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Numbers of Marines

Fluffy Fishy

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On a discussion forum for Europa Universalis 4 talking about the upcoming additions to marines I've just written a lengthy post about numbers of marines as a percentage of force used by a number of nations. There might be some people here who have better experience understanding Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands than me here so I thought I might find some interested parties and post what I have written here in the hope to find some more answers :)


Portugal, England and Great Britain have uniquely higher marine forcelimits but we also listened to your feedback and added easy access to Marines for Netherlands, Venice & Castille. The rest have to take naval ideas or a policy to have access to it. Which you really want to already, if you are aiming to be a relevant naval power anyway.

Portugal and England didn't particularly use higher proportions of their total manpower for marines than the other nations mentioned though, The highest is by a clear winner Venice, but even with differentiation in game direction I can't see Castile (Spain), Portugal, Netherlands or Britain really utilising marines to the same extent as the Venetians did. Its probably also worth pointing out Aragon would very likely have been a nation who would clearly have developed a significant marine corps should they not have unified under the Iberian crown. Other nations that possibly need some thought are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Genoa and formable nations such as Scandinavia, USA and Italy.

Taking the Napoleonic wars for example, the peak troop numbers for marines serving was 31,400, while the British Army total consisted of around 250,000. I'm not quite sure if the total number includes the 31,000 marines or not, I'd suspect not as marines typically fell under the navy board. This gives you a percentage of around 12.5%-15% depending on the count for total number of marines, including those attached to ships.

Spain as far as I can tell had a total military during the Napoleonic period of about 220,000, of which 12500 were marines, leaving them with at about 5.5% their total military.

Meanwhile Venice in the 1790s were maintaining a peacetime military of just under 24000, of which included a force of 5000 marines, leaving them with a total of 20% of their enlisted manpower, There was also a marine reserve pool of 9000 marines who would be called to war quickly leaving a total of 33,000 professional troops increasing the percentage of enlisted manpower to a little shy of 40% being marines.

Portugal seems a bit more ambiguous but during the Napoleonic period I frequently see the number of 3 battalions being mentioned, while the Portuguese army was around 35,000. Assuming they are roughly 800-1000 men, that leaves the Portuguese at around 8-10% of their fighting men.

I've struggled to find more direct numbers than this, Dutch military during the Napoleonic period (as the Batavian republic) points to being 35,000 men strong at its peak, with no specialised marine corps but some of whom served as unofficial marines as part of the Batavian navy. There's also a record of 1500 Dutch marines landing in the famous Medway raid but no reference to how many "marines" in total.

Its probably also worth mentioning that France kept a significant naval marine corps but the numbers would be heavily skewed out of proportion for the Napoleonic period due to the sheer weight of numbers in Napoleon's land based forces so I've not included them for now.

Simply put on force percentage example numbers during the Napoleonic period you see:

  • Venice - 20-40%
  • Britain - 12.5-15%
  • Netherlands (Guesstimate around 10%)
  • Portugal - 8-10%
  • Spain - 5-6%

I'd also be interested in numbers being more relevant at the heights of naval projection for each nation, so the 16-17th century Portugal and 17th century Netherlands and Spain. Its also curious that a lot of these marine units of the time had further specialisation into artillery warfare, assumedly because it was so vital to provide artillery cover to opposed landings.

If my numbers are wrong please correct me.

Edited by Fluffy Fishy
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