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PRUSSIA

Background

The Infantry

The Cavalry

The Artillery

Arms & Equipment

Flags & Standards

Bibliography & Sources

Organisation and Tactics

Prussian Reform & Organisation (Cont'd)

It was this army, as outlined above, that was present at the Battle of Leipzig and in the 1814 campaign i nFrance. After the expulsion of the French from Germany, two new recruiting areas were opened to the Prussians, the area between the Elbe and the Weser, No. 5; and between the Weser and the Rhine, No. 6. Although these new areas initially yielded 13,000 recruits, they were not ready for service before March 1814 and, of a total of 22,000 men eventually produced, only a small number were used in siege operations.

With the peace in April 1814, the task of demobilizing the prussian Army fell upon Hermann von Boyen who, in September 1813, had given his name to the conscription laws that were to become one of the keystones of the Prussian Army. These laws rationalized the 'Krumper' system and under them each Prussian was required to serve for three years with the regular army, for two years with the reserve and for fourteen years with the Landwehr. During the two latter periods of service, a soldier was only was only required to report for annual training and to hold himself available to the army in the event of mobilization, which occured for the second time in just over two years when Napoleon returned from Elba.

The army of 1815 was, essentially, that of 1814, or the post-armistice period of 1813. There had been a certain number of changes but none of them were of a fundamental nature. A few new units had been created, the old independent Grenadier battalions, for instance, were grouped together and redesignated Guard Grenadier Regiments 1 and 2. In March 1815 the Reserve regiments, the Freikorps and National Cavalry, etc., were numbered into the line sequence, but this meant little more than a change in designation.

In 1815, the Prussian Armay contained 279 Battalions, 280 Squadrons, 78 Batteries, 33 Fortress Artillery Companies, 37 Park columns, 17 pioneer companies and a Landwehr Pioneer battalion.

The army of 117,000 men which assembled in Belgium under Blucher consisted of four Army Corps. The basic organisation remained unchanged apart from the fact that Landwehr Regiments were reduced to three battalions.

The story of Ligny and Waterloo has been told too many times for any recapitulation here to be of value. Suffice it to say that the Prussians played an important part in the campaign and their spirit was, perhaps, best illustrated by Bluchers relentless drive to keep his rendezvous with Wellington on the field of Waterloo. The arrival of the Prussians andoubtedly tipped the scales in the Allies' favour and, it could be said, effectively ended the Napoleonic Wars.

Prussian Manoever Regulations of 1812

The old Prussian Army of Frederick the Great had evolved a system of tactics and manoeuvres which relied almost exclusively upon linear formations and which, consequently, required an army of well-trained regulars to execute. It was recognized that the system was ineffective in the face of Napoleonic warfare and accordingly a sub-comission, under the direct control of Scharnhorst and with Clausewitz in its ranks, was set up to study the problem.

The rersultant new set of Manoeuvre Regulations were published in January 1812 and subsequently provided the direction under which the Prussian Armies of 1813-15 were trained and fought.

In essence, the Prussians adopted a modified French system that made use of both the column and the line. It seems more than likely, in fact, that the French Infantry manoeuvre Regulations of 1791 and the Napoleonic inspired Westphalian regulations were the main working documents of the Prussian reformers.

Infantry manoeuvres were accomplished at an ordinary step of 75 paces to the minute or by a quick step of 108 paces. An all-out charge could only be ordered when attacking troops that were 12 paces from their enemy. All infantry steps were regulated by the beat of a drum.

The diagrams following, illustrate some of the column and line formations adopted by the army. As a generalization, the column was used when manoeuvres had to be conducted at speed and the line was a formation which allowed a maximum number of muskets to be fired when in a defensive posture.