Following their ignominious defeat in 1806 and the Treaty of Tilsit the following year, Napoleon Bonaparte forced the Prussians to become allies and limited the army to an all arms maximum of 42,000. To get around this, the Prussian General Staff came up with an ingenious plan to train recruits for a time and then put them on a 'reserve' list while others went through the same training. Known as the Krumper System, this kept the official number 'under arms' remaining constant but the number of reservists available rose to anything between 30,000 and 150,000. After Napoleon's defeat in 1812, Prussian pride and nationalism convinced the king to break with France and join the Sixth Coalition of Allies against Napoleon. These reservists were then called to the colours and although variously armed and uniformed at the start, the troops conducted themselves well and, after Napoleon's abdication in 1814 and return in 1815, played a pivotal part in his final defeat at Waterloo.

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