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"Scaling up War of 1812 to Napoleon's Battles" Topic


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WarEmblem02 Sep 2019 6:38 p.m. PST

I'm running a campaign using a combination of Empire in Arms and house rules with battles being fought with the Napoleon's Battles rules system. The French and Americans are allied against the British in what will end up being an extensive campaign in North America.

My difficulty lies in scaling up the American army as all of the historical points of reference are rather small battles. From my study of historical OOBs, it seems the Americans are very much a division based army like the British and would not have utilized a Corps system. The Americans will have an army of 30,000 on the NY/Canadian frontier and a Western Army of 10,000.

I envision the main army having the following structure

1st Division – 1B 2400 LI, 2B 2400 LI, 3B 1920 LI 4B 1920 LI 5B 2400 MI

2nd Division – 1B 2400 LI, 2B 2400 LI, 3B 1920 LI 4B 1920 LT 5B 2400 MI

3rd Division – 1B 2400 LI, 2B 2400 LI 3B 1920 LI 4B 960 LC

2 6 pd batteries. 29,760 rank and file.

The reasoning is 2400 strength line infantry are newly raised brigades. Original 1812 regulars are brigaded in the 1920 strength units. I've considerably upped the size of the US light infantry into an entire brigade and given them one brigade of light dragoons. Any suggestions or edits to my thinking? And who should be in charge of the divisions? I'm going to place Scott in field command, or do you think Scott should be a divisional commander and the army command would fall to a political appointment?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 6:05 a.m. PST

Hmm. Anyone using NB has problems I can't solve--and anyone trying to feed an army of 30,000 men on the Niagara frontier or up the "Great Warpath" has problems I don't think anyone could solve without inventing railroads. That said--

Yes, the US Army in period is strongly French influenced, and in an actual alliance, I would assume a division/corps structure very much on the French model right down to staff organization. But what year is this, and what has happened before? Historically, I'd expect Scott to receive a corps command in 1814/15 only if Brown, Jackson and probably Ripley were dead, and that's without considering the Madison administration's disastrous habit of appointing good Jeffersonians regardless of military ability.

Or is this going to be one of those campaigns where Grant gets command of the Union Army in 1861?

WarEmblem03 Sep 2019 8:35 a.m. PST

It is 1814. The strategic situation is Napoleon decisively defeated the Russians at Borodino and, ignoring Kutosuv's arguments to continue to war, Tsar Alexander has agreed to peace terms. Negotiations lasted into spring 1813. Dismayed by the Russian failure, the Austrians ignore the warmongering of Archduke Charles and maintain relations with France despite Prussian intrigues. Confident that Europe has been settled for the foreseeable future, Napoleon looks to knock out his last great enemy, the British Empire.

Haunted by the death struggle in Spain and preferring to keep Wellington tied down there, Napoleon seeks a decisive encounter with Britain in another theater. A direct invasion of England isn't feasible, so he orchestrates an alliance with the Americans ambitiously setting the goal of seizing British Canada and using this as a bargaining chip for lasting peace.

The Grand Armee, although victorious in Russia, was battered by both the Russians and attrition. Further, Napoleon doesn't entirely trust his Russian and Austrian allies so he keeps the core of his most trusted Marshals in Poland and France. He dispatched Marshal Marmont to America with an expeditionary force while promising President Madison that Prince Eugene would embark for North America in 1815. Marmont will work in coordination with American forces before Eugene arrives and takes over operational control in North America.

22ndFoot03 Sep 2019 9:48 a.m. PST

How would a French expeditionary force get there?

In light of the neglect of the French navy in Napoleon's later years and the fact that the Spanish navy was no longer available to him, St Vincent's famous remark may be appropriate: "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea."

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 12:14 p.m. PST

So they sailed past England--and Ireland!!--to land in a country barely able to support an army in five figures, but were unable to, say, land in Canada? And they expect to be able to do this again next year, because no one has a better plan? (And ask yourself whether the governing part of the UK was more partial to Canada or Ireland in 1814.)

Clearly the Emperor was left out in the cold too long in 1812.

WarEmblem, if you want to create a mythical US Corps to fight alongside the French in invented battles, knock yourself out: I've taken part in things almost as strange. But it's no good asking anyone how this would be done in real life, because in real life it couldn't and wouldn't be done. This is just not a historical "what if."

14Bore03 Sep 2019 12:14 p.m. PST

I think in similar fashion I tranfered the Civil War job to my Napoleonic armies, European regiments are American brigades, European brigades are American divisions.
Your senerio seems well thought out, so go with it.How it got there? Maybe that fake convoy to the Mediterranean pulled off the British while the real Ramada headed off to North America.

WarEmblem03 Sep 2019 5:49 p.m. PST

America was fully able to support a 5 figure army in 1781 just as France was fully able to land and support an army in America. There is no logistical reason this wouldn't be the case in 1814 as well. Why not land in Canada? Well, where would you land? Sailing up the St. Lawrence is impractical. The British have forts along the Great Lakes and the Royal Navy would be in force around Newfoundland. No, that would be near impossible. Alas, the Royal Navy is far over-extended. The fledgling US Navy along with American and French privateers have dispersed the Royal Navy along the shipping routes. Unable to maintain a strict blockade on both the channel, Atlantic and Mediterranean ports, the French have successfully landed in Baltimore.

As for why the Emperor does not invade Ireland, it poses the same problem as an invasion of England, it would require a decisive naval engagement against the Royal Navy. No such victory is required for the Canadian Strategy. Not only is this a plausible scenario, but it is also very likely one Napoleon may have considered should victory in Russia have been achieved and Britain continued to resist overtures of peace.

The question therefore still remains, how does this group of American divisions become organized? Since Napoleon is not in the sphere of operations I'm not sure the Americans would have gone to a Corps system. Certainly not in 1814. Now, based on the extensive advice and correspondence the Emperor conducted with Eugene when the Viceroy had independent command in Italy we can assume Napoleon would have pressed Eugene to suggest reorganization in 1815. Would the Viceroy have been able to get President Madison to comply? I'm not sure. I believe it's more likely the Americans remain a division based army. This creates a cumbersome command arrangement that offers tantalizing possibilities as the three American divisions are under command of their Army commander but would be subordinate to Eugene.

In the 1809 Danube campaign, French generals commanded many German units and it was generally French policy to work the Germans into their Corps structure leaving many German officers in place. Different Corps had different degrees of success with this method, usually determined by the personal capacity and charisma of the French Marshal in command of the Corps. Because of the strong independent streak of the Americans, I don't think this system would work here.

WarEmblem10 Sep 2019 5:43 p.m. PST

I've made some modifications to my campaign design based on further research and scenario comparisons. First, I've come up a with a title for the game – Eagles Along the Mohawk. Second, I've come to the conclusion that my original 4 to 5 brigade divisions would simply be unfeasible for American generals in terms of Napoleon's Battles scenario history and the historical command sizes of 1812 Major and Brigadier Generals. In particular, I looked at how the Spanish Army is organized in the Albuera scenario. Finally, I have named the force the Army of the Niagara. The smaller, unattached army is under the command of Duncan McCarther and is the Army of the Northwest.

Army of the Niagara – CiC MG Andrew Jackson

1st Division – MG Jacob Brown 1B 20LN 2B 16LN 3B 20MI
2nd Division – BG Winfield Scott 1B 20LN 2B 16LN 3B 20MI
3rd Division – BG Alexander Macomb 1B 20LN 2B 16LN 3B 20MI
4th Division – MG George Izard 1B 16LT 2B 20MI 3B 12LC

This gives 1st-3rd division 6720 men. 4th division is my creation with the speculation that there was enough rifle infantry to form a brigade and they would be grouped together with the cavalry. The US didn't deploy cavalry in any formation approaching this size so we'll chalk this up to French influence. I've sort of given the US a greatest hits of commanders placing Jackson in charge (France likely would have approved of this situation). Brown and Scott, of course, served with each other and their forces are essientially what they used at Chippewa/Lundy's Lane just scaled up. I like Macomb so he gets the third division and Izard is the political appointment to the force. Comes out to just over 25,000 men under Jackson's command.

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