GRENADIERS. One of the flank companies of each British regiment was composed of grenadiers. Originally they had been large, powerful men selected from the battalion (regiment) to throw the "hand bombs" introduced during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Later they were formed into special companies, and long after their grenade-throwing function had ceased to exist the grenadiers were retained as elite troops. In some cases they were formed into permanent regiments, like the Grenadier Guards. Grenadier and light infantry companies were usually detached from their regiments for special, particularly important, or hazardous combat missions. While the American army copied the British to the extent of having flank companies in each regiment, they had two light infantry companies but no grenadier companies.
SEE ALSO Flank Companies.