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"John Elting inspired 2mm Divison" Topic

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1,426 hits since 17 Oct 2019
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forwardmarchstudios17 Oct 2019 11:05 p.m. PST

Hi all,

My newest 2mm project is to combined maps, 3D printed miniatures, and rules to create a war-game that looks good and represents Napoleonic warfare in a fun, visually accurate, and slightly different way from other systems out there.

Here, I've tried to represent in miniature form Grandjean's division in 1809. This unit is deployed according to my interpretation of John Elting's description of French tactics as outlined in Swords Around a Throne, pgs. 531-536:


This diagram shows the French division deployed in checkerboard fashion, with modifications due to terrain (this is described by Elting as "loose and adaptable).

The regiments are deployed with two battalions up front and one in the rear. Two batteries are deployed in the gaps between battalions (Elting says that one great strength of the checkerboard formation was that arty, cav, and other battalions could pass through the open spaces. The train is deployed inside the open area of the checkerboard (not sure if this would happen; Elting is silent on that).


The 57th has advanced skirmishers. Depending on a number of variables, the regiment might fight almost entirely in the form of a heavy skirmish screen, feeding in men until the enemy was almost defeated. At that point the remaining battalions, in column, or line, or a combination of the two, would advance through the skirmishers to assault the enemy and hopefully route them. This combined the early French tactics of the Revolutionary Wars with the discipline and experience that would characterize the Grande Armee during the Imperial period.

Elting makes it very clear, however, that there was no standard French attack plan. He notes (at a few points) that the French infantry were extremely limber, and that a commander had a number of tactical solutions to choose from when faced with a given problem. For instance, the French battalions in the above picture could all move into a single line to deliver volley file or assault a position. This was yet another option available with the use of the checkerboard formation.

While setting this up, it occurred to me that, despite Elting's popularity here and elsewhere, you almost never see (if ever) these checkerboard formations used during a game.

Chalk up another win for 2mm ; )

forwardmarchstudios18 Oct 2019 1:24 a.m. PST

Oh yeah… and another interesting point here.

The general opinion here, and in many places, has been that multiple, smaller French battalions would not simoltaneously attack a larger Austrian battalion. But as illustrated here that simply isn't true. Elting says that the French skirmisher swarm of a battalion, regiment, or brigade would maintain lateral contact with other skirmish clouds. This means that the skirmishers of multiple battalions could and often would be firing at the same Austrian battalion at the same time. And if, after the skirmishers had inflicted heavy casualties, the formed columns or lines of the battalions advanced directly forward, they would all come into line on the Austrian battalion, even overlapping it. Or possible they would advance in column, or ordre mixte. Regardless, an entire regiment would be attacking, starting with the skirmishers, and straight through the development to the end-game of the attack.

von Winterfeldt18 Oct 2019 5:07 a.m. PST

don't take Elting too seriously on this, French sources like Colin are telling a very different story, also please check Foucart – who describes very well how the usual battle arrangement for infantry was, all in French.

Elting has no clue how Tirailleurs en grande bande did work.

Otherwise your 2 mm concept works excellently, very tempting, especially for big battles there you can simulate the foot prints of the units – which is a rare thing in wargaming.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP18 Oct 2019 8:03 a.m. PST

Very nice look!

Delort19 Oct 2019 2:43 p.m. PST

von W: which one of Foucart's books are you referring to?

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2019 4:53 p.m. PST

Yes the halo effect is strong.
Putting third hand academic theorists on pedestals always carries a warning…
Yup nice look, but reduces gaming to a board game, which is ok for those cramped student rooms these days.

Stoppage Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2019 5:16 p.m. PST


Your noise is large.

I sup from the brim of your bowl of broth.

Sustenance is naught.

Cdr Luppo20 Oct 2019 1:55 a.m. PST

For Foucart, see here for campagne de Pologne :


- formation sur plusieurs lignes – force et composition des lignes: p 443
- formation de chaque ligne – du combat p 446

also for the Campagne de Prusse (1806) :


- le corps d' armée sur le champ de Bataille p 700
- la division sur le champ de bataille p 703
- la ligne de combat et les reserves de premiere ligne p 704

disposition par brigades accolées (side by side) or disposition par brigades sur 2 lignes (one behind the other) > you can check the debate between Rogniat and Marbot on pros and cons to each "layout", implications in term of command, purpose (offense – defense) etc.

von Winterfeldt20 Oct 2019 3:16 a.m. PST


See Cdr Luppo's posting – then read Colin and Bressonnet.

Delort21 Nov 2019 8:26 a.m. PST

@Luppo. Many thanks for the links. I have finally found the time to examine them. Having looked at the first link (Polish campaign) the page numbers do not seem to reflect the subjects you have given them; have you mixed your link? The second link is fine, though I have bought the book now!

I thought perhaps the book you were referring to by Colin was the Transformation of War, but having looked at it I am not so sure. Did Colin do another?

Where do I find the Rogniat/Marbot debate?

This is all intriguing stuff that really develops my understanding and knowledge; many thanks for your help.

von Winterfeldt21 Nov 2019 12:58 p.m. PST

in case you read German, a very good discussion of Roginat / Marbot


von Winterfeldt21 Nov 2019 1:08 p.m. PST

for Colin






forwardmarchstudios21 Nov 2019 1:24 p.m. PST

Honestly, those articles and schematics have firmed up my opinion that there was no real doctrine, only mission and limited information interfacing with the limitations of training, technology and terrain. I'm now seeing that most of these arguments about tactics have no bearing on wargames whatsoever, and are simply arguments amongst academics. I've been too neurotic about how combat was fought; there were always exceptions, never any inviolable rules.

I feel empowered.
And that Sam Mustafa has been right all along.

Cdr Luppo21 Nov 2019 1:34 p.m. PST

Good Day Delort,

- Poland > well, i might have mixed the links for 1st and 2nd Tome about Poland as you note … (too) much tabs open at once on the computer … i try to check this week end … but i think the page numbers are ok with the Tome second (2) : you have both links hereafter. sorry for the confusion. : )

Foucart, Campagne de Pologne Tomme premier (1)


Foucart, Campagne de Pologne Tomme second (2) > ok


- For the Rogniat/Marbot debate > send me a Pm with your mail, i will send you the whole thing in 3 parts, as synthetic as possible on that subject … in french / Rogniat / Marbot / Rocquancourt / Renard

Delort21 Nov 2019 3:22 p.m. PST

@vonW; many thanks for the links, a quick scan has excited me! My French is decent, but unfortunately, my basic German is not up to it!

@Cdr Luppo: many thanks for the links; I have found what you were suggesting. Very interesting and useful. I will PM you; I have Rogniat, but not Marbot's work.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 3:47 p.m. PST

Elting makes it very clear, however, that there was no standard French attack plan. He notes (at a few points) that the French infantry were extremely limber, and that a commander had a number of tactical solutions to choose from when faced with a given problem. For instance, the French battalions in the above picture could all move into a single line to deliver volley file or assault a position. This was yet another option available with the use of the checkerboard formation.

Col Elting knew his business and his description of French tactics is accurate.

Well done on the display/wargame.

forwardmarchstudios21 Nov 2019 3:52 p.m. PST

Brechtel198- thanks!

forwardmarchstudios21 Nov 2019 4:53 p.m. PST

I'm just trying to get the maximum verisimilitude into my rules. I've got real terrain, enough space, and accurate models. I just need the mechanics in.

von Winterfeldt22 Nov 2019 7:21 a.m. PST

the mechanics are well explained by Colin and Foucart, also Gerome – see useful stuff for links, ignore Elting he leads you into a cul de sac.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2019 8:19 a.m. PST

Which 'cul-de-sac' is that?

Interestingly, Col Elting's source material listed in the bibliography of Swords uses Camon, Lynn, Quimby, Colin, and Duane, as well as Roche-Aymon.

So since you are so disparaging of Col Elting's work, perhaps you could point out specifics instead of general comments that support only your own personal bias?

French general Foy certainly describes French infantry tactics similarly to what Col Elting shows.

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