Prussian Grenadiers in The Last Argument of Kings

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    The one thing I think missing in this thread is the purpose of Grenadiers. Grenadiers were supposed to be “assault’ troops that would storm fixed positions using “grenades” hence their headgear to avoid interfering with their throwing arms.

    As indicated above there is often a difference between the intent and “the practice”. The intent was that Grenadiers would be the bigger and stronger soldiers and therefore more capable of taking a position at the point of a bayonet. Whether unit commanders would comply with this by placing the appropriate men from their unit into these companies I guess would depend on the colonel.

    From a gaming perspective, giving them an advantage in hand to hand combat makes sense especially at the beginning of either the SYW or First Silesian War. As the war wore on and casualties mounted the overall quality of the infantry declined markedly including grenadiers and so withdrawing the advantage for later battles be accurate. Duffy made a point in one of his tours on the SYW, that by the end of the SYW, Frederick depended more on his artillery and cavalry as the quality of his infantry had declined markedly.

    invisible officer

    Well, you surely know that tactics changed a lot between 1700 and 1800.

    The Grenadier was no longer throwing explosive devices and F II invented the new horse artillery and the big battery of 12 pdr. Not because of lower quality of the infantry.

    The Austrian light infantry made him form the Freibataillone. He named them: ” ein exekaberes Geschmeiß” . That shows his bad German and a very low opinion of these men. Many POW among them. But some became very good Units.

    At the end of SYW he had new tactics, even more modern than the “Schiefe Schlachtordnung”.

    Prussia started the war with infantry formed from many foreigners. He saved his Pussian “Landeskinder” as long as possible. For example citizens of Berlin are not conscriptet and the Berlin regiments could not accept Berlin volunteers!

    The old stories about kidnapping recruits are from his father’s times. Even in mid of SYW F II had no problems to find volunteers. Infantry could take POW but not the cavalry. Even so most dragoon Units had 50 % foreigners in war! (Kürassiere None)

    The conscripted Kantonisten formed a good nucleus.

    DuffY’s book on Prussian SYW army is not his best. Fluent in German but not deep enough in the archives.


    If you look at FII strategies towards the end of the war, you will see a greater reliance on massed batteries not totally unlike Napoleon’s use of them as the Grande Armee quality declined. The “new” horse artillery pretty much failed as the effective tactics for their use had not been developed. Frederick did try to preserve the fighting ability of certain units (the lower numbered ones), but casualties have a way of turning good units into average ones as conscripts with far less training replace those trained over years of peacetime.

    Grenadiers no longer used grenades in most assaults, but they remained as the “go to” unit for assaults. Perception is often reality and various sources I have read say that the Grenadiers were perceived as “elite” troops during their day. How elite is the question.

    I would likely give them “Tough Fighters”. This makes them only marginally better in hand to hand fighting only and encourages players to use them for assaults.

    invisible officer

    Exactly. Chosen from the line battalions they are at best tough. No Oberst sent his best men to a Bataillon that served away from his men.

    The idea of a lower quality infantry in late SYW is wrong. There was a core of long trained Kantonisten. Many married in Prussia, so not prone to desertion. F II also helped many foreigners to marry Prussian Girls.

    The Brummer 12 pdr became core of a new artillery tactic. During the preparations for the 1759 campaign, Dieskau even arranged a regular military draught. They had a big effect.
    Starting an early “Napoleonic” style tactic.

    His strategy too differed a lot from that of his contemporaries. (see for example the article “Der operative Angriff Friedrichs des Großen” by Graf Bothmer in Vierteljahreshefte für Truppenführung und Heereskunde 1914)Being more flexible and more living out of the country. Not bound by the Depots.

    The lost horse battery had proved so valuable that it was replaced after being los at Kunersdorf. By August 1760, it was transferred to Frederick’s main army and increased to 10 pieces, including 2 7-pdr howitzers. From now on, the unit usually remained encamped near the royal headquarters and served as artillery escort of the vanguard and in support of reconnaissance detachments.


    Check out Frederick’s win-loss record beginning in 1758 through the end of the war compared to 1756-1757. Frederick’s amazing achievement was through force of will, like George Washington, he managed to keep his army in the field and eventually negotiate a good “peace”.

    In the battles Frederick did win after 1758 look at how he won them… Even some of Frederick’s victories like Torgau resulted in him losing more troops than his opponent.

    Anyway, this is a bit off thread, but relevant to the topic since how you “profile” your Prussian units in Black Powder impacts what tactics work and what don’t.

    So prior to 1758 your profile should allow Prussian infantry to overpower and/or outmaneuver their opponents requiring the opponent to make better use of superior numbers or terrain…

    After 1758, if the profile is right, then the Prussian player will need to rely more on strategy (SR rating of brigade commanders is critical), along with the addition of more heavy batteries and massed heavy cavalry charges to win.

    invisible officer

    At Torgau he had more men and lost more. But in that heavy battle he lost 25% and the enemies 30 %. And the strategical effect was good. The loss was not from weak infantry but bad management by F II. Attacking the Austrian guns head on. And they did it! He was not the Genius many like to see in him. He did many blunders.

    In the last battle at Freiberg F II won against stronger forces. Loss 1400 against 3000 + (+ 4000 POW) It was the infantry that defeated the Reichsarmee infantry.
    24 Bataillone, 7 Freibataillone (the “Geschmeiß) against 45 Bataillone. Cavalry of both side of similar size.

    You might argue that Reichsarmee was never very good but there had been many Austrians too.
    The late war Prussians had lost nothing in quality. At Freiberg we see low and high regimental numbers.

    So I would not reduce the Grenadier effects. If there was any reduction in Quality the same could be stated for the enemies. So in relation the reduction has to be done for them too.
    Or none at all.

    Mark Stanoch

    One further point: in our recent game on Mollwitz, the battalion guns managed to keep pace with the infantry lines. This had a devastating effect on enemy charges.

    Mark Stanoch

    From the discussion so far, it appears then that the pool of “Useful Rules” as applied to Prussian Grenadiers includes the following:

    – First Fire
    – Superbly Drilled
    – Elite
    – Stubborn
    – Valiant
    – Brave

    These should vary by time period.

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