The Russian Napoleonic Army, 1812

Infantry Regiments, Brigades and Divisions

Russian Napoleonic Infantry Regiment Libava, 1812.

Following the disastrous defeat at Austerlitz, in 1805, the Russian military administration was reorganized. The system of military disctricts, called Inspections, was maintained only in the Caucasus, Orenburg and Siberian region. In other parts of the country, 13 mixed divisions of infantry, heavy and light cavalry, light, heavy and horse artillery were formed. The new system was an improvement, but it still was no match for the French system of grouping separate and homogeneous infantry and cavalry divisions only at the corps level. The French system empowered the division commanders, allowing him to focus on his particular arm of service, leaving the combined arms operations to dedicated staff officers and aides-de-camp at the corps level. On the move, French cavalry divisions were no longer held in check by their slower infantry comrades, they scouted the operational area for likely targets and kept the enemy engaged until the infantry divisions came up and took over.

Russian General Barclay de Tolly recognized the advantages of the corps system and he introduced it in the Russian army in 1812. Infantry divisions were standardized at two infantry brigades plus one Jäger brigade of two regiments each. The two standing grenadier divisions differed in that they did not have a Jäger brigade, probably because the grenadiers could be expected to fulfill the role of skirmishing light infantry equally well. Some divisions were understrength, lacking a regiment or a Jäger regiment. The 19th and 20th division were overstrength, both had an additional 5th infantry regiment and the 20th had an additional Jäger regiment.

Regiments of a division were distinguished by differently coloured shoulder straps: 1st regiment red, 2nd white, 3rd yellow, 4th green with red edging, 5th light blue, Jägers yellow or light blue. Red shoulder straps were worn in the standing grenadier regiments. Converged grenadier regiments were made up of grenadier companies of the depot (2nd) battalions of the line infantry regiments, and they wore the shoulder straps of their parent regiments. Divisional numbers were embroidered in red, or yellow on red straps.

Guard Division

  • Preobraschenski Life-Guard (3 battalions)
  • Ssemenovski Life-Guard (3 battalions)
  • Ismailovski Life-Guard (3 battalions)
  • Litovski Life-Guard (3 battalions)
  • Life-Guard Jägers
  • Finland Life-Guard Jägers

1st Infantry Division

  • Leib-Grenadiers
  • Count Araktschejew Grenadier-Regiment
  • Pavlov Grenadier-Regiment
  • Jektarinoslav Grenadier-Regiment
  • St. Petersburg Grenadier-Regiment
  • Tauride Grenadier-Regiment

2nd Infantry Division

  • Kiev Grenadier-Regiment
  • Moskau Grenadier-Regiment
  • Astrakhan Grenadier-Regiment
  • Fanagoria Grenadier-Regiment
  • Siberia Grenadier-Regiment
  • Little Russia Grenadier-Regiment

3rd Grenadier Division, 22 combined grenadier battalions

Combined Grenadier Division of 5th Corps, 26 grenadier battalions

Combined Grenadier Division of Corps Kamenski, 18 grenadier battalions

Shoulder Boards of the Russian Infantry Regiments of the Napoleonic Wars

Div./Corps red white yellow green/red light blue
3./III. Reval Murmansk Chernigov Koporsk
4./II. Krementschug Minsk Tobolsk Volhynia
5./I. Ssievski Gr. Kaluga Perm Mohilev
6./Finland Brjansk Nisov Uglich Azov
7./VI. Pskov Moscow Libau Sofia
8./Turkey Ukraine Archangel Schlüsselburg Old-Ingermanland
9./Markow Nascheburg Riazsk Apsheron Yakutsk
10./Turkey Bielostok Crimea Kursk Jaroslaw
11./IV. Kexholm Gr. Pernau Podolsk Jelez
12./VII. Smolensk Narva Alexopol New-Ingermanland
13./Turkey Galitsch Veliki-Luki Penza Saratov
14./I. Tula Navaginsk Estonia Tenginsk
15./Markow Vitebsk Koslov Kolyvan Kura
16./– Neuschlot Okhotsk Kamenchatka Mingrelia
17./II. Rjasan Bjelosersk Vilmannstrand Brest
18./Kamenski Vladimir Tambov Kostroma Dnieper
19./Georgien Kazan Ssusdal Bielov Sewastopol Vologda
20./Georgien Grusinia Chersson Troitsk Tiflis Kabardinsk
21./Finland Petrovsk Podolia Neva Litauen
22./Turkey Vjatka Stawropol Olonetz Vyburg
23./IV. Riga Ektarinburg Seleguinsk
24./VI. Ufa Shirvan Boutyrk Tomsk
25./Finland 1. Marine 2. Marine 3. Marine Woronesh
26./VII. Lagoda Poltava Nishegorod Orel
27./VIII. Odessa Zhitomir Vilna Simbirsk

Shoulder Boards of the Russian Jäger Regiments of the Napoleonic Wars

Division / Corps yellow light blue
3./III. 20. Jäger-Regiment 21. Jäger-Regiment
4./II. 4. Jäger-Regiment 34. Jäger-Regiment
5./I. 23. Jäger-Regiment 24. Jäger-Regiment
6./Finland 3. Jäger-Regiment 35. Jäger-Regiment
7./VI. 11. Jäger-Regiment 36. Jäger-Regiment
8./Turkey 7. Jäger-Regiment 37. Jäger-Regiment
9./Markow 10. Jäger-Regiment 38. Jäger-Regiment
10./Turkey 8. Jäger-Regiment 39. Jäger-Regiment
11./IV. 1. Jäger-Regiment 33. Jäger-Regiment
12./VII. 6. Jäger-Regiment 41. Jäger-Regiment
13./Turkey 2. Jäger-Regiment 22. Jäger-Regiment
14./I. 25. und 26. Jäger-Regiment
15./Markow 13. Jäger-Regiment 14. Jäger-Regiment
17./II. 30. Jäger-Regiment 48. Jäger-Regiment
18./Kamenski 28. Jäger-Regiment 32. Jäger-Regiment
19./Georgien 16. und 17. Jäger-Regiment
20./Georgien 9. und 15. Jäger-Regiment 46. Jäger-Regiment
21./Finland 2. Jäger-Regiment 44. Jäger-Regiment
22./Turkey 29. Jäger-Regiment 45. Jäger-Regiment
23./IV. 18. Jäger-Regiment
24./VI. 19. Jäger-Regiment 40. Jäger-Regiment
25./Finland 31. Jäger-Regiment 47. Jäger-Regiment
26./VII. 5. Jäger-Regiment 42. Jäger-Regiment
27./VIII. 49. Jäger-Regiment 50. Jäger-Regiment

The divisions on the Turkish front were released after the 1812 peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire. Some of these formations were re-deployed against the French army, causing the enemy significant problems during the withdrawal and the crossing of the Beresina.

Russian Napoleonic Miniatures