Friday, August 12, 2011

Russian Jagers, 1812

    The number of Russian Jager (Light Infantry) units increased dramatically over the course of the the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. There were roughly 20 battalions when Paul became Czar in 1797, then 19 regiments of 2 battalions each in 1801, 20 in 1805, 32 in 1808, and 50 by 1812 (Nafziger). Many of these were converted from  Musketeer Regiments; by 1812 there was roughly 1 Jager regiment for every 2 Musketeer/Infantry regiments; indeed, a standard Russian Infantry Division in 1812 had one brigade of 2 Jager Regiments, and 2 brigades each of 2 Line regiments.  Exactly how much difference there actually was in practice between the Jager units (especially the newer ones) and the Line units is open to question. The Jagers evidently did receive training in skirmishing at the battalion level, but it was not standardized until 1818; Russian skirmish tactics were generally inferior to those of the French and later Prussians. In 1812, there were three and sometimes even 4 battalions per Jager regiment; however, only the 1st and 3rd battalions served with the front line divisions; the 2nd battalion was a depot unit, and the 4th battalions, when raised, were entirely conscripts and served seperately in Reserve Divisions.

    Each 1812 Jager battalion had 4 companies of , 3 of Jagers and one elite company of Carabiniers (analogous to the Grenadier companies of the Line regiments). Each company nominally had 141 privates plus assorted other ranks; Russian infantry units were notorious for being understrength. The Carbinier companies wore the tall thin black plume on their shakos. To make matters more confusing, the Carabinier company was broken into 2 platoons, one of Carabiniers and one of Tiralleurs. In 1812, the uniforms of all the Jager regiments were identical, save only for the shoulder strap colors, which were yellow for the first regiment of each brigade, and medium to light blue for the second Jager regiment of each brigade. Within each regiment, the pom-pom colors on the shako varied by the battalion. In 1812, for the first battalion they were red for the carbinier platoon, yellow for the tiralleur platoon, and white with a green center for the jager companies. The pom-pom colors for the second battalion were top red, bottom green for the carbinier platoon, top yellow, bottom green for the tiralleur platoon, and green with a white center for the jager companies. The third battalion pom-pom colors were top red, bottom light blue for the carbinier platoon, top yellow bottom light blue for the tiralleurs, and light blue with a white center for the jagers.

Here is our first unit; the white pom-poms with green centers indicate that this is a 1st battalion. Note that NCO's had quartered pom-poms.

The blue shoulder straps indicate this unit is the 2nd of its brigade.

The Jagers had black leather belts, unlike the line which had white.

The second unit's jagers have green pom-poms with white centers identifying it as a 2nd battalion.

This unit's shoulder straps are yellow, designating it as the first regiment of its brigade.

The Jager regiments have dark green collars, cuffs, and turnbacks, all piped in red, as was the outside seam of the dark green pants.

The third unit; all four units are Sash and Saber 28mm figures. The standard is incorrect; when I was painting these units I couldn't find a reference to standards for the Jagers; it turns out that's because they didn't carry any. One way for the Czar to save a few roubles, I imagine! I have fifer figures to replace the standards now.

The GMB standards are lovely, though... Note the white lace on the drummer's uniform; were he of a Carabinier company, he would have a tall red plume on his shako as well.

Rear view of the third unit; all of these pictures were shot outdoors, the first set on an overcast summer day in late afternoon, the second set near midday on a late autumn day (accounting for the shadows).

The fourth regiment defending a wall; the officer has shako cords and sash in mixed silver, black, and orange.

The goose step that these Sash and Saber figures are modeled in would have made the somewhat mad Czar Paul I proud; at one point he allegedly ordered the soldiers equipped with steel plates over the knees to encourage them to keep the leg straight when marching; no wonder he was murdered in his bed, leading to the ascension of Alexander I in 1801!

Another view of the 4th Jager unit; it really will be a shame to give up those nice GMB flags! I suppose I'll just have to raise some more Line units to use them...

A final view of the 4th Russian Jager unit; note the metal canteens strapped to the packs.

Till next time,



  1. Thanks, Ray! I was happy with how they turned out.

  2. Looking good Peter,
    Another few units ticked off!!!
    How big are you aiming?

  3. Well, I already have a sizable Russian Napoleonic army (listed on the Napoleonic troops tab), but my recent expansion of the Austrians and French left them well behind. To fulfill my commitment to the Borodino project, by July I need to paint 2 units of Cossacks, 1 each Guard Hussars and Chevalier Guard (all 4 in the works now), 2 Hussars, 4 Opolchenie, and some more artillery. I'll also add a few more units of Line, Grenadiers, and Jagers eventually, if not by July. I have the Vistula Legion to paint by July as well, and some other odds and ends of Napoleonic figures I want to do. Oh yes, and the Tyrolean Rebels (Eureka) I picked up at Historicon. Then I'll need more Prussians for 2013....