Observation Corps Grenadiers

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Observation Corps Grenadiers

Origin and History

The Observation Corps was created in October 1756. Its Grenadier regiment was also created in 1756 and should consist of 4 battalions totaling 5,383 men (a field force of 4,572 men and about 811 non-combatant servicemen). The theoretical organisation of this regiment was as follows:

  • Regimental staff
    • Senior staff
      • 1 colonel
      • 2 lieutenant-colonels
      • 4 majors (2 first-majors and 2 second-majors)
    • Junior staff
      • 1 quartermaster
      • 3 adjutants
      • 1 auditor
      • 2 doctors
      • 2 popes
      • 4 surgeons
      • 1 clerk
      • 1 superintendent
      • 1 quartermaster's clerk
      • 1 drummer
  • Regimental ordnances
    • 148 servicemen
    • 73 artillery servicemen
    • 161 paramedics
    • 1 chaplain
    • 6 oboists
    • 1 foreign blacksmith
    • 5 Russian blacksmiths
    • 1 foreign farrier
    • 9 Russian farrier
    • 1 regimental provost
    • 4 battalion provosts
    • 4 masters of horses
    • 1 cleric
  • 4 field battalions, each of:
    • 5 companies of grenadiers, each of:
      • 1 captain or 1 major (1st first-major with the 3rd coy, 2nd first-major with the 14th, 1st second-major with the 7th coy, 2nd second-major with the 10th)
      • 2 lieutenants
      • 3 second-lieutenants, including 8 standard bearers distributed among the following coys: 1st, 3rd, 7th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 18th
      • 4 sergeants
      • 1 captain of arms (Kaptänarmusse)
      • 1 quartermaster (Fourier)
      • 8 corporals
      • 4 drummers
      • 2 fifers
      • 192 grenadier privates
      • 15 grenadier privates non-combatants
      • 2 canoniers
      • 8 gunners
      • 1 carpenter
      • 1 clerk
      • 1 barber
  • Regimental artillery (18 pieces):
    • 4 x "secret" howitzers
    • 2 x ¼-pud unicorns
    • 12 x ½-pud unicorns

N.B.: the pud is an old Russian unit of measure equivalent to 40 or 48 pounds.

However, the regiment never reached its full nominal strength. In the Autumn of 1757, two battalions initially stationed in Moscow were sent to Livonia. They totalled 69 officers, 2,384 men and approx. 340 non-combatants. By 1758, only three battalions could take the field. After the Battle of Zorndorf, its field strength was reduced to only two battalions. At the beginning of 1760, entire Observation Corps was disbanded and its troops were integrated into the Fusilier Regiments of the Artillery.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • no information found yet

Service during the War

In January 1758, the 3 battalions of the regiment took part in the invasion of East Prussia. On April 19, the regiment was near Grodno. On August 6, during the invasion of Brandenburg, the Observation Corps marched from Paradise Kloster through Birnbaum to Schwerin on the Wartha river where it encamped. On August 10, Czernichef was instructed to march from Schwerin to Landsberg with the Observation Corps. On August 23, the Observation Corps marched from Landsberg to make a junction with Fermor's main army at Zorndorf. The junction was made at 2:00 PM on August 24 and the Observation Corps was deployed en potence on the flank facing Quartschen. On August 25, the regiment took part in the battle of Zorndorf where it was deployed at the extreme left of the Observation Corps. After this battle, the regiment was reduced to two battalions.

On July 23 1759, the regiment took part in the battle of Paltzig. A few weeks later, on August 12, it fought at the battle of Kunersdorf where it was deployed in the first line of the left wing as part of Essen's brigade.

At the beginning of 1760, the entire Observation Corps was disbanded.

Uniform

Russian regiments of grenadiers all wore the same uniforms.

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template
Summer uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer n/a
Grenadier until 1759: mitre with a brass frontplate embossed with a double-eagle surmounted by empress Elizabeth's cipher, a black leather skull-cap and neck guard with brass reinforcements and decorations, a white wool pompon

from 1759: black felt tricorne laced white with a white cockade on the left fastened with a bronze button (however battlefield evidences indicate that mitre caps were still in use August 1759)

Neckstock black
Coat dark green with 9 copper buttons on the right side on the chest and 9 red trimmed buttonholes, and 2 copper buttons (one on each side) in the small of the back

N.B.: During summer campaigns, the coat was not worn, being left with the baggage. Soldiers carried a cornflower blue cape rolled over the shoulder. Since the waistcoat was red, Russian line infantry appeared to be entirely clad in red.

Collar red
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets none
Cuffs red with 3 copper buttons
Turnbacks red, each fastened with a copper button
Waistcoat long sleeved red waistcoat lined green with 9 copper buttons and 9 red trimmed buttonholes, and with 2 en patte d'oie pockets each with 3 copper buttons and 3 red trimmed buttonholes
Breeches red
Gaiters black leather with 10 large copper buttons (white for parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt none
Waistbelt red leather
Cartridge Box black covered with a copper plate decorated with a double-eagle surmounted by empress Elizabeth's cipher (worn on the waist belt)
Bayonet Scabbard ???
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear black dragoon boots


During winter, line infantry wore knee-length cornflower blue cape.

Troopers were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre. The sabre differed from those of the regular line infantry: it had a curved handle and no guard.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the troopers but were distinguished by their gold laces on their tricorne, collar, and cuffs.

Officers

Most officers wore gold laced tricorne (gold/black pompons) but some officers wore a mitre.

The gorget worn by the officers the same device carried on the colours. It was the main feature to differentiate ranks:

  • colonel: gold with a coloured decoration (same colour as those used on the flags)
  • lieutenant-colonel: gold
  • major: gold
  • captain: silver bordered gold with the entire decoration in gold
  • lieutenant: silver with the entire decoration in gold
  • second-lieutenant: silver with golden cipher and rays
  • ensign: silver

Officer’s coat was similar to other rank’s but with a gold laced collar and lateral pockets closed by lapels en patte d’oie with 3 golden buttons each. Generally officers wore the coat with opened turnbacks. They also wore white cravates, green breeches and yellow gloves.

Officers carried a musket in action, the use of halberds and spontoons was abandoned.

Officers also carried a sword suspended to a red leather belt.

Officer’s cartridge box was edged in gold.

Officer’s saddlecloth and holsters were red with round posterior corner, edged with one or two gold stripes (the inner one broader), as rank distinction. EPI ciphers on the corner and holsters.

Staff officers wore a black and gold sash.

Officers wore black dragoon boots.

Musicians

Observation Corps Fifer Uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template
Observation Corps Drummer Uniform in 1757 - Source: rf-figuren from a Not By Appointment template

Drummers wore the same uniform as the troopers with swallow nests on shoulders and braids on cuffs, pockets and collar.

Fifers wore the same uniform as the troopers with braids on cuffs, pockets and collar (no swallow nests on the shoulders).

The Drum Major had a gold edge on his tricorne, and gold braids on cuffs and collar.

Drums were made in copper, the regimental coat of arms engraved in the front, bordered in red and green, green and white cords.

Important notice: Even though our illustrations depict yellow laces, the colour of the braids on the uniforms of the musicians were chosen by the colonel. For instance, it could have been the distinctive colour of the regiment (shown on the ordonnance flag). They were often decorated with red “XXXX” in the middle.

N.B.: During summer campaigns, the green coat was not worn, being left with the baggage. Since the waistcoat was red, Russian line infantry musicians appeared to be entirely clad in red.

Colours

Each regiment of the Observation Corps carried 1 white flag and 7 coloured flags. The flags measured from 1,32 to 1,42 m. high by 1,58 x 1,73 m. wide. They were mounted on a 3,02 m. the flagpole had a gilded finial. The flag was nailed to the pole with gilded nails.

Colonel Flag: white field with flames (each flame probably carrying a black grenade, the usual distinction of grenadier regiments in the Russian army) in the corners. In its centre: an Imperial Eagle bearing on a central breastplate the illustration of St. George killing the dragon. The Imperial Eagle stands on a trophy of red flags and infantry equipment (drums, mitres, grenades...). The Imperial Eagle was surmounted by golden rays bearing the crowned Elizabeth's cipher in gold. The whole scene rested on a white cloud.

Regimental Flag: coloured field with flames (each flame probably carrying a black grenade, the usual distinction of grenadier regiments in the Russian army) in the corners. In its centre: an Imperial Eagle bearing on a central breastplate the illustration of St. George killing the dragon. The Imperial Eagle stands on a trophy of red flags and infantry equipment (drums, mitres, grenades...). The Imperial Eagle was surmounted by golden rays bearing the crowned Elizabeth's cipher in gold. The whole scene rested on a white cloud.

References

Funcken, L. and F: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, pp. 1-46, Appendix 1

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband: Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 1, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996

Pengel and Hurt: Russian Infantry of the Seven Years War, Birmingham, 1976

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989

Tatarnikov, K.: Obsyervatzionniy Korpoo. 1756-1760 gugu. Obmoondirovaniye i snaryaʐyeniye, “Stariy kaptyenarmoos”, nr 1/2011

Viskovatov, A. V.: Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.

Acknowledgements

Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the detailed unit breakdown