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"Old school gaming, Battle of Bergen AAR" Topic


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434 hits since 3 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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yarkshire gamer03 Jul 2018 9:19 a.m. PST

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I've put the AAR up on't blog for our SYW 15mm game of the 1759 Battle of Bergen. It was a great old skool game with masses of units and huge cavalry melees to boot, like gaming of my youth.

An interesting match up of troops and a good battle to recreate for the period.

We used Die Kriegskunst rules which worked well but threw up a few questions, how safe should a infantry unit be in the SYW vs Cavalry, have a read and let me know your thoughts.

Regards Ken
The Yarkshire Gamer

brucka03 Jul 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

Are there any "Field Manuals" [FM 3-20.15] of the era that describe actions cavalry should take faced with infantry in line?

Any examples from battles where cavalry actually charged line (on purpose)?

I'm guessing some of our more erudite members would be able to answer this?

olicana03 Jul 2018 3:25 p.m. PST

My two penneth worth is this:

The problem with wargamers is that they only tend to put their SYW infantry battlions into line formation rather than their battalion line formations into a longer contiguous line of battalions without intervals because the rules don't give the correct fighting bonuses for doing it. (It's one of the reasons a lot of SYW games end up looking 'Napoleonic' in nature and you see infantry in battalion squares a formation they were not overly trained in adopting because it was rendered redundant by the use of contiguous lines of battalions).

A contiguous line of units in line has only two flanks. Cavalry charging frontally at any point along the line should therefore treat it's target as being in square an infantry unit out in the blue in line shouldn't because it's the supporting units directly to either side that secure it as such.

Rules that do not highlight this fact need changing it will encourage infantry to form up in cumbersome long SYW style lines moving as one linear tactics as opposed to impulse tactics of the Napoleonic period. (Impulse tactics is where units, or small groups of units, are given specific missions to carry out; they weren't used much in the SYW).

Banning SYW battalion square is cut throat but, never the less, a thing to consider.

Even when forced to face in two directions (to front and rear) at the same time, when cavalry got behind the line, infantry battalions in contiguous lines were pretty safe.

Nosworthy's books on battle tactics, Anatomy of Victory, and Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies, are a very good references for this kind of thing. The former is possibly the best book on SYW tactics and the the latter is good because it often contrasts the differences between linear and impulse tactics and has a very good section on cavalry charges.

BTW, Charles Grant hates the term Old School and we all had a good giggle at his expense at the last meeting of the League of Gentlemen Wargamers where Charles umpired a very large game using The Wargame rules written by his father. The term 'Old School' has now been replaced by the term 'Traditional' in that circle.

yarkshire gamer03 Jul 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

Cheers James,

In the game I hope we kept to relatively period tactics (hopefully the pics show that), all lines supported by other troops and the only flanks on the edge of each wing.

The charged unit had one flank secure on a wood (with its own Skirmishers in the wood and another battalion on its right, oh and it was a Guard unit. For me that should be impenetrable to cavalry. 1st attack with bonus for 1st fire it repelled the attack, 2nd time verses two cavalry units it only just made it and that was due to poor morale rolls from the French. I am no expert in SYW but my limited reading suggests secure flanks on Infantry should see off most Cavalry attacks.

Rules Die Kriegskunst.

Prince Lupus04 Jul 2018 4:58 a.m. PST

A couple of examples from slightly earlier: 1745. Thirty squadrons of French cavalry charged a British line at Fontenoy and were shot out of their saddles. A month earlier ten squadrons of Prussian dragoons charged through an Austrian line at Hohenfreidburg riding over at least five infantry regiments.

That's why we wargame C18.

olicana04 Jul 2018 5:34 a.m. PST

A month earlier ten squadrons of Prussian dragoons charged through an Austrian line at Hohenfreidburg riding over at least five infantry regiments.

That's slightly misleading. The circumstances pertaining to the charge of the Bayreuth were exceptional the perfect storm.

Filtering through the Prussian infantry line and musket smoke unseen, the Bayreuth initially charged from close range, in two 5 squadron columns on a narrow front, a single battalion of Austrian grenadiers.

There were 1500 heavy cavalry baring down on 600 or so infantry without warning. The grenadiers gave a volley at 25 yards far too close a range to stop the charge of galloping cavalry and the cavalry columns simply bowled them over.

The fugitive grenadiers ran through more battalions spreading further disorder which the Bayreuth Dragoons followed up on. Then the sheer weight of fugitives caused absolute panic along the line and all the Bayreuth had to do after that was ride down running men and take prisoners.

The Bayreuth Dragoons destroyed 20 Austrian and Saxon battalions, took 2,500 prisoners, and captured 5 cannon and 67 regimental standards, losing only 6 officers and 28 men killed.

AICUSV04 Jul 2018 10:00 a.m. PST

Surprised no one has brought up Minden.

A horse will not run onto a bayonet. For a cav. unit to charge an formed infantry unit is nuts. The horse will either stop or turn to avoid the infantry. Having rode for a good number of years I know that you can't make a horse do something it doesn't want to, once it sets its mind. Horses aren't machines, but living thinking animals.

Although the rules we have don't prohibit the frontal charge for cav. but really penalizes them. As to forming square again not prohibited, but requires so much movement that it can not be done as a response to an attack.

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