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"Skirmishes in the SYW" Topic


14 Posts

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1,202 hits since 10 Dec 2017
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Comments or corrections?

Rusty Balls Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Seems like it's pretty clear that skirmishes proceed battlelines as they closed in the AWI andNapoleonic Wars but was the same true for SYW?

I am trying to convert a Napoleonic set of rules for use in SYW but I don't know what to do with the skirmishes mechanic.

It essentially represents skirmishes advancing in front of the main lines as they close to firing distance.

Was this a European SYW tactic also?

JimDuncanUK10 Dec 2017 4:57 p.m. PST

Not so much.

Light troops in the SYW usually worked on the flanks or in rough ground where the main lines could not operate.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 5:34 p.m. PST

simple answer , no , slighly more complex answer see JimDuncanUK

Rusty Balls Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 5:50 p.m. PST

That was the sense I had. I had never read anything suggesting that skirmishers were deployed to the front in the SYW. Would it be fair to say that this tactic was created, as used in the gunpowder age during the American and British experiences in the AWI?

It certainly has some pre-gunpowder history in ancient times.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 8:48 p.m. PST

For SYW, I'm with JimDuncanUK.

Even in AWI, I wouldn't say skirmishers in advance was a general rule. (Mind you, a lot of AWI engagements are skirmishes.) but in massed battles the Americans at least are moving toward it with successive lines, militia first and the militia lines sometimes skirmishers. Nothing similar in SYW.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP10 Dec 2017 8:53 p.m. PST

The "clouds" of skirmishers so familiar in Napoleonic times were not found in either the SYW or the AMR/AWI. There were "petit guerre" actions fought throughout the various SYW theaters but not normally as part of the main battles.

Jim

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 8:04 a.m. PST

Before you convert a set of rules to the SYW, might I suggest reading around the subject? You could do worse than start with Brent Nosworthy's The Anatomy of Victory: Battle Tactics 1689 1763 or Christopher Duffy's Military Experience in the Age of Reason.

If you're interested in the F&I aspects of it, I would suggest Stephen Brumwell's Redcoats as another good place to start. For the AWI, Spring's With Zeal and Bayonets Only is a must.

Good luck.

Rusty Balls Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 5:25 p.m. PST

I appreciate the suggestion. I have read 3 of the 4 books. My interest in converting these rules (Drums and Shakos Large Battles) is that for me, these rules are very elegant without being complicated. The one hiccup is that it assigns units a skirmishers value which comes into play during the "approach" prior to combat. The combination of the two phases, approach and combat roll all of the traditional concepts, musketry, charging and melee into these two steps in what I think is an interesting way. Again with a focus on elegant simplicity.

So the skirmishers value plays a part in the Napoleonic rules but I was fairly certain that the lack of skirmisher discussion in those books plus any accounts of the larger battles meant that practice was not evident.

So maybe it's just a mechanic I have to drop unless I can find any other justification for distinguishing units in this way.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2017 3:12 a.m. PST

That was the sense I had. I had never read anything suggesting that skirmishers were deployed to the front in the SYW. Would it be fair to say that this tactic was created, as used in the gunpowder age during the American and British experiences in the AWI?

It certainly has some pre-gunpowder history in ancient times.

Depends on what you mean, if you mean a designated skirmish screen to screen the formed battalions, then they would generally not show up until the French Revolution.
If you mean infantry in a sort of "skirmish formation" then it was used for a long time.

The Dano-Norwegian army had riflemen in 1716 a small company that behaved quite similar to any rifle armed infantry of later periods.

At Poltava, the Swedish gave officers hunting rifles to the best shots in the battalions to move ahead of their formations to chase of Russian dragoons that kept up harassing fire on the Swedes.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Dec 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

I could visualize scenarios where light troops are on a recon mission miles in front of the main army, or going on a raid

Ramming19 Dec 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

The Austrians sent their Grenzers and Pandours on independent missions all the time.

von Schwartz05 Jul 2018 5:15 p.m. PST

Ramming, you mentioned Grenzers and Pandours, what, if any was the difference? I can't find any reference to Austrian Pandours except as loosely organized bandits. The Russains had some light troops listed as Pandours.

Prince Lupus08 Jul 2018 12:35 p.m. PST

A number of countries used skirmishers but primarily away from the battlefield to protect lines of communications. In battle some countries used them where the terrain dictated eg French Chasseurs at Fontenoy or Austrian Croats at Lobositz

FIWMax30 Jul 2018 6:26 p.m. PST

Sorry I'm late on this thread. There is a David Morier painting which, as I understand it, depicts a light infantry skirmish. The color version doesn't seem to be available at the Royal Collection site anymore, but a smaller version is available at Wars of Louis XIV. link

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