Sunday, November 20, 2011

“Line vs. Column," 5

“Peloton en ordre de bataille (en ligne)”
Platoon in battle order (on line)
(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007


Each platoon deploys over three ranks, with its corporals at the extremities of the 1st and the 3rd row of each section.

The captain is on the right of the 1st rank of its platoon.
The 1st Lieutenant is two paces behind the center of the 2nd section, with the 1st second-lieutenant.
The 2nd Lieutenant is two paces behind the center of the 1st section, with the 2nd second-lieutenant.
The sergeant-major is two paces behind the right of the 2nd section.
The 1st sergeant, behind the captain, level with the 3rd rank, this sergeant is called “non-commissioned-officer of replacement”, and he is the right guide of the platoon.
The 2nd sergeant is two paces behind the left of the second section, this sergeant is left guide of the platoon.
The 3rd sergeant is two paces behind the left of the first section.
The 4th sergeant is two paces behind the right of the 1st section.

All the officers and NCOs standing two paces behind the third rank are said to be « en serre-file », meaning more or less “holding the rows”. Their role is to check on the alignment of the soldiers, the timing of the pace, and the formations and changes of formations, as well as checking the firing procedure (the loading of the muskets and so on).

The “guides” of the left and right have the same purpose, sometimes they hold little pennons to help the soldiers keep aligning on them.

The pennon’s guard is especially important in keeping the right pace and the alignment when the battalion is in ligne, because of its central position then.

The situation of the pennon’s guard, the Major, the adjutants and the drummers, within the battalion varies depending on the formation adopted.


“Peloton en ordre de bataille (en ligne 1)”
The frontage of two companies, four pelotons in line.

(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007

The tactical unit is not the company, it is the platoon (peloton). The company is the administrative entity, while the platoon is the tactical one.

In an ideal situation, each platoon will be formed from exactly one company. But very often, within a battalion, the companies don’t have the same strength, because of casualties or of recruitment contingencies. Which would be source of problems if the companies were used as such on the field, because to be able to perform its various manoeuvres and formations, it is important for the battalion that all its platoons are of equal strength, in the purpose of symmetry.

In other words, it means that if the 1st company numbers 120 men and the 2nd company only 100, the first platoon will be formed with 110 men from the 1st company, while the second will be made up of the 100 men of the 2nd company, plus 10 men from the 1st company, so the two platoons will maneuver with 110 men each.

However the 10 men of the 1st company who maneuver with the 2nd platoon, these men are not transferred to the 2nd company, and at the end of the day, they will go back to the 1st company.

“Peloton en ordre de bataille (en ligne 2)”
(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007


The pennon’s guard takes its position between the 2nd and the 3rd platoon (the drill regulations gives their numbers to the platoons from right to left). It is attached to the 2nd section of the 2nd platoon and will maneuver with it most of the time.

The Major (Chief of Battalion) stands 20 paces behind the center of the battalion, the drummers 15 paces behind the center of the 2nd platoon. The adjutants stand 8 paces behind the center of each of the two halves of the battalion.

Taken amongst the NCOs, are two guides of the battalion (“guide généraux”, they are not the same as the right and left guides for each platoon), one of the left, one of the right, they stand 2 paces behind the “serre-files”, meaning 4 and ½ paces behind the 3rd rank, on the left and the right of the battalion. Here I used for this purpose two sergeants, one from the 1st company and the other from the 2nd company. They are replaced in their positions as “serre-file” by two corporals from their companies.

Finally, a corporal, named “caporal d’encadrement”, whose role is to check on the battalion’s good alignment, is standing on the left of the 3rd rank of the 4th platoon (the one on the far left). I took this corporal from the 4th platoon.

It is to compensate for the deduction of these 3 NCOs that I lifted the strength of 3 of the companies up to the odd number of 101 men instead of 100.

Of course in real life situation, the strength of the companies will not always allow the deployment to be perfectly symmetrical. The Major (Chief of Battalion) will have to transfer men from the strongest companies towards the platoons formed with the weakest ones, and sometimes will have to form a few rows with only two men instead of three, one lining up with the 1st rank and the other with the 3 rd one, leaving a gap on the 2nd rank’s level.

When the major orders FORWARD ! the guides of the battalion on the right and left, move 6 paces ahead of the two extremities of the ligne, while the first rank of the pennon’s guard does the same in the center (the second rank of this guard lining up with the 1st rank, leaving a gap at the 2nd rank’s level)The 3 guides of the battalions therefore set up the alignment (the 3 guides of the battalion are the battalion’s guides of right and left, and the pennon’s bearer).

When this move is completed, the Major orders MARCH ! and all start walking, stepping first with the left foot.

In column!


In line!

"Formation of a Regiment (En Bataille)"


“Regimental formation en Bataille (en ligne)”
Notice (L) & (R) companies have 1 peloton ea of Grenadiers attached to flanks (I.E. Best troops protecting the flanks). Regiments consisted of 2 Battalion's


“Organigramme pour la composition d'une compagnie de grenadiers de ligne”


Continued...