Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

RtoE Prussian musings: part two

Posted by Martin on May 5, 2010

Following on from last time, here’s the next instalment of me thinking out loud about modelling 1813 Prussian brigade structure for the Republic to Empire ruleset. This time I hope to tackle another type tactical unit found in a P-brigade (recall this is the terminology I’m using for the concept of a Prussian brigade to distinguish it from a brigade in other armies of the period): the artillery battery.

Let’s dive in and begin by considering the role of artillery in the conventional divisional structure of non-Prussian Napoleonic armies. I think I was initially blinded by past experience with other rulesets, particularly General de Brigade where a divisional artillery battery has to be placed in an infantry brigade or in a brigade by itself with a dedicated brigade commander. In the past I’ve sort-of blindly accepted this as the thing to do but when I cleared my mind of the influence of other rulesets and started to think of historical reality, I realised that approach was daft. Why? Well, such artillery was a divisional asset and as such would have been used at the discretion of the divisional commander rather than any one of his sub-ordinates.

Surprise, surprise, when we check Republic to Empire, we again find that historical reality is closley modelled. Divisional artillery batteries aren’t assigned to a brigade within a division but are indeed treated as a divisional asset. Of course, this means that they don’t accrue a 1 x DAv MP (Manoeuvre Point) allowance per turn like a brigade would – but why should they? Their orders come from the divisional commander, so they should draw on his pool of MPs. This all neatly translates across to the foot artillery battery typically found in a P-brigade, so we can treat it as the equivalent of a divisional artillery battery.

But we haven’t quite finished with artillery batteries yet because those Prussian commanders had a sneaky habit of splitting their batteries into two half batteries on occasion. So how would we cater for that in Republic to Empire? The artillery section of the rules (pp.71-77) is silent on the subject but some useful clues can be garnered from reading the Pierrepont Farm scenario and game report (pp.121-130). In this, a Dutch-Belgian foot artillery battery is split into two half batteries from the outset of the scenario and these half batteries are subsequently treated as two small four-gun batteries. The only wrinkle you need to remember is that, because they were split before play commenced, they do not suffer the “split fire” penalty that would normally apply to a whole battery if it elects to fire at two different targets.

I have three observations about splitting batteries like this. Firstly, if the Prussian commander wishes to do this, then I think he must state his intention before play commences. Secondly, from a tactical perspective, you need to be very sure about why you’re planning to split a battery because it comes at a cost that may not initially be apparent. In real life, command and control of two half batteries would take more effort than that required for one whole battery. The same applies in Republic to Empire because you now have two tactical units to oversee rather than one but you don’t get any more MPs to spend on them. Thirdly, as smaller units, half batteries will be more brittle than the whole united battery and less able to defend itself against attack.

Next time, I’ll take a look at volunteer jäger and other similar specialist light infantry detachments.

One Response to “RtoE Prussian musings: part two”

  1. Martin you are correct about being able to split batteries and as far as I am aware all armies did this, perhaps we should have been clearer on this in the rules. The Russians which I am busy painting often did this with the basic unit being the platoon (2 guns) then you could have a division (4 guns) or half company (6 guns) all of this from a 12 gun battery. Another little trick the Russians often did was to combine the 4 licornes (howitzwers) from a number of batteries to create specialised batteries if the battle plan needed it.

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