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"Say it isn't So" Topic

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1,264 hits since 10 Jan 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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GlacierMI10 Jan 2019 3:17 a.m. PST

I'm going to throw out a newbie post as my nephew asked me and see what thoughts you may have. He asked me what is the difference between Austrian, Prussian and Russian armies other than historical nationalities and "color"? To be honest, they basically have the same troop types, established style of fighting (by 1812), and doctrines. The Russians may have a bit more artillery, the Austrians prettier cavalry, and the Prussians a touch more drive but basically I can see his point, it does come down to color of uniforms.

14Bore10 Jan 2019 4:01 a.m. PST

Interesting point he has there

GurKhan10 Jan 2019 4:02 a.m. PST

A non-Napoleonic player writes: Isn't that true of all Napoleonic armies?

Artilleryman10 Jan 2019 4:54 a.m. PST

A lot is down to the character and motivation of the commanders and the command and control systems. If you follow the argument 'there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers' then things may begin to differentiate. The Prussians were definitely more motivated and were beginning to grasp new ways of command and control. The Austrians were more 18th Century in style, more considered (or just slow) in their approach. They were more concerned with the preservation of the army and by extension, the monarchy. The Russians were kind of in the middle. They were inspired by revenge to some extent and had a tentative approach to new methods of command and control, but their main motivation was an almost feudal obedience to the Tsar.

Just some initial thoughts to kick the conversation along.

GlacierMI10 Jan 2019 5:00 a.m. PST

Maybe I should add in the English as a different breed. I guess If I were French and battling on the table would I prefer seeing Scarlet, Prussian Blue, Dark Green or Linen?

Sparta10 Jan 2019 6:28 a.m. PST

The difference was not the soldiers, it was thethe organisation, culture and staff work of the nations that differed.

Marc the plastics fan10 Jan 2019 7:13 a.m. PST

I do often wonder if the Russian troops had a different mental approach, bred from their background or religion. But that could just be the influence of period prejudices or secondary sources on my views.

It is tempting to think that everyone has the same mental view, but I wonder if that was true in the period. Did every nations' troops have the same attitude to duty, honour, bloodshed, killing etc etc. Or would regional backgrounds and religious beliefs affect these to any extent?

Could, say, a British officer corp have transformed the Russians into another "thin red line"?

14Bore10 Jan 2019 7:20 a.m. PST

Well enough Germans did try to lead the Russian Army to not much avail.
I do like the challenge of getting low grade troops into battle.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

You could ask the same question about the armies of any time period. Everyone has the same raw material in terms of a warm body to put in a uniform, but then you add training, motivation, doctrine, leadership, equipment, supply, culture/religion, etc.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 9:17 a.m. PST

+1 79th PA

Hector Blackwolf10 Jan 2019 12:01 p.m. PST

To expand on what 79th PA said, most conflicts take place between states with broadly similar militaries. Asymmetrical warfare is usually very one-side, and if you come up with some brilliant new strategy all your neighbors are going to copy it.

Wildly different armies are pretty much an invention of fantasy and sci-fi gaming.

Last Hussar10 Jan 2019 2:05 p.m. PST

The Russians were noted for their stolidness, standing and taking punishment. By all accounts not great at going forward, but good on the defence.

As #1 son and I commented – Russian tactics is relying on the fact you will run out of bullets before Russia runs out of men.

HairiYetie10 Jan 2019 2:43 p.m. PST

As per Last Hussar but from what I read there were just as stolid in the attack and favoured the bayonet possibly because their Tula muskets were inferior to others around and possibly because they were not properly trained in their use. They were also not the best at skirmishing. I also recall reading somewhere that while they took a lot of punishment before they broke, once that happened they did not stop running. The Russians also loved their artillery and had large batteries, but they were not as adept as using them as the French. After 1812 Russian units were depleted and had a constant influx of new recruits.

The Prussians reserved a special hate for the French. They had also learned from their defeats of the past and had revamped their army with a new general staff. by 1812 they had not been in a serious war for six years and their units were full strength and well trained, perhaps with the exception of Landwehr which seems to have been put together as an afterthought. Prussians had plenty of skirmishers with 1 battalion out of each regiment being fusilier plus independent rifle units attached to most battalions.
The Austrians were neither driven by hate nor were they stolid. They had good equipment and good training but their application was unimaginative. Like the Prussians, by 1812 the Austrian army had had plenty of time to recover from the earlier defeats but while the units were full strength and well trained, the style of warfare and leadership did not change much. Skirmishing was not their forte. The artillery was well trained and professional but not particularly creative.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2019 6:33 p.m. PST

I'm remembering Baron Vietmeyer arguing that you wanted to set your rules around the middle of a war, because at the start of a war after a substantial period of peace, you had some weapons and tactics which just flat didn't work, and as you neared the end of a war, there was too much convergence. Midwar gave you enough differences to be interesting without fatally handicapping any of the players.

With due respect to Hector Blackwolf, though, sometimes you have to be asymmetrical, and it's not always a bad thing, or a thing readily copied. Armies are resource-dependent, they're oriented towards certain terrain, and they reflect the societies they come out of. Hard to have knights without feudalism, or to make good infantry out of seriously downtrodden serfs. British armies in North America 1775-1815 almost always have a qualitative edge over the US, because the British as a society are investing much more heavily in a regular army, and because only a lunatic would ship poorly trained militia across the Atlantic.

Austria and Russia get closer to France in 1812-15, but to match some of the French advantages, they'd have to draft their middle classes and open up the officer corps to the sort of people the existing officers wouldn't associate with. That was a higher price than they were willing to pay for improved skirmishers.

Yeah, you can use a single set of rules, and mostly it works. But there are subtleties you'll miss.

DJCoaltrain10 Jan 2019 7:40 p.m. PST

Interesting, very interesting.

advocate11 Jan 2019 2:26 a.m. PST

Depending on the scale of the game, there could be as much or more variation within an army as between armies.

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2019 5:20 p.m. PST

It really all just comes down to the style and number of buttons on the cuffs.

freecloud12 Jan 2019 3:31 p.m. PST

..lapels never forget the lapels. Plus they have different flag and unit colouring systems.

(More seriously, IME they do have differences but in wargames you only really see the differences when you play big games with several divisions and the different structures (and the thought behind them) are clearer.

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