Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Spanish Ulcer

My guess is that every wargamer has a particular army/project that they 'obsess' about in idle moments.

For me at the present time, that army/project is the Spanish Napoleonic force I am currently window shopping for.

I have made a few decisions. The regular line infantry will be Victrix French 1804-07 - with plumes added. The militia will be a mixture of Eagle miniatures and Perry Carlists. I may add a few Front Rank. The plan is to work on the infantry first and then see what is available for the cavalry and the artillery.

In considering the force I have a number of issues/questions that I am looking to built into the army.

The first relates to the regular forces. From all acounts the Spanish army was hamstrung by outdated ideas, a shortage of officers and corruption. Using Black Powder rules, my idea is to have battalions of 24 infantry but in 4 companies (4 bases). I realise many people prefer 4 figures to a base, but for me it doesn't really give the feeling of massed infantry that I prefer. My plan is then to have the Grenadier detached into small grenadier battlions of 12 figures. And similarly sized units of light infantry.

Thus in an infantry brigade the regulars would have 6 units - 2 standard sized infantry battlions plus 4 small units of detached grenadiers and light infantry. The detached units would not have the 'must form square' special rule though they would be able to form square as part of the brigade.

The brigade would also include between two and four militia battalions of 12 figures on two bases - counting as small units - with the same rules about forming square.

This would create a brigade of between 8 and 10 units, that would have the potential for good fire power, and good support options which encourage the brigade to be used in successive lines in the 18th century fashion, but is unweildy and potentially difficult to control and co-ordinate.

The other idea I am working on is to give this force minimal cavalry and artilley support, perhaps more than the maladministration of the Spanish army explains the percieved poor performance. Also I am struck by the numerous accounts of the army in the field using what can be best described as 'elan' tactics akin to the French in 1914 - that may be surmised in the immortal words of Corporal Jones as, 'they don't like it up 'em.' Hence my current thinking of pitting numerous small Spanish battalions - with a stamina of 2 - against large French battalions - with stamina of 4. The aim is to create an army that is liable to shock, with built in morale and command problems, but doesn't use the catch all - and imo rather silly - unreliable special rule.

If you can get the army deployed correctly and acting on brigade orders, and when close to the enemy using independent moves, then it could be very effective. leaving the commander running around the brigade trying to keep on top of all the shaken units to keep the brigade in the fight.

The current plan is to have two of these brigades, supported by minimal artillery and cavalry.

We shall see how this develops.


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