Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Drawing a line under...

Well, just about every war gamer - just about every collector of any kind - promises to do this, don't they? To draw a line under their inventory. No more to be added.

Perry figures, painted as the Tartar regiment of

So, with this unit of Russian Uhlans - 28mm Perry Plastics - I have 'drawn a line' beneath my Napoleonics. I have plenty for my needs even though I have focused upon the main players, and much less so upon their allies. Possibly with a bit more thought, I would have fewer French and more - that is to say, something - in the way of Italians, Swiss, Bavarians, Saxons, Westphalians and Poles.  I have none of them. though a unit of Nassauers somehow insinuated itself into my collection...

The white contrasts nicely with the dark red
and even darker blue of the uniforms.

But with somewhere in the region of 2400 figures overall, most of them metal, I reckon that will have to do. Here's a rough count:

  • French: 750 figures, 12-14 cannon
  • Austrian: 650, 10 cannon
  • Russian: 300, 6 cannon
  • Prussian: 330, 6 cannon
  • British: 250, 5 cannon
Plus maybe 120 or so oddments:
  • Brunswick: 50 (horse and foot)
  • Nassau: 30
  • Portugal: 20
  • Spain: 20
Totals: 2400 figures, 39-41 cannon

Not the biggest collection in the world - not even the biggest amongst my limited acquaintance - but still a fairish number. That is plenty for a whole war with my Big Battles for Small Tables game system - even more so if using Bob Cordery's Portable Wargames. Of course, if at the next Bring-n-Buy at the club, something grabs me by the throat and says 'buy me, or else!' then I might be forced to rethink...

Still a little bit of work to do on these, but
I quite like the look already.

Now, there were 14 figures in the Perry box. A 14-figure unit - 2 more than my standard 12-figures for cavalry? I do have as small number whose strengths vary from that standard.  Or detach a couple as General Officer escorts? Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Le Bataillon Carre: Starting positions

Here is the map again with the proposed starting positions of the formations listed in the previous posting.

I am still in the process of deciding whether to use 'priority chits' for activating units, or the PW system I adapted for dice. If the latter, do I count Napoleon as an 'excellent' commander and the Prussian high command as 'poor' or 'average'? The one method keeps the Prussians reasonably competitive; the other will likely lead to a campaign as one-sided as historically.

I am also close to deciding that all formations include a commander, who counts +1 die for combat. Napoleon himself counts an extra +1 apart from the command of the formation he happens to be with. Commanders lost are not replaced, but, apart form the loss of the +1 combat modifier, does not affect the formation's ability to move or fight.
Marshal Bernadotte's I Army Corps: horse 
and foot leading with the Marshal; the artillery
in the following hex.

On the march, formations move in columns 2 figures or 1 gun wide. Cavalry occupy 4cm of road in depth, the foot 2cm and artillery 5cm. A formation like Marshal Bernadotte's I Army Corps  occupies, then (in no particular march order): 
4 infantry, 2x2 = 4cm
1 cavalry plus the marshal himself = 4cm
2 artillery crew = 2cm
1 gun = 5cm
Total: 15cm of road.

As the hex-grids are 10cm from side to side, that implies Bernadotte's Corps occupies a hex and a half on the march. I have calculated that each hex represents a distance of roughly 16km or 10 miles. The movement rates of 2 hexes per day for foot and 3 per 'day' for Murat's cavalry is, I accept, very generous, but I think it will make for a brisker campaign.
Prince Louis Ferdinand's command on the march.
The gap represents the two sections occupying
2 hexes of roadway.

If attacked on the march, the formation may count only what is in the leading hex for combat purposes, but the second hex 'reserves' may be brought up to join the leading units.

Hohenlohe's Army formation occupies:

6 infantry, 3x2 = 6cm
2 cavalry, 2x4 = 4cm
Hohenlohe himself = 4cm
3 artillery crew = 4cm
1 gun = 5cm
Total: 23cm 
However, there is no reason why 2 of the artillery crew may not march alongside the Command figure
which would reduce the length of the column to 21cm - just over 2 hexes.

Prince Louis Ferdinand and Hohenlohe on the march

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Le Bataillon Carré: Another Map Game

The 'Hundred Minutes' map campaign project having received such a positive response, it seemed appropriate that we look for something of a similar scale that might be tried, with some of the refinements that have been suggested by several commentators (including myself). The campaign that suggests itself is that of 1806 - a supreme example of Napoleon's Batallion Carré march system against an enemy whose location and distribution is unclear.  

So far, a provisional hex-map has been drawn up.  I did consider the Paddy Griffith map as produced in his 'Generalship Game' (Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun), but in the end decided to create one using as a basis the campaign map in David Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon. This is the result.

I am a little concerned that there may be rather too many towns, but I'm not sure I can really omit any of them, especially as some have been omitted already.  I can't find room for Naumberg, for example.  That line of mountains and forests is the Thuringerwald, passible only by the roads, which count as defiles for the purposes of combat resolution. This was a consideration for Napoleon: the concern that his army might get bottled up in the wild country by Prussian forces stopping up the exits.

At this point, I have yet to determine quite where the respective formations begin. That will await another posting. However, here are the formations I propose for this campaign. 

I have included the leaders of these corps, though I'm still not 100% whether all corps commanders should be represented, or just some.  Apart from the King on the Prussian side, the Duke of Brunswick and Prinz Hohenlohe should certainly be represented, but who to add on the French?  I'm inclined to think Marshals Murat and Lannes should have a representative figure, and, on the right of the whole array, I'd prefer Marshal Davout over Bernadotte, mainly on account of the latter's poor showing during the critical stages of the campaign. An alternative is to include a command figure and decide upon his identity as events suggest.

Although I have listed both Marshals commanding the Imperial Guard, it will be treated as a single formation under command of one or other of them. I daresay if one becomes a casualty, the other could take command...

The Advance Guard Divisions commanded by Blucher and Prince Louis Ferdinand were actually part of the army commands of Brunswick and Hohenlohe respectively. It seems right, though, that they have a separate existence in this campaign owing to the roles they were assigned, especially that of Prince Louis. 

The numbers are arrived at by the rather arbitrary system I have used to represent each arm:
1 foot figure represents 5000 infantry;
1 mounted figure (except commanders) represents 2000 cavalry;
1 artilleryman figure represents 500 gunners, and 20 cannon.
This last indicates that the French have 7,500 gunners serving 300 cannon; the Prussians 6,500 serving 260. The Prussian ordnance seems a bit under-represented, but perhaps conflates the regimental cannon in some way.