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"Vendee tactics - did they use line, column and square?" Topic

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Killerkatanas Inactive Member06 May 2018 2:24 p.m. PST

I was wondering if someone could tell me how the Vendee fought? Did they use traditional lines and columns, did they form square?

Wanting to use them in a game, I was thinking they should be restricted to columns only.

Any information is appreciated.

Thank you.

gboue200106 May 2018 9:20 p.m. PST


Large or small skirmishing groups and "blobs" for any large attack. you should get in touch with JC Raguet.

Gboue from Burgundy wich is quite far from Vendée but produces better wine!

Footslogger07 May 2018 1:15 a.m. PST

Based solely on one visit to the museum of the Vendee, I'd say mostly irregular, mounting ambushes where possible.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2018 4:50 a.m. PST

Gboue, to show my ignorance, who is JC Raguet? To be fair, I did just Google him.

Killerkatanas Inactive Member07 May 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

Thanks for that. Who is Raguet?

Gboue and Footslogger: So would you say that they should be restricted to "mass" formations only and skirmishers?

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2018 8:46 a.m. PST

Yes they mostly would. Though you might have a bit of trained ex military even Swiss etc.
also most of the terrain they fought in, for the few bigger battles , is very much cut up.
As with all irregulars, if in defense behind something linear obstacle, you can imagine they'd be able to line it and shoot, for those who have firearms.

Jc Raguet is an artillery Ltc who happens to write a French napy rule and some articles.

Bataille de Cholet ( more in Fr than En)
Here says " contrary to habits, relatively deployed"
But we still don't know how much!
Here maps of some fights
To see more of the terrain you can go to the French maps, they have maps of everywhere around that time or a few decades afterwards.

TMPWargamerabbit07 May 2018 9:06 a.m. PST

Since I haven't painted up my Vendean 28mm miniatures yet I cannot speak on their tactics on the tabletop yet. But my first thought would be to play them in battles similar to my Ottomans.

Ottomans have no square or true column like formations. For linear formations they present a face to the massed ranks or mob like formation but it is no formed ranked linear formation (2 or 3 ranks). I am omitting the special Nizam european trained units from this discussion. Being more independent to individual movements as a mob they move rapid on the tabletop, similar to column speed all the time for the group rules. So to force the Ottoman player from forming linear formations and act as a mob we require all Ottoman infantry formation to form their miniature ranks into dense two or more miniatures deep creating a massed target all the time. They cannot form a single rank of miniatures to represent a thin linear formation or target. The massed formation moves the same as a fast column for every movement. For comparison, our column formation rule is simple…. you can move column rate if more miniatures are in the rear formation ranks compared to the number in just the formation's front rank. The Ottomans just need to have two or more ranks evenly formed in miniature count and could have the same in both ranks. But unlike European trained units, the Ottomans cannot form a true linear formation of single rank miniatures. It works for our Ottoman battles.

Ottomans had no square formation and from history they didn't seem to care as much from the approach of charging cavalry. So no Ottoman square on the tabletop. We don't penalize the Ottoman from declared cavalry charges for tests to receive but they do suffer adjustment in the actual shock combat. Being large infantry blob formation they tend to "asorbe the cavalry charge till they break formation and scatter across the tabletop…. who cares… there are lots of other Ottoman blob formation to charge the blown cavalry now. For the Vendeans I would play them the same as other European infantry…. to fear charging cavalry but have limited ability to form square. They would form an "all round" defensive position with no flanks but no anti-cavalry frontal edge. Still…. very little Republican cavalry served in the Vendean wars. It would be a battle of small French cavalry detachment vs. large Vendean infantry blobs….. similar to the Ottomans in tabletop look.

Lastly, The Ottomans have lots of cheap skirmishers. They have the same skirmisher formation rules as for the European armies. All foot skirmishers move slightly faster at 10" and suffer no terrain reductions for movements. Miniatures in skirmisher formation have width gaps between the our miniature bases depending on skirmisher training and skills. Three general levels… Semi-skirmisher (limited or no skirmisher training or just open formation), full-skirmisher (the classical skirmisher paired infantrymen), extreme-skirmisher (specialist units like the 95th Rifles). There are others like Germanic 3rd rank, improvised, and American indians (Tribal) I should note but generally follow the three basic modes. The Vendean army would be similar with their skirmishers or swarms mostly rated as semi-skirmishers. The musket armed infantry in general. The mob formations carry the pikes and other weapons.

As for Artillery……. Rare Vendean cannon served by ex-artillerymen and willing untrained crews. Hard to move about on the tabletop so would rate like our "positional artillery" rule. Cannot move and unlimber on the same movement turn. They didn't have the proper trained horse rig to move the cannon, just a simple pole limber and foot crew movement beside the cannon limber assembly. Scarce ammunition wagons again would limit their bombardment ability if you use ammunition supply.

My thoughts….

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

Cholet 15 guns quite dangerous.
Skirmishers: I would add a control problem for "centralized" wargaming.

They had a lot of faulx, spears etc so would be quite daunting for the little semi crappy cavalry formations the bleus had around. In mass.

So more or less depending on the other side formation ( they tend to spread not to be outflanked it sems) nothing like a formal3 rank line, something like 4-8 ranks blobs. Maybe think of Jacobites types?
From long ago reading, it seemed these half reluctant ( most wanted just to be left to their own customs away from jacobin collectivist minded leveling centralizing revolutionaries) peasantss were not too keen on casualties. Not real fanatics.
Leaders were much more important than for regulars.

Lots of not so solid troops on both sides. Or better trained like the mayençais but bemused by the new type of fighting. ( and maybe not so motivated as to the cause.)

RudyNelson07 May 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

From the book I read, they would use the old tactics not the new. Generals and officers were old school.

Prince of Essling Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

According to page 151 "Histoire des guerres de la Revolution de 1792 a 1798" by F. Ladimir_et E. Moreau when the Vendeens were passing over the Loire in October 1793, they had 30,000 infantry, 200 cavalry, 15,000 non-combatants with 2 to 3,000 horses, artillery comprised 1 x 12 pdr, 3 or 4 8pdr, 30 or 40 4pdr, 30 caissons and 2 forges, wounded were in 20 carriages, 200 vehicles transported personal effects etc.

At the start of their insurrection the Vendeens had some 700 to 800 muskets.

gboue200107 May 2018 7:21 p.m. PST

To contact JC Raguet which was born and lives in vendée,
use the following mail adress:
He commonly plays a vendean host and has made some research as well on vendean tactics and armies.
As another french forumer wrote, Jean Crhristophe is a former artillery superior officier, a military historian (Phd) and has been a research curator at the Service Historique de la défense (military archives in Vincennes).
One of the top napoleonic wargamer in France, he published innovating and well researched rules.

PeterEm12 May 2018 4:25 p.m. PST

Turreau, the Republican general of the Army of the West, described the Vendeeans deploying in a crescent formation with the best marksmen on the wings. The main tactic seemed to be a crashing opening volley and equally sudden charge, and he observed that although they were "unaquainted with batallion, rank and platoon firing..[the fire] you experience from them is well directed, well supported and more destructive than yours"


custosarmorum Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 7:50 a.m. PST

It would be worth consulting General Hoche's "Instruction for those Troops Employed in Fighting the Chouans" which provides considerable detail on tactics that were to be employed and provides glimpses into the tactics of the rebels: "They (sc. the Chouans) prefer to deploy their troops as skirmishers and rush forwards in clouds." It was translated by Jonathan North and appeared as part of an article he published in the Journal of Military History. I have a copy if anyone is interested (just PM me and provide your email).

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