View Full Version : Prussian Landwehr 1813-15 / legends vs truth

30 Oct 06, 12:37

maybe you can use some infos for a better and more historic Prussian OOB of 1813-15:
(in my best english :halo: )

Here some legends about the Prussian Landwehr of 1813 - 1815, subscribed in our present OOBs:

1.) In our Game, Prussian Landwehr is the same like "Militia"

Answer: This is for the end of 1813, and the rest of 1814-15 for most of the Landwehr-units wrong.

Some of these troops were "old" soldiers of 1806/07 or 1812 (Russia-Campaign...).
The "Krümper"-system (something like "..every prussian man is drilled and able to become a soldier, when the time has come...) since 1807 was the possibility to create very quick a few Reserve and Landwehr-Bat.
They were trained two days a week. Once their equipment arrived, they were trained in companies for a week, in battalions for a further two weeks and then in brigades.
The third ranks were trained to act as skirmisher....like all regular Line-units!!!!

Specially in the campaign of 1814/15 the Landwehr-units had nearly the same battle-experience like the Line-units and were a reserve for the regular army.

2.) Prussian Landwehr is not able to form square

Answer: Maybe untrained Militia is/was not able to form a square.
I have the drill manual of 1813 for the Prussian Landwehr...and I have the drill manual of the Prussian Infantry of 1812.
There is no (!) difference in movement and behavior.

3.) Prussian Landwehr is not able to detach Light Infantry

Answer: This is wrong too! In different battles of 1813 (!) some Landwehr-units were send out for 100% to act as skirmisher. This should be evidence enough :laugh:
In every Prussian line- and Landwehr-unit the third rank was specially trained to act as Light Infantry.
1815 ( a few days befor Waterloo...) Fdm. Bluecher ordered every Landwehr-Regiment with three Batt. to choose an official Light Batt. .

4.) There were a few Prussian voluntary Jaeger-units to support the line-units. But there were no voluntary Landwehr-Jaeger-units.

Answer: This ist wrong too. I have some primary sources about Voluntary Landwehr-Jaegers acting 1813-15. ...and I am always surprised about the incompletely "historic" OOBs.
The only reason are some (known) book-authors :lier: and their partial copies of the old partial copies of the older partial copies of some wrong interpretations of troop-listings in a foreign language. :blab:
Please have a look: http://www.xtreme-gamer.com/forums/downloads.php?do=file&id=1210

I hope that I have give some suggestions for a historic programing. Maybe you are brim-full of new ideas.....

Greetings from Germany (2,5 hours away from the belgian battlefield of Waterloo):horse:


Panama Red
30 Oct 06, 15:46
Here are the Designers Note from Campaign Waterloo and as you can see, he does not disagree with what you are saying:

Special notes by D.S. Walter

Players of Talonsoft’s Battleground Waterloo and Prelude to Waterloo will find Campaign Waterloo strikingly different with respect to the way the Prussian army and some of the minor contingents of the Anglo-Allied army are portrayed in the game. In BGW and PTW, those lower quality troops were denied the ability to detach skirmishers and form square. After serious consideration we have come to regard this design decision by our predecessors as not in keeping with what we know from the historical sources about the tactics employed by these armies. Hence, to sum up the differences between BGW/PTW and Campaign Waterloo
• we have no “restricted” infantry battalions—all infantry can deploy at least one skirmish company);
• to portray militia we have not used the “militia” flag (that denotes units than can neither deploy skirmishers nor form square)—so that all infantry can form square;
• all units that were historically designated as “light” (for the Prussian army that is Fuesilier) can fully break down into skirmishers.
We are convinced that these design decisions are historically correct. We are also aware that they are probably not in keeping with what some of those who will play this game have read elsewhere, or seen in other games that cover this era. There is a notorious disregard in English-language literature for the quality and tactical skills of the German and Netherland contingents in the Waterloo campaign, and it has become a common misconception to portray especially the Prussian army of 1815 as composed of mostly raw levies that mastered only one tactical formation—the clumsy battalion column of attack. This, though, is far from the truth.


There can be no doubt that the Prussian regulations that resulted from the reforms of 1807-13 made skirmishing a tactical mainstay of the new army organisation. Every infantry regiment of two line battalions received a third battalion of newly raised light troops under the name of Fuesiliere. In addition, the third rank of each line battalion was trained in skirmishing duties as well. These skirmishers had to be agile men and good shots and received better firearms. When a whole brigade (of two regiments of infantry, plus cavalry and artillery) engaged in textbook style, then a screen of skirmishers would be deployed by the Fuesilierbataillone. Under real battlefield conditions, however, this was unlikely to happen, and then the line battalions formed skirmish platoons from their own third rank men.

These were the regulations under which the Prussian army fought in the Waterloo campaign, and they applied to the Landwehr (militia) as well as to the line. There can be no doubt about that. Still, there are at least three arguments that could be used in defence of a decision to deny the Prussian army skirmishing capabilities in the game. Let me now address them one by one.

1. Textbook tactics are not always actually used in the field—the Prussian army could have been led by reactionary or untrained officers who did not employ skirmishers even though the regulations provided for their use.

There is actually a wealth of evidence for the actual use of skirmishers by the Prussian army in the Waterloo campaign. That includes numerous mentions of skirmishers that were deployed by the 1st and 2nd battalions—the line battalions—of the regiments, and even by Landwehr battalions. Here Peter Hofschroeers two volumes on the Waterloo Campaign (see the literature section) are useful as they provide English translation of lengthy quotes from German accounts, especially pp. 174-178 of volume One that cover the fighting on June 15 by Ziethen’s I Corps. Nor were skirmishers always used sparingly—the sources indicate that sometimes up to 50% of a battalion were deployed in the skirmish line. There can be no legitimate doubt that the Prussian army routinely used large amounts of skirmishers in 1815.

2. Even if skirmishers were actually deployed, the Prussian army’s training was so poor that they were most likely completely ineffective.

There is no evidence to suggest that. For one thing, the Prussian army of 1815 was far from being composed of raw levies. Fully one-third of its infantry was “old line”—regiments that had existed continually for centuries and were made up almost exclusively from long-serving veterans, i.e. professional soldiers. Another third was “new line”—fully trained regiments that had been formed from reserve formations beginning in 1812. Only the last third was Landwehr, but even these militia regiments had a strong core of trained soldiers. After the defeat in 1806/07, the Prussian army had been forced to discharge over 200,000 men of mostly long service, and naturally these men were the first to return to the colors in 1813 and form the nucleus of the Landwehr battalions.
For another thing, Prussia had devoted considerably energy on actually training its army in light infantry duties, and with considerable success. Johann David Graf Yorck von Wartenburg had been appointed inspector-general of the light troops and supervised their training to great effect.

Most importantly, though, we believe that skirmishing is not actually rocket science. Telling a man to find cover behind a tree and snipe at the enemy may have been a deviation from 18th century practice, but was certainly not something that needed year-long training. If he would actually hit something, and would stay behind his tree even though a French battalion column was coming at him, was of course an entirely different matter.

Thus, if the skirmishing of low quality troops like the Prussian Landwehr was in fact not very effective, we believe that will be taken care of by the game itself. Those troops are not likely to hit a lot, and they are very likely to run when being attacked. And that is the historical solution.

3. Historical or not, giving the Prussian army so many skirmishers will make it so strong as to negatively affect game balance.

Yes, we gave this point a lot of thought. But consider this—the skirmishers in this game are an entirely different lot from those supermen you see in BGW and PTW. No longer do they knock out guns at extreme rifle range, and they usually cannot disrupt a formed unit with a little sniping. They are easily overrun by cavalry and pushed out of the way by infantry attacks. If a formed unit retreats from a melee and they get in the way, they are automatically eliminated. Skirmishers can no longer form an impenetrable barrier that protects the main line from attack. The one-phase format of this game makes it easy to brush them away first, then engage the enemy’s formed units within the same turn. Skirmishers are but a nuisance to the enemy, and that is a very historical function while it is not, in our view, a serious game balance issue.


Very much the same applies as has been said before about skirmishers. Forming square is really not rocket science either. Especially not since the continental armies did not employ the highly artificial “hollow square” the British army used, but rather the far more simple “full square” that basically was a column of attack that closed up to resemble a rectangular formation. In the last resort, forming some sort of irregular cluster with everyone facing outwards—still a halfway effective way of seeing off not too determined cavalry—was something that could be expected even of rather raw troops. In any case, there is every evidence that even Landwehr did form square in the Waterloo campaign and in one notably instance even withstood three charges by French heavy cavalry.

We believe that a square of low quality troops may not be a very neat formation and it may not be highly effective and break easily, but for us that is not a reason to unhistorically deny these troops the capability altogether. The way the game engine works, it will make sure that there is every chance that the battalion refuses the formation change, or if it succeeds, then that it ends up disrupted after being fired upon, and a disrupted square breaks more easily. In other words, as with the skirmishers, the unit quality and the game engine will take care of the historical results.

31 Oct 06, 12:02
Hi Panama Red,

yes, ....that is right.:hush:

My flamingly statement :rolleyes: was for some Mod-Programers and their individual view of Landwehr-skill in relationship to some of these French (Non-Militia...)Regiments of 1815, which were 1815 mostly filled up with untrained recruits because of the heavy losses of 1813/14 ....

I like the sentence: "...skirmishing is not a actually rocket science" ...absolutley RIGHT.

I have a little French example of 1806:
Skirmishing in the combat at Dirschau on 23rd February 1807.

In October 1806, Lazare-Claude Coqueugniot became major and commander of the newly formed 1. Légion du Nord, whose four battalions were raised mainly from Poles amongst the Prussian prisoners of war. He writes about the combat at Dirschau (south of Danzig) on 23rd February 1807:
I could not maneuver my troops by column, nor deploy them, because my troop knew nothing and [chef de bataillon and commander of the 2nd batallion] Roumette was probably the only officer who knew something about maneuvers. I brought together the officers of the 2nd Battalion to inform that

I intended to throw the whole battalion forward in skirmish order towards the front of the enemy line, which appeared to be patiently waiting for us.
I directed them to explain to their troops that, when a soldier was going to fire, he should move forward 20 paces [12,9 m] and then to get between two furrows to reload his musket, fire, and continue to advance in the same manner. After this, upon a musket shot, which I had indicated as the signal for movement, the companies scattered as they ran forward. Their fire was heavy and the skirmishers continuously advanced.

After a half-hour I saw, by the clearing of the smoke, that the enemy was maneuvering by platoon. The cavalry wished to charge, but I opposed it. I advanced the mounted troops, with four companies of the 3rd Battalion. This movement fired the audacity of the skirmishers, who threw themselves against the enemy. The enemy withdrew, in disorder, to return to the village, abandoning its [four] cannons, which the skirmishers captured.

This passage is an extract from the English translation of Coqueugniot's history of the Légion du Nord, done by George Nafziger and published in the Nafziger Collection with the title "The Légion du Nord, 1806-1808, Memoir of Major Coqueugniot. The French version, "Histoire de la Légion du Nord 1806-1808. Memoire de L.C. Coqueugniot, Major.", has been republished in 1992 by Bernard Coppens in the Editions Bernard Coppens.

Greetings :halo: