Russian Infantry Units

“The Russians had to be beaten down man by man … our soldiers fired upon them at 25 paces, they continued their march without replying, every regiment filed past, without saying a word, or slackening its pace for a moment. The streets were filled with dying and wounded, but not a groan was heard … you might have said that they were firing at shadows. At last our soldiers charged the Russian soldiers with the bayonet, and only when they pierced them could they be convinced that they were dealing with men.”

Baron de Marbot – Battle of Golymin
General Raievski and the Russian Infantry in 1812

According to the French author Loraine Petre the stamina of Russian foot troops were incredible. The Russians were able to march for days at a time at night and still have the energy to fight in battle, all with very little rest or food.

The vast majority of Russian infantry were uneducated country people. Their illiteracy ratio was higher than that of any other European country at the time with only 1 private in 24 being able to read and write in the 1790’s. Even among the NCO’s 1 in 6 corporals and 4 in 14 sergeants were literate.

The Russians also had a reputation for drinking, with the troopers receiving 3/8 litre of ‘liquor’. Anything stronger than beer was often diluted. According to Bulgarin, in the Battle of Heilsberg (1807), Grand Duke Constantine brought two wagons of ‘Grain Wine’ and Suhary for his Uhlan regiment before they were to go into action.

“When they are on the offensive they are fortified by copious distributions of alcohol, and they attack with a courage which verges on a frenzy, and would rather get killed than fall back. The only way to make them desist is to kill a great number of their officers .. The Russian infantry withstand fire fearlessly, but their own fire is badly directed .. they are machines which are actuated only by the orders of their officers.”

Tedd Kosciuszko – Polish revolutionary leader

Each Russian regiment was made up of three battalions of four companies, Grenadier Regiments had one Grenadier battalions and two fusilier battalions. Musketier (Musketeer) regiments had one Grenadier battalion and two Musketeer battalions, while Jager regiments were composed of three Jager battalions.

Like my articles for the Austrian forces, I will run through each unit type and then summarise their unit attributes and any special rules at the end of their sections.

LINE INFANTRY

“The bullet’s an idiot, the bayonets a fine chap’

“Pulia duraka, no shtyk molodets” – Suvorovian Motto

The Russian weaponry was often a mix of different calibre muskets as well as muskets from foreign nations in addition to their own. Many muskets were so old and worn out from firing that they would no longer function.

There were thousands of captured weapons, and the Russians considered the French ‘Charleville’ musket as the lightest and best made, the British ‘Brown Bess’ was larger but more durable while the Prussian, Swedish and old Russian muskets were considered unwieldly.

Between 1803 and 1812 the Russian factories in Tula issued 20,000 rifles, but this was withdrawn in June 1808 and used only by NCO’s and 12 marksmen in a line infantry’s Jaeger company.

Unit Attributes

Russian Line Infantry

Special Rules

  • Jaeger Company – One firing dice per firing action can be rolled using the ranges of Rifles (8cm Long/4cm Effective).

GUARD INFANTRY

The elite of the Russian infantry, which were comparable to the French Guard units. The officers of Guard infantry were from nobility and were treated as two ranks above their counterparts in the other infantry regiments, while NCO’s were treated as a rank higher.

The guard received the best uniforms, the best weapons and the best recruits. Tsar Paul revised the Guard and imposed discipline and accountability on its commanders. Tsar Paul also removed all officers not on active duty and the Guard were to learn the Prussian drill which at that time was considered to be the best in Europe. Tsar Paul was eventually murdered, some of those involved in his murder were Officers of the Guard…. His son Alexander took the Guard to battle at every opportunity which garnered them experience and soon made them some of the best troops in Europe. They became particularly well known for their endurance.

Unit Attributes

Russian Guard Unit Card

Special Rules

  • Brave – Each turn a unit with this ability may automatically pass one morale test.
  • Jaeger Company – One firing dice per firing action can be rolled using the ranges of Rifles (8cm Long/4cm Effective).

JAGERS

The Russian troops were assigned regiments depending on their stature. The tallest would become Grenadiers, while the smallest would become Jagers. This changed later in the war when in 1811 Field Marshal Barclay de Tolly changed the system so that personal merit and worth determined a man’s assignment.

Jagers were the standard Russian light infantry unit, and while classified as light troops their skirmishing ability was almost non-existent. The majority were armed with Muskets, while a few 12 sharpshooters in each company were equipped with Rifles.

Unit Attributes

Russia Jager Unit Card

Special Rules

  • Jaeger Company – One firing dice per firing action can be rolled using the ranges of Rifles (8cm Long/4cm Effective).
  • Deployment Marker – Units of Jagers allows the owning player to use an additional deployment marker in the scouting phase.

OPOLCHENIE

Raised in 1812 as part of the defence of Russia from Napoleon. These makeshift units were poorly armed and poorly trained. There were often not even enough muskets for each man, and instead pikes were issued were muskets were not.

Unit Attributes

Russian Opolchenie Unit Card

Special Rules

None

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SOURCES

http://napolun.com/mirror/napoleonistyka.atspace.com/Russian_guard.htm

https://www.napoleon-series.org/military-info/organization/c_russianskirm.html

http://www.theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=212800

https://blundersonthedanube.blogspot.com/2012/02/russian-opolchenie-militia-1812.html

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