Rifle sections in Line Regiments?

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Rifle sections in Line Regiments?

Ben Townsend
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Ben Townsend
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Joined: November 19th, 2007, 9:35 pm

January 22nd, 2016, 3:54 pm #1

A letter book in WO3/194 details the issue of rifles from the Ordnance to the 1st, 2nd and 7th battalions of the KGL. The numbers are small, 19, 15 and 13 respectively. Are these for marksmen in light companies as we have previously speculated?
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Nibs
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Nibs
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Joined: July 14th, 2017, 3:34 pm

July 28th, 2017, 10:04 am #2

As you probably know, ten Baker Carbines were initially issued to each Light Dragoon troop in the 14th and 15th, which was increased to 100 per regiment.
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Richard Warren
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Richard Warren
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Joined: April 26th, 2009, 7:05 pm

July 30th, 2017, 4:01 pm #3

Beamish's History of the KGL, Vol 1, page 189:

"To each company of the German line regiments were attached ten men armed with rifles, who uniting in action, formed a corps of skirmishers, and were called scharfschutzen (sharp shooters.)"

The same volume has a uniform plate of a skirmisher from a line battalion grenadier company, with a rifle and equipped with a waist belt.

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OJM
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OJM
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Joined: October 28th, 2010, 1:41 am

September 8th, 2017, 9:21 am #4

Ben Townsend wrote: A letter book in WO3/194 details the issue of rifles from the Ordnance to the 1st, 2nd and 7th battalions of the KGL. The numbers are small, 19, 15 and 13 respectively. Are these for marksmen in light companies as we have previously speculated?
As Richard states, yes. They were called "Schützen", and it's a Germanic thing. Similar practise in Prussia, Bavaria, Denmark-Norway and others early in the period, I believe Prussia does away with them after the 1806-collapse, and organise the 3rd (Fusilier) battalions of each regiment as designated lights instead.

Having seen some British line groups with rifles in the past, I've always been curious whether it was based on sources or just nitwittery.
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Didz
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May 19th, 2018, 12:31 pm #5

It was common practice in German regiments to create a small detachment of Schutzen, and it seems that the KGL followed this tradition.  The men chosen were often volunteers and in many cases were chosen for better things e.g. they were young men destined to become NCO's or junior officers and the Schutzen units gave them a degree of autonomy within the battalion to learn their craft.  There is a story that at Waterloo the French frustrated at being unable to provoke a German square into firing began to send individuals forward to fire their pistols at close range into it, in the hope that it would discharge its muskets and facilitate a full attack.  However, after the first couple of attempts one of the sharpshooters armed with a Baker rifle took station to the rear of the squares face and began picking off the volunteers as they approached ruining the French game. 
Last edited by Didz on June 9th, 2018, 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Eddie
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June 9th, 2018, 6:02 am #6

Yet more quotes of extracts from Gareth Glover's 'The Correspondence of Sir Henry Clinton in the Waterloo campaign"

Vol 1 p 55  2nd KGL  17/9/1814
"These battalions have a regular company of light infantry armed with rifles"

Vol 1 p 75 Harz Light Batt  28/9 1814

"... they differ from the other Hanoverian battalions in having five companies instead of four, one of which is armed with rifles."


I can find no mention in these volumes of Sir Henry commenting on British battalions having rifles at his Inspections - though he frequently comments on the arms - locks standing too far out, blackening of locks, browning of barrels and arms not being marked with numbers etc.  The presence of a company or section armed with Rifles I would have thought would have provoked comment from him.

Are there any period references of British Regiments with Rifles other than the 60th and 95th ? 
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Didz
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Didz
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June 9th, 2018, 10:51 am #7

Are there any period references of British Regiments with Rifles other than the 60th and 95th ?
 
I've never come across any, and I would have thought  Mark Urban would have found any references that did exist when he was researching his book on 'Rifles'.

I'm also quite surprised that Clinton has recorded the entire light company of the 2nd KGL as rifle armed I wonder if this was the 2nd Light Battalion KGL, or the line battalion.  Richard Warners article for the Osprey publication suggests that line regiments had organised on the British model with ten companies including flank companies and a seperate sharpshooter company armed with rifles consisting of a subaltern, four sergeants, a bugler and fifty-two riflemen per battalion.  They would sometimes be combined into a brigade formation under a Captain for special tasks.
 
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