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Uniforms of the Prussian Fusilier Regiment Prince Heinrich No. 35 (1757), color plate by Richard Knötel
Uniforms of the Prussian Fusilier Battalions No. 1 and 2 (1792), color plate by Richard Knötel
The Fusilier Battalion of the 1st Guard Regiment on foot in the Battle of Großgörschen (1813), painting by Carl Röchling
Fusiliers of the Swiss Army during an exercise during the Army Days 2007 in Thun

Fusiliers were originally a flintlock (French fusil ) armed infantrymen . From the late 18th century, these formed the light infantry of the line infantry in German armies , which led the scattered combat ahead of them. When the infantry's closed approach and fighting in closed columns and their protection by tirailleurs were replaced by scattered combat , the difference disappeared in the course of the 19th century.

The term fusiliers is still used in some armed forces, but has only a traditional meaning. In military parlance, fusilate is used for shooting or executing.


As Fusiliers are called (the first in France) is armed with these soldiers since the advent of flintlock rifles to the 1670th This term they bordered by with Luntenmusketen equipped Musketeers from. The first fusilier regiment was set up in France by Louis XIV in 1671 : the task of the Fusiliers du Roi was to protect the artillery . Infantry with muskets and burning fuses seemed unsuitable for use near powder stores. Because of its easier handling and tactical advantages (no burning fuses, which would give away the position during night marches), the flintlock rifle completely replaced the fuse musket by 1700. In addition, with the introduction of the bung bayonet, the musketeers and the pikemen posted to cover them became obsolete. From a technical point of view, there were only fusiliers from then on, even if the term musketeer was predominantly used in German-speaking countries and the flintlock rifle continued to be referred to as a musket. In the French-speaking world, however, the term fusilier prevailed.


In Prussia , the lowest rank in the 32 regiments on foot set up before 1740 was "Musketeer", while this was consequently referred to as "Fusilier" in the fusiler regiments newly set up by Friedrich II . Uniform, armament and mission were identical to those of the musketeers, but with the exception of the officers they wore a fusilier hat instead of a bicorn . In their advertising and smaller recruits were accepted and these regiments usually only for the second meeting used. In 1783 three fusilier free regiments were set up, whose battalions became independent as fusilier battalions in 1787. Their mission was that of the light infantry , but they did not conduct the scattered combat of the Jäger on foot , even if, like them, they wore a green uniform. After the catastrophe of 1806, the fusiliers were no longer set up as independent battalions during the Scharnhorst reforms, but were replaced by the third or fusilier battalions of the line infantry regiments. They wore the same uniform as the musketeers of the first two battalions, but with black belts and knapsack straps instead of white, and they could be used both as tirailleurs and as line infantry. The infantry regiments No. 32 to 40 and the Guard Fusilier Regiment , established between 1815 and 1820, were referred to as fusilier regiments , but did not differ from normal infantry in terms of equipment and mission. The fusilier battalions were the first to be equipped with the needle gun towards the end of the 1840s . With its introduction to the entire army in the 1850s, however, this distinguishing feature ceased, so that from then until the end of the Old Army in 1919, the designation of associations as fusiliers had only traditional reasons. An exception was the Rifle (Fus.) Regiment "Prince Georg" (Royal Saxon) No. 108 , which was the only line infantry regiment in a green hunter uniform. The difference between light infantry and line infantry had otherwise been eliminated.

After there were no fusiliers in the German army between 1919 and 1943, the Wehrmacht introduced fusilier battalions in 1943 instead of the disbanded reconnaissance units, which consisted of infantry companies and reconnaissance companies.

Fusiliers in existing armed forces

  • In Switzerland , light infantrymen are known as fusiliers. They are usually equipped with wheeled armored personnel carriers and have a high degree of mobility on the battlefield. These are easier to transport over long distances by air than chain mail. Fusiliers bear the brunt of the fight wherever the opponent cannot fully bring his superiority to mechanized forces. They are therefore particularly suitable for fighting in covered, cut, or densely built-up urban terrain.
  • In France, infantry components of the navy and air force are known as fusiliers. In Portugal and Uruguay, the marine infantry is called Fuzileiros Navais or Fusileros Navales .
  • In the British Army , the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers emerged from an infantry regiment armed with flintlock rifles in 1685 to protect the artillery.


  • Richard Knötel , Herbert Knötel, Herbert Sieg: Colored Manual of Uniform Studies. The development of the military costume until 1937.
    • Volume 1: The German States, Austria-Hungary and Switzerland New edition, Weltbild, Augsburg 1994.
    • Volume 2: The European and non-European countries with the exception of the armed forces of the German states, Austria-Hungary and Switzerland dealt with in Volume 1. New edition, Spemann, Stuttgart 1994.
  • Liliane and Fred Funcken , historical uniforms :
    • Volume 1, 18th Century, French Guard and Line Infantry, British and Prussian Infantry. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-570-04361-4 ;
    • Volume 2, 18th Century, French, British and Prussian Cavalry and Artillery, Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery of the Remaining European Countries. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-570-01865-2 ;
    • Volume 3, Napoleonic times, 1st French regiments of the line, British, Prussian and Spanish troops from the time of the First Empire. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1978; ISBN 3-570-06389-5 ;
    • Volume 4, Napoleonic Era, 2nd French Imperial Guards, the Allied troops, the Swedish, Austrian and Russian armies at the time of the First Empire. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-570-05449-7 ;
    • Volume 5, 19th Century, 1814-1850: France, Great Britain, Prussia. Infantry, cavalry, technical troops and artillery. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-570-04961-2 ;
    • Volume 6, 19th Century, 1850-1900: France, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Russia. Infantry, cavalry, technical troops, artillery. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-570-01461-4 ;

Web link

Wiktionary: Fusilier  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations