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"Prussian Fusiliers and Musketeers" Topic

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03 Jan 2018 12:11 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Prussian Fusiliers and Musketeets" to "Prussian Fusiliers and Musketeers"

1,182 hits since 2 Jan 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2018 7:09 p.m. PST

I was told Prussian Fusiliers were not as well trained as Prussian Musketeers. However, from my reading I don't see a real difference in training or quality. As the war progressed all infantry in general deteriorated in quality. Is this correct?

Glengarry502 Jan 2018 9:10 p.m. PST

If I remember correctly it was that the Fusiliers were considered to be "bad stock", that is non-Prussian and less devoted to getting themselves killed for the greater glory of Freddie two. As far as I know the training was the same but there might've been less time for it, as you say the troop quality deteriorated as the war went on.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2018 9:24 p.m. PST

If the Prussians were breast fed on "musketeets", that could explain their militarism. Sorry, couldn't help myself.

As I recall, the fusiliers consisted predominantly of troops from Silesia, which was only acquired by Prussia in the WAS, hence Glengarry5's point about them being "non-Prussian".

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Jan 2018 11:06 p.m. PST

The quality of all Prussian regiments tended to be influenced by the location of their canton and recruiting territory. Frederick considered Brandenburgers and Pomeranians as his best troops, be they musketeers or Fusiliers.

He had a low opinion of East Prussian regiments and those from Westphalia were exceptionally poor. The Silesian regiments were of mixed quality.

My informal rule of thumb is that regiments numbered 40 or less in seniority were good and those numbered 41 and above were of poor quality.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2018 12:53 a.m. PST

Did you just dis Sers Fusiliers?
How dare you! They are Orange, orange is always good!
So is pink and purple!

atommmm03 Jan 2018 2:31 a.m. PST

after the 1809 reform: that was set up in 1812/13 the fusiliers has 2 gear differences with mousquetaires:
a knife in the top of the musket to easily cut the cartridge .the other troops has to keep on snatching it with their teeth. (powder in the mouth is not good ;)
they had a second cartridge bag in the belly.

they were considered elite for organisation reasons too.
only 1 fusilier for 5 to 8 others battalions on a brigade.
(more or less: 1-2 landwer, 1-2 reserve, 3-5 mousquetaires, 1 fusilier)

marmont1814 Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Jan 2018 3:01 a.m. PST

The fusiliers like all Frederick's regiments with its conscription/bought/enforced soldiers always had a dubious side. Some of the Fusilier regiments where very heroic ready Duffy's books, the main difference I can see is that they where armed with a Fusil a smaller musket and I think this didn't provide the firepower against Frederick's enemies and thus let to high casualties and sometimes a less than heroic performance

atommmm03 Jan 2018 4:19 a.m. PST

i'm sorry, i realise that i was talking about napoleonic and not Frederic army.

DHautpol03 Jan 2018 4:39 a.m. PST

"…those from Westphalia were exceptionally poor."

I remember reading in the distant past where the Westphalians were dismissed by Frederick as "beer swilling Rhinelanders", which would support DAF's comment.

I've never been able to locate the reference again.

marmont1814 Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Jan 2018 4:51 a.m. PST

Napoleonic Fusiliers consisted of 1 in 3 regular battalions, and from my reading of 1814/1814 although they where capable of being the skirmishers for the regiment where excellent shock troops as well, I would consider them due to there dual capability( trained ) as a class above the ordinary line in the ability to change formation and like all light troops poses a certain elan, but otherwise just the same quality for morale as the musketeer battalions

olicana03 Jan 2018 5:13 a.m. PST

My informal rule of thumb is that regiments numbered 40 or less in seniority were good and those numbered 41 and above were of poor quality.

I'd go along with that, adding that, as another rule of thumb, I give the fusiliers of newer regiments the same wargame ability of Austrians of a same vintage – they were genearrly pretty samey.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

My post doesn't make sense now that the editor has fixed the title of the thread.

TMPWargamerabbit03 Jan 2018 9:34 a.m. PST

Regarding the SYW period. If I remember, the majority of the new "Fusilier Regiments" in the Prussian army (SYW) came from the former Saxon army upon its surrender after Lobositz battle. Frederick created whole Prussian Fusilier regiments from the former Saxon musketeer regiments. The Saxon Gd du Korps joined the Prussian regiment of same name and the rest of the Saxons spread about the Prussian army.

Check out the Project SYW site on the Saxon surrender towards the bottom. The former Saxon to new Prussian regiments are listed in a table.


Regarding the 1790-1807 period and the later 1808-1815 period, the musketeer becomes Line and the fusiliers added to each line regiment as the third battalion in general. In the earlier period the raising of the fusilier battalion basically was the same as the established musketeer regiments. The quality of the recruits the same as the musketeer regiment. The musketeer regiment drilled to a more uniformed standard (for the Prussian army of the times… but the regiment colonel still had a great influence on the drill). For the Fusilier battalions, they were new to the army, their trade, their drill, and even their uniform. Several battalions had excellent officers, several trained in skirmisher warfare from the AWI period. Their combative actions during the 1793-95 period are noted in history as generally good against the French. Other battalions were a bit more indifferent in their training. Even the "elite Jager Korps" had major drill / training problems due to their commander till by royal decree the commander was "retired" and von Yorck placed in command. Post 1807 era, the merging of the former battalions into the new Prussian army organization made a more uniformed and drilled army across all the former musketeer and fusilier battalions, and created the modern Prussian army for 1813-15 period, which marched against Napoleon to win with their allies the final napoleonic battles.

seneffe03 Jan 2018 4:07 p.m. PST

Here's my two'pence worth.
I think DAF's suggested break around IR40 (or maybe a zone from high 30s to low 40s) is a pretty good rule of thumb- not applicable in all cases everywhere, but then no good rule of thumb is!

My question is what are the main capability differences that separate them from the more senior regiments? Leaving the very ephemeral ex-Saxon units out of this, most Fusilier regiments had decent officer and NCO cadres (those brought in from foreign service by purchase/agreement eg Holstein and Wurttemberg sometimes had officers of 'old' Prussian regiments drafted in). So I'd say by the beginning of the SYW, most of the Fusiliers were probably as well drilled as the old Musketeer Regiments and able to manouevre rapidly and exactly alongside them on the battlefield.
The main difference I would say would be the younger Fusiliers' ability to withstand extreme negative circumstances in real combat eg flank attacks, close range firefights, gales of Austrian canister, sudden onsets of vengeful Saxon cavalry etc. I'd say that in these circumstances, the old regiments (especially those who had fought in the WAS) would TEND to be steadier, but as always there were exceptions…..

von Winterfeldt06 Jan 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

Look what units were in the first line of battle.

summerfield16 Jan 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

Having written now three books on the Prussian 7YW Infantry and now on my fourth.



The training was no different. Fusiliers had shorter muskets and were suposedly shorter. The quality of the regiment according to Frederick was more to do with where they were raised and whether the Chef was his favourite.

It is sensible to look at whether they were placed in the first or second line. Attrition paid a great toll over the army. So the differences were greater in 1756-57 than later when the ranks were filled with whoever could be "persuaded" into the regiments.

Of course the former Saxon regiments should be excluded from this discussion.

Currently attempting to write upon the Prussian Freikorps and Frei-Bns. This is enlightening as they go from being as reliable as the line regiments (Frei-Bn 1-4) and Freikorps Kleist who were private mercenary units. The worst being the Frei-Ulans raised for two months in Poland.

Osterreicher16 Jan 2018 2:28 p.m. PST

I would be interested in knowing if Herr von Winterfeldt and Dr. Summerfield agreed with Duffy's assessment (in an old version of "The Army of Frederick the Great) that the many of the Prussian regiments got more cohesive later in the Seven Years War because of the Kanton system, and thus a higher number of natives vs non-Prussians. I'm thinking this might apply to those Kantons in Pommern, Mark, rather than Ost Preussen and parts of Schlesien, like IR 13, 18, 19, 26, etc. (those consistently in the first line of battle). For example, at Leuthen, IR 26 von Meyerinck and 1 battalion IR 13 von Itzenplitz lead the way.

von Winterfeldt18 Jan 2018 3:00 a.m. PST

I don't want to speculate at this, Frederic the Great must have known the quality of his units best.
Overall – again my view the quality of the Prussian army declined the longer the war was.

summerfield19 Jan 2018 7:28 a.m. PST

Yes the quality of the Prussian Army declined as the war progressed especially with the reluctance to exchange prisoners. The officer corps soon became depleted.

The Kanton system gave a good reservoir for replacements as long as the territory was in the control of the Prussians. Large parts of East Prussia and the whole of Westphalia were occupied.

The quality of the East Prussian Regiments were tainted for political reason rather than actual in Frederick's eyes. Many of the landowners and Burgers had colloborated in his eyes with the Russians.

Silesia is a more difficult being that it was only from 1740 that it had become Prussian. You would need to study the units records. Both my books took a provincial grouping and this would assist in the interpretation. Again Frederick was biased by his recollections of the 1740s. Also you would need to look at the Chef and the officers employed. Those of less favour became Chef of the Fusilier Regiments which made up the majority of the regiments in the new territories.

Duffy's assessment is limited to what Frederick considered and commented upon. It was not his own assessment as far I recall.

You also have the other aspect is that you would have to be a tall man to operate with ease full length musket of the 1740 pattern. This was 4 inches longer than the Fusilier Musket. You would need to be over 5'8" and use to manual labour. These are long and heavy muskets. I struggle with a Brown Bess (East India Land Pattern) that is the length of the Prussian Fusilier Musket.

People from the towns were normally short and suffered from malnutrition. Those of Pomerania and the Mark were from agricultural labourers in the main. Frederick had a low opinion of soldiers from Berlin and the Silesian Towns as a consequence.

Certainly it is an interesting question. It cannot be resolved from this distance in time.

18CTEXAN19 Jan 2018 2:45 p.m. PST

Thank you, Dr Summerfield for your posting! Excellent info. I have read your SYW books so many times…I have entire sections memorized. LOL!
Cheers from Texas!

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