Living History Group

"Preobrazhensky Life Guards", 1709


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History of the regt


Organization of Russian infantry in 1700-1721
Infantry tactics 
Firing systems
Drill manuals: musketeers, grenadiers, pikemen
Regulations: from 1698, 1700, 1707, 1709, 1715

This page will explain briefly, how Russian infantry was organized and how it acted on the battlefield in the course of Great Northern War.

Original contemporary documents, regulations and drill-manuals are included.


Organization of Russian infantry in 1700-1721.
Infantry regiments consisted of 8 to 16 companies with 4 companies in a battalion. A company was broken into 4 corporalships. Grenadier company in every regiment were not part of any battalion and in most line regiments were detached to comprise combined grenadier regiments. Guards, however, remained with their grenadier companies. Preobrazhensky regt, besides grenadiers, had a separate company of bombardiers, which was an elite artillery and engineering sub-unit.

Infantry tactics
The new Peter's regular army didn't differ much in tactics from it's European counterparts. Whether it relied upon firing or upon cold-steel charges as offensive tactics is unknown to us so far. Regulations of 1698 and 1700 prescribed 6 ranks deep formation. 1707 regulation prescribes 4 ranks deep line with every second man in the first rank armed with pike. 

A company in 1707. 1:300 miniatures by Baccus, collection of B.Megorsky

Firing systems

- Volley fire.
- "Nederfallen", a sort of fire by ranks when all soldiers knelt and ranks stood up and fired in succession from rear to front.
- Firing by ranks: front rank never fires but is ready with bayonets and pikes. Second, third and fourth ranks fire in succession. Third rank should only fire once fourth ranks has loaded. This metheod is considered less effective in 1707 regulation.
- Firing by platoons: four platoons in a company fire in succession; the fourth platoon only fires when the first platoon has loaded. In this method, as in firing by ranks, only 3 rear ranks fire, while first rank preserves fire. This method in same 1707 regulations is considered much better and safer than firing by ranks and it was recommended to train this method more than any other. 



Musketeer manual

Drill manual for musketeers as described in the only survived illustrated Regulation from 1698. This Regulation is also known as Regulation of General Adam Veide. (pages in Russian).

"Shoulder-arms", "present-arms", "ground-arms" and other commands Loading and firing a musket Use of bayonet



Grenadier manual

О РУЧНЫХ УХВАТКАХ ГРАНАДИРСКИХIgnition and throwing grenades and use of bayonets as described in Veide's 1698 Regulation (page in Russian).


Pike Manual

Use of pikes in Russian army in the earlier period of Great Northern War  is not described in any documents known to us so far, so it is hard to tell what part of infantry formation if any was armed with pikes before 1707. Regulation of 1707 prescribes 4 ranks deep infantry battalion, with pikemen placed in the first rank 50/50 intermixed with musketeers.

The only Pike Manual in Russian was published in Russian in 1647. See the document (in Russian).


Contemporary Regulations

REGULATIONS FOR A COMBAT AS IT IS TODAY (UCHREZHDENIYE K BOYU PO NASTOYASCHEMU VREMENI) (in Russian) 1707-1708: establishes 4 rank formation for the infantry; prescribes places for officers in company's formation; desrcibes firing by ranks and by platoons.
(PRAVILA SRAZHENIYA) (translated into English), 1709. Created by Tsar Peter and introduced to the Russian army just before battle of Poltava and is based on combat experience of then recent actions: Golovchin in July and Lesnaya in September 1708. 


Living History Unit "Preobrazhensky Life Guards" (с) 2003