A sapper was a pioneer siege troops or craftsmen.
Originally entrusted with the construction of sap n, which are running and approach trenches from enemy positions and fortifications, they predestined their craftsmanship and for the felling of trees, removal of obstacles, raising the stakes and Schanz bivouac – and warehousing.
A distinction must be designated as carpenters Sappers regiment of infantry and cavalry and the results summarized in their own organizations sappers from which s together with engineer corps en Mineur and pontonier the 19th Century developed the engineering corps.
Among the most powerful and technically skillful soldiers of a regiment of infantry (in Napoleonic France and some other countries, even in parts of the cavalry) were chosen from two to four soldiers as carpenters. On the march, the sappers went to the regimental lace to transverse trees etc. To remove obstacles.
They received in addition to their normal armament of a carpenter’s long-handled, which could also be used for close combat, and was carried on the march in a leather case over the left shoulder. Often a leather work apron was worn with Hüftkoppel. As the sappers were assigned to the grenadier companies, they wore their special grenadier caps. They kept these fur hats as honors usually even when they were replaced by the shako with the grenadiers in general. Especially in France in the First and Second Empire beards were required for sappers, while the rest of the army had to wear beards or mustaches. Often trade badges were worn for Example, in the Napoleonic Linetwo crossed red axes on the right upper arm. With the proliferation of engineering troops and the output light Schanz tool to all those soldiers military specialists largely disappeared from the armies, but in some places is their tradition alive and well. To perform today at the parade for the 14th July axtbewehrte in France, bearded sappers with leather work aprons to the quota of the Foreign Legion. In Germany, private, called Sappeurzüge this tradition (similar to a shooting club or Gebirgsschützen s).
As for larger siege and entrenchments regiment carpenters and abkommandierte not sufficient to support their infantry or recruited or indentured civilian workers turned out to be inadequate and / or unreliable, was built in the 18th Sappeureinheiten own century.
As the sappers came within range of hostile gun n the digging of trenches approach, called Sappenpanzer were issued in some armies. This consisted of a massive breastplate with or without cargo pockets and a heavy Sappeurhelm, often by way of a Savoyard helmet there. This protective clothing disappeared in the first half of the 19th Century, but was found in the grave of the first battleson again. The breastplate limited in the grave fighting the mobility of the wearer a lot.
In Prussia a unified engineering corps was set up with reorganization of the army after the defeat of 1806, which also took over the Schanz tasks. Most other states followed this example, the army reform Scharnhorst and Gneisenau s. In the Swiss army “sappers” as a concept holds up today. There were 1, January 2005, by then the military railway service belonging catenary and Eisenbahnsappeure combined to sappers and pioneers (called “genius”) are allocated.
From 1912 there was also the imperial troops of the ImperialsSappers.
Sappers as the origin of fire in France
In Napoleonic France Sappeureinheiten also took over duties of fire protection. The Sappeurkompanie the Imperial Guard was such As well as fire in the castle Fontainebleau. Thus, in France, some fire departments (eg Example of Paris) formally belonging to the army, about a quarter of the professional firefighters are members of the military. The French name of the fire department (sapeurs-pompiers) derives from these military roots.
Branch of service (Early Modern Times)
Branch of service (historical)