Russian Horse Grenadiers Organisation
Horse grenadiers regiments had disappeared from the Russian army since 1726. They were re-introduced in 1756 when the Russian cavalry was reorganised. At this occasion, six former dragoon regiments were converted into horse grenadier units.
Of these 6 horse grenadier regiments, 5 took an active part to the Seven Years' War. The real strength of all horse grenadier regiments remained well under the theoretical strength during the entire Seven Years' War. In 1757, most of them could field only 4 squadrons. From 1758, the horse grenadier regiments usually fielded 3 sqns while 1 or 2 sqns were used as depot for replacements. In 1759, the 5th squadron was designated as a reserve squadron.
About the role of the horse grenadiers, Duffy writes "On the field of battle they were to be employed as an elite reserve … On campaign, however, they were to consider the employment of their special attribute, the grenade, of which every man carried two in a pouch. It was thought likely that in East Prussia the main resistance would be offered by hussars and peasants in uniform, who might try to hold out in buildings or behind other cover. In such an event the grenadiers were to dismount and cast their grenades inside the strongpoint…"
Composition and Organisation
A horse grenadier regiment totalled some 1,000 men (32 officers and 915 men including 150 non-combatants) and consisted of:
- 1 colonel
- 1 lieutenant-colonel (also leading a squadron)
- 1 first-major (also leading a squadron)
- 1 second-major (also leading a squadron)
- 1 quartermaster
- 1 warrant officer
- 95 non-combatants (coachmen, horse keepers...), including
- 2 commissaries
- 1 chief of train
- 1 chaplain
- 1 doctor
- 1 assistant doctor
- 3 clerks
- 2 provision clerks
- 2 trumpeters
- 8 oboists
- 1 kettle-drummer
- 2 provosts
- 5 squadrons, each of:
- 2 companies, each of :
- 1 captain
- 1 first lieutenant
- 1 second lieutenant
- 6 NCOs
- 2 drummers (trumpeters according to the Grosser Generalstab's work)
- 69 horse grenadiers
- 5 non-combatants
- 2 companies, each of :
The companies were grouped into squadrons as follows:
- 1st squadron: 1st company and 6th company
- 2nd squadron: 2nd company and 7th company
- 3rd squadron: 3rd company and 8th company
- 4th squadron: 4th company and 9th company
- 5th squadron: 5th company and 10th company
For combat, the best troopers of each squadron were combined into a Reserve half squadron. The role of this latter squadron was to protect the flanks and rear of the line.
The regulation stated that each regiment of horse grenadiers had a regimental artillery consisting of:
- 2 x 3-pdr cannon (each with 2 small 6-pdrs mortars affixed to its carriage)
These pieces were served by 6 gunners, 4 fusiliers and 6 wagoners from the Russian artillery. Furthermore, the regiment was accompanied by 4 two-horses artillery ammunition wagon and 6 two-horses cartridge ammunition wagons and an additional two-horses wagon transporting grenades.
In the field, a regiment rarely had more than 1 piece.
From 1758, the guns were gradually replaced by 8-pdr unicorns.
The train of a horse grenadier regiment counted between 60 and 70 vehicles including ammunition, cartridge and hand grenades carts.
Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen, Part 3: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902
- chapter A: Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 1-46
- appendix: supplement 1, Das Kaiserlich Russiche Heer, page 3-18
Duffy, Christopher: Russia's Military Way to the West: Origins and Nature of Russian Military Power, 1700-1800, Routledge, 1985
Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband, Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 2, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996
Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by the KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989, pp. 54-55
Ziegler, Volker: Die Russische Kavallerie zur Zeit des 7-jährigen Krieges (1756-1763), in: Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für hessische Militär- und Zivilgeschichte, vol. 4, 2007, pp. 62-80
Zweguintzov, L'Armee Russe, 1973
Charles S. Grant for the info on the use of grenades by the horse grenadier regiments.