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"French infantry advancing question" Topic


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894 hits since 26 Jun 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Lord Hill26 Jun 2020 2:58 a.m. PST

I have some Perry French infantry advancing muskets levelled, and also some advancing "high porte". I also have the usual figs advancing in the march attack position.

My question is, if I wanted to do a 1:1 representation of a French Infantry battalion advancing in 3 lines, would it be accurate to mix these 3 poses?

I was thinking I would put the levelled muskets in the front row, then the high porte figs behind them in the second row, and finally, in the third row, the normal march attack figure.

Would this be historically accurate? I can't imagine it would have been safe for anyone but the front rank to have levelled muskets. Any sources on this? Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Snapper6926 Jun 2020 4:53 a.m. PST

Has anyone found a historical reference to any troops advancing at the "high port" position? It is certainly not in the Prussian manual.

ccmatty Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 5:26 a.m. PST

I just purchased a unit comprised of both, muskets level for charge and high port as I like the poses (opposed to just always painting and modeling marching poses). I do not believe that soldiers, no matter how well drilled, marched or charged into combat with their muskets all uniformly held at the same exact point in the air. Besides, to go from march attack position, to level position, one would lower their musket by passing through the high porte position anyways. So, I also look at these poses as a kind of "motion" …

Just my two cents. I love the variety of poses and prefer the appearance of dynamics on the table.

I like your suggestion of putting the charge level in front, high port in second and march attack in third row. This could represent snapshots in time as the entire unit prepares to charge…the last row having yet to come out of march attack and level its musket…

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 6:24 a.m. PST

I must admit that I like uniform positions and, apart from skirmishers, all my infantry have shouldered arms. However, looking at the options described and from experience etc. the most realistic mix would be:

Front rank with lowered muskets or at high porte
Second and third ranks with arms at march attack/shouldered arms.

Apart from the manuals, the logic is that muskets would be kept upright while tight close order formations manoeuvred so that the individual soldiers could turn without clashing arms with others. The muskets of the front ranks would lower for the final 'dash' into the attack.

That is what I have taken from my studies so I hope it helps.

von Winterfeldt26 Jun 2020 7:05 a.m. PST

if they are just advancing then shouldered arms or l'arm au bras.

At the pas de charge – or when intending to charge home the three ranks and even the file closer would level army and interlock, closing the usual one foot distance each rank, to touching distance. for more see the manuel d'infanterie – would I mix poses in one unit? No.

torokchar Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 7:22 a.m. PST

I personally like a mix pose stand, figures positioned offset and not in a straight line. I also mix up equipment a little, headgear slightly different – I can't imagine every guy was dressed exactly the same and walking in the same exact position while artillery, musket fire and yelling / screaming was going on around them.

Finally mix up the ground base – rocks, grass, bushes, etc….

picture

Tassie26 Jun 2020 7:43 a.m. PST

I completely agree with Von W.

There are several different editions available to study online. Here's the 1792 French drill book.

link

Also, Jean Augé's fine drawing of the attack of d'Erlon's Corps at Waterloo gives a really good idea of the position of the musket that was used when marching.

link

However, I totally "get" that levelled muskets and high port poses look more dramatic and animated.

All my French and Russian infantry are at the "march attack" pose, apart from the skirmishers, because I think it conveys how the regiments would have appeared for 95% of their day on the battlefield.

Lord Hill26 Jun 2020 12:30 p.m. PST

I'm banking on Artilleryman's third paragraph! Disappointing "facts" from VW – a manual?! Curses! That ruins my plans!
But, seriously, thanks very much for all your help. I might still just go for it – too much risk of a bayonet up the **** if I go with the manual.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2020 12:56 p.m. PST

All my French and Russian infantry are at the "march attack" pose, apart from the skirmishers, because I think it conveys how the regiments would have appeared for 95% of their day on the battlefield.

I doubt it. Units wouldn't be marching about 95% of the time.

Many units would be in combat for many hours. And so firing/fighting poses would be more appropriate. When not fighting they would stand at ease in some way.
The march pose would only be used in the minutes between standing and fighting.

Mike Petro26 Jun 2020 2:39 p.m. PST

Whenever we fixed bayonets, we leveled them at the threat.

Tassie26 Jun 2020 2:42 p.m. PST

Allow me to respectfully suggest that you have a closer look at the drill book, Gunfreak.
Immediately after loading, the soldier returned the musket to "portez vos armes," which we'd call the march attack pose.
Having fired a volley, the soldier returned the musket to "portez vos armes," to await the next order.
When brought to attention, the musket went straight to "portez vos armes."
When recovering the musket from a levelled position, it went straight to "portez vos armes."
And then there's changing formation, and marching . . . all done at "portez vos armes."
A generous sergeant major might allow "l'arme aux bras" for the latter, but the musket would spend most of its time in a vertical position.

Mike Petro26 Jun 2020 2:58 p.m. PST

Port arms is the neutral position in all maneuvers. Order Arms, Present Arms, Right/Left Shoulder Arms.etc.

von Winterfeldt27 Jun 2020 4:33 a.m. PST

I agree musket on the shoulder is the best natural position, from there you can change into other poses easiest when requited,

There the French usually always had fixed bayonets, your logic that whenever you fixed bayonets you level them at the thread, escapes my logic.

Snapper6902 Jul 2020 5:16 a.m. PST

The answer to my initial question seems to be a clear "no", despite the popularity of the pose. According to the Prussian manual, the advance would be at the trail ("zur Attacke das Gewehr rechts") until 15 paces from the enemy, when the command would be "Fällt's Gewehr", whereupon the first 2 ranks would come to the charge position and cock the weapon. The 3rd rank remained at the trail. The first 2 ranks would fire from the hip shortly before impact, or commence firing at will if halted before impact.

Major Snort02 Jul 2020 5:31 a.m. PST

Regarding the question about whether any infantry advanced with ported arms:

British infantry of the Napoleonic era used this position when charging the enemy. Both ranks started off with ported arms, only the front rank levelled their bayonets when very close to the enemy, the second rank remaining at porte arms.

In the 1824 regulations, which were largely based on wartime experience, when ordered to prepare to charge, the front rank brought their arms to the "Long Trail" and the rear rank ported arms. As before only the front rank levelled (charged) bayonets when close to the enemy.

The actual porte arms position shown in the British manuals is slightly different than the pose that most, if not all, "advancing" wargames figures are modelled in.

Snapper6902 Jul 2020 5:55 a.m. PST

Thank you, Major Snort! Just what I was looking for!

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