Sunday, 17 July 2016

Organising my Napoleonic units into national armies

Having organised my collection of Napoleonic figures prior to varnishing and basing the latest additions, my mind turned to how I am going to organise them into national armies that I can use in campaigns.

Taking as my inspiration the way that Paul Leniston of Napoleonic Wargaming blog fame has organised his Napoleonic armies (I cannot recommend his blog too highly; I have found it enlightening and inspiring), I have decided that I am going to organise my armies as follows:
  • Two Infantry Regiments = One Infantry Brigade
  • Two Cavalry Regiments = One Cavalry Brigade
  • Two Infantry Brigades + One Cavalry Regiment (Optional) + One Artillery Regiment + A General = One Infantry Division
  • Two Cavalry Brigades + One Artillery Regiment (Optional) + A General = One Cavalry Division
A typical Infantry Division. This example is a full-strength French Infantry Division, which has two Infantry Brigades, a Cavalry Regiment, an Artillery Regiment, and a General.
(Click on the image to enlarge it.)
A Division per side will fit nicely onto my wargames table, and my collection will generate quite a number of Divisions, with most national armies having at least one.

24 comments:

  1. Looks like many of your divisions will stand idle most of the time unless you plan some 'away' games.

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    1. Jim Duncan,

      That may be the case ... but I'm hoping that I will be able to use them as and when I can.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Hi Bob,
    Of the four regiments of infantry in a French division, it might be helpful to make one of them "light." With the British you could add a stand or two from the 95th or 60th rifles as was common British practice.
    Jerry

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    1. Celtic Curmudgeon (Jerry),

      Thanks for the suggestions. I already have some small four-figure units of Rifles that I intend to attach to my British Infantry Divisions.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Capitol arrangements of Brigades and Divisions - should work well with your Hex terrain. Certainly look forward to the first of many a Battle- well done Bob. Regards. KEV.

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    1. Kev,

      Each Regiment fits nicely into a Hexon II hex, and the whole Division only takes up six hexes.

      As to battles ... well I hope to fight a few more play-tests of my rules by the end of July, so keep reading my blog to find out how things turn out.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Hello Bob,
    I like your ideas here, small units are very much my 'thing' as opposed to the currently fashionable huge units...
    Looking forward to seeing my former chaps similarly organised.
    Well done!
    Stuart

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    1. Stuart Asquith,

      The figures you passed on to me have gone a long way towards expanding my collection, and they will enable me to field a lot more 'divisions' than I originally expected to be able to.

      Over the years I have moved more and more towards having lots of small units rather than a few large ones. It means that I can fight battles on my wargames table rather than having to hire a small hall every time I want to fight a wargame.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Hi Bob,

    They look magnificent and you certainly have a great selection to choose from. It will be fun to see them in action in due course.

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. David Crook,

      The gloss finished figures on plain green bases do look good, and I am pleased that I chose this 'look'.

      I will be making the latest draft of my Napoleonic wargame rules available tomorrow - I hope! - and hope to play-test them with at least one division vs. division battle by the end on the month.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Bob one of these very attractive Divisions should make a very handy force for detached engagements with lots of room to manouver for a standard sort of game.

    But, if looking at a slice of a larger battle where friendly troops are assumed to be off board to either flank and troop densities are higher, I think a 2 division corps would fit well as an attacking force for a slightly larger, longer special event.

    Not to mention the possibilities on those rare special occasions when you might put up another section of tables and more hexes.........

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    1. Ross Mac,

      You have put into words my own thinking, I can easily fit a division vs. division battle onto my normal wargames table (3' x 4'), and could accommodate a two division corps per side if it was a battle where neither side was attempting any complicated manoeuvres but are going at each other head on.

      If I was able to extend my table to its full size (4' x 6'), even larger battles are possible.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Hi Bob -
    Your Organisation sound vaguely similar to my own, though with these differences. I have no formal subdivisions of my 24-figure Divisions, though 6-figure regiments would be 'logical' enough. I do allow skirmishers to be detached ('grande bandee'). Of my 23 French Divisions, only four are permitted more than the standard 4-figure 'grande bandee'.

    My British have a couple of V/60th Rifles figures attached, partly because my standard Brit Division is but 20 figures.

    Austrians are a bit awkward, so I have taken historical licence by using Grenze 'Divisions' I may vary this.

    One thing I tried to avoid was having too many guns in comparison with the other figures. Though I am quite fond of Age of Eagles as a rule set, I do feel that you need a heck of a lot of model guns. That is why my default option is a single piece to represent the whole of the army corps ordnance. The downside is that as the figures crewing the gun represent their strength, my army corps are a trifle undergunned after all. But I have retained the flexibility that a cannon with a single crew figure can represent a single 8-gun battery/company. Each cannon can have a maximum of 5 crew figures (representing a 40-gun park).

    If those are 25mm figures pictured, It seems to me you could easily field corps level actions on a 3ftx4ft table. I admit that 4ftx4ft 5in was none too roomy for an Army level game I had 6 months back (Austrians with 9 infantry Divisions and (I think) 4 cavalry Brigades and 4 [128] cannon - 276 figures; French with 8 infantry Divisions, 3 cavalry Brigades and 3 [96] cannon - 240 figures.

    Upwards of 500 figures was a bit of a squeeze of such a small table, but it was an experiment to see just how much my 6x4 table might be permitted to accommodate.

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    1. Those figure numbers, by the way, represented an Austrian Army of about 55,200 officers and men and 128 guns facing a French one of 48,000 with 96 cannon.

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    2. Archduke Piccolo,

      Your comment was very informative and very helpful. It is interesting to note that quite a few wargamers seem to favour the use of formations of 25 to 40 figures, particularly those who enjoy fighting larger actions rather than skirmishes.

      In my rules artillery tends to be rather static once the battle has started, and not very powerful unless it is firing as short range. I am hoping that one artillery unit per brigade will not be too much, but only play-testing will show if it is or not.

      Looking at my wargames table, it is possible to deploy a two division corps per side without it becoming too crowded, and I will be looking at trying that out in due course.

      I am not being too 'historical' with my Napoleonic armies as at the moment I don't know enough about the period to make the distinctions between the way different armies were organised.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    3. Archduke Piccolo,

      Thanks for the additional clarification. It would seem from your figures that an average a Division had 5,000 to 6,000 men.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. My standard scale is 1 figure represents 200 men (roughly), so a standard 24-figure infantry formation represents a Division of 4,800 officers and men. This seems to me a reasonable average. In 1805-6, French Divisions were considerably more powerful than that, but they soon got worn down. The average size of a British infantry Division at Waterloo was also somewhere between 6-7000, but the campaign at that stage was just beginning. In September 1811, Wellington's Divisions averaged 5240, varying between 6,486 (4th) and 4,200 (Light). In my view, 4800-man Divisions are acceptable.

      My cavalry formations I call Brigades, each comprising 12 figures (2,400 troopers), though there is some variation. The 1:200 gives me a fairly convenient artillery scale as well. Broadly speaking I estimate 100 artillerymen to 4 cannon. I admit this is a very rough rule of thumb, and strictly speaking included every artillery specialist, not just those crewing the piece in action. At any rate, a four-figure crew then counts as 800 men, serving 32 cannon. Artillery fire is by figure, so I could equally well have 2 cannon per corps each with 2 crew figures. I place these on bases to broaden the frontage of these 'batteries'.

      Just by the way, My Napoleonic armies could just as well be used with more familiar 24-figure infantry battalions/regiments, 12-figure cavalry regiments, and two guns representing an 8-piece battery. My armies were originally designed this way.

      I have made the switch to much larger armies with one battalion or regiment representing the whole Division or Brigade. That is why I have no formal subdivisions of Divisions or Brigades for my Army game. So my French 7th Division of III Army Corps is 'represented' by the 12th Line Infantry. I've labelled the bottom of my bases according. There is a blog posting here, isn't there... :-)

      Probably the best example of this is that my Imperial Guard Heavy Brigade is represented by a 12-figure 'unit' of Horse Grenadiers; and the lights by a 12-figure unit of Guard Chasseurs-a- Cheval. Had I approached this from a different direction, I probably would have made these into composite formations of horse grenadiers/carabiniers/gens d'armes or chasseurs/lancers/mamelukes.

      Cheers,
      Ion

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    5. Archduke Piccolo,

      Your explanation about how you have organised your Napoleonic armies really should be made more widely known, and I would strongly urge you to turn it into a blog entry.

      Your choice of a 1:200 ratio makes perfect sense, and would suit my situation extremely well. I also like the idea that the formations you use can be used as regiments in larger battles if need be, and that would also fit in very well with the collection I own.

      I think that your idea of having Cavalry in Brigades rather than Divisions makes more sense than the idea that I included in my original blog entry, and would allow a small Corps to be created with one or two Infantry Division plus a Cavalry brigade. Much more flexible and probably more in keeping with both my collection and the reality of the Napoleonic era.

      Your comment has given me much to think about as well as a very good excuse to revisit some of your battle reports!

      All the best,

      Bob

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    6. Thanks, Bob. Yes - I think it is high time I revisited my Napoleonic stuff... Expect a blog entry in a day or two... Cheers...

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    7. Archduke Piccolo,

      I look forward to your next blog entry with great interest.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. Hi Bob

    Thanks for the mention of my blog. When I started my first blog you gave me some really good advice to help me get started. I normally check your blog once a week, but my main computer was being repaired last week, and I did not have the links on my laptop. So sorry for this late comment.

    I like the way you are organising your army. I think it is important to start with the size of table available, and then calculate the number of figures you can comfortably deploy to play the sort of games you enjoy.

    I like the balance of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Could I suggest that you could easily call your Division a Corps if you wanted to play larger games. Each regiment becomes a division. With a similar organisation I regularly field armies of four corps on a 6x6 foot table. The total army strength of four corps is 128 infantry, 32 cavalry and 4 guns. To upgrade your game from Division to Corps or Army does not require any rebasing or change of rules.

    Could I also suggest that you create a simple campaign to ensure that you can uses all of your available figures over a period. In my own 1813 campaign I have five allied and five French armies. Prussians in North Germany, Russians in Central Germany, Austrians in Southern Germany, British in Northern Spain and Spanish in Southern Spain.

    If you campaign all five areas at the same time, you will get a constantly changing series of battles with your different armies. You may not use them in strict sequence, but you will use them in rough sequence.

    I will follow the progress of your national armies with interest

    Regards

    Paul

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    1. Paul Leniston,

      Thank you very much for your very extensive comment. The ideas you have shared will not only be of assistance to me, but will also interest and help others.

      I have never seen any point in trying to fight wargames that will not fit onto my tabletop, yet I know of plenty of people who build up their armies without any regard to the space they will have to use them on. Having spent a long time collecting and painting their figures, they then languish in storage boxes until the opportunity to use them finally arises ... or they get sold.

      I took my inspiration for my organisation from your blog and my experience of Megablitz. In the latter a player's command is usually a Division, which is made up of two or three Infantry Regiments/Brigades and appropriate supporting arms (Artillery, Reconnaissance etc.) It therefore made sense for me to follow that sort of pattern, especially as the collection seemed to fit in with that pattern.

      As you suggest, I could easily call my 'Division' a 'Corps' ... or even a 'Brigade' if the mood took me, and the rules would easily fit either just as long as one isn't too much of a purist.

      Because of the nature of the collection that I currently have, I don't have many non German, French, or British units. (I have acquired a small Russian army, but that has yet to be varnished and based.) I therefore have a choice to make. To try a short campaign out using what I do have or to wait until I have acquired some other armies. I will probably try the first option just so that I can feel that I am getting somewhere. After that, the sky's the limit!

      Don't expect any particularly rapid developments with this project as I have lots of other things on the go as well, but it is my intention to try to finish varnishing and basing everything by next spring ... and then the real fighting can begin!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. Hi Bob

    I must admit that I collected my armies first, and then spent many years trying to organise them. It was not helpful that I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to do, or bought a new set of rules which required them all being rebased and then reorganised.

    I have always been interested in the Napoleonic period, so at least my efforts have been concentrated to a degree. I don’t know how you can keep track of your many and varied wargaming interests.

    My biggest problem over the years has been how to wargame large battles. By its nature my period involved large multi national armies fighting very large battles. Yet all of the wargame rules until quite recently were designed to fight divisional or corps battles. Even Peter Guilder had to fudge his large games and table area at the WHC. It was only when I eventually went back to basics to design my current organisation that I realised the answer was small brigades. I choose eight figures because I wanted to be able to represent line, column and squares on the table. When I had completed the whole thing I realised that a ratio of 1 to 500 was actually what I had achieved. To my mind the ratio, ground scale and historical orders of battle are much less important than having an enjoyable and fun wargame experience.

    I would urge you to start a campaign with what you have available. If necessary use a fictional setting. The campaign is only an excuse to produce interesting wargames. I suspect that once you get the campaign bug you will really enjoy it. I can’t ever see me going back to “one off” or historical wargames again. The seemless map and table campaign is really satisfying.

    I am not expecting any rapid progress with your Napoleonic campaign. I recall that when I started my blog all those years ago you were already starting to collect and organise your Napoleonic collection. But I am sure that you will get there in the end.

    Best regards

    Paul

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    1. Thistlebarrow (Paul),

      My current Napoleonic collection came about as a result of Del Pardo publishing their RELIVE WATERLOO! part work. Pre-painted figures of a reasonable quality at a reasonable price seemed too good an opportunity to miss ... so I placed a standing order.

      By the time the part work finished I had a large number of assorted Napoleonic Waterloo figures ... but they because they were designed to be used to create a diorama, none of them made up complete wargaming units.

      About eighteen months ago and friend of mine and I were discussing the fact that neither of us had ever taken fight in a re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo, and I agreed to sort out and base my figures so that we could do so. I had started to acquire extra figures via eBay and one or two stands at Toy Soldier shows to bulk out the units I would be able to field and was some way through the process of varnishing and basing my collection when my friend became very, very ill, and nearly died. I decided that come what may, I would finish what I had started.

      I had just finished when Stuart Asquith got in contact and offered me his collection of Del Prado figures, followed very soon afterwards by Tim Gow's purchase of a largish collection of the figures on my behalf from the bring-and-buy sale at TRIPLES.

      A trawl through eBay made it possible to buy some of the Del Prado RELIVE AUSTERLITZ! figures, hence my acquisition of the small Russian army and an assortment of French, Austrian, and Italian figures.

      At this point I began thinking about sorting my collection into properly organised higher-level formations, and by listing everything that I had and trying out several different formations on my tabletop, I arrived at the 'Division' as my basic building block for my armies.

      When I remembered that during the big sort out I did some time ago I had found some old ‘S’ range Minifig Prussian figures that I painted nearly 50 years ago, I decided to add them to my collection. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that they consisted of four Infantry units (each of six figures), and Artillery unit (three figures and a cannon), and a mounted Commander. By some small miracle I had an additional Prussian Infantry Division to add ... and it is currently on my work table being varnished prior to being based later this week.

      I am at the stage where I have a set of rules that seem to work, a collection of figures that is on its way to being completed (I suspect that I will add further armies in due course!), and some ideas for a mini-campaign that I want to try out. How long before the latter happens is anyone’s guess, but you can rest assured that when it starts, I will blog about it!

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. One ‘problem’ that I had with the figures was the number of loading figures in my collection. I try to have my units in homogenous poses (standing firing, kneeling firing, advancing) with some units having a mixture of two poses (standing and kneeling mixed together don’t look too bad). I wondered what to do with the loading figures, but in the end I decided to use them as second-line troops that could garrison fortifications, guard lines-of-communication etc. Alongside them I have some Austerlitz-era French Infantry and Artillery figures in cocked hats, and they are going to form units of veteran Invalids who will also act as garrisons or man fortifications.

      All the best,

      Bob

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