Hi all.How many companies did a Hanoverian Landwehr infantry battalion have at Waterloo?Also, did it have a Grenadier company and a Light company, if so were the uniform distinctions as per British battalions.Thank you in advance.Paul.
Last bit of information. Of the four Hanoverian Landwehr Brigades, one (detached at Hal) was commanded by a British Officer (Maj Gen Lyons, former Commanding Officer of the 97th Queen’s German Regiment, who had commanded a mixed KGL/ Hanoverian “Division” in North Germany in 1813, as part of the campaign leading to the Battle of the Goedrhe). Two Hanoverian brigades were commanded by KGL Officers (Col Halkett and Col Best) and one by a Hanoverian Officer (Col Von Vincke). The KGL thus had a big influence on the Hanoverian Brigades.
Rod/David, this is all fascinating detail, thank you for your answers. Paul
The Hanoverians had plenty of men, but a shortage of officers.
The KGL had exactly the opposite problem. Their Officers and Sergeants had remained mostly Hanoverian but, cut off from their recruiting grounds, they had enlisted many men from other German states, or indeed other foreigners. When the Peninsular War finished they discharged their non-Hanoverian soldiers and, as a result, the eight KGL battalions in the Netherlands reduced from a nominal 10 companies of 100 to 10 Companies of 60 R&F in Dec 1814, although in practice they were understrength even with that reduced establishment.
When Napoleon returned, British Government wanted to draft the newly raised Hanoverian Landwehr into the KGL to raise the KGL Battalion strength but the Hanoverian Government would not agree to this
A decision was therefore taken to restructure the eight KGL Battalions in the Netherlands from 10 Companies of 60 to 6 Companies of 100 (although again they were understrength) and detach a total of 91 KGL Officers and 104 KGL Sergeants to the Hanoverian Landwehr. This was promulgated on 25 April 1815.
As a result, the Hanoverian Landwehr Battalions at Waterloo each had an average of 6 KGL Officers and 7 KGL Sergeants attached to them. There is a list of these officers in Schwertfeger's "Geschichte de Koniglich Deutschen Legion" which shows which KGL Battalions they came from and which Hanoverian Battalions they were attached to. Some of the officers received temporary promotion (the same system as British Officers attached to Portuguese units in the Peninsula). For the Sergeants it just shows the number from each KGL Battalion and which Hanoverian Brigade they were attached to. As a result every Hanoverian Landwehr Battalion had a senior KGL Officer (Captain acting as Major) to act as Second in Command and every Hanoverian Landwehr Company had at least one KGL Officer and at least two KGL Sergeants.
Wellington’s order stated:
“The light infantry companies belonging to each brigade of infantry, are to act together as a battalion of light infantry, under the command of a field officer or captain, to be selected for the occasion by the General Officer commanding the brigade, upon all occasions on which the brigade may be formed in line or column, whether for a march, or to oppose the enemy.”
In the Peninsula, these light battalion commanders were semi-permanent appointments, as demonstrated in my article on the subject:
I suspect the same semi-permanence was true during the Waterloo Campaign, as that would ensure a consistency in training and tactical operating procedures.
Major General Best submission to Pflugk-Harttung gives an insight “All the sharpshooters were continuously engaged with the enemy throughout the battle” and rather than being commanded ad-hoc seems to have nominated officers, as he continues “Lieutenant Hurtzig with his sharpshooters, who had excelled already on the 16th, again gave proof of his courage and outstanding leadership on the 18th”. Waterloo Archive Vol VII Gareth Glover, Ken Trotman 2019 page 147. He was from the Verden Bn. Maj (then Lt) Von Breckefeldt of the Munden Bn letter 21 refers to “As the most senior officer, Lieutenant Brenning took command the skirmishers, including those of the Osterode Battalion”. He also confirms that they were drawn from the existing companies, as he goes on to tell us “Private Klute of No3 Company killed the commanding officer of a French voltigeur company when he was about to bravely lead his company in an attack against the skirmishers” Waterloo Archive Vol V Gareth Glover, Frontline Books 2013 page 82. So these confirm that there were 4 companies, that Sharpshooters were drawn from them and it seems that there were officers dedicated to skirmishing. One also indicates that rather than a dedicated battalion, skirmishers were bought together and commanded in an ad-hoc basis by the senior officer present. Hope this helps?
Hi Rod. Yes, good point I was thinking of theoretical British light company strengths and didn't consider Hanoverian Officers and NCOs etc.
Since the Hanoverian brigades were integrated into British Divisions, I assume that they followed that instruction. I am not sure why you think their converged light battalions would have been a bit small.
The average size for both British and Hanoverian battalions in the Waterloo Campaign was 600. British Light companies would have averaged 60 men so a British Brigade of four battalions would have produced a converged light battalion of 240 men.
If Hanoverian companies had 12 sharpshooters each that is 48 men per battalion. They actually had an officer, bugler and a couple of NCOs on top of that, so 52 men per battalion or 208 for the converged light battalion of a four battalion brigade, a bit smaller than a British one, but not too much so.
Wellington’s orders stated that these converged light battalions should be formed whenever the Brigade marched or was in the presence of an enemy.
Thank you Rod. Did Wellingtons order to create ad hoc light battalions for each brigade apply to the Hanoverians? They would have been a bit small? Paul.
They had four large companies, which operated as 8 tactical half-companies. They did not have grenadiers or light companies, but found skirmishers by the normal Hanoverian system of 12 men per company being designated as sharpshooters.
The large companies helped to overcome the shortage of suitable officers. The KGL detached 91 Officers and 104 Sergeants to the four Hanoverian Landwehr Brigades to help with that officer shortage, an average of 6 officers and 7 sergeants per Hanoverian Landwehr battalion, which does much to explain their steady performance at Waterloo.
The KGL used that same system (although with 8 companies) until 1812, when they adopted a standard British 10 company system, with grenadier and light companies.