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"1813 Napoleonic Campaign" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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thistlebarrow214 Sep 2016 8:36 a.m. PST

I started this fictional campaign in April 2009 to provide interesting battles to wargame. Since then it has provided 237 battles.

The campaign covers five campaign areas in Germany and Spain. Each area has a French and allied army. This allows me to use all of my Napoleonic figures in rotation.

It started as a solo campaign, then changed to PBEM in October 2009 and reverted to solo in February 2016.

The campaign has changed and developed over the years, but has run nonstop since it started. Each area provides a mini campaign which is designed to last about three months and should provide three to six battles.

The whole campaign has been recorded in a series of blogs, each of which has a summary of the campaign and a report of each battle fought. The current blog contains links to all of the previous blogs.

The latest mini campaign was based in Northern Spain between Wellington and Soult, and ended in a much needed Anglo Portuguese victory.

You will find the current blog here

21eRegt Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2016 5:23 a.m. PST

Lots and lots of action. I applaud the effort that goes into something like this, especially considering the longevity. Thanks for updating us.

Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2016 6:19 a.m. PST

This remains a true inspiration for me.

Dashetal18 Sep 2016 5:23 p.m. PST

I have a friend who uses maps to campaign with. He decided that he could leave the road net to take a shortcut across the land to catch an enemy who was using the road net. It was suggested that was not normally how armies pursued another army to bring them to combat. He felt the French did not have to worry about supplies and they knew by the map they could shortcut. Has anyone any idea of how often this was done with large Napoleonic armies to create battles with foes who were trying to break contact. Didn't they pretty much use road nets rather then take an army cross country. Any source material to settle this debate would be helpful.

Glenn Pearce18 Sep 2016 5:56 p.m. PST

Hello Dashetal!

All Napoleonic armies are restricted to roads and at times trails. They have a large number of wheeled vehicles that aren't ATV's. Without a road or trail they would easily get lost. This happened on battlefields even when they were near the enemy. Even following roads commands could get lost. I don't recall any Napoleonic army moving without following some kind of road, track, path, etc.

I think your debate should be the other way around. Ask him to provide some source material.

The French did live off the land to some extent but most of their supplies had to be transported by wagons, mules, etc., even the ones they took from the population. How would anybody even be able to find them?

Best regards,


huevans01118 Sep 2016 8:24 p.m. PST

I have a friend who uses maps to campaign with. He decided that he could leave the road net to take a shortcut across the land to catch an enemy who was using the road net. It was suggested that was not normally how armies pursued another army to bring them to combat. He felt the French did not have to worry about supplies and they knew by the map they could shortcut. Has anyone any idea of how often this was done with large Napoleonic armies to create battles with foes who were trying to break contact. Didn't they pretty much use road nets rather then take an army cross country. Any source material to settle this debate would be helpful.

Presumably, there are cross country tracks. These would be suitable for infantry for a few miles. Probably not for train or artillery. Put in some conditions about movement being reduced drastically in rain conditions as the track becomes even more muddy and impassable than the "roads".

thistlebarrow218 Sep 2016 11:43 p.m. PST

We live in Spain and enjoy hill walking, so we use a lot of the old mountain paths which have been used for hundreds of years, and obviously would have been available during the Peninsular War. In this area they are called Mosarabic tracks, and connect hill villages with towns. One in particular runs for about 20 miles and was used to transport fruit to the port of Denia. The method of transport was donkeys with panniers.

These tracks are not anything like the footpaths which connect villages in the UK. They are narrow, uneven rocky tracks and walking boots are recommended when walking them. But they could be used by infantry and even cavalry. I think unsuitable for artillery.

So cross country movement was certainly possible, but probably only for infantry and possibly cavalry.

Dashetal19 Sep 2016 8:04 a.m. PST

Thanks for those who have responded so far. Hopefully this will not turn out to be one of those clearer than mud.

Rittmester19 Sep 2016 9:00 a.m. PST

The thread on "Durnstein 1805" gives an example of the risk of sending units off on flanking maneouvres via tracks/paths. As in most military ops – conducting difficult maneouvres with the wrong troops and leaders can mean disaster, and vice versa, conducting them with well trained troops lead by competent officers can result in success.
The main issues are often the coordination with other/main forces due to difficult or absent communications as well as navigation (which would influence the first factor).

thistlebarrow222 Sep 2016 1:33 a.m. PST

The next phase of the campaign is set in central Germany and involves the French attempt to defeat the Russian army and take the city of Eisenbach. This is the fourth campaign featuring the Second French Army of Marshal Davout and the Russian Army commanded by General Wittgenstein. The French lost the last phase and will take the initiative in this phase.

The introduction to the campaign is now on the campaign diary blog. It contains strategic and tactical maps, photos of the two armies and a short history of the campaign in central Germany. If you click on the map of photo it will make it slightly larger.


normsmith Inactive Member22 Sep 2016 11:53 p.m. PST

Thank you – enjoying.

thistlebarrow201 Dec 2016 2:26 a.m. PST

We have just completed the Eisenbach phase of our 1813 campaign.

This was the fourth phase of the campaign in Central Germany between Marshal Davout and the Russian Army under Prince Wittgenstein. The French had won the first two phases, but lost the third.

The campaign lasted 13 days, during which there were seven battles. The French won four, the Russians won two and there was one draw. The campaign ended in another French victory.

We started Eisenbach on 22 September 2016 and it ran for nine weeks.

The campaign diary blog contains a daily record, reports of all the battles fought, plus maps and orders of battle. You will find it here


matthewgreen Inactive Member02 Dec 2016 3:58 a.m. PST

Dashetal. Cross country will mean lesser tracks, in practice, and these could be, and were used. One example is the approach of Picton's and Dalhousie's divisions to the battle of Vitoria in 1813. They used minor roads to approach the battlefield to outflank the French line.

They got through, and brought artillery with them. But they got muddled up in transit and arrived later than Wellington expected them. A couple of brigades turned up too late for the battle.

In central Europe the network of minor roads is likely to be in better shape. It all depends on how detailed your main map is. Minor roads are often available, but their capacity is smaller and there are more opportunities to get lost or run into obstacles. The home side should know the terrain better and have an advantage.

thistlebarrow206 Dec 2016 3:07 a.m. PST

The latest phase of the campaign is set in southern Germany and is the fifth phase of the Austrian attempt to take Bavaria and invade southern France.

The Austrians have won all four previous phases and this is a desperate attempt by Marshal Oudinot and his Bavarian/Baden army to turn the tide.

The introduction on the Campaign Diary Blog includes maps, a short background to the campaign so far, photographs of the two armies and a short order of battle. You can find the blog here


thistlebarrow205 Feb 2017 4:24 a.m. PST

Our current campaign phase is coming to an end, and I have started work on the next phase, which will be set in Spain.

Each phase is a mini campaign set within the larger 1813 campaign. There are five campaign areas, each with a different allied and French army. The current one is set in southern Germany and pits a Bavarian and Baden Army against an Austrian Army.

The next phase will be set in southern Spain and will feature a Spanish Army v a mixed French, Polish and Italian Army. Given that it is set in 1813 it is reasonable that there is not a lot of difference in the ability of the two armies. The French Armies in Spain had lost many of their best soldiers to rebuild the veterans lost in Russia the previous year.

This will be the fourth phase set in Southern Spain. The Spanish have won two of the previous phases, leading me to ponder whether I have the balance between them and the French correct.

The Spanish infantry are mostly of poor quality, the same as the conscript brigades in the French and Polish corps, and also most of the brigades in the Italian corps. The Spanish cavalry are also poor, and the French cavalry average. The gunners on both sides are average.

The campaign is designed to provide interesting wargames to play, rather than to recreate the historical 1813 campaign. This campaign was chosen because there was much less difference in fighting ability between the French and their enemies. So it suits me very well that the Spanish are not predisposed to lose every battle.

However I do want to give a phase set in Spain a Spanish feel to it. To do so I have made the Spanish field army smaller than the French. But they also have a militia brigade in each town, a total of nine. This is a lot of infantry, as each corps has only four brigades. When a town is captured by the French the militia brigade becomes a guerrilla band. They are poor quality and usually lose against even a poor French brigade. But they do causes disruption of supplies and have to be countered by detaching brigades from the French field army.

As always a lot will depend on the luck of the dice. Because the two sides are of similar effectiveness a wargame is usually decided by good, or bad, dice. However over a campaign of 6 to 8 battles this should even out.

The main advantage of the Spanish in the campaign, as in the historical campaign, is the effect of the guerrilla. As the French advance they have to detach more and more infantry to guard their lines of communication and supply.

The task now is to fine tune the difference in fighting ability. Each infantry brigade is graded on firing, skirmish and morale. I want the French to have a slight edge, but not too powerful. That is really difficult to achieve when each combat is adjusted by a dice throw.

thistlebarrow212 Feb 2017 12:12 p.m. PST

The Erlangen phase of the campaign has ended in another Austrian victory. This is the fifth phase of the campaign set in Southern Germany between the Bavarian and Baden Third French army and the Austrian army.

The campaign opened with the Austrian invasion of Bavaria. They won the Augsburg, Ulm, Stuttgart and Bamberg phases, and Oudinot was forced to retreat at the end of each phase.

I hoped that the Austrian's would lose the Erlangen phase, if only to keep the Bavarian/Baden army on the campaign map.

This phase started on 25 May 1813 and lasted nine campaign days. During that time they fought five battles, and the Austrians won four. We started this phase on 6 December 2016.

Both armies are evenly matched, but the Austrians seem to have had more than their fair share of good dice at the critical time.

thistlebarrow219 Feb 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

The next campaign phase will be set in Southern Spain, and in preparation I have rewritten the campaign rules for militia and guerrilla.

Since we started the campaign the Spanish corps have been similar in size and composition to the French corps. Usually four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery. However a higher proportion of the Spanish brigades were conscript and have lower morale, firing and skirmish ability. In addition the Spanish have four militia brigades who form the garrison of each town. If the town is captured by the French these militia become guerrilla. To balance this I allowed the French one extra conscript brigade per corps to provide their garrisons.

For the next campaign the Spanish army have been reorganised. Two of the four corps will have four infantry brigades, one cavalry brigade and corps artillery. The other two will have three infantry brigades and corps artillery, but no cavalry.

To compensate the number of militia brigades have been increased from four to nine.

The campaign rules for militia and guerrilla have been completely rewritten. First, and most important, battle casualties will not be replaced for either. Each 10% casualty reduces morale, firing and skirmish dice roll by one.

Second guerrilla carry a maximum of three days supplies, the French can carry four.

Third their effectiveness have been reduced for the four guerrilla activities. These are observing the enemy, attack messengers, ambush supply columns and attack garrisons.

It is always difficult to predict how much a difference major changes like this will make, and only experience on the wargames table will prove whether I have made the Spanish too weak.

If you would like to read the full campaign rules you will find them here. Click on Label 8 (top right) for the militia and guerrilla rules.


thistlebarrow226 Feb 2017 8:45 a.m. PST

The Cuidad Real phase is the first campaign in Spain since the recent rewrite of the campaign rules for Spanish militia and guerrilla. So it will be interesting to see how they work out in practice.

On the campaign blog you will find a map which shows the location of the French and Spanish corps at the start of the campaign. Normally the campaign objective, in this case Cuidad Real, is in the centre of the map. However this time it is down in the bottom right.

The Spanish field army consists of four corps, and they do not stand much chance of success against the French in a set piece battle. In addition they are deployed in the middle of the map, leaving them dispersed and within easy reach of the French. This is to allow the French the opportunity of a surprise attack to weaken the Spanish before they can retreat.

So at the start of the campaign things do not look good for the Spanish. However the new element in this campaign is the increased numbers of militia and guerrilla brigades.

There are nine militia brigades, one to garrison each town. When the French occupy that town the militia brigade become a guerrilla group. However they are still tied to the area of their home town.

The French have occupied the three most northern towns. These are Navalmoral, Guadalupe and Alcoba. The garrisons of those town have converted to guerrilla bands and are hovering out of reach of the French corps still in occupation.

The French plan is to move south over a wide area, in order to prevent the Spanish field army from concentrating against them. However this means that they will have three lines of communication which they will have to protect until they either concentrate themselves or achieve complete victory. Each occupied town requires at least one infantry brigade as garrison.

As the French advance south they will have to detach more and more brigades, thus weakening their own field army. If the guerrilla can capture garrisons or supply columns the French will suffer attrition casualties until they can resupply.

If the Spanish can avoid a major defeat as they retreat, and if they can weaken the French as they advance, a victory should be possible.

The principle is historical, but how it will work in practice we will have to wait and see.

thistlebarrow202 May 2017 2:48 a.m. PST

The Cuidad Real campaign has ended in a French victory, but only just.

The campaign took two months to complete and lasted for 13 campaign days. It provided four battles to wargame. The first two were easy French victories. The third was a surprise Spanish victory. The fourth was another victory for the French and made them winners of the campaign.

This campaign was used to test run new rules for the Spanish guerrillas. As the French advanced their lines of supply were under attack, and one garrison was taken by the guerrillas. The overall result was a real strain on the French supplies.

The Spanish retreated south of the river Guadiana and the French were faced with attacking a defended river or halting and sorting out their supply problems. To win the campaign they would have to cross the river. They abandoned their supply lines and risked everything on a final battle. The risk paid off and they won the campaign.

There is a summary of the whole campaign in southern Spain on the campaign diary blog, which you can find here


thistlebarrow208 May 2017 1:27 p.m. PST

The next phase of the 1813 campaign is set in northern Germany and continues Napoleon's attempt to defeat Blucher. This is the sixth campaign between the two. Napoleon won three of the earlier phases and Blucher won two.

Napoleon commands the four corps of the First French Army, one of the corps is the French Old Guard. This presents an interesting problem from a wargame point of view, namely how to deal with the "superman" elite formations.

One of the first wargame figures I bought was a French grenadier guardsman. He, and his many replacements, have spent a lot of years collecting dust on my wargame shelves.

When I started this campaign about ten years ago I was determined that I would use all of my model soldiers in rotation, including the Imperial Garde. I know that they were used as the reserve of the French Army, but I wanted to use them regularly on the wargames table.

In each of my ten campaign armies there are four corps. Each has a different combination of infantry brigades which are either elite, average or poor. Most corps have one elite and either two average or two poor brigades.

Obviously the Old Guard had to have a larger proportion of elite and no poor brigades. I eventually settled for one elite and three average infantry brigades. The cavalry are also elite, but the artillery average.

To balance the entire army each of the other three corps lost their elite infantry brigade. Their order of battle was now two average and two poor brigades.

Napoleon now has one above average corps and three below average corps.
Blucher has four average corps,

As a result Napoleon is no more likely to win a campaign than is Blucher. As explained above out of the five campaigns already gamed he had won three against two to Blucher.

The introduction to the Wolfsburg campaign is now on the campaign diary blog, and it includes a shortened order of battle. The full order of battle can be found by clicking on label 11 and label 12 on the right of the blog.


thistlebarrow225 Jul 2017 3:29 a.m. PST

The Wolfsburg campaign ended in a decisive French victory.

Napoleon won six of the seven battles fought, routed the Prussian army and captured all of their depots.

The campaign started on 8 May and ended on 24 July 2017

This was the sixth campaign fought in Northern Germany. The French won three and the Prussians also won three.

The current blog has a summary of the whole campaign and links to orders of battle, daily summary and battle reports. You can find it here:

thistlebarrow201 Aug 2017 11:25 a.m. PST

The Erfurt campaign is the twenty fifth phase of our 1813 campaign, and the fifth set in central Germany. The French have won three of the previous phases, and the Russians only one. The Russians lost the previous phase and have retreated east to Erfurt.

The campaign opens with both armies at full strength and fully supplied. The Russians hold Erfurt and are deployed over a wide area to maintain their supplies. The Russian objective is to hold the line of the river Saale and, of course, the city of Erfurt.

The introduction to the campaign is now on the campaign diary blog. It includes the five maps used to plan the campaign, plus photos of the two armies. There is also a short history of the whole campaign in central Germany, campaign objectives and a short order of battle.

You can find the campaign diary blog here

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