Peninsular War:Army Organization in the Peninsular War
The first thing that struck me as I looked into the organization of the British armies of the period was what was not part of the army. The quartermaster corp, or supply personnel were not part of an army and were not directly answerable to the General in charge of an army. Their chain of command followed a chain-of-command back to the Secretary of war and the British Government bypassing the commanding general. Next the artillary corp had a similar situation, although their chain did pass through the commander-in-chief, but not through any division or brigade commander.
(See below. This is an organizational designation. A regiment might have 2 or 3 battalions, one in the war, one at home undergoing training and supplying replacements, and perhaps another in a different war theater.)
In the peninsular War, 5,000-6,000 strong commanded by
a General owing direct responsibility to Wellington. Broken into 2 or 3 Brigades.
There were eventually 8 in the War. 1-7 and the Light Division.
Light Division was 4,000 strong and were the troops trained by General
Moore especially at Shorncliffe as mobile troops and skirmishers. They
were the only Division to have their own Artillery (Ross's Battery) and their
own Cavalry, the 1st Hussars, and the King's German Legion.
A unit of a Division including 1,500-2,000 men and usually named for it's commmander.
The commander is of course usually a "Brigadier" General, or in some cases a Major General.
Organized into Battalions 2-4 battalions of 550-1,000 men form a Brigade.
A unit of a Brigade containing 550-1,000 soldiers, organized into 10 Companies with up to 100 men in each company.
A regiment normally consists of two battalions each commanded by a Colonel.
These battalion's full strengths were 1,000 men and officers each,
but this was almost never attained. Instead most of the battalions got
by with 500-700 men. It was not uncommon to see a regiment field less
than half its strength on the day after a battle.
Sometimes used interchangebly with Battalion. A Regiment
has a number designation and probably a name. It is a recruiting and
A Regiment, say the 29th, would have more
than 1 Battalion, assigned to different Brigades, and probably another battalion at home that would provide replacement to the active battalions. Often refferred to as the 1/29th, 2/29th, or the 4/95th.
A unit of a Battalion. Each Battalion had 10 companies. The largest
men in the Battalion were put into the Grenadier company who typically
held the right flank of a position. The nimblest men were trained as
the light company and acted as skirmishers.
A company was allowed to have 4-6 of the men's wives accompany them
on campaign. They would stay with the company, often including in battle.
They might tend wounded or help carry. They were allowed half-rations
and could thus becom accomplished at pilferage. They did of course much
of the cooking and mending but by no means all. They became as used to
death as the soldiers, and often remarried within 48 hours of a husbands death.
An organizational unit only sometimes used. It is comprised of 2 or more divisions usually under the direct control of a Marshal.
Usually 4,000 men. Each division has both a number, and is named for its General
Divided into 2-3 Brigades.
Made up of several Battalions each with 900 men each.
800-900 strong, divided into 6 companies. One company was a grenadier company and one was a voltigeur (or light) company. They came to include tirallieur or skirmishers used ahead of the advancing army to harass and "soften" the opposing force.
This is to confuse us used to the British system. Sometimes 2-3 battalions were grouped and designated a Regiment.
Wellingtons army was organized into divisions under his direct command,
giving him more control of the battlefield, not having to ask permission
of corps commanders for the movement of their troops. The French command
was usually more cellular giving them slower reaction times to changing