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"[1805] More on Rsv Gren Dvn- Planning/ Deployment Enigma" Topic


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Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2020 4:57 p.m. PST

From several earlier threads we've covered the development of the French 'army' that is colloquially referenced in English as "Camp du Boulogne", whereas it was actually a broad based, multiple corps sized structure spread over a long stretch of her Northern (and occupied) seaboard coast and ports.


>> refer: TMP link

I cited the anomaly that arose from multiple [original and secondary] sources of information regarding one specific concern.

My quandry for clarity:

*4 – "Barring one exception- none of these regiments lost their 'elites'." That one belonged to a regiment stationed in "Belgium" or Helder I think (to late to look up). This 'extended' frontier of France was under the military command of the very ablest Marshal- Davout and thus we find the active 'regiment' split among two corps.

His 15th Legere, in Friants Division, was the only regiment 'within' the Grande Armée whose manpower had been 'touched' for inclusion in the Reserve Grenadiers. This produces something of a quandry to analyse as toward the end of the campaign, this little unit was a vital cog in the very major action on the right flank of the Battle of Austerlitz.
I plan to expand on this with another post soon..

Research!
So_ on the day the support and replacement Davout gave to Soults troops along the line of the Goldbach villages being held by Legrands troops (though not in person), not to mention high quality local command and management of the situation over the day, was superb and necessary for the victory at Austerlitz.

The immediate arrival of his ad-hoc avant-garde-a part of his Second Division- merely one infantry regiment (108e deLigne/ 2 bons); two very low strength light companies (15e Legere- called Voltigeurs in various documents); and the 1er Dragons, forced marched from Raigern about 10kms away since 0500 or so after a brief sleep of a few hours to rest.

Arriving at the battle site of Austerlitz around 8:00am, the GBD Heudelet 'avant-garde' of the Third Corps (Davout- who followed not far behind), this command after a sweaty jog I imagine:-

108e de Ligne- 1er et 2eme bons
15e Legere- 2 companies – only 64 men total (*) called Voltigeurs.
Attached- 1er Dragons (Col..)

The most obvious question arises- how could the two 15e Legere companies be Voltigeurs? The regiment was unique in one way- it was the only regiment active in the Grande Armée whose actual manpower had been taken for the elite ‘United Grenadier Division' first formed under Junot since Jan 1803. Subsequently and officially entitled the ‘Grenadier de Reserve' Division, colloquially known then and now named for the commander GDV ‘Oudinot Grenadiers'.

The manpower was designated, by Napoleon (refer to his known copious correspondence) to be the carabinier/ grenadier and another company (voltigeurs or chasseur) from each of the 3 battalions of units formerly known (until mid 1803) as Demi-Brigades. Each of these 6, same regiment companies formed an homogenous ‘elite' battalion by which they were commonly known and addressed by N. in his correspondence. He even admonished subordinates that had used alternative labels, stating that they were to be fully recognised as belonging to their parent regiments.

The balance of the 15e Legere regiments' two bons were still marching up from Vienna, there were 12 companies in total according to one OB source. The calculation is therefore very basic arithmetic.

At 9 companies per bon, this gave 18 companies in the field, less the ‘elites' detached to the Reserve Grenadier Division (Oudinot). which was 6 companies, 3 carabinier and 3 chasseurs/ voltigeurs. Because however only two battalions were ‘in the field' this meant that the main regiment should have fielded 14 companies, not 12. Perhaps there was a simple error in the count of the OB cited (*2 *3).

Or had there been an ‘off field' rearrangement take place of some companies or personnel of the regiment between the two substantive ‘corps'? Had the ‘voltigeurs' been returned to the III Corps and regiment prior to the arrival at and advance from Vienna?

I have the Situation for the United/ Grenadiers of the Reserve 1805 both pre and post battle.

There is no detailled information about the 15e Legere, however kindly Frédéric Berjaud has its 'partner' regiment well documented, so we must rely upon the corrollary effect for some info at link section 2- II/ LA CAMPAGNE DU BATAILLON D'ELITE A LA DIVISION OUDINOT, 1804-1806.

Now I admit that I'd hung on too dear hope (and trust) that all the corps involved in THIS Reserve Grenadier Division were in fact elite companies of their regiments, or at worst became elite companies when the regimental manpower that was despatched initially included 'chasseurs' (no fusliers are ever cited).

While every 'red' company was elite, we can't actually prove it for the 'yellow' company. This anomaly doesn't help!

Any suggestions/ alterntaives or proof?
regards
davew *milk*

- *2-Duffy
- *3-Goetz

MarbotsChasseurs21 Nov 2020 6:05 p.m. PST

Dave,

You are correct about the 15e Legere being called voltigeurs. Letters from Marshal Davout in Napoleon's Finest, constantly refer to them as the companies of voltigeurs. He says in a letter dated 6 December 1805, " The 1st, comprised of the 108th Regiment of the Line and the companies of voltigeurs of 15e Legere… The 2nd comprised of the 15th Legere Infantry [less the companies of voltigeurs] and 33rd Line."

All I can add is from Frédéric Berjaud website on Chef de batallion Louis Etienne Dulong de Rosnay

Le 2 décembre, à Austerlitz, c'est Dulong lui-même qui commande le 15e léger, le colonel étant absent et le major Geither ayant été blessé dès le commencement de l'action. La division Friant combat dans le village de Sokolnitz, à la droite du dispositif français. Le régiment composé d'une majorité de jeunes soldats recule devant la poussée russe, mais Dulong parvient à les reprendre et même à contre-attaquer. A l'issue de la bataille, Davout félicite Dulong, démarche exceptionnelle de la part du maréchal.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2020 10:55 p.m. PST

Yes err, thanks, I cited that site above.
So there's no alternatives then- Davout said I want my men back, and he got them?
Tant pis!
d

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