Home Forums Horse and Musket Napoleonic Gareth Glover's Waterloo Archive vol2

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    I recently finished reading Gareth Glover’s Waterloo Archive vol2: German Sources.  It was very interesting and has firmed up a few conclusions that I have been heading towards for a long time about Napoleonic warfare:

    Firstly: Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun had it right: pretty much everybody could and did skirmish (although the skill of the skimishers could naturally vary).

    Secondly: Squares were actually reasonably mobile and were perfectly capable of moving to drive off cavalry.

    Thirdly: Fire combat did not work at the unit level but more at the company level.  What do I mean?  Basically, that you don’t need the full firepower of a battalion in line to drive off a column or square: a company or two could do it.  Overall the losses (on both sides) would be lower than slugging it out in lines, but the thing is almost entirely a function of morale and discipline.

    Fourthly: Freshness and order in cavalry combat are much more important than perceived “heaviness” (although that does have its place).

    For me (but obviously not necessarily for you), all this needs to be part of the building blocks of whichever rules I use; but I’d still very interested to hear other people’s takes on the book or the points above.


    • This topic was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Whirlwind.



    Firstly: Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun had it right: pretty much everybody could and did skirmish (although the skill of the skimishers could naturally vary).

    I haven’t read Glover’s Waterloo Archives, but everything I have read indicates just that: everybody did skirmish but rarely noted it in AARs or memoirs. And that the skill of skirmishers could vary just as it could for formed infantry, cavalry and artillery.

    Squares were mobile to some degree, but from what I have seen any mobile square was actually two lines moving with columns on the sides closing the square where they could quickly stop and face out. That is the logic behind McDonald’s massive square at Wagram. Protect the flanks of his advance from Austrian Cavalry. Clausewitz stated that ‘fresh’ troops were important, and that a small unit of fresh troops could best a larger force in not fresh.

    The point about fire at the company level, I don’t know. Don’t have any real opinion on that one.

    I agree that those points are important ones for any Napoleonic rules.




    Glenn Pearce

    Hello John!

    I’ve not read the book, but I certainly like your conclusions. Sadly so many of us were brain washed on old and even some current rule sets, along with an entire wargaming culture that has so many things wrong about Napoleonic warfare.

    I certainly agree that everybody could skirmish except perhaps some raw/green/new troops, and that the skill level was all over the place.

    No question squares could move and drive off cavalry.

    Effective firepower can certainly happen at any level. I would include cohesion as a partner or a result of morale and discipline. The difficult equation is trying to establish when it is or isn’t effective.

    I also think that “heaviness” for cavalry is over rated in most rules and that “freshness” and  perhaps “order” is often underrated. They all have their place and if your looking at a tactical set of rules you certainly need to take a careful look at all of these factors.

    Best regards,






    Thanks both for your comments


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