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Peter Wilson is a first class historian and I think very reliable. He is probably the best writer in English at the moment on this war. But his battle descriptions in Europe’s Tragedy are mainly overviews as it is a relatively small book covering the whole war.
Daniel Staberg is a possible very promising potential author but as yet has not written anything. He has been working on the ‘definitive’ account of this battle for sometime. But as has been mentioned this will not provide all the details we as gamers might like, for the simple reason that they just don’t exist.
I don’t think Staberg is dismissive of everything non Swedish but of much of the information out there used by English historians and thus by gamers. For this era and really up to around the SYW era much of the history in English is not good and many of the details are unknown or misunderstood. A lot of the time you can’t just ‘push the research’ on to someone else as it is a complicated matter of piecing together bits and pieces, hints, half suggestions, etc. There simply are not nice clear texts telling you everything, again up to around the SYW.
On this era, and why the Swedish stuff is less easy to dismiss, the best information we have in English comes from Swedish sources and so what we in the English speaking world is ‘less wrong’ about them than others.
The simple answer is they wouldn’t/didn’t. The exact dispositions of the cavalry are not known but there were ‘heavy cavalry’ were on both flanks. Probably in relatively equal numbers. The location of the Croatian light horse is not known for certain.
A great theatre to game and a good start to the army. We are doing the 1710 campaign at the moment, as a series of connected battles. Look forward to more.
That sounds interesting Hwiccee. I look forward to seeing ‘Twilight of the Divine Right’. When I talked about cavalry exhaustion, I wasn’t thinking of casualties, although I agree that some casualties could be exhausted individuals, but more an inability of a cavalry force to charge repeatedly without a prolonged time to recover. Many rules have ‘blown’ cavalry, but often the time that state lasts is short (a turn or two). My impression is that, most times, when cavalry have been committed to combat, they won’t be able to do much else except maybe pursue for the rest of the battle. Only good commanders can avoid that. RogerC
We think Twilight of Divine Right (TODR) works well but remember it is for big battles. I think a unit in TODR is what would be 2 to 4 units in Baroque/Pike and Shotte. So it is a lot less tactical than these rules.
On the casualties/exhaustion I forgot to say that unit get ‘disruption points’ and only when they have more than 5 do they take ‘real’ casualties. I am thinking here of the other set we use which is more like Baroque/Pike and Shotte. In these victorious cavalry have a good chance of pursuing large distances and then when they stop they will have lots of ‘disruption points’ they have accumulated. Most players then hold with the unit as the rally off the disruption before attempting something else. This is also true just generally – i.e. units will often pause to rally off the disruption after heavy action.
On the idea that pursuit will take a unit out of the battle for the duration I think this depends a lot on the exact circumstances and the way the rules work. It will for example be different for different wars as the troops are different. It depends on things like when the battle starts or night comes if doing a historical fight. Obviously there are lots of other possibilities. In most cases it is as you say likely that any pursuing cavalry will be out for the rest of the battle. But personally I think this is as much to do with the infantry battle being likely to be resolved before they have time to recover – i.e. I think the infantry fighting was more decisive than it seems to be in some rules. So the key factors for cavalry intervention in the infantry fight is a good commander keeping control of some part of the cavalry engaged or having a reserve to use when the rest of the cavalry pursues off.
Good to hear that Pike and Shotte worked for you. I wonder if the predictability of games is because most rules of this (and maybe other) periods make victorious cavalry too controllable. It is rare for rules to make such cavalry pursue their defeated opponent, or simply mill around trying to reform. It is equally rare that the horses are too exhausted for further action. It should be hard (need a good commander) to ‘head inward’ onto the infantry. I guess most players don’t like units misbehaving (particularly if they are commanding the cavalry!). It would make for very different outcomes if, in most games, the cavalry were spent, one way or another, after they had clashed with the opposing cavalry, and the infantry had to resolve the battle themselves. I find Baroque fun, but it doesn’t solve the cavalry problem. I will be interested to see how ‘Twilight of Divine Right’ works, and also ‘For King and Parliament’ which are the forthcoming ECW varient of ‘To the Strongest!’ RogerC
I think you could argue that most rules (I don’t know enough about Baroque or Pike and Shotte to know about them) have some form of ‘cavalry exhaustion’ in them. Certainly in the rules I assume that many of the cavalry ‘casualties’ are individuals who are too exhausted to carry on or similar. The number of actually dead/wounded in cavalry actions wold be pretty small.
On the issue of losing control of cavalry I think you have to have rules for this in this period and both sets we use do. I think most rules don’t understand this idea because they don’t understand that in armies always fought in two or more lines because of this. Again I can’t comment on Baroque/Pike and Shotte but in the rules we use this is vital. So in ‘Twilight of the Divine Right’ if you win a cavalry combat you have a very good chance of doing an uncontrolled pursuit. If you lose you fall back behind your support and rally behind them. This will in the early stages mean that the victorious unit will blunder into a fresh unit in which it has a good chance of losing. After which of course there is a good chance the fresh enemy unit will now do an uncontrolled pursuit & repeat the process. So cavalry melees often become completely uncontrolled and success will come to the player that manages to keep some kind of control or feed in fresh troops or just by attrition. At some point someone will win a combat and there will be no enemy unit in front for the victorious unit to blunder into. It is then likely to go chasing off a long way after the remnants of the defeated units. This tends to put them way out of the action and it will take them a long time to get back, if at all.
I would echo to some extent the thoughts of others on this period and topic. I certainly think there is no such thing as a perfect set of rules, the best you can hope for is ‘good for you/taste’. Also there is much that is not clear about warfare of the time, but is a lot clearer than when Forlorn Hope, Gush’s set and many others were written. While historically there is some truth to the infantry fight being a slog and the battle being decided by victorious cavalry. But also many rules writers have a very thin and/or out of date idea about the period and so don’t tackle it the right way.
In any case our group uses two sets. One for small actions with larger figures – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/WWAE.htm. You command a ‘brigade’ or two per player. I think it is pretty good from an historical point of view, like Forlorn Hope, and doesn’t have the stupid separate pike and musket parts of a unit. It is not the most ‘user friendly’ set but suits our needs and gives a good game.
Recently though we have been playing a lot more of the second set. This will be published early next year and is for big battles. It is a variant of these rules for 1680-1720, http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C18/Twilight/ToSK.htm, that will be called ‘Twilight of Divine Right’. These are for big battles and I think are very good for historical refights in a normal gaming afternoon/evening session.
These are two very different times and both armies would be different in each period.
I don’t have info for 1529 but this is a rough guide to what was at 1683, not including the garrison inside.
Poles: 14000 cavalry, 10000 infantry
Austrians: 13000 cavalry, 8000 infantry
German allies (Bavarians, Saxons and minor German states): 75oo cavalry, 21500 infantry
The Polish cavalry were roughly 1 Winged Hussar, 3 Pancerni, 1- Light Horse, 1+ Dragoons
The Austrian cavalry was 14 Cuirass, 4 Dragoons, 2 (probably small) light cavalry.
The German allies were 11 Cuirass, 4 Dragoons and a small guard unit.
I hope that helps but I would say, as others have, Pikemans lament is not the set of rules to do these battles. But of course that is up to you.
- This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Hwiccee.
You don’t need specific Swedish figures. Dress was not uniform and everyone worn the same mixture of clothes. So most TYW or English Civil War figures will be fine.
Nice report. We are currently playtesting a set for large ECW and TYW battles. The basis of it is a set for the period 1680-1720 called Twilight of the Sun King – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C18/Twilight/ToSK.htm – published by the Pike and Shot society
The ECW/TYW version will be called Twilight of Divine Right: From Defenestration to Restoration and is only for large battles. Most battles of the era are 1 player a side and playable in an afternoon/evening. As a Polemos player you will find many of the classifications are similar for ECW at least – Dutch and Swedish style cavalry, Pike heavy, musket heavy infantry, etc. Obviously the TYW types are often different and also some ECW stuff.
Like Polemos the exact basing doesn’t matter as all measurements are in base widths.
We played Naseby last week which is about 20 units a side. A unit can be 1 or more Polemos bases. We used 2 Polemos bases per units on a 5 foot wide table.
Hopefully the rules and some scenario books will be out next year.
- This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Hwiccee.
There is absolutely no reason not to have these two wars linked and covered by the same war. As has already been mentioned the various armies the British wars were mainly modelled on those used at the time in the TYW. The only reason they appear in some wargames rules and in accepted wargamers ‘history’ to be different is that wargaming knowledge of the period is abysmal.
A pause here while I put on my Pike and Shot Society members hat. Yes the society has some seriously good books and also the society magazine has very good articles as well. It costs £24 pounds for membership that lasts 6 issues of the magazine and you get very substantial discounts on all the society publications.
Seriously as a ‘punter’ you should consider membership as you can get your money back via the discounts and even save money. Plus you get some good quality magazines as well.
Yes it is a good battle. It is the first in a series we are doing, basically building up to Poltava. Next will be a ‘what if’ battle at Horka, then Holowczyn and finally Poltava.
OK I see you are collecting them. I am afraid that you might have a lot of difficulty doing that 🙁 I think you could get some one who has them (I only have the ones you have) to copy them for you. Other than that then I guess Ebay and similar will be your best bet.
I saw the post on TMP. I do not know the poster but frankly I would not trust TMP too much generally.
I think that the problem is that these were published twice and with different titles. I think that they are actually two different sets, certainly the titles suggest they are. One set is called ‘Colours and Standards’ of the WAS and the other WAS, ‘Uniforms of the ??? Army’
So for example we have – N0.5 Colours and Standards
From the same company but with a different ISBN No.5 uniforms
I don’t have these or indeed any of the ‘Colours and Standards’ ones. But all of the ones I have (the ‘Uniform’ ones) do not have information on flags and so I think it is likely that there were 2 sets of booklets.
‘Colours and Standards’ 1 to 10 I think and ‘Uniforms’ 1 to 12.
The same number book is about the same army. So Number 4 is about the Spanish and this is why the poster on TMP and you have two Spanish books on the list. I am sure No.5 is about the Prussians and No.10 the Jacobite – see previous reply. I have found further information confirming that No.6 is the Austrians – https://www.bookdepository.com/Colours-Standards-War-Austrian-Succession-Austrian-Cavalry-Infantry-1740-1748-Book-6-Stephen-Manley/9781900688468
No.12 in the Uniforms set is about the Navy. I do not know about number 11 Uniforms. I originally thought there was a ‘wargames guide’ to the war – general information about the war – so maybe there was and this was ‘Uniforms’ number 11.
So in short I think there are 22 booklets and NOT 12. 2 on each of 10 armies/groups of armies and 2 on general warfare.
I hope this helps and that you find some of these. I think that these booklets should really be printed again as they are very useful and missed.
I think that for the Prussians and Austrians (if N6 is about the Austrian army) then there is better information available now online and in other books. I think these are not available because there are better sources available now. So I would not worry about finding these. I do not know about N10 and N11 but I think that these are also not available because better is available.
N5 was the Prussian army – https://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Austrian-Succession-1740-1745-Wargamers/dp/1900688050/ref=sr_1_60?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498324739&sr=1-60
N6 I think was the Austrian army
N10 was Jacobite Standards and flags – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Colours-Standards-War-Austrian-Succession/dp/1900688506/ref=sr_1_31?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498324651&sr=1-31
N11 I think was perhaps another book about flags but I don’t remember really
N12 Is about Naval warfare – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Naval-Warfare-1739-1748-succession-wargamers/dp/1900688123/ref=sr_1_52?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1498324739&sr=1-52
I think you can still buy N12 but I am not sure you can easily get the others.
Really nice and the others on your blog.
We are trying to work out how to allow direct access but at the moment we don’t think it can be done 🙁
The forum is open to anyone and very simple to register.
We used for many years these rules – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C19/fandfmods.htm
They are modifiers to the Fire and Fury rules for this war and others – here is the 1866 page – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C19/1866.htm
In recent years we have used these ‘stand alone’ rules – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/FUFF.htm
This set is still influenced by the Fire and Fury set but with many new ideas.
We play both with 6mm and 15mm figures. A unit is 6 to 9 infantry bases with 8 to 10 6mm or 4 15mm. In the first set a unit is a regiment, in the second it is a brigade.11/01/2017 at 22:20 in reply to: Revised Twilight of the Sun King (1680-1720) and scenarios now available #55453
Slightly off topic but would the Magister Miliitum (or any other manufacturer) 3mm figures make a suitable set for this era/rules since it doesn’t involve figure removal and uses Base Widths?
Yes it would work well for this. Each unit is a brigade and so you could literally depict each unit within the brigade on the bases. Indeed we are now working on amendments to these rules to cover the period 1620 – 1680 (the ECW and TYW mainly). We are doing this in 2mm which are a little different to the Magister Militun 3mm but basically very similar.14/12/2016 at 00:08 in reply to: Revised Twilight of the Sun King (1680-1720) and scenarios now available #53834
OK well generally what we have done is aim the rules at doing this era specifically rather than the more general purpose approach of the previous editions. This is why it is not really a replacement of the previous editions. We have not change the core rules much but concentrated on changes designed to reflect the troop types of the era, the way battles were fought, etc. I know you play GNW with these rules so you will find that you will probably need to field many more Russians now as the Swedes are a hand full under these rules.
I am happy to tell you more but less sure what you might be interested in. Meanwhile some comments from another forum by 2 others who like you know the original rules – they are not know to me.
“Just got my copy in the mail last week. Very nice. Reading through it now. Initial impressions: The front and back cover are very poorly done. It is almost impossible to read the lettering over the graphics because of color choices. Do not let this dissuade you though, because INSIDE the content is VERY well laid out. Very good table of contents, the order of presentation is logical. The layout of the pages is clean and uncluttered, key points/terms are in bold faced type. A few diagrams to illustrate issues about facing are clear. The rules are well written and the language is clear.
The rules are usable with units as Brigades or as Regiments. It is scale agnostic without having to convert anything. It uses “basewidths” as the unit of measure (but allows for smaller and larger sized units if so desired). It recommends a unit be 2 bases. No figure removal.
If you liked the original, it is still definitely worth getting this edition. There is more period flavor (eastern european cavalry, Turks, jaegers, swedish Ga Pa tactics) good designer notes, more attention to artillery, flexibility with unit usage of pikes and platoon firing. The starter scenario (Great Northern War- I forget which battle) is a great intro with interesting historical notes. I’ll be hopefully getting that gamed this weekend. Overall, I’m very pleased and recommend it to anyone that is gaming WSS or GNW with more generic 18C rules that only give lip service to this earlier period.”
“I just received my copy, and I’ll second everything that daler240D said. My worry with the new set was that there would be a temptation to add too much to a uniquely light system, but the additions fall in two main camps: first, a much wider variety of unit types, and second, a matching expansion of possible modifiers to morale tests. This means that much of the added detail is “up front”, i.e. before the game starts in terms of designating troop types, and also that many of the added modifiers might only be used in certain campaigns or theatres. I don’t anticipate any slowdown in play, and the added depth is very welcome. The addition of the “Bombardment” phase (really just placing markers to indicate long range fire) seems like an elegant way to portray the disruptive effect of long range artillery fire on maneuver, which is always something that I thought should be depicted over pure casualty counts. The depth of the included scenario (Fraustadt 1706 GNW), along with the free example scenario on the yahoo group, really showcase the new system, and give great confidence in the scenario books.
All in all, a real success for practical, old school wargaming with a new school design emphasis, and at a very friendly price point. The authors and the P&SS should be congratulated. The rules could and should really encourage interest in gaming this period. And, of course, I couldn’t help but start thinking of Napoleonic and even ACW variants! ;)”13/12/2016 at 10:04 in reply to: Revised Twilight of the Sun King (1680-1720) and scenarios now available #53806
There is a review here which will give you some idea – http://www.wargamer.com/reviews/review-twilight-of-the-sun-king-second-edition/
Also a Great Northern War scenario (Grodno 1706) in the Yahoo group files. I plan to put this online at some point but I am having technical problems. So contact me via e-mail address above and I will send it.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Hwiccee.
On the question of both sides choosing the ‘secure the base’ strategy as has been mentioned both did this. I would say that Parliament was more successful in actually doing it in the real war, by luck or judgement. I would guess that if both tried to maximize this then whichever side was having less success would revert back to a more direct approach.
On both sides following the same strategy I think that this was the case generally. It was a civil war with support spread more or less evenly across the population and geographically, neither side having an army at first, both having similar background, etc. In short there wasn’t much difference between the two militarily to work with.
I am sure there are other works around & it has been a while since I last read it but I think this book is quite good on this kind of thing – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BEYG6T0/ref=olp_product_details?_encoding=UTF8&me=
Not Connard Sage or others might also have some recommendations?
I think that at the beginning of the war neither side had a big enough military advantage to achieve a decisive result and both sides are trying to build an army from scratch and build a ‘position’. So viable alternative strategies would be to get extra military strength, i.e. most likely get the Irish or Scottish troops that joined the war later on earlier. Or make a lot bigger effort to secure their ‘positions’ my clearing areas of enemy troops/garrisons to make ‘secure bases’, while trying to maintain isolated but friendly troops/garrisons. Both sides did do this but also campaigned as normal at the same time. I mean concentrate solely on this with a minimum effort against the field armies.
I don’t think that there is a particularly good and balanced account of the battle in English. The Northern Wars book by Frost has a short academic account of the battle. The recent GNW compendium book has an account by a German writer and there is the wikipedia entry – both of these are quite general and suffer from a lack of balance. A bit more difficult to find (assuming the price of the compendium hasn’t put you off that) is an account by a Swedish officer of the time – Alderfelt’s History of Charles XII. This is very much from the Swedish side but is ‘pure’ – the guy was writing it on the campaign and died at Poltava.
I think the general details are well know/established. The Saxon and Swedish armies had been moving towards each other for some time and on the evening before the battle they were close. The Swedes stood to arms overnight and in the early morning of the battle expecting an attack but that didn’t come. So leaving all his artillery behind except 4 light guns he marched towards the Saxons to force a battle. This caught the Saxons by surprise but they had plenty of time to deploy into a strong position by their camp. They were behind some streams and marsh, on high ground and they deployed cheveaux de frise. Numbers are debatable but the Swedes were probably about 4,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 4 light guns. The Saxons had about 9,000 cavalry, 7,500 infantry and 48 guns – they were very confident in victory, they had a strong position & outnumbered and outgunned the Swedes. Both sides deployed conventionally and the Swedes prepared to assault the Saxon position but before they could start the Poles arrived.
It is not clear how much the Saxons/Swedes knew they were coming or when, etc. Probably the Saxons knew they were near but didn’t expect them to be as close as they were. While it was at a minimum more of a surprise to the Swedes. Their were about 6,000 Poles (maximum 500 infantry and the rest cavalry and 4 to 6 guns) and they extended the line to the right of the Saxon line. So it was now about 4,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 4 guns vs. 15,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 53-55 guns. The Swedes responded to this by realigning their left to confront both the Saxon right and the Poles. They also moved about half their infantry from the centre to their left to strengthen it. Finally a spoiling attack was made by a few Swedish squadrons on their left to cover the redeployment or possibly to goad the enemy into attacking, depending on who you believe.
Whichever was true this attack resulted in the death of the Swedish left wing commander and was soon called off. Again depending on who you believe this might have provoked a Polish attack or maybe they were just ready to go. So the Poles moved into the attack and the Saxons followed suit. The Poles made 2 or 3 big attacks which didn’t really get anywhere. The reasons for this are debatable and often very much depending on the nationality/prejudices of the writer. At this point the Poles started to leave the battlefield. Again why is open to question but almost certainly had more to do with politics than military reasons. Whatever the reason it was a withdrawal, and not a rout, by a more or less intact army.
The Saxon left wing cavalry had moved up to support the Poles and also attacked but had to squeeze up to do it and it was ahead of the rest of the Saxons. So when the Poles started to withdraw the Saxon left was relatively isolated. The Swedes reacted quickly and sent a few squadrons to watch the Poles withdraw but the rest fell on the Saxon left.
The Saxon right and centre also attacked but ironically were slowed by the difficult terrain and defences that they had relied on to blunt the expected Swedish attack. The advance from the defensive position also meant that many of the guns couldn’t reach where the combat happened. They pushed forward and were making progress, the Saxon left wing cavalry in particular, when events on the right overtook things. The Swedes defeated and routed the Saxon right cavalry and then stated working down the line. Soon the Saxon centre was also routed as the victorious Swedish left joined the troops of the Swedish centre and the whole Saxon army fled.
It was a major Swedish victory and the Saxon infantry in particular were greatly hit.
The top picture here is the deployment when the battle proper started – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/images/Gallery/GNW/KliszowSheffield.htm – the Swedes are on the left, the Saxons/Poles on the right with the Poles at the top of the table.
So in a very basic set of rules the German, British, Dutch and French styles would pretty much be treated the same as the effect of speed is offset by increased disorder; they would have an effect where order and impact were covered as separate factors. The ‘Swedish System’ would have a bonus for combining order and impact.
This is certainly what I do and is done in a set like Twilight aimed at doing full historic battles. For more detailed rules, usually aimed at smaller battles, they could reflect the differences between the styles. I guess it all depends on how it is done, what you feel is important, the scale of the game, etc.
I am thrilled to hear this, and look forward to ordering a copy. Thank you.
The above is the way the new Twilight works – only ‘Swedish style’ are different and quality/size/leadership/etc are what counts. The 1st scenario booklet are Western battles but the 2nd is Ottoman and GNW battles – that should be out soon after the 1st lot.
Rank firing by 3 ranks left you in danger of the whole battalion being unloaded/reloading at the same time, the sideways ripple of Platoon meant some men always had charged muskets. The French were changing over during the WSS at Colonels discretion. The Austrians and Prussians (Brought by the Duke of Anhalt-Dessau) both adopted it from collaboration with the British/Dutch forces.
All units whatever system they used usually kept 1 rank in reserve to avoid being totally unloaded/reloading.
While no doubt some French WSS units would have used platoon firing during this war and they certainly had the freedom to do so if they wished the major change over dates to later on.
The Austrians used platoon firing in the 1680’s and 90’s in their wars against the Ottomans and possible in earlier wars. It was developed independently of the British/Dutch. It is probable that the Prussians and other Germans allies of the Austrians also generally used the Austrian system until Frederick’s time. Although those Prussian units in Marlborough’s army could have used the British/Dutch version during the WSS.
The French using fire then charge is listed as both doctrine and anecdotally from Blenheim through to Malplaquet. Only Berwick started to change it to the full impact style he had faced in Spain. It came from the 60 years of uninterrupted victories the French had racked up between Rocroi and Blenheim.
Where is it listed? What anecdotes? I suspect that both of these come from the usual English language sources and are based on the usually couple of examples mentioned in them. Even these when not trying to make the point that the French are firing usually say they charge in with sword only. If you look elsewhere you will struggle to find any mention of firing and lots and lots of charging with the sword. A recent work on Blenheim that uses non English sources is an example. This shows the Gendarmerie were involved in at least 9 actions at that battle, they fired in only one – the famous clash with the British cavalry – and then almost certainly because they were too disorganised to charge.
The usual accepted view on the French over the period 1643 to 1704 is that their success in that period was because during it they largely abandoned firing. The basic outline of this idea is that the French largely abandoned firing in the later TYW era and it had gone completely by the 1670’s. This is supposedly why the French had success up to the end of the NYW. At this time the French supposedly switched back to firing and so their poor performance in the WSS. In my view this is not very reliable but that is a different matter. I don’t know about earlier but again it is difficult to actually find the French cavalry firing in the WSS.
I have no idea what you mean about Berwick but I don’t think he changed the French tactics. I don’t think he changed because of what happened in Spain – the French/Spanish cavalry generally won there & victory always went to the largest army. The two current theories on the French have them either changing back to pre WSS tactics in the 1720’s/30’s or continuing with the charging tactics they had used since circa 1643. Like everyone else they changed over to Swedish tactics as done by Frederick’s cavalry later on.
The Swedes were almost suicidal in their charging and aggression. It is very hard to actually allow for them.
Yes this is what I suggested in my original post. It is not impossible and some rules manage it but unfortunately many don’t and it will be the trickiest part of any set of rules.
Battalion guns are issued in British and Dutch service from the late 1690s and the Board of Ordinance issue books bear this out. They were a 3 or 4 pdr officially. However it would not surprise if they got ‘lost’ on march and campaign however.
The Board of Ordinance certainly issued 3/4 pdr guns at this time and indeed earlier. 3 and 4 pounders were a standard field piece at the time and everyone had them.They were usually 50 to 75% of any armies field guns but unfortunately they are not battalion guns. If they are then everyone has them and has had them for a long time by the WSS/GNW era.
The Danes in the GNW suffered from top level leadership, in the WSS they had Marlborough or Eugene as army commanders, with their cavalry handled by Wurttemburg or Overkirk, both fine commanders of cavalry.
It is my opinion from reading and researching that the French army was better in the WSS, but they had no commander to handle Marlborough until Berwick, and by then the troops themselves no longer believed.
I am afraid I wouldn’t agree on the details here (do you mean Berwick or do you mean Villars?) but I would certain agree on the general thrust of these 2 posts. The outcome of a battle was rarely the result of one factor and traditional factors like numbers, leadership, morale, etc, were important. I think it is also important to remember that winning battles and winning wars are/were not the same. You could argue that both the French and Danes lost their battles but won the wars.
Ummm this French charge, was this before or after the discharge of pistols that was their standard practice at the start of the period?
I am not really sure when you date the ‘start of the period’ but at this time there wasn’t really a ‘standard practice’ for the French. The French cavalry from well before this date (TYW? I don’t have my reference stuff in front of me at the moment so I am not sure) was to walk forward until close and then spur forward into a gallop but with relatively little order. The idea that using pistols comes from English language sources while it is clear if the look at other sources that this is not true. At the time of the GNW and WSS they could fire (the first rank) their pistols before they spurred into the gallop but that was very much optional and from the evidence we have looks to have been relatively rare. It was also done when for some reason the unit couldn’t counter charge. It is difficult to put a number to it but I would say certainly less than 10% of the time and probably a lot less.
Platoon fire, the biggest advantage to it, and the main reason it slowly got adopted as standard was the fact you could do it in 3 ranks, The rank fire system need 4 to 6 ranks to make it work.
Well as already mentioned most armies at this time could platoon fire but didn’t for one reason or another. That said you could of course rank fire in any number of ranks and it was certainly done in 3 or even in 2 during this era. It was commonly used by the ‘Platoon firing’ armies in 3 ranks, some used 4 ranks, under various circumstances. There is for example some mention of it being no longer necessary in one of the later (1720’s/3o’s?) manuals. While rank firers often kept the same frontage and reduced the numbers of ranks when they were less than full strength, i.e. most of the time. So a unit that fought in theory in 4 ranks would fight in 3 ranks if it was at 75% of official strength (this would be common real field strength). While if the same unit was at 50% official strength they would be in 2 ranks (units in Spain were commonly at 40% or so).
There is no reason why being in 3 ranks should be ‘better’ as such but assuming it was better to be in less ranks then rank firers would usually be too.
Platoon firing was quickly adopted by all armies after 1740 ish by which time various changes had probably made it better than rank firing although maybe not the best system around by then, but that is another story. English language sources love to claim some great advantage for platoon firing but again I am afraid there is no reliable evidence for this at this time, i.e. GNW/WSS.
On British/Dutch/Danish Cavalry, they started slow and built to a collision speed (slower than would think seeing racehorses, but they had to hold formation), but only used swords. Many other cavalry were still intended to use pistols in the process. The finest exponents of the ‘at charge’ cavalry’ in this period were the Danes.
I think, but it is tricky to prove, they all understood that you needed to go fast and hold formation but the problem was they hadn’t worked out how to do it to something like the full extent possible. The Swedes had worked out how to do this and their number 1 fan, Frederick the Great, later brought the technique to common use when he copied the technique with the Prussian cavalry from the middle of the WAS.
The British/Dutch/Danish basically went for a compromise and the French/German styles emphasied one thing over the other. The Swedes (and later everyone) did both.
The Danes were certainly very good units in the WSS battles and arguably the best in Marlborough’s army/better than the British or Dutch/the best overall in the WSS. They had a 100% record in the GNW. Unfortunately that is a 100% record of defeat to the real “at charge cavalry” of the period, the Swedes. Often this was despite the Danes being in strong positions and ‘experienced’ and/or have other advantages, while the Swedes are 2nd class/new units and had other disadvantages. Of course, as always, there were other factors in what happened but I think it would be very difficult to come up with a strong argument for the Danes being better than the Swedes they faced and would have had severe problems if they faced the pre Poltava Swedish army.
Battalion guns were standard in the WSS, as they were introduced to beef up firepower now they no longer had pikes (more firepower helped keep Cavalry at range, was the thinking).
Many people believe this but I am afraid there is no evidence for it and a lot of reasons why it is not true. It took me a long time to realise this as well and also it depends on what exactly you mean by a ‘battalion gun’. But battalion guns like those used in the SYW were invented/developed in the 1720’s and became common in the period after this. I don’t really have time to go through it again and if you have some period evidence of their use I will be happy to hear about it.
Practically I will just say what I say to players in my games who insist on having battalion guns. Generally real armies only had about 1 gun (of all types) per battalion & you are usually supposed to have 2 battalion guns per battalion. So I say to them, assuming we are not doing an historical re-fight, if you want to use battalion guns then you can give them to half your battalions and have no other artillery.
OK so the Swedish charged at the gallop and knee to knee – i.e. in good order. So you can think of it as high speed and high order. This was the most effective way of charging but not everyone knew this/how to do it at this time. Later in the century Frederick the Great identified this and copied Swedish GNW style tactics. These Prussian/Swedish style tactics then replaced all the others & became the standard everyone used.
The German style is also in good order but at the slow trot. Think of it as high order and low speed. The British/Dutch style is at the trot but with more disorder than the German/Swedish tactic. So it is medium speed and medium order. Just to round it off the French charged at the gallop but in relative disorder – so high speed and low disorder. Essentially the faster they went the better but also the more negative disorder they got. With the French and German styles you could shoot pistols as part of the attack but that was very much an option.
Of course the above is general and individual units would vary in ability to actual do these things and also would on occasion fire say when they were not supposed to. So morale, experience, leadership, luck, etc were equally (more?) important.
p.s. You might be interested to know an updated version (and scenarios) of Twilight of the Sun King is at the printers now.
This is a massive subject and also one in which there is a lot of old and wrong ideas around. I also think that without know how you think the periods before and after were it will be difficult to say in detail how this period was different. So I think that as a general rule it might be better to ask about specific things you are unsure about, as you already have done a little. More on this later.
I would say there are 2 main problems/issues with the GNW. The first is how to give an army (the Swedes) that were often vastly outnumbered, 2, 3 or more to 1, and facing an enemy in a strong position/defences a reasonable chance to achieve the victories that they did. Allied to this 1st point is how to do this 1st point without making the Swedes ‘superhuman’. Most available rules fail the 1st part and so typically greatly reduce the task facing the Swedes – it is common to half or more the forces they actually faced and often ‘vastly outnumbered’ translates into the Swedes opponents get an extra unit. Those few that don’t fail this test stumble often stumble on the 2nd part – i.e. the Swedes are unbeatable. So basically it is a tricky balance to allow the Swedes to do what they did and not over do it and make them unbeatable.
So back to specific things already talked about.
Pikes: The majority of armies used these in 1700 but the use of them declined over the next few years generally but not really in the GNW, or at least in a different way. They were a crucial part of the Swedes aggressive Ga Pa tactics but there use was patchy, especially in secondary theatres and after 1709/Poltava. This was because there was a shortage of pikes rather than a change of tactics. The Russians used pikes all the way through the war but the numbers used varied and also sometimes they left the pikes behind. Again the use of pikes was crucial to Russian successes. Most of the other combatants were some of the armies which had stopped using pikes before 1700. But the Danes re-introduced them in 1713 as a result of defeats and the Poles are basically unknown.
Cavalry: The bulk of the cavalry were standard European types but also you had various ‘Eastern’ types. Light cavalry were always in the Russian, Polish, Ottoman armies and sometimes in the Swedish army. The Poles and Ottomans still fielded ‘Renaissance’ cavalry types – winged hussars and sipahi – not exactly the same but more or less.
These apart the bulk of the cavalry used the relatively ineffective, or variants of them, cavalry tactics that had been in use for 60 or so years. These were the British/Dutch style tactics (used by the Danes) and German style tactics (used by the Saxons, Russians and Prussians) – no GNW army used the French style tactics. Each of these was basically flawed in various way and none was more effective than the other. They were all replaced later in the century by the Swedish style tactics, or versions of them – the Swedish tactics were clearly superior to the others and are what we now think of as a charge.
Russian and Polish dragoons commonly fought on foot but were ‘real’ cavalry. Other cavalry, including dragoons, rarely fought on foot. Except for the Swedes dragoon were often a little ‘worse’ than ‘Horse’ units, often because they were newly raised or relatively low status.
Socket Bayonets/Flintlocks: As mentioned socket bayonets were now standard issue and also flintlock muskets but some units were still equipped with older weapons, particularly in the early stages of the war.
Platoon Fire: In essence everyone could platoon fire at this time but in common with elsewhere this did not mean they actually used it that much – even the most famous platoon firers often fired using other methods. This is a complicated issue as some people still believe in the idea of platoon fire being superior at this time despite the lack of reliable evidence. I don’t have time to go into this so I will just give you a run down on methods used.
Saxons used rank firing generally but used platoon firing when fighting Turks & might have used it in some GNW battles – most German armies used platoon firing against Turks but thought it was no use against ‘Western’ opponents.
The Russians were probably as above – we suspect they used against Turks but didn’t use it in the GNW.
The Danes initially used platoon firing, apart from the units that had fought with the Austrians in the WSS, but some units at least switched after.
The Swedes kind of invented platoon fire but had abandoned it as ineffective. The Swedes very much favoured assaults with volleys as they went in. Firing tactics were basically pretty irrelevant because they didn’t aim to get into firefights.
Grenades: These are really for use in sieges. No doubt they would feature in field actions, assaults on fortifications being already mentioned and the most obvious occasion, but they were not really significant.
Battalion Guns: I have already answered this for you on another forum so just a quick overview. SYW style battalion guns do not yet exist – artillery is generally immobile. All armies in defence could use light field guns as close support spread in penny packets along the front, often these were called regimental guns. The Swedes did this when defending but they didn’t often defend whatever the odds & so it is fairly rare. The Russians were of all the armies of the time the closest to having SYW style battalion guns – they were attached to units and had mixed artillery/infantry crew – but this was because they nearly always just defended. The Saxons and Danes often used regimental guns but as they often switched between attack/defence they didn’t actually always take part in the action.
I stupidly sold my Spencer Smith some years ago and I have regretted it ever since. Not that they were as good as these but I think I will have to replace my lost army.
Which battles are in the book?
Here is a page on the Poles during the Great Northern War (1700 – 21) – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/C18/faq.htm – they fought on both/all sides in this war. In short they looked like ‘classic’ Poles, Winged Hussars, Pancerni, etc, but with less old fashioned weapons/equipment (lances, spears, bows, armour) and more pistols, carbines, etc. The Western style cavalry looked like western style cavalry of the time. We have no idea what the infantry looked like, partly because they used very little of it.
After the GNW the army was ‘reorganised’. This meant it was deliberately made so bad that it could never be a problem to anyone else again. It was literally a joke army and was the butt of many jokes at the time. It was small, progressively ‘Westernised’ in appearance and absolutely useless. This is why in the SYW the Russians, Prussians and Austrians just wander through Poland at will – there is no ‘real’ Polish army to do anything about it.
The French, Spanish and Savoyards fought together in 1701-02 and sort of in 1703. In 1703 the Savoyards are planning to switch sides and so try to seperate. In 1704-06 the French and Spanish continue the fight.
The Austrians have Danish, Prussian, Palatine and Saxe Gotha contingents with their army at various time, along with Savoyards from 1704. The armies usually contained grenzers/hussars but these were NOT battle troops and without doing a full check I don’t think ever featured on the Italian battlefields. In 1703 a Hungarian revolt started and lasted until 1711. Large numbers of grenzers/hussars fought (on both sides I think) in the campaigns there.
The infantry had collars but these are I suspect they would be barely noticeable even in 25mm. Turnbacks were optional with the infantry but the cavalry did have them by the SYW. I don’t know if they had them in the 1740’s though? Some cavalry did wear breastplates outside but that of course also means some didn’t. This also ignore the fact that many of them dumped the cuirasses/didn’t bother wearing them in any case.
Depends how picky you are, I suppose
Yes to some extent. It is also only a problem if you insist on using a totally impractical figure scale 🙂
I can’t help with figures, I dumped 25mm years ago.
I am not sure if you are planning to get one army or two sides of some kind. But if you are going to get just one side then I would recommend either French or Swedish. The French use the WSS style uniforms through to the early SYW (1757). While the Swedes basically invented SYW style uniform and were wearing it at the time of the WSS. They were not in the WSS but fighting in the Great Northern War at the same time, but their uniforms are the same right through to the SYW. The main difference is they have pikes in the WSS era, so basically have a few extra figures to replace them in later wars.
I am afraid I am more of an early/mid 18th century guy but I would have thought it would be easy enough to find the Italian units in the Austrian and other armies at the start of the FRW. These could perhaps have mutinied to join the ‘league’. Details of the Venetian and Papal armies are difficult to find in earlier times but you can find them and I would guess you can for this time. Unfortunately I don’t know where but hopefully someone else will.
Did you have anything in particular in mind? This is clearly a big subject if you don’t narrow it down a little.
Generally I play high level games and one of the great things with doing this is that you just get the whole army! But when I do get a smaller army or an army for a smaller scale of game then I always get whole formations of real units. So I will get X division or Y brigade or whatever.
The writer may have a whole different understanding of what warfare in the period was actually like that doesn’t chime with your understanding of what warfare in the period was actually like. Both of which may disagree with my understanding of what warfare in the period was actually like.
Which of us is right?
Yes of course but we are I think talking about something different here. Clearly some aspects are always going to be up for discussion – the relative effectiveness of fire systems for example. But the question here was about basic rules of warfare. repiqueone correctly identified that in real battles –
In most battles of the 18th and 19th century the most common action by commands and units in battle was doing nothing. Only a small portion of an army was ever active at a single time, and usually only a section of the battle line was engaged.
I would add other factors not commonly found on wargaming tables – having 2 lines of battle for example. These are basic rules of real historical battles of this period. So any set of rules that does not say encourage 2 lines to be used and have many of the units standing around doing nothing a lot of the time can not be ‘historical’, or at least is less than fully historical. In the same way that a set for this period that is doesn’t have rules for artillery would also be less than historical no matter how good the rest is.
Of course it is fine if people want to play games with anything they like but sadly most games have little to do with history – for these kinds of reason let alone some of the very out dated tactical ideas common amongst gamers.