"The opolchenie (militia) was raised in autumn of
1806 and again in 1812. Serfs formed the bulk of the opolchenie, they
were chosen by ballot from every 4-5 men per 100 aged 17 to 45 and
required the permission of their landlord.
The middle classes; clerics, professionals and intelligentsia joined the opolchenie voluntarily. The NCOs came from training battalions and retired soldiers. The officers came from noblemen and those who had served in the Army before. The nobility elected the generals and officers of the opolchenie.
Some sources state the opolchenie numbered not less than 420,000 men, a more realistic figure would be just over 200,000 men. The opolchenie took an active part in the military actions at Borodino, Polotsk, Viazima, Krasnoi and Charniki, and many other battles. These cohorts were used as a source of replacements to fill out the depleted line units late in the war as well as employed as independent combat units." (Taken from Russian Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars 1805-1815)
Some Opolchenie units were part of the Bennigsen's Russian Reserve (or Polish) Polish Army, that fought during the last stages of the Leipizg campaign around Dresden (See Dresden Lasalle Scenario).
UNIFORMS, MINIATURES AND FLAGS
Whereas the English reference text for Opolchenie is 'Brazen Cross of Courage' written by Dr. Stephen Summerfield and published by Partizan Press (2007), many interesting details about uniforms and flags can be found in the Volume 18 of the monumental 'Historical description of the clothing and arms of the Russian army. V 18. Irregular troops and temporary forces 1801-1825' written by A.V. Viskovatov (Saint Petersburg, 1851) and translated by Mark Conrad, 2011.
In that book we can see that in fall of 1813, many of the Russian Opolchenie forces had changed their original uniforms, so their look was very similar to regular Russian infantry units. Therefore, 'normal' Russian infantry figures can be used without further modification to depict the Opolchenie men. Prussian Reserve units in grey uniforms can be used instead.
The flags carried by the Opolchenie were another history, being of a very different pattern to the carried by regular Russian forces. Again, the works of Summerfield and Viskovatov contain very interesting information about the flags, and Viskovatov even describes in detail some of the flags. This text information can be combined with the black and white plates of the flags, available in the Memorandum Russian site. (Incidentally, ALL the Viskovatov plates are available in the memorandum site)
Below, you can find three flag designs corresponding to the Nizhnii-Novgorod (Nishegorod), Penza (Pensa) and Ryazan (Riazan) Opolchenie Regiments. The flags were drawn from the Viskovatov images, coloured and modified with Photshop and Powerpoint standard software.