Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

RtoE Prussian musings: part five

Posted by Martin on May 15, 2010

If you’ve followed this little series of posts about organinzing Prussian forces prototypically for the Republic to Empire rules – well done, you’ve got great stamina. If you haven’t, this is the final part (unless something else springs to mind in future) and you can choose to pick up the thread here or, if you’re a masochist, you can follow my “thinking out loud” through the previous four parts:

Part One.
Part Two.
Part Three.
Part Four.

In this last musing session, I’m going to recap on the decisions I’ve made (without repeating the line of reasoning that led to them) and demonstrate the various ways a wargamer might apply them the an 1813 Prussian brigade under his command (recall that a Prussian brigade is an all-arms force that’s about the size of a division in other armies). So here we go…

I’ve devised the following conventions for the organization of a Prussian brigade under the Republic to Empire rules:

  1. A Prussian brigade commander is treated as equivalent to a divisional commander in other armies.
  2. A Prussian brigade commander may have up to three sub-commanders beneath him, each of which is treated as equivalent to a brigade commander in other armies.
  3. Each such sub-commander may command a formation that comprises a total of between three and five tactical units (i.e. infantry battalions, artillery batteries and cavalry regiments count towards this total but not volunteer jäger detachments). Exceptions to this may be made under special historically accurate circumstances and must be agreed by all players at the outset of the game (for example, a smaller formation of two tactical units might be assigned a special role such as garrisoning a fortification).
  4. The infantry battalions of a Prussian brigade must be placed under the command of the brigade sub-commanders rather than under the direct control of the brigade commander.
  5. By default, a Prussian brigade’s artillery battery (there’s usually only one) and cavalry regiment (there’s usually only one) are placed under the direct command of the brigade commander. If the brigade commander wishes to assign artillery or cavalry to one of the formations commanded by one of the sub-commanders, he may do so – but only at the start of the game. Once such an assignment is made, it cannot be reversed during the game.
  6. A Prussian brigade’s artillery battery may be split into two half batteries – but only at the start of the game. Each half battery is then treated as a seperate tactical unit but does not suffer the split fire penalty as long as all guns in the same half battery fire at the same target.
  7. A Prussian brigade’s cavalry regiment may be split into detachments no smaller than two squadrons each – but only at the start ofthe game. Each such detachment is then treated as a seperate tactical unit.
  8. Volunteer jäger detachments are treated as specialist light infantry detachments, which are already catered for under the rules. Any volunteer jäger detachment must be placed in the same formation as its parent battalion.

Now let’s examine the realistically flexible options these conventions offer a Prussian brigade commander. To illustrate this, we’ll examine von Borstel’s 5th brigade as it stood on 10th August 1813 (note this this brigade’s OOB changed in subtle ways during the course of the Autumn 1813 campaign):

  • Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
  • Jäger detachment of the Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
  • 1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
  • Jäger detachment of the 1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
  • 2nd musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
  • Fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
  • Jäger detachment of the fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
  • 1st battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
  • 2nd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
  • 3rd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
  • 1st battalion, 1st Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
  • 2nd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
  • 3rd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
  • 4th battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
  • Pommeranian hussar regiment.
  • Foot artillery battery No. 10.

The first option is the most conventionally obvious one where the three infantry regiments are each placed with a sub-commander while the artillery battery and the cavalry regiment remain under direct control of the brigade commander. That would look like this:

von Borstell (commander, 5th brigade):
Pommeranian hussar regiment.
Foot artillery battery No. 10.

Sub-command I: von Schon (commander, Pommeranian infantry regiment):
Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
Jäger detachment of the Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the 1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
2nd musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.

Sub-command II: von Knobloch (commander, 2nd reserve infantry regiment):
1st battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
3rd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.

Sub-command III: commander unknown:
1st battalion, 1st Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
3rd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
4th battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.

Which is fine and easy enough to understand but, to my mind, has the disadvantage that it places all the volunteer jäger detachments and the fusilier battalion in one sub-command thus leaving the other two short on specialist light infantry. So, for a second option, I’d be tempted to shuffle things around a bit like this:

von Borstell (commander, 5th brigade):
Pommeranian hussar regiment.
Foot artillery battery No. 10.

Sub-command I: von Schon (commander, Pommeranian infantry regiment):
2nd musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
1st battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
1st battalion, 1st Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.

Sub-command II: von Knobloch (commander, 2nd reserve infantry regiment):
1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the 1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.

Sub-command III: commander unknown:
Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
Jäger detachment of the Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
3rd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
3rd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
4th battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.

The other advantage of this option is that it spreads the landwehr infantry battalions around so that they are supported by more experienced colleagues and there’s no longer one potentially weak sub-command entirely made up of landwehr infantry. Of course, there are lots of ways you could shuffle the infantry battalions around like this.

Finally a third option that shows how command of the cavalry and artillery might be devolved to a sub-commander.

von Borstell (commander, 5th brigade):
Half of foot artillery battery No. 10.
Two squadrons, Pommeranian hussar regiment.

Sub-command I: von Schon (commander, Pommeranian infantry regiment):
Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
Jäger detachment of the Pommeranian grenadier battalion.
1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the 1st musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
2nd musketeer battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.
Jäger detachment of the fusilier battalion, Pommeranian infantry regiment.

Sub-command II: von Knobloch (commander, 2nd reserve infantry regiment):
1st battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
Two squadrons, Pommeranian hussar regiment.
Half of foot artillery battery No. 10.

Sub-command III: commander unknown:
3rd battalion, 2nd reserve infantry regiment.
1st battalion, 1st Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
2nd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
3rd battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.
4th battalion, 2nd Kurmark landwehr infantry regiment.

This based on tweaking option 1 so that sub-command II is modelled on the formation von Knobloch commanded for the attack on Klein Beeren during the Battle of Gross Beeren – the one difference being that I’ve used a half-battery of foot artillery instead of the half-battery of horse artillery that was made available to von Knobloch in real life.

You can play around like this for ages making up different ad hoc sub-command combinations. All of which, hopefully, demonstrates how my set of conventions enable the true flexibility of Prussian brigades to be implemented for Republic to Empire. Give it a go for your favourite brigade and let me know how you get on.

8 Responses to “RtoE Prussian musings: part five”

  1. Robert said

    Very useful series of posts. I’ve just got my copy of the R2E, but have long been scratching my head over how the “command and control” of Prussian organizations can transfer to the wargames table. Lots of food for thought here.

  2. Hello Martin

    I have followed your musings with interest and find myself in broad agreement with your ideas. Very dull of me I know!! 8O)

    Regarding the game mechanics would you still use the special Prussian Manoeuvre Point allocation rule on page 30 of the rules or just play the normal allocation rules?

    BTW, I am availing myself of the kind offer at http://www.leagueofaugsburg.com/fightingtalk/viewtopic.php?t=2198. So if I don’t manage to push around some lead to the tune of Republic To Empire prior to this event I will then … and with gifted AND veteran Republic To Empire exponents!!! 8O))

    Salute
    von Peter himself

    • Martin said

      Hi Peter,

      It actually comes out to the same thing.

      If you read the special section on p.30 of the rules carefully, you’ll see that what Barry proposes for his example P-brigade of nine battalions is to split it along regimental lines into three brigades, each of three battalions and allow 3 x 1DAv MPs plus the divisional commander’s MP allowance. What I propose is precisely in-line with that. The only difference is that, in the example in my posting above, I’m splitting eleven (rather than nine) battalions into three brigades.

      The only specific to note is Barry’s decision that MPs allocated to a P-brigade cannot be pooled for potential use by another P-brigade – but that only matters in a larger corps-level game where you’d have multiple P-brigades. I haven’t formed a view on that point yet.

      • Howdies Martin

        A tardy reply …

        I agree with what you have said. I think that Barry restricted the pooling of MPs across P-brigades because each unit is generating more MPs than is normal (an average die worth per three units) and this is a way of mitigating that advantage. (He probably explicitly states this in the rules but my rule book is currently out on a promotional loan so I can’t check.)

        With the historically larger 1813 brigades and using your ideas I see no reason to use the special rule restricted the pooling of MPs across P-brigades. The units of the 1813 P-Brigade under the patent pending Martin Kelly Scheme will only be generating three average die worth of MPs no matter how the P-brigade is sliced up. This is because it will get one average die’s worth for each of his sub commanders (RTE brigades). This is no where near as good as the one average die per three units in Barry’s 1815 scheme.

        eg. like your 5th Brigade my 1813 3rd Brigade has 13 units (11 battalions, several jäger detachments which don’t count for this calculation, a cavalry regiment and a battery) which gives one average die worth of MPs per 4.3 units.

        I hope this makes sense! And further I hope it shows a correct understanding of the rules!! If not please delete!!! 8O))

        Salute
        von Peter himself … who aspires to multi P-brigade games in the future

  3. Jim Pitts said

    Martin,

    I’ve been following your postings on the Prussians with great interest as my Prussian forces are organized for the 1813 post-Armistice campaigning, albeit with a different rule set and slightly different internal battalion basings. I think that you are, as we say here in the Southern US, “hitting the nail on the head” with the flexibility to be given to the Prussian brigade commanders. My reading Michael Leggiere’s Napoleon and Berlin backs up your proposals. I would be interested in hearing your feedback on this organization after you have at couple of RtoE games under your belt.

    Jim

  4. Davy Henderson said

    Martin’s musings reflect the need for rules to be flexible as possible for real life historical situations. The Prussian ‘conundrum’ always seems to pop up when trying to fit Prussian organisation into Napoleonic rules. Same goes for actual OOBs from any Napoleonic battle. Barry’s R2E rules sound all right, and he is a veteran gamer (but being out of work, I haven’t bought them yet so please indulge me here). In common with many Napoleonic rules, I’m assuming that the basic gaming units in Barry’s rules are infantry battalions, cavalry regiments and artillery batteries and are referred to as such throughout the rules? If so, given the idiosyncrasies of the major nations’ organisational structures and orders of battle above battalion level, perhaps all Napoleonic Rules should therefore stop referring to infantry regiments or brigades as the next level up from the battalion and instead, give them a more generic name. For example, how about BGs (Battalion Groups)?

    The rules could then define a BG as a variable number of battalions (say, 2 – 5) from one or more regiments, as a separate command (or sub-command). Thus, depending on the nationality or actual OOB, the BG would represent a real life brigade, regiment, Abteilung or other special scenario command. If you know your subject (if not, an Appendix in the rules can explain), you will know if the BGs on the table are individual regiments, brigades or special commands (more than a real life opponent who would simply estimate the opposition as being of regimental or brigade strength). A group of BGs could then be referred to in the rules as, say, an IG (Infantry Group) which depending on scenario or nationality would represent a real life Division, Prussian Brigade or half Division or Brigade, if that is what you want.

    Admittedly, extending this concept to cavalry and artillery units might be slightly trickier but not beyond the wit of man. I suppose it depends on whether the squadron or the regiment is the basic wargame unit. Instead of referring to horse units as cavalry regiments in the rules, perhaps these should refer to them as SGs (Squadron Groups). An SG unit on the table would therefore represent a variable number of squadrons from one or more regiments. Thus, two SGs could represent 2 full or composite regiments, 2 halves of the same regiment or other combo. Higher groupings could be called CGs (Cavalry Groups) or whatever, to represent brigades, half-brigades, etc. I suppose we could get away with calling groups of CGs as simply Cavalry Divisions, as per real life.

    An AG (Artillery Group) could be formed from 3 to 8 guns, thus allowing for the possibility of full or half batteries (except for Russkies whose batteries would need to be split from outset).

    These are just some random thoughts that have occurred to me on a showery Sunday afternoon and can almost certainly be refined further (by you guys, hopefully). In summary, if we could just divorce ourselves from the need to categorize wargame units as full battalions, regiments or batteries perhaps this would give us the flexibility to enjoy this fascinating period even more (no doubt someone will tell me Barry’s rules have some provision for this – if so, great). Any thoughts?

  5. Barry said

    Martin.

    have really enjoyed these reflections and the posts of other interested gamers. I was wondering whether you might want to collate the text into a single document and I will pdf it and place it in the WARCHEST section of the League of Augsburg site as a permanent Republic to Empire reference document?

    Best and thanks

    Barry

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