Grenadier

From Academic Kids

For the deep-sea fishes called grenadiers, see rattail.

A Grenadier was originally a specialized assault trooper for siege operations, first established as a distinct role in the early 17th century. Grenadiers were soldiers who would throw grenades and storm breaches, leading the forefront of such a breakthrough.

The earliest references to these grenade-throwing soldiers are from Austria and Spain. References also appear in England during the English Civil War. However, it was King Louis XIV of France who made the Grenadier an official type of soldier and company during his army reforms late in the 17th century. According to Rene Chartrand, Lt. Col. Martinet introduced the idea of having men detailed to throw grenades in the Régiment du Roi in 1667.

At the time, grenades were mainly small spheres filled with gunpowder with a length of burning slow-match. Grenade throwing required strength, if it were to land far enough not to harm the own side; therefore, grenadiers were tall and strong and gradually became elite regiments.

Wide hats with board brims were discarded and replaced with caps. By 1700 several regiments had adopted a caps the shape of bishop's mitre, usually decorated with unit insignia. In addition to grenades, they were equipped with contemporary longarms. Uniform also included a belt tube that held match for lighting the fuse; the feature was retained in several later grenadier uniforms.

Grenade usage declined significantly in the 18th century, a fact that can be attributed to the improved effectiveness of massive infantry line tactics and firelock technology. However, the Grenadier's role as elite assault troop remained. The term grenadier was retained or adopted by various infantry units that were considered elite, including Potsdam Grenadiers, Napoleon's Imperial Guard, the Imperial Russian Grenadier Leib Guards Regiment, Grenadier Guards and the 101st Grenadiers. The latter was part of the British Indian Army and claimed to be the first and oldest grenadier regiment in the British Empire.

In modern times, regiments using the name grenadiers are effectively indistinguishable from other infantry, especially when hand- and other grenades have become regular part of infantry weaponry. Grenadier can also refer to soldiers utilizing grenade launchers, include those mounted on rifles.

External links

no:grenader nl:Grenadier

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