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"Action/Reaction in Miniature Wargaming (Part 4)" Topic

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John Michael Priest16 Dec 2019 8:09 a.m. PST

My newest entry in the series "Action/Reaction in Miniature Wargaming (Part 4) is online in my blog, Ramblings of a Military Historian. It is the fist section of my game rules: Chaos, Confusion, and Casualties."

Blutarski16 Dec 2019 10:18 a.m. PST

Just visited your blogsite. A lot to digest.

Question – Have you read Ardant duPicq's book "Battle Studies"?


John Michael Priest16 Dec 2019 11:08 a.m. PST


John Michael Priest16 Dec 2019 2:44 p.m. PST

When was it published? I have not heard of it until now. It sounds interesting.

Blutarski16 Dec 2019 4:30 p.m. PST

When I read through your blog posts regarding "Chaos, Confusion and Casualties", I thought for certain that you must have read du Picq. I'm surprised that you have not, but I believe that you will find him a kindred spirit

Du Picq was an infantry officer in the French Army during the mid-19th century. He fought in the War of Italian liberation and in the Franco-Prussian war until his untimely death in combat in 1870. His book, however slim (< 300 pages) is considered a French military classic. Its English language translation has been on the US Army's reading list since first translated around 1920 IIRC (my copy, printed by the Military Service Publishing Company is dated 1946 and 1958). in it, Du Picq shared both his historical studies and personal campaign experience, commenting principally upon the true moral and psychological aspects of combat. I still take it out and re-read it from time to time.

To say that it opened my eyes would be an understatement. One point, for example, related to the topic of what drives a unit toward combat ineffectiveness. Du Picq argues that it is not casualties per se, but the fact that for every actual casualty suffered over the course of a battle, two or three perfectly healthy soldiers will often choose to disengage themselves from participation. He illustrates this case with an analysis of McMahon's great column attack at Wagram -

"AS long as the ancient masses moved forward they did not lose a man and no one lay down to avoid the combat. Dash lasted up to the time of stopping; the run was short in every case. In modern masses, in French masses especially, the march can be continued, but the mass loses while marching under fire. Moral pressure, continually exerted during a long advance, stops one-half of the combatants on the way. Today, above all in France, man protests against such use of his life. The Frenchman wants to fight, to return blow for blow. If he is not allowed to, this is what happens. It happened to Napoleon's masses. Let us take Wagram, where his mass was not repulsed. Out of twenty-two thousand men, three thousand to fifteen hundred reached the position. Certainly the position was not carried by them, but by the material and moral effect of a battery of one hundred pieces, cavalry, etc, etc. Were the nineteen thousand missing men disabled? No. Seven out of twenty-two, a third, an enormous proportion may have been hit. What became of the twelve thousand unaccounted for? They had lain down on the road, had played dummy in order not to go on to the end. In the confused mass of a column of deployed battalions, surveillance, difficult enough in a column at normal distances, is impossible."

The book is still available via Amazon, etc, but a free PDF is available here – link


John Michael Priest16 Dec 2019 5:10 p.m. PST

Wow! I really appreciate your input and will get the book. Thank you for looking at my blog. I am trying to create a game system which more closely resembles the experience of an engagement.

Again thank you for your input.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Dec 2019 8:22 p.m. PST

Like Napoleonic columns as well as the masses during Pickett's Charge, the units disolved at the back first. It was noted many times as the common experience. If nothing else, it was difficult for those in front to retreat until those behind had left.

Blutarski20 Dec 2019 9:08 a.m. PST

If you have any interest, I would be glad to pass along a copy of a set of ACW rules I had been working on some years ago: VERY focused upon morale and reaction, also upon the effects of weather and terrain upon movement and unit positioning … especially of artillery (many people think that artillery could be plopped down anywhere at all with complete convenience not so IMO). The rules had only reached the point of initial tabletop testing and de-bugging (you will find a few bugs for certain), but you may find some thoughts/ideas of use.

My email = byronangel [at] Verizon [dot] net. Send me a quick email and I will be happy to send you a copy.


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