The Russian Empire under Czar Alexander I began the wars against Revolutionary France well and truly on the back foot. The army had undergone major reforms under Catherine the Great, but her death in 1796 brought the reactionary Paul I to the throne of the Tsar.
Paul was determined to return his army to what he perceived to be the best style for a military force - that of the Seven Years' War - and went about introducing ridiculous drills and uniform changes. Some of these included marching stiff-legged and putting steel balls into the hollow butts of muskets so they would rattle on the parade ground. Fortunately, for Russia's military, Paul was assassinated before he could completely ruin it and under his son, Alexander I, it returned to the path of modernisation.
The Russian army was truly massive, with estimations of its strength in 1795 being just under 750,000 men, more than 500,000 of which were infantry. Recruits to the infantry came from the nation's serfs, who were signed up in regular levies by their landowners for 25 years' service. They were tough, uneducated men who suffered the difficulties of military life with stoicism. If wounded, they were not allowed to show pain and Baron Marbot said this often badly affected his men who thought the Russians superhuman.
Infantry officers were not highly regarded by other nations' officer corps, being ill-educated and prone to gambling and excessive drinking. But, without doubt, these factors were overlooked on the field of battle where courage and devotion could not be considered lacking.
The figures are Perry Miniatures and are based on 50mm x 50mm x 2mm bases with GMB Design flags.
Smolensk Dragoon Regiment
New Russia Dragoon Regiment
Colonel of Grenadiers