Russian Observation Corps Organisation

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Introduction

The Observation Corps was created in October 1756 as an autonomous multi-arms corps. It was raised by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna at the insistence of Count Shuvalov. The Corps was placed under the direct command of Shuvalov. Once completed, it was supposed to consist of 30,000 men and to have an unusually strong artillery. Several of its officers and privates came from garrison and militia units but the Corps had to recruit intensively to bring its units to full strength. Its four initial regiments were also created in 1756.

The Corps was finally ready at the beginning of 1758 even though it counted only 12,000 men. Each musketeer regiment could field only 3 battalions instead of the 4 initially planned while the grenadier regiment consisted of only 2 battalions.

The entire Observation Corps was disbanded at the beginning of 1760. Its troops were incorporated into the field artillery as fusiliers.

Composition and Organisation

Musketeer Regiments

A musketeer regiment of the Observation Corps totalled 83 officers, 3,612 men and approx. 400 non-combatants. A musketeer battalion of the Observation Corps totalled 24 officers, 1,106 men, 50 artillerymen and 20 non-combatants.

  • 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
    • 141 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:
    • 4 companies of musketeers and 1 company 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)
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 2 second-lieutenants (3 in the grenadier company), including 8 standard bearers distributed among the musketeer coys
      • 4 sergeants
      • 1 captain of arms (Kaptänarmusse)
      • 1 quartermaster (Fourier)
      • 8 corporals
      • 4 drummers
      • 1 fifer (only in the grenadier company)
      • 192 privates
      • 9 privates non-combatants (12 in the grenadier company)
      • 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.

Initially, all regiments were supposed to count 4 battalions but it soon became evident that this goal could not be reached.

Grenadier Regiments

For the organisation of the Grenadier Regiment of the Observation Corps, see our aticle Observation Corps Grenadiers.

Other detachments

As a multi-arms corps, it also included:

Field Artillery Detachment

In the Autumn of 1757, 2 companies of the 1st Field Artillery Regiment, who had been initially stationed in Moscow, were sent to Smolensk. In 1760, when the Observation Corps was disbanded, they rejoined the field artillery in the field army.

The detachment consisted of

  • 11 officers
  • 14 NCOs
  • 96 gunners
  • 144 handy-men
  • 46 non-combatants

Secret Howitzer Corps Detachment

In the Autumn of 1757, one company of the Secret Howitzer Corps, who had been initially stationed in Moscow, was sent to Smolensk. In 1760, when the Observation Corps was disbanded, it rejoined the Secret Howitzers Corps of the field army.

The company consisted of

  • 7 officers
  • 14 NCOs
  • 3 musicians
  • 28 bombardiers
  • 14 gunners
  • 164 fusiliers
  • 112 handy-men
  • 22 non-combatants

Filed Artillery Train Detachment

There were 2 commands (440 men) attached to the Field artillery detachment and 1 command (300 men) to the Secret Howitzers Corps. In 1760, when the Observation Corps was disbanded, they rejoined the Field Artillery Train of the field army.

Don Cossacks Detachment

In the Spring of 1758, a command of Don Cossacks, under Ataman Grekov, was attached to the Observation Corps. In 1760, when the Observation Corps was disbanded, they were integrated in Cossack units of the field army.

The unit consisted of

  • 1 ataman
  • 13 officers
  • 367 Cossacks
  • 20 Kalmucks

References

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. 7, 12, Appenxix 1

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

Ziegler, Volker: Das russische Observationskorps in Siebenjährigen Krieg, in Jahrbuch des Gesellschaft für hessische Militär- und Zivilgeschichte 1 (2001)