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"Grenadiers/Senior Regiments on the Right?" Topic

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GrenadierAZ Inactive Member24 Apr 2018 7:39 a.m. PST

So we all know that grenadier companies formed up on the right flank of a battalion in line, and that in some armies the senior regiments were deployed on the right flank in descending order (i.e., the British). My question is: was this right or stage right? Put differently, if looking at the front of the battle line, would the grenadiers/senior regiments be on the left or right?

Silly question, I know. But I can't find the answer…

JimDuncanUK24 Apr 2018 7:44 a.m. PST

Right of the line facing forward.

Senior regiment in this position.

Left of the line facing forward.

Second senior regiment in this position.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 8:06 a.m. PST

As Jim says indeed..

But not a silly question at all. Get this wrong and it does look bad, as so easily checked.

Much we do still get much else wrong eg we want to show how cleverly painted are our drummers, or the conversion work to create a pioneer. So we stick them in front (I do), in the middle, for all to see. When they should be in a third and fourth rank to the rear.

Grenadiers to the right as the regt faces forward. Light co the left (remember no drummer, a bugler). Wings on shoulders and white or green cap ornaments respectively. Officers carry curved swords for Light Co and their NCOs do not use the pike. Officers Light Co may have the corded sash too, but that is getting a bit picky.

Colours in the front rank, centre. King's colour to the right (the one that looks like the GB national flag of today) regt flag to the left (the one in facing colours usually with a little "Union Jack" in the upper front canton. Unless Guards of course!

All you then have to do is put the spongeman/rammer to the right (same principle) of any gun of any nation. Now the lad with the thing that fires the damn thing….ah……tricky

GrenadierAZ Inactive Member24 Apr 2018 8:07 a.m. PST

So a general observing his troops from the rear would see the grenadiers and senior regiments on his right?

Artilleryman24 Apr 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

Well spotted Jim. Unlike the continental armies the British alternated the positions of the senior regiments so that the most junior ended up in the middle e.g. for Campbell's Brigade in 1812:


77th Foot 94th Foot 83rd Foot 5th Foot

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 8:10 a.m. PST

If it was not too smoky….yep. He would see grenadiers on his right

Right of the line is the position of honour, hence the King's colour there too (even in the Guards, snag was it did not look like the current national flag).

Artilleryman's point is well made. I was only talking about Regt company positioning and British at that. Famously, DoW mixed and matched whatever was available to him. Parade positioning was different to how regts would be arranged on a battlefield.

historygamer24 Apr 2018 9:03 a.m. PST

Actually, if the grenadiers were not detached to form a converged battalion, British grenadiers often split into two groups and covered both flanks of the battalion.

Le Breton Inactive Member24 Apr 2018 11:17 a.m. PST

Grenadiers, when deployed with center comapnies, were on the right when the unit was formed on the right.
Nothing prevented a commander from forming on the left – in which case grenadiers were on the left.

A French attack column or Russian column on the center would have the grendiers in the rear, to the right
The same column formed inversely (possible, not too typical) would have the grendiers on the front left

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 11:40 a.m. PST

At least for the British, the placement of the senior regiment was reversed if the brigade was on the left of the line. So Artilleryman's example would change to:

5 83 94 77

They must have had officers whose only job was to keep track of these things.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Apr 2018 1:48 p.m. PST

Seniority was increasingly more observed in the breach during the AWI, where many units – especially the flank battalions – would form up as they arrived, without regard to seniority. I'm pretty sure Spring refers to this at various points in his book.

Viper guy Supporting Member of TMP24 Apr 2018 3:22 p.m. PST

The easiest way to remember formation right or stage right is to understand the reason for the right being the position of honor. It comes from phalangeal warfare, or at least according to Victor David Hanson in his book "The Western Way of War". The right flank was the exposed flank because shield were carried on the left arm. So the biggest and strongest were placed on the right side of the formation. Or so the story goes.

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Apr 2018 2:28 a.m. PST

I thought they just put all the left-handers there.

Prince of Essling25 Apr 2018 4:29 a.m. PST

Rory Muir's, Robert Burhnham's, Howie Muir's & Ron McGuigan's book "Inside wellington's Penisular Army 1808-1814" in particular Chapter 4 "Order of Battle: Customary Battle-Array in Wellington's Peninsular Army" written by Howie Muir discusses exactly this, pages 84 to 171! He discusses the order of precedence, drawing out General Orders which show the order of battle, order of precedence within the army (including when multiple armies were present (e.g Albuera where the Spaniards were on the right as that was the post of honour as they were on home soil), with plenty of schematics to display actual deployments for various battle & marches.

Battles/marches covered are Rolica, Vimiero, Coruna, march to Oporto, prepartion to march into Spain 18 June 1809, discussion of Talavera and the approach marches, Albuera, St Pierre and Toulouse.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP25 Apr 2018 4:56 a.m. PST

Well of course, absolute Right of the Line goes to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. For the Army, it should be Household Cavalry and is, unless RHA turn up with their guns in tow to spoil things.

Does not US Artillery take the right of the line across the Pond? Seem to have read it somewhere.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member25 Apr 2018 9:11 p.m. PST

In the case of the U.S. Army, the Artillery Branch can legitimately claim seniority in the Regular Army because, at one point, a single regiment of artillery constituted the entire United States Army. Besides that, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston is the oldest surviving military unit in the country, still forming a component of the Massachusetts National Guard.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2018 1:59 p.m. PST

When I was in the 1st (US) Cavalry Division (armored) at Fort Hood, our division parades always had the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry (division cavalry squadron) on the far right. Which is only right and proper as we were the only real cavalry unit in the whole division, the rest being armored and infantry battalions using cavalry regiment nomenclatures. grin


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