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"What's the most brigades under one corps commander?" Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2017 10:13 p.m. PST

The title says it all. In all of the Napoleonic wars, what was the maximum number of brigades under one corps commander?

My guess is Davout at Borodino, with 14.
Or was there a greater number in some other battle?
Thanks!

DaleWill Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 5:12 a.m. PST

If you look at Prussian Corps from 1813-1815 and count Regimental commanders as Brigade commanders then you are looking at usually 12 infantry, 2-4 cavalry and some artillery. (Not sure of those numbers).

Dale

Don Manser13 Aug 2017 6:35 a.m. PST

Possibly one of the commands at Leipzig?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 6:50 a.m. PST

One thing that might be interesting to look at is that some French brigades during the period consisted of only one regiment.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 6:51 a.m. PST

I would submit that the number of regiments per corps would be a more interesting figure to calculate, or the number of divisions.

However, it should also be noted that French corps were not uniform in either the total strength or the number of divisions in each corps.

Napoleon deliberately did this for two reasons: first to confuse allied intelligence and two because of the varying capabilities of the corps commanders.

Lascaris13 Aug 2017 7:42 a.m. PST

I think you might actually need to go all the way to battalions to get a meaningful comparison. A regiment could be 5 battalions, like in the aforementioned brigades of a single regiment, down to 1 battalion, like most English regiments of the period.

CaptainSi13 Aug 2017 8:51 a.m. PST

17 – 15 infantry , 2 cavalry. Davouts 1st corps 1812

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 9:19 a.m. PST

Interesting, especially about the Prussian corps and regiments.
I ask because I'm working on a new project called Forward March Epic.
Part of the project involves this:

picture

It is a sprue of kriegspiel blocks. Each level is a corps. Each block already has a number on it that can be used to reference a roster. The block is a pyramid (you can't see the pyramid part because its on the other side), with one 14 brigade corps, one 13, one 12, one 11, one 10, one 9 . . . you get the point. All the way down to a 3 block corps.
The idea with this is that you color code the corps by painting the inside of the recessed number, and then will have, for instance, a "Blue" corps numbered 1-12, a "Red" corps numbered 1-9, etc. The color coding makes it easier to set up armies and differentiate things on the battlefield.

It will be available in a few different sizes. This will be part of a complete brigade level micro-army set that (ideally) allows gamers to play out most Napoleonic battles in full. This is meant to be part of a set that will have everything you need to play (including numbered calvary stands), but it appears I'll have to make these available individually as a supplement.

It is basically a one-stop-shop version of my semi-scratch made Wagram:

link

attilathepun4713 Aug 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

I don't want to steal Dale Will's thunder, but I think some clarification is needed about Prussian organization during the 1813-1815 period to avoid confusion for any Napoleonic newbie who may look at this. At this time, Prussia did not utilize the term "division" in its military organization. A Prussian corps was made up of unusually large brigades, which generally included artillery and cavalry contingents, so these were the functional equivalents of divisions. Prussian line infantry regiments consisted of two musketeer battalions and a fusilier battalion, but very often had volunteer jaeger companies attached. So the Prussian regiment amounted to a small brigade.

Oliver Schmidt13 Aug 2017 11:44 a.m. PST

On the Prussian "brigades", see also here:

link

HappyHussar13 Aug 2017 9:24 p.m. PST

Its hard to narrow down the number of brigades for the Prussians in the same way as the French for 1813-15 as their brigades used 1-2 Treffe and each was like 2-3 battalions. The middle or rear treffe would have 2-4 cavalry squadrons.

Usually the battalions were not organized by regiment. They were grouped in the Treffe by type. Fuslier and sometimes a line battalion would be in the first Treffe.

Some games and miniature scenario make the mistake of grouping the Prussians by regiment. Really if you review the order of battles for the various battles you rarely see more than 2 battalions from the same regiment in a brigade.

Example of a Prussian brigade:

1st Treffe – Fus Bn/3rd IR – Fus Bn/7th IR
2nd Treffe – 1 Bn/3rd IR – 1 Bn/3rd Sil. Ldw – 2 Bn/7th IR
3rd Treffe – 3 Bn/3rd Sil. Ldw – 6lb battery #8 – E.Prus. Gren. Bn

There would be 2 sqnds of cavalry on either flank. Usually it was 2 Sqdns from 2 dif. regiments. Sometimes it was 4 sqdns from the same regiment.

The above brigade is an example and is not drawn from any OB. I can furnish historical examples if needed.

I enjoy the wide variety of units in the Prussian army of 1813-15. They remain my fav. army to fight with on the tabletop, computer or board games. Add in those Frewillige Jager units too and some Jager or Schutzen cos.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 9:47 p.m. PST

The number of brigades, besides size and national organization certainly had something to do with large numbers of brigades [Some Coalition 1790's 'columns' under one command had as many as 15 brigades… but then, that also has to do with what constituted a brigade, as HappyHussar notes.

It is also not clear whether Napoleon gave Davout 14 brigades because only he could *handle* that many, or whether it was because he wanted as much of his army under the control of a dependable/effective Commander?
Of course, the really varied size of French corps wasn't seen until 1809 and after. Austerlitz and the Jena and Elyau/Friedland campaigns saw very similar sized corps for all corps commanders.

So, it may have been the quality of the troops that influenced the size of corps as much as the perceived commander's abilities. In other words, I doubt that there was one or even just two reasons for bunches of brigades under one command.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 5:01 a.m. PST

It is also not clear whether Napoleon gave Davout 14 brigades because only he could *handle* that many, or whether it was because he wanted as much of his army under the control of a dependable/effective Commander?
Of course, the really varied size of French corps wasn't seen until 1809 and after. Austerlitz and the Jena and Elyau/Friedland campaigns saw very similar sized corps for all corps commanders.
So, it may have been the quality of the troops that influenced the size of corps as much as the perceived commander's abilities.

When the Grande Armee crossed the Rhine in September 1805 the following strengths for the corps were (total present and under arms):

I Corps (Bernadotte): 14,667-2 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
II Corps (Marmont): 20,037-3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
III Corps (Davout):25,161-3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
IV Corps (Soult): 27,798-4 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
V Corps (Lannes): 25,689-3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
VI Corps (Ney): 21,250-3 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry division.
VII Corps (Augereau): 12,447-2 infantry divisions, 1 cavalry regiment.
Cavalry Reserve (Murat): 20,950-7 Cavalry Divisions.

The corps were not uniform in either strength or organization. It should be noted that a corps d'armee was a headquarters with corps troops assigned to it (service troops, gendarmerie, artillery, etc.) It was capable of handling between two and five infantry divisions, depending on the ability of its commander and those division could be attached out, or more divisions added to it. Davout's divisions were not all assigned to him, for example, at Borodino. Two of his five divisions were detached and assigned to Eugene.

For the campaign of 1809 the Army of Germany had only three French corps, and those also had Confederation of the Rhine units assigned to them (Davout, Massena, and Oudinot). After Lannes arrived from Spain, a provisional corps was created to give him a command, most of the troops coming from Davout's large corps. After the Ratisbon phase of the campaign, Lannes was given command of Oudinot's corps.

Oliver Schmidt14 Aug 2017 5:17 a.m. PST

Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organisation.
(by Sun Tzu, it seems)

I think looking at the number of brigades or regiments or single soldiers within a given corps doesn't really enlighten us about the corps commander's abilities, as he didn't deal with each of them individually.

Usually, the corps commander would give his orders to the divisional commanders, and their job was to deal with their subordinate brigades. So I believe it wouldn't make a difference if a corps commander has got 3 divisions of 2 brigades each, or 3 divisions of 4 brigades each ?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 5:40 a.m. PST

That would depend on the ability of the division commander.

What is interesting is the manner in which Davout employed his assigned generals of brigade. He didn't always employ them as brigade commanders, but sometimes for battlefield missions with smaller numbers of troops.

Reading and studying Davout's corps operations from 1805-1807 is an interesting exercise. And it is available in both English and French. And there is also an excellent summary in English in the book Napoleon's Army by HCB Rogers.

Davout's operations, and the reports, etc., in the book clearly show how a Napoleonic corps d'armee was run and commanded.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 5:43 a.m. PST

…I believe it wouldn't make a difference if a corps commander has got 3 divisions of 2 brigades each, or 3 divisions of 4 brigades each?

There are interesting comments, backed up by the battlefield performances, of a number of Napoleon's corps commanders which are contained in the memoirs of both Odeleben and von Funck.

There is also the comment that Ney was quite competent with a command of 10,000 men; anything larger, witness his foul up at Bautzen in 1813, and he didn't do as well, as an example.

The competence of the commander, at any level, is the key to success.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 5:44 a.m. PST

My guess is Davout at Borodino, with 14.

Are you counting all five of Davout's divisions, or only the three that he actually commanded at the battle?

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 10:08 a.m. PST

This thread has become very interesting indeed.

Bechtel198- I'm counting all of them, but good point. One could use a separate corps worth of my kriegspiel blocks to start counting the detached brigades over again at 1, instead of continuing them in Davout's corps. It would just need to be reflected on the roster. But interesting point that even if a single corps commander had command over a very large corps, whether or not he was personally in command of an individual division or even a smaller detachment during a battle or a movement would be based on what he thought would be the most advantageous way to dispose of his troops. Or perhaps what the army CiC thought.

In other good news, my blocks passed the manual printing tests and are being printed. I have worked up a kriegspiel/model hybrid 2mm army for playing war-games on maps. Here's a sneak preview:

picture

So, this is all 3d printed, and taken from my pre-existing 2mm soldier line at Shapeways. Everything you need to put together a 2mm kriegspiel army like the one I did for Wagram the other day is on this sprue. You just need to cut everything off and you're ready to go. The final production model will include numbers on the cavalry bases so that they can be identified on the roster the same as the infantry. There is a second general on this sprue because, if you only want to play some smaller battles, you could use just this one sprue to recreate them. The supply wagons were an after thought, for those who want to show LOCs, rear areas, or maybe use them as some kind of supply markers. At this fine a scale there are no limbers, so none are included.

There will be two versions of this made; one with 15mm blocks, and one with 20mm blocks. I may make a 1" version if I get some requests, because there they can be used on military maps with the maps native ground scale. I'll also put out a version where the generals have "kepis" instead of bi-cornes, for doing later period wars.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 11:43 a.m. PST

The corps were not uniform in either strength or organization.

I never said anything about 'uniform strength or organization.'

I wrote: "Of course, the really varied size of French corps wasn't seen until 1809 and after. Austerlitz and the Jena and Elyau/Friedland campaigns saw very similar sized corps for all corps commanders."

These corps are far more 'similar': [No more than a 13,000 man difference between any two Corps]

I Corps (Bernadotte):14,667
II Corps (Marmont): 20,037
III Corps (Davout):25,161
IV Corps (Soult): 27,798
V Corps (Lannes): 25,689
VI Corps (Ney): 21,250
VII Corps (Augereau): 12,447
Cavalry Reserve (Murat): 20,950

…than the 1812 Army totals: [As much as 55,000 between Corps]


Imperial Guard 33,000 Bessières Duc d'Istrie
I Corps 72,000 Davout
II Corps 37,000 Oudinot
III Corps 40,000 Ney
X Corps 30,000 (Pr,Po,Bv,We) MacDonald

Reserve cavalry Murat,
I Reserve Cavalry Corps 11,000 Nansouty
II Reserve Cavalry Corps 10,000 Montbrun

IV Corps 46,000 Eugène de Beauharnais, P
VI Corps 25,000 (Bv) Saint-Cyr

III Reserve Cavalry Corps 10,000 Grouchy

V Corps 36,000 Poniatowski
VIII Corps 18,000 Jérôme Bonaparte,
IV Reserve Cavalry Corps 9000 Latour-Maubourg
VII Corps 17,000 Reynier

Austrian Corps 34,000 (Au) Prince Schwarzenberg

XI Corps 50,000 Augereau

Reserve in Germany (marched to Russia in late summer 1812)
IX Corps 34,000 Victor

Strategic considerations and troop composition probably had as much to do with the size of each corps as who was commanding it.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

forwardmarchstudios:

I am assuming that the 'pyramid' are the stands attached to a sprue on one side, correct? [meaning that they would have to be cut off.]

Probably a stupid question, but the "The block is a pyramid (you can't see the pyramid part because its on the other side), with one 14 brigade corps, one 13, one 12, one 11, one 10, one 9 . . . you get the point. All the way down to a 3 block corps" has me wondering. Each column on the 'pyramid' is a block, correct?

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 12:08 p.m. PST

Hi McLaddie,
Yes, every column is a block/unit. Each block is 15mm x 2mm x 2mm. Looking at the pyramid in the picture just above this post, the row of blocks nearest the foreground, going left to right, has 14 sequentially numbered blocks/units. The row above that has 13, then 12, etc. Each row of blocks is on a single sprue, and the sprues are attached at only two points; you cut the sprues apart, then cut the blocks off the sprue. They then get painted and have flags glued onto them. The cavalry units are cut off their sprues, and then cut in half in the middle. The idea is that, although they cost more than my plastic rod army that I used for my Wagram scenario, they're much faster to use and don't require minutely painting numbers on each piece. You just fill up the indented number with black ink, then dry brush the corps color over top of it, and that's it.

Here's what the calvary will look like with their numbers printed on them:

picture

Cavalry and infantry units will need to have two separate rosters, because it's just easier this way. I don't differentiate between artillery types right now; I might in the future, probably similar to how the cavalry look.

HappyHussar15 Aug 2017 8:36 p.m. PST

1809 – here were the Corps for the initial part of the campaign in Bavaria:

II Corps – Oudinot – a lot of reserve battalions – sometimes called "Oudinot's Grenadiers" but those of us that know of its composition compared to his division of 1805 know better. Two divisions plus Lt Cav Brigade and a heavy cav division attached

III Corps – Davout's Corps – three crack divisions with St. Hilaire's div. and Demont's Res. Div. attached. – One light cav and one heavy cav divs. attached

IV Corps – Massena – had 4 divsions to include Confed of the Rhine troops (Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt) and a Lt Cav division.

VII Corps – Lefebvre – three Bavarian divisions ea. had a cav brigade

VIII Corps – Vandamme – Wurttemberg division and Wurt cav Div

Lannes Provisional Corps – St. Hilaire and Gudin plus 2 divisions of heavy cavalry – this corps ran over the center of the Austrian army after the Battle of Abensberg

A tad more than THREE corps ;)

Eugene was fighting in N.Italy. Later on the Imp. Guard, IX Corps (2 Sax Divs, 1 Fr. Div and 1 Sax Cav Div) would join the main army and Eugene would march to Vienna to take part in the massive Battle of Wagram, the largest land battle in European history up til that time.

HappyHussar15 Aug 2017 8:37 p.m. PST

Updating my original reply: The Prussians used 1-3 (Three) treffe per brigade. Not 1-2 ….

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP15 Aug 2017 9:00 p.m. PST

I'm good tho; the block has 12 corps!

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

forwardmarchstudios:

Thanks for the explanation. The numbers on the blocks certainly will be a help.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2017 8:00 a.m. PST

Updating my original reply: The Prussians used 1-3 (Three) treffe per brigade. Not 1-2

That was the SOP, but I have seen Prussian brigades with only two lines, [Early on in 1813] usually when they are short Fusilier or LW battalions.

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