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"How do you organise Prussians for Wargaming" Topic

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summerfield26 Mar 2013 7:16 a.m. PST

Dear Musketier
Thank you for the correction of my typo. I agree with your assessment here except for the Landwehr in the new provinces. Many soldiers and officers who were Catholic could not gain access to the Prussian Army so joined the Landwehr. Many formed Freiwiliger Jager detachments.

The best Landwehr was of course still in Prussia in V and VI Corps. The loss of I-IV Corps would not have been

summerfield26 Mar 2013 7:25 a.m. PST

Dear John
For 1815, there should be two commanders per brigade. The Brigade commander being senior to the other one. This permits the fighting in lines and in depth as explained.

An 1815 Brigade could include
2 Infantry Regiments, 2 squadrons of cavalry and a battery of artillery.

This could be split in a number of ways.

A thorough understanding of the army organisation improves their use upon a wargames table. Remember that whole Brigades should be used to take or hold opjectives. The extra commander permits the flexibility.

Also the Landwehr had the ability to skirmish. They used the same drill book and there are plenty of examples in my books. Do not under-estimate the quality of the Landwehr. It was the new recruits that had the newest uniforms.


Steve6426 Mar 2013 7:40 a.m. PST

Dr. S – thank you, that does clarify a few points.

I am using gaming terms out of necessity, since that is the context where this info is being applied in my case. They are also easy to change, to bring them more inline with reality as well.

One point on terminology – in your previous TMP discussion linked above, the naming of the lines is as follows :

1st Line = Fusilier Screen (commanded by a Major)
2nd Line = Line Battalions (commanded by an Oberst)
3rd Line = Other Line Battalions (commanded by an Oberst)

I can easily change the names of my groups to fit that scheme, if thats what is used. No probs, will do it now as we speak.

On the subject of Reserve units – point taken, they are not so green as I may have suggested. In the system I am using (R+E), they are rated as Regular – which gives them all the discipline benefits of being well drilled. (oblique moves, formation changes under fire, etc). Certainly a significant advantage compared to Conscript rated troops. (of which a lot of the opposing 1813 French Line Battalions are)

The simplest way of doing a Prussian Brigade is to have the Brigade Commander and another commander. Then it is up to the player at the start of the game to decide upon the
allocation of command.

True, but then again it depends on the implications of what is a 'Commander' in game terms, which of course depends entirely on what gaming system is being used.

In what I am using (Empire / R+E), the Prussian Brigade is a maneuvre element, so the Brigade Commander is the lowest level that can receive an order such as 'Attack Gerasdorf at 3pm'. This is equivalent to a French Division.

From a morale point of view, the whole Brigade (or French Division) is the unit at which level larger formations become shaken or broken, using Empire terminology.

The sub-commanders that I am referring to in the example do not act independently outside of the Brigade system … but they are used instead to perform minor tactical actions within the framework of the Brigade, as well acting as markers for regulating Battalions of lines within the Brigade.

So in game terms, these sub-commanders are more like the 'Big Man' concept used in IABSM, and other TFL style games. They are not 'Commanders' in the Empire sense of the word.

Having said all that, is it possible in your opinion, for a Prussian Brigade to be broken into 2 separate sub-commands, such that each sub-command can be acting upon a different set of orders ?

…. if so, then having 2 'Commanders' (using the Empire definition of the word), would enable that to be the case.


summerfield26 Mar 2013 8:01 a.m. PST

Dear Steve
Yes the Prussian 1815 Brigade could be divided into say two brigade groups. These should operate in the same sector of the battle. Certainly you have given even more flexibility in your example.

In terms of wargames rules you must consider the Prussian Brigade as a Division that has two brigades. This is the simplest manner of doing this within the rules. I would suggest that the allocation to "Brigade Groups [Abteilung]" should be made before the game with only the Brigade Major General (Divisional) being able to change this during the game.

The Prussian command permitted a great deal of automomy down the levels. The Army commander ordered the Corps commander to take such and such but did not specify how. The Corps commander commanded the Brigade commander to take such and such but did not specify how. The Brigade commander decided upon the tactics and the formation of "Brigade Groups."

Again it is better explained in my books.

In the same way you could form your brigade into a Advance Guard of Fusilier Bns supported by 1-2 Bns of infantry plus the cavalry. This could be the screen for the rest of the brigade and the other brigades etc….

The organisation should be defined before the game. This is where the art of writing army lists comes in.

matthewgreen26 Mar 2013 12:29 p.m. PST

I'm learning a lot from this thread – and I have all three of Stephen's books.

I must admit to being a little sceptical on quality issues in 1815, though I'm no expert. We are talking up the quality of the reserve and landwehr units, up to and including their ability to field fully functional fusilier battalions.

But my reading of battle performance in 1815 suggests we should be a bit cautious. While they seemed to hold on quite well (though I think some units fell apart a bit after Ligny), they were consistently outfought by their French opponenents. By that I mean that in the heavy streetfighting and skirmish led exchanges Prussians "consumed" men at a faster rate than the French. I think there was a complaint that many of them fired off their ammunition too quickly – a classic problem with inexperienced or poorly trained troops.

I have always assumed that the expansion of the army from its small base in 1812 meant that there were too few good officers (at all levels) and this undermined overall quality. This led to rather unsophisticated tactics, especially the use of compact formations and frontal assault and attritional tactics.

Do I have this wrong? If there were quality issues, were they generic across all troop types? Or were landwehr less capable?

Glenn Pearce27 Mar 2013 6:37 a.m. PST

Hello John!

Actually for 1815 I think your math is off, most French regiments were only 2 battalions so a Brigadier only commands 4 battalions. In the Prussian army a regimental commander commands 3 battalions. So a French Division has 2 sub commanders and a Prussian Brigade has 3 sub commanders.

A proper Prussian Brigade could have even more sub commanders if you include the jagers, cavalry and artillery, but most wargame rules simply treat these as auxiliaries who report directly to the Brigade commander.

I use the Polemos rule system and every sub unit of the Brigade is treated as a different force with it's own commander. The order system is abstracted under what is called Tempo but works extremely well for all countries and their different organizations. Designed for 6mm but can work for any scale.

Best regards,


summerfield27 Mar 2013 8:25 a.m. PST

Dear Mathew
There were about 6000 officers in 1806 and about the same number in 1813 for the Prussian Army. I think somewhere I have quoted that in my books. Only a small proportion retired or cashiered.

The expansion of the Prussian Army was planned and well excecuted where each Regular Bn had a equivalent Reserve Bn with a few over to spare especially in East Prussia. These were consolidated into the Reserve Infantry Regiments.

The Cavalry and Artillery was in a poorer state than the infantry for want of suitable horses and equipment but there was still a large pool of trained troopers and artillerymen left over from 1806-07.

The ability of the Prussian Army has been under-estimated by most of the French writers and subsequently by English language authors. Alas few historians of the 19th Century and 20th Century could read German let alone Russian, Dutch, Italian etc….

The rule of three has been the basis of the organisation for many armies into the 21st Century. Just look at the Russian Army.

We also come to the problem as shown above that many wargamers and authors count Generals rather than commanders. Often Brigades were commanded by the Oberst (colonel) and the regiments by Oberst-Lt (Lt-Col) or even Majors.

Whereas the French used a General de Division (Division) and General de Brigade (Brigade). Even though in 1815 a Brigade had only 4 Bns and the Division was smaller than a Prussian Brigade. It is where people are stuck to names rather than function.

summerfield27 Mar 2013 9:10 a.m. PST

In wargaming terms,
The French player gets three commanders for 8 Bns

The Prussian players gets one commander for 9-10 Bns (1813) or 6 Bns (1815). This is not correct. So as indicated above there should be at least 2 and possibly 3 commanders (Brigadier and two Regimental Commanders). Each would have seniority. Each could have a selection of and mix of troops to suit the objective.

It is always best to give orders to commanders rather than units. The structure of command should be defined before the first move in order writing stage. During the game issues over seniority within the Brigade can be used to resolve other issues.

The attached cavalry and artillery would be attached as the Brigade commander requires. Corps assets could be put under the Brigade commander who could distribute as he saw fit.

As you can see a very flexible system but best defined by the player before the game.

John de Terre Neuve27 Mar 2013 10:02 a.m. PST

Thanks again,

I have put my plan and OB on my blog.



Sparker28 Mar 2013 3:50 p.m. PST

The simplest way of doing a Prussian Brigade is to have the Brigade Commander and another commander. Then it is to the player at the start of the game to decide upon the allocation of command.

You know, I think Dr Summerfield's suggestions is the best solution, for Black Powder adherents at least. Keeps everything nice and simple, and allows the player to concentrate on the tactical issues. Just like the rules!

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