Swedish Line Infantry Organisation

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Introduction

Initially, the Swedish infantry was organised into fänikor. One such units usually consisted of about 500 men. Around 1610, the fänikor were reorganised into grand regiments (Storeregements) usually regrouping 3 infantry and 1 cavalry sub-units.

The organisation of the Swedish army at the beginning of the Seven Years' War dated back to 1682 during the reign of king Karl XI. It was based on an allotment system known as Indelningsverk where the “Indelta” units formed the greater part of the army. During peacetime only the foot guards and a few other regiments were maintained through recruitment. These regiments, along with the artillery, assumed garrison duty in various places and in the provinces on the other shore of the Baltic.

The particular institution of the “Indelta” gradually emerged at the end of the XVIIth century. Beforehand, because Sweden dominated the coasts of the Baltic, German soldiers formed the largest part of the troops. However, Swedish had always been more heavily involved in conflicts. The rural population, who formed the largest part of the nation, continuously supplied additional troops in time of emergency. Contributions of each region depended on the number of farms. By and by, provinces tried to escape the pressure of these irregular and unlimited contributions. Then, from 1682, provinces and counties gradually signed contracts with the king by which they would continuously maintain a pre-determined number of troops raised among the youngest sons of farmers. Usually, 1 soldier was raised for each 4 farms. Royal manors, farms owned by the nobility, and farms used as salary to government officials were exempted and did not need to provide soldiers to the system. Each soldier was attributed a small piece of land that he was responsible to tend. During peacetime, the soldiers lived at the farm and were fed by the farmers. Each regiment also had some tents at the disposal of recruits. Besides, these young men there was a certain number of older soldiers. This reorganisation was soon extended to Finland.

With such a system, soldiers trained for only three weeks each year and could thus be considered more as militia than as regular troops.

In 1756, the entire Swedish army (“Indelta”, Guards and “Varvade” regiments) totalled 35,000 men.

Most Swedish units serving in Pomerania during the Seven Years' War were at about half strength.

Composition

”Indelta” Infantry

In 1756, the Swedish “Indelta” infantry consisted of 15 Swedish regiments named after the respective provinces who supplied their troops. Each of these regiments usually counted 8 companies for a total of 1200 NCOs and privates. In Finland, after the cession of territories to Russia at the treaties of Nystad (1721) and Åbo (1743), there were still 6 “Indelta” regiments as well as a single additional company. The entire force amounted to 24,224 men.

Guards and “Varvade” Infantry

Besides the Indelta infantry, the Swedish army also had some units depending on recruitment. These units were the 18 companies of the bodyguard which we stationed at Stockholm and 8 additional “Varvade” regiments. From these 8 regiments, 4 consisted mainly of German troops and were assigned to the garrison of Stralsund. The 4 remaining regiments consisted of Swedish and Finnish soldiers and were assigned to the occupation of various places in Finland.

However in 1756, there were the equivalent of 6 “Varvade” regiments in Sweden and Finland since one half of each German regiments was stationed in Sweden to assume garrison duty. In 1756, the Guards and “Varvade” regiments totalled 10,800 NCOs and privates.

Organisation

Regimental Staff

n/a

Organisation of a Regiment

A regiment was usually organized into 8 companies in 2 battalions.

Musketeer Battalion

Each battalion usually counted about 600 men in 4 companies and carried 2 colours. In the field, a battalion was organised into 4 divisions which were in turn subdivided into 4 subdivisions (platoons).

The company was not used as a tactical unit. Understrength battalions were often organised in only 2 divisions.

Each battalion had 4 munition wagons (only 2 from 1758).

Usually, a battalion could provide a company of 50 grenadiers.

Grenadier Battalion

In 1758, a few converged grenadier battalions were formed in Pomerania. They each counted about 500 men in 10 coys and were usually deployed in the right wing of the army.

Battalion Guns

Each battalion had 2 x 3-pdrs guns.

Battalion Staff

n/a

Organisation of a Company

A company usually consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 standard bearer
  • 1 warrant officer
  • 1 sergeant
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 1 guide
  • 1 armourer
  • 5 musketeer corporals
  • from 85 to 135 musketeers
  • 1 grenadier corporal
  • 9 grenadiers
  • 3 musicians (drummers and oboists)

N.B.: in 1758, the grenadiers of the regiments serving in Pomerania were converged into 2 grenadier battalions.

Drill

At the outbreak of war, the Swedish infantry followed the regulations of 1751, which laid down a comprehensive system of drill for them. Basically, the companies were to form in four ranks, with each rank separated by one and a half paces, and the men within a rank to be separated by an elbow's distance. The tallest men were to deploy in the front rank, the next tallest in the rear rank, with the next ones in the second rank, and finally the shortest men were to be in the third rank. Though by 1751 there were no pikemen in a regiment, no regulations were specified in the book, but in case they were ever to be needed, they were to form up as per the previous regulations.

Each man was to stand straight, looking slightly to the right, with the heals of the soldier a palm's distance from each other (~10 cm).

When in formation, the Grenadiers were to be to the right of the regiment, with the Colonel, while the Lieutenant Colonel to deploy on the left. When gaps are opened in the ranks, they were to close ranks towards the right. Drummers were to be ahead of the Officers. Soldiers were stand and march quietly.


From the Spring of 1758, the Swedish infantry began to deploy in the Prussian style.

References

This article contains texts translated from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Großer Generalstab, Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen - Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 6 Leuthen, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher), Berlin 1904, pp.92-107, Annex pp. 11-16

Other sources

Högman, Hans, Svenska regementen under indelningsverkets dagar]

Purky, Jim, Swedish Army Organization, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1

Pengel, R. D. and G. R. Hurt; Swedish Army in Pomerania – 1757-1763, Birmingham, 1983

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Schorr, Dan, Swedish Flags 1757-1762 - Part II Infantry Flags, The Courrier, March-April 1980

English Wikipedia – Swedish allotment system

Wilson, Peter, The Swedish Army in 1756, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1

Wilson, Peter, Swedish Politics and Armed Forces in the Seven Years War, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1