The Imperial Army is divided into three "Services": Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry. Each Service has multiple "Arms of Service", or types of troops. These Arms are grouped into categories called "Branches".
Line Infantry Edit
The Line Infantry are the most basic type of soldier in the Imperial Army, the backbone of any Legion. Though they have the highest proportion of Conscripts out of any Imperial Service, all are nonetheless highly trained, motivated, professional soldiers and in no way expendable. This is due to the nature of the Imperial Conscription system, which calls up only a portion of potential conscripts based on random lottery to serve long terms of enlistment rather than inducting all able-bodied males of a certain age for short durations. All draftees go through the basic training and learn the core skills of the Line Infantry: close-order formation marching in unison, firing and reloading a muzzle-loading rifle even under the most stressful conditions and recognizing commands communicated by hand gesture, whistle or music, among other things. It is only once the trainees' apptitudes have been determined at the end of this 8-month training course that the appropriate candidates are moved to other, more specialized, Infantry branches and given additional instruction. Those who remain in the Line Infantry receive an additional four months to hone and perfect their skills as well as build their cameraderie with others in their unit in order to mold them into a cohesive fighting force.
The name "Line Infantry" comes from these soldiers' method of doing battle. Their principle unit of organization and maneuver - like most other types of Imperial infantry - is the Battalion, in this case consisting of 4 Line Companies (plus two supporting Skirmisher companies, but this will be covered in that troop type's respective entry). Each Line Company has 180 "Infantrymen" carrying their trademark long, heavy muzzle-loading rifles; the NCOs, officers and Musicians are considered non-combat supernumerary personnel and stand separate from the company's formation (usually behind it). In battle, the 180 infantrymen of the company deploy into a Line Formation: forming 3 ranks [or rows] separated by intervals of just 1 Pace [exactly 1/3rd of the Imperial meter] with 60 men to a rank in Close Order (i.e. almost shoulder-to-shoulder, elbows brushing) - such that, from a distance, they appear to make one narrow, line-like rectangle. These tight spacings give the men in the formation just enough room to march in the Empire's formal high-stepping, arm-swinging fashion without disturbing those to either side of them or in front of them, while creating a single compact, cohesive and easily-controlled body. However, as stated before, a Line Battalion operates as a single cohesive unit except in outstanding circumstances. A Battalion's 4 Line Companies deploy side-by-side to create a single line 240 men wide and 3 deep, though the width of the gaps between each company varies according to whether Brigade-level support artillery is deployed. When multiple Battalions - typically an entire Division (8 Line Battalions in 4 Brigades) or more - are drawn up with the above-mentioned Brigade artillery interspersed among them, this is referred to as a "Line of Battle". The Line of Battle is the principle field presence of an Imperial Army in medium- or large-scale engagements, the anvil around which all other components conduct their operations.
Line Infantrymen are equipped with the robust, reliable and relatively simple Type 4219 Long Land Pattern Rifled Infantry Musket: a muzzle-loading rifle measuring 64" / 1.63m long [not including bayonet] and weighing a little more than 11 pounds / 5 kilograms. In militarily-trained hands and with time to calibrate the sights during clear weather conditions, this firearm may reliably hit a man-sized target out to about 800 meters or slightly more; however, such shots are rarely ever practical. The Line Infantry uses their rifle-muskets in an entirely different way: the front rank of the formation kneels, while the third aims over the shoulders of the second, allowing all three rows to shoot. They fire disciplined volleys on command, almost always by rank, in order to pump out a continuous hail of bullets. When a Line of Battle is formed, each Battalion's support staff will use special range-finding and measuring instruments to pre-determine the calibrations for the unit's rifle sights. The company commanders then use their pocket watch with a simple mathematical formula based on the average speed of marching enemy troops to account for time elapsed and call the adjustments out to their companies before giving the fire command. At closer ranges, sight adjustments and aiming at individual enemy soldiers is typically dispensed with altogether, in favor of reducing time between volleys and inflicting maximum casualties by sheer weight of fire. Sometimes, at these distances, the 'Free Fire' order is given and the troops shoot and reload as fast as they are individually able. On average, a Line Infantryman can fire 3-4 aimed shots per minute on his own time; Companies firing unaimed volleys on command usually manage an average of 5-6 rounds per-minute per rank (i.e. an aggregate speed of one volley every 2-3 seconds).
A Line Infantryman is capable of reloading his rifle-musket and adjusting the sights based on pure muscle memory. He is able to perform these actions blind-folded using only touch - can stand in position, load rapidly without error, aim accurately at a human-sized target and fire on command in even the most Hellish of circumstances. Each Line Rifle-musket is fixed with a Type 4221 Long Pattern Socket Bayonet, which has an impressive and unusually-long 24" / 610mm triangular spike blade. This allows the soldier's firearm to be wielded effectively as a spear, a potent weapon against any attack as long as the Close Order formation holds. When a melee degenerates into hand-to-hand fighting, the Line Infantry use a pattern of gladius-like one-handed sword, officially called the Type 3912 Line Pattern Arming Sword. It has an overall length of 36" / 914mm and a double-edged, symmetrically-tipped blade 30" / 762mm long by 2.4" / 61mm wide - equally adapt for either slashing or stabbing. In addition, when assaulting enemy positions (particularly trenches), Line Infantry will often use their Type 5020 Universal Pattern Entrenchment Tool - a short, all-metal shovel with blade-sharp serrated edges - as an ad-hoc axe.
However, Line Infantry are not limited to just a 3-rank closed order formation. Battalions often draw themselves up into block-like "Battalion Masses", the precise dimensions of which can vary depending on circumstance - different arrangements have different uses. For defense against cavalry, the Battalion forms a square: the 4 Companies draw themselves up at right angles to one another and present an unbroken hedge of bayonets. Moreover, the soldiers are capable of executing all variety of Imperial infantry maneuvers, including Loose Order, Walking Fire [to fire and reload while advancing] and Skirmishing. They are simply not as specialized for these tasks as other troop types.
The Light Infantry are the Empire's other basic type of foot soldier. They are quite similar to the Line Infantry, being organized in the same manner (companies of 180 infantrymen plus supernumerary personnel) and trained to use similar tactics / formations. Their equipment is also nearly identical, using the same frameless white calfskin rucksack - although they forgo some items, such as the shovel, to lighten their burden and make more room for rations / ammunition. This allows them to maneuver more easily when not in formation, march more quickly over longer distances and operate independent of their Legion's supply lines for longer periods.
The principle weapon of the Light Infantry is, like their more numerous counterparts, a long muzzle-loading rifle: the Type 4219 Short Land Pattern Rifled Infantry Musket. It is essentially identical to the Line Infantry's Long Land Pattern in every respect but length, being 52" long rather than 64", but is also perportionally somewhat lighter due to very minor changes in the design. This further reduces the burden on the individual soldier and allows him to wield the rifle more nimbly and easily, though its shorter barrel does suffer from a marginal loss in both accuracy as well as muzzle velocity.
Operationally, Light Infantry fufill two very important functions: acting as a readily-available reserve force for the Line of Battle, and ranging ahead of other Imperial forces as a vanguard to reconnoitre or hold a forward position. An Infantry Division in an Imperial Legion has 12 Infantry Battalions, 8 of Line and 4 of Light, which are split evenly amongst 4 Infantry Brigades. One Brigade comprises 2 Line Battalions, a Light Battalion, an "Infantry Detatchment" of artillery with one battery of twelve 3" Infantry Guns and a Section of six 4" Mine Launchers [mortars], as well as battalion-sized Detatchments of Light Horse and Skirmishers attached to the Brigade Headquarters. While the Line Infantry form up with the cannons interspersed between Companies, the Light Battalion is deployed several paces to the rear - just behind the 4" Mortars. In this position, they can respond to changing battlefield circumstances: move up to reinforce faltering units, deploy ahead of the Line in Skirmish Order to provide additional screening against an enemy advance or defend the Line of Battle's vulnerable rear against outflanking enemy cavalry, so that their comrades can continue to focus fire forward. Oftentimes, the Division or even Legion Headquarters will take the Light Infantry of one or more Brigades and deploy them for independent operations. As the most flexible type of Imperial Infantry, they are able to fight equally well in both Close Order Lines and loose formations - their trademark being an Open Order variant of the Line formation. This is a much less rigid arrangement where the men in each rank are separated from one another by irregular intervals and are not necessarily in perfect alignment, moving naturally and individually rather than marching unanimously to the beat of a drum or a Sergeant marking time. In this fashion, a Light Infantry Company is much less vulnerable to enemy fire and can negotiate uneven terrain at a much faster pace without worrying about losing the cohesion of a tightly-packed linear formation, allowing them to attack the enemy unexpectedly on his flank / rear. Soldiers in the Light are well drilled to quickly and thoughtlessly change between their five primary formations: Marching Column [an inversion of the Line; 60 ranks of 3 each], Battalion Mass, Close Order Line and Open Order Line. They are able to reform deftly even under fire, much more easily than their Line Infantry counterparts, and may also deploy in a Battalion Square or Skirmish Chain. Once in this latter arrangement, however, they cannot quickly or easily return to formation - let alone form a square in time to repulse a Cavalry charge.
On the whole, the Light Infantry are essentially the same as the Line and can operate in the same fashion, but have a slightly smaller proportion of Conscripts and emphasize a different set of skills. Light Infantrymen are usually shorter, are trained to be more nimble, exhibit greater personal initiative and place higher value on individual marksmanship (meaning they are generally better shots). Their command structure, as well as their marching, is less formal and rigid; Company Officers and NCOs carry longarms like their men, rather than blades, and participate more actively in combat. Many soldiers in the Line dismiss the Light for the less-than-perfect alignment of their formations and a perceived inability to advance in Close Order across even relatively flat terrain. Another, more than just supposed, shortcoming is a certain weakness in Close Combat: their training places less emphasis on Bayonet and Sword drill, while their shorter Rifle-Muskets are generally at a disadvantage against the pikes, polearms, bardiches and long flintlocks of the enemy infantry. A good number of Imperial commanders also hold to a belief that Light Infantry cannot stand in the Line of Battle as well as their counterparts, feeling that they are less disciplined and more likely to break and run. While there may be a certain level of truth to that conception in some cases, many Light Infantry units have also exhibited valor and resolve equal to, sometimes even greater than, the Line Infantry.
Grenadiers are the Imperial Army's elite infantry, serving as specialized shock and assault troops. The designation "Grenadier" comes from the fact that they were originally constituted as a corps of special troops equipped with primitive hand-thrown explosives. These small bombs - little more than apple-sized spheres of cast iron filled with black-powder - were exceedingly heavy and almost as much of a danger to the user as to the enemy. Thus, the Grenadier Corps tended to draw from the bravest and most physically imposing recruits available. Yet the military advancements during the so-called "Second Great Wave" of Imperial technological expansion, and the changes in military doctrine they created, quickly rendered these risky hand-held bombs obselete. Only a few hundred years after its creation, the Grenadier Corps was disbanded.
However, the short-lived expiriment still showed the value in having cadres of strong, brave soldiers to use as assault troops or a counter-attacking reserve. Thus the Grenadiers themselves were retained, abliet stripped of their specialized role and quasi-independent status. Instead, they were made an integral component of each Imperial Legion. The old Corps's method of recruit selection was replaced by one based on qualification. Now, veteran soldiers in each Legion who meet certain requirements - physical strength, height, distinguishing bravery, awards for valor - are given the offer to become Grenadiers. Every one of them thus becomes a volunteer, even if they started their service as a Conscript - committed to a career of military service and absolute loyalty to the Imperial State. Each Legion has a Grenadier Brigade that is independent of any of its four Divisions and attached directly to the General Headquarters, under the immediate command of the Legate. The Grenadiers have acquired increasing prestige and status over time, becoming something akin to heroes in the eyes of the Empire's public. The appelation "Grenadier" has almost become synonymous with "elite", to the point that the modern Imperial Army's principle heavy cavalry troops are called "Horse Grenadiers" despite having no actual relation to the original infantry.
A Grenadier's principle weapon is the same Type 4219 Short Land Pattern Rifled Infantry Musket used by the Light Infantry, a weapon better suited to assault-oriented infantry than the heavier muskets of the Line. This also allows Grenadier companies to execute Walking Fire drills at a decent speed in order to close with the enemy, where their most (in)famous weapon comes into play. Rather than a sword like other infantry, they carry a long two-handed battle-axe with a large rectangular head resembling an oversized butcher's blade and a long spike at the tip of the staff. Oftentimes, the Grenadiers will simply sling - or even throw down - their muskets to charge with these terrifying melee weapons, rushing straight through a desparate enemy volley and smashing into them with irresistable force. For cases in which there is not enough time to draw the axe, or for defending against cavalry, their Short Land Pattern muskets are also fitted with the standard socket bayonet.
Pike companies are generally composed of older full-time soldiers who have not become Grenadiers or moved up in the ranks. This not, however, some kind of semi-retirement; for although the Pikemen do generally act in a reserve capacity, only being fielded in response to specific circumstances, they remain a very active and important - if specialized - component of the Imperial war machine. Following the replacement of mixed pike-and-shot tactics with linear tactics (i.e. what was more or less the modern Imperial style of warfare), pike units disappeared from service completely. Fixing a bayonet to a musket was seen as a roughly-equally effective solution to enemy cavalry that did not reduce an Imperial Legions' potential weight of fire. However, as the Helvetan Commonwealth adapted its troops, technology and tactics to fight the Empire throughout the two nations' many long wars, the situation changed. More advanced metalworking techniques became more widespread and the Commonwealth's miltiary grew more centralized and professionalized, leading to a large increase in the numbers of heavy cavalry being fielded. The Helvetans' hordes of quasi-militia light cavalry from backwater areas and semi-autonomous tribal minorities developed a new backbone of professional horsemen equipped with steel plate armor and huge lances, the likes of which had not been seen in the Empire for more than two millenia. The Imperial solution, then, was to create a corps of specialized infantry equipped so that no cavalry charge, no matter how heavy or massive, could break it.
Imperial Pikemen of the modern era very much resemble their forebears. They wear heavy quilted leather jackets with long robe-like skirts reaching down just past the knee and backless steel breastplates to protect the front of their torso. Attached to these cuirasses are tassets (skirts of overlapping steel lames protecting the thigh) and spaulders (armor for the shoulders / upper arms). They also wear a bare steel helmet in the same style as many cavalry units, with a decorative comb, bright red feather plume marking their veteran status, leather visor, large cheek guards protecting the face and a "tail" covering the back of the neck. The pikes they carry, furthermore, are not made from wood, but are hollow tubes of rolled steel measuring 4.8 meters (or just under 15 feet) in length. These polearms taper to points on both sides, the reverse being tipped with a short spike for bracing the weapon in the ground. Of course, the pike's entire length is not one solid piece; they are composed of 4 sections that can be separated to facilitate easier transport / stowage or to actually adjust the overall length (by leaving one or more sections out). Each pikeman aslo carries a standard Imperial Arming Sword identical to the one used by Skirmishers or Light Infantry. The Pike Companies are quite large, consisting of 324 actual pikemen in 6 ranks of 54 (almost twice the size of a Line or Light company). The officers, musicians and NCOs follow behind the formation as is usual. However, the pikemen must be well trained to open their formation and allow these additional personnel inside when forming an 18x18 "pike block", which is the standard defense against cavalry if time or circumstances do not permit the creation of a proper Battalion square.