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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:10 pm 
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I was reading a bio on Napoleon and the author (Andrew Roberts) buried an interesting footnote in the back of his book. During the discussion of the Battle of Waterloo he stated that it was one of Napoleon's worst conducted battles and that crucial errors led to his defeat. Then he had a footnote (which I clicked on with my Kindle). The footnote led to a paragraph about how the Battle of Waterloo is often "wargamed" and that the French win most of the time when they make the correct decisions and avoid the larger errors by Napoleon.

I have to admit that in all the books I have read I have NEVER seen anyone even remotely mention wargames of any kind or in any way. I am legit surprised the editor/publisher allowed the footnote to even be inserted for fear of the academic backlash which might erupt over the inclusion of something so "frivolous" as wargaming.

Does wargaming have any part at all in history books? I mean, of course a wargamer won't repeat major errors which led to a defeat. That would be stupid. So why bother to include the footnote at all? I am amused that it was there but also... why? If you replayed the Battle of Second Manassas what kind of wargamer playing as Pope would NOT prepare for Longstreet's arrival? Hard to say Pope fought a poor battle because wargamers 150 years later had the sense to watch their flank when Pope didn't.

Hmmm.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:14 pm 
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Don't know why this surprises you. It's what we do all the time.

Both sides made mistakes at Waterloo. I think the reference to wargaming Waterloo is that Napoleon's were more serious.

In fairness to Napoleon, he had no idea that Blucher would reinforce Wellington while Grouchy wouldn't reinforce him.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:32 pm 
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Blake wrote:
I was reading a bio on Napoleon and the author (Andrew Roberts) buried an interesting footnote in the back of his book. During the discussion of the Battle of Waterloo he stated that it was one of Napoleon's worst conducted battles and that crucial errors led to his defeat. Then he had a footnote (which I clicked on with my Kindle). The footnote led to a paragraph about how the Battle of Waterloo is often "wargamed" and that the French win most of the time when they make the correct decisions and avoid the larger errors by Napoleon.

I have to admit that in all the books I have read I have NEVER seen anyone even remotely mention wargames of any kind or in any way. I am legit surprised the editor/publisher allowed the footnote to even be inserted for fear of the academic backlash which might erupt over the inclusion of something so "frivolous" as wargaming.

Does wargaming have any part at all in history books? I mean, of course a wargamer won't repeat major errors which led to a defeat. That would be stupid. So why bother to include the footnote at all? I am amused that it was there but also... why? If you replayed the Battle of Second Manassas what kind of wargamer playing as Pope would NOT prepare for Longstreet's arrival? Hard to say Pope fought a poor battle because wargamers 150 years later had the sense to watch their flank when Pope didn't.

Hmmm.


It is probably not as uncommon as you may think. I have seen the reference to wargaming Waterloo several times but I believe it has always been in wargaming books rather than historical accounts.

Once Kriegsspiel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kriegsspiel) had been invented and used by the Prussian army, wargaming began to be part of warfare, initially for training officers and then later for officers in the field to test outcomes of possible future events. The success of it spread and other nations began to adopt similar games for officer training. The website Kriegsspiel (https://kriegsspielorg.wordpress.com/) provides a good overview. Here (https://kriegsspielorg.wordpress.com/articles-2/images-of-the-british-army-equipment-for-the-conduct-of-war-games-on-a-map-1896/) is a British version from the late 19th century.

The main wargaming reference that springs to mind, and that I've seen in a number of historical accounts is D-Day. Rommel had gone on leave to Germany and General Dollman, Commander of the German Seventh Army, had summoned all regimental and divisional commanders to a wargame at Rennes in Brittany. While at the wargame, Allied forces began to land in France. There was a hasty scramble of officers to return to their posts but most of Seventh Army was without their regular officers during the critical first day on the invasion. General Dollman did not live to see the end of the month [the cause of death is unknown/disputed - heart attack from stress or self poisoned are the two most quoted causes].

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2021 6:56 pm 
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I'm not too surprised by this. I don't recall if I've ever read a history about Kriegsspiel (thanks for sharing it Paul), but it's chock full for Napoleonic names. https://kriegsspielorg.wordpress.com/ho ... riegsspiel Beyond the obvious of Friedrich Wilhelm III & his sons Friedrich and Wilhelm, the fact that Karl von Müffling took to it is really interesting to note, especially given his presence at Waterloo. The mention of the Prince von Mecklenburg taking the other side in game was probably the King's brother-in-law Carl zu Mecklenburg. Also, August Friedrich Ludwig Karl von Reiche, who was the Captain of Cadets that mentioned Reisswitz to the Prince's Governor and taught them as well as their cousin Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig. Von Reiche had considerable Napoleonic experience and his cousin Ludwig von Reiche formed & led a Freikorps, the Ausländisches Jäger-Bataillon von Reiche. August Friedrich von Reiche served as Corps Chief of Staff under Han von Zieten during the Waterloo Campaign.

The Prince's governor, Oberst von Pirch II is Otto von Pirch and along with his brother Georg Dubislav Ludwig von Pirch they both served a lot in the Napoleonic Wars and were present at Waterloo. Some of Georg's performance as II Corps commander can be drawn into the issues at Waterloo section. Ernst Heinrich Dannhauer, who was friends with Reisswitz and played in the games, had service under Wilhelm von Krauseneck the Chief of the Prussian General Staff and von Krauseneck had extensive Napoleonic experience as well.

Even the mention of Johann Christian Ludwig Hellwig (forerunner to Reisswitz) in this article, which is also a good read, https://kriegsspielorg.files.wordpress. ... _seven.pdf his son, Friedrich von Hellwig, also led a Freikorps with experience in the wars and was in command of the 9. Husaren Regiment under von Thielmann's III Corps at Wavre.

Von Müffling's glowing endorsement seemed to seal the deal on what a number of folks already knew, but gave it the official push.

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