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"Grand Duchy of Warsaw Light infantry" Topic

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610 hits since 12 Oct 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 9:09 a.m. PST

The Poles were among the best troops fighting for Napoleon. Perhaps part of the reason was because of their belief that he supported Polish nationalism. But why, given a) high quality troops and b) a cause to fight for were there no separate light infantry units? They existed in armies to the west in abundance and whatever you might think of Russian Jaegers, to the East in great numbers. But why not in the GDW army? After all they had voltigeur companies in their line battalions, and as far as I know they were effective.

As an admirer of the Poles in this period (and earlier) this has perplexed me.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 11:10 a.m. PST

There were several planned for 1813. 1 might hve been ready for 1812.
I have this to paint soon. Will do in green. Not even very sure of the uniform. A bit like the phantomatic guard Polish grenadier of 1813.
If more shapska boys are left, might even do another for the what if 1813 second half of the Russian clpaign. ( the Ogre stopped to eat more little babies in Vilna) or somewhere unburnt on the way East.

Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 11:45 a.m. PST

Jcfrog that is fascinating. I knew about the planned guard grenadiers but not the lights. Were they scheduled to wear the czapka? Would you be able to let me know the sources for their planning?
Great post just what I was hoping for.

marshalGreg12 Oct 2018 12:56 p.m. PST

It was one of the regiments (10 , 11 or 12??CNR) was designated to become a light infantry unit ( as far as supplied with the Legere blue paints). It was cancelled.
With the quality of their Line infantry, most rules systems should have them operating much the same as the Elite early French line of the 1806-1809 period, especially as to those of the regiments of Davout's Corp.These units could skirmish and were no-different to the legere, except in uniform.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP12 Oct 2018 1:47 p.m. PST

Took the thing from Empire press book on Poles and Saxons.
I thought green as those neighbouring Germans. Planned recruitment be foresters.
As for good skirmishers. Poles were feudals, not very different in society to the Rusdian, many just been Russians or Austrians , places not proponents of initiative.
Would need sources of guys fighting them. Russians maybe.
Where is our eastern Lebreton?

Prince of Essling13 Oct 2018 7:28 a.m. PST

According to a Russian website the light infantry were Lithuanian. Originally planned as 6 independent battalions, then as 2 regiments of 3 battalions. However recruitment was slow, so only 1 regiment of 2 battalions formed. A seperate battalion was formed in Vilna and had a separate existence.

Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2018 12:32 p.m. PST

Hello Prince of Essling. I had heard of Lithuanian Chasseurs but only on the Napolun website under the heading of the Polish Army, but had forgotten about them until your post. The entry confirms your Russian source:

"Lithuanian Chasseurs
They were formed from outdoorsmen, foresters,
and men who had an experience with hunting weapons, rifles.

In 1806-1807 each of the three legions (divisions) had a single company of strzelców pieszych (chasseurs-a-pied, light infantry). These companies were formed into a 400-men battalion of strzelcy. In March 1807 this unit was converged into line infantry and absorbed into the 11th Infantry Regiment. The chasseurs were armed with muskets and rifled carbines.

In August 1812 it was decided that new six battalions of strzelcy would be raised in the liberated Lithuania. They were formed from outdoorsmen, foresters, and men who had an experience with hunting weapons, rifles and muskets. All were volunteers, no recruits were accepted. They were issued Austrian muskets with rifled barrels (1807 Model), rifled carbines and muskets. These sharpshooters were then organized into two regiments of 3 battalions each. But the amount of volunteers was disappointingly low (624 men) and only one regiment of 2 battalions was raised. It was the Pulk Strzelców Litewskich (Lithuanian Chasseur Regiment) This unit was mauled by the Russians at Kojdanow, Beresina River and at Vilna. But the survivors, in contrast to other units, stayed in the ranks and retreated across Poland into Germany.

There were no regiments of legere infanterie, so some historians are correct. If necessary individual companies of voltigeurs were taken from infantry battalions and formed in larger units. For example in 1812 at Smolensk Prince Poniatowski directed two battalions of converged voltigeurs into the suburbs defended by Russian infantry. These voltigeurs fought in skirmish order. If voltigeurs were not enough, the line infantry was capable of fighting as sharpshooters and tirailleurs. For example at Borodino the Polish 16th Division fought in the wooded area near Utica having 2/3 of its strength fully in skirmish order."

I had not heard of the apparent skirmish capacity of Polish Line units as asserted in that entry, but many armies apparently did this, blurring the distinction between line and light.

Lets party with Cossacks Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2018 12:52 p.m. PST

There is also an old article (1984) written by Henry Gaidis which I have seen reproduced (sometimes without acknowledgment) about the Lithuanian forces which mentions the Lithuanian Chasseurs:


In that article the following appears:

"The Provisional Government of Lithuania hoping to incur the favor of Napoleon also decreed the formation of additional auxilliary military units. In August, 1812, the government sought to create six battalions of Chasseurs a Pied (Foot Rifleman) with each battalion being composed of six companies of 130 men. The following officers were designated commanders of their respective battalions; 1st Battalion — Colonel Joseph Kossakowski, 2nd Battalion — Major Ignacy Rokicki, 3rd Battalion — Major Kazimierz Plater, 4th Battalion — Lieutenant-Colonel Andrzej Kurc-zewski, 5th Battalion — Major Franciszek Obuchowicz, and the 6th Battalion — Major Pawel Loskowski. The battalions were to be formed from the gamekeepers and forest rangers within the particular property or area from which recruited and assigned. The mission of the Chasseurs a Pied was to act as scouts for the region, to abridge Cossack raids, apprehend vagabonds and deserters, and maintain general order. The units were to be composed of volunteers, but if the recruitment was slow the government authorized the enrollment of commoners with the foresters to be armed and dressed at the expense of the local landowners. These battalions were expected to be formed by September, 1812, with the rest of the regular units.25

In November, 1812, the Privisional Government further resolved to create two regiments of Light Infantry composed of three battalions each in the French pattern, but their formation was only partially successful. One formed company was consolidated into Kossakowski's Foot Riflemen Regiment. The principle source of recruitment for the Foot Riflemen Regiments were from the great Radziwill estates in the Department of Minsk. The Plater 3rd Foot Riflemen Regiment was recruited from the large estates in the Department of Vilnius. All soldiers enlisting in the Foot Riflemen Regiments agreed to serve for the duration of the war. Unfortunately due to the lack of manpower and equipment the 4th Battalion was only partially formed as were the other two remaining battalions."

The source for the Lithuanian Chasseurs is given in a footnote as 10 Bronius Dundulis, Napoleon et la Lituanie en 1812, Alcan, Paris, 1940, pp. 300-301. I guess that would be the next step in this little journey.

Keen now to paint up some Lithuanian Chasseurs. Does anyone have any information about their uniform? Should possibly start a new thread…

Cheers LPWC

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