III Corps (German Empire)

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

III Army Corps
III. Armee-Korps
Flag of the Staff of a Generalkommando (1871–1918)
Active1814 (1814)–1919 (1919)
Country Prussia /  German Empire
SizeApproximately 44,000 (on mobilisation in 1914)
EngagementsSecond Schleswig War
Battle of Dybbøl

Austro-Prussian War

Battle of Königgrätz

Franco-Prussian War

Battle of Spicheren
Battle of Mars-la-Tour
Battle of Gravelotte
Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande
Second Battle of Orléans (1870)
Battle of Le Mans
Siege of Metz

World War I

Battle of the Frontiers
Battle of Mons
First Battle of the Marne
Battle of Verdun
Battle of Amiens (1918)
Friedrich Graf von Wrangel (1849–1857)
Karl von Bülow (1903–1912)

It was established in 1814 as the General Headquarters in Berlin (Generalkommando in Berlin) and became the III Army Corps on 3 April 1820. Its headquarters was in Berlin and its catchment area was the Province of Brandenburg.[1]

In peacetime, the Corps was assigned to the IV Army Inspectorate, joining the 1st Army at the start of the First World War.[2] It was still in existence at the end of the war[3] in the 7th Army, Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz on the Western Front.[4] The Corps was disbanded with the demobilisation of the German Army after World War I.

War of the Sixth Coalition

In 1813 the III Corps fought at the battles of Luckau, Grossbeeren, Dennewitz, Leipzig and Arnhem. In 1814, the corps fought at Hoogstraten and Laon.

Second Schleswig War

Part of the Corps (10th Brigade of the 5th Division[6] and the 6th Division[7]) fought in the Second Schleswig War of 1864, including the key Battle of Dybbøl, or Düppeler Heights.

Austro-Prussian War

The III 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.[7][8]

Franco-Prussian War

In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Corps joined the 2nd Army. It saw action in the battles of Spicheren, Mars-la-Tour (a key part), Gravelotte, Beaune-la-Rolande, Orléans, and Le Mans, and in the Siege of Metz.[9]

Peacetime organisation

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.[10] 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).[11]

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

Organisation on mobilisation

On mobilization on 2 August 1914 the Corps was restructured. 5th Cavalry Brigade was withdrawn to form part of the 2nd Cavalry Division[14] and the 6th Cavalry Brigade was broken up: the 3rd Hussar Regiment was raised to a strength of 6 squadrons before being split into two half-regiments of 3 squadrons each and the half-regiments were assigned as divisional cavalry to 5th and 6th Divisions; the 6th Cuirassier Regiment was likewise assigned as two half-regiments to 22nd and 38th Divisions of XI Corps. Divisions received engineer companies and other support units from the Corps headquarters. In summary, III Corps mobilised with 25 infantry battalions, 9 machine gun companies (54 machine guns), 6 cavalry squadrons, 24 field artillery batteries (144 guns), 4 heavy artillery batteries (16 guns), 3 pioneer companies and an aviation detachment.

Combat chronicle

On mobilisation, III Corps was assigned to the 1st Army on the right wing of the forces for the Schlieffen Plan offensive in August 1914 on the Western Front.[2] It participated in the Battle of Mons and the First Battle of the Marne which marked the end of the German advances in 1914. Later, it participated in the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Amiens (1918).

It was still in existence at the end of the war[3] in the 7th Army, Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz on the Western Front.[4]


The III Corps had the following commanders during its existence:[19][20][21]

1814General der InfanterieBogislav Friedrich Emanuel von Tauentzien
7 April 1820General der InfanterieFrederick William, Crown Prince of Prussia
22 March 1824GeneralleutnantPrince Wilhelm of Prussia
30 March 1838GeneralleutnantAdolf Eduard von Thile
9 May 1840General der InfanterieKarl von Weyrach
13 November 1849General der KavallerieFriedrich Graf von Wrangel
19 September 1857General der KavalleriePrince August of Württemberg
3 June 1858General der InfanterieWilhelm Fürst von Radziwill
1 July 1860General der KavalleriePrince Friedrich Karl of Prussia
18 July 1870General der InfanterieConstantin von Alvensleben
27 March 1873General der InfanterieJulius von Groß genannt Schwarzhoff
18 October 1881General der InfanterieAlexander August Wilhelm von Pape
21 August 1884GeneralleutnantHermann Graf von Wartensleben
12 July 1888General der InfanterieWalther Bronsart von Schellendorff
24 March 1890GeneralleutnantMaximilian von Versen
7 October 1893General der KavalleriePrince Frederick of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
18 April 1896General der InfanterieFriedrich von Lignitz
27 January 1903General der InfanterieKarl von Bülow
1 October 1912General der InfanterieEwald von Lochow
25 November 1916GeneralleutnantWalther von Lüttwitz
12 August 1918GeneralleutnantAlfred von Böckmann

See also


  1. German Administrative History Accessed: 3 June 2012
  2. Cron 2002, p. 303
  3. Cron 2002, pp. 88–89
  4. Ellis & Cox 1993, pp. 186–187
  5. Nafziger 2015, pp. 516–517.
  6. Wegner 1993, p. 320
  7. Wegner 1993, pp. 321–322
  8. Wegner 1993, p. 319
  9. Hermann Cron et al., Ruhmeshalle unserer alten Armee (Berlin, 1935)
  10. Haythornthwaite 1996, pp. 193–194
  11. They formed the Guards Cavalry Division, the only peacetime cavalry division in the German Army.
  12. War Office 1918, p. 242
  13. Had a third (Horse Artillery) Abteilung of three batteries of 4 guns.
  14. Cron 2002, p. 299
  15. Cron 2002, pp. 302–303
  16. With a machine gun company.
  17. 4 heavy artillery batteries (16 heavy field howitzers)
  18. "Garde-Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 2". GenWiki. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  19. German Administrative History Accessed: 4 June 2012
  20. German War History Accessed: 4 June 2012
  21. The Prussian Machine Archived 2012-04-11 at the Wayback Machine Accessed: 4 June 2012


  • 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.
  • Nafziger, George (2015). The End of Empire: Napoleon's 1814 Campaign. Solihull, UK: Helion & Company. ISBN 978-1-909982-96-3.
  • 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.
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