Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Russian Infantry Pom-Poms and Shoulder Straps, 1812 - 1815

My posting on the Russian Jagers drew some interesting comments on The Miniatures Page, along with a brilliant graphic presentation of the Russian Pom-Pom schemes from a Russian website contributed by Bryce Allen here. I thought that the idea was so much better than just describing them that I'm going to use the idea myself to present the information on the Pom-poms, shoulder straps and related minor details of the Russian Infantry of this later Napoleonic era. So, here goes.

These are the pom pom colors for the various battalions and companies of a Russian Line and/or Jager regiment from 1812 - 1815; I'm not sure if these applied to Grenadier or Guard Regiments as I couldn't find anything on that subject, but some of the illustrations I saw in the references I consulted make me suspect that they do not apply exactly to those particular regiments. As discussed in my Jager post, the elite company in a Russian Jager battalion was called the Carabinier company, and was divided into a Carabinier platoon (corresponding to the Grenadier platoon in a Line regiment) and a Tiralleur platoon (corresponding to the Carabinier platoon of a Line Regiment).

The Grenadier companies (Carabinier companies for Jagers) as well as all companies of a Grenadier, Guard, or Jager Grenadier (established 1814) regiment also wore the tall, thin black plumes; NCO's also had the quartered pom-poms, colored as shown. The NCO's of the first platoon of the elite company of each battalion also had the plumes tipped with white, and with an orange stripe running across the tip from front to back; this evidently did not apply to the NCO's of the second platoons of the elite companies, hence the asterisk on the table. Cords on the shakos in 1812-15 were white for all except officers, who had silver cords. Finally, drummers and fifers in the elite companies (as well as all companies of a Guard, Grenadier or Jager-Grenadier regiment) had tall red plumes on their shakos; if they happened to also be an NCO they would also have the orange-red/white quartered pom-pom, and, in the appropriate platoons, the white tip to their plumes, complete with the orange stripe as well. Phew!

When the Russian Army switched from the old Inspection system and its associated facings colored according to which inspection the Line or Grenadier Regiment belonged, to the new "permanent" Division structure in 1806, the old facing colors were also gradually replaced, and all regiments had the same colors of cuffs and collars (red for line, later dark green piped red for Jagers).  In 1807 the above system of shoulder strap colors was introduced, differentiating the regiments by which position they occupied within their Division. The Divisional number was embroidered on the strap in Yellow upon Red straps, and in Red on all others.

In 1814, it was decided to change the shoulder straps of all the Grenadier Regiments (as well as the newly raised Jager-Grenadier Regiments) to yellow, with the initial letter of their Regiment's name (in Cyrillic) embroidered on the strap in red; at the same time the yellow straps in the old scheme were replaced, resulting in the new system as illustrated above. Confusing enough, eh?  Hopefully the graphic illustrations make the system much clearer than words alone. 

Many thanks again to Mr. Allen of the UK for the idea of using a graphic presentation of this information!



  1. Thanks for this resource. How's the scenario book?

  2. Gald you find it helpful; I know that every time I paint p a new Russian nit, I always have to look it up again and it usually takes reading it 23 times to sink in

    Scenario book is completely done, and has been at the printer for several months, just awaiting the actual printing which was supposed be this date, then that date, and now another. Out of my control, although very frustrating.

  3. This is great - just what I'm looking for. Ignore the Grognards at TMP (or PMT as some British wargamers have started to refer to it)
    However I am going to ask for some help - my son wants to start with Napoleonic Russians for 1812/Moscow campaign, and the continual reorganisations are somewhat confusing. (I thought the Luftwaffe fighter markings '36-40 were bad enough). I wish the books I had laid the info out as well as you.

    He is intending to do 36 man units (in 10mm). Our reading seems to indicate by '12 the grenadiers were converged in their own brigades. Is this right?

    Did line battalions have jagers, and were they on the left flank? Did they use the caribinier pom-poms in the infantry Battalions?

    I'm thinking of the 36 men (in two lines of 18, in 6 bases of 6) the left most 4 jager, right most 4 Grenadiers. I Take it 2 flags per battalion (I hope so, as they will look lopsided with 1!)

  4. Hi LH, and thanks.

    The Grenadier companies stayed with the field battalions in 2012... but it is more complicated than that, of course! The 2nd Battalion of Line and Jager Regiments was a depot battalion (why not the 3rd? Dunno, beats me!). In order to try to make some use of the manpower tied up in these battalions, the Grenadier companies were stripped out of the 3rd battalions, and brought together to form Combined Grenadier battalions. Considering that they were depot troops, they were probably no better than a standard Line or Jager battalion.

    The standing Grenadier regiments are of colurse another matter altogether.

    Each Russian Line or Jager battalion had 4 companies, thee of Musketeers (or Jagers), and one of Grenadiers. As described in the Jager article, the grenadier comnpany was divided into 2 platoons, one of Grenadiers (Carabiniers for the Jagers), and one of Carabiniers (tiralleurs in the Jagers). Nafziger's book has a diagram of a Russian Regiment deployed in line, and he does indeed show the Tiralleur platoon deployed to the left of the unit and the Grenadier platoon deployed to the right.

    In 1812, the Russian Infantry Divisions were virtually all composed of three brigades - one of 2 Jager Regiments (thus 4 Jager battalions in the field), and two of 2 Line regiments each, thus a total of 8 Line battalions per Division.

    Tbe established Grenadier regiments were of course another matter altogether!

    Standards: First, the Jagers didn't carry any. Russian standards are a study all to themselves, as the old patterns continued in use as new designs and regulations were decreed. The Warflag/Napflag site has good examples that you can download and print out. in 1803, each battalion had one colored and one "white" flag; I believe this was later reduced, but seriously - do it the way it seems best to you and don't worry over much about it. You';re the colonel (or Czar), and your word is Law, LOL!


  5. To clarify a bit, the Standing Grenadier Regiments were brigaded with one another. The Converged Grenadier battalions were also brigaded together. Both generally were assigned to their own Grenadier or Converged Grenadier Divisions.

    36 figure regiments should look very nice in 10mm - or any scale! The Russian flags are perhaps my favorite thing about the Russian Infantry, BTW - very colorful, at least pre 1613 when they all (officially at least) changed to green and white.

  6. Thanks. The thing is I am doing this research for my son, who has both Dyslexia and Aspergers. This mean he has problems with long blocks of text, so will just look at the pictures. The Aspergers means that it's no good saying sometimes 'a', sometimes 'b' - he needs certanty.

    I've gone back and reread my books, and I'd confused myself. I had got the impression the companies were converged, but now I see its the Battalions spun off, and just the depot grenadiers converged to a battalion. However I can't find where this converged battalion is hiding. I'm looking at the OOB for Borodino - he wants to do the Moscow campaign as a basis of his figures, and I've decided the 8th infantry corps, starting with the 27th Div, as they were in the thick of the fighting on the day (though we will be doing fictional battles)

    The 'light' company appears to be in line uniform, rather than jager- have I got that right? I'm going to suggest he does 1 stand of 6 Grenadier, 1 Lights, the middle 4 centre.

    I went straight to the Napflags site when first starting, but they didn't seem to have the Tsar's flag. Back on Warflags (I forget they are seperate sites because of the link on the side bar) I found what I needed ("Oh, so they returned to the 1797 standards..."). The Russian army of the early 19th century would be recognisable to any office worker - If it isn't working, Reorganise!

    Sorry for all the questions, I've been immersed in WSS for the last 18 months

  7. TLH:

    It's really the light (Carabinier) platoon of the single elite company of the battalion, and yes, they would wear the line uniform, just with the tall black plumes and the yellow (variations) pom pom. The Jager regiments were separate Light Regiments (at least in theory).

    Strictly speaking for a 36 figure battalion you'd have 9 Elites (half being form the grenadier platoon, half from the carabinier platoon) and 27 center company. Having said that, I use 18 figure units for almost all my infantry, and have one stand of 3 Grenadiers and 5 stands of 3 center company figures per regiment (I call my units Regiments, one stand being the "Command" stand with an officer, drummer, and standard bearer (or NCO, Fifer or hornist for Jagers). Once again, I now the history, but when it comes to my own troops, I organize them so that they work best for me, coming as close as I can to historical organization).