RtoE Prussian musings: part four
Posted by Martin on May 13, 2010
After a short hiatus, I think it’s time to tackle the topic I’ve been procrastinating about: namely, how to treat the cavalry element of a P-brigade (see earlier posts for an explanation of this home-made terminology).
The problem here is that I’ve been torn between several apparently contradictory factors:
- It’s a historical fact that 1813 P-brigades contained a cavalry element – typically a regiment. The one I’m modelling included between two and four squadrons of the Pommeranian hussar regiment at various times.
- Mixing infantry and cavalry units in the same (conventional) brigade was normally avoided for very good tactical reasons yet we have documented historical evidence of P-brigade commanders forming ad hoc taskforces that did just this (see earlier post for an example). So how best to cater for that?
- Rather like the P-brigade’s artillery battery, its cavalry was a P-brigade asset, so shouldn’t it be under the direct control of the P-brigade commander?
I’ve been wrestling with the best way to reconcile these factors and I think I’ve finally hit on a solution – but it’s one that modifies some of my earlier thinking about artillery.
Let’s start with something easy. I’m going to assert that I’ll always treat a cavalry regiment in a P-brigade as a single tactical unit regardless of its strength (both in terms of manpower and the number of squadrons). The next thing I’m going to do is set a default that the cavalry regiment is a P-brigade level asset just like the artillery battery. The same arguments as I deployed before for the artillery battery apply here.
Having taken that plunge, I’m left with finding a way to do deal with the inconvenient truth that cavalry and infantry tactical units were sometimes grouped together in ad hoc formations. For that matter, tactical units from all three arms were sometimes grouped together this way. If you read the previous paragraph closely, you might have spotted that I’ve already prepared the way for what’s coming next with my use of the phrase “set a default”.
What I propose to do for the cavalry tactical unit (and by implication this applies to and extends what I said before about the artillery tactical unit) is this: by default, the cavalry tactical unit and the artillery tactical unit in a P-brigade will be treated as P-brigade level assets under direct command of the P-brigade commander unless, at the start of the game, he chooses to devolve command of one or both of them to a sub-formation commanded by one of his sub-commanders.
If the P-brigade commander does choose this non-default option, then then any cavalry or artillery tactical unit assigned in this way contributes to the total of tactical units in the sub-formation. This is important because you’ll recall that I set a three to five unit size range for such sub-formations.
So that’s the policy but I think a few tactical observations are merited. P-brigade commanders should think long and hard before devolving command of a cavalry or artillery tactical unit. The first reason for this is that it’s a non-reversible decision, If you suddenly find that you really need that cavalry somewhere else on the battlefield – well tough, it’s already committed. Secondly, having artillery, cavalry and infantry all in the same brigade and thus on the same orders can be very awkward.
Finally, I’d just like to mention the question of corps-level cavalry in the Prussian army. What I’ve been discussing above doesn’t really apply to Prussian cavalry at this level. That’s because the corps cavalry was organized in a much more conventional way with several clearly defined cavalry brigades attached to each corps. If you wish to have one or more of these brigades present on your table, then follow the same principles as you would for any other nation.
I think the next part of these musings will be the final one where I’ll aim to summarize my conclusions are provide examples of the various ways they could be applied to P-brigade.