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 Post subject: How to Melee
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:08 pm 
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Sorry for the newbie question, but a search of this forum for "Melee's" didn't answer my questions.

I've played the other HPS games pretty regularly, but I'm just learning the Civil War engine.

Does it make any difference (affect the odds or casualties inflicted) which formation, line or column, your troops are in when they attack? Does it matter which formation the enemy is in? Is one formation more vulnerable to melees than the other?

In the Napoleonic engine, assaults are much more favorable when the attacker is in column and the defender is in line. And assaults when your troops are in line formation are much less effective. Is it the same with this engine?

Thanks.


Lt. Tom Bridges
3rd Brigade
2nd Division
XIX Corps
AoS


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 2:15 pm 
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This isn't Napoleonics... there isn't any advantage to a attack in column formation. In fact, many players frown on using the column to melee because it is not historical.

There are the ususal modifiers for both attack and defense: leaders, flank attacks, terrains effects, fatigue, elevation, breastworks, etc.

BG Ken 'Muddy' Jones
1/1/XXIII Army of Ohio
USA


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Lt. Bridges,

Welcome to the ACWGC, Sir!

You will find that fire modifiers against units in column can be pretty unfavorable, especially when range and density combine. If a unit has an opportunity for defensive fire, an attacking column can suffer more heavily than it would in line. However, once you close in melee with the enemy, formation is of little direct importance to the immediate result. There is one nice difference from HPS Napoleonics, you will be happy to find that by 1865 a disrupted unit is still able to change formation under most circumstances. I too came to the American Civil War after extensive service in the Napoeonic Wars, and was also politely corrected by fellow officers who were not looking to be assaulted by massed columns in the open, whether the rules allow it or not. Now in towns and across bridges it is another matter, there the column is still the assaulting formation of choice. IMHO[B)]

Major J. Ellis
Officer Commanding
1/3/III AoG CSA
Hill Country Rifles


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 4:25 pm 
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This is one rule I don't like, infantry in line formation cannot melee cav units if they are mounted. I don't see why not, if they are crazy enough to try it [:D]. Cav units that are in mounted formantion can melee units that are either in line or column formation

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Lt. Gen. Gery Bastiani
III Corp
AotM CSA



"If there is a shell or bullet over there destined for us, it will find us" - General James Longstreet


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:10 pm 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by boilertech</i>
<br />This is one rule I don't like, infantry in line formation cannot melee cav units if they are mounted. I don't see why not, if they are crazy enough to try it [:D]. Cav units that are in mounted formantion can melee units that are either in line or column formation
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Be careful what you wish for, the instances of Infantry successfully meleeing mounted Cavalry are extremely rare throughout history. I can only think of one occasion when it has happened. Playing turn based simulations makes Cavalry very vulnerable...or rather unrealistically vulnerable...to melee by Infantry. Simply put, men on foot shouldn't be able to 'catch' mounted Cavalry, certainly not in clear terrain. Maybe in woods where mounted Cavalry will already be in a disrupted state. Perhaps make it possible to melee the hex that the Cavalry occupies, rather than the Cavalry unit itself, and force the horse soldiers to vacate the hex that way --- for no loss to either side?

Colonel Jim Wilkes.
2nd Brigade, Cavalry Division, XX Corps.
AoC. U.S.A.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2009 10:09 am 
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I think infantry can melee mounted cavalry when they are completely surrounded. At least, I'm pretty sure you could do that in TS BG. I haven't tried in HPS. Otherwise, infantry would have to be pretty fast runners to catch troopers on horseback...

Lt. General Dirk Gross
XIV Corps/AoC

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:38 am 
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Seeing this has become a general melee discussion I have a question that bothers me somewhat.

Mixed Order was developed in Napoleonic warfare to balance the issues of firepower and mass during the charge by mixing Column and Line formations.

Seeing most of the professional officers studied Nap warfare at West Point, why wasn't mixed order tried in our unfortunate disagreement with the South (been hanging out with rebs to much, I guess).

Was it because of the more accurate firepower from rifled weapons or was it because the training required was more than the fresh levies could handle?



1st Lt Jack Waldron
2nd Bde/1st Div/XIX Corps/AoS/USA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:09 am 
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The following article may shed some light on this topic (italics mine):

"In Civil War tactics, the principal combat arm was infantry. Its most common deployment was a long "line of battle," 2 ranks deep. More massed was the "column," varying from 1 to 10 or more companies wide and from 8 to 20 or more ranks deep. Less compact than column or line was "open-order" deployment: a strung-out, irregular single line.

Battle lines delivered the most firepower defensively and offensively. Offensive firepower alone would not ensure success. <font color="yellow"><i>Attackers had to charge, and massed columns, with their greater depth, were often preferable to battle lines for making frontal assaults. Better yet were flank attacks, to "roll up" thin battle lines lengthwise.</i></font id="yellow">Offensive tacticians sought opportunity for such effective flank attacks; defensive tacticians countered by "refusing" these flanks on impassable barriers. In either posture, tacticians attempted to coordinate all their troops to deliver maximum force and firepower and to avoid being beaten "in detail" (piecemeal). Throughout, they relied on open-order deployment to cover their front and flanks with skirmishers, who developed the enemy position and screened their own troops.

Open order, moreover, was best suited for moving through the wooded countryside of America. That wooded terrain, so different from Europe's open fields, for which tactical doctrine was aimed, also affected tactical control".

Source: "Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War" Editor, Patricia L. Faust

Lt. Tom Bridges
3/2/XIX/AoS
Kansas Dragoons

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:25 am 
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Within the HPS game the column formation is really Road Column (four men wide) which would never be used for melee but the game allows it with only the minor penalty of taking more casualties from fire.

Civil War wise though the column formation was used widely. Sometimes only to make movement easier when approaching where they wanted to go into line at but also for assaults. Typically they used Regiments in Massed Column (one or two company frontage) but they also used Brigade with Regimental frontage and Division.

Sending a regiment into an assault in column of companies was favored where broken terrain made lines difficult or if they wanted to force the men not to fire before engaging hand to hand. Upton used it at Rapahannock Station and on a much large scale at Spotsylvania where it worked and at Cold Harbor where it didn't.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
1/1/III AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:50 am 
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I have read a lots of books on the Civil War, including battle reports and tactics, and I have found a lot of different opinions. As near as I can tell, columns were seldom used, and most fighting was done in two-rank lines. Also skirmishers were liberally employed. I get the impression that most assaults were conducted by waves of lines, spaced to prevent fire at the front rank from affecting following lines. I think that on those cases when columns were used in the ACW it was to discourage units from halting in mid-charge to engage in a firefight with their opponents, a practice that doomed many assaults. I think that the increased range of rifles is what discouraged the column, as well as ordre mixed, which is a line formation followed by columns. It is interesting to note that, while 6 lb guns and smaller were perfectly acceptable in the Napoleonic wars, by the middle of the ACW artillery consisted almost exclusively of 10 lb rifles and 12 lb smoothbores. Or larger.

One slight correction to Tom's post. When you set your flank on an impassable terrain feature it is called "anchoring" your flank. Refusing your flank is when you bend it back so that your flank unit is facing in a different direction than your main line. An example of this would be the famous "fishhook" at Gettysburg, or the "horseshoe" at Chickamauga. It seems to me that in most cases flanks were refused in response to events rather than planned in advance. At least in the ACW.

MG Mike Mihalik
1/III/AoMiss/CSA


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