CONDUCT OF WAR. merely diplomatic notes written in blood!

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1 CONDUCT OF WAR merely diplomatic notes written in blood! This is the first one in a couple of articles on the 866 Austro-Prussian War as background information for Megagame Makers 866 AND ALL THAT Megagame in 206. This one will concern itself with military operations and how they will be portrayed in the game. The second one will deal with the higher political situation and aims of the powers. Be aware of the close link between war and politics: military operations are I know many of you will not be familiar with the period and the nature of military operations from the scale of army commanders which many of you will be playing on the day. The mechanism will be as rule-lite as possible, as in many ways, it is the co-operation of the players themselves that will generate success in the game. For those at Don t Panic (Operation Sea-Lion in 940) or Iron Dice (The opening months of the Great War in the West) there will be much that will be familiar from our operational Megagames. The numbers involved were as follows: Austria and her German Allies approx. 650,000 men, Prussia approx. 500,000 and Italy approx. 250,000 men. Thus the numbers are pretty huge, about the same I would guess as the entire forces at the 83 Megagame: Master of Europe: Napoleon s last campaign in Germany. These raw numbers would be split amongst the many depots, training facilities and fortresses of the participants, but a sizeable portion would take the field in a number of Armies. This is probably best shown in table format as the players will be in a number of army-level teams: State Army Teams Corps Inf Divs Prussia Austria Italy Austrian Allies Army of the Elbe Army of the Main st Army 2 nd Army Army of the North (Bohemia) Army of the South (Italy) Army Detachment Clam Gallas Tyrol (non-played) Army of the Mincio (Corps = 4 Divs) Army of the Po (Corps = 4 Divs) Garibaldi s Volunteers (non-played) Saxony Hanover Bavarian (4 Divisions) Federal Corps (4 Divisions) Hesse-Kassel Cav Divs 4 Cav Brigs Brigs Ldw Divs 2 2 P a g e

2 Each Army would consist of a number of units; Corps of approx. 30,000, Infantry Divisions of approx. 2,000, Cavalry Divisions of 4,000, Cavalry Brigades of 2,000, illery Brigades of approx heavy guns and Landwehr (Prussian Reservist) Divisions of 2,000. We will go into a bit more detail of how these forces were structured later on. These units will be the main game pieces on the map. The above are only the historical allocation of forces as the teams will have a preliminary planning session to decide deployment and what they intend to do for the main part of the game. While it will not be a totally free set-up, it will give options as to where some of your forces are initially deployed and of course the plan of your alliance might be different from the historical one. The war of 866 was the first war where the mobilisation and deployment plan was tied up with the power of the new-fangled railways. Individual units had used the railways before; the Lancashire Fusiliers moving its regiment from Liverpool to Manchester in the 830 s (700 3 rd class for the men, 60 2 nd class for the NCOs and 20 st for the officers, singles only please?), The French used railways in the Franco-Austrian War in 859 and of course they were used extensively in the American Civil War, but these were not preplanned. In 866 the Prussians in particular had created a railway network to maximise the potential of tying the railways into von Moltke s plan of campaign. Now let us look at how are units are organised. When we say a corps consisted of 30,000 it was not a mob of 30,000 men, but organised in a hierarchical way to allow the decisions of the corps commander to be carried out as speedily and efficiently as possible. Thus corps would consist of a number of sub-units (Divisions then Brigades), which in turn would be broken down into a number of smaller units called infantry battalions, cavalry regiments or artillery batteries. As far as we are concerned the basic unit would be as follow: An infantry of 700-,000 riflemen in 4 6 companies A Cavalry Regiment of sabres in 4-5 squadrons An illery Battery of 6 8 guns Each of the states organised their armies in slightly differing ways. This was well known to the other powers as investigation of potential enemy states was a well-organised and frequently gamed to discover strengths and possible weaknesses. The Tables of Organisation represent the average of what each division or corps comprised. There were many exceptions (especially in the West German theatre) but if you want the precise breakdown then there are many books available to cover these variations, which should not distract from the guidance that follow. So let us look at the major contestants in turn P a g e 2

3 AUSTRIAN ARMY The Austrian army, after the French, was the most respected army in Europe. It had shown bite in the Schleswig-Holstein war of 864 and this had largely offset its defeat to France & Italy in 859. In General Ludwig von Benedek (see picture) the Austrians also had the most highly-rated general in Europe, nicknamed as Austria s Blucher. However, there were a number of underlying problems. The Austrian army spent more on buildings, officer pensions and bureaucracy than on the field army. Little effort was made in operational training and fire practice was rare and abysmally done. The Austrians had also inherited the poisoned chalice of shock tactics. The myth of shock tactics in the rifle era was a handicap passed from state to state in the mid-nineteenth century. The Russians passed it to the French in the Crimea. The French unloaded it on Austrians in 859 and the Austrians were to pass it on to the Prussians for 870. Shock tactics were cheap as it reduced the importance of fire practice. It meant that large columns (8 ranks deep) of Austrians would forego the firefight and instead hurl themselves on the enemy in an attempt to overrun the enemy position and give quick, but bloody victory. Speed and total victory being the rewards for the risk being faced. If the assault was prepared by artillery fire and well-deployed skirmish lines to counter enemy fire then it could be successful as the French had shown in 859 in Italy. If it was not then the columns would be shot to pieces in front of the enemy position. But it was expected that no enemy could deliver enough firepower to stop the Austrians! In their artillery branch the Austrians had the finest gunners in Europe manning the most perfect guns then seen. The bronze rifled muzzle-loading cannon of Austria were the envy of Europe, capable of delivering accurate and heavy firepower out to at least a couple of kilometres. They could possible neutralise enemy artillery or even beat down enemy infantry fire, so allowing the storm tactics to work. The Austrians had also trialled the use of battlefield rockets (do not think of WWII Soviet Katyusha rockets, more large fireworks fired from a tripod) and their effect was at most uncertain. Finally the Austrian Cavalry was possibly the finest Napoleonic-type cavalry then around. Brave and capable of delivering massed cavalry charges that would have pleased Murat or Lassalle. It was not so good at reconnaissance, coordinating operations with infantry, lacked good carbines, but it had class and panache! The building block of military operations was the corps. This consisted of 4 infantry brigades and a powerful corps artillery reserve. In 866 Divisional HQ s were not used as from the experience of 859 it was deemed that they limited the flexibility of the corps commander s deployment and assignment of tasks. It was also realised that, with only a limited pool of competent generals and their staffs, it was best to concentrate them at corps level: well, that was the theory anyway. P a g e 3

4 The basic units in the Austrian Army are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Line,000 Bayonets Deployed in storm columns. Jaeger,000 Bayonets Skirmish trained specialists Heavy Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres Superb Light Cavalry Regiment 800 Sabres Superb illery Battery 6 pieces Superb. The Corps in the North in Bohemia are structured as follows: Corps Line Jaeger Field P a g e 4 Heavy Rocket Battery Light Cav Regt st Brigade 6 2 nd Brigade 6 3 rd Brigade 6 4 th Brigade 6 illery Reserve 3 2 Corps Asset Total Note: The First Austrian Corps had an extra brigade attached. This brigade had been the Austrian garrison in Schleswig-Holstein, but had escaped the Prussians just as the war started on a hazardous rail journey and some hard marching. The Austrian Cavalry consisted of two light cavalry divisions and three Reserve Cavalry Divisions. Most were only fit for battlefield use. Their organisation is as follows: Division Light Cavalry Regts. Heavy Cavalry Regts. Horse illery Notes st Light Division 6 3 Issued with proper carbines! 2 nd Light Division 4 2 Charging cavalry only! Reserve Cav. Divisions Heavy Cavalry in armoured cuirasses! The 4 Army illery Reserve Brigades each consisted of 24 guns, many of them heavy. Archduke Albrecht in Italy made his corps leaner by only having 3 infantry brigades and the corps cavalry regiment was stripped out along with 2 batteries. He also put his rocket batteries into the Tyrol where it was hoped their terror effect would frighten the Italian volunteers. Corps Line Jaeger Field Heavy st Brigade 6 2nd Brigade 6 3rd Brigade 6 Corps Assets 2 Total The Austrian cavalry did not operate in a division but as 2 separate cavalry brigades at Albrecht s disposal. Each consisted of 3 light cavalry regiments and battery and Albrecht made an effort to get them as much as possible to act in the reconnaissance role rather than as battlefield charging cavalry. In the Tyrol the Austrian were deploying a scratch force of reserve battalions, the odd line battalion, rocket troops and some local defence forces. It would eventually come to about 2 brigade s strength, but it was slowly mobilising as the game begins.

5 PRUSSIAN ARMY The Prussian field army had grown dramatically in the years immediately preceding the war, from about 00,000 available for field operations in 859 to 300,000 in the summer of 866. It was thus a very new army on a scale the Prussians had not seen since the War of Liberation in 83. It was therefore no surprise that command and control would be a problem. Like the Austrians and Italians the army had a lot of dead wood at a senior level. Royal favourites demanded juicy command positions that were far in excess of their ability. To resolve this Moltke (see picture) had created his general staff to guide the actions of these potential trouble-makers. They regarded him as a bookish non-entity with low social standing and frequently disregarded his orders. We hope players will vie with each other as the most troublesome army commander, yet still able to keep their command? The basic building block should have been the corps of two divisions each of two brigades, an attached Jaeger battalion and a corps artillery reserve. However in practice divisions were directly controlled by the Army commander and they so frequently ignored or overruled the corps commander that the division has been used as the basic building block for the Prussians in the game. Luckily the division was such a fully integrated combined arms force with attached cavalry regiment and 4 batteries that it could operate for about a day on its own. It was to be the sluggish deployment of corps artillery reserves that let the Prussians down again and again and tended to leave the fighting to the increasingly exhausted infantry divisions. Unlike the army of 83 (or 94 for that matter) with their many Reserve and Landwehr formations that bulked out the army, the army of 866 was largely built around the Regular Divisions. The prestigious war minister, Von Roon, did not rate reservists in general and reserve formations in particular and so only a few Landwehr Divisions were slowly being deployed as war commenced and then only to be used on secondary fronts. This policy was not seen as popular as the Landwehr had been so instrumental in the War of Liberation in 83 against Napoleon and had an immensely strong public appeal to the parliamentary delegates. Where the Austrians had superb artillery the Prussian s had the first army to be equipped with a breech-loading rifle, the famous Dreyse or needle gun (from the elongated firing pin it used to ignite the charge). This had begun to be introduced in the 840 s and this was to be its first great test of war (not counting its use against the Danes in 864). Unlike other rifles in use, it was a rapid firing breech-loader, which could be loaded lying down. While its breech mechanism was said to be poor and prone to gas leakages that stung the face when fired, it gave the Prussians great advantage over the muzzle-loading rifles of their opponents in terms of rounds delivered per minute and by firing from prone position made themselves a difficult target. The Prussians, with their excellent training, fired on command of their platoon commanders and the crack of rounds being fired simultaneously not only hit many, but inspired dread in their opponents. They often morally broke the most ferocious enemy attacks. Some writers have claimed that the victory was down to the Dreyse alone, but this only gives part of the story. P a g e 5

6 What the Prussians had been developing was a quite sophisticated set of tactics. Each battalion consisted of 4 companies each of about 250 men, up to a half of the two lead companies would be deployed in a thick skirmish line, with the remainder kept back a short distance if possible in cover, in a fold in the ground or lying down in a couple of easy manageable groups under the company commanders. These reserves would be used to thicken the skirmish line, when ammo got short, losses mounted or if a good target presented itself. The remaining two companies would be kept further back under the battalion commander and could be used to deliver an assault, thicken the skirmish line if needed or act as a reserve position if it went horribly wrong. For this to work the battalion commander, his company commanders and the company NCO s all had to make decisions that would have taxed a general in an earlier period. To get soldiers to operate like this demanded constant training with live rounds and an educated population who could be made to understand this complex battle drill. In this the Prussian state with a progressive educational system for all and not just the elite and an officer corps who for generation after generation had served the state made for a blend that could make this sophisticated drill work to deadly effect. Note: that the Landwehr Divisions were not kitted with the Dreyse rifle, except the Guard Landwehr Division. This would make them far less effective than regular infantry divisions. When we turn to the Prussian artillery, this was being slowly modernised with the beautifully designed breech-loading Krupp artillery. However the Corps Reserve Brigades were still equipped with a mix of 2 modern Krupp guns and 2 rather aged muzzle-loaders and all indifferently manned. Above all this were 7 Army level illery Brigades deployed to the armies at the pleasure of von Moltke. These consisted of 24 of the old style muzzle-loaders. Even the 24 guns in the divisions were not well handled and frequently keep as a reserve. They tended to be at the back of the marching columns and even when brought forward only deployed battery of 6 guns at a time, and even then often poorly sited. The gunners who had practiced on often small firing ranges had not realised the potential of their guns. They were not to make the same mistake in the Franco-Prussian War of 870. Prussian cavalry was as high status as their Austrian brothers, but was not massed for the decisive boot-to-boot Napoleonic cavalry charge in large cavalry divisions, but tended to be parcelled out in brigade groups of 800 troopers and 6 guns and set the primary task of reconnaissance and hiding the approach of the Prussian infantry divisions. Added to this there were about 600 troopers in each division who provided cover for a division s deployment and often sniffed out where the Austrian formations were. No army of the period would be complete however without their heavy cavalry of cuirassiers and the Prussians were resplendent in their all white uniforms, steel helmets and burnished cuirass on their awesomelooking big black chargers. In a specific favourable situation such mass charges might even still have a place in modern war. The King and Bismarck were often seen in the full dress uniform of their beloved Cuirassiers and Prince Frederick Charles, the st Army commander was known as the The Red Hussar showing how favourably the cavalry were seen. P a g e 6

7 The basic units in the Prussian Army are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Line,000 Bayonets Equipped with Dreyse needle-gun. Landwehr 800 Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifles Jaeger,000 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Heavy Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres Light Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres illery Battery 6 pieces Most Divisions were equipped as follows: Division Line Field illery Light Cavalry Regiment st Brigade 6 2nd Brigade 6 Division Assets 4 Total 2 4 Half the divisions also had an attached Jaeger battalion and these divisions would tend to lead the march-columns. The Landwehr Divisions were similarly structures, but, with the exception of the Guards Landwehr, were equipped with rifled muskets rather than the Dreyse. There were a total of 2 cavalry brigades (8 light and 4 heavy). As stated above many infantry divisions had an attached cavalry brigade. With the remainder kept as a small army reserve. Cavalry Brigade Light Cavalry Regts Heavy Cavalry Regts. Field Light Cavalry Brig 3 Heavy Cavalry Brig 2 ITALIAN ARMY The Italian Army contained a toxic mix of administrative incompetence and political rivalry that would make for a Megagame in itself. The generals were a mix of the old Sardinian military families bested in every confrontation with the Austrians and generals from the newly acquired southern states noted for their dislike for the Sardinians. These two elites shared only one thing: an utter hatred for Garibaldi and his patriot generals who had helped unify Italy over the past generation. Having succeeded in side-lining Garibaldi and his men to the Tyrol, they could then proceed against the Austrian threat. The Italian Army of the Mincio deployed in three very large corps, each of no less than four Divisions with the usual artillery reserve. It was commanded by Alfonso La Mamora (see picture) who was at the same time Army commander and Prime Minister. This meant he had to report to the War Minister as a general, who in turn had to report back to La Mamora as the Prime Minister! P a g e 7

8 The Army of the Lower Po consisted of eight divisions, but for simplicity has been structured into similar large four-division corps. It was commanded by General Cialdini (see picture), who was popular with the liberals, but who was disliked by La Mamora. To ensure La Mamora was put in his place, the King had had to compromise and make Cialdini s command a special mission and not under La Mamora, but under direct Royal control. In the game each corps will have 2 counters representing 2 divisions, they can only be deployed at the same location or within location to show that corps could not be split up and sent to different parts of the front. Each division followed the normal structure of two brigades, with each brigade of two regiments. The regiment was however made up of four battalions, giving no less than 6 line battalions to the division. However, with King Victor-Emmanuel s emphasis on creating as many formations as possible (and create as many officer appointments as possible), the line battalions were all chronically weak, averaging only men at the start of the campaign and frequently less (due to stew of typhus and malaria in the theatre of war) by the time contact was made with the enemy. It was said many only enlisted for the soup and when it ran out so did they! The Italians had toyed with storm columns themselves as they had been so impressed by the furia franchese of their French allies in the war of 859, but decided in the end for the usual one of a thick skirmish line supported by companies in the rear who would be fed into the line until the moment arrived when the enemy was so beaten down by fire that an assault could take place. The problem was that such a system was beyond the Italians due to a chronic lack of cash for powder and recruits that were treated with not a little contempt by their officers as being little more than beasts of burden to be herded to the front. There were some good units, especially in the ex-sardinian army units and many of the light troops, the famed bersaglieri in the cocktail feather hats, high esprit the corps and good marksmanship. But would these be enough to stand against the Austrians? The Italian artillery was on a par with the Prussians, professional and a bit overly cautious in deployment. Also their artillery pieces were only as good as the older Prussian guns and not a match for the fine Austrian pieces. The army artillery brigades were quite weak and lacked heavy batteries to give them much punch. Most of the Italian cavalry were stretched just to provide reconnaissance to the bloated corps, but there were a few regiments held back to create a small cavalry force of three cavalry brigades for the decisive charge if the moment arose. The basic units in the Italian Army are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Line Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifles Often brittle morale Line (Ex-Sardinian) Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifles. Good morale Bersaglieri Bayonets Skirmish specialists Well trained Cavalry Regiment 750 Sabres illery Battery 6 pieces Good crews P a g e 8

9 The Corps are structured as follows: Corps Line s Bersaglieri s Field illery Heavy illery Cavalry Regiment st Division st Brigade 8* 2 nd Brigade 8 2nd Division 3 rd Brigade 8* 4 th Brigade 8 3rd Division 5 th Brigade 8 6 th Brigade 8 4th Division 7 th Brigade 8 8 th Brigade 8 Corps Reserve Assets 2 2 Total * 4 of the battalions in each of these brigades are ex-sardinian units and noted for their higher military professionalism. There will be a morale bonus for these 2 divisions in the game. At Army level there was also a total of 3 Cavalry Brigades and 5 small illery Reserve Brigades of 8 guns. These are at the disposal of the high command team. Brigade Cavalry Regts Field Heavy Cavalry Brigade 2 Army illery Res Brigade 2 The volunteers of Garibaldi were grouped into whatever seemed appropriate and commanded by whatever was available; this usually meant Garibaldi s trusted lieutenants and sons. At the start they had no artillery and only a few very old rifles. It was said they were not even given bread and soup by the Italian authorities as they were so disliked. Well, those are the three main protagonists, but do not forget that this was a war with Austria having the support of the smaller German states in West and Central Germany and these were not Ruritanian in being puny forces but actually quite impressive in quantity and some of them in quality as well. P a g e 9

10 SAXON ARMY The small Saxon Army, which formed IX Corps, was held to be one of the very best fighting formations in the war due to its flexible command structure and able leadership under the Saxon Crown Prince, Albrecht (see picture). Saxony, of course, was largely indefensible unless the Austrian could promise to deploy a large portion of their army by the start of the war. Historically they did not do this and the Saxon army had to abandon Saxony and fight in close support of a detachment of the main Austrian Army in Western Bohemia. This they did with professionalism and verve despite their homeland being overrun. The Saxons had been shown by the Austrians how good storm columns could be, but the Saxons refused to follow the Austrian lead and instead used a slight variation on the Prussian system. I get the feeling they deployed more of their forces in the skirmish line at the beginning of battle, but this could be due to the tactical situation rather than doctrine. The Saxons had a normal muzzle-loading rifle which put them at some disadvantage, but they used cover to good advantage and limited their counter-attacks to where they had a passing advantage. Saxon artillery was good and I am inclined to treat them as good as the Austrians for game purposes. Likewise their cavalry was used to mask Saxon movements and, as there were 4 good regiments of cavalry for what was a small corps, did a splendid job. The basic units in the Saxon Army are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Line,000 Bayonets Muzzle-loaders. Good morale and training Jaeger,000 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Reiter Regiment 600 Sabres Carbine equipped cavalry, good at reconnaissance or the boot-to-boot charge illery Battery 6 pieces Excellent rifled guns equal to Austrians in effect. The Corps is structured as follows: Corps Line Jaeger P a g e 0 Field Heavy Reiter Regiment st Division st Brigade 4 2 nd Brigade 4 2nd Division 3 rd Brigade 4 4 th Brigade 4 Cavalry Division 4 Reserve Assets 4 2 Total

11 BAVARIAN ARMY The Bavarian Army formed the bloated VII Corps and consisted of no less than 4 infantry Divisions each of 2 brigades, a reserve brigade of infantry, a large cavalry division and an equally impressive artillery reserve. In the campaign its commander, Prince Karl, (see picture) would be beset by inter-allied politics. In theory, the army consisted of no less than 50,000 infantry, 7,500 cavalry and 40 guns, however mobilisation could not begin till war had been declared in the Frankfurt Diet/Parliament. Once mobilisation began, it was discovered that no records had been kept of the change of address of the reservists, so only a reserve brigade not a full reserve division could be formed. More importantly, the army was 2,000 horses short of requirements (not just for cavalry but for artillery and supply wagons). These had to be purchased (to borrow the pun on the hoof ) as the war went on. Operationally it meant Bavarian infantry divisions had only two batteries rather than four, which would be a handicap as the infantry were equipped with the unimpressive Podewils muzzle-loading rifle. The finest elements in the army were the highly rated cavalry. These were said to be as good as the Austrians, but possibly better as they were carbine-equipped for reconnaissance work. The basic units in the Bavarian Army are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Line 750 Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifle Jaeger 600 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Reserve Bayonets Morale not as good as line Heavy Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres Excellent Light Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres Excellent illery Battery 4-6 pieces As good as Prussians The Corps is structured as follows: Corps Line Jaeger Field Heavy Cavalry Regiment st Division 2 st Brigade 5 2 nd Brigade 5 2 nd Division 2 3 rd Brigade 5 4 th Brigade 5 3 rd Division 2 5 th Brigade 5 6 th Brigade 5 4 th Division 2 7 th Brigade 5 8 th Brigade 5 Reserve Brigade 6 Cavalry Division 2 7 * illery Reserve 6 2# Total * 3 heavy cavalry and 4 light cavalry P a g e

12 # The divisional artillery and half the corps artillery have all been regarded as field artillery as the heavy 2pdrs had such a poor performance and the more modern heavy batteries frequently only had 4 guns. The Bavarian Army with have 3 counters, each representing two of the infantry divisions and a separate one for the cavalry division. These can be deployed at location or two adjoining locations as they did not split the army apart when on campaign. HANOVERIAN AND HESSIAN ARMIES To give nothing away the 866 Campaign was the last campaign fought by an independent Hanover. It spent much of the war trying to link up with the Hesse-Kassel Army Division and Bavarians further south. The Hanoverian Army under General Arentschildt was on its summer manoeuvres when war was declared so the numbers with the colours were pretty good, but in fleeing south much ammunition and stores had to be left behind. The Hanoverian army mirrored the Austrians in not having divisional commands and consisted of four infantry brigades with artillery and cavalry reserves. They used the usual skirmish line and support system. The Hesse-Kassel Army was not so fortunate and only had 4,000 men in the depots when war began and had to call up the remaining 8,000 as the Prussians closed in on them. The Hessians consisted of just one division with two brigades, but they were equipped with the excellent Dreyse needle rifles and they seem to have copied the Prussian training manuals quite well. The basic units in the Hanoverian & Hessian Armies are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Hanoverian Line 750 Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifles Hanoverian Jaeger 750 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Hessian Line 750 Bayonets Equipped with Dreyse. Hessian Jaeger 750 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Heavy Cavalry Regiment 500 Sabres Light Cavalry Regiment 500 Sabres illery Battery 6 pieces As good as Prussians Hanoverian Corps Line Jaeger Field illery Heavy Cavalry illery Regiment st Brigade 4 2 nd Brigade 4 3 rd Brigade 4 4 th Brigade 4 Reserve Assets 2 # 2 * Total *Heavy Cavalry regiments # These batteries lacked horses Hessian Division Line Jaeger Field Heavy Cavalry Regiment st Brigade nd Brigade 4 2 Total Only 4,000 with the division at the start of the campaign P a g e 2

13 THE VIII FEDERAL ARMY CORPS The VIII Federal Army Corps was the hotchpotch formation of the middling German states under the command of Alexander, the Archduke of Hesse (see picture). This was an important player in the war as it was largely about the fate of these states that this war was fought for. Would they remain independent in a loose confederation of German states under Austrian leadership or would they be incorporated into a large German state dominated by Prussia. An Austrian brigade was also added to provide it some backbone and also to emphasise Austrian support. It was a monstrously sized corps of no less than 50,000 men and over 30 guns in nine infantry brigades and a cavalry division. It was noted for its Ruritanian-style uniforms and Byzantine-like infighting. At the start of the war it was only partially mobilised and would be handicapped by some contingents (Baden and Nassau) not overly keen on fighting, while remaining opposed to Prussian war aims. The basic building blocks in the Federal Corps are the same as above for the Austrians and Hessians. The Nassau troops used the same storm column tactics as the Austrians. The other contingents seem to have toyed with Austrian storm tactics but in practice they seem to have used the usual thick firing line with supports as used by the Prussians. The basic units in the Federal Corps are as follows: Troop Type Size Notes Wurttemberg / Baden Line 750 Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifle s Austrian / Nassau s,000 Bayonets Muzzle-loading rifle and use storm columns Hessian Line 750 Bayonets Dreyse needle gun Jaeger 750 Bayonets Skirmish specialists Cavalry Regiment 600 Sabres illery Battery 6-8 pieces Mostly smoothbores Federal Corps Line Jaeger illery Cavalry Regiment Wurttemberg Division 3 2 st Brigade 4 2 nd Brigade 4 3 rd Brigade 4 Baden Division 3 st Brigade 4 2 nd Brigade 4 Hessian Division 2 st Brigade 4 2 nd Brigade 4 Austro-Nassau Division Austrian Brigade 6 Nassau Brigade 4 Cavalry Division 2 4 illery Reserve 7 Total P a g e 3

14 Well, we have now a run down on the forces involved and how they were organised. This last section is a briefing on how they operated in practice on campaign and on the battlefield. Remember the players are commanding armies and moving corps and divisional counters on the main map and much of what follows is going on below that level. It was all very technical and was mastered by constant practice by commanders and their staffs. We are not expecting you to have to be able to game this yourself, just to be aware that when say a corps of 25,000+ turns up at a location that they are not all there at the same time, available to fight for days on end and that such a force will die to the last man to hold the village of Nichstadt. MARCHING & THE IMPORTANCE OF SECURITY A formation, be it a corps or infantry division, would operate with a small advance guard, then the main body and finally a reserve. The advance guard, operating a few hours march in front of the main body, would consist of a cavalry squadron or two (cavalry regiments consisted of 4-5 squadrons depending upon nationality) a Jaeger company or two (Jaeger battalions would have 4-6 companies) one or two sections of guns (Batteries consisted of 6-8 guns) and a line battalion. The advance guard would mark out best route for the rest of the formation, engage enemy advance/rear guards pushing them back or at least deterring them, uncover major enemy forces, where they are deployed or moving to and a host of other things. As a note the original wargame, the Kriegspiel of von Resiswitz was designed as a training aid for just this level of activity. If you can, try to play a game of it! On the flanks of these formation even smaller detachments than the Advance Guard would be deployed to check on flank security and also report on movements of friendly forces to make sure they were within supporting distance. Then would come the main body with the corps or divisional commander with at least half the formation s infantry strength and a battery or two of guns. The Austrians would tend to have their illery Reserve with the main body so it could deploy as early as possible. Finally a few hours behind the main body would be Reserve with the remaining forces. The Prussians habitually left their artillery with the Reserve and suffered accordingly. In a day a formation would march 0-20 miles with frequent stop to collect stragglers, have a meal, check route to be taken, confirm orders with high command (this was the era of the telegraph and so communication was pretty good). Towards evening it would try to line up accommodation for as many men as possible; the axiom that the worst hovel is more comfortable than the best tent. Every two or three days an army would have a rest day to rotate the advance guard around with the main body, bake bread, slaughter cattle and prepare it for distribution to the men and just rest from the exhaustion of living on campaign when it is either scorching hot(it is summer) or miserably cold and raining. On the road about 3,000 men would pass any one point in an hour. Thus a Division from first to last would take up 4 miles of road space, with gaps between the Advance, Main Body and Rearguard at least 6 hours. Thus for an attacker to fully commit a division would take 6 hours as the troops changed formation from a narrow road column to deploy off-road into battalion and platoon columns. The line of approach would be chosen by the corps, division and brigade commanders and this too would take time. So remember it would take at least 6 hours to fully deploy a division and for a Corps this would be about 0-2 hrs or a full days marching. If there was a secondary road available this was sometimes used, but if it was poor quality then it would exhaust the men and lead to increased straggling. If nothing else was available, the infantry were sometimes asked to march across country, but this led to even slower march rates, frequent loss of boots in muddy fields and the loss of respect of the men by being let down by their superiors. P a g e 4

15 Please note also that this road column is only for the combat troops and the artillery caissons carrying the ammunition for the artillery. The supply wagons, ambulances, ammo and artillery shell reserves would take up even more road space, so a division from front to last would take up 0 miles of road space and a corps 20 miles of road space. To get as many troops as possible at the sharp-end if became so common for the supply columns to be left behind and the troops had to carry 3 days of food, ammo and bedding. This could only be done for a few days when the army had to stop and allow the supply columns to catch up. CONTACT: TO FIGHT OR WITHDRAW? Thus we can see that when formations contact each other only a small part of the attacking formation is actually in contact. Even a defender holding a position would keep at least a quarter (a brigade for a corps or a regiment for a division) in reserve well behind his lines and perhaps another quarter as flanking forces in case they are being attacked from a number of routes. Thus perhaps only a half of a defender s formation would be available for combat from the start. Both sides would then begin the dance of working out what they are facing, are they pinning or intent of assaulting; either later in the day or perhaps tomorrow? Are their flanking forces coming in to help an attack? What are the Army Commander s orders? Should they be followed or should you use discretion and disobey? One of the higher level skills the army teams will need to do learn is how to use the road net to their advantage, be it in attack or defence Examples: Thus at position Alpha, while Black have a number of formations, there is only a single road and only their lead formation can engage. Also as it is in a mountain the approach march will be slower as the road winds its way up the mountain. Also as the contact will be fought in a pass the frontage is so no narrow that there is no space to commit further forces. At Delta as there are two roads approaching the town, Black has been able to send a formation down each road. White have realised this and have two formations ( for each road) available. As black will be crossing the river line the fight of the advance guards is probably slowed. If the battle develops Black can try to call on the forces at Beta to support a possible battle at Delta. Likewise White at Delta can call on the forces at Lambda. At Phi Black are at a serious disadvantage as even though they have two formations they only have a single road to advance on and have to cross the river one at a time. The second formation will arrive pretty late as it follows behind the lead formation or maybe searches out a ford or small bridge. White has 2 formations ready for them right from the start. It will be a tough nut to crack. P a g e 5

16 The initial contact was often enough to deter one side into withdrawing and keeping their forces intact for another day. In these skirmishes losses would be tiny, far lower than the,000 losses that are counters will be marked in. If the withdrawing side has at least worked out that this is a major effort than that is all that should be expected of them; dying for Nichstadt and losing a third of your men is not a sensible use of forces. If, however, both sides have decided that this is to be a Day of Battle then they would order the rest of the column to be brought up and call upon other forces in the area to come to their aid. While the other units in the formation would hurry to the sound of the guns, other friendly formations might not be so obliging: they had their own orders to follow, they were doing a shortened march to give the troops some extra rest, they were just too far away, they were in a different army (and deserved all they get) etc. etc. Even if friendly formations began to move to the fighting, they would probably only have their advance guard on the battlefield by nightfall. If the Army commander s intention was to manoeuvre across a broad front, then his overall plan would be compromised by formations massing at just one location. Now in a day of hard fighting losses would mount heavily on both sides. The Austrians must be prepared for heavy losses due to their tactical system when the faced Dreyse-armed Prussians and they also inflicted heavier losses (those superb guns) than say the armies in Western Germany. The Italian-Austrian fights were very tough for both sides, being habitual enemies. The German-Prussian fights were much less bloody and frequently ended with one side withdrawing before the day of battle. In a day of battle in the attack, one brigade would be committed at a time with other brigades in support or acting as flank guards. illery (corps or even the Army Reserve brigades) would be brought up to cancel enemy guns and if possible force the enemy infantry to ground. Further units would be committed by both sides with the proviso that a quarter of the formation (a regiment for a division or a brigade if a corps) would be kept back as a final reserve if defeat looked imminent as they could act as a rearguard to allow the formation to escape. It was a very brave/foolhardy commander who committed this in a final attack and nothing else coming up. Reserves were all important! At the end of the Day of Battle one side or other would withdraw and the irony being that if there were more than one route, the winner never really knew which road they escaped down! Battles tended to end towards dusk and despite the mass of cavalry available they had to be groomed and fed, not committed to a night ride. The winner rather than pursue would look after the wounded, loot and just rest from the exhaustion of the physical and mental stress of battle. If the defeated party had been broken (there will be a simple morale system for each formation) then thousands of POWs could be taken along with a few abandoned batteries and even the odd standard. These were the symbols of victory! FORTRESSES While not noted for its siege warfare, the 866 campaign in Italy was largely defined by famous Quadrilateral fortresses of Peshiera, Mantua, Verona and Legano held by the Austrians. This effectively channelled the Italians into masking one of these fortresses while the rest of the Italian army faced off/engaged the Austrian field army. Likewise in the North the fortresses around Olmutz and Koniggratz areas provided the Austrians with a bulwark they could fall back behind if things got tough. To besiege and slowly reduce such fortresses took large forces and not a little time. Fortress size will be denoted by a number on the fortress location and by poker-chip fortress markers. P a g e 6

17 NOTES ON WEAPONRY Infantry: The main weapon was the percussion-cap muzzle-loading rifle. That is the weapon was loaded through the muzzle with a minie ball. The minie ball (named after Captain Minié of the French Army) had a flange at its base which expanded when fired which gripped on the internal rifling of the barrel twisting it and so making it far more accurate and powerful than the flintlock muskets (perhaps /3 misfired) of the Napoleonic Wars. The Austrian weapon, the Lorenz, was a nice design and accurate up to 300 metres in the hands of a skilled rifleman. You had to reload it standing up and you could deliver 3 to 5 rounds a minute. Ammunition expenditure was not a major consideration as the hope was skirmish fire from the Jaegers or a platoon detached from the main column would be enough to allow the column to strike home. If there were halted the troops would fan out and return fire in a longlasting firefight. The following YouTube link is to a short film on the Austrian muzzle loading rifle, the Lorenz: When next walking in a park with a friend walk about normal paces (not strides) apart and see how small you are! Do it over 300 meters (400 paces) and the target you are aiming is tiny (use your thumbnail to compare size). As a comparison yards was the effective range of a Napoleonic musket. Now there were some troops in Europe who by careful calibration had been able to lob their rounds out to 800 metres. The famed French Chasseur battalions were able to fire at a high angle and still be able to drop rounds on large formations as they had shown with effect in the Crimean War. The new weapon on the block was the Dreyse needle-gun. It was a bolt-action breechloading rifle, capable of firing from prone or crouching position (making for an even smaller target). The number of rounds if fired individually could double the muzzle-loaders firing rate but as mentioned above tended to fire on command of their platoon commanders firing in an impressive crack every 0 seconds. If assaulted they would do a mad minute and fire off as many rounds as possible. Control of ammunition expenditure was an important consideration hence the importance of feeding fresh platoons into the firing line or withdrawing some to replenish ammo from the battalion ammo columns. The Dreyse had a slightly shorter range than the rifled musket, probably round about the 250 metre mark. Again on YouTube there is a nice short programme on the technology behind the Dreyse In this one there is a short excerpt from a German history programme which shows the firepower and advantages of the weapon: P a g e 7

18 illery: Again, we have technological aspects to look at. The bronze muzzle-loading rifled artillery of the Austrians were fine pieces capable of firing out to 2,000 metres with serious effect and still let people know you are around at 3,000 metres. The Austrian artillery corps were highly skilled and with an incredibly brave attitude to war. Many of the other powers had guns of similar quality but lacked the esprit de corps of the Austrians. Then we have older smooth-bore guns, which by 866 were well out of date. They were a standard type in the American Civil War but rarely capable of hitting anything over,000 metres. Finally we have the Prussian Krupp guns. These superbly designed breech-loading rifled guns were let down by a cautious artillery corps and a resistance to breech-loading guns. Many of the earlier examples caused explosions in the breech killing crew and military observers. The British would even return to muzzle-loading artillery in the period so unsure they were of the safety. They could fire out to over 3,000 metres but I get the impression that the smooth-bore manuals were favoured and so the full effect was never realised at the start of the war. Prussian Infantry preparing to engage! P a g e 8

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