- Nov 2011
- Ohio, USA
And once again, I definitely think you're pretty right with most of this, especially the point about SYW soldiers being able to practice musketry more. What I'm saying is that Russian soldiers were particularly steadfast by Napoleonic infantry standards, and could hold up and put up just as well with the worst of situations as many in Napoleon's legions could. The Russians were also probably the best at conducting retreats and rear-guards out of all the nations involved in this conflict.As always, nuclearguy, you are right, but it must be specified.
On the one hand, Russian army fought gallantly, the battles you mentioned are good examples.
On the other hand, in comparison with the Seven years war, it was decline. Once again, I have to point out the rapid growth of Russian army at the expense of the quality of the regiments.
A few details.
During the SYW (Seven Years War), there were about 40 regiments of line infantry and 3 guard regiment. During Napoleonic wars there were over 100 line regiments and over 60 Jager regiments and expanded guard. As a result, many Russian regiments fired only three shorts for year in the course of their training. In the times of SYW there were no such restrictions. Suvorov trained Russian line regiments to fire up to 100 shots for an year. As a result in times of Suvorov Russian soldiers were more accurate. In Napoleonic wars Russian soldiers used the musket model of 1808, not a bad one, certainly better then that of Russian army of SYW, but their accuracy was bad, due to 3 shorts for an year, with the exception of some Jager regiments.
Suvorov selected his soldiers carefully. When Suvorov was supplied with the recruits of weak, unhealthy, or coward men he refused to accept them. Or he would have rid of them in the course of his hard training. In Napoleonic wars no such things were possible. The growth of army demanded the soldiers of any quality.
During the SYW, most officers were volunteers with great desire to serve. They were badly taught, but they were ready to learn on their mistakes during the real war. When Suvorov needed some advice he preferred to speak with Austrian officers not with Russian. But Suvorov preferred to live among soldiers in order to make them brave. During SYW many Russian officers followed the example of Suvorov and spent most of their time with the soldiers, improving soldiers bravery, moral and cohesion. But in Napoleonic times, there were many officers who were mobilized reluctantly, they did not participate in soldiers life, training and service. Due to the expansion, Russian army needed any officers, the bad ones, as the good ones. The good officers school was established only after Napoleonic wars.
During SYW Russian army was not the biggest one. And it had to wine without numerical advantage. The strategy was more complicated. Russian had to open its border somewhere to send the troops in Europe. But the economic and social pressure were not too big. The government's ambitions were restricted. During Napoleonic wars Russian army was one of the biggest. The economic and social damage of such war-machine was considerable. But on the other hand, the ambitions of Russian emperors were unlimited. These all was the road to revolution.
Also, I'm pretty sure the French army was usually still a lot bigger than the Russian army (though yes the Russians definitely had more men than Britain, Austria, and Prussia).