It's a historical fact that the Colonels didn't lead single companies from the front. It's also a historical fact that line infantry regiments were comprised of battalions, each of which employed over a thousand men, in most cases. I have yet to see any regiment in this game bring even one hundred men to an event. Of course, that's a ridiculous expectation to have, the same way that it is a ridiculous assertion to make that it is wrong to use any rank other than Colonel for the top leadership. The use of ranks should be proportional to the type of unit that is being represented.
There are two ways to easily achieve that:
1. Use scale to base your group on a specific unit within a historical regiment. Choose a level of the regiment, such as a well-known company or battalion and base the leader's rank on that. For a British company, it's either Lieutenant or Captain. For the Battalion, it's a Major or Lieutenant Colonel. Using scale that is dependent on rank, you can create a respectable regiment with a lower amount of people that doesn't scream "I want to be important so I'm making myself a Colonel!". It's very cringey to see a Colonel leading a group of 6 people in a battle.
2. Use a combination of the above scaling and customize it to suit your needs. This is what we do in the 47e. We have a single company under the larger regiment, but we do not replicate any specific company under a battalion. Instead, we have modelled ourselves according to our actual in-game operational needs as 3 platoons under a single unnamed company, led by the company commander and directed by the Colonel. Our leader is the rank of Colonel, primarily justified on our structure and our average daily attendance is over 40 people. Open the spoiler if you seek further explanation.
There's a lot of talk about scale here so let's crunch the numbers:
The average size of a regiment in this time period is approximately 1,000 men. Your average Napoleonic era battle would be approximately 60,000 men on both sides.
So, generalizing grossly, approximately 60 regiments per side on the battlefield of ~1.7% of the total army size each.
The largest events in Holdfast right now are 200 players. So, if each regiment should comprise approximately 1.7% of the total army size then each regiment would number 3.3 people.
That's realistic scaling.
So, using averages based on how many regiments typically are on a server during an event, approximately 7 per side, that means that each regiment comprises 14.3% of their army's total strength on the battlefield.
That would mean each regiment on the battlefield should have 28.6 men on average.
Considering at this moment only about 5 regiments (NA) have daily attendance of that size, we can also consider that fairly un-achievable, for most regiments, at least during dry season with exams.
So what has the community been doing instead for the last several years? We each call ourselves a singular regiment, realism be damned, and who leads a regiment? A Colonel.
Of course I don't disagree that obviously Colonels, or most staff ranks in general would be seriously leading their men from the front. But this is a game, and the highest position possible in any regiment is a Colonel, so the highest position you should be able to achieve in your regiment, is Colonel.
That deals with the absurdity of someone naming themselves a General.
As for having a rank below Colonel and leading your regiment, I'm not particularly bothered by what people do to be honest. But the highest rank attainable in a regiment is Colonel, so if you're calling yourself a regiment and are leading one, it only makes all our lives easier if you call yourself the Colonel of that regiment, just as everyone's always done.