II Corps (German Empire)

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II Army Corps
II. Armee-Korps
Stab eines Generalkommandos.svg
Flag of the Staff of a Generalkommando (1871–1918)
Active 3 April 1820 (1820-04-03)–10 January 1915 (1915-01-10)
Country  Prussia /  German Empire
Type Corps
Size Approximately 44,000 (on mobilisation in 1914)
Garrison/HQ Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland)
Engagements

Austro-Prussian War

Battle of Königgrätz

Franco-Prussian War

Battle of Gravelotte
Battle of Villiers
Siege of Metz
Siege of Paris

World War I

Battle of the Frontiers
Battle of Mons
First Battle of the Marne
Race to the Sea
First Battle of Ypres

The II Army Corps / II AK (German: II. Armee-Korps) was a corps level command of the Prussian and then the Imperial German Armies from the 19th Century to World War I.

It was established on 3 April 1820 with headquarters initially in Berlin. From 1837, the headquarters moved to Stettin (now Szczecin, Poland), back to Berlin in 1863, before finally settling in Stettin from 1870. The Corps catchment area included the Province of Pomerania, the district (Regierungsbezirk) of Bromberg from the Province of Posen and the Province of West Prussia.[1] Later, the West Prussian districts were transferred to the new XVII Corps District.

In peacetime, the Corps was assigned to the VIII Army Inspectorate, which became the 1st Army at the start of the First World War.[2] The Corps headquarters was upgraded to form the headquarters of the South Army on 10 January 1915.[3]

The Corps was reformed post-war, before being finally disbanded in 1919.

Austro-Prussian War[edit]

The II Corps formed part of Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia's 1st Army and fought in the Austro-Prussian War against Austria in 1866, including the Battle of Königgrätz.[4]

Franco-Prussian War[edit]

The Corps fought in the Franco-Prussian War against France in 1870-71 as part of the 2nd Army. It saw action in the Battle of Gravelotte, Battle of Villiers (playing a key part), the Siege of Metz, and the Siege of Paris, among other actions.[5]

Peacetime organisation[edit]

The 25 peacetime Corps of the German Army (Guards, I - XXI, I - III Bavarian) had a reasonably standardised organisation. Each consisted of two divisions with usually two infantry brigades, one field artillery brigade and a cavalry brigade each.[6] Each brigade normally consisted of two regiments of the appropriate type, so each Corps normally commanded 8 infantry, 4 field artillery and 4 cavalry regiments. There were exceptions to this rule:

V, VI, VII, IX and XIV Corps each had a 5th infantry brigade (so 10 infantry regiments)
II, XIII, XVIII and XXI Corps had a 9th infantry regiment
I, VI and XVI Corps had a 3rd cavalry brigade (so 6 cavalry regiments)
the Guards Corps had 11 infantry regiments (in 5 brigades) and 8 cavalry regiments (in 4 brigades).[7]

Each Corps also directly controlled a number of other units. This could include one or more

Foot Artillery Regiment
Jäger Battalion
Pioneer Battalion
Train Battalion

World War I[edit]

Organisation on mobilisation[edit]

On mobilization on 2 August 1914, the Corps was restructured. The 3rd Cavalry Brigade was withdrawn to form part of the 4th Cavalry Division[10] and the 4th Cavalry Brigade was broken up and its regiments assigned to the divisions as reconnaissance units. The divisions received engineer companies and other support units from the Corps headquarters. In summary, II Corps mobilised with 24 infantry battalions, 8 machine gun companies (48 machine guns), 8 cavalry squadrons, 24 field artillery batteries (144 guns), 4 heavy artillery batteries (16 guns), 3 pioneer companies and an aviation detachment.

Initial wartime organization of the Corps[11]
Corps Division Brigade Units
II Corps 3rd Division 5th Infantry Brigade 2nd Grenadier Regiment
9th Grenadier Regiment
6th Infantry Brigade 34th Fusilier Regiment
42nd Infantry Regiment
3rd Field Artillery Brigade 2nd Field Artillery Regiment
38th Field Artillery Regiment
3rd Horse Grenadier Regiment
1st Company, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
3rd Divisional Pontoon Train
1st Medical Company
3rd Medical Company
4th Division 7th Infantry Brigade 14th Infantry Regiment
149th Infantry Regiment
8th Infantry Brigade 49th Infantry Regiment
140th Infantry Regiment
6th Field Artillery Brigade 17th Field Artillery Regiment
53rd Field Artillery Regiment
12th Dragoon Regiment
2nd Company, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
3rd Company, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
4th Divisional Pontoon Train
2nd Medical Company
Corps Troops I Battalion, 15th Foot Artillery Regiment[12]
30th Aviation Detachment
2nd Corps Pontoon Train
2nd Telephone Detachment
2nd Pioneer Searchlight Section
Munition Columns and Train I & II Munition Column Sections
(4th Inf. & 9th Art. Munition Columns)
I/15th Foot Artillery Munition Section
(with 8 Columns)
I & II Train Section
(12 Field Hospitals, 6 Supply Columns, 7 Supply Parks, 2 Horse Depts.)
2 Field Bakery Columns

Combat chronicle[edit]

On mobilisation, II Corps was assigned to the 1st Army, which was on the right wing of the forces for the Schlieffen Plan offensive in August 1914 on the Western Front.[13] It saw action in the invasion of Belgium (Battle of Mons), the First Battle of the Marne, and the Race to the Sea (culminating in the First Battle of Ypres as part of the 6th Army). Thereafter, the Corps was transferred to the Eastern Front, joining the 9th Army. The Corps headquarters was upgraded to form the headquarters of the South Army on 10 January 1915.[14]

Commanders[edit]

The II Corps had the following commanders during its existence:[15][16][17]

From Rank Name
20 March 1820 General der Infanterie Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia
30 March 1838 Generalleutnant Karl Heinrich von Block
30 March 1839 General der Kavallerie Karl Friedrich Emil zu Dohna-Schlobitten
7 April 1842 Generalleutnant Friedrich Graf von Wrangel
3 November 1849 General der Infanterie Friedrich Wilhelm von Grabow
7 May 1857 General der Infanterie Johann Georg von Wussow
29 January 1863 General der Infanterie Karl Friedrich von Steinmetz
18 May 1864 General der Infanterie Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia
17 May 1866 Generalleutnant Stephan von Schmidt
17 September 1866 General der Infanterie Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia
18 July 1870 General der Infanterie Eduard von Fransecky
20 March 1871 General der Kavallerie Otto Hann von Weyhern
14 June 1881 General der Infanterie Ferdinand von Dannenberg
15 January 1887 General der Infanterie Ernst von der Burg
28 October 1891 General der Infanterie Hermann von Blomberg
27 January 1898 General der Kavallerie Arnold von Langenbeck
21 September 1906 General der Infanterie Josias von Heeringen
1 September 1909 - 10 January 1915 General der Infanterie Alexander von Linsingen
17 December 1918 Generalleutnant Richard von Kraewel
23 June 1919 Generalleutnant Ernst von Oven

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ German Administrative History Accessed: 4 June 2012
  2. ^ Cron 2002, p. 392
  3. ^ Cron 2002, p. 88
  4. ^ Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935); Bredow
  5. ^ Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935)
  6. ^ Haythornthwaite 1996, pp. 193–194
  7. ^ They formed the Guards Cavalry Division, the only peacetime cavalry division in the German Army.
  8. ^ War Office 1918, p. 241
  9. ^ Ranked as 3rd Dragoons.
  10. ^ Cron 2002, p. 300
  11. ^ Cron 2002, p. 302
  12. ^ 4 heavy artillery batteries (16 heavy field howitzers)
  13. ^ Cron 2002, p. 303
  14. ^ Cron 2002, p. 88
  15. ^ German Administrative History Accessed: 5 June 2012
  16. ^ German War History Accessed: 5 June 2012
  17. ^ The Prussian Machine Accessed: 5 June 2012

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cron, Hermann (2002). Imperial German Army 1914-18: Organisation, Structure, Orders-of-Battle [first published: 1937]. Helion & Co. ISBN 1-874622-70-1. 
  • Ellis, John; Cox, Michael (1993). The World War I Databook. Aurum Press Ltd. ISBN 1-85410-766-6. 
  • Haythornthwaite, Philip J. (1996). The World War One Source Book. Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-85409-351-7. 
  • Wegner, Günter (1993). Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Heere 1815-1939, Bd. 1. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück. 
  • Histories of Two Hundred and Fifty-One Divisions of the German Army which Participated in the War (1914–1918), compiled from records of Intelligence section of the General Staff, American Expeditionary Forces, at General Headquarters, Chaumont, France 1919. The London Stamp Exchange Ltd (1989). 1920. ISBN 0-948130-87-3. 
  • The German Forces in the Field; 7th Revision, 11th November 1918; Compiled by the General Staff, War Office. Imperial War Museum, London and The Battery Press, Inc (1995). 1918. ISBN 1-870423-95-X.