Franco-Prussian War Armies - German Organisations

The North German Armies

In 1866, following the Austro‑Prussian war, Prussia annexed the former Electorate of Hessia, the Kingdom of Hanover, the Duchy of Nassau and the Free City of Frankfort. In a series of conventions in 1867 she arranged to take control of the military affairs of the kingdom of Saxony, whose troops formed the XII corps, and the Grand Duchy of Hesse‑Darmstadt, whose troops formed a division in the XI Corps. The entire force came under the control of the King of Prussia.

The Standing Army

In 1870 there were four regiments of Guard Grenadiers, four of Foot Guards (Garde du Fuz), one of Guard Fusiliers, fifteen of line Grenadiers, thirteen of line Fusiliers and 88 of Line infantry. In addition there were sixteen battalions of line Jager, one of Guard Jager and one of Guard Schutzen (sharpshooters).
Each regiment consisted of three battalions, with the exception of the four Hessian regiments which had only two battalions each. The third battalion of the Line Infantry regiments were designated Fusilier battal­ions.
Each battalion contained four companies, numbered one to four in the first battalion, five to eight in the second and nine to twelve in the third. Each battalionhad apeacetime establishment ofbetween 526 and 678 men and on a war footing a strength of 1043 men.
The Guard cavalry consisted oftwo regiments of Cuirassiers, two of Dragoons, three of Uhlans and one offlussars. The Line cavalry contained
 eight regiments of Cuirassiers, nineteen of Dragoons, seventeen of Hus­sars eighteen of Uhlan and two of Hessian and four of Saxon Retier. The Cuirassiers and Uhlan formed the heavy cavalry and the Dragoons, Hussars and Reiter the light cavalry.
Each regiment consisted of five squadrons in peacetime with an establishment of 672 horses and four squadrons of 600 horses in the field The fifth squadron formed the depot in war providing reinforcements for the regiment in the field and a point to train recruits.
There were thirteen field artillery regiments, one of which was guard, one Hessian field artillery division, nine regiments of fortress artillery, one guard, four fortress divisions and one laboratory division.
Each field artillery regiment consisted of three foot and one horse divisions. Foot divisions consisted of two six‑pounder and two four­pounder batteries. Horse divisions contained three four‑pound batteries Each battery contained six guns and 150 men.
Fortress artillery regiments consisted of two divisions each of four companies. Laboritory divisions consisted of two companies.
The Saxon Field Artillery regiment differed from the other regi­ments by having only two divisions with four batteries each (two eight­pound and two four‑pound) and two other foot divisions of two six‑pound and two four‑pound batteries each. The horse division had two four‑pound batteries.
There were thirteen battalions of pioneers, one ofwhich was Guard, and one company of Hessian Pioneers. Each battalion had four companies and a peacetime establishment of495 men. War strength was 600 men and one company formed the depot.
Each of the thirteen battalions ofthe train (one ofwhich was Guard) consisted of two companies and one depot company. The peacetime strength was 25 5 men, 121 horses and 24 wagons. War footing brought this establishment up to 1455 men.

The Landwehr

The 218 battalions of Landwehr were organised into four Guard regiments, two of the foot guards and two of the Grenadier Guards, each of three battalions, twelve single battalions of the reserve and 97 two battalion regiments. Each battalion was formed of four companies with a wartime strength of 800 men.
In 1870 only the Guard regiments and eight other regiments saw action in France, the remainder were allocated to home defence.
Also mobilised for the war against France were three regiments of Dragoons, six of Hussars and seven of Whans with the same organisation as the line regiments.

The South German Armies.


The Infantry arm of the Baden army consisted of six regiments each of three battalions with a peacetime establishment of 540 men and a war strength of 1064. Only fifteen battalions saw service in France.
There were three regiments of Baden Dragoons. Each contained five squadrons and had a peacetime strength of 576 horses. In war, one squadron formed the depot and four took to the field with 636 horses.
In 1870 Baden provided one field artillery regiment ofnine batteries, four of which were six‑pounders, four were four‑pounders and one was a four‑pounder horse battery.
There were two companies of pioneers with a peacetime establish­ment of 250 men and a war strength of 340.

 The Landwehr

The Baden Landwehr consisted of ten battalions with a peacetime establishment of 340 men. None were deployed in France.


There were sixteen infantry regiments each of three battalions and ten Jager battalions, each of four companies, with a peacetime establish­ment of 3 80 men and a war strength of 1042.
Ten cavalry regiments were available for service in 1870: two of Cuirassier, two of Uhlan and six of Cheveaulegeres. Each regiment had five squadrons in peacetime with a strength of 600 horses. On a war footing, one squadron became the depot and the remaining four squadrons took the field with 583 men.
The Bavarian artillery consisted of four regiments each with seven batteries of field, one ofhorse and four of fortress artillery. Each bat­tery contained six guns and 150 men.
Of the 28 field batter­ies twenty were six‑pounders and eight were four‑pound­ers. All horse batteries were four‑pounders.
There was one regi­ment of sx ix companies of field and four companies of fortress engineers. In peacetime time the battalion numbered 800 men and in war 1400 men
There were four train companies with a peacetime strength of 300 men and a wartime establishment of 3000 men.

The Landwehr

In 1870 there were 32 battalions of four companies. Each battalion had a peacetime establishment of 64 men and a war strength of 800. None of the Bavarian Landwehr saw action in France.


The Wurtemburg Infantry consisted of eight regiments of two battalions each, and three Jager battalions. In peacetime each battalion had an establishment of480 men and in war it was expanded to 1070. Only fifteen battalions were deployed in France.
Three regiments of Reiter each of four squadrons were mobilised in 1870. Each regiment had a peacetime establishment of 496 horses and on awar footing counted 676 horses. An additional regiment ofReiterandone squadron of Feldjager were retained for home defence.
The artillery consisted of one regiment with nine batteries, six of which were four‑pounders and three six‑pounders. In addition there were four companies of fortress artillery and two train divisions.
There were two companies of engineers with a wartime strength of 347 men.

The Landwehr

There were four battalions of Landwehr in 1870 each with a war strength of 800 men. None saw service in France.

Higher Organisations.

The North German forces were organised into twelve corps, one of which was Guard. With the exception of the Guard, which was recruited from all over Prussia, each corps was recruited from particular region. For example the II corps from Pomerania, the VIII Corps from the Rhine Provinces, etc.
Each corps consisted of two divisions each of two brigades of two regiments each. Attached to each division were two. six‑pound, two four­pound field batteries and a regiment of light cavalry. Attached to each corps were two six‑pound and two four‑pound field batteries, two four­pound horse batteries one battalion ofiager and one company of field engineers.
The Guard corps differed by having the Guard cavalry division of three brigades each of two regiments attached.
The cavalry was organised into six divisions. Each division had eithertwo orthree brigades each oftwoorthree regiments. Ahorse battery was attached to each division.
The Saxon corps also had a cavalry division of two brigades each of two regiments and a horse battery attached.
The Bavarian troops were organised into two corps each of two divisions each of two brigades. each brigade contained five line battalions and one Jager battalion. Each division had two four‑pounder, two six­pounder batteries, one Jager battalion and one cavalry regiment attached. Attached to each corpswas a cavalry brigade ofthree regiments and a horse battery in addition to a reserve artillery brigade of six six‑pounder and one four‑pounder battery.
The Baden and Wurternburg divisions formed separate forces at the beginning of the campaign but were later combined into one corps.

The Wurtemburg division consisted of three brigades each of two regiments and aJager bat­talion. Attached to the division was a brigade of three regiments of reiter together with six four­pound and three six‑pound batter­ies.

 The Baden division con­tained two brigades, one of three and one of two regiments. At­tached to the Division were a bri­gade of three regiments of dra­goons, one four‑pound horse battery, two six pound and one four‑pound field batteries and one company of engineers.

The various corps and divisions were formed into three field armies. The First Army consisted of the VII and VIII corps together with the First and Third Cavalry Divisions. The Second Army contained the Guard, Ill, IV, IX, X and XII (Saxon) corps together with the Fifth and Sixth Cavalry Divisions. The Third Army consisted ofthe V, VI, XI, 1 st and 2nd Bavarian corps, the Wurtemburg and Baden Divisions and the Second and Fourth Cavalry Divisions.

In addition to the three main armies, the Germans retained for home defence the 1 Corps, Seventeenth Infantry Division, the Landwehr of the Guard and three Landwehr Divisions. Some of these troops were subsequently transfered to France.

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