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Prussian Infantry
of the Napoleonic Wars

1805 - 1815

"The infantry of Prussia in 1806 was 'a museum piece'
reflecting the great days of Frederick the Great
imposing in appearance but decidedly disappointing
in performance" - David Chandler
However Prussia was fortunate to possess, at this low ebb in its history,
such able reformers as von Scharnhorst and Graf von Gneisenau
who put the Prussian army on a modern basis.

1. Introduction: Prussian Infantry.
2. Organization.
3. Tactics.
4. Uniforms.
5. Weapons.
6. Infantry of Royal Guard.
7. Grenadiers.
8. Line Infantry.
9. Light Infantry: Jagers, Schutzen.
10. Landwehr Infantry.

Interview with Oliver Schmidt:
On Prussian Rifles
On Light Infantry
Grenadiers' Uniforms
Morale of Volunteer Jägers

"Splendid old General Horn was at the head of the
famous Leib Regiment; he raised his sword on high,
gave a loud Hurrah ! ...Horn's deep bass voice
rang out:'Any who fires a shot is a cur ! Forward !
Long live to the king of Prussia ! ...
These were scenesd that inspired each good,
Prussian heart, ... there was a splendid spirit
in our Prussian troops, be they line or Landwehr.
May this always be the case for then the state of
the Hohenzollerns will stand firm and respected."
- Mjr Ernst Moritz Arndt, Leipzig 1813

Prussian infantry.
Picture by Funcken.
Picture: Prussian infantry in 1806, by L.& F. Funcken.
(Castermann Publishing 1969) - L'uniforme et les Armes
des Soldats du Premier Empire

Introduction: Prussian Infantry.

Prussian grenadiers 1806-07.
Picture by Knotel "The infantry of Prussia in 1806 was 'a museum piece' reflecting the great days of Frederick the Great imposing in appearance but decidedly disappointing in performance. and outdated in training. This was evident as early as Valmy in 1792, but few improvements had been wrought 14 years later. The cult of the past was unshakeable, the tactics rigid, the supply train enormous, and a day's march of over 10 miles was considered excessive. Its leadership was also antiquated, except for Prince Louis Ferdinand. The disasters of Jena and Auerstadt and the succeeding weeks, and the humiliations of Tilsit at length brought reform under the inspiration of Scharnhorst." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic wars" p 210)

"Disaster at Jena and Auerstadt in 1806 shook the foundations of Prussian military theory and practice, furnishing an impetus for analysis and reform. Never before had any first-class army been so swiftly and decisively reduced to impotence. The lack of a clear political objective couples with a high command that resembled ’a junta of septuagenarians,’ led to a profusion of conflicting plans. Some of the crucial defects in military leadership might have been surmounted had the Prussian army possessed a unified command structure and a sound tactical doctrine. But it did not. Furthermore, complacency and senility had led to a refusal to consider the new conditions of citizen armies, while overconfidence had resulted in a complete miscalculation of Napoleon as a general who represented the will of the people. So Prussia, clinging to the great traditions of its Frederician past, marched to war in 1806 engulfed in a conceit of invincibility." ( Charles White - "The Enlightened Soldier: Scharnhorst and the Militarische Gesellsschaft in Berlin 1801-1805" Praeger; 1989. )

"The Prussian Infantry who mobilised in 1806 were products of a system that had not altered since the Seven Years' War. They were immaculately dressed, drilled into unquestioning obedience, savagely punished if they fell foul of their commanders and were unfit for the new type of warfare in every possible way." (Robert Mantle - "Prussian Reserve Infantry: 1813-15")

Prussian Leib Regiment
vs French in 1813.
Picture by Knotel. The Prussian infantry that joined the Allies against France in 1813 was of mixed quality. The regular infantry wase well trained, well clothed and well armed. They were brave soldiers. The reserve infantry was formed from various troops, and might have each battalion in different uniform, and several types of muskets. Most of them however performed in combat quite well. There were also volunteer units, they armed and uniformed themselves. The volunteers were enthusiastic but lacked training and physical toughness. The Landwehr infantry was a national levy of all men betweem 17 and 40 capable of bearing weapons. They lacked weapons and uniforms. Many wore either captured French greatcoats or civilian clothes. The older men capable of bearing arms went into Landsturm. They were poorly armed and saw little duty.
(Great Britain furnished thousands of muskets and uniforms.)


Organization of Prussian Infantry.

In 1806 the Prussian infantry consisted of 60 infantry regiments (2 battalions each), incl. the regiment of Foot Guard. There were also 27 grenadier, 24 fusilier and 3 jagers battalions.

Prussian infantry regiment in 1806

- - -
2 light cannons

I Musketier Battalion (4 companies)

II Musketier Battalion (4 companies)

The 2 grenadier companies were detached
from the regiment and formed grenadier batalions.

Grenadier battalion had 805 men:
. . . . . . 18 officers (and 4 surgeons)
. . . . . . 56 NCOs
. . . . . . 12 drummers and 8 fifers
. . . . . . 8 sappers
. . . . . . 600 grenadiers and 40 reserves [1]
. . . . . . 40 Schutzen with 1 bugler
. . . . . . 18 gunners (incl. 1 NCO)

Fusilier battalion had 690 men:
. . . . . . 19 officers (and 4 surgeons)
. . . . . . 48 NCOs
. . . . . . 5 drummers and 7 buglers
. . . . . . 8 sappers
. . . . . . 520 fusiliers and 40 reserves [1]
. . . . . . 40 Schützen with 1 bugler.

Each of the 120 musketier battalions had 830 men:
. . . . . . 22 officers (and 5 surgeons)
. . . . . . 60 NCOs
. . . . . . 15 drummers (and 6 oboye players for the I Battalion)
. . . . . . 10 sappers
. . . . . . 600 musketiers and 50 reserves [1]
. . . . . . 50 Schützen with 1 bugler.
. . . . . . 18 gunners (incl. 1 NCO)

[1] - the 'reserves' were ordinary musketeers, fusilers or grenadiers. They joined their parent battalions for periods of excercise. They were paid only during that exercise period. In wartime they were paid and were used to replace the killed, wounded and ill soldiers and those detached for other duties, and deserters.

Prussian flags and colors Picture: Prussian flags of pre 1806 pattern. Leibfahne (left) and Regimentsfahne (right). Source:

In the Jena Campaign the French troops captured some 340 Prussian colours ! Colours and standards were carried by a senior NCO (fahnen standarten trager). he was armed with a saber and was ranked with a Feldwebel. The escort of color consisted of so called colour-bearer-NCOs (fahnen-unteroffitziere) armed with spontoons.
In November 1807 was issued order that each musketier battalion should have 2 colours, and that the grenadier and fusilier (light infantry) battalions should have none. But by 1812 all grenadier battalions carried colours. These were the retirierfahne of the regiment from which the grenadier companies were drawn.

"The two battalion flags were known respectively as the Avancierfahne and the Retirierfahne, in effect the 1st and 2nd colours of the battalions. The 1st colour of the I Battalion of a regiment was also known as the regiment's Leib-fahne. Generally speaking, the Retirierfahne of a I Battalion was of the same design and colouring as both colours of the II Battalion, whilst the Leib-fahne was in reversed colours from the other three, this being especially true with regard to flags issued after 1808.
During the campaigns of 1813-15, only the Avancierfahne of each battalion was carried in the field."
(Nash - "The Prussian Army 1808-15" p 92)

Prussian flag in 1813. Flag staffs were white except for 12 battalions, which had black:
- Life Grenadier Battalion
- 2nd East Prussia Grenadier Battalion
- both musketier battalions of (3.) 2nd East Prussia Infantry Regiment
- both musketier battalions of (4.) 3rd East Prussia Infantry Regiment
- both musketier battalions of (9.) Life Infantry Regiment
- both musketier battalions of (10.) Kolberg Infantry Regiment
- both musketier battalions of (11.) 1st Silesia Infantry Regiment
(The battalions of Foot Guard changed the colour of their staffs from white to yellow in January 1813. They also had silver pike heads.)

In December 1808 a regiment's strength was regulated at 2 musketier and 1 fusilier battalion. The grenadiers still were part of the regiment but on campaign they were detached. They were grouped into Grenadier Battalions, one of which was attached to each of the army's six brigades.

At the end of 1808 there were the following infantry units:

  • - (1.) 1st East Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (2.) 1st Pommerania Infantry Regiment
  • - (3.) 2nd East Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (4.) 3rd East Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (5.) 4th East Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (6.) 1st West Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (7.) 2nd West Prussia Infantry Regiment
  • - (8.) Guard Infantry Regiment
  • - (9.) Life Infantry Regiment
  • - (10.) Kolberg Infantry Regiment
  • - (11.) 1st Silesia Infantry Regiment
  • - (12.) 2nd Silesia Infantry Regiment
  • - Normal Battalion
  • - [1.] Guard Jager Battalion
  • - [2.] East Prussia Jager Battalion
  • - [3.] Silesian Schutzen Battalion
  • - [1.] East Prussia Grenadier Battalion
  • - [2.] East Prussia Grenadier Battalion
  • - Pommerania Grenadier Battalion
  • - Life Grenadier Battalion
  • - West Prussia Grenadier Battalion
  • - Silesia Grenadier Battalion

    In December 1812 eight 'Militia' battalions were raised by Bulow in East Prussia.
    In January von Yorck raised 12 reserve battalions and 3 Lithuanian fusilier battalions.
    In February it was decreed that each grenadier battalion should form one reserve battalion and each infantry battalion should form two.

    In March 1813, the Prussian infantry consisted of 12 regiments. Each had two numbers; one was its precedence in the Line, and the other, precedence in the province it recruited from.

    During the 1813-1814 campaign the Prussian infantry consisted of:

  • - 12 'old' infantry regiments
  • - 12 reserve infantry regiments
  • - numerous small troops of light infantry and volunteers
  • - regiments of Landwehr

    Prussian infantry regiment in 1813


    I Musketier Battalion (4 companies)

    II Musketier Battalion (4 companies)

    Fusilier Battalion (4 companies)

    Attached troop of volunteers-jagers

    In 1815 Prussia had 32 line infantry regiments (3 battalions each) Below is list of regiments.

  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (Leib), 9th, 10, 11th and 12th Infantry Regeiment.
    These were the 12 'old' regiments, solid, well trained and well dressed. Only these regiments carried flags.
  • 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th Infantry Regiment.
    They were formed from the 12 reserves infantry regiments. They got to know their new names in March and April 1815 when the Prussian king send orders from Vienna, Austria. The monarch participated there in the politically important Congress. Some of these units fought very well in the Waterloo Campaign, for example the 18th Regiment bled the most of all Prussian infantry regiments. They suffered 810 killed and wounded in the fighting with the French in Placenoit. It was awarded with 33 crosses.
  • 25th Infantry Regiment was formed from Lutzow's infantry
  • 26th Infantry Regiment from Elbe Regiment
  • 27th Infantry Regiment from Hellwig's infantry, Reiche's jagers,
    reserve battalion of Elbe Regiment and 7th Replacement Battalion
  • 28th and 29th Infantry Regiment from Beg infantry
  • 30th and 31st Infantry Regiment from Russo-German Legion
  • 32nd Infantry Regiment from Westphalian and Saxon militia (32nd was not formed before December 1815)

  • ~

    Tactics of Prussian Infantry.

    "The Prussian army of 1792 used several different firing techniques.
    @ When a battalion was formed by Halb-compagnien (half-companies) in line, fire was executed by the alternate firing of half-companies. The three ranks fired simultaneously. The first rank knelt, while the second and third stood upright. The fire began from the right.
    @ A second form of fire used by the Prussians was by half-companies with the third rank taking a half turn to the right. This fire was executed when the battalion made half-turn to the right, but with the line not moving from its original position. The rest of the action was the same as firing by half-companes.
    @ The third form of Prussian fire was the advancing fire. Here the half-companies marched towards the enemy. The right half-company stopped and fired first. Upon the signal of their officer, and without reloading, the right hand half-company shouldered arms and advanced. The next half-company would stop and fire when the first half-company caught up with the slowly retreating line, and so on down the line of the battalion."
    @ The fourth method of fire was retreating fire. When advancing directly away from the enemy the first half-company (formerly on the left, now the right) would stop, turn about, and fire. When the fire was executed, the soldiers would shoulder their arms, about face and resume the retreat, catching up with the battalion. Each successive half-company would act in the same manner as the preceding half-company caught up with the retiring battalion. Again, there is no indication of stopping to reload.
    @ There were also three types of an unusual firing method known as 'hedge' (sniper) fire. The first of these was a withdrawing fire where pairs of files would turn about and fire on pursuing hussars or skirmishers. This was intended as just enough fire to keep the harassing forces away.
    The second type of hedge fire was used when facing small groups of enemy infantry which were not sufficient to justify a battalion volley, but were sufficiently annoying to merit some response. In this latter instance pairs of files would advance 8 paces in front of the battalion, form in two ranks, fire, reform in three ranks, and return to the battalion.
    The third form of hedge fire was exactly the same as the second type, but the pair of files did an about face, advanced out of the rear of the battalion and fired to the rear. All the actions were the same."
    (Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets" Greenhill Books 1996)

    In 1808 the Prussians reorganized their infantry and this was followed by the Exerzir Reglement fur die Infanterie der Koniglich Preussischen Armee of 1812. According to George Nafziger the Ordinairschritt and Geschwindschritt were still 75 and 108 paces per minute.

    As in 1788, the post-1812 Prussian infantry manoeuvred in the Zug column and executed many of its manoeuvres from this formation. When the Prussian infantry marched to the battlefield it still marched in the Zuge column.

    Picture: forming battalion column of Zuge from line
    according to Exerzir Reglement fur die Infanterie der Koniglich Preussischen Armee, 1812.
    Source: Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets"







    Picture: forming battalion column from line. Exerzir Reglement fur die Infanterie der Koniglich Preussischen Armee, 1812.
    Source: George Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets"





    The Prussian infantry used closed columns instead of squares against cavalry. When enemy's cavalry approached the outer files filled the gaps between the troops. Such compact formaion was formed quickly, the troopers in 1st rank outstretched their bayonets while those in 2nd rank fired. The men in 3rd rank loaded the muskets and passed to the 2nd rank.




    The Prussian infantry was formed on three ranks. Troopers from the 3rd rank of fusiliers (or even musketiers and grenadiers) could operate as skirmishers or as reserve behind light infantry. The 3rd rankers were sometimes formed into independent platoons (commanded by 1 officer and 3 NCOs) or even into battalions. Such platoons/battalions of 3rd rankers musketeers were always formed on 2 ranks. But not only the 3rd ranks were employed as skirmishers, there were entire battalions deployed in this formation. In 1813 at Dennewitz the full III Battalion of 4th Reserve Infantry Regiment was deployed as skirmishers. They were supported by one horse (Nr 6) and one foot (Nr 17) battery and advanced against Wirtembergian square. The canister and musketry caused heavy casualties and the Wirtembergians broke and fled. In 1813 at Hagelberg the IV Battalion of 3rd Kurmark Landwehr deployed into skirmish formation and advanced forward together with two other battalion formed in columns screened by their own skirmishers. In the end of battle approx. 300 Prussian skirmishers pursued 2 battalions of French infantry (total 1.000 men). These skirmishers were joined by Cossacks and Russian guns and the French halted and surrendered.

    Prussian Brigade in 1812-1813

    The infantry of the Prussian brigade (2 regiments) was formed in three lines:

  • in the first line were 2 fusilier battalions (light infantry), which would be used to form skirmish line with small reserves (for the skirmishers). The fusiliers were drawn from the third ranks of the 2 fusilier battalions. If brigade had no fusilier battalions, then the third rank of the musketeer battalions would perform this service.
  • 150 m behind the first line stood the second and main line. This line consisted of 3-4 musketeer battalions (line infantry). If the fusiliers were not able to force the enemy to withdraw or abandon a village or wood, the musketeers of next line would prepare for the bayonet attack.
  • 150 m behind the second line stood the third line of infantry. It was reserve and consisted of 1 musketeer and 1 combined grenadier battalion.
    The cavalry stood behind the third line of infantry and on its flanks. The foot artillery was deployed in the very front of infantry, the horse artillery in reserve.
    The number of lines was not alwayz three and the distance between 150 m. For example in 1813 at Dennewitz General Krafft deployed his brigade in 2 lines. The battalions of the first line were deployed in line, and the battalions of the second line stood in columns 300-400 paces behind the first.

    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
    skirmishers (drawn from 3rd ranks of fusilier battalions)

    100-150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . II Fusilier Battalion . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Fusilier Battalion

    150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . II Musketeer Battalion . . . . . . . . . I Musketeer Battalion . . . . . . . . . . . II Musketeer Battalion

    150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Musketeer Battalion . . . . . . . . . . . Grenadier Battalion

  • Prussian Brigade in 1815

    In 1815 "the 9 battalions of the brigade also fought in three waves. The first consisted of 2 fusilier battalions (from the line regiments), the second of 4 musketeer battalions, the third line of 1 light and 2 musketeer battalions." (Hofschroer - "The Prussian Staff ..." p 17)
    The brigade no longer had grenadier battalion - all grenadiers formed two regiments and these two formed their own grenadier brigade.

    .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
    skirmishers (drawn from 3rd ranks of fusilier battalions)

    100-150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . II Fusilier Battalion . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Fusilier Battalion

    150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . II Musketeer . . . . . . . . . I Musketeer . . . . . . . . . . . II Musketeer . . . . . . . . I Musketeer

    150 m

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . II Musketeer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I Musketeer . . . . . . . . . . . Fusilier

    Prussian infantry in Mockern.
Picture by Keith Rocco. General von Clausewitz was not happy with the method the Prussian infantry defended villages. He wrote: "We use up our troops too fast in stationary combat. Our officers call for support too soon, and it's given them too readily. The consequence is that we suffer more dead and wounded without gaining any ground, and we transform our fresh soldiers into burnt-out husks."

    Picture: Prussian infantry fighting in Mockern in 1813. Picture by Keith Rocco, USA.


    From mid 1700s until Napoleonic Wars
    the French style more or less again dominated
    the European and Prussian fashion of military.
    In 1813-15, due to serious financial difficulties
    there was little uniformity in the Prussian army.
    After 1815 the Prussian uniform was modeled on Russian design.

    Uniforms of Prussian Infantry.
    French and Russian Influences

    In 1718 Prussian king Frederick Wilhelm drew back from the manners and fashions of Frenchified Europe and invented a solemn and simple military dress. This however didn't last long and from mid 1700s until Napoleonic Wars the French style more or less again dominated the European and Prussian fashion of military.

    Picture: uniforms of Prussian infantry in the Jena Campaign in 1806. Picture by Andre Jouineau.
    From left to right:
    musketier of 3rd Infantry Regiment,
    musketier of 39th Infantry Regiment,
    musketier of 47th Infantry Regiment,
    musketier of 50th Infantry Regiment,
    two grenadiers.

    The coat of Prussian infantryman was dark blue with lapels, collar, cuffs, and shoulder straps in regimental colors. Turnbacks were red for all regiments. Headgear for musketiers was a black hat with white edging and plume in regimental color.
    The grenadiers wore cap with white plume.

    In 1808, a new uniform was adopted by the infantry. The runic was the dark blue 'Kollet' which had first been issued in the end of 1807. The Kollet terminated in the front at the waist and had short coat-tails at the rear. The front bore two rows of buttons. Until 1813 (1814 ?) the collar was cut back to expose a black stock worn around the throat. In 1813 the collar changed and it was cut square and was hooked up to the top corners. Since 1815 the collar was closed, but was left unfastened on campaign.

    11th Infantry, by Steven Palatka Picture: Prussian 11th Infantry Regiment, by Steven Palatka.

    In 1813 the Prussian infantryman carried a light brown knapsack and grey linen bread bag. The grey greatcoat was worn rolled en bandolier over the shoulder also in summer. Items of clothing or other small personal belongings inside the rolled greatcoat acted as quite effective protection from saber cuts. The canteen was strapped to the outside of the knapsack. A piece of leather cloth was wrapped around the greatcoat roll to help keep it from working loosee and slipping off the shoulder.
    On parade the greatcoat was worn rolled and strapped on top of the pack.

    The greatcoat was almost ankle-length but in 1814 was shortened. Its collar was in provincial color until October 18th 1813, then grey with provincial-colored patches.

    Infantry regiments were distinguished by the color of the collars, cuffs and shoulder straps. The color of collar and cuffs was the provincial colors, while the color of shoulder straps indicated seniority of the regiment within the province.

    In 1815 the troopers in Grenadier-Regiment Kaiser Alexander wore white shoulder straps with their chef's monogram in red. Those in Grenadier-Regiment Kaiser Franz wore red shoulder straps with yellow monogram.

    Picture: Silesian Infantry Regiment in 1812-1814, by Knotel. From left to right: NCO of fusiliers, musketeer, private in depot, musketeer in campaign dress, NCO of musketeers in winter parade dress, and NCO of musketeers in typical combat outfit.

    In 1813, due to financial difficulties there was little uniformity in the Prussian army. The Prussians wore their own uniforms, uniforms supplied by Britain, and captured French uniforms.

    In 1815 majority of the new regiments that were formed from reserve, foreign, and volunteer troops had not received their new uniforms of line infantry before the campaign began. Regiments' appearances were not unified, some individuals wore altered French uniforms, while others wore red coats and shakos from England. Their knapsacks were mix of Prussian, Swedish, British and French ones. Some wore even blue trousers or civilian ones.

    In 1815 some units wore white uniforms. Peter Hofschroer explains the loss of many officers of 28th Regiment at Gilly "because their Prussian blue uniforms contrasted with the white of their men, making them stand out as targets for French fire. The next day, the survivors were ordered to don their darker greatcoats so this would not happen again." (Hofschroer - "1815: The Watreloo Campaign ..." p 185)
    The 28th Regiment was a former Berg unit.

    After 1815 the Prussian uniform was modeled on Russian design as Russian military enjoyed great reputation after the Napoleonic Wars. See picture > (

    In 1813-1815 the officers wore waist sash (cloth of silver with two black embroidered lines), grey trousers with a red stripe and gilt buttons down the seams worn over or under the boots (not gaiters). Officers carried packs. In 1814 officers' shoulder straps were abolished and epaulettes were issued.

    During campaign the shako of privates and NCOs was covered by an oilcloth/oilskin and the tall plume was removed. The white circle on the oilskin was introdced in the 1812 campaign for those units which were in the field. As far as I know, this practice was not continued in the 1813 campaigns. So you will find the circle for Musketiere and Füsiliere in 1812, but not later (possibly, some of the covers continued to be worn, but I doubt it). As there were no grenadiers in the field in 1812, you won't have grenadiers with the circle.

    In 1815 majority of the new regiments (formed from 12 reserve, foreign, and volunteer units) were able to replace the grey cap with a regulation covered shako. In 1813-1815 many soldiers used the captured French shakos (they removed their eagle plates and cockades).

    The headwear for reserve units was a grey peaked cap called schirmmutz. It was based on the contemporary civilian cap and had rather poor appearance. Some battalions had a capband in provincial colour. A black chin strap was worn. Within followng months most units replaced the cap with a regulation shako (covered with oilcloth).

    The line infantryman wore grey trousers with 3 buttons at the bottom. Black gaiters or black knee-length boots were worn until January 1814. Gaiters were worn under or over the trousers. Due to shortages of uniforms and financial dificulties some troops wore white linen trousers during summer campaign. NCOs wore marching boots instead of gaiters and carried canes. This is what Oliver Schmidt had to say about Prussian infantry's legwears in 1815:
    "The white linen gaiter trousers were a parade dress introduced in 1815, but made and worn only after that campaign. Before 1815, the Prussians had 2 types of trousers:

  • linen trousers worn over the gaiters in summer
  • gray trousers worn under the gaiters
    (because they went down only a hand's width above the ankle)
    In the Elberfeld Manuscript (which will be available in print soon there are several images of Prussian line infantrymen with white trousers worn over the gaiters, most of them of 1815. By the way, in the same year, there are also long grey trousers found, which are worn over the gaiters - this seems to be an intermediary pattern between the earlier short grey trousers and the long grey gaiter trousers."

    The line regiments were distinguished by different color of collar and cuffs. During campaign the NCOs were distinguished by gold lace on the top edge of the cuffs and around top edge of the collar. (No distinctions seen on the shako because it was covered by oilcloth.)

    4th Reserve Infantry
Regiment in 1813.
Picture by Knotel. "The uniforms of the Reserve Infantry Regiments may be divided into four types:
    A. The 'Regulation Uniform' of the regular army.
    B. The Reservist uniform issued in spring 1813.
    C. Uniforms supplied by Britain.
    D. Captured French Equipment"
    The Regulation Uniform: As this uniform is so well documented, these notes will be confined to campaign dress. The shako was always worn with an oilskin cover. The Prussian cockade at the front of the shako produced a distinctive shape. Fusilier Battalions painted a white ring on the front of the cover, but Musketeers left theirs plain. The shako had a black chin strap. The double-breasted jacket, or Kollet, was Prussian blue, with two rows of eight brass buttons. The cuffs were of the Brandenburg pattern: the sash was blue with three buttons (the lowest was usually left undone). The turnbacks of the short tails and the lining of the coat were poppy red, while the collar and cuffs were in a distinctive colour for each province, i.e.:
    - - - East Prussia - brick red
    - - - West Prussia - crimson
    - - - Pomerania - white
    - - - Brandenburg - poppy red (scarlet)
    - - - Silesia - golden yellow
    In 1814, the following colours were added:
    - - - Westphalia - deep rose
    - - - Elbe/Magdeburg - light blue
    - - - Rhineland - crab red
    ... Breeches wer mid-grey, tucked into black gaiters reaching to just below the knee. Boots were black, crossbelts were white for Musketeers and black for Fusiliers. the lower one, worn over the right shoulder, carried the short sword, which had a brass hilt and black grip; the scabbard was black leather with brass fittings. Around the hilt was a sword knot which was used to distinguish the individual companies. ... The knee length greatcoat was grey, single breasted with six brass buttons. Collar and shoulder straps matched those on the kollet." (Robert Mantle - "Prussian Reserve Infantry: 1813-15")

    In response to Prussian requests, large number of British uniforms began to arrive in 1813. Most of them were issued to the reserve infantry. There were also numerous individual cases of reserve infantrymen replacing worn out or lost items of uniform with the French equivalent.

    Prussian reserve infantry.
Picture by Steven Palatka. Prussian reserve infantry Reserve infantry in 1813, 
by Knotel Left: Prussian reserve infantry. Picture by Steven Palatka.

    Right: the 9th Reserve Infantry Regiment in 1813. (21st Infantry Regiment in 1815).
    Picture by Knotel.





    Uniforms of Prussian infantry in 1815

    Regiment Coat Collar Cuffs
    1st Foot Guard Dark Blue    
    2nd Foot Guard Dark Blue    
    1st Grenadiers
    Kaiser Alexander
    of Russia
    Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    2nd Grenadiers
    Kaiser Franz
    of Austria
    Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    1st Dark Blue Orange Orange
    2nd Dark Blue White White
    3rd Dark Blue Orange Orange
    4th Dark Blue Orange Orange
    5th Dark Blue Orange Orange
    6th Dark Blue Carmine Carmine
    7th Dark Blue Carmine Carmine
    8th Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    9th Dark Blue White White
    10th Dark Blue Yellow Yellow
    11th Dark Blue Yellow Yellow
    12th Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    13th Dark Blue Yellow Yellow
    14th Dark Blue White White
    15th Dark Blue Yellow Yellow
    16th Dark Blue Carmine Carmine
    17th Dark Blue Carmine Carmine
    18th Dark Blue Pink Pink
    19th Dark Blue Pink Pink
    20th Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    21st Dark Blue White White
    22nd Dark Blue Madder Red Madder Red
    23rd Dark Blue Madder Red Madder Red
    24th Dark Blue Poppy Red Poppy Red
    25th Dark Blue Madder Red Madder Red
    26th Dark Blue Light Blue Light Blue
    27th Dark Blue Light Blue Light Blue
    28th Dark Blue Pink Pink
    29th Dark Blue Pink Pink
    30th Dark Blue Madder Red Madder Red
    31st Dark Blue Light Blue Light Blue
    32nd Dark Blue Light Blue Light Blue

  • ~

    Weapons of Prussian Infantry.

    Prussian line infantry Right: Prussian line infantry in 1813. Picture by de Beaufort, France.

    The muzzle-loading smoothbore flintlock musket, not the bayonet, was the first- and most-employed weapon. When in early 1700s the Prussian infantry adopted the metal ramrod they found they could fight in three ranks while the Austrians who used wooden ones needed four to maintain the same rate of fire. The Prussian weapons in that times were one of the best in Europe. During Napoleonic wars (1800-1815) however the Prussian muskets were just average European quality.

    "The standard firearms of the infantry, excepring the vast quantities of foreign material used, were the old .60 Nothardt musket, re-bored to the standard European calibre of .72 and the so-called New Prussian Musket. This latter weapon was issued from 1809, and , in an age when the mass fire of infantry was more important than individual accuracy, it proved to be a very effective tool in the hands of the regular soldiers." (Nash - "The Prussian Army 1808-15" p. 16)

    The Prussian grenadiers, fusiliers and musketeers were armed with muskets. The musket (1809) was 143.5 cm long. The stock was black for fusiliers and brown for fusketeers. The fittings were brass and the sling was red. Additionally some were armed with British (more than 15.000 infantrymen), Russian, French and Swedish muskets.

    It was the practice always to carry the bayonet affixed to the musket by grenadiers and musketeers. (Some sources mention only combat situations) The fusiliers were light infantry and were more flexible in this aspect.

    Because the infantry had several types of muskets (mostly Prussian, but there were also captured French and supplied by Great Britain) there were problems with ammunition. For this reason in 1815 some battalions exchanged their weapons in order to have only one type of musket within the same unit.


    The Guards were the units
    which were most close to the King.

    Infantry of the Royal Guard.
    [Königliche Garde Infanterie]

    Foot Guard in 1808 in Konigsberg Picture: Regiment of the Foot Guard in 1808 in Konigsberg, Eastern Prussia.

    The Foot Guard was a special unit. Their dress-parades, inspections, reports, salutes, bearing in the presence of officers and on guard, were wonderfully regular, accurate, and according to the regulations.

    The Foot Guard Regiment (Garderegiment zu Fuß or Regiment Garde zu Fuß ) had similar organization to the line regiments and consisted of 1 fusilier and 2 musketier battalions.

    In summer 1813 the Foot Guard Regiment was removed from the line, causing the other regiments to be re-numbered. The 2nd Foot Guard Regiment was formed from battalion of Colberg Regiment, fusilier battalion of Leib Regiment and a drill demonstration battalion.

    In 1813 and 1814 the Guard Brigade was attached to the Russian Imperial Guard.
    In 1813 in Leipzig it consisted of the following units:

  • 1st Foot Guard Regiment (3 battalions of 750-800 men each)
  • 2nd Foot Guard Regiment (3 battalions of 700-750 men each)
  • Guard Jäger Battalion (400-450 men)
  • Guard Schützen Battalion (400-450 men)

    In 1815 in the Waterloo Campaign the Guard Brigade and Grenadier Brigade
    were part of a separate Prussian corps.

    Guard Jager in 1810, 
picture by Knotel Picture: Guard Jagers in 1810 (in our opinion they were creme de la creme of the Prussian light infantry). Picture by Knotel.

    The Guard Jäger Battalion (Garde-Jäger-Bataillon ) has its origins back to the wars of King Frederick the Great. In 1813 and 1814 they fought in numerous engagements but didn't see any action in Waterloo Campaign in 1815. They wore dark green coats, red collars and cuffs, grey trousers, shako covered with oilcloth, cartridge box with brass star. They were armed with rifles and bayonets.

    After the 1814 campaign a single battalion of Schutzen
    was formed from the volunteers from Neufchatel.
    They joined the Guard.


    The 1st Foot Guards at Lutzen 1813.
Picture by Knotel. The Guard Brigade have participated in some heavy fighting during the campaign of 1813 in Saxony. The Foot Guard Regiment and Guard Jäger Battalion had very high losses at Großgörschen (Lutzen). They did fight in 1813 in Leipzig and in 1814 in Paris. The Guard Jägers took part in a lot of minor skirmishes troughout the 1813/14 campaign.

    In 1815 in the Waterloo Campaign the Guard Brigade was in reserve and took no part in the fighting.
    Guard Brigade - Colonel von Alvensleben

  • 1st Foot Guard Regiment - Ltn.-Colonel von Block
  • 2nd Foot Guard Regiment - Ltn.-Colonel von Muffling
  • Guard Jagers Battalion. - Major von Bock

    One of the battalions of Prussian Guard
    was attacked by French cuirassiers and dragoons
    in Etoges in 1814. Picture by W. Kossak

  • ~

    The grenadiers were men selected for
    their height and strength.


    For the campaign of 1806 Prussia had 27 grenadier battalions. After the defeats at Jena and Auerstadt the number of grenadier battalions and infantry regiments was reduced. The infantry regiments had only 2 grenadier companies each. See below:
    The 1st Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 2nd Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 3rd Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 4th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 5th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 6th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 7th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 8th (Garde/Guard) Infantry Regiment had no grenadiers companies.
    The 9th (Life/Leib) Infantry Regiment had 4 grenadiers companies.
    The 10th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    The 11th Infantry Regiment had 2 grenadiers companies.
    In July 1813 the 8th (Guard) Infantry Regiment was taken out of the numbering of the line, and 9th, 10th, and 11th advanced one step. The new 12th Infantry Regiment was formed from reserve battalions.

    Grenadier of Life/Leib Infantry Regiment.
Picture by Juegel Wolf. For war the grenadier companies formed battalions (4 companies each).

  • - 1st East Prussian Grenadier Battalion
  • - 2nd East Prussian Grenadier Battalion
  • - West Prussian Grenadier Battalion
  • - Silesian Grenadier Battalion
  • - Pommeranian Grenadier Battalion
  • - Leib Grenadier Battalion

    In 1813 the grenadier battalions were distributed among infantry brigades in various army corps. For example at Leipzig two battalions were in Advance Guard, two in 1st Brigade, one in 3rd Brigade etc.

    In 1814 four grenadier battalions were put together and formed one brigade.
    Infanterie-Brigade - Oberst-ltn. Hiller
    . . . . . . battalion of East Prussian grenadiers
    . . . . . . battalion of West Prussian grenadiers
    . . . . . . battalion of Silesian grenadiers
    . . . . . . battalion of Guard grenadiers
    . . . . . . battalion of jagers (or West Prussian fusiliers)

    In the end of 1814 the grenadier battalions were for the first time formed in two full regiments. The honorary chefs of these units became Allies' monarchs, Tsar of Russia and Kaiser of Austria. In 1815 the two units formed a single brigade under von Ratzmer.
    Infanterie-Brigade - Colonel von Ratzmer
    . . . . . . Grenadier-Regiment-Kaiser-Alexander - Major von Schachtmeier
    . . . . . . Grenadier-Regiment-Kaiser-Franz - Ltn.-Colonel von Klür
    . . . . . . Garde-Schützen-Batallion - Major Graf von Meuron

    The Prussian grenadiers were not a precious elite kept in reserves and out of harm's way. They participated in numerous combats, especially those units attached to the advance guard. Two grenadier battalions participated in as many as 20-30 combats (!), the remaining four in 12-15 combats on average. In 1815 the two best battalions (see below) became part of the 1st Grenadier Regiment (1. Grenadier-Regiment-Kaiser-Alexander). The third battalion of this regiment had 15 combats.

    • 1st East Prussian Grenadier Battalion (1. Ostpeußischen Grenadier-Bataillon)
      30 battles: 1806-1807 - Thorn, Pr. Eylau, Friedland, Allenau, Bartenstein, Heilsberg, Gollau and Königsberg, 1813 - Groß-Görschen, Lausigk, Kolditz, Bautzen, Reichenbach, Katzbach, Hochkirch, Wartenburg, Möckern, Freiburg, Hörselberg and blockade von Mainz, 1814 - Vitry, Montmirail, Château Thierry, Mery, Lizy, Gué à Trêmes, Laon, Trilport and Paris.
      Commanders: - Major von Leslie (1813)
    • Life Grenadier Battalion (Leib-Grenadier-Bataillon)
      21 battles: 1807 - Verteidg, Colberg, Sellnow, Ausfallgefechte and Wolfsberg. 1813 - Groß-Görschen, Bautzen, Katzbach, Naumburg, Hochkirch, Reichenbach, Bischofswerda, Hänichen, Möckern, Freiburg and Hörselberg, 1814 - Montmirail, Château Thierry, Laon, Trilport and Paris.
      Commanders: - Major von Goltz, then von Carlowitz (in 1813)

  • ~

    The line infantry made the bulk of the army.

    Line Infantry.
    [Linieren Infanterie]

    Musketiers of 1st and 2nd
West Prussia Infantry Regiment.
in 1813. Picture by Knotel. Picture: musketiers of 1st and 2nd West Prussia Infantry Regiment in War of Liberation in 1813. Picture by Knotel.

    The line infantry included musketiers and grenadiers. The line infantry made the bulk of the army. For example in 1806 there were 147 battalions of line infantry (120 musketier and 27 grenadier) in comparig to only 27 battalions of light infantry (24 fusilier and 3 jägers).

    The average height of Prussian infantryman (in 1811) was 1.63 cm. The minimum height for the recruits was 157 cm but for the guard was 175 cm. "The grenadiers (and guardsmen) were the tallest, although probably the tallest musketeers will have been a bit taller than the shortest grenadiers. Prussian Fusiliers should have been the smallest and most agile men of the regiment, but in fact, they were just the smallest..." (- Oliver Schmidt)

    In March 1813 Prussia had the following infantry regiments:

  • - (1.) 1st East Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (2.) 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regiment
  • - (3.) 2nd East Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (4.) 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (5.) 4th East Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (6.) 1st West Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (7.) 2nd West Prussian Infantry Regiment
  • - (8.) Foot Guard Regiment
  • - (9.) Leib Infantry Regiment [Brandenburg]
  • - (10.) Colberg Infantry Regiment [2nd Pomeranian]
  • - (11.) 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment
  • - (12.) 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment

    One of the best line units was the 9th 'Life' Infantry Regiment (Leib-Infanterie-Regiment). In July 1813 the 8th Infantry Regiment was taken out of the line and became the 1st Foot Guard Regiment (1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß) so the 9th 'Life' Infantry Regiment became the 8th 'Life'. The Life Infantry Regiment was the first unit assigend to the Brandenburg Province but never bore number 1.

    In July 1813 thirty-nine Battalions of Reserve Infantry were grouped into 12 Reserve Infantry Regiments. These troops had little training and they lacked everything; uniforms, weapons etc. They were enthusiastic and patriotic. The reserve infantry regiments became infantry regiments on March 25 1814 and were numbered 13th-24th. (See below.)

  • - (12.) 2nd Brandenburg Infantry Regiment
  • - (13.) 3rd Silesian Infantry Regiment [ex 1st Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (14.) 3rd Pomeranian Infantry Regiment [ex 2nd Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (15.) 4th Silesian Infantry Regiment [ex 3rd Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (16.) 3rd West Prussian Infantry Regiment [ex 4th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (17.) 4th West Prussian Infantry Regiment [ex 5th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (18.) 1st Westphalian Infantry Regiment [ex 6th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (19,) 2nd Westphalian Infantry Regiment [ex 7th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (20.) 3rd Brandenburg Infantry Regiment [ex 8th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (21.) 4th Pomeranian Infantry Regiment [ex 9th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (22.) 1st Rhineland Infantry Regiment [ex 10th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (23.) 2nd Rhineland Infantry Regiment [ex 11th Reserve Infantry Regiment]
  • - (24.) 4th Brandenburg Infantry Regiment [ex 12th Reserve Infantry Regiment]

  • - (25.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Lutzow's infantry
  • - (26.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Elbe Regiment
  • - (27.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Hellwig's infantry, Reiche's jagers,
    reserve battalion of Elbe Regiment and 7th Replacement Battalion
  • - (28.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Berg infantry
  • - (29.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Berg infantry
  • - (30.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Russo-German Legion
  • - (31.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Russo-German Legion
  • - (32.) Infantry Regiment was formed from Westphalian and Saxon militia
    (32nd was not formed before December 1815)

  • ~

    "The physical ability and high intelligence of the common man
    enables the French to profit form all advantages offered by
    the terrain and the general situation, while the phlegmatic
    Germans ... form on open ground and do nothing but what their
    officer orders them to do." - General Scharnhorst

    Light Infantry.
    [Leichte Infanterie].

    Picture: from left to right: two buglers of the Silesian jagers (in campaign and parade uniform), officer and private of the Silesian jagers, three volunteer-jagers (freiwillige-jagers).
    Picture by de Beaufort, France.

    The Fusiliers, Jägers, Volunteers Jägers and Schützen were the Prussian light infantry. However very often the 3rd ranks of musketeers (line infantry) served as skirmishers. They were to make use of woods, bushes, buildings, gardens, walls and hills.

    Two examples below, one from 1813 (Battle of Leipzig) and another from 1815 (Waterloo Campaign). A member of the Prussian 12th Brigade describes attack on Probstheida near Leipzig: "We [skirmishers] moved up via Meusdorf and the brickworks against Probstheida. The first thing that hit our skirmishers - of which I was one - was an artillery crossfire. It didn't take long for us to be scattered. We reformed and threw ourselves into a sunken road up against the loopholed garden wall of the village. We waited until the French had fired a full volley at our main body, jumped out of the road and rushed forward to take half the village. The surprised French fell back before us, abandoning a battery of 10 guns in the centre of the village." (Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig" p 195)
    In 1815 during the pursuit after Waterloo Prussian 12th Brigade attacked the French at Limal. A sunken road obscured by the darkness forced the skirmishers to move sideways. Lieutenant Mannkopff described the skirmish: "We advanced with our skirmishers out in front and a long and determined battle broke out with the enemy voltigeurs in the darkness and amid the man high corn that covered the fields. This soon became chaotically confused, with man fighting man. In this, my men and I had to face enemy voltigeurs and cavalry sometimes to our front, sometimes to our rear. About midnight, where possible, our skirmishers pulled back to the columns and a bayonet attack was made at the charge. However, because of the darkness and high corn, it was impossible to see and keep order. Thus, this action achieved as little as the skirmish fight." [Mannkopff commanded the skirmish platoon of the 4th Company of the 31st Infantry Regiment.]

    The light infantryman had greater allowance of practice rounds per year than the line troops. In 1812 the target practice was:

  • - for Fusiliers were 30 practice rounds
  • - for Jägers were 60 rounds
  • - for Schützen were 60 rounds

    The Jägers were armed with rifles (regular or as gifts from huntsmen and foresters) and "were always considered a crack formation." They were the most professional elite of the infantry. Some were huntsmen and foresters and experienced marksmen and experts at concealement in wooded area. Unfortunately there were only very few formations of jägers.
    In 1815 additional battalion of jägers was raised from the Saxon Jäger Battalion, Saxon 'Volunteer Banners' and jäger company of Russo-German Legion. The Saxons however had little enthusiasm for the war in 1815 and serving in the Prussian army.

    Volunteers Jägers
    The Volunteers Jägers emerged in 1813 and were "members of the educated middle classes" - they uniformed and armed themselves with hunting rifles and carbines or other purchased firearms. There were several thousands of such volunteers organized into small detachments. The volunteers had the possibility of becoming NCOs and officers in the regular troops.
    This is what Loraine Petre writes about the volunteer-jagers: "... young men of independent means, of from 17 to 24 years, equipped and armed at their own expense, or at that of the neighberhood. They were those who did not already belong to the army, and had no sufficient cause for exemption. ... Their numbers are uncertain, but they probably never exceeded 5,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 500 artillery and engineers. Their moral was probably greater than their military value, though later, they formed good schools for the training of officers and under-officers, in supplying whom there was considerable difficulty." (Petre - "Napoleon at War" p 113, publ. 1984)

    The Fusiliers were agile men who served in line regiments as light infantry. They were led by inteligent, fit and young officers. The Fusiliers were armed with ordinary muskets. The Fusileirs were the shortest lads in infantry, just 157cm and slightly above, only the guard fusiliers were between 166cm and 173 cm. Instead of the white leather belts of line infantry they wore black ones. There were no other major differences in uniforms.

    Prussian Schutzen (rifleman) The Schützen were armed with rifles with front and back sight. These were excellent marksmen although - unfortunately - were partially armed with smoothbore muskets instead of rifles. The Schützen were intended to fight in similar way as the Jägers.
    There was only a single battalion of Silesian Schützen (Schlesisches Schützen Bataillon) . After 1814 war an additional battalion of Schutzen was formed from volunteers from Neufchatel. They joined the Guard Infantry.
    In 1814 at Vauchamps, two companies of the Prussian Silesian Schutzen (240 riflemen) found themselves with a single squadron of Polish Guard Lancers sitting on their line of escape from the disaster that was befalling on their brigade.
    The Schutzen formed a column and charged forward cutting their way through the enemy cavalry. This is one of the few instance where infantry actually charged with bayonets against cavalry ! The casualty report lists only shakos and bayonets as the result of actual physical contact with the horsemen.

  • ~

    "Theoretically the Landwehr were to be used only for
    home defence purposes within the frontiers of Prussia,
    but in practice they were used exactly as if they were regulars."
    ( - Digby Smith)

    "At first, the front rank was often armed with pikes or scythes,
    and it was only as French muskets were taken from the battlefields
    that the men were armed with yet another pattern of firearm."
    (Petre - "Napoleon at War" p 114)

    Landwehr Infantry.
    [Landwehr Infanterie]

    Landwehr infantry Picture: Silesian landwehr, by de Beaufort, France.

    Loraine Petre writes: "A decree of the king established the landwehr, based on the model of that of Austria of 1809. ... As the impoverished state of Prussian finances precluded much assistance from the State, the expense of equipment had to fall on the men themselves, or their villages. ... At first, the front rank was often armed with pikes or scythes, and it was only as French muskets were taken from the battlefields that the men were armed with yet another pattern of firearm. There was a great dearth of officers, as most of the half-pay officers still fit for service were required for the reserve battalions. All sorts of officials, many of them very unsuitable as military officers, joined, and it was only later on that men of some experience were got from the 'volunteer-jagers, etc. Naturally, the landwehr, as a whole, was at first of no great military value, though their initial worth was in some corps (Yorck's and Bulow's especially) enhanced by long marches and still more by early successes." (Petre - "Napoleon at War" p 114)

    The Landwehr accepted men aged 25 to 40, too old and weak for the regular troops. They were equipped not by the central goverment and ministry of war but by provinces. The men wore either a black or dark blue Litevka coat with white, dark blue or grey trousers. Each regiment had three battalions of 4 companies.
    "Theoretically the Landwehr were to be used only for home defence purposes within the frontiers of Prussia, but in practice they were used exactly as if they were regulars. Initially only 20,000 were raised, armed with French muskets gathered up by the Russians as they pursued the disintegrating Grande Armee out of Russia." (Digby-Smith, - p 36)

    "The Prussian Landwehr regiments adopted and carried in the field many unofficial designs of flags prior to the issuing of the order of 30th September 1813 which prohibited their further use. From October that year until 1816 when a new official Landwehrfahne was introduced it seems that these units were without flags." (-

    In June 1815 were the following Landwehr regiments:

  • East-Prussian - 5 regiments
  • West-Prussian - 2 (the 3rd after June 1815)
  • Pomeranian - 3
  • Neumark - 3
  • Kurmark - 7
  • Silesia - 15
  • Elbe - 4
  • Berg - 1
  • Upper Saxony - 2 (raised in the first half of 1815)
  • Thuringia - 1 (raised in the first half of 1815, the 2nd was ordered to be formed on June 25, 1815)
  • Westphalia - 8 (in Aug 1815 the 6th, 7th and 8th were not yet fully formed)
  • Posen - 5 regiments were to be raised after Nov 1815
  • Rhineland - 8 still in the state of formation in June 1815, but in Sept they marched into France

    Picture: Battle of Lutzen, picture by Oleg Parkhaiev of Russia. On the left Prussian Landwehr.

    The performance of the Landwehr in combat varied. They stampeded on several occassions and also had some splendid actions. Digby-Smith writes: "The Prussian Landwehr received their baptism of fire at Lowenberg. The Schweidnitz battaalion braved canister fire and threw the enemy back at the point of the bayonet. They were only taken out of the line when they ran out of ammunition, and when they marched past Yorck he had his line regiments oresent arms to them. Blucher wrote: 'At first it was only so-so with the Landwehr battalions, but now that they've had a good taste of powder, they're as good as the line battalions.' Napoleon, however, had a very different opinnion of them. When he saw some captured Landwehr, he wrote: 'The enemy infantry is absolutely wretched; this encourages me." (Digby-Smith, - pp 18-19)

    In 1815 in the battle of Ligny, the II Btn. of 1.Westphalian Landwehr formed square on top of a hill near Brye. The Landwehr was charged three times by French cuirassiers and heavy cavalry of Old Guard. Each time the Landwehr fired volley and the French retired with casualties.

    This is a myth that the Landwehr was never used in skirmish order. They were used as skirmishers if only the tactical situation required it. On few occassions even entire battalions were employed in such formation. In 1813 at Hagelberg the full IV Battalion of 3rd Kurmark Landwehr deployed into skirmish formation and advanced forward together with two other battalion formed in columns screened by their own skirmishers. In the end of battle approx. 300 Prussian skirmishers pursued 2 battalions of French infantry (total 1.000 men). These skirmishers were joined by Cossacks and Russian guns and the French halted and surrendered.
    But generally the Landwehr was poorly trained and armed and the generals prefered other troops in skirmish role.

    The typical Landwehr uniform was designed for function and serviceability, not show. The outfit was much plainer than the finery worn by most regular troops but were easily manufactured in the numbers necessary to outfit tens of thousands. They also wore captured French and purchased British items. "Their uniforms had to be provided by the municipalities, which led to many unfortunates marching off to war in terribly poor quality clothing which quickly fell apart. They had only one pair of shoes, which often fit badly and were frequently torn off in deep mud, leaving many soldiers barefoot for much of the campaign." (Digby-Smith, - p 36)

    Generally the Landwehr infantry wore either black or dark blue Litevka coat with grey or white trousers. The collar and cuffs were in the provincial colour (see diagram below).

    Uniforms of Prussian Landehr Infantry

    Province Coat Litevka Collar and Cuffs Buttons
    East Prussia Dark Blue Poppy Red White
    Kurmark and Neumark Dark Blue Poppy Red Yellow
    West Prussia Dark Blue Black White
    Pomerania Dark Blue White Yellow
    Silesia Dark Blue Yellow White
    Westphalia Dark Blue Green White
    Elbe Dark Blue Light Blue Yellow
    Rhineland Dark Blue Madder Red Yellow

    Standart of Landwehr 
battalion 1813 "The Prussian Landwehr regiments adopted and carried in the field many unofficial designs of flags prior to the issuing of the order of 30th September 1813 which prohibited their further use.
    From October that year until 1816 when a new official Landwehrfahne was introduced it seems that these units were without flags. The designs shown here are based on written descriptions as there are no surviving relics. The exception being the flag of the ... read more > " (


    Flags of Prussian Landwehr
    Flags of Prussian Landwehr.
    Source: click here
    This is an excellent (and large !) collection
    of Napoleonic flags by Alan Pendlebury.
    Please visit his website.

  • ~

    Interview with Oliver Schmidt.

    1. Prussian Rifles.
    There was a Prussian production of rifles, and over the years slowly the Jägers and Schützen were equipped with them. Freiwillige Jägers brought their own rifles, of different calibers, so everybody had to make his own balls and cartridges.
    Basically, I would say there was not big difference between the offcial pattern and the privately made ones. The advantage of having many (or, best, only) rifles of the same pattern within a unit are that it s easier to have spare parts for repair at hand, and the same caliber eases ammunitiopn supply a lot. I haven't got data at hand about fire rate and range, there will have been no significant difference between Prussian and other rifles.

    2. Differences in Training Between Jägers and Fusiliers.
    Jägers were sharpshooters, aiming was very important. Fusiliers would nomally be used as regular line infantry, even though all of them were able to skirmish (unlike the musketeers and grenadiers, in which only the 3rd rank was trained for skirmishing). Jägers of course were trained in the regular movements of column and line, too, but were used in difficult terrain.

    3. On Grenadiers' Uniforms.
    In October 1814, the Grenadiers carried their particular sword tassels, and that the first two companies of each battalion had white and the other two red shoulder straps (yellow and mid blue respectively in the II. Ostpreußisches Grenadier-Bataillon). The buttons on the shoulder straps of Grenadiers carried the number of the company within their parent regiment in Roman letters. When the two grenadier regiments were formed, the initials of their respective chefs were sewn in woolen cord on their shoulder straps, and the sword tassels and buttons on the shoulder straps became like those of the other regiments.

    4. Morale of the Freiwillige Jägers (Volunteer Jägers)
    For the detachments of Freiwillige Jägers, the same applies as what I wrote about the morale of the other components of the army. Undoubtedly, many volunteers had a very high morale, but there were also men (espcially in 1815) who volunteered to avoid being drafted anyway and who just wanted to take part in the prerogativs given to the Freiwillige Jägers - or avoid being together with ordinary men whom some of them considered riff-raff ... Discipline often was not as strict as in the line, training was not very thorough, so I wouldn't rank these volunteers above average. Many of these volunteers came from towns, had never fired a shot before they bought their rifle, and they were not as fit and healthy as the men from the countryside who filled the ranks of the line. The mixture of basically high motivation and generally bad bodily and training condition was different for every detachment, much depended on the commander of the detachment. And, of course, also the "moral" of the Freiwillige Jägers detachments would raise with the experience gained on campaign.

    5. Organization of Regiment, Battalion and Company.
    The existence of a third rank in infantry was vital, as its men were taken for skirmishing. So you would always form up in three ranks, in order to form the skirmishers platoons (Schützen-Züge). When the skirmishers had been taken out, the rest of the battalion of course consisted only of the two remaining ranks. So - for example - in a battalion of 400 men, you would form up in three ranks, take out the 4 skirmisher platoons formed from the third rank, 260 men would rest in the line in two ranks (1st and 2nd rank), making a front of 130 men. I haven't come accross any definite source by now that after battles with unequal losses in the companies, men were transfered from one company to another in order to equalize the strength, but somehow this must have been done. If battalions became too weak, they would be combined with other weak battalions. This happened for example after 15th June in the 2rd brigade, when the maimed Fusilier-Bataillon of the 28. Infanterie-Regiment (over 600 men lost) and the 3. Bataillon of the 2. Westphälisches Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment were combined in one battalion.

    In the company of Muketiers or Fusiliers formed up in the regulation strength prescribed on 12th January 1813 the distance between the ranks is 2 Fuß (63 cm) measured from back to breast. The Unteroffiziere's rank is 2 Schritt (146 cm) from the third rank of the company. The Seconde-Lieutenant's rank is 2 Schritt (146 cm) behind the Unteroffiziere's rank. The men are equally distributed into two Züge (platoons), who were numbered according to their position in the battalion, counting from the right of the battalion deployed in line. The 1st company consists of the 1st and 2nd Zug, the 2nd company of the 3rd and 4th Zug, etc. The senior company or Zug (with the lower number) was always formed up on the right. The files were also counted starting from the right. Each Zug was divided into Sektionen, which should have 6 or 5 files. If there were not enough men to fill the last file on the left of the Zug, the place in its second and third rank was to remain free.

    The senior and the junior Seconde-Lieutenant are behind the comapny's first Zug, the second Seconde-Lieutenant is behind the company's second Zug. The Feldwebel's position is behind the 2nd file of the company's first Zug. When Kapitain or Premier-Lieutenant leave their position, they are replaced by the Unteroffizier from the third rank behind them. When the Kapitain commands the whole company, his place is taken by the senior Seconde-Lieutenant. When the battalion was formed up in line, at least one Unteroffizier of each company was detached to the colour section. All the drummers and buglers were formed up in one rank behind the right wing of the 5th Zug, at a distance of 2 Schritt (146 cm) behind the rank of officers. If there were musicians, they would be formed up behind the left wing of the 4th Zug.

    Prussian infantry company according to the regulation of 12 January 1813

    ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppP . pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppK sss
    pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp . . ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp
    .pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppU . pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppU

    . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . U . . . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . . U . . . F

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S . . . . . . . . . . S

    K Kapitan (1)
    P Premier-Leutenant (1)
    S Seconde-Leutenant (3)
    F Feldwebel (1)
    U Unteroffizier (14)
    p private (182)
    s Spielmann (drummer) (3)

    Above is a Prussian infantry company according to the regulation of 12 January 1813 and its formation according to the 1812 regulation for infantry. Unfortunately, it was not printed in my Osprey title. From the same date, the officers of the battalion were to consist of 1 staff officer as battalion commander (A "staff officer" - Stabsoffizier- can be any rank above Kapitan/Hauptmann and below general. For example: Major, Oberst-Lieutenant or Oberst), 1 adjudant (usually a Seconde Lieutenant), 1 "Rechnungsführer" (account manager, usually also a Seconde Lieutenant) and 17 other officers distributed to the companies. These officers were lower officers: probably 1 captain, 1 Premier-Lieutenant and 1 Secode-Lieutenant per company - there will have been variations.

    From 2 December 1808, in peacetime, a regiment had 1 staff officer as commander (who will have been assigned a lieutenant from the regiment as adjudant).

    Per battalion, there was 1 Büchsenmacher (gun maker) and per regiment 1 Büchsenschäfter (gun stock maker). For each battalion, there was a Bataillons-Tambour (named Bataillons-Hornist - battalion bugler - from 1811), and in addition 1 Regiemtns-Tambour. The regiments were allowed 10 regular (paid) "Hautboist"s (musicians), but most officer corps put together some money to increase this number in order to afford a bigger regimental band.

    In each company, a few men carried an axe, a pickaxe or a spade. The soldiers disliked the extra weight. These items could hinder the aiming of the second rank. In May 1815, on its own initiative, the I/23. Infanterie-Regiment had formed an extra section of 12 pioneers, who had been picked from the companies. On their left shoulder they carried axes instead of muskets and wore a shovel and a pickaxe on a sling over the back. They formed up in one rank with the NCOs, behind the Color party. At Ligny they smashed doors and windows of houses which had been occupied by the French, making it much easier to dislodge the enemy. (No beard was required for the sapper.)

    The battalion of jägers (or Schützen) had the same organisation, but according to the regulation of 12 January 1812 they had lesser numbers of rank and file (but the same number of officers as the regular infantry battalions): 40 NCOs, 9 buglers, 452 Jäger or Schützen

    According to regulations issued on 24th February 1813 the detachments of Freiwillige Jägers were formed in 2 ranks if below and in thre ranks if above a strength of 100 men. On parade, the detachment stood on the right flank of the battalion. Marching past a superior, they were at the head of the battalion, in front of the musicians, the battalion commander and his adjudant at their (the volunteers') head. For exercise, the detachemnt is 50 paces behind the middle of the battalion in line. In attack column (compare my Osprey Warrior), the first platoon of the detachment between the 2nd and 3rd platoon of the battalion, the second platoon of the detachment between the 6th and 7th platoon of the battalion (Means, the attack column is two platoons wide and 5 platoons deep). They should be used for skirmishing, also for detachents and field duties, but shouldn't be fatigued too much. Their main purpose was to train the volunteers to become officers later - at least those who were apt for it.

    When the two regiments of grenadiers were formed, they were organised along the pattern of the other infantry regiments: therefore their 3rd battalion was a battalion of Fusiliere (in which everybody, not only the men of the third rank, was to be trained as skirmisher). So each of the two Grenadier-Regimenter consisted of: 1. Bataillon, 2. Bataillon and Fusilier-Bataillon. However, the men of all the battalions were called Grenadiere. So you will find the denomination "Grenadier of the Fusilier-Bataillon of the Kaiser-Alexander-Genadier-Regiment".

    In the Landwehr in the course of the campaigns in some regiments one battalion did specialise as Füsiliere, there is an order by Blücher of June 1815 that all the Landwehr regiments which did not yet have a Fusilier-Bataillon should appoint one.

    Thank You Oliver

    Sources and Links.
    Recommended Reading.

    Schmidt - "Prussian Regular Infantryman 1808-1815", Osprey 2003
    Hofschroer - "Prussian Light Infantry 1792-1815" 1984
    Nafziger - "Imperial Bayonets" 1996
    Craig - "The Germans" , published in 1991.
    Digby-Smith - "1813: Leipzig"
    Duffy - "Frederick the Great" , Rutledge 1985
    Duffy - "The Army of Frederick the Great" New York 1974
    Holborn - "A History of Modern Germany 1648-1840" publ. in 1982
    Petre - "Napoleon’s Conquest of Prussia 1806", Greenhill 1993
    Simms - "The Struggle for Mastery in Germany" St. Martin’s Press 1998
    Information supplied by Oliver Schmidt of Germany.
    flags from
    "Deutsche Uniformen - Das Zeitalter Friedrich des Großen" von Herbert Knötel d. J., Text und Erläuterungen von Dr. Martin Letzius, Herausgegeben von der Sturm-Zigaretten GmbH Dresden-A. 21 (Erscheinungsjahr: 1932)
    Prussian Infantry 1815 (plastic soldiers for wargaming and dioramas).
    Colors of Prussian infantry regiments (1740-1806).
    Military Flags 1701-1918 (Prussia, Germany).

    Prussian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

    Prussian Infantry - - Prussian Cavalry - - Prussian Artillery

    Battle of Dennewitz, 1813
    General von Bulow crushed Marshal Ney
    Battle of Leipzig, 1813
    The Battle of the Nations,
    the largest conflict until World War One:
    Battle of Waterloo, 1813
    The German Victory - interview with Peter Hofschroer

    Infantry Combat and Tactics
    Musketry, Accuracy of Muskets, Bayonet Attacks

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies