Regulating Battalions

Grand Manoeuvre Napoleonic Wargames Rules.

Example of the use of regulating battalions in the rules.

It is a cold October afternoon in 1805, and orders from the army wing commander, Archduke Ferdinand arrive for the division to advance; they are to “…engage the French on the rising ground to the north around the village of Haslach with all speed.” Some disordering terrain will be encountered in the forth-coming advance; there are a couple of small copses ahead and to the left, a stream with some thickets and bushes along its course. 

All units in the command will take their direction and pace from the regulating battalion; this is the second battalion from the right, in the first treffen (or battle line). This is formed by the division’s first brigade – the second brigade forms the second treffen and the right-hand battalion of this second line will in turn, follow the movements of the regulating battalion of the first line.
The regulating battalion’s advance will be directed upon the village of Haslach. Intending to engage the enemy, the battalions have been deployed to line formation.  The division then is arrayed in two deployed lines of six battalions, including two of grenadiers in the second treffen with skirmishers preceding the grand body taken from each of the first line’s battalions third ranks.

Demonstrating the theory behind the practice; the diagram above shows a regulating battalion directing the advance of its division upon a distant village and the mounted figure denotes the presence of the leading brigade-general.
“Planche XXXI Reglements 1791 Planches CESAT”

The units therefore will follow the movement of the regulating battalion, and according to their orders they will move at full speed. Players move the regulating battalion first, and wherever necessary, at the start of each turn players will roll for each unit to see if it manages either to rally from a previous disorder (perhaps caused by enemy artillery fire), or to determine if it is able to march at full speed across the terrain features without becoming disordered. This procedure also includes the regulating battalion.
If all the units within the command are of the same class and within the same elements of terrain, players may roll for the entire command to perform the manoeuvre successfully.

This die roll is termed the “unit class die roll” and it is used throughout the rules for manoeuvres, combat and for morale checks.

On the line of their march, a stream lies in the path of the two battalions on the left flank, (this is known as the reverse flank) and these units are required to roll to see if they are disordered in their attempts to “step out” whilst crossing the feature.

Entering the normal range of the French artillery, the battalion at the end of the first line is disordered. At the start of the next turn the battalion must roll its unit die roll once to see if BOTH the disorder is removed AND (because it must cross a stream) that the battalion will be able to move at full speed to catch up with the rest of the line.

If it fails the test it moves at full speed, but it ends the movement phase in disorder.

Having come under some artillery fire prior to closing with the French infantry arrayed in front of the village of Haslach, unexpectedly, from some dead ground on the French left, and whose advance was covered by a copse of trees, a small body of hussars move forward to attack the Austrian right.

This movement had not been observed by the Austrian brigade general and so it is left to the reactions of the individually surprised battalions there to attempt to form squares.

If the French cavalry had been visible to the brigade general, then the command could have been halted and all battalions in the grand body could have followed the action of the regulating battalion by forming squares. Alternatively, the option would also exist to remain in line and engage the cavalry.

Using their bonus movement into contact, the French cavalry is able to contact the second battalion of the first line. Each unit so contacted, must roll a new manoeuvre test to see if it manages to form square.

The Austrian player acting as the battalion commander believes that he has a good chance of forming square to repulse the attack and possibly cause damage to the light horse.

For the test there are two modifiers which apply; a +1 for skirmishers are covering the infantry’s advance, and a -1 for the cavalry having emerged from dead ground.

These modifiers cancel each other out and so it is a straight test using the battalion’s unit class die roll. The battalion’s skirmishers are removed from play as they attempt to rejoin their parent battalion. The unit, which is and trained one, fails the test with a roll a “2”.

Another game example from the battle of Amstetten. Oudinot`s Grenadiers arrayed to attack the Austro-Russian rearguard under the command of Bagration. The brigade generals are at the right of their brigades with each of the lines of brigades in columns of attack. Oudinot is centrally placed, on the division’s second line. 5th Corps Commander, Lannes is positioned to the rear, close to Oudinot`s reserve brigade.

The French player then declares that the cavalry had orders to engage, which included an added instruction for a feint charge, but previously in the turn, he had in this case, rolled for the initiative to actually charge the advancing infantry.

In this case the infantry has failed to form a square and the cavalry then combat with the infantry. The result of the combat is that the line infantry rout with their morale affected and then the cavalry, failing to rally, directly pursue the routing square in
disorder. This pursuit move takes them into contact with a battalion in the second treffen and this new combat is to be resolved immediately.

The Austrian player decides that this second line unit (a grenadier battalion) will not attempt to form square; instead it will attempt to stand in line against the hussars. The hussars and the infantry are evenly matched in class but the hussars are disordered in their pursuit.

In this pursuit combat the Austrian grenadiers` flanks are secured by the adjacent battalions and the French lose the combat with a disorder and a recoil result.

With this result, added to their previous disorder, the French hussars become shaken but rallying in the next turn, they are successfully recalled by their cavalry colonel’s initiative. The hussars then fall back one move.

In this time, in an immediate reaction to the cavalry attack, the Austrian brigade commander had halted the whole command.

After the hussars` withdrawal and the reorganization of his command; the grenadiers moving forward to fill the gap created in the first treffen and the routed line battalion from the first treffen rallying, he resumed the advance.

In this time however, the French battery of mixed pieces had caused significant damage to the rest of the Austrian first line which has been disrupted and weakened before it can close with the French infantry in front of the village of Haslach.

This game play example of the use of regulating battalions is based upon the battle of Haslach-Jungingen (11th October, 1805) and our re-fight of it earlier this year.

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1 Comment

peter holland 28-06-2015, 11:02

In all my reading on Napoleonic warfare and wargaming this is the first time I have heard of the regulating battalion. It isn’t often you find something so obvious you wonder how you didn’t think of that.


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