The organisation and economics of an infantry regiment of 1775 – Part 1: The British
When looking at how to organise our new collection of the Front Rank 40mm range for the RevWar we wanted to create a more visual interpretation for the table top, the initial plan was to raise a Regiment on a 1 figure to 1 soldier ratio.
This meant that we would then end up with a table top strength of around 300-400 figures in said regiment, obviously the idea seems a little extreme to play a wargame but our purpose is to try and demonstrate the size and complexity of maneuvering a Regiment of the time of the American War of Independence.
By the beginning of 1775 the total establishment of British Regiments had been reduced, peace and politicians being the army’s biggest enemy, after the Seven Year War many regiments raised for the war were disbanded.
However the introduction around 1771 of a second flank company of “light” troops to the regimental composition would allow for greater flexibility to these battalions when in the field, the regiment would therefore consist of 10 companies of 8 centre or hat companies, one Grenadier and one Light company.
The common practice of the time was to form converged combined battalions of the various flank companies drawn from the various regiments, these combined Grenadier and Light battalions held a somewhat elite status amongst the army.
Owing to the poor military science of 18th , century weapons were of limited range, therefore the tactic of the day were for two armies, division, brigade or even just a regiment was to face one another in line of 2 or 3 ranks and trade of musketry hoping one’s resolve would break, the bayonet was an extension of these tactics.
The British Army at this time had become quite diverse in the use of the bayonet as an offensive weapon. Primarily the bayonet was introduced as a defensive weapon after pikemen were removed from the army’s establishment in the early part of the 18th Century. Taking in lessons learned during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the British Army became one of the best; iron will and discipline were also other attributes to the strength of the Army.
Should you choose to raise your battalions on a 1:1 ratio then we are looking at dividing down into roughly 36 man (rank & file) "actual" strength companies, sources have stated that a company would consist of the correct amount of NCOs’ as these were the administrative part of the company, therefore 2 Sergeant and 3 Corporals would carry out the duties of any normal day. The company was divided into sections, some say 3 as there were 3 Corporals, however it appears that the battalion would be divided equally by wings and divisions for firing purposes, the standard was to split into 16 platoons for firings.
I am very doubtful whether the company would be split into 3 sections as the platoon firing system would divide down into even equal parts, there appears to be no information readily at hand to describe how the company was really subdivided into manageable sections however my thought and experience of drilling and the drill manual of the time would lead me to suspect that the Corporals of the company would fall in with the rank and file and act as markers for the platoons, with each platoon divided into two sections therefore we will have 4 sections to one company, the job of the sergeants was to order and bully the men into position, you must also remember the company drummer would give the correct beat for each order, all were expected to be able to read the drum beat and understand what was the next motion, thereby the order would be verbally given as well as by the drum.