The Kings German Legion (Men-at-Arms, Volume 42)

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March of the KGL

The French foot artillery wore uniforms similar to the infantry, the horse artillery wore hussar uniforms. The standard infantry weapon across all the armies was the muzzle-loading musket. The musket could be fired three or four times a minute, throwing a heavy ball inaccurately for a hundred metres or so. Each infantryman carried a bayonet for hand-to-hand fighting, which fitted the muzzle end of his musket.

The British rifle battalions 60 th and 95 th Rifles carried the Baker rifle, a more accurate weapon but slower to fire, and a sword bayonet. Field guns fired a ball projectile, of limited use against troops in the field unless those troops were closely formed. Guns also fired case shot or canister which fragmented and was highly effective against troops in the field over a short range.

Exploding shells fired by howitzers, yet in their infancy. The British were developing shrapnel named after the British officer who invented it which increased the effectiveness of exploding shells against troops in the field, by exploding in the air and showering them with metal fragments.

Throughout the Peninsular War and the Waterloo campaign, the British army was plagued by a shortage of artillery. The Army was sustained by volunteer recruitment and the Royal Artillery was not able to recruit sufficient gunners for its needs.


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Many of his battles were won using a combination of the manoeuvrability and fire power of the French guns, with the speed of French columns of infantry, supported by the mass of French cavalry. Provided the infantry were able to form square, they were largely impervious to cavalry attack, as neither the British nor the French cavalry horses could be brought to ride through an unbroken infantry line and the infantry could not be attacked in flank. These preparations were carried on with such activity, that towards the end of May, about five hundred thousand men had assembled on the French frontier.

This brought nearly the whole of the German legion to Flanders; for the third and eighth line battalions had arrived there from the Mediterranean in the preceding October; those which had landed at Portsmouth from France in July, were soon after re-shipped for Ostend, and before the opening of the campaign of , the following regiments and batteries of this corps were assembled in the Netherlands:. The batteries of major Kuhlmann, major Sympher, and captain Cleeves were attached to the first, second and third divisions respectively; the remaining companies of legion artillery, were employed to supply the deficiencies in the other batteries, as also to furnish some officers and non-commissioned officers to two new raised batteries of Hanoverian artillery.

The latter were attached to the fourth and fifth divisions under the command of captains von Rettberg and Braun of the legion artillery, superintended by major Louis Heise of the same corps, and both these and the legion batteries were placed under the chief command of sir Julius Hartmann. The first hussars were brigaded with the tenth and eighteenth English hussars under major-general sir Hussey Vivian; the second hussars with the seventh and fifteenth under major-general sir Colquhoun Grant, and the third hussars were brigaded with the thirteenth dragoons under colonel sir Frederick von Arentschild.

The two light battalions of the legion with the fifth and eighth line battalions under colonel von Ompteda, and placed in the third division commanded by sir Charles Alten, and the remaining line battalions formed the first German brigade under colonel du Plat, in the second division commanded by sir Henry Clinton.

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The latter consisted of a subsidiary corps of fourteen thousand men, including two regiments of cavalry and twelve guns, and a reserve corps of nine thousand men with one regiment of hussars; the subsidiary corps, which was principally composed of regular regiments, had been stationed in the Netherlands since the termination of hostilities in the preceding year, but the reserve corps, which was in the pay of Hanover, consisted chiefly of militia landwehr and had been rapidly organized in Hanover by general von der Decken, immediately previous to the opening of the campaign; several officers and non-commissioned officers of the legion were transferred for temporary duty to the new raised Hanoverian regiments, and the third and fourth Hanoverian brigades were commanded by colonel Hugh Halkett of the seventh, and colonel Best of the eighth line battalion of the legion.

With the exception of the reserve, which remained under the orders of general von der Decken, and was not intended to be immediately employed in the field, the whole of the Hanoverian troops were placed under the command of sir Charles von Alten. In consequence of the general inexperience of the officers and non-commissioned officers of the new levies, a proposition was made to the Hanoverian government by sir Charles Alten, suggesting that the new raised troops should be allowed to volunteer into the infantry regiments of the legion, according to the practise of the British government with regard to the militia.

This proposition was declined, and it therefore, became necessary to make another arrangement, according to which the legion battalions, then consisting each of ten companies, were formed into six companies, and the supernumerary officers and non-commissioned officers transferred for temporary duty to the Hanoverian landwehr, chiefly to the battalions of the subsidiary corps; the captains of the legion thus removed, served as field officers; the subalterns took rank according to the dates of their commissions. The entire army of the Netherlands was divided into two corps and a reserve; the first, under the prince of Orange, occupied Enghien, Braine le comte, Nivelles and Soignies; the second, under lord Hill, stood in Ath, Lens, Oudenarde, Grammont and the neighbourhood; the reserve was placed at Ghent, Brussels, and the adjacent places.

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History Of The King’s German Legion Vol. II by N. Ludlow Beamish - Read Online

The chief command of the whole allied cavalry was given to lieutenant-general the earl of Uxbridge; the immediate superintendence of the Hanoverian cavalry was entrusted to major-general Victor von Alten. Halkett 3oth foot, 2nd battalion 33rd foot 69th foot, 2nd battalion 73rd foot, 2nd battalion.

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    The King's German Legion (MAA Nr. 42)

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