Prussian Command

Command Sets

Prices

This is normally the final section of my release notes. In this case however I am promoting it to my opening paragraph as these figures will be more expensive than usual. Each pack contains four figures and four horses. The pack price will be £8 per pack. I do not believe in ‘special’ prices for ‘character’ figures such as bareheaded, forage, or casualty items unless they take more metal to produce (as is the case with the prone casualties). However, these particular figures have involved considerable effort. They have taken 3 months to research and produce and remain labour intensive to cast and pack. Each of the four packs has elements from at least three different moulds and every figure has been individually sculpted to make them real personalities. All sets have been designed to come together as a vignette so that the figures look as if they relate to each other. Since most customers will only need one of these sets to command their brigade, the price reflects the labour involved in relation to the expected sales.

Organising Your Command Sets

The Prussian army of this period was organised into three corps. For the campaign in Germany in 1813 these were separated and placed in three of the four allied army groups. Blucher commanded the Army of Silesia but only one of his corps was Prussian (with York in command) the rest were Russian. The commanders of the two other Prussian corps were Bulow and Kliest. For the Waterloo campaign a fourth corps was added and the army operated as a joint entity. In this case the corps commanders were Zieten, Pirch, Thielmann and Bulow.

All corps were organised into four brigades. Each of these had three infantry regiments of three battalions. In 1813 these also had one or two regiments of cavalry attached and at least one 6pdr. battery so that each brigade was a self contained fighting force of all arms. In addition to these four brigades there was a separate cavalry reserve of at least one brigade (some had two cavalry brigades). Each of these reserve cavalry brigades was composed of (at least) three regiments of cavalry. There was also an artillery reserve with its own command element.

This first release of four command sets is designed to cover the four ‘infantry’ brigades that composed the real fighting element of each Prussian corps. Each set is made up of a General, his ADC, a General Staff officer and a Feldjaeger. Command groups for the cavalry and artillery reserves of the corps will follow.

Uniform Notes for the Generals and Their Staff

The preferred order of dress of the Prussian general officer in the field, as well as that of his staff, was the uberrock (frock coat) and the peaked cap. There is little doubt about this although uniform plates of officers wearing these items are rare. This ‘undress’ clothing was considered personal rather than regulation wear, so it was not a uniform item in reality. What this means is that the cut of the Ubberock was not prescribed, it was down to the officers’ (and their tailors’) fashion sense so making it difficult for an artist to represent a ‘standard’ uberrock (this information supplied by Peter Bunde). Infantry generals (and their staff) had grey uberrocks and caps, cavalry had blue ones. The lapels of the uberrock were lined in red and could be turned back to expose a flash of colour at the neck. The cuffs were plain. There is evidence in some of the better battle paintings that many officers’ uberrocks may have had the buttons and retaining straps sewn onto the garment at the shoulder to enable them to attach shoulder straps or epaulets. It is rare to see shoulder straps or epaulets on the uberrock so these attachments remained unused. I have sculpted the buttons and retaining straps on the figures for the sake of historical accuracy; the buttons should be in gold and the retaining straps in silver.

Generals sometimes wore their Kleine uniform in the field. The literal translation of this is the ‘Little uniform’ a better translation might be the ‘simple’ uniform. This was basically a blue kollet with red collar, cuffs and turnbacks. There was no lace on collar or cuffs. The cuffs were ‘Swedish’ cuffs with two gold buttons as the only decoration. The shoulder straps were plaited silver wire. The ADCs and other staff officers often wore the Liebrock on campaign. This was blue for both infantry and cavalry ADCs. The jacket was single breasted and had a large fold down collar. This collar was green for ADC’s (frequently, but not always, piped in red) and red for staff officers. The Swedish cuffs were similarly coloured. Turnbacks were red for infantry officers and white for cavalry. The field of the shoulder strap also differed for cavalry and infantry officers. It was white for the former and blue for the latter. The officer’s rank lace on these epaulets was silver for both. The lapels of the Liebrock were also lined in red and could be turned back to expose the coloured lining.

Officers were not supposed to wear the silver waist sash when wearing the uberrock or the Liebrock. This regulation was generally disregarded and most officers wore the sash in the field with both items of clothing (although it seems to have been less frequently used with the Liebrock).

All officers’ saddle cloths are described as being made of black bear fur. Generals and staff officers had ‘guard’ stars at the rear of the saddle cloth and on the pistol holster covers. ADC’s had no stars on their saddle cloths. The stars were silver with an orange centre.

Many officers wore medals and other decorations on their coats. These were principally iron crosses of various classes but generals also wore a silver star to the left of their chest. All coat buttons were in yellow metal. Sword straps were silver.

The General Staff Officers

Although I have described the uniform details above, I need to emphasise the importance of these officers in the context of these brigade command groups. Until I did the research I did not appreciate the special status of these officers in the reformed Prussian command setup. Each brigade and corps commander had a general Staff officer attached. These can best be described as a parallel commander. The General Staff officer’s job was to remind the brigade commander of the army’s plan of action and to ensure that the General’s actions complied with this plan. He was an advisor to the brigade commander but not a subordinate as such. He was answerable only to the head of the General Staff (Gneisenau, after Scharnhost was injured) who in turn reported directly to the king. It would be fair to say that the brigade was under dual command, the general gave the orders but only as long as these complied with the plans of the General Staff!

The Feldjaegers

This corps was a legacy from Fredrick the Great. They were the staff couriers and guides. All the men in this formation were either NCOs or officers. Their special status was reflected in their uniforms, not only were these green in colour, but the NCOs uniforms were cut like the officers’ so that they had long tails and officer-type shoulder straps. Officers and NCOs uniforms differed only in that the officers wore the silver waist sash and had silver rank distinctions on their shoulder straps. The NCOs had gold piping on their shoulder straps and no waist sash.

All Feldjaegers wore green jackets with red collars cuffs and turnbacks and grey cavalry overalls. The field of the shoulder strap was green. On campaign the covered shako completed the uniform. They all carried sabres in white metal scabbards and a red leather satchel for carrying dispatches and orders. The saddlecloth was green with a broad yellow edging stripe. They also carried a brace of pistols in bearskin covered saddle holsters.

Assembly Notes

Most of these figures have been designed to fit specific horses. Some of these figures are the first to be sculpted to fit on Alan Marsh’s ‘Dynamic’ horses. These figures come in a plastic bag with the horses they are designed to fit. The exception to this is in Set Two. Since three of the figures are standing, their horses are designed to look as if they are tethered together. There is a sprue in the pack with lengths of metal rope which will need to be glued to the holes in the horse’s heads to make them look as if they are tied together (the central horse in the group is the one with three holes in it’s head). Some filling may be required. The long length of rope goes from the central horse’s head to the hand of the ADC. Set Three also has a standing feldjaeger figure holding the reins of his horse. Note the point on the left of the horse’s head where the feldjaeger’s fingers have made an impression in the reins to mark the point where the two figures join.

Prussian Command: Command Sets

Prussian Command: Set Three
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Prussian corps command set: PC8
From left to right: Feldjaeger, staff officer, junoir staff officer, Chief of Staff, General's ADC.

Code Description
PC1

The brigade commander is watching the attack through his small telescope. He likes this telescope as it fits into his coat pocket when not in use. The three battalions of his Landwehr regiment took the village this morning but were thrown out in disarray by a concerted Saxon counterattack. To their credit the Landwehr infantry regrouped on reaching his lines and are now supporting his reserve infantry battalions as they try to force the stubborn Saxon infantry out of the village. As he watches he suddenly sees the Saxons streaming out of the other end of the village, running towards the cover of the woods. He snaps his telescope shut and whirls round in the saddle to get his brigade cavalry to intercept the fleeing Saxons. As he turns he pulls on the reins causing his horse to shy back. The sudden movement startles the staff officer’s horse and it rears up. The staff officer manages to keep his seat and brings the animal under control. Meanwhile, the ADC has spurred his horse towards the General and leans forward in his saddle so that he can hear the orders over the noise of the continuing battle. At a discrete distance, the Feldjaeger officer watches and prepares his leather satchel for the stream of orders which he knows will now follow.

The uniforms (and telescope) details are taken from a Brauerbogen plate.

The general wears his Kleine uniform with the unbuttoned uberrock over the top and a covered cap as headgear. The General Staff officer is in uberrock and cap with his notebook tucked into the front of his uberrock. The ADC wears his kollet and bicorn in a weatherproof cover. The feldjaeger officer wears the standard uniform (note the waist sash).

PC2

The General and his staff stand on a hill to the left of the road to Berlin. Below him he can see his brigade in their battalion formations straddling the road. His brigade is acting both as the Corps reserve and as the cover for the road to Berlin. This is the Corp’s escape route should things go badly for them today. He watches through his telescope as two of the other brigades from his corps engage Oudinot’s army of Berlin in an attempt to stop its advance towards the capital. His ADC stands behind him holding the tether which keeps their horses from bolting. The action commenced several hours ago and reports so far seem encouraging. The general hears galloping behind him. He turns in time to see a Feldjager NCO rein in his horse while holding out a parcel of orders. The General Staff Officer is already striding towards the courier, arm outstretched. Action at last!

The General and the General Staff officer both wear the Uberrock and cap. The latter has a map case slung over his left shoulder. The ADC wears his Liebrock without his sash and a covered bicorn, a uniform pared down for action. The Feldjaeger NCO is in the regulation uniform.

PC3

The General knows what his brigade has to do this morning. If his men do not hold Ney’s troops back from the approaches to the river they will harass Bernadotte’s army of the North as they cross the pontoons in their effort to link up with Blucher’s army of Silesia outside Leipzig. He is fully aware of how little it takes to discourage Bernadotte. Both his corps commander and the General Staff officer on his staff have made it abundantly clear. Ney’s troops are battered but not beaten. They are still capable of inflicting a severe reverse which will impact immediately on Bernadotte’s resolve. He sits on his horse, carefully going over the plan again. He points out where he wants his dispositions. His ADC takes notes, resting his notepad on the front of his saddle. The General Staff officer sits to his right, listening and adding the occasional comment. The Feldjaeger NCO stands by his horse, ready to mount as soon as the ADC hands him the orders.

All officers wear the uberrock and cap. The General Staff officer has his cap covered and has a map case slung over his left shoulder. The ADC has a telescope case slung from his left shoulder. The Feldjaeger wears the regulation uniform.

PC4

The armies have finally linked up and Napoleon is trapped inside the city. The General’s brigade is leading the Corp’s attack through the outskirts of Leipzig. Yesterday’s battle did not go well and his losses were greater than he would have liked but the Saxons have defected and Napoleon’s position is not good. He watches as his battalions press forward. There is a shout to his left. He turns his horse and sees a Feldjaeger NCO galloping towards him pursued by three French Chasseurs. The General Staff officer has already pulled out a pistol. His ADC draws his sword and spurs his horse forward. The General grasps the hilt of his sword but pauses as the Feldjaeger’s horse leaps over the bushes bordering the field. At that moment, the General Staff officer fires his pistol. The lead chasseur’s horse tumbles and rolls, trapping his rider beneath him. The other two chasseurs turn their horses and gallop back towards their own lines.

Uniforms from Knotel’s painting of the death of Hessen-Homburg (a Brigade commander in Bulow’s corps).

The general wears the Kleine Uniform with a covered shako. The General Staff officer wears his Liebrock (in this case with a sash) and a covered bicorn. The ADC wears his Kollet but with his peaked forage cap. The Feldjaeger wears regulation uniform.

PC5

When the order came that he was to break off the pursuit of the routing enemy troops the general found it hard to contain his anger. Looking back now there was no doubt that the order had been correct. A brigade of enemy cavalry supported by infantry had appeared on the edge of the battlefield: too late to influence the result of the battle but dangerous nevertheless. He had recalled his cavalry immediately and led his formed reserve of two regiments towards the threat on the army’s flank. He arrived at dusk to see the French forming up on the edge of a wood. Their infantry support could be seen moving through the wood, still in ‘column of march’. He had a split moment to make his decision. He ordered his two regiments to charge the French before they could form up completely. His cavalry had deployed and carried out his orders almost in darkness. He watched as they gathered pace but lost sight of them as they went into the gallop. He was now trotting towards the sound of battle in some trepidation. Have the French broken or did they have enough time to form up before they were struck by his charging troopers?

The general trots forward flaked by his trumpeter and his General staff officer. His ADC has galloped forward to find out the result of the charge. He pulls up his horse as the General approaches points towards the enemy and yells out that the French are routing.

This is based on the closing episode of the battle of Gross-Beeren. The French were struck by the Prussian charge in the dark while still in some disorder and confusion. The whole brigade dissolved, most of it galloping into the open ground where the exhausted Prussian army captured them. A large group of French troopers actually rode through Bulow’s headquarters.

The General wears his Uberrock (this would be blue as he is a cavalry officer) with the lapels turned back. He also wears his bicorn but without its protective cover displaying the black and white plume. The General staff officer wears his Uberrock and cap (grey for staff officers). The trumpeter is from one of the corps’ cavalry regiments. He wears his pelisse to ward off the cold. The ADC has copied his general’s flamboyance and wears his white Kollet with a covered bicorn.

PC6

He sits on his horse looking at the French through the telescope his ADC has just handed him. He watched all morning as the infantry from both sides fought for possession of this vital high ground - the Denkmalsberg. His guns duelled with the French batteries stationed here and provided the necessary support for the advancing Prussian battalions. The enemy have re-formed around the Dennewitz windmill at the base of the hill. They must know what will follow. They can see his 12 pounders deploying on the crest of the hill. His ADC has turned in the saddle to ensure the batteries are moving into the required positions. Once his thirty-four guns are in position, he can bombard the French infantry before the Prussian attack columns go down to finish the job. The left flank of the battlefield is secure. If they lose the battle it will happen elsewhere.

The battle for the Denkmalsberg and the subsequent battle for the Dennewitz windmill hill are from the opening stages of the battle of Dennewitz.

In this case the commander of the Reserve Artillery was not a general but a Lieutenant-Colonel. Both he and his ADC were chosen, not for their command experience, but for their ‘technical’ expertise. It caused some aggravation with the Russian artillery commander (commanding two 12 pounder batteries) attached to the Prussian reserve as he was a full Colonel taking orders from a subordinate.

The artillery officers wore either blue Uberrocks for the horse artillery or grey uberrocks for the foot artillery. There was also a growing fashion for foot artillery officers to have their uberrocks made out of black cloth. The choice of colours for the uberrocks of these two officers is up to you.

PC7

I was asked to make these two galloping feldjaegers by several customers who wanted to use them as messengers on the games table. I was gratified recently to see that such messengers can be seen in several places in the diorama of the Battle of Leipzig, made up of ‘flat’ figures, displayed at Torhaus Dolitz museum in Leipzig. This is one of the most visually pleasing and inspiring dioramas I have ever seen and is worth visiting even if you do not really appreciate ‘flats’. The scale of it is magnificent to say the least.

The uniforms of these figures are described elsewhere.

PC8

The Chief of Staff (Boyen) pushes his map case back and settles it so that it rests on the rear of the saddle. At his age, a day in the saddle with a map case banging against the small of his back is a recipe for a sleepless night. He has done his job and has worked out the fine detail of the movements to follow. Earlier, the corps commander (Bulow) spotted the movement in the opposing lines. The French brigade (Oudinot) supporting the Saxons (Reynier) on this wing moving to support the embattled French and Italians on the Prussian left. He realised that if the two Prussian brigades on this wing attacked before the French reserve could be brought into action on the other wing, the Saxon corps would be isolated. The battle could be won on the Prussian right while the French were trying to reinforce the left. Behind him, the Chief of Staff can hear his assistant briefing the promising young staff officer they have chosen to deliver and implement the orders. A Feldjager will accompany the officer with a copy of the orders. He too waits for the briefing to finish. The Chief of Staff looks forward at the General and his ADC. He knows the General has gambled but it is a throw of the dice with the odds in his favour.

The above is taken from the final act of the battle of Dennewitz. It was a battle won and lost on gambles and personality clashes. On the French side Ney’s gamble was to move Oudinot from the left to the right wing. Reynier begged Oudinot to leave him with some of his forces in support but Oudinot, seething from his loss of overall command to Ney, refused and followed his orders to the letter. On the Prussian side Bulow saw his chance and gambled on his attack being successful before Oudinot could add his weight to the other wing. Bulow asked for Borstell’s brigade to support the attack. Borstell had a semi-autonomous command role under Bulow. He overcame his annoyance at having been made subordinate to Bulow and did as he was asked. The result was a Prussian victory.

There are five figures and horses (two new ones) in this set. This is just the way the diorama worked out by the time the various protagonists were factored in. They are all supporting cast. The personality figure of your choice will have to be added to complete the set once these are released. I wanted to make the Chief of Staff look more imposing a figure than any common staff officer. I have given him the plumed hat and shoulder straps on his uberrock (which should be grey). His assistant wears more conventional attire with a covered cap and uberrock (grey) but I’ve also given him the shoulder straps as he would have been a fairly senior staff officer in his own right. The junior staff officer is standing, holding his horse and has the more utilitarian garb of an officer exposed directly to battle. He wears the Leibrock (the Prussian equivalent of the surtout) and the coverd bicorn. The Feldjager in this case is an officer and wears his Uberrock which was green - the same colour as his uniform. The general’s ADC is a straight forward figure in cap and uberrock (both grey).

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