National Unit Classifications

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Michael Collins 11 months ago.

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  • #3372

    mike0liver
    Participant

    I have looked at rules for Corps-level games (Napoleon’s Battles, Age of Eagles, etc.) and find myself frequently disagreeing with the authors’ assessment of how the units should be classified. Mostly, my objections apply to how the Spanish are assessed. Generally, their troops were mostly as steadfast and reliable as their European counterparts – it was their generals who tended to be lacking. OK, I know that the new units created during the early part of the war were less reliable because the recruits were frequently fielded as entirely new battalions rather than filtered into existing cadres.
    The Provincial Militia at the start of the Peninsular War were generally better-trained and more reliable than the regular army – indeed, a formation of Militia Grenadiers attacked and captured a French Guard artillery battery at Medina de Rioseco in 1808. However, the very word “Militia” makes wargamers think “lowest class” and that’s where they get classified.
    Can anyone reassure me that Grand Manoeuvre classifications are reliable and don’t fall into these traps?

    #3403

    Michael Collins
    Keymaster

    Apologies for not responding sooner, for some reason I do not get notifications (must be my mistake somehow)…

    Well, these are general classifications and are intended as guidelines.

    I`m planning a second edition at some point in time, maybe you could help me fill the gaps of detail that there may be in the unit classifications ?

    #3405

    mike0liver
    Participant

    Hi Mike:
    Good to hear from you. I tried to e-mail you at the GM address but haven’t had a response – maybe the e-mail never got through. I’ve always been reticent in my own rules design about attributing ratings to battalions, regiments, brigades and generals because these ratings would be just my opinion (however informed that might be). I therefore tend to use a fairly loose approach, grading such formations and individuals from 2 to 5 (poor to very good) which allows random grading using an average die. However, I guess it’s still just my opinion without the die. Brigades are even more difficult to rate because how many of them stayed together for any length of time? And, as you say, the very nature of such an exercise provides, at best, a guideline.
    In answer to your question, I’d be more than happy to help where I can with whatever you need. As I think you know, my expertise is largely with the Spanish army but I do have a substantial library which is at your service.
    One small point: I usually print my downloaded rule boos as A5 booklets and the PDF page layout for GM seems not to suit this format – is there anything I can do to adjust it?
    Cheers,
    Mike Oliver

    #3406

    Michael Collins
    Keymaster

    Hi Mike,

    GM email sometimes clashes with other email services – and in the past I have had to send rules via my personal email.

    Fine then, if youd like to start, could you provde a grading for Spanish units as per your rules - Ill maybe see then how it I could apply to my own system?

    Resizing a pdf? I had a look to see if this can be done and found this:
    https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2167204
    it might be the answer?

    Mike.

    #3407

    mike0liver
    Participant

    Mike:
    I wrote a reply to you, then realised I was replying to a “no reply” address. Anyway, this is wot I rote (but with much more organised formatting than this facility allows):

    Basically, one is dealing with the following types of unit (whether infantry or cavalry):

    Ungraded (or maybe Grade 1). Peasants/students/raw recruits represented on table by peasant figures that can not form regular close-order formations or by a unit of new creation that has only been formed for a week or so and has not seen any combat or had any formal training. I suspect most wargamers wouldn’t incorporate this grade into a battle but they did exist (Bailén, Cabezon, etc.)
    Next come Grade 2 (raw) – units of the regular army/Somatenes and their equivalent irregular units in various provinces that have had some basic training in close order drill and musketry but no experience of combat – most units of new creation will come into this category for the first year of their existence.
    Grade 3 (trained) will be regular army with at least a year in the field and provincial militia (inc. provincial grenadiers).
    Grade 4 (experienced) will be those units that have experience of battle which has made them more reliable – I would include here those units that were trained on the Isla de León by José Zayas after he wrote the “Instrucciones para el Buen Orden Militar” (Instructions for Good Miloitary Order). This instituted the introduction of and proper training for a light company in each line battalion. At this time (1811), the army was moving to the French battalion organisation of six companies. At Albuera, the divisions of Zayas and Lardizabal (who had been with him on the Isla de León) were trained in the new system. This was very fortunate, since it was largely this innovation that enabled the Spanish to stop the main French attack and give Stewart’s 2nd division time to come up and support the Spanish, eventually turning the tide. It came as a total shock to the French.
    Grade 5 (veteran) This includes units of the Guardia Real (1st & 2nd Foot Guards and Walloon Guards plus the Alarbarderos Real) and such units as continue regularly to appear in formations after 1811.

    Spanish cavalry are much more difficult to define in this sense. They suffered from such a dearth of mounts of any quality, that it is hard to refer to any units as “Heavy” cavalry. I understand that may cavalrymen were mounted on mules. The terms “line cavalry” referred to what, in other armies, would be heavy cavalry but maybe only one or two (e.g. Regto de la Reina) would really deserve the term. The Spanish cuirassiers (Los Coraceros) again had no better mounts and could not really be classed as heavy. Dragones, Cazadores, Lanceros were all light cavalry and, although the Lanceros were armed with the lance, their horses would be no better than the rest. The garrochistas were largely guerilla cavalry and, as such, should probably be Grade 4 but they were seldom used in formal battles. Basically, I would put most of them into Grades 2 & 3 and any outstanding units (e.g. Alarbarderos de la Guardia Real) as Grade 4 or 5 depending on the exact period being gamed. There are very few units that would fit into the latter group.

    I also tend not to categorise artillery for any nationality. Mostly (including the Spanish), they would be well trained and of high morale. One can think of the odd reason for having a Grade 5 (e.g. Ramsay at Fuentes de Oñoro) but generally make all artillery Grade 4.

    I apply the same general system to other nationalities but, for example, with the French, the exact period would be a strong influence. After the debacle of Russia, the Grande Armée would be classed lower than its predecessor(s). The Brits, likewise, would have the time of grading them making a big impact on the grading. None would fall into Grade 2, 2nd Btns soon after their arrival and 1st btns at the start of the PW might be Grade 3 but would rapidly move to Grade 4 or even 5 – like the 95th or light brigade regiments. Capturing a standard (step forward the 44th E Essex) would also count .

    I have access to the database built by Col Juan José Sañudo for the official records. It lists every regiment of Spanish, French, British and Portuguese that served in the Peninsular, their commanding officers, strengths and formations of which they were a member. Sadly, it does not offer an opiniom on how good they were. However, it may prove of help from time to time.

    Please note that these categorisations all apply to training and experience and not to subjective assessments. For example, how does one decide if a unit is “Elite”? Or does a French unit suffering rebuke from L’Empereur automatically become a lower grade? It is, as I’ve said, very much the opinion of the rules author.

    For Generals, everything is even more subjective. I have a copy of “Les étoiles de Napoléon” (Napoleon’s Stars), listing a couple of hundred general officers – most of whom I have never heard of. The Spanish are said to have had over 400 general officers in the army in 1808 – I probably know of no more than 20. And, apart from those who served at Ligny and Waterloo, what is the detailed knowledge of the effectiveness or otherwise of Prussian field commanders? And the Russians and Austrians??? I fear many modern wargamers have scant interest in delving into the history of the Napoleonic wars and troubling to inform themselves by so-doing. It is easier to leave it to people like you and me and then criticise our efforts. So I avoid framing rules that require the grading of named generals. I simply offer the grades and class them as “2 – Poor”, “3 – Average”, “4 – Good” and “5 – Excellent”. The players can then roll a DAv, or make their own assessments; the grade numbers can then be used as part of initiative determinations, morale dice modifiers, etc.

    If all this is a little disappointing, I’m still willing to try harder to make specific assessments for 2nd Edition GM as far as specific Spanish units or generals are concerned. In the latter case, only José Zayas would be classed as a 5, for example. His history in the PW is fascinating – I discovered his name being the same as the Marques de Zayas, he was mistakenly sent as an envoy to Napoleon when the fate of Carlos V was being determined. At this time, he was only a brigadier (Mariscal de Campo). He became Cuesta’s chief of staff at Cabezon and remained as such until being given a command at Talavera. He was with Blake on the plateau at Medina de Rioseco (as part of Blake’s staff) and commanded the HQ guard that held off the French cavalry from pursuing the main body after the defeat. Sadly, he never made independent command, being captured at Valencia. He was Cuban, by the way.

    OK, that’s enough of my ramblings – let me know if the info was helpful and whether there is anything more detailed I can provide.

    #3408

    mike0liver
    Participant

    The second part to my response is related to the PDF formatting. I have a duplex printer and the Adobe print facility allows the option of “Print as Booklet” which sets up the pagination correctly so that the printer comes up with all the pages in the correct order and printed both sides in A5 format. Then that all is needed is to guillotine them and then apply a plastic spiral-wind spine (for which I have the equipment). The problem is that, the way the pages are currently formatted, everything comes out too far over to the right and part of the left side printing gets lopped off by the guillotine. I want to try to shift everything over to the left to stop this happening.

    The link you provided (thanks) dealt with a different problem.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    #3409

    Michael Collins
    Keymaster

    Mike,
    Many thanks for the information – Ive saved this and itll definitely be of use I think!
    Sorry I misunderstood your problem with the conversion to A5. I dont know what the fix might be, I suppose you have already searched the internet for Q&As on forums. Would a word document be easier for you to deal with? If so I could email it to you.
    Regards,
    Mike.

    #3410

    mike0liver
    Participant

    Mike:
    Glad the stuff I provided looks like being useful – more than happy to provide more if & when required. The MS Word file would, indeed, be useful; I have the facility to save as a PDF when I’ve finished adjusting the formatting and utilise the inbuilt booklet printing from there.
    I don’t know if you’ve considered it, but we have uploaded our rule sets to Wargame Vault as PDFs for download and these have proved very popular, making us quite a bit of cash. We have also used their print-and-ship facility to have one of the rule sets available as a hard copy. Their printing is good and they ship the rules via a company that has depots in most countries – I got my proof samples in about 4 days. It might be worth trying; I think the rules are certainly worth offering to more people.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    #3411

    Michael Collins
    Keymaster

    Mike,
    Shall I send the rule booklet word doc to you via your btinternet address?
    Thanks for advice… yes, the print and ship would be an option worth looking into!
    Mike.

    #3412

    mike0liver
    Participant

    Yes, please, Mike. If there’s a problem with file size, you could use Dropbox if you subscribe to that facility. Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    #3413

    Michael Collins
    Keymaster

    Mike,
    I`ve sent the word doc via my own bt account, let me know if it gets to you.
    Did you want the introductory booklet as well?
    Mike.

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