|16e Division of the V Corps defending the village of Ludwigsdorf during the action at Lowenberg. My defense has smashed a Prussian cavalry brigade and is preparing for the attack of a Prussian infantry brigade.|
I own a few Napoleonic games, specifically JTS' Campaign Leipzig, AGEOD's Napoleon's Campaigns, the Matrix versions of the old Talonsoft Battleground: Napoleon series, and Frank Hunter's Campaigns on the Danube. This gives me a nice mix of grand tactical and operational games for the era. I've never really played them much, though, being more drawn to 20th century armored warfare and the American Civil War. Certainly there are some similarities between ACW warfare and Napoleonic warfare, but there are enough differences caused by the half century of time between the two eras as well as the very different geographies to make them feel very different.
|If nothing else, the Napoleonic wars were fertile ground for painters of battlegrounds.|
Unfortunately when I started playing, this was pretty much the situation in terms of my understanding of Napoleonic tactics.
|About an hour later at Ludwigsdorf. The Prussian infantry commander seems smarter than his "no guts, no glory" cavalry leader colleague and has decided to try and flank me. This has not gone particularly well for him.|
In addition to hundreds of paintings of battlefields, there are hundreds of books on the Napoleonic era, too. I like the Osprey books for the clear narrative of the campaign and usually excellent maps. I did make the mistake of buying this one as a Kindle title. While Osprey has made an effort to present the maps so that they are easier to view on an ebook reader or tablet, it just isn't the same as being able to study a map in a paper book. I've moved all of my other reading to ebooks, but for military history, I still find paper books a better choice.
I did get a much better sense of the overall campaign and why it was fought from this book. It also gave me some idea of how Napoleonic forces were generally employed, and what constitutes Key Terrain on the Napoleonic battlefield.
|The writing style is like if H.P. Lovecraft had decided to write history for the Imperial War College|
In the little bit I have read, Maude has made some excellent points about the necessity of fire superiority on the Napoleonic battlefield. He discusses not just how it won battles in that era, but how the lack of understanding of the need for it created the (in his words) "tragic" battlefield situation in the American Civil War. I found it interesting that an author writing over a hundred years ago was well acquainted with the idea of fire superiority and that he was talking about the need to develop it in battles fought a hundred years before he was writing. I'm beginning to realize that at least in the broad perspective, Napoleonic warfare is subject to the same general principles as modern warfare. While specific tactics may differ the Napoleonic commander needed to understand the same sorts of things a modern commander needs to understand. Wellington certainly never heard of OCOKA, but there's plenty of evidence that he understood it.
Of course, from what I'm reading that's probably a pretty damn accurate behavior for many of the commanders on both sides during this campaign. By 1813, everyone was in pretty rough shape.
|My current reading|