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18th C unit designations

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18th C unit designations

Postby Jay Arnold » Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:41 pm

I've noted a number of references to units from the 18th C such as "Frederick the Great's Guard regiment (IR15/II)." Is there a generally accepted reference system for such notations? Are they specific to a particular categorization or cataloging? Am I missing the boat on something here?
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Re: 18th C unit designations

Postby Jay Arnold » Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:42 pm

Ok, I see that the "II" references the second battalion of the regiment.
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Re: 18th C unit designations

Postby Ronan the Librarian » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:03 pm

Not entirely sure what question you're asking here exactly, Jay, but if it's what I think it is, then the 18th Century was a transition period during which armies - especially those of larger countries - generally shifted from proprietorial titles for their regiments (which could be linked to a region, eg Picardie, or - more usually - to its Colonel/Chef/Inhaber/Proprietor, eg Dauphin, or less commonly to its function, eg Garde du Corps) to a numerical designation based around the seniority of the regiment within that arm of service. Once numerical precedence was established - some time around the early 1700s - changes of Colonel became less likely to change that seniority, although that could sometimes still happen.

Thus, in your quoted example, Frederick's guards were 15th in seniority within the Prussian infantry, hence IR (Infanterie Regimente) 15 - which they remained well into the Napoleonic period; the "II" is the battalion number. There is a convention of using Roman numerals for individual battalions in most European armies, which is also used in the modern US Army as you know; the British, naturally, ignored this and generally record both battalion and regiment in Arabic numerals - eg 1/42nd Foot, or 2/3rd Foot Guards.

Does that answer the question, or did I doubly insult you by not only teaching you to suck eggs, but explaining to you what an egg looks like as well? :smile2:
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Re: 18th C unit designations

Postby Jay Arnold » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:27 pm

Ronan the Librarian wrote:Not entirely sure what question you're asking here exactly, Jay, but if it's what I think it is, then the 18th Century was a transition period during which armies - especially those of larger countries - generally shifted from proprietorial titles for their regiments (which could be linked to a region, eg Picardie, or - more usually - to its Colonel/Chef/Inhaber/Proprietor, eg Dauphin, or less commonly to its function, eg Garde du Corps) to a numerical designation based around the seniority of the regiment within that arm of service. Once numerical precedence was established - some time around the early 1700s - changes of Colonel became less likely to change that seniority, although that could sometimes still happen.


That clears it up. Thanks!

Ronan the Librarian wrote:Thus, in your quoted example, Frederick's guards were 15th in seniority within the Prussian infantry, hence IR (Infanterie Regimente) 15 - which they remained well into the Napoleonic period; the "II" is the battalion number. There is a convention of using Roman numerals for individual battalions in most European armies, which is also used in the modern US Army as you know; the British, naturally, ignored this and generally record both battalion and regiment in Arabic numerals - eg 1/42nd Foot, or 2/3rd Foot Guards.


No we don't. We don't use Roman numerals until Corps (I Corps, III Corps, XVIII Airborne Corps), and then move back to Arabic for Armies. I myself am a proud member of 2/130th Infantry (Blackhawks!).

Ronan the Librarian wrote:Does that answer the question, or did I doubly insult you by not only teaching you to suck eggs, but explaining to you what an egg looks like as well? :smile2:


Yup. Answered nicely and I appreciate it. 'Tis I who rudely taught you to suck 'Merican eggs.

Thanks! <giles>
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