Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

RtoE Prussian musings: part three

Posted by Martin on May 6, 2010

I’m aiming to keep up the pace on these while I’ve got everything fresh in my mind. Last time was devoted to artillery in a P-brigade (that’s the term I’m using here for a late-Prussian brigade to avoid confusion with the conventional brigades of other armies), next time I’ll cover cavalry in a P-brigade but in between, I’m going to look at volunteer jäger detachments this time.

First some historical context. Volunteer jägers were a distinctive feature of the Prussian army during the campaigns of 1813 onwards. These troops were all volunteer riflemen attached to line formations. Most regular line battalions had a company of these troops attached to them. They were generally young men from the professional or wealthy classes. As such, they were expected to provide their own equipment and uniform. The payback for this expense was that these formations were considered to be training cadres for the line officers and NCOs of the future and therefore presented opportunties for military careers for these young men.

In the P-brigade I’m building (Borstel’s 5th), three battalions had such volunteer jäger detachments in August 1813:

  • The Pommeranian grenadier battalion: approx. 170 jägers.
  • Pommeranian infantry regiment, 1st battalion: approx. 140 jägers.
  • Pommeranian infantry regiment, fusilier battalion: approx 140 jägers.

So what’s the best way to represent these three elements in Republic to Empire?

There’s a detailed section about skirmishers (pp.63-68) but that doesn’t cover what we’re looking for. However, once again, a good root around in the rules provides the answer. I draw your attention to the section entitled “Of Models and Men” (pp.115-116). This section includes a detailed description of the OOB for the 5th infantry brigade at Waterloo which is of directly relevance to our discussion because it includes three volunteer jäger detachments. Barry explains that he treats each of these as a “specialist light infantry detachment” uinder the rules and refers us to a paragraph in the book that explains what this means. I think it’s simplest if I reproduce that paragraph here:

“Some armies would on occasion divide a specialist light infantry battalion down into penny packets of one or two companies and distribute these across several brigades or divisions. If this is done, these detachments should range in size from 2-8 models. They are not required to retain a close order reserve. They are part of the brigade to which they have been assigned but do not count as support for other units of the brigade. If called on to check ‘Resolve’ they should do so. If they need to move independently of brigade orders they use the ‘Single Unit Action Table’.”

I don’t think there’s much I need to add to that because it gives a really clear directive about how I should treat my volunteer jäger detachments. But there is one last observation I’d add: I’d set the restriction that a volunteer jäger detachment has to be placed in the same brigade as its parent battalion.

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