Sunday, February 22, 2015

Prussian Napoleonic Grenadiers, 1808 - 1814: Part 1

    In the aftermath of the debacle of 1806 and the subsequent treaty of Tilsit, the territory of the Kingdom of Prussia was cut in half, and its army was even more drastically reduced. From a starting strength off 55 Regiments in 1806, there were to be but 12 Infantry Regiments (including the Garde Regiment zu Fuss, originally numbered as #8). The final composition of these regiments was set on December 1, 1808. Each regiment was to have 2 battalions of Musketeers and one of Fusiliers, each of four companies, plus 2 companies of Grenadiers, which were brigaded separately to form Grenadier battalions. Each company had 5 officers, 12 NCO's 20 Gefreite (a uniquely German designation for senior/distinguished privates in line for promotion to Unteroffizierre [Corporal]), 115 privates and 3 musicians - 155 men per company, which was to be augmented with yet an additional 50 privates upon mobilization.

The Grenadier battalions thus formed (and the regiments their companies were drawn from) were:

1st East Prussian Grenadier Battalion (Regts 1 and 3)
2nd East Prussian Grenadier Battalion (Regts 4 and 5)
Pommeranian Grenadier Battalion (Regts 2 and 10)
Leib Gtrenadier Battalion (Regt 9*)
West Prussian Grenadier Battalion (Regts 6 and 7)
Silesian Grenadier Battalion (Regts 11, 12)

* The Leib Grenadier Battalion had a unique organization, all four companies coming from IR #9, "Leib-Infanterie"). The 8th (Footguard) Regiment retained its Grenadier companies with the regiment itself.



The Zweites Ostpreussisches Grenadier Battalion. The facing color for East Prussia is variously described as "Brick Red" or Dull Orange.  These are the 28mm  Lancashire Games figures seen (unpainted)earlier this month.


The Grenadiers, when wearing full dress as seen here, had the tall black busch plumes on their shaklos; NCO's had the lower 1/4 of the plume in white, while drummers/musicians had their busch in red.


The Prussian Grenadiers were used as front line combat troops rather than being held in reserve, and saw much action in 1813 and 18914. 


The Lancashire Games figures come with a rather large number of variations on the "Advancing" pose, randomly supplied - I counted 5 poses, many with head and/or equipment sub-variants. 


They ate large figures, close to Front Rank in size. Although it's hard to see, especially with the characteristic Prussian habit of wearing the grey great coat rolled and slung across the chest and left shoulder, the shoulder straps have two different colors, reflecting the two different regiments the Grenadiers were drawn from - half have light blue (from the Viertes Ostpreussiches IR), half have yellow (from the Drittes Ostpreussisches IR). 


This four stand unit is the Schesisches Grenadier Battalion.


It has the yellow facings of Silesian units, and is composed of variants of the "Firing" pose packs from Lancashire Games. 


If you look closely you'll see some of the pose, head, and equipment variants.


The Grenadiers should have a brass eagle plate on the front of their shakos, while the Line infantry shakos have the Royal Cipher in brass on the front. However, these figures have (very nicely sculpted) "Guard Stars" on the fronts of their shakos, which would be appropriate to the Footguards (in silver). I debated how to handle that, and decided to just keep the stars and paint them in brass. Purists beware!


As I've noted before, I like some of my Napoleonic infantry in "Firing" poses. In perverse contrast to the above, larger unit, for this one I kept the shoulder straps all in just the red of a single (Zweites Schlesiches) parent regiment. 




14 comments:

  1. Nice painting on these famous troops. Not familiar with Lancashire figures so this is good to see. Also nice to know they are on the larger side - as Front Rank.

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    1. I should take some pics of them with my Front Rank Young Guardsmen for comparison - maybe for part Zwei...

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  2. Peter! You are making short work of the Prussians. Like Dean mentioned above, it is very good to know these fit in with Front Rank. Would you buy more of these or do you prefer Old Glory for your Prussians?

    I have a question on one of your photos. Photo 5 with the enlarged shot of the grenadiers, the front rank is in a somewhat peculiar pose. With the right foot forward, left leg pushing off, and head facing to the left, it almost appears the figure is facing in the opposite direction to the way it is based. Almost looks like a back ranker shoving against the leading ranks.

    Of course, it could just be an optical illusion.

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    1. The Old Glory are a better match for the majority of my Prussians, which are Minifigs and... Old Glory, with just a few Calpe thrown in. Indeed, last nkight I sent in an order for 10 packs of OG Prussian Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery Crews. I'd say that cost is a factor, too - with the OG Army Card, I can build 8 figure cavalry regiments for less than $3 per figure... hard to beat that!

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    2. I see what you mean about the pose; we'll just assume he is in the process of shifting his weight around to thrust his bayonet, eh?

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    3. Certainly hard to beat OG with respect to pricing. With an Army Card they are a real bargain.

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  3. Great looking troops, I've always had a soft spot for the yellow cuffed Silesian's, not sure why, maybe its the uniform??

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    1. The yellow/dark blue is classic combination... let me show you my Swedes some day! :-)

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  4. Another great article, thanks Peter!

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  5. Thanks for another excellent guide Peter.

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  6. Lovely stuff as usual Peter. It reminded how I used to want all my figures to be in exactly the same pose within a unit (which was probably due to the fact that was all we could get), but how much I now really appreciate the subtle variations between poses which has become much more common across a wide range of manufacturers.

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    1. Thanks, Lawrence. Uniform poses and variety both have their advantages!

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