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Smolensk Regt The Empire of Russia
Left : Smolensk Regt c.1812

Generally speaking the Russian army organisation and the issuing of flags to the regiments throughout the period is a somewhat confusing subject to say the least. The information I present here is based on the few sources I have available. If anyone out there can enlighten me on anything I've missed or any mistakes I've made I would be highly delighted.

There were several different designs of flags in use by the Russian Army during the Napoleonic Wars Period. The first issue with which we are concerned was made in 1797. This was followed by further issues of new patterns in 1800, 1803 and 1813. Old patterns were not always promptly withdrawn and therefore some regiments were still carrying older issue patterns of flag long after the date of their official 'retirement'. In addition to the above, the Guards units always had slightly different designs of flags to those carried by the Line regiments. Also from 1806 some regiments were rewarded for deeds of valour by the award of 'Colours of St George', these were basically the 1803 pattern flags with extra gold inscriptions around the outer edges of the central cross. Throughout the period various flag staff colours were used, sometimes to denote specific regiments, I have included what information I have on this in the relevent sections.

The 1797 Line Infantry Pattern

In 1797 Tsar Paul I authorised new patterns for the Russian army's flags and during the next two years each regiment received one 'white' flag corresponding to the 'Kings Colour' of other European armies, and one 'coloured' flag per company which corresponded to the Battalion or Regimental colours of other armies. For the line infantry this meant there were one white and nine coloured flags per regiment. The flags were 142cm square and were carried on staves 3.15 metres long, with 14cm brass ferrules and 14cm spearhead shaped gilt finials. The staves were painted either black, white, brown or yellow but there appear to have been no regulations as to which unit used which colour at that time.

The 1796 Foot Guards Pattern

In 1796 Paul I issued new pattern flags to the three Foot Guard regiments. These new flags were of the same size as those of the line and were issued at the same rate. i.e. one white flag per regiment and one coloured flag per company. These flags were used for only a short time and were replaced in 1800.

The 1800 Line Infantry Pattern

In 1800 Paul I replaced the existing divisional organisation of the army with military districts called Inspections, and issued new flags of a more Prussian design to the regiments. These new flags were now coloured according to the regiments Inspection. The size of flag and stave remained unchanged, but the stave colour, brown, yellow, black or white was now used as a means of identifying individual regiments within the Inspections. A second scroll was sometimes added below the eagle bearing battle honours. Silver cords ending in tassels, were knotted just below the finial. Very few of this pattern flag appear to have been issued and most regiments continued to use the 1797 pattern. Regiments that are known to have received this pattern are: Arkangel, Moscow, Siberia, Smolensk, Tauride, Lithuania and Kabardinsk. Alexander I came to power in 1801 but made no immediate changes to the army's flags except for reducing their numbers to one white and five coloured per regiment in 1802. This meant that the first battalion carried one white and one coloured flag, whilst the second and third battalions carried two coloured flags each.

The 1803 Line Infantry Pattern

In 1803 Alexander I authorised new pattern flags for all regiments and the first of these were issued in June 1803. The new pattern was issued at the rate of one white and five coloured flags per regiment as before. The white flags were now all white, including the stitching, so that cross and corners were virtually indistinguishable. The coloured flags of all Inspections had white corners with the exception of St Petersburg which had red. The stave and flag size were unchanged, but all staves were now black. The cords were silver with orange and black threds woven in. Once again there appears to have been no strict application of the new regulations and many regiments continued to use previous issues of flags after 1803. In 1807 the system of Inspections was abolished and the divisional system reconstituted. All the old issues of flags continued in use regardless of this. When replacement flags were issued, or flags granted to new regiments, the 1803 pattern was normally used. Once again, there appears to have been no rigid control and for some years a variety of flags were carried by the regiments. The white flags continued to be all-white as before, the table below details the regiments known to have received new flags of the 1803 pattern in the period 1806-1813. In March 1807 a system of identifying regiments within a division by the stave colours was introduced, the first regiment had white staves, the second pale yellow, the third coffee brown and the fourth black. In December 1808 this was changed to first and fourth regiments yellow, second and fifth black and the third white. During 1811-1812 fifteen new regiments were raised from existing garrison battalions as follows: Voronesh, Briansk, Lithuania, Podolsk, Estonia, Orel, Galich, Velicki-Lutsk, Penza, Saratov, Sofia, Odessa, Vilna, Tarnova and Simbirsk. The original regiments of these names had been converted to jagers in 1810 and had therefore given up their colours. It is possible that some of these new regiments took the flags of the old regiments. In 1806 the first of the Colours of St George based on the 1803 pattern flag were awarded. Only a limited number of these were ever issued, regiments known to have received them included: Kiev, Schlusselburg, Pernov, Fanagoria, Grouzinski, Troitsk, Kexholm, Tiflis and Tobolsk. Later the regiments Okholsk, Kamchatka, Riazsk and Tambov received Colours of St George based on the 1813 pattern flag. Colours of St George stave and flag size were as usual, but the finial bore the white cross of the order of St George and had an orange cravat with three black stripes tied below it.

The 1800-1813 Foot Guards Patterns

In 1796 Paul I issued new pattern flags to the three ancient Foot Guard regiments. These new flags were of the same size as before and were issued at the same rate. i.e. one white flag per regiment and one coloured flag per company. This was reduced to two flags per battalion in 1802, first battalion one white one coloured, second two coloured etc. The flags were identical for all three regiments and regimental distinction was entirely by stave colours. These were: Preobrajenski brown for the white flag all coloured flags yellow, Semenovski black for all flags, Ismailovski white for all flags. The new Lithuanian Guard regiment was raised in December 1810 and The Litov Guard regiment in February 1811. Both new regiments were granted one white and five coloured flags of the 1803 pattern.

The 1813 Line Infantry Pattern

In 1813 a new pattern flag was produced, however the 1800 and 1803 pattern flags continued in use and few of the new pattern appear to have been issued. Regiments known to have received the new pattern flags were: Pernov, Kaluga, Okhotsk, Kamchatka, Riazski and Tambov. Only coloured flags were issued to these regiments and these all had green crosses with white corners and were colours of St George. From August 1814 the white flags were abolished and the regiments were to have only one coloured flag per battalion. It is unlikely that this directive had been completely complied with by the end of the Napoleonic period.

The 1813 Foot Guards Patterns

From 13th April 1813 new flags were issued to all the Guard regiments, including those that had been recently incorporated and were still carrying their old flags. The new flags were of the 1803 pattern and were all colours of St George. As before, one white and one coloured flag was carried by the first battalions and two coloured flags by each of the other battalions. The white flags were all white (as for the line Pattern) except possibly that of the Litov regiment which might have had yellow/black corners as in the previous issue. On 24th December 1813 the Guards regiments received yet another issue of flags. White flags were not issued and there was probably only one coloured flag per battalion. All these flags were colours of St George and all had yellow crosses.

Links to the 1797 Pattern Flags of the Grenadier Regiments
The Leib Grenadier Regiment
The Astrakan Grenadier Regiment
The Ekaterinoslav Grenadier Regiment
The Caucasus Grenadier Regiment
The St Petersburg Grenadier Regiment
The Siberia Grenadier Regiment
The Tauride Grenadier Regiment
The Fanagoria Grenadier Regiment
The Kherson Grenadier Regiment
The Kiev Grenadier Regiment
The Grenadier Regiment
The Moscow Grenadier Regiment
The Pavlov Grenadier Regiment
Links to the 1797 Pattern Flags of the Musketeer Regiments
The Azov Regiment
The Alexopol Regiment
The Apsheron Regiment
The Arkangelogorod Regiment
The Revel Regiment
The Rostov Regiment
The Rialsk Regiment
The Riazsk Regiment
The Briansk Regiment
The Boutyrski Regiment
The Bielev Regiment
The Bielosersk Regiment
The Riazan Regiment
The Sevastopol Regiment
The Selenquinsk Regiment
The Smolensk Regiment
The Velik-lutsk Regiment
The Vitebsk Regiment
The Vladimir Regiment
The Voronesh Regiment
The Sofia Regiment
The Old Inkermanland Regiment
The Staroskol Regiment
The Souzdal Regiment
The Viborg Regiment
The Viazma Regiment
The Dnieper Regiment
The Ekaterinbourg Regiment
The Sievsk Regiment
The Tambov Regiment
The Tiflis Regiment
The Tobolsk Regiment
The Yeletz Regiment
The Kabardinsk Regiment
The Kazan Regiment
The Kexholm Regiment
The Tomsk Regiment
The Troitsk Regiment
The Toula Regiment
The Ouglich Regiment
The Koslov Regiment
The Koursk Regiment
The Ladoga Regiment
The Moscow Regiment
The Oufa Regiment
The Tchernigov Regiment
The Shirvan Regiment
The Schusselberg Regiment
The Mourmansk Regiment
The Narva Regiment
The Nachebourg Regiment
The Neva Regiment
The Yaroslav Regiment
The (General) Arkharov Regiment
The (General) Berg Regiment
The (General) Brandt Regiment
The Nijegorod Regiment
The Nizov Regiment
The Novgorod Regiment
The New Inkermanland Regiment
The (General) Leitner Regiment
The (General) Marklov Regiment
The (General) Miller I Regiment
The (General) Pavlour Regiment
The (General) Ouchakoff I Regiment
The Orlov Regiment
The Perm Regiment
The Polotsk Regiment
The Pskov Regiment
1797 Pattern Flags of Musketeer Regiments Raised by Paul I
Note: It seems that the majority of the following regiments did not receive flags until 1805 and those would probably be of the 1803 pattern, however I have included them here for completeness.
The Tenquinsk Regiment
The Navajinsk Regiment
The Olonetz Regiment
The Saratov Regiment
The Kolyvan Regiment
The Poltava Regiment
The Ukraine Regiment
The Lithuania Regiment
The 1796 Foot Guards Pattern Flags
The Ismailovski Regiment
The Preobrajenski Regiment
The Semenovski Regiment
The 1800 Line Infantry Pattern Flags (Inspections)
Brest Litovsk
Links to the 1803 Line Infantry Pattern Flags
Inspection Regiments Inspection Regiments
Brest Litovsk Old Inkermanland Livonia St Petersburg-Grenadiers
Riazsk Tauride-Grenadiers
Viborg Sievsk
Apsheron Sofia
Azov Revel
Podolsk (Formed 1803) Tobolsk
Wilna (formed 1806) Dnieper
Pensa (Formed 1806) Tchernigov
Caucasus Caucasus-Grenadiers Korporsk (Formed 1803)
Souzdal Kalouga (Formed 1806)
Tiflis Moscow Astrakhan-Grenadiers
Kabardinsk Navajinsk
Kazan Tambov
Vologda (Formed 1803) Ukraine
Crimea Bielev Schusselburg
Sevastopol Nachebourg
Troitsk Orlov
Vitebsk Saratov
Dniester Kherson-Grenadiers Staroskol
Siberia-Grenadiers Olonetz
Ladoga Orenburg Riga
Vladimir Oufa
New Inkermanland Ekaterinbourg
Alexopol St Petersburg Leib-Grenadiers
Koslov Pavlov-Grenadiers
Yaroslav Yeletz
Nijegorod Kexholm
Crimea (Formed 1803) Bielosersk
Odessa (Formed 1806) Tenquinsk
Finland Velik-lutsk Lithuania
Neva Pernov (Formed 1803)
Riazan Siberia Shirvan
Kiev Moscow Tomsk
Boutyrski Selenguinsk
Kolyvan Smolensk Moscow-Grenadiers
Novgorod Fanagoria-Grenadiers
Viasma Polotsk
Narva Perm
Poltava Ouglitz
Lithuania Ekaterinoslav-Grenadiers Kursk
Toula Voronesh
Pskov Ukraine Malorossii-Grenadiers
Mourmansk Kiev-Grenadiers
Rostov Smolensk
Nizov Briansk
Arkangelogorod Galitz (Formed 1803)
Volhynie (Formed 1803) Estonia (Formed 1806)
Mohilev (Formed 1806)
Kostroma (Formed 1806)
Links to Line Infantry Flag Variants 1803-1813
Regiment Issued Regiment Issued
Azov 08/01/1810 Mohilev 13/04/1813
Narva 22/05/1810 Bielostock 28/11/1808
Dniepr 13/06/1810 Vilna 21/03/1807
Troitsk * ??/??/1812 Sveaborg # 15/11/1810
Perm 13/06/1813 Odessa # ??/??/1811
Schusselburg * 18/07/1806 Vilna # ??/??/1811
Fanagoria * 18/09/1810 Tarnopol # ??/??/1811
Grouzinski * 18/01/1812 Simbirsk # ??/??/1811
* = Colour of St George, # = Newly Raised Regiments
The 1800-1813 Foot Guards Pattern Flags
The Semenovski Regiment
The Preobrajenski Regiment
The Ismailovski Regiment
The Lithuanian Regiment
The Litov Regiment
The 1813 Line and Foot Guards Patterns
The 1813 Line Infantry pattern
Foot Guards 1813 First Issue
Foot Guards 1813 Second Issue

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