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"Grenadiers: how many grenades? " Topic


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454 hits since 13 Aug 2017
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42flanker13 Aug 2017 2:11 a.m. PST

"When grenadiers were grenadiers"- as someone recently wrote on another thread, how many grenades were carried for ready use in the grenadier's pouch? Did size and weight produce a fairly standard load across the armies?

Personal logo ioannis Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 6:02 a.m. PST

I think it was either 3 or 6, not more…

cavcrazy13 Aug 2017 8:31 a.m. PST

By the time of the American revolution, grenadiers didn't actually carry grenades.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2017 1:01 p.m. PST

Few if any did by SYW. It's also unclear if any did by WSS or if they only got them supplied before a seige assault.

42flanker13 Aug 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

Well, indeed. I hoped it was apparent that my question related to the time when grenadiers did carry hand grenades. The question would have little point otherwise.

Common sense suggests that soldiers would only carry grenades into the trenches when they were about to assault. Prior to that the casings would surely be stored safely, perhaps uncharged and certainly with fuses separate.

ioannis, yes, that would have been my guess, too, but my knowledge of the late C17th and early 18th is sketchy and I was hoping for definite information.

Supercilius Maximus14 Aug 2017 2:13 a.m. PST

Given how large and heavy they were, and the size of the pouches issued to grenadiers in which to carry them, I would say Ioannis has pretty much nailed it. Whilst the satchel was carried as one of the marks of a grenadier, it is hard to discover if grenades were always present in them. One would have thought not, certainly by the WSS period.

Whilst there is the famous "Grenadiers exercise of the grenade" (by Bernard Lens III) illustrated drill book published in 1735, it is difficult to find any reference to hand-thrown grenades (in land warfare) post-WSS, and then only in sieges. The simple ratio of kill range to how far a man could throw one, pretty much negated their use in open warfare prior to the 20th Century. The match case worn on the chest section of the cartridge box belt was a remnant of their original function, but even this was discarded (albeit unofficially) by the AWI, then officially from 1784/85.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP14 Aug 2017 3:03 a.m. PST

Common sense suggests that soldiers would only carry grenades into the trenches when they were about to assault. Prior to that the casings would surely be stored safely, perhaps uncharged and certainly with fuses separate.

Actually during the 17th century grenadiers were supposed to use grenades in open battle. Throwing the grenades into the enemy before the battalion charged home.

Found to be very ineffective. It was stopped.

42flanker14 Aug 2017 7:12 a.m. PST

I believe Marshall Montecuccoli was the first to introduce grenadier units into a western army, in the 1660s For some time the wars between the Hapsburgs and Ottomans had consisted principlally of siege and counter-siege as they vied for advantage along the fortifed Danube frontier. There were few general engagements in the field. The Ottomans employed specialist units of the siege artillery- humbarici - to supply grenades of iron and glass. It seems these were then used by Janissary troops in assaults. Grenades were still being deployed in substantial numbers by both sides for siege warfare, as at the siege of Buda in 1686.

Grenadier units as they first appeared in western armies were often outfitted in a mix Hungarian and Ottoman styles, as Evelyn observed in 1678 when watching grenadiers of the Foot Guards exercising on Hounslow Heath:

"Now were brought into service a new sort of soldier called Grenadiers, who were dexterous in flinging hand grenadoes, every one having a pouch full; they had furred caps with coped crowns like Janizaries, which made them look very fierce, and some had long hoods hanging down behind, as we picture fools."

As Supercilius Maximus has pointed out, use of early hand grenades in the open field posed as much risk to friendly troops as to the enemy. Lobbing them into enemy trenches or into breaches offered a degree of protection from one's own device. Even so, to adapt the saying, "Once the fuze is lit Mr Grenade is not our friend."

Stoppage14 Aug 2017 1:28 p.m. PST

What a great idea – using grenadiers in mitre-caps as janissaries

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