Auteur Sujet: Wargaming considerations  (Lu 5154 fois)

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Wargaming considerations
« le: 20 juin 2015, 18:26:22 pm »
 In wargaming  and popular literature the fight between two columns is a common thing. The front ranks of columns fight each other, while the rear ranks pushed at each other almost like rugby players. :-)
The rear ranks also prevent those in front ranks from running away by their physical presence. This type of combat has little to do with reality and historical accuracy.

    Infantry attack with columns:
    - columns (with full or half intervals) begin their advance. Moving too fast caused disorder in the ranks, and was very difficult for the drummers to keep up. Fields freshly cultivated or after rain were obstacles when a fast advance was required. In August 1813 at Katzbach, the Prussians struggled in deep mud "which sucked the shoes off the landwehr". Moving too slow resulted in heavier casualties from artillery fire.
    - columns get under artillery fire. If only a single cannonball hit the column, several men fell badly demoralizing those around them. It created disorder and could even bring the column to a halt. Once halted, even if there has been little damage, the column never moved as strongly and willingly again. After few delays, men become morally spent, all impetus is lost and the attack might better off be called off for the day. According to Quistorp at Hagelberg (1813) a shell fired by French howitzer exploded among the advancing II Battalion of 7th Kurmark Landwehr. The men immediately "turned around." Two other Landwehr battalions halted their advance.
    "The [British] artillery [at Coa] attached to the Reserve instantly opened fire upon it [French infantry columns] and such was the excellence of the practice, that the enemy's column, after a heavy loss, withdrew before it had been able to fire a musket." (Summerville - "March of Death" 129)
    If the column continue its advance, the stress or excitement can be such that they will start running. Breath of some men could run short already after 50-100 paces. Others were better runners. It created disorder and the column became a mob. Only few troops managed to keep their cool, and advance in orderly manner despite all odds.
    Most often the cannonballs passed over the columns. Most often the canister passed over the column or hit the ground before it. (In 1806 at Auerstadt the French 111th Line captured Prussian battery despite 6 volleys of canister.) Some of the shells' fuses were either cut too long or too short and the shells bursted prematurely. If the fuse was too long it was "snuffed out" by enemy's infantryman and the shell didn't explode. The shells if hurriedly produced proved unreliable. In 1813 at Lutzen approx. 1/3 of the French shells fired failed to explode. (Elting - "Swords Around a Throne" p 263)
    - columns get within musket range. When under musket fire whatever bullets were hitting the troop, if any at all, it influenced the morale of the men. In such moment they went into a crouch with their heads bowed as if walking into the wind. Sometimes the sight of a column advancing with great vigor was too much for the defender. He opened fire at too great distance, killing no one, and began wavering. Chlapowski writes: "Not once did the Austrians withstand them [French] but fell immediately into disorder, despite the fact that they were in column, and the French in line."
   
Once the enemy began wavering, the NCOs of the battalion column would tight the ranks up for the charge. The man wants company and in his hour of greatest danger his herd instinct drives him toward his fellows. This is natural. The compact column made danger more endurable. The moral impulse was stronger as one felt better supported from behind. The strength of this column was in the threat of the bayonets and the shock power of the compact formation. Every man close at hand was an aid in helping the individual soldier choke down the fear which might otherwise have stopped him.

    The weakness of this type of column lied in the fact that officers had much less control over it. They were normally placed behind the companies, now there was no space for them and they took positions on the sides. It left the whole center of the column out of their control, turning it into mob and moving easily only forward, according to the impulses and threats.
    - however, if the enemy kept his cool and opened fire only at close range, the officers instead of tightening the column, they deployed it into line and opened fire. As soon as the enemy began wavering under the fire they charged with bayonets. In 1805 at Austerlitz, French columns advanced with great coolness and at slow pace. The Russian infantry fired at long range but the French continued their march until they were 100 paces away from the enemy. They halted and opened fire, then "formed in several lines" and rapidly moved forward. The enemy fled. Captain Bonnet described similar infantry attack at Borodino; after few minutes the Russian skirmishers arrived in good order a little to the left "... and a dense column to our right. I deploy my battalion and, without firing, march straight at the column. It recoils. When carrying out this movement we were so exposed to grapeshot from the guns in the village that I saw my battalion falling and being breached like a crenelated wall. But still we went on."

Very often however the men followed impulses rather than officers' orders. The column would halt was was unable to deploy into line as the cowards in the rear of the column were unwilling to leave their perceived safety. Instead they huddled behind the front-rankers or even some individuals dropped on the ground as if they were hit by a sack full of bricks.
British soldier Blakeney wrote after Albuera: "I saw their [French] officers endeavoring to deploy their columns, but all to no purpose. For as soon as the third of a company got out, they would immediately run back in order to be covered by the front of the column". The cowards took cover behind the brave creating gaps in the line. If the enemy noticed such behavior and attacked with bayonet, they would simply fall apart.

There were various scenarios of the infantry combat and sometimes cavalry or/and artillery intervened. In 1813 at Dennewitz, Marshal Ney attacked with infantry, artillery and cavalry. In the head marched skirmishers, behind battalion columns of French and Italian infantry drawn from Morand's and Fontanelli's divisions. These masses were supported by cavalry and artillery. Ney advanced to within 80 paces of the lines of Prussian 4th East Prussian Regiment and 5th Reserve Regiment. The 3rd East Prussian Landwehr Reg. was in second line but soon joined the firefight.
The French and Italians deployed from columns into lines and an incredible musketry began. In the same time 2 squadrons of Prussian Death's Head Hussars Regiment (1st Leib) attacked and halted the French cavalry while Prussian artillery poured canister after canister into the French. Ney's troops were beaten back.

http://napolun.com/mirror/napoleonistyka.atspace.com/infantry_tactics_4.htm
and further reading here
http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/maida/c_maida1.html
« Modifié: 20 juin 2015, 18:36:52 pm par zu Pferd »
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #1 le: 22 juin 2015, 16:16:46 pm »
Thanks for posting , Im going to spend some time catching up again on this interesting and still debatable subject ( esp French Column when used in attack )

Cheers.

PS I still think that a French column crashing into a defensive line should get a huge bonus but only after the die roll to see if they actually have the nerve to attack....if the die roll fails then chaos for the column should ensue......bla bla bla lol
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Re : Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #2 le: 24 juin 2015, 04:55:49 am »
Thanks for posting , Im going to spend some time catching up again on this interesting and still debatable subject ( esp French Column when used in attack )

Cheers.

PS I still think that a French column crashing into a defensive line should get a huge bonus but only after the die roll to see if they actually have the nerve to attack....if the die roll fails then chaos for the column should ensue......bla bla bla lol


it all goes back to the die roll...lol   thanks for your answer. It brings back the one item that's missing from some of these modern
computer games the random element of luck. Somewhere someone said that in reality the attack column was probably two battalion
frontage  so the overlapping defender's line would not have too much extra advantage at overlapping the column, or rather it would decide before impact to retire. The French always got the timing wrong when they were forced to go to a line formation to return fire
if the attack column failed to contact or dislodge the defenders from the position...it is here that they incurred into a lot of casualties
which in turn panicked the troops to rout.
`` Non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed inteligere``
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #3 le: 24 juin 2015, 20:22:10 pm »
Hello Zu Pferd, hope you don't mind me commenting on your post.
I am in two minds about luck and chance in wargames. Unfortunately for most I don't think the element of chance would go down well in a wargame, especially with a game as complex as HW. With so many factors deciding whether or not a unit will rout, ie factors I know the game uses to calculate the result, off the top of my head :

Fatigue.
Morale.
Cohesion.
Unit type (inf, cav, art, guard, elite).
Strength of attacking unit.
Strength of defending unit.
Losses.
Calibre of attacking unit (Guard, Elite, cavalry, light inf/cav, med inf/cav, heavy inf/cav).
Calibre of defending unit (Guard, Elite, cavalry, light inf/cav, med inf/cav, heavy inf/cav).
Allied artillery, presence of.
Enemy artillery, presence of.
Calibre of commanding officer, Charisma/knowledge.
Calibre of enemy commanding officer, Charisma/knowledge.
Presence of supporting forces/Calibre (inf, cav, art, guard, elite)/type/strength of allied forces, position of, frontal, flank, lateral, rear...
Presence of enemy forces/Calibre (inf, cav, art, guard, elite)/type/strength of enemy forces, frontal, flank, lateral, rear...
Fleeing, allied/enemy...
Loss of commander.
Loss of flag.
Terrain.
Weather.
Visibility.
Lines of communication, allied/enemy/loss of and capture of.

A die roll then thrown into this mix imo would make all the above irrelevant...
With so much being thrown into the equation, to a certain degree it is already a game of chance, I think there is very few people here that could even begin to calculate the outcome of any confrontation in this game mentally...
The only thing you could be sure of for example is a small battle of 10,000 guard v 6,000 line say, the outcome would be fairly certain, all logic says the guard would prevail, but with a die roll who knows what would happen...
But 10,000 guard as an element of 2 x 100,000 man armies attacking a certain part of the line with all the above factors thrown in would not be certain victory...

I understand that introducing an element of chance could create some interesting results, but to see a good strategy and sound tactics unrewarded because of chance would not go down well with most... After all I think most of us fancy ourselves as armchair generals who try to reproduce Napoleon's great victories in the face of over whelming odds, but I think the chance/luck is in most cases already there...  ;)




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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #4 le: 24 juin 2015, 23:31:33 pm »
Excellent comment Friant!
The problem is that most people (including myself for a long time) are not aware of the depth of this game. Sometime a unit fleing without having had significant losses is seen as a "bug". Same thing for a unit resisting for hours. In fact if one analyze carefully the local situation as you said, it make sense (most of the time).

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Re : Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #5 le: 25 juin 2015, 11:05:26 am »
Excellent comment Friant!
The problem is that most people (including myself for a long time) are not aware of the depth of this game. Sometime a unit fleing without having had significant losses is seen as a "bug". Same thing for a unit resisting for hours. In fact if one analyze carefully the local situation as you said, it make sense (most of the time).


Hmm, I didnt read about this kind of complaints for a long time.

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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #6 le: 25 juin 2015, 11:24:59 am »
Also another factor is sound, a unit, especially scout cavalry can flee from the sound of a unseen 30,000 man corp... Again as you say could be misconstrued as a bug, but perfectly logical when understood.

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Re : Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #7 le: 25 juin 2015, 12:57:44 pm »
Also another factor is sound, a unit, especially scout cavalry can flee from the sound of a unseen 30,000 man corp... Again as you say could be misconstrued as a bug, but perfectly logical when understood.

Wrong way Sir, WRONG WAY SIR!!! The Enemy is to the rear.........

S!

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« Modifié: 25 juin 2015, 13:02:55 pm par Rush »
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #8 le: 25 juin 2015, 16:06:22 pm »
Citer
if one analyze carefully the local situation
This is an interesting aspect, because the "local situation" is not always obvious from the 2d view, only from the 3d ground level view.........it is not obvious what can be seen from any point on the battlefield......much can be hidden from view, or not.
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #9 le: 26 juin 2015, 06:16:27 am »
Points taken but not for criticizing the game mechanics. Before the age of computer games there was
the age of boardgames and endless rules designed to achieve the same sort of thing with lots of die
rolls, and who can't forget the same with table top miniature wargaming, there were die rolls for those
things too.

I'm not comparing the game mechanics or disparaging it, and I've never been in the middle the flanks or the rear of an
attack column with cossacks on my left and my rear to appreciate threat nor under any shelling.
PS I have the same Manual of Operations that came with the game    ;)
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #10 le: 27 juin 2015, 04:26:29 am »

Luck is the guy next to you getting the arrow
                                                                       Aristotle

Notice the dice action and templates to figure out casualties, very simple and elegant
Now I'm not taking away from Mr Mathe' creation he simply and elegantly replaced all the
die rolls stated in Friant's List and put them all in a neat algorithm.
We live in the computer age and wargaming has moved into it very dramatically with lots
of misses and lots of hits. I hope Mr Mathe' will continue his project, with the same passion
he has show in the past and may his fans show the same passion for his game as he does.

This is how I used to play Napoleonic wargaming at one time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BlMkT6cXvk   part one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PygGRGuEsOc  part two

I still do...I have enough figures for divisional level scenarios and at a pinch they will do nicely
with Napoleon Battle system corps level...games where an attack success holds in the balance
of double sixes and a pint at the bar.   

Cheers
`` Non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed inteligere``
Spinoza

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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #11 le: 02 juillet 2015, 18:54:39 pm »
here is Napoleon on 'luck'

'The success of a coup de main depends absolutely upon luck rather than judgment.'

 ;)
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Re : Wargaming considerations
« Réponse #12 le: 28 juillet 2015, 00:46:18 am »
Great post, zu Pferd.

Thanks for the links to the tactics outlined.  These are bookmarked for future reading.  As for wargaming, the Battleground series by the BBC is an interesting segment.  I wonder if there's a future revival of such a series like it featuring more wargaming and continuation of proper knowledge regarding specific time periods, such as Ancient Rome, Napoleonic warfare, the American Revolution, the American Civil War, all the way up to Operation Desert Storm I and II, etc. and so on.

There's literally tons of military battles that a new Battleground series could develop on through wargaming rules.  I'm not so sure if the BBC is keen on doing that though.