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"Austrian Battalion Size During French Revolutionary Wars?" Topic

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GrenadierAZ Inactive Member06 Apr 2018 7:29 a.m. PST

Does anyone have any information on Austrian battalion size during the French Revolutionary Wars or Early Napoleonics? I know at Austerlitz the Austrian battalions were quite large (50% larger than the French!), but ma not sure if this was true earlier. (I'm looking at a new Napoleonics army for Lasalle and love the Austrians but 48-man strong battalions could become tedious…). Thanks!

TMPWargamerabbit06 Apr 2018 12:43 p.m. PST

Don't have my research material on hand but to start the conversation the Austrian regimental size didn't change greatly during the FRW period with the noticeable difference in the number of battalions fielded. For my FRW period Austrians the German regiment generally fielded two battalions, the Hungarian regiments started with two then progressed to three battalions. The third battalion in many cases formed a form of depot for the regiment till summoned to war. All grenadier companies are detached and form converged semi-permantant battalions each campaign. Now, especially after the Austrian defeats in Italy, many of the German regiments formed their third battalion and marched to a different theater of war to their other two regimental battalions, commonly marched to the Italian campaign it seems.

Later into the early Imperial period… 1805-06 years, the battalions count greatly changed for the regiments…. four companies each battalion vs. six companies earlier hence the battalion structure became smaller. The regimental battalion count became four vs. three for the FRW period and the fifth battalion became the grenadiers (original grenadiers plus two more recently formed "young grenadiers" for the battalion). After the 1806 period the Austrians returned to their six company format and three regimental battalions, similar to the FRW period and ended the napoleonic period officially with that battalion count organization (except for the 1810-1812) when the army was reduced in size and many regiments reduced the battalion count to two to "save the royal treasury". Should note the landwehr battalions were matched the the regular regiments after 1813 onward as a form of 4th battalion.

There are many Austrian exceptions to all the above so not written in stone.

As for rough size compared to the French battalions. During the FRW the Austrians would be larger in general. Two thousand formed into two battalions would be common at start of campaign with the Hungarian regiments slightly larger in manpower. As the campaign progressed…. the battalion size would drop towards 800 per battalion. If a third battalion formed… add another thousand till they marched to war. The grenadiers are not included and increase the regiment total by another 240-300 men in general. Keep in mind the grenadiers replacement was hard during campaign as they formed their converged battalion at start of year and had no depot to draw from. For the Grenzer battalions, they tended to be even larger to the German Line regiments…. I remember 1400 men in a Grenzer battalion at the start of the 1809 campaign.

For the French the battalion size was a subject when formed…. new FRW battalions had larger complement size…. could be a thousand men and match the Austrians. Once on campaign, the French battalion size quickly dropped, replacements are rare, so the French battalion size becomes smaller to the Austrians…. 600-700 common, some even smaller towards 300-500 size if battles and raw campaigning (desertion) had time to "fiction" the battalion.
Once the FRW wars ended, Napoleon organized his infantry regiment / battalion to basically thousand man size and two battalions. These battalions went to war in 1805 to 1807, slowly growing smaller after the winter 1806-07 battles, if not almost wiped out (14th Ligne for example). Some regiments formed a third battalion during this period along with with additional reduced depot battalion back in France. Manpower replacements built the typical battalion back towards their full size near a thousand for 1808 in Germany. For Italian and other theaters the battalion size tended to be slightly smaller. In 1808 the French changed their battalion organization to six companies from the nine company format of earlier years (FRW to 1808). This reduced the typical French battalion to 700-800 manpower full strength and generally slightly smaller to 600-700 manpower range. French held this battalion size if replacements arrived on regular basis (outside Peninsular).

The number of battalions in a French regiment slowly increased… By 1812 many had five battalions….. four with a depot or five with their depot. Battalion size averaged about 600 men with some minor differences. Davout's 1812 Corps was of note larger then other corps.

By 1813 the French manpower caused Regimental strengths to vary greatly. Think three or four battalions…. maybe 600-700 at start but quickly reduced down to 400 per battalion as the war progressed. Near the end of 1813…. 250 men per battalion common. Into 1814 the small battalion size forced battalions merger.

Thats the short writing on the subject. You can spend hours on this subject. Look at battle organization and manpower for regiments. Quickly you will realize there is regimental differences and structure from official regulations.

von Winterfeldt06 Apr 2018 9:28 p.m. PST

I agree, pretty much the same as in the Napoleonic wars, field strength were of great vatistion and would drop the longer a campaign lasted, in the FRW an Austrian field battalion had 6 companies as well.

Chad4707 Apr 2018 1:28 a.m. PST

The FRW French battalions were 9 companies strong and also formed detached grenadier units. The ex-Royal regiments originally had a different organisation. Two battalions of 5 companies each with one company of grenadiers in one battalion and one company of Chasseurs in the 2nd. Do not know when their organisation changed to the 9 company format however.

von Winterfeldt07 Apr 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

In case I remember correctly in 1791

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member07 Apr 2018 3:37 a.m. PST

The only thing I would add to TMPW's answer is that when forming Grenadier Battalions, Hungarian regiments were usually lumped together.

GrenadierAZ Inactive Member07 Apr 2018 8:51 a.m. PST

Thank you, everyone! I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and paint 48-figure battalions. Gotta love the Habsburgs.

Stoppage07 Apr 2018 2:30 p.m. PST

One thing to consider is that the Austrian battalions actually operated as three grand-divisions each of two companies. Battalion gun sections would be placed between the two right-hand grand-divisions.

The grenadier battalions tended to be formed from the Grenadier grand-divisions from three different regiments.

If we pretend company strength of 150 then a grand-division would have a strength of 300 – which is another nations' half-battalion.

Just sayin'

HappyHussar07 Apr 2018 5:51 p.m. PST

wow – 48 figure bns. … takes me back to the days of Column, Line and Square back in the 1970s :)

HappyHussar07 Apr 2018 6:02 p.m. PST

Ok – a more learned answer from "moi" taken from the "OB Compendium" which I built for the computer wargame "Republican Bayonets on the Rhine" which released two weekends ago. This extract is from the 1796 Rhine Campaign OB and its for FML O.Wallis Right Division for the "Armee der Neider Rheins"

Hope this helps you get some idea of the sizes:

AG/RW (Brigade, 2 361 infantry)
GM Ulm (E C)
1/Wenkheim IR35 (Infantry, 791 men, C)
2/Wenkheim IR35 (Infantry, 782 men, C)
3/Wenkheim IR35 (Infantry, 788 men, C)

1/RW (Brigade, 4 925 infantry, 6 guns)
GM Vogelsang (E C)
1/Gemmingen IR21 (Infantry, 821 men, C)
2/Gemmingen IR21 (Infantry, 830 men, C)
3/Gemmingen IR21 (Infantry, 827 men, C)
1/Erbach IR42 (Infantry, 820 men, C)
2/Erbach IR42 (Infantry, 811 men, C)
3/Erbach IR42 (Infantry, 816 men, C)
Lt Brigade Bty (Artillery, 6 guns, B)

2/RW (Brigade, 2 483 infantry, 6 guns)
GM Kempf (E C)
1/Kerpen IR49 (Infantry, 821 men, C)
2/Kerpen IR49 (Infantry, 834 men, C)
3/Kerpen IR49 (Infantry, 828 men, C)
Brigade Bty (Artillery, 6 guns, B)

IR 21, 35, 42 are all "German" regiments

IR 49 was listed as "Hungarian" but might have been Northern Italian.

Here is another extract from the same army for 1796:

4/4K/AdNR (Brigade, 1 899 infantry)
GM Schottendorf (E C)
1/Sztaray IR33 (Infantry, 958 men, C)
2/Sztaray IR33 (Infantry, 941 men, C)

IR 33 obviously a Hungarian regiment

5/4K/AdNR (Brigade, 2 482 infantry, 8 guns)
GM Oranien (E C)
1/Kaiser IR1 (Infantry, 790 men, B)
1/S.Gyulai IR32 (Infantry, 848 men, C)
2/S.Gyulai IR32 (Infantry, 844 men, C)
Brigade Bty (Artillery, 8 guns, B)

6/4K/AdNR (Brigade, 3 055 infantry, 8 guns)
GM Staader (E C)
1/Clerfayt IR9 (Infantry, 747 men, D)
1/Württemburg IR38 (Infantry, 762 men, D)
1/Murray IR55 (Infantry, 791 men, D)
1/Beaulieu IR58 (Infantry, 755 men, D)
Brigade Bty (Artillery, 8 guns, B)

GrenadierAZ Inactive Member08 Apr 2018 11:45 a.m. PST

@HappyHussar, I base 8 models to a base for Lasalle, so a 6-base battalion is 28 figures… (plus skirmish stands!)

4th Cuirassier09 Apr 2018 2:04 a.m. PST

The advantage of depicting companies rather than abstract "bases" or "stands" is that the same figures on the same basing can depict either the pre- or post-1805 organisation.

So you'd have 18 centre companies and two grenadier companies. These form either three six-company battalions with the grenadiers converged with those of another regiment to make a four-company ad hoc grenadier unit; or, post Mack's reforms, they form four four-company battalions, plus a fifth battalion made up of the other two centre companies plus the two grenadier companies.

Either way, there are 20 companies per regiment.

AIUI, it is not clear that all the army had implemented Mack's reforms by the time of the 1805 campaign. So the troops at Ulm would probably have been in five-battalion regiments, whereas those in Moravia and Italy possibly / probably were not.

Brownand09 Apr 2018 4:33 a.m. PST

I have 24 Austrian figures in my FR battalions plus intend to add an battalion gun to it.
In 28mm that's big enough for me

Chad4711 Apr 2018 1:18 a.m. PST

Try Nafziger OOb ref 793ACV. This list the Imperial Army in 1793. For example it lists the total infantry strength and the number of battalions in all regiments. You could then work out an average strength. Same information is shown for light infantry and cavalry.

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