regimental flag" with any second in stowage and the battalion with the Colonel having the only second flag of; " white colonel's flag" located there to show where the colonel is located or plans to position.
This made locating by messengers or their brigadier CO easier.

I am unfortunately unable to provide the hard sources at this time.
This seems logical
- as to losses /reduce there of..of their flags in prior campaigns.
And the locating for orders issuance.
Also, from a wargame standpoint of "flags to figures ratio", it is working better for me.


Le Breton20 Apr 2017 12:49 p.m. PST

The Banner Group of a 4-company Russian heavy infantry 1st chief's battalion or 3rd commander's battalion was composed of 4 files experienced soldiers, 2 портупей-прапорщик / portupey-praporshchik / banner-ensign and 4 under-officers
The banner-ensigns were nobles, officer aspirants, but ranked and were paid as sergeants – their only distinction being an officer's sword knot.


R= ranker, U= under-officer, X=empty, P=portupey-praporshchik

Same was used for 3-company combined grenadier battalions (which actually had no flags) and for the 3-company 2nd replacement battalions (which did have flags).

The Banner Group for the 4-company jäger battalions (which had no flags) was :

Here Y = pортупей-юнкер / portupey-yunker / banner cadet. This was the same as portupey-praporshchik, only different in name. Note, no files of rankers for jägers.

The 3-company 4th reserve (or recruit) battalions had neither flags nor Banner Group.

All the Baner Group personnel were drawn from the companies (i.e. they were not battalion or regimental staff billets).

What they did when there was no actual flag was (i) to assist in regulating the pacing of the battalion and (ii) to guard the battalion commander and lead drummers/fifers, these were placed directly to their front.

White + Colored flags for the 1st chief's battalion
2 Colored flags for each of the 2nd replacement battalion and 3rd commander's battalion.

I do not know of any habit of not fielding both flags. Even a "soft source" for this would be of great interest.

If you can read Russian:
Infantry School of 1811 : PDF link

marshalGreg20 Apr 2017 1:37 p.m. PST

Very well presented and with support Le Breton!

My soft sources have been contemporary paintings by what is suppose to be reputable painters of the 1812 campaign.
Unfortunately, at the time I was busy with another task and did not adequate record what I had found for later investigating!

I ran across this one here recently


( today) which is now the 4th one I have seen of such.
Haven't been able to confirm the artist nor when it was painted.
If this one was to be legitimate; determine which regiment it is, and then determine if that regiment lost flags during 1805/07/08 Finnish or 09 persian campaigns or perhaps during the earlier part of the 1812 campaign ( since carrying 1806 issue- 05 campaign can be ignored and makes the hunt easier to which regt.),
to confirm it was not present perhaps due to shortage of the colors.
Very week – I agree
But it has caught my attention as a possible "practice" used later during the Napoleonic wars


Le Breton20 Apr 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

Very interesting observation. Indeed, if one flag was lost, the battalion went with one flag until awarded a new one. The regulation stated that when a regiment lost 4 flags (of six), a battalion would have to use a plain banner until the next award of flags. I know of no such cases. Actually, only three flags were lost in 1812 by the Russians. A colored flag of the 3-company 2nd replacement battalion of the Revel Infantry regiment was taken by Prussian dragoons at Groß-Eckau – and 2 colored flags of the Troitsk Infantry were lost when a battalion in the Caucasus was overwhelmed at Sultanabad by 18,000 Persians (the loss was not dishonorable and the flags were replaced at once).

For your painting ….

There are two flags with the battalion in the right background, a white+colored pair of a 1st chief's battalion – white leading.

The painting is not period.
Бой За Багратионовы Флеши (1992)
Аверьянов Александр Юрьевич (Чехове, Московская область 1950 – )
120x75 cm. – Музей-панорама «Бородинская битва»

Combat at the Bagration Fleches (1992)
Aleksandr Yur'evich Aver'yanov (Chekhov, Moscow region 1850 – )
120x75 cm. – on display at the Panorama-Museum "Battle of Borodino" (located at the battlefield)

The flag in the foreground of the painting is the rather rarely issued model of 1803. Three regiments (not at Borodino) were issued these with "raspberry" crosses and one regiment was issued this flag with a "rose" cross. None other were issued with "red" crosses. Assuming that artist took the idea of "rose" to be rather more red than the pink shade usually depicted, we would have a colored flag of the Kiev Grenadier regiment. At higher resolution, which I found on Russian website that is not safe, you can see the artist put the Saint George cross in the spearpoint finial and that the ribbons are in the Saint-George tape – confiming the flag to be one awarded for excellence at Schöngrabern (Hollabrunn for the French) in 1805 to the Kiev Grenadiers. None of these was ever lost.

If our artist was precise in such things, the solid red pompons of the flag's most visibe defenders (and lack of NCO galons) would indicate grenadiers from the grenadier platoon of the 1st grenadier company of the 1st chief's battalion – fitting members for inclusion in the battalion's Banner Group in the 4 supporting files of rankers. Canonically, there should be a white flag nearby.


However, my opinion is that the artist (or the Kiev Grenadiers) botched the pompons a little, and that we see the 3rd commander's battalion in the foreground of the painting, and the unit with two flags (one white and one colored) is the 1st chief's battalion coming to their aid in the right background. Pompons for the grenadier platoon of the 3rd grenadier company of the 3rd commander's battalion should be red over yellow per regulations.

Good fun. Thank you very much for posting the painting.

Osage201720 Apr 2017 6:49 p.m. PST

Le Breton, your comments are just amazing …
I appreciate your (and Oliver Schmidt's) input very much.

If such thing like reincarnation exist I'm sure in one of your past lives you were an officer of the Russian general staff :-)

von Winterfeldt20 Apr 2017 11:28 p.m. PST

this is what in the past Seroga had to say

"For flag beraers ….
Banner Groups in Grenadier regiments (1 per battalion) all had plumes. Banner Groups in Infantry regiments (1 per battalion) were composed of 6 under-officers (see below under Jäger for these) and and 12 men : 1 rank of 3 men drawn from each of the 4 companies of the battalion, the Banner Ranks. In 1st and 3r battalions, one of these Banner Ranks would be from the Grenadier company, and so 1 or 2 of the men in this rank would be from the Grenadier platoon and thus have plumes.
Although the Jäger and Combined Grenadier battalions had no flags, they did form Banner Groups, although the Jäger Banner Group was smaller than normal (6 instead of 18 total men, lacking the Banner Ranks). I believe this was to put some reliable men directly behind the battalion commander, keep the spacing the same as other battalions, etc.
For the Combined Grenadier battalions, half the Banner Group would have plumes, as these units were composed of the Stelkovny and Grenadier platoons of 3 regiment's 2nd battalions. However, it is not so simple with Jäger. The 6 members of their Banner Group would be 2 banner-ensigns or ensigns (1 likely from the Grenadier platoon) and 4 junior under-officers (maybe including 1 from the Grenadier platoon, but most likely not). This was the same composition for all Banner Groups.
The drummers of a battalion formed in battery, not with their platoons. Again, no question for Grenadier regiments. Combined Grenadier battalions, which did not have a battalion drummer, would have 6 of 9 drummers with plumes.
Otherwise there was a regimental (1st battalion) or battalion drummer (2nd and 3rd battalions). These were in the Grenadier platoon for the 1st and 3rd battalions and clearly had plumes, but the battalion drummer actually formed with the (detached) "center" companies of the 2nd battalion. I do not know if would wear a plume or not. I think he had one, but I don't think he would wear it.
Next are the company drummers for the 1st and 3rd battalions. Of these there were 3 per company, total 12 per battalion. of these, 2 were enrolled in the Grenadier platoon and clearly had plumes. There were also 2 fifers in that same platoon (only) and they had plumes.
With the three center companies of the 2nd second battalion, there would be 9 drummers (noen with plumes) and no fifers.
The regimental musicians were enrolled in the 1st battalion's Grenadier platoon, and hence had plumes. Although in action, their duty was casualty evacuation and ammunition re-supply, and they likely did not wear their decorative uniform coats and shakos. A odd case might be in the Jäger. It is unclear if these regiments adopted the standard "recreational" band of the other units when the regiments were standardized. Previously the Jäger had enjoyed waldhornists, and did use them for signaling.
Lastly, if you think every regiment and battalion got this all perfectly correct in the middle of a war, I think you are being a tad optimistic.


Le Breton21 Apr 2017 1:51 a.m. PST

Thank you, Mr. Osage.
No reincarnation – I just know Russian. There's a lot of info out there on the Russian military of the era : Rusian State Library, all the regulations, digitized archives, memoirs, excellent modern (post-Soviet) secondary sources, very active and "historical" reenactors, etc., etc. Pretty much the same level of detail as for the French. It is just almost all in Russian language.

"Lastly, if you think every regiment and battalion got this all perfectly correct in the middle of a war, I think you are being a tad optimistic."

SJDonovan Inactive Member21 Apr 2017 3:00 a.m. PST

@Le Breton

Wonderful information as ever.

I was interested in what you had to say about the banner group for the jäger battalions. Was the doctrine for the jäger battalions to form in three ranks (like the other infantry)? I'm interested because I base my figures differently depending on whether the general practice was to form in two or three ranks (so my units in two ranks have a frontage 50 per cent wider than a unit of the same size in three ranks). I'm referring to when they are formed in close order rather than when they are skirmishing.

Scharnachthal Inactive Member21 Apr 2017 3:20 a.m. PST

A odd case might be in the Jäger. It is unclear if these regiments adopted the standard "recreational" band of the other units when the regiments were standardized. Previously the Jäger had enjoyed waldhornists, and did use them for signaling.

No longer unclear thanks to the memories of Balthasar Eccardt. Clearly, Jäger regiments had bands, not only a regular "Janissary" band but also -
and that's the really surprising thing – a Mares "Russian horns" band. The 27th Jägers had a total of 40 musicians, plus the band master (Eccardt).

Although in action, their duty was casualty evacuation and ammunition re-supply,…

I would really like to know why people think that bandsmen regularly had to fulfill such jobs during action – and even that such tasks were officially assigned to them. I just don't think so. Bandsmen were just to valuable to expose them to danger and I can't see why acting as corpsmen during battle would have endangered their lives less than standing in the midst of the battle playing music. According to Eccardt, the bandsmen stayed behind the lines during battles, at a safe place. They were not at all employed as stretcher bearers or the like. They just stayed in safety and, whenever possible, even continued to rehearse.

As far as I remember, it was a French bandsman – Girault – who in his memories tells the story that during the siege of Kolberg in 1807 the wounded of his regiment were carried behind the lines to a safe place. This was the place where the bandsmen were located, too. On this occasion, he virtually assumed the role of an infirmier but, clearly, not because this was the rule (or officially ordered) but just because of the circumstances.

Isn't that talk about bandsmen being used as infirmiers during battle not just undue extrapolation from remarks such as that of Girault? Is there is an official document or regulation demanding that bandsmen should be used as corpsmen? I can't remember one (but I can remember that there are instructions concerning the place of the band in the "ordre de bataille"…). Thanks for enlightening me.

Le Breton22 Apr 2017 2:02 a.m. PST

Russian jäger formed in *three* ranks. However, the 3rd rank might have voids (empty spaces) to permit equalizing the platoons.


Russian Horn Capella
Looks like about 24 horns, but a bit short of players.

The commander of the 27th Jägers, Colonel Ivan Ivanovich Bakurinskiy was not even a little German. The "shef" of the regiment in 1813 might be the "German-born commander". He was no big-time noble, but maybe a music lover?

Фёдор Иванович ПАНТЕНИУС, Fyodor Ivanovich PARTENIUS, Theodor Friedrich Sigsmund PANTAENIUS

--- 22.i.1768 born at Tuckum in Courland (today Tukums, Latvia) and baptised a Lutheran, the second son of Johann Christian Pantaenius (Järshagen bei Rügenwalde, Pommern 1731 – Mitau 1807), a local fiscal official, and Luise Eleonore Groschke (Guben in der Niederlausitz, Brandenburg 1741 – Tuckum 1771), the daughter of a surgeon
--- captain in the Revel Infantry regiment, transferred to the 2nd battalion of the Estonia Jäger corps **
--- 14.ix.1799 wounded at the battle of Zurich
--- 3.xi.1799 taken prisoner
--- 18.vii.1804 promoted major
--- 23.ii.1805 named commander of the 5th Jäger regiment
--- 23.iv.1806 promoted lieutenant colonel
--- 16.viii.1806 [the 27th Jäger regiment was formed from the 2nd battalion of the Tambov Musketeer regiment & recruits from the Mogilev and Smolensk regions – part of the new 16th infantry ivision formed to fight the Turks]
--- 26.iv.1807 awarded Order of Saint-Anna, 2nd class
--- 12.xii.1807 promoted colonel
--- 19.x.1810 transferred and named as "chief" of the 27th Jäger regiment
--- 12.i.1812 awarded Order of Saint George, 4th class for the campaign on the lower Danube in 1811
--- 20.vii.1813 awarded the Thanks of the Emperor for the occupation of the fortress at Thorn in April 1813
--- 19.iii.1814 awarded Prussian Ordre Pour-le-Mérite
--- named commander of the 27th Jäger regiment on the abolition of the position of "chief"
--- 11.xii. 1815 awarded a Golden Sword
--- 30.viii.1816 promoted general major, and departed the 27th Jäger regiment
--- ??? married a Polish woman, from which marriage there were no children
--- died at Gut Grenzhof bei Neuenburg

** later : 5th Jäger battalion (29.xi.1796), 5th Jäger regiment (17.v.1797), Jäger regiment of general major Vorob'ev (31.x.1798), Jäger regiment of general major Titov-2 (6.iii.1799), Jäger regiment of colonel Invanov (, Jäger regiment of general major Volkonskiy-3 (18.xii.1800), Jäger regiment of general major fon Bradke (20.xii.1800), 4th Jäger regiment (29 March 1801)

The 27th Jäger regiment was assigned to the 16th Infantry Division upon their formation, and fought against the Turks from late 1806 to until June 1812, when they could be found in Serbia. Plenty of time to pick up a penchant for "Turkish" music. Re-called with most of the Army of the Danube, they conducted mopping up operations in Volhynia and then towards Pinsk, before being re-assigned to the advance guard of the Army of the Danube in time to see action at Borisov as part of the battles for the Beresina crossing.
In early 1813 they were assigned to the siege of Thorn.

In any case, the regulation Russian regimental "band" (*not* the combattant drummers and fifers) was 2 clarinets, 2 waldhorns, 2 bassoons, 2 fifes and 1 bass drum. These were recruited by the normal conscription, paid by the Army, and promoted to be bandsmen (paid as corporals) if they could play.

This crew was different than the "tactical" drummers (plus fifers in grenadier companies). Each had different places in the formation of the regiment. See the link to the Infantry School of 1811 provided above. Plan 1 – near the end. The band was admistratively part of the 1st grenadier company (from 1810).

Technically, the "band" was listed among the non-combattants. And these did do causualty evacuation, as the soldiers were not permitted to leave the ranks to move the wounded. I suppose that some regiments liked the "band" to form and play music, and some detailed the "band" with the other non-combattants.

Although the unofficial addition of a paid, civilian bandmaster was not unknown in 1813-1815, (and indeed became a regulation position after the war), Eccardt's 40-man non-regulation paid civilian "orchestra" is unique to my knowledge outside the Guards (which were authorized large bands). The 27th Jäger Regiment was not a particularly rich or stylish regiment, rather the opposite. Maybe they had a charitable penchant and a taste for music and sought to form a large band from among refugees that crossed their path.

Although the unofficial addition of a paid, civilian bandmaster was not unknown in 1813-1815 (and indeed became a regulation position after the war), Eccardt's 40-man non-regulation paid civilian "orchestra" is unique to my knowledge outside the Guards (which were authorized large bands). The 27th Jäger Regiment was not a particularly rich or stylish regiment, rather the opposite. Maybe they had a charitable penchant and a taste for music and sought to form a large band from among refugees that crossed their path.

SJDonovan Inactive Member22 Apr 2017 2:29 a.m. PST

Thanks for the reply Le Breton. Three ranks it is for my jagers.

Scharnachthal Inactive Member22 Apr 2017 3:47 a.m. PST

Le Breton

In all, I agree with what you say.

It is the "shef" Eccardt was talking about. He calls him Bandineus.

The band of 40 most likely consisted of 24 Russian hornists and 16 "Janissary"- bandsmen. Of the latter, 9 may have been the regular complement, the rest either contracted (or impressed?) bandsmen (refugees or not) – or, perhaps, as was often the case with the French army – some "misused" soldier musicians. Would have been against the regulations – as with the French – but, during wartime, even Russian army commanders often did what they wanted, didn't they?

"Turkish" bands were just the fashion of the time. Whether or not you had seen the Turks in the flesh didn't matter. Almost every regiment had to have one, the bigger the better. Yes, apparently, most regimental commanders were quite big music lovers…

Whether the size of the band of the 27th Jägers was unique or not is hard to decide. It is Eccardt's testimony that is unique – so far. Actually, we don't have enough sources to assess the matter properly. More documents hidden in the archives may reveal more details in the future. At any rate, the regulations don't help as the nominal quota stipulated there clearly does not reflect the realities in the field. Like with the French…

However, the use of Russian horn bands seems to have been confined to Jäger regiments. Other regiments may have sought to enlarge their "Janissary"- bands, instead…

And, despite the fact that Eccardt calls all of his musicians "Hautboisten", it's evident that his Russian horn blowers should not be seen as accomplished musicians. As Eccardt himself points out, it was the "Turkish" band who actually played the music while the former were just used to accompany them. So, the actual size of the "true" band would have been 16, which is good average.

Eccardt's narrative implies that all regiments of Markow's corps had bands. He doesn't say anything regarding the size of those other bands but – quite unmodestly – he remarks that with him as a bandmaster the band of the 27th changed from the worst to the best of the whole corps…No need to assume the other (Jäger) units' bands were smaller, then, and no clue as to the actual strength of other infantry bands…

I agree that during action, bandsmen were most likely deployed "ad libitum", depending on the shefs' wishes. Sometimes they may have played music in formation but more often, it seems, they were brought into safety behind the lines,… as with the French. As mentioned already, bands were a valuable asset.

If detailed with other non-combatants, bandsmen may or may not have been involved in the treating of wounded. As mentioned before, I can't remember to have seen them being ordered to do so…

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