The NWC Newsletter
The official quarterly publication of the Napoleonic Wargaming Club


1. Editorial
2. Featured Articles
      #1 Battle Templates
      #2 Defending Bridges
3. News & Dispatches
4. Analysis
       NiRP's Toulouse, 10 April 1814
5. Commentary
6. Letters to Editor

No. 25  APRIL  2007
Dirk Smith, Editor


Welcome!  First off, let's salute all previous editors, publishers, and staff:

    Pierre Desruisseaux
    Chris Wattie
    Ken Jones
    Rob Hamper
    Tom Simmons
    Marc Lanero
    Bill Peterson

These individuals did a great job creating something we have today.  For the future, we'll issue this quarterly every January, April, July, and October.  The purpose of The NWC Newsletter is to tie the club's activities and communications into a single, easily accessible place.  It aims to be sparse.  We're all busy.  'Sparse' means the reader is able to quickly review the publication and derive from it whatever is of interest.

Looking at the Contents, the reader will see that it starts with this Editorial section, which is how we'll communicate to the club.  Next are articles relating to HPS and Talonsoft (TS) games.  The number of articles depend on writers available, though at least one featured article; if there are no new articles, sometimes we may use a reprint from distant past newsletter.  Next we present club news, divided by different nationality NWC units.  Each newsletter, we'll try to make available for download a 'new' (or rarely distributed) scenario or game.  For example, different Napoleon in Russia Project (NiRP) battles may be used, or a new scenario or add-on for HPS games, and so on.  If a NiRP battle, then all needed files will be made available for download.  Also an analysis of the battle will usually be provided.  If available, we'll next present a Battle Commentary, which is the journal of two players fighting out a battle.  Ideally it will be of the game reviewed in that newsletter.  Finally, we'll end the newsletter with any reader letters.

In summary, the quality of this newsletter depends on the quality of submissions by club members.  Few submissions results in a lower quality newsletter.  Do you have a good article for the next newsletter?  Let us know.  The newsletter is for club members, and it's success will depend on the number and quality of submissions by members.



Battle Templates

Gerald J. Nivison, PhD +

Polish lancers before Wagram
Polish lancers before Wagram

Dedicated to Barry Maunsell, who instructed many NWC (French) cadets years ago.


   2.1 The Principles of War
   2.2 Troop Density
   2.3 The Decisive Time and Place
   2.4 Hard and Soft Points
   2.5 Coup d'Oeil
   3.1 Single Envelopment
   3.2 Double Envelopment
   3.3 Detached Wide Envelopment
   3.4 Oblique Approach
   3.5 Breakthrough and Fragmentation
   3.6 Dislocation
   4.1 Interior Lines
   4.2 Counterpunch
   4.3 Fighting Withdrawal


We must never lack calmness and firmness, which are so hard to preserve in time of war. Without them the most brilliant qualities of mind are wasted. We must therefore familiarize ourselves with the thought of an honorable defeat. We must always nourish this thought within ourselves, and we must get completely used to it. Be convinced, Most Gracious Master, that without this firm resolution no great results can be achieved in the most successful war, let alone in the most unsuccessful.
-- Carl von Clauswitz [CLA12:2]

The aim of this article is to help Napoleonic wargamers win more victories or at least play to a draw a veteran opponent.  The typical reader is assumed to be a member of an on-line wargame club like Napoleonic Wargame Club or International Napoleonic Wargame Club.  The reader is also assumed to have available at least one of the Napoleonic game titles from Talonsoft (soon to be re-released by Matrix Games) or HPS Simulations. [TS, MG, HPS]  Since this article covers advanced topics, it assumes the reader has mastered the basics of game play.  For articles covering basics see Napoleonic Archive Articles.  This article covers a fair amount of tactics and strategy related to warfare and not just wargaming.  If the cited wargames are reasonably accurate models of warfare, then learning tactics and strategy of warfare should directly influence a player's wargaming ability.

The battle templates presented in this article are built up from accepted military theory.  All have been used in historical battles.  These templates should prove useful to Napoleonic wargamers.  The templates are:  (1) Single Envelopment -- a standard, viable attack, (2) Double Envelopment -- used by Hannibal at Cannae, (3) Detached Wide Envelopment -- Napoleon's favorite maneuver, (4) Oblique Approach -- used by Frederick the Great at Leuthen, (5) Breakthrough and Fragmentation -- the simplest in design and also known as a frontal assault, (6) Dislocation -- B H Liddell Hart's maneuver without necessarily a pitched battle, (7) Interior Lines -- another of Napoleon's favorites, (8) Counterpunch -- used by Wellington in the Peninsula and again at Waterloo, and lastly (9) Fighting Withdrawal -- used so effectively by Perponcher at Quatre Bras.  These templates were also used in many other historical battles than mentioned here.

How to attain victory?  As the introductory quote by Clauswitz suggests, experienced gamers have found that starting each new battle against an opponent with the attitude "OK, I'm going to play this guy to a tie" often nets a victory.  Partly this is because by being initially conservative, the veteran gamer waits for the opponent to make a mistake or reveal his intentions and then capitalizes on it by a vigorous, audacious attack. And, partly because the veteran gamer remains calm and has mentally already accepted a tie or like Clauswitz suggests a minor defeat.  One never knows until playing the scenario if the scenario is unbalanced to disfavor.  Or perhaps the luck of the dice is just not with a gamer that day.  Clauswitz lumped such "bad luck" along with fog of war into the meaning of the term friction and said it was a dominant force in war. [CLA32]

There are usually three scales of warfare discussed:  strategic, grand tactics, and tactics.  Napoleon wrote, "Strategy is the art of making use of time and space." [CHA63:161]  Tactics traditionally mean anything within firing range of the enemy.  Grand tactics (or operations) is a bit more nebulous but can be thought of the movement of units at a scale larger than the range of a single weapon but not at the strategic level; perhaps a working definition is that grand tactics or operations is the art of bringing men to the battle.  The theory and battle plans discussed in this article are mostly at the grand tactical or operational scale.  However, these templates can probably -- for the most part -- be extended up to the strategic and down to the tactical scale.  For discussions on Napoleonic wargame tactics see several other analysis titles by the author "Defensive Tactics" and "Offensive Tactics".


The principles of war are the same as those of a siege.  Fire must be concentrated on a single point (or hinge or joint), and as soon as the breach is made the equilibrium is broken and the rest in nothing -- the place is taken.
-- Napoleon [CHA63:32]

2.1 Principles of War

One of the best writings on napoleonic warfare for the wargamer is the earlier, more tactical work by Clauswitz, The Principles of War. [CLA12]  There are other classic writings on the theory and art of napoleonic war by contemporaries or near contemporaries of Napoleon. [FRE47, NAP21, CLA32, JOM38]  There are other more ancient tracts on the art of war which can be profitably read by a napoleonic wargamer. [TZU, FRO, VEG, MAC21, MON70, SAX57]  There is a surfeit of writings in the 20th Century on the topic of warfare and strategy; three good ones are for example Strategy, by B H Liddel Hart, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, by William S. Lind, and the USMC Warfighting Manual. [HAR67, LIN85, USMC89]  As for histories of Napoleon's campaigns, there is no better than the massive tome The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler. [CHA63]  Additional on-line readings are also of interest. [MUR, ROG57, SHE12]

The principles of war have been discussed for centuries.  However it wasn't until the early 20th Century that a self consistent, well articulated, concise set of principles was written down by J F C Fuller in England. [DUP87:16, DUP90:251]  These are listed in order of importance, though the principles listed after fourth are all of near equal importance.  Of course, this order is subject to disagreement depending on sources.  However, the order listed here is justified in the following text.

1. Unity of Command.  Unity of command ensures all parts of the military organization are working toward a common objective.  Napoleon stated unequivocally this was the most important of all principles.  For wargamers, this principle is automatically fulfilled since the player is the only one controlling the pieces of the game.  However, an exception is multi-player games, which can present the same problems to gamers as does split command in real life.

2. Security.  Without a secure base and flanks, and without reasonable knowledge of the enemy position and strength, it is difficult to successfully implement the other principles of war.  Security insures freedom of action.  Security guards against surprise.  This also implies a defensive posture if your forces are outnumbered such that you do not risk a pitched battle.  Why is security more important than, say, objective?  Since intelligence is part of security, without intelligence (or knowledge) of the enemy how can one possibly expect to formulate a meaningful objective?  Further, without sufficient security from harassment, it is difficult to set up for an offensive.  For wargamers, this essentially means to watch your flanks and rear; often this can be done artificially by using the mapboard edge as an impassable morass, which protects at least that one flank or both if your army is situated in the mapboard corner.

3. Mass.  Maximum available combat power must be applied at the point of decision.  Do not separate forces without extremely good cause!  Napoleon stated that no detachment should be made on the eve of battle. (Maxim XXIX)  Without mass, even with a well-chosen objective you will most likely be defeated in detail, hence mass is more important than objective.  Before deciding on an objective first obtain a critical mass sufficient to give reasonable options and chance of victory.  How much is critical mass?  That is situation dependent.

4. Objective.  Every military operation must be directed toward a decisive, obtainable objective.  Without an objective, fighting often degenerates into uncoordinated attacks committed piecemeal.  This sin has occurred so many times in history (and in wargames) that it is near laughable because it is so easily avoided.  Patience and self-discipline are called for in the commander.

5. Offense.  Only offensive action achieves decisive results.

6. Simplicity.  Simple plans expressed in clear orders promote effective execution.  Even a simple plan is difficult to implement in the disorder and confusion that reigns in combat.

7. Economy of Force.  Minimum essential means must be employed at points other than that of decision.  This rule is the inverse of mass.

8. Surprise.  Surprise may decisively shift the balance of combat power in favor of the commander who achieves it.

9. Maneuver.  Maneuver must be used to alter the relative combat power of military forces.  Napoleon stated that the strength of an army, like the power in mechanics, is estimated by multiplying the mass by rapidity; a rapid march augments the moral of an army and increases its means of victory. (Maxim IX)

10. Organization.  Organization is a huge force multiplier.  For example, compare the relative combat effectiveness of a 5000 man Roman legion (in era of the later Roman Republic) to tens of thousands of disorganized Gauls or Germans.  Later as the tribes on the empire's periphery (i.e., Huns, Goths, etc) learned to fight in the same style as Rome, the relative higher combat effectiveness enjoyed by the Roman Empire decreased.

The principles just described in this section will be used to buttress construction of battle templates in the remainder of this article.

2.2 Troop Density

In attack keep a close eye on the density of forces.  This is The Principle of Mass by another name.  It is discussed in more detail here since it is very easy to begin an engagement without having sufficient troop density.  By density, it is meant how many troops there are per linear yard of battle front.  An example from a wargame is shown in Figure 1.

Troop density in defense
Figure 1.  Typical defensive troop density ~4 men/yd in Napoleonic wargame

Let's say each of the 8 infantry battalions in Figure 1 contain 500 men.  Since each hex is 100 meters, and the front covered from top to bottom is 10 hexes, then (8 x 500 men) / (10 x 100 meters) =  4.0 men/meter.  For a comparison to historical troop density during the Napoleonic period, look at the values shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Troop density in Napoleonic battles [WIL39:54]




men per yard






Keep in mind the numbers in Table 1 are averages across the entire battlefield.  The values in Table 1 are totals of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, though the great majority will of course be infantry.  Artillery or cavalry are not included in calculations regarding Figure 1, but can be calculated separately.  The idea is the same though.  In any case stack up as much as possible in the locale that  the decisive attack will be made and use as little as dared in other areas.  The place of attack should be concentrated, say 20% or less of the total battlefield width.  So in the area of attack, it's recommended to have 3X or more of the densities shown in Figure 1.  Aim for something like 15 or more men per yard, all stacked in depth of course!

Troop density in attack
Figure 2.  Typical offensive troop density 15 men or more per yard in Napoleonic wargame

In Figure 2, the density for attack at the decisive point is much higher.  If we assume each of the 33 infantry battalions is 500 men, this time including reserve (held back behind the river), the total is (33 x 500 men) / (10 x 100 m) = 16.5 men/meter.  Note this value doesn't include artillery and cavalry.  However, the artillery and cavalry density at the point of attack should be much higher than elsewhere since cavalry is such a great offensive instrument.  In Napoleonic warfare*, frontage and combat density are near direct expressions of combat strength; maximize them at the decisive point of attack and minimize them elsewhere!

The trick is to build up this attack concentration without enemy knowledge of it.  That is the essence of maneuver in war, and that is what the following battle templates in Chapter 3 are all about.  Read on!

2.3 The Decisive Time and Place

There is in every battle a decisive time and place -- a moment when the balance swings decidedly to one side.  This is an experience of fact both in actual battles and in wargame simulations of battles.  Since there is a decisive time and place in a battle, there are possibilities of creating tactical conditions, through maneuver, that may shape themselves into a crisis, creating a general setting that eventually produces a decisive action.  Recogonizing the decisive moment in a battle is difficult to teach; perhaps only experience can teach it.  However, by understanding the existence of a decisive moment and studying the templates that are presented in this article, the veteran wargamer can shape a battle's events to fit his plan for victory.

One last thing about the decisive time and place.  When it comes, don't hold back; throw the entire kitchen sink in, even the reserve if necessary.  Usually this refers to the attacker, but the defender might have to use his reserve too.  This doesn't mean to use all your forces in a single turn, but over 2 or 3 turns or so, you might have to use nearly ALL your forces to break the opponent.  If you only drive him back a bit, the effect is dramatically lessened.  Experience will teach this best.  Doing otherwise is committing the cardinal sin: committing troops piecemeal.  That is intuitive to a rookie and feels like the most efficient way, but experience will teach that it is not the most effective why to conclusively finalize the battle's outcome.  By "use all your forces", it is meant using them in an attack or counterattack such that their fatigue level goes up several notches or they become disorganized or the activity causes them large casualties or to be routed.  Remember what Clauswitz says about battle: it is really like two 500 lb gorillas trying to scare each other.  That's what you're trying to do to win:  break and rout the enemy, and that really means your opponent's (i.e., opposing commander's) confidence not just his troop strength, fatigue, or order in game mechanics.

2.4 Hard and Soft Points

Don't forget to account for the arrangement of the enemy.  He usually will have heavily defended and weakily defended points.  Some theory texts suggest attacking the weak points, which they call soft points or gaps, while bypassing the hard points. [HAR67, LIN89]  An example of this is the island hopping by US Marines in the Pacific in WW2.  They only attacked several key islands and skipped many others.  This was an exercise in economy of force as well.  Another example is the German attack at the Battle of the Bulge in WW2; the Germans en masse hit the Americans through the dense Ardennes Forest, which the U.S. forces had assumed protected them to some extent from armor.  Achieving complete surprise, the German forces overwhelmed the few American infantry divisions in the area, most freshly created and recently arrived from the States. [BRA99]

2.5 Coup d'Oeil

Frederick the Great mentions in his book the importance of a commander possessing coup d'oeil.  This French phrase literally translates into English as "striking eye", though the military meaning is probably better stated as "correctly appraising the lay of the land with regard to the enemy and battle".

Knowledge of the country is to a general what a rifle is to an infantryman and what the rules of arithmetic are to a mathmatician.  ...  The coup d'oeil of a general is the talent which great men have of conceiving in a moment all the advantages of the terrain and the use that they can make of it with their army.  [FRE47:27-31]

He recognizes three kinds of coup d'oeil: (1) instantly perceiving advantages of terrain during a meeting engagement, (2) when attacking an enemy in their defensive position being able to perceive at first glance the weak spot of the enemy, and (3) correctly judging the capacity of the enemy at the commencement of a battle.  It is on exact knowledge of the terrain that is regulated the dispositions of the troops and the order of battle of the army.  As a wargamer, you have near perfect knowledge of the terrain via the mapboard -- use it by studying the terrain.  For example, is there a stream running parallel to the direction of advance which can be uses to stop cavalry charges to the flank?  When making a defensive stand, are there two seperated copses of woods on to which to anchor each end of the defensive line?  Is there a depression running parallel to the proposed defensive line in which can be positioned an infantry line with artillery firing above from the ridge behind it?  And so on.


In our plan of battle we must set this great aim:  the attack on a large enemy column and its complete destruction.
-- Clauswitz [CLA12]

The art of generalship consists in, when actually inferior in numbers to the enemy, being superior to him on the battlefield.
-- Napoleon [CHA63:170]

Note that the two quotes opening this section have the same intent.  From the principles of war, we realize that only offensive action can attain ultimate victory.  A draw may be obtained by defensive action.  Thus since we aim to win a battle, we will need to employ offensive action. 

Importantly, don't underestimate the power of reconnaissance in wargaming, particularly when your opponent is a stranger and new to you.  By creating a small opening general action between say a brigade or division of mixed forces, you can get a feel for how your opponent fights.  Is he overly aggressive?  Overly timid?  Does he take risks unnecessarily?  Has he mastered the basics of tactics?  All these can assist you in settling on a final approach to defeating him.

If one side has a 6 to 1 advantage in forces, a straight ahead direct attack will certainly carry the battle often even if the enemy is entrenched or fortified.  However, the overwhelming direct attack is so boring as to rarely be found in a wargame or battle simulation.  Typically the forces in a wargame are more closely matched or victory conditions are such that even if one side has a large force relative to the other the large force can not afford to lose large numbers of troops and still win.  Thus, artifice or stratagem is required to attain victory.  In this section and the next, we'll study several stratagems.  Many of these seemed favored by Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and Wellington, among other great captains of war.

Frederick the Great said a battle no matter how complicated can always be broken into a right flank, a center, and a left flank. [FRE47]  B H Liddell Hart's basic premise was that it is not so much to seek battle as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that, if it does not of itself produce the decision, continuation by battle is sure to achieve this. [HAR67]  Clauswitz recommended choosing as the object of the offensive that section of the enemy's army whose defeat will give decisive advantages. [CLA12]  There are an infinite number of ways to conduct a battle.  However, such anecdotes as these indicate that perhaps there are a few general ideas which can be molded into several distinct battle templates.  By template it is meant a plan general enough to be applied to many different battle situations while yet remaining specific enough to be useful in an actual battle.  Perhaps a better word than template is 'idiom' though 'template' gives the distinct impression of forming a specific battle plan from a master archetype and therefore is retained.

A study of battles, both real and simulated, reveals successful recurring templates.  These are discussed in the following.  The battle templates explained are not worth much if one remains ignorant in how to implement certain tactics at crucial places and times.  Note that each of these templates rely heavily on movement and maneuver as much as firepower or melee, with intent of producing the greatest number of men at the location of the decisive attack which has been chosen in advance as much as possible.

Finally, notice that every one of the battle templates shows a reserve.  This is not incidental nor an accident.  As Helmuth von Moltke said, "He who commits his reserve last wins the battle." [MOL93]

3.1 Single Envelopment

In essence the single envelopment is piling up all possible forces into either flank and attacking, trying to turn the opponent's flank, and ideally attacking him from his rear.  This battle template is illustrated in Figure 3.  Either the right or left flank is made very strong (mass) while the opposite flank and center of the line are very weak (economy of force).

Single Envelopment
Figure 3. Single Envelopment is probably the most oft used battle template

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
This is a simple battle plan and should be able to be employed in almost any situation.  It is recommended for wargame scenarios in which the battle lines are already or nearly engaged without sufficient time to employ one of the other more complicated templates.

The single envelopment was used repeatedly by Grant and Lee in the later stages of the Civil War as each tried to turn the other's flank. ** 

3.2 Double Envelopment

The double envelopment has a great military history.  Examples of battles in which it was used are Cannae, Cowpens, and Isandlwana.  This battle template is shown illustrated in Figure 4.

Double Envelopment
Figure 4. Double Envelopment was used by Hannibal to annihilate an entire Roman army at Cannae

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
At The Battle of Cannae (2 August 216 BC), Hannibal placed his Gaul and Spaniard allies in the center and his Carthaginian troops to the outside.  During the battle these highly trained flank troops slowly enveloped the Roman mass.  What is amazing at Cannae is that the Roman Army at around 90000 men outnumbered Hannibal's force nearly 2 to 1.  However due to its inexperience and bickering between proconsuls it had difficulty maneuvering to stop the double envelopment during the battle.  At The Battle of Cowpens (17 January 1781) during the American Revolution, the plan was not initially to use a double envelopment, but after the forward, first line formed of militia fell back and regrouped, it charged around the flank of the friendly second line formed of continentals, who were depoyed in the center, and opposite to the other flank from which colonial cavalry was charging, effectively making the battle one of double envelopment.  The result was a near complete wipe out of the British force, all either killed or captured.  As a third example, this template was used by the Zulus of South Africa to completely wipe out the British 1st Battalion, 24th Foot at The Battle of Isandlwana (22 January 1879).  The Zulu's favored battle method was the "chest" and two "horns" of a bull, supposedly championed by King Shaka; this method is none other than the double envelopment.

The weakness of this method is that the weaker center can be smashed, breaking the line into disjointed pieces which can be defeated in detail (see battle template Breakthrough and Fragmentation).

3.3 Detached Wide Envelopment

This differs from a Single Envelopment in that the flanking attack is made by units which completely detach from contact with the friendly main body. 

This was Napoleon's favorite stratagem, termed La Manoeuvre sur les Derrieres (maneuver on the rear). It is said that Napoleon used this stratagem no less than thirty times between 1796 and 1815. [CHA63:163]  Given that he directly commanded in some 60 or more battles, this amounts to his employed method about 50% of the time.  Look at Figure 5 for a summary description.

Detached Wide Envelopment
Figure 5. Detached Wide Envelopment was Napoleon's favorite

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
A critical feature present in this template is a screening of the detachment.  This can be by natural obstacles like a forest, large city, elevated terrain, or artificial like light cavalry.  The main thing is that the detachment is not observed by the enemy.  A real strength of this stratagem is its potential for complete surprise.  One of the strongest weapons of offensive warfare is surprise. The unexpected element which the defender creates through secret preparations and through the concealed disposition of his troops can be counterbalanced on the part of the aggressor only by a surprise attack.  Against an opponent who remains in static defense waiting for you to attack, this wide envelopment can be a useful maneuver.  David Chandler's book [CHA63] says Napoleon typically detached about 1/3 or more of his force to come wide around to the flank or rear of his opponent.  Napoleon said later at St. Helena he had wanted to use this maneuver more. 

The weakness of this method is that the two forces can be confronted separately and defeated in detail (see battle template Interior Lines).

3.4 Oblique Approach

This is Frederick the Great's favored maneuver, which he called Schiefe Schlachtordnung (oblique formation). [FRE47]  He used something akin to this successfully at the Battle of Luethen, 1757.  Look at Figure 6 for a graphical description.

Oblique Appraoch
Figure 6. Oblique Approach was Frederick the Great's favorite

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
The great advantage of this approach is that poor quality troops are kept out of the engagement and on the defensive.  Ideally, the poor quality flank and center is posted on a village or other natural obstacle favoring the defensive.  Further, to engage these poorer quality troops, the enemy has to advance which further weakens his ability to defend the assault on the opposite flank.  If one can get this angled alignment against your opponent, this template has a lot going for it.

3.5 Breakthrough and Fragmentation

Some military texts call this Penetration and Exploitation.  This is also known by another name as a frontal assault.  In general, it is not recommended for use in Napoleonic warfare, at least by this author.  Even with 6:1 odds, the casualties incurred by attacker are often very large.  Napoleon used this template when necessary, for example at The Battle of Lutzen (2 May 1813).  Proceeded by a terrific discharge of a grande batterie, near the end of the battle the Imperial Guard charged headlong into the Prussian center.  However the French lost 20,000 to 30,000 men, a similar number as their opponents, and the net result was that the allies were simply driven backwards and no penetration was obtained.  France suffered more the losses, being greatly outnumbered by all the nations allied against her at that time.  At Waterloo, where the frontal assault was employed again against the reknown British infantry firing rate, d'Erlon's Corps suffered 35% casualties in 1 hour.  See Figure 7 for a picture of this template.
Breatkthrough and fragmentation
Figure 7. Breakthrough and Fragmentation can allow destruction of enemy fragments

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
Note that in the Napoleonic era often this template is accompanied by a grand battery which prepares the way prior to the main assault.

The advantage of this maneuver is that if a breakthrough does occur, the opponent is fragmented and can be defeated in detail.  It is also extremely simple to execute.  As such it was nearly the only method used by the ancients, for example at The Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC) where Alexander the Great drove straight up the middle at Darius the Persian King.  It is somewhat ironic that the Persians attempted to use their numerous cavalry in a double envelopment in this battle; however, Alexander's audacity straight up the gut broke that maneuver.  This is illustrated in Figure7B.

The battle of gaugamela
Figure 7B. Final stages of The Battle of Gaugamela

Recently there has been support offered for this frontal movement. [LUT01]   This is in stark contrast to the negative image imparted it by Prussian staff (Clauswitz, et. al.), their intellectual decendents (WW1 and WW2 Germany), and English theorists (J F C Fuller and B H L Hart). [CLA32, MEL56, HAR67]  Basically the idea is that flank and other more complicated manuevers are more difficult to implement and therefore have inherent organizational friction.  (Here friction is the term coined by Clauswitz.  "Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest is difficult.  The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is unconceivable unless one has experienced war." [CLA32] )  The frontal assault is simple and direct and therefore has less inherent friction, which increases its chance of success.  For example a Detached Wide Flank manuever may be detected by the enemy, which means that now the forces are split (violating the principle of mass) and have lost the element of surprise (violating the principle of security).  The latter two negative consequences are inherent in the Detached Wide Flank manuever.

Keep in mind that with armored forces this is the key maneuver.  Hating to encourage ahistorical behavior in Napoleonic warfare, still it would be remiss to not disclose the following method or "trick of the trade".  Akin to armored warfare, if one masses all the horse artillery batteries of an army with elite light infantry and lots of heavy cavalry, this mass can act similar to an armored fist in WW2.  Since the horse artillery can move and shoot in the same wargame turn, it has much of the same game aspects as does a tank in more modern wargame simulations.  Stacking each battery for protection with a formed light infantry battalion or two along with multiple companies of skirmishers in the same hex for additional firepower and with heavy cavalry as a threat just behind, this creates a pseudo-tank.  With each stack separated by a single open hex in a checkerboard fashion, the entire formation can move forward with relative immunity and shoot point-blank at nearby enemy targets.  Very, very nasty.  In some aspects, this tactic is historical, since Napoleon used something similar at Wagram (5-6 July 1809), advancing along a river to protect one flank and using a huge amount of horse artillery and cavalry to protect the other. [CLA12]

3.6 Dislocation
Via maneuver, this template seeks to create an untenable defensive position which makes the enemy either dislocate or fight a battle at a severe disadvantage.  This was the paragon preached by B H Liddell Hart in the book Strategy. [HAR67]  Often this battle template is simply the intent of exploiting a gap in the enemy's main line.  Or it can be threatening an enemy asset (such as a supply depot or national capital), which causes the enemy to withdraw from carefully prepared positions.  An example of this template is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Dislocation uses maneuver to create an untenable defensive position

Here, denoted by "1", the friendly force seeks to exploit a gap and threaten an enemy asset, which causes the enemy "2" to withdraw and defend his threatened asset, thereby fighting in the location of the attacker's choosing.  This was employed by General Lee, CSA, prior to The Battle of Gettysburg; the south invaded the north to cause the Army of the Potomac to leave its heavily entrenched positions south of the capital and move west into Pennsylvania.  This template is such that the order of battle must be uniquely determined for each situation for which it is employed.

The classic counter to this ploy is to launch your own dislocation attack on an enemy asset.  This was done by Scipio the Younger when he crossed the Mediterrean Sea near Sicily and fell upon the Carthaginian capital, causing Hannibal to give up his (now seven year old!) dislocation attack on the Roman hinterland.

Another dislocation campaign was Sherman's march to the sea where he dislodged from a conventional train-based supply and lived off the land as did armies of old.  By threatening the deep south where the confederacy was born, he caused tremendous desertion in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, whose southern troops raced back home to protect their individual homesteads.  This ended in Appomatox Court House.


Once having engaged the units nearest to the enemy, you have to let them go without worrying too much about their good or bad fortune.  Only you must be careful not to yield too easily to requests for help.
-- Napoleon [WIL39:112]

The battle templates shown above are more aggressive in nature with the attacker trying to force the opponent's actions to fit into his plan.  Sometimes, due to inferiority in numbers, quality, or position, a belligerent is forced to use more reactive battle templates.  In this section, three of these are shown, (1) Interior Lines, (2) Counterpunch, and (3) Fighting Withdrawal.

4.1 Interior Lines

This was another stratagem oft used by Napoleon, called Centres des Operations (center of operations).    An example of this is the battles at Ligny against the Prussians and Quatre Bras against the Anglo-Allied.  Here, Napoleon split the opposing forces in two and defeated each in detail.  However, he was soon after defeated because his lieutenants (Grouchy) did not prevent the Prussian Army from re-uniting with the Anglo-Allied Army at Waterloo.  It was a very close run, however, and given that he was greatly outnumbered it showed that Napoleon still retained great military prowess contrary to some horse-hooey bandied about his mental abilities dramatically diminishing in his later years.  (Even as late as 1814, the stated Allied strategy was to always avoid a direct engagement with Napoleon himself and instead attack forces commanded by his lieutenants.  Is that diminished ability?)  As shown in Figure 9, the main army is placed between two opposing armies, and then in (1) it marches to defeat one and then in (2) it marches to defeat the other.

Interior Lines
Figure 9. Interior Lines was another of Napoleon's favorites

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
Interior lines is used most often when an army inferior in numbers is opposed by multiple armies greatly superior.  By attacking each army in turn, the numerically weaker belligerent can master another much greater in numbers.  Military textbooks state that great strength of character is necessary in a general if he is to employ this desperate template because friendly forces are setup in a way that easily could allow a converging, overwhelming attack by a combined opponent.

4.2 Counterpunch

The Counterpunch is a one-two sequence of events.   It is useful when the enemy is superior in numbers and over-confident.  First the enemy attacks, and when the attacker begins to lose impetus through disorder, fatigue, or other, then a well placed counterattack is delivered (i.e., "The Hammer" strikes).  It could also be termed "Parry and Counterattack".  This is illustrated in Figure 10.

The Hammer
Figure 10. The Counterpunch was probably Wellington's most often employed template

This ploy has a bit of subtlety, and can be very devastating. "At first exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterward emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you." [TZU]  At the tactical scale, this maneuver would be termed an ambush.  This template seems to have been employed by Wellington, who was often numerically inferior to his foes.  The opponent is allowed or even encouraged to attack, which is absorbed, and then when his attack has spent itself -- which always at some point naturally occurs to an attack against a defense in depth -- a decisive, concentrated counterattack is launched at a critical point in the attacker's line using a centralized defending force which has been saved and hidden from enemy view.

Personally, the author favors this absorb and counterattack stratagem above the others for wargames.  Though this template to some extent waits for the opponent to commit himself, the counterattack should be swift when it becomes apparent where the enemy's main attack has fallen.  It has an element of ju-jitsu (throwing the other guy with his weight) in it.  The key to this stratagem is to remain concentrated behind the lightly defended main battle line, defend in depth that area of the line to dilute the attacker's impetus -- refusing a flank if necessary as shown in Figure 10 (dashed lines), and then counterattacking at the right moment when the opponent is unbalanced and disorganized and at the right place where he is drawn out (not concentrated).  Take special note that this template's success is highly dependent upon properly implementing a "defense in depth" and upon recognizing the decisive moment to counterattack.  As such it is probably not well-suited to rookies.

This template requires distributing your order of battle into the following forces:
Ideally the counterattack by the hammer destroys a sizable chunk of forces netting a decisive victory.  However, several steps must precede that decisive counterattack.  These are:  (i) set up a secure order of battle, (ii) recon in force to gain information about the opponent's abilities and force distribution, (iii) adjust forces to match opponent's maneuver, (iv) allow opponent to mount attack, (v) absorb it with solid defensive tactics and use of ready reserve if necessary, (vi) counterattack at a single concentrated location of the opponent's line using "The Hammer" to punch a hole in it and destroy a large-sized force, and finally (vii) deliver coup d'grace to the entire battle line with final reserve. 

The key danger in this template is that if the opponent's initial attack is never stopped, or sufficiently slowed, or deflected, he will permanently gain -- probably decisively -- the initiative, which goes a long way in attaining victory as he sets the tone and development of battle.  The way to prevent this is with a defense in depth which thwarts him from connecting with your main body and causing it mischief before the impetus of his attack degrades and disorganizes.

4.3 Fighting Withdrawal

Sometimes this is the only option available.  It is not technically an attack, though since the force is not entrenched this template still qualifies as a maneuver and so is discussed here.  Usually in situations where employed, there is not time to setup a Counterpunch.  Or there are insufficient forces to create the decisive counterattack force.  For example, the Anglo-Allied at Quatre Bras or the French initially at Marengo or Saltnovka, the only thing early in those battles was to maintain a viable defensive line.  There were barely enough troops to do that.  For this template, the idea is to disengage where ever possible and slowly withdraw while maintaining unit cohesion, watching flanks, and awaiting friendly reinforcements to gather sufficient mass before taking the offensive or risking a pitched, head-to-head battle.


All quiet on the Western Front.
-- Ernest Remarque

A static battle template is another name for a siege.  Vauban is the name to start with regarding siegeworks in the 17th and 18th centuries. [VAU]  Sieges did happen in the Napoleonic era.  However, static defense in that era was often unsuccessful.   (Or in modern combat for that matter because the advent of heavy caliber weapons -- i.e., artillery and more recently aircraft and combustion powered missiles -- and mobile armored forces have doomed static fortifications.)  Therefore, we won't discuss these templates in this article.  A more recommended defense template is an active in-depth approach which seeks opportunities to counterattack (see Counterpunch maneuver).  And more importantly since our emphasis in this article is simulations, being time dependent (i.e., starve or bomb out your opponent) sieges make for boring wargaming.


No battle plan survives intact the first contact with the enemy main body.
-- Helmuth von Moltke [MOL]

In conclusion, before you plan your next great manuever using one of the templates shown in this article, make sure you (if playing a scenario which has limited initial engagement and visibility) find and if need be fix the enemy.  If you don't know where the enemy is and prematurely try, say a flanking manuever, you'll unhappily discover your army swatting air!  Remember the U.S. Army's 3F's doctrine:  find 'em, fix 'em, and f**k 'em!  (This is the army's unofficial slogan, and it has been handed down verbally generation to generation since the Civil War and U. S. Grant.)  For example, march in three groups abreast, aiming the central fixing force at the enemy's main body.  Once the enemy is found, engage him with whichever group is nearest and then using the remaining forces begin one of the battle template maneuvers described in this article.  Also, don't forget that several templates may occur during the temporal progression of a battle.  For example, you might start out in a Fighting Withdrawal and as reinforcements arrive end with Counterpunch.  As another example, you might begin with a Single Envelopment, have things go awry (remember the Clauswitzian friction always present in war), and end up in a Fighting Withdrawal.

This brief survey of the types of templates that can be applied to your Napoleonic wargame battles is now concluded.  Remember that no amount of reading will produce the ability to always create a victory; some victories depend solely on the ability of your brain to improvise and reason.  However, with the above described templates, perhaps you can combine them into a new variant or use one as is.  Hopefully, you've read something in this article that you can use to translate into a victory in the gaming arena in the immediate future.

Bon chance!


+  I play these Napoleonic wargames with a passion.  However I now do so using an alias since by writing these analysis articles I give up a lot of my playing style to an opponent before they even begin to play against me.  So regrettably, please don't send emails challenging me.  I no longer play wargames with my real name.  The reasons for this should be obvious.

*  It should be obvious that troop frontage is not the only important thing in modern warfare.  Airplanes, armor, long-range artillery, airborne infantry, minefield, fortifications, and so on make troop frontage only a rough indicator of modern combat power.

**  This recurrent turning action brings up the author's all-time favorite military story.  I don't know why, perhaps being an American by many generations and being from the North with ancestors who served in the Michigan and Indiana volunteers, but this story nearly brings tears to my eyes.  In many ways it was the turning point of the war since the Northern soldiers now knew they had a general who had mettle equal to Lee.  It had been a long, long, long wait.  Rather than paraphrase it, I will quote it directly from a very admirable author, Fletcher Pratt, in the book A Short History of the Civil War, page 311. [PRA48:311]

[After The Battle of the Wilderness, May 8, 1864.]   ... and the fight went on.
     On into the dark when the armies halted to take count of their loss.  The Army of the Potomac had suffered frightfully, 17000 men down, more than twice as many as the rebels had lost.  The new general from the West had fared no better than the others against Lee, the war would never end, and the Union troops crawled out of their lines and began to head away eastward along the dark roads.
     "Licked again, by crackey!"
     At Chancellorsville House there is a three-corner.  The road to the left led back across the Rappahannock, back to the Potomac, out of that grim wood to fortifications, comfort and safety; that on the right led past the rebel front, deeper than ever into the perilous and uncertain Wilderness.  As the defeated troops came slogging down to the turn, the dispirited soldiers saw dimly a solitary man in an old blue coat sitting horseback at the cross-roads with a cigar in his mouth.  He silently motioned the guides of each regiment down the right-hand road.  Grant.
     They stared a moment -- and then the slanting lines of steel took the road to terror and death, upborne on an uncontrollable wave of cheering.  "That night the men were happy."
     They could never be beaten now.


[BRA99]  Omar N. Bradley, A Soldier's Story, Modern Library, 1999.

[CHA63]    David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, Scribner, 1963.

[CLA12]  Carl von Clauswitz, Principles of War, 1812.  on-line

[CLA32]  Carl von Clauswitz, On War, 1832.   on-line   on-line

[DUP87]   Trevor N. Dupuy, Understanding War, Paragon House, 1987.

[DUP90]   Trevor N. Dupuy, Understanding Defeat, Paragon House, 1990.

[FRE47]  Frederick the Great, Military Instructions for His Generals, 1747.   on-line    on-line

[FRO]  Sextus Julius Frontinus, The Strategemata, 1st Century A.D.  on-line

[JOM38]  Antoine Jomini, The Art of War, 1838.

[HAR67]  B H Liddell Hart, Strategy: The Indirect Approach, 2 ed., Meridian, 1967.

[HPS]  HPS Simulation's Napoleonic games:  Napoleon's Russian Campaign (NRC), Wagram, Jena-Auerstadt, and Waterloo.

[LIN85]  William S. Lind, Maneuver Warfare Handbook, 1985.

[LUT01]  Edward N. Luttwak, Strategy  The Logic of War and Peace, Belknap Press, 2001.

[MAC21]  Nicollo Machiavelli, The Art of War, 1521.

[MEL56]  Maj Gen F. W. von Mellenthin, Panzer Battles, Univ Oklahoma Press, 1956.

[MG]  Matrix Games:  soon to re-release the Talonsoft (out of business) company's game titles.  There is disagreement between gamers as to which system is better TS vs HPS.

[MOL93]  Helmuth von Moltke, Moltke on the Art of War, edited by Daniel J Hughes, Presidio, 1993.

[MON70]  Raimondo Montecuccoli, Concerning Battle, 1670.

[MUR]  Anonymous, Murphy's Laws of War.   on-line

[NAP21] Napoleon, The Maxims of Napoleon, 1821.  These maxims were not actually written directly by Napoleon but were instead recorded by those around him while at St Helena island.   on-line

[PRA48]  Fletcher Pratt, A Short History of the Civil War, 1948, Dover reprint 1997.

[ROG57] Major Robert Rogers, Roger's Rangers Rules or Plans of Discipline, 1757.   on-line

[SAX57]  Maurice de Saxe, My Reveries on the Art of War, 1657.

[SHE12]  Captain C.O.Sherrill, Military Topography for the Mobile Forces, Menasha, Wisconsin: George Banta Publishing Co., 1912.  on-line

[TS]   Talonsoft's Napoleonic Battleground series games:  Napoleon in Russia (NiR), Prelude to Waterloo (PTW), and Battleground Waterloo (BGW).  Alas, the Talonsoft software company is now defunct, though recently Matrix Games has expressed interest in updating and re-releasing these three titles.  You may obtain copies of these CDs through eBay for example.

[TZU]  Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 6th century B.C.  on-line   on-line

[USMC89]  "Distributed" by USMC General Gray, Warfighting, 1989.

[VAU]  See works by Vauban, 1633-1707.  on-line    on-line

[VEG]  Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari (The Military Institutions of the Romans), 4th Century A.D.  on-line

[WIL397]   Charles Willoughby, Maneuver in War, Military Service Publishing Co, 1939.


Defending Bridges

Gerald J. Nivison, PhD

crossing the river nieman, 1812
Crossing the River Nieman in 1812


   2.1 Defense Basics
   2.2 ZOC and Hex Grain
   2.3 Types of Bridges
   3.1 Type 1
   3.2 Type 2
   3.3 Type 3
   4.1 Defending Both Sides
   4.2 Defending Artillery Concentrations
   4.3 Not Defending a Bridge
   4.4 Adjustments



Maxim XXXVI. When the enemy's army is covered by a river, upon which he holds multiple bridges, do not attack in front. This would divide your force and expose you to be turned. Approach the river in echelon of columns, in such a manner that the leading column shall be the only one the enemy can attack, without offering you his flank. In the meantime, let your light troops occupy the bank, and when you have decided on the point of passage, rush upon it and cross the bridge. Observe that the point of passage should be always at a distance from the leading echelon, in order to deceive the enemy.
-- Napoleon [NAP21]

The aim of this article is to help Napoleonic wargamers win more victories in scenarios dealing with defense of bridges.  The typical reader is assumed to be a member of an on-line wargame club like Napoleonic Wargame Club or International Napoleonic Wargame Club.  The reader is also assumed to have available at least one of the Napoleonic game titles from Talonsoft or HPS Simulations. [TS, HPS]  Since this article covers advanced topics, it assumes the reader has mastered the basics of game play.  For articles covering basics see Napoleonic Archive Articles.  This article covers a fair amount of tactics and strategy related to warfare and not just wargaming.  If the cited wargames are reasonably accurate models of warfare, then learning tactics and strategy of warfare should directly influence a player's wargaming ability.


Nothing is more difficult, not to say impossible, than to defend the passage of a river, especially when the front of attack be of too great an extent.
-- Frederick the Great [FRE47]

2.1 Defense Basics

It is assumed the reader understands the basics of how to defend in TS and HPS games.  The tactics used in either can be highly dependent upon options chosen.  Suffice it to say that as defender you should never allow "Line Movement Restriction", which the author believes very strongly as unrealistic.  As defender in HPS games never agree to play with options allowing multiple melees and get the attacker in the scenario to play using MOE3 rules.  Further, obviously it is in the defender's interest to play with "hard" ZOC.  Otherwise the tactics described in the article will not work!

However, some of the most important rudimentary basics will be reviewed briefly for benefit of a novice reader.  (1) Keep infantry battalions in line formation to maximize firepower and minimize fire effects.  (2) Keep commanders in C&C; generally this means 2x4 for Allies and 3x6 for French.  Keeping C&C will double your firepower because you'll decrease time your battalions spend in disorder, and reduces the chance of routing when taking a morale check since disordered units get a -1 modifier when checking morale.  (3) Keep artillery and cavalry up-close to your formed infantry battalions.  Artillery and cavalry are psychological threats as much as real ones in game terms.  Up close is where artillery can make a big difference.  (4) Understand that usually killing enemy units is the key, not obtaining or retaining obective hexes.  By destroying the enemy's main force, you can then easily capture whatever objective hexes you want.

2.2 ZOC and Hex Grain
To purists, this topic is annoying.  However it is a fact in these computer wargames:  our soldiers live in a hex-grained world.  So you might as well accept it and use hex grains properly.  In this article we will exploit hex grains and zones of control to their fullest.  Be prepared!  There are really only three hex grains in these games due to the way the hexes are laid out and the LOS rules for ZOC and firing are designed.  These three directions are shown in Figure 1.

hex grain
Figure 1.  The three hex grain directions in computer wargames

2.3 Types of Bridges

Because of the hex grain and terrain considerations, we classify in this article bridges into three types, as illustrated in Figure 2.

three types of bridges
Figure 2. Three types of bridges.

Type 1 bridge is probably the most frequently encountered; it is the second easiest to defend, as we shall explain shortly.  Type 2 is probably the next most commonly encountered.  It can be difficult to defend since ZOC can be exerted on the opposite bank (or bridge span if multi-hex spanned bridge) only from a hex at the end of the bridge -- allowing direct melee assault across the bridge.  Type 3 is uncommon; it is a chateaux or other fortification on the defender's side of the creek.  This is probably the easiest bridge to defend, given plentiful skirmish companies.

Note that all these same concepts apply to multi-hex span bridges.  The concepts used for defense are the same, except the attacker will be on a multi-span bridge hex rather than on the opposite side of the hexside creek.


Have the course of the river watched by bodies of light troops, without attempting to make a defense at every point.  Concentrate rapidly at the threatened point in order to overwhelm the enemy while a part only of his army has passed across.
-- Baron Antoine de Jomini [JOM38]

This section is a rework of a previous "hidden" article written for a select group of NWC play testers of the NiR Project The Battle of Wavre (which is the ultimate scenario in bridge defense) in the year 2000.  As such, the author decided to include it here to make it available for a wider audience.  Note that is assumed (1) that the river or creek which is spanned by the bridge is impassable in game terms, and (2) that the time frame of the scenario prevents the attacker from moving downstream or upstream of the creek until a fordable place or another bridge is found.  If multiple bridges are present on a mapboard in a scenario, then each bridge must be garrisoned as described in the following for the overall bridge defense to work.  Take heed of Frederick the Great's admonishment in the preceding section's quote; do not try to defend too long of a span of a river with many bridges; each scenario will have to be taken into account in itself.  If a river line is deemed too long or having too many bridges or fords to defend, it is better to withdraw to a better defensible terrain that allows your defensive line to be shorter or at least its natural length given the force composition, size, and terrain.

3.1 Type 1: Bridges That Can NOT Be Melee Assaulted

Some bridges are placed in the map hex grain in a way that if the defenders are correctly positioned, enemy units can neither move nor melee across the bridge.  For bridges spanning creek hexsides or deep water hexes, which are impassible to all units (except with engineers with pontoons in the HPS Campaign series), this means the hexside obstacle can not be traversed until the bridge is captured.  This is very useful when delaying an enemy force.  In this section, how to defend these types of bridges is discussed.  For an abstracted view of how to defend such a bridge, take a look at Figure 3.

Type 1 Bridge
Figure 3. Defending a Type 1 bridge

This figure is an abstraction that minimizes aspects not relevant in a normal map view.  Here the bridge is defended by three infantry battalions, three skirmisher companies, and one artillery battery.  The blackened hexes to the southeast hare hills.  The darkened line on the hexsides is the impassable creek.  The key concept to this setup is the zone of controls of Battalions #1 and #2.  As evident in Figure 3, if a unit moves up to the east-end bridge hex, it is stopped by the ZOC of Battallion #1.  In the next enemy movement phase, the ZOC of Battalion #2 prevents movement across the bridge.  Also note that since no unit lies on the west-end of the bridge, this bridge can not be melee assaulted.  The only way to get across is by causing the defender to give way due to losses sustained from firepower.  Note that the ZOC of Battalion #2 is not needed until an enemy unit moves up to the east bridge hex.  Therefore, keep Battalion #2 out of fire path unitl it is needed to block movement across the bridge.  No need exposing troops until they're needed.  Battalion #3 is used to replace Battlalion #1 or #2 when either becomes fatigued (i.e., fatigue value of more than about 4) or routed.  The skirmisher companies along the river screen the battalions from fire and apply additonal fire to the enemy units on the opposing side.  The skirmisher companies can move up and down the west bank of the river as better targets arise.  The artillery battery is placed in such a way that it can not be hit by musket fire from the east bank of the creek.  It also has enfilade fire on any unit approaching the east-end hex of the bridge.

Two other examples of defending Type 1 bridges are shown in Figures 4 and 5.

example 1
Figure 4. Example of defending a Type 1 bridge

example 2
Figure 5. A second example of defending a Type 1 bridge

A variant of this defense is using a single battalion in the hex occupied by Battalion #1 in Figure 6, but rotated clockwise one hex spine to face southwest.  In this way, this single battalion's ZOC covers both end hexes of the bridge.  The weakness in this defense lies in exposing the battalion's flank to enfilade fire by opponents across the river and perhaps artillery on the ridge.  This variant could be a last ditch effort when only one battalion is available.  This is shown in two ways in Figure 6.

example 3
Figure 6. A third example of defending a Type 1 bridge using a single unit

The key to defending Type 1 bridges is leaving the friendly-end hex of the bridge open.  If a unit is in the friendly-end hex, it can be melee assaulted across the bridge, which unbalances the whole defensive tactic; take care not to do this!  To counter this tactic, the assaulting player will concentrate his fire on either Battalion #1 or #2 or both, and therefore they will eventually rout or become fatigued.  You must rotate your battalions back and forth from positions of protection like Battalion #3 to the defense of the bridge.  Otherwise, your front will melt away.  A defense such as this with 4 or 5 rotating battalions can hold a bridge for a very long time. 

3.2 Bridge Type 2: Bridges That Can Be Melee Assaulted

Defending Type 1 bridges seems very nice if you are the defender.  However there's always a fly in the ointment and a Type 2 bridge is it; it can not be defended in the manner described in Section 3.1.  As shown in Figure 7, some bridges are laid in the hex grain such that there is no way to defend the bridge without being assailable by melee.

Defending a Type 2 bridge
Figure 7. Defending a Type 2 bridge

The best defense for this is to stand back a hex, screen your infantry with skirmishers, and counter-attack mercilessly any enemy battalion that melees across the bridge.  As this is considered road movement, keep in mind that only one unit and its accompanying leaders may move across or melee across a bridge.  Use this disadvantage to the attacker to smash any battalion that melees across the bridge.  You usually can win such a melee and capture the units for lack of retreat hexes. (A unit can not be pushed back from melee across a bridge since that is road movement and is not allowed during melee.)  In Figure 7, Battalions #2 and #3 are sitting out of LOS for just that purpose; to counter-attack and smash any successful melee.  The defense shown in Figure 7 can be used for the other types of bridges too, but the other bridge defense tactic described in Section 3.1 is preferred because it leaves no room for doubt - "the attacker just ain't gettin' across".

Militia or Landwehr are good candidates for these types of jobs.  There is no threat of enemy cavalry charge so they don't have to change to square under large threat values.  They are not that valuable for regular combat, so using a half dozen of these battalions rotated at the front end of the bridge is the real deal.

3.3 Bridge Type 3: Bridges Defended by Fortification or Chateaux

Another type of bridge is one that is has a chateaux or fortification in the hex on the friendly side of the bridge.  This type of bridge is shown in Figure 8.  In that case, stack 250 skirmishers in the chateaux and keep adding more to replace losses below 250 from the friendly side each movement phase.  The bridge defense can be considered nearly impassible.

Defending a Type 3 bridge
Figure 8. Defending a Type 3 bridge

One key point to keep in mind is that high walls block zone of control!  Why the exclamation?  If there is a high wall in a defending hex, say the south-facing hexside in Figure 8, then ZOC of the defending unit is blocked.  For the situation in Figure 8, it is not a problem, but if the chateau were placed to the side of the bridge, this might be a problem, as in Figure 6 for the southern bridge labeled "1".  If that chateaux has a high wall, then a battalion in it would NOT extend ZOC across the bridge!  Thus the enemy could move across.


When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-stream. It will be best to let half the army get across, and then deliver your attack.
-- Sun Tzu [TZU]

4.1 Defending Both Sides of a Bridge

There is one more way of defending a bridge across unbroken creek hexsides or water hexes. You can place units on both sides of the bridge.  I've seen this done in The Battle of Ligny (TS) by Prussian players.  This can be a delicate maneuver particularly in face of large numbers of opposing troops on the other side of the bridge.  The main concern is losing a melee with no routes of retreat open; your units are then captured.  KNOW THIS:  You can not retreat from a lost melee across a bridgehead; your unit is lost for no ZOC.  See Figure 9 for an example of this.

No retreat for disordered line
Figure 9. Defending both sides of a bridge

In this figure, a 75 man skirmisher has just lost a melee at the east end of the bridge.  Since is has no available ZOC to retreat through it would only be able to retreat across the bridge.  But, as this figure shows, the game engine does not allow this.  However, placing skirmishers on the opposing side of the river can gain you a few additional turns of delay before the attack begins on the bridge hex.  In the case of the bridge type shown in Figure 9, it's probably best to stay on the friendly side of the river.  However, at defender discretion a skirmisher or two may be placed in a road on the opposite bank inward a few hexes if the enemy does not have LOS to them.  In this way, the attacker's road movement is stopped for a single turn and he won't know ahead of time to surround the defender during his movement phase to cut off your retreat.  In the case of Figure 9 however, it may pay dividends to have an infantry battalion guard the opposite bridge hex.  Make sure to place skirmishers on each flank to prevent being cut off from retreat.  Once the attacker has brought up forces in strength, the defender should get that unit back across to his side.  Personally, this maneuver is not recommended, but is suggested to keep the reader's mind alert for other alternatives.  The main reason to be leery of this tactic:  What do you do when your line unit disorders?  Units in line formation can not cross a bridge.

4.2 Defending Artillery Concentrations

A good assaulting player will realize he doesn't have a good chance of melee success across a bridge.  He'll then revert to the obvious: using artillery concentration.  So when the attacker masses dozens of cannon across one bridge head and begans to blow away the defending battalions, what do you do?  This is a difficult situation, but one you are almost certain to encounter.  So, be emotionally prepared for it.  Let's make a list of things we can try. 
  1. Perhaps, the best answer is to mass your artillery on the opposing side and fire counter-battery fire.  Try to get your batteries on higher elevation to gain the fire modifier.  Just remember that for every cannon you destroy, you get 4 pts, while he, if he maintains fire on your infantry, will get 1 or 2 pts (1 or 2 SP) per shot.
  2. If the assaulting player has brought up his artillery to within musket range of your side of the river bank, place all your skirmishers to fire at his artillery.
  3. Hide your battalions behind all blocking terrain possible.  Only leave the lead battalion in the LOS of artillery; the "lead" battalion is the one that maintains a ZOC to the opposing bank's bridge hex if defending like Section 3.1, or your side bridge hex if defending like Section 3.2.  Rotate this lead battalion so that it doesn't become so fatigued to be useless for many hours.
  4. Use skirmishers to shield your infantry from artillery if on the same elevation as the artillery.
  5. Finally, if it is bad enough, withdraw your infantry battalions to be out of sight and keep a skirmisher at the bridgehead so that the attacker will have to melee across the bridge to get across.  When he does this smash that lead battalion with one of your larger-sized battalions (only one), to regain the bridgehead on your side of the river.  Make sure you have a large enough skirmisher to ensure it is not blown away during the assaulting player's defensive fire phase, otherwise he will move across the bridge with the empty hex on the otherside.  Of course, all this is only if the fire from the artillery becomes so bad that you are losing a great deal of troops to the battery.
  6. Keep in mind the number of shots of artillery allowed to the attacker.  Make sure the attacker uses up a disproportionate amount of ammunition getting across the river, which can be a good tactic for when he confronts you in open battle later.

4.3 Not Defending a Bridge

As stated in the quote opening this section, sometimes it might be better to wait further back from the river and meet the enemy when he has crossed half his army over the bridge.  This strategem is something you'll have to decide on a case-by-case basis.  If there is only one or two bridges, the creek is impassable along the entire mapboard length in question, and  you have sufficient forces, it might be best to defend the bridges quite vigorously.  However, if there are many bridges, few defenders, and long river lines, it might be best to drop back and counterattack once the opponent has crossed a part of his force.

4.4 Adjustments

Of course, against a good assaulting player, you will have to make adjustments.  Do so as needed.  Also, depending upon position the attacker has selected for his main assault, you will have to shuffle troops as well.  So keep a reserve back from the river and equally centered between bridges and move to the bridge that appears to be the main assault.  However, don't be fooled by a ruse and leave a bridge unguarded.  If you've decided on defending the bridges, keep them all plugged all the time!  And, even if it's just a single Landwehr battalion or a skirmisher. 


[CLA12]  Carl von Clauswitz, Principles of War, 1812.  on-line

[FRE47]  Frederick the Great, Military Instructions for His Generals, 1747. on-line    on-line

[HPS]  HPS Simulation's Napoleonic games:  Napoleon's Russian Campaign (NRC), Wagram, Jena-Auerstadt, and Waterloo.

[JOM38]  Antoine Jomini, The Art of War, 1838.

[MG]  Matrix Games:  soon to re-release the Talonsoft (out of business) company's game titles.  There is disagreement between gamers as to which system is better TS vs HPS.

[NAP21] Napoleon, The Maxims of Napoleon, 1821.  These maxims were not actually written directly by Napoleon but were instead recorded by those around him while at St Helena island.   on-line

[TS]   Talonsoft's Napoleonic Battleground series games:  Napoleon in Russia (NiR), Prelude to Waterloo (PTW), and Battleground Waterloo (BGW).  Alas, the Talonsoft software company is now defunct, though recently Matrix Games has expressed interest in updating and re-releasing these three titles.  You may obtain copies of these CDs through eBay for example.

[TZU]  Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 6th century B.C.  on-line   on-line


The following news items were the only ones received by the newsletter for this publication.  Hopefully next quarter more feedback will be obtained.


Kapitein Valère Bernard, Anglo-Allied Administrative Adjutant of Anglo-Allied Army would like to announce the  promotion of two anglo-dutch officers to the highest rank in our army for their excellent duty on the battlefield:

· Mr GEERT VAN UYTHOVEN, Anglo/Dutch Army Commander, to the rank of Generaal
· Mr ANDREW MOSS, cmd of 2de brigade, 2de Nederlandsche divisie, I Corps, to the rank of Generaal

Also, note that
· Mr GLYN HARGREAVES, 2nd/95th Rgt of Foot, 3rd brigade, 2nd Corps, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel



With his victory at Raab, Jim Pfluecke has been granted the Raab Battle Medal.  However, what is even more noteworthy is that has also given him the points to be promoted to:

· Mr JIM PFLUECKE, Commander, Austrian Cavalry Reserve, 3 Graf O'Reilly Chevauxleger Rgt, Hahn Grenadier Bn, to the exalted rank of Feldmarschall!


For his promotion to the rank of Marechal of La Grande Armée:

· Mr DOUG FULLER, Duc de Montmorail et Comte de Hainaut, 2e' Grenadiers a' Pied de la Vielle Garde, I Corp Commander, AdN

Two new officers have joined:
· Lieutenant BOB RILEY - Assigned to VI Corps
· Lieutenant GIOVANNI BOFFI - Assigned to VII Corps

Further, that after many years, the French armies are adopting a common training system.  This new school, Ecole Militaire, is to be headed by Monsieur le Marechal Paco Palomo.  In order to start the new school, the Ecole de Mars, the academy that has trained many of the greatest officers in the French army, has closed after many years.  Commandant Dierk Walter is to be commended for his great service over his 2 year stewardship of this institution.

Having acheived the worthy goal of 30 Victory Points is appointed to His Majesty’s Vielle Garde and the command of Escadron des Gendarmes d'Elite:

· General de Division GREGOR MORGAN, le Commandant IIIeme Corps Armee duNord

Further the Emperor to show his trust and confidence in this officer’s abilities has granted him the titles:

        Duc de Montebello et Comte de Gironde



Club Miscellaneous


The Battle of Toulouse
NiR Projects Add-on to Talansoft's Napoleon in Russia

Gerald J. Nivison, PhD

[FILENAME+ and : "01. Battle of Toulouse (Historical)"]
Single Battle - The Battle of Toulouse (50 turns, Medium) - 10 April 1814 [Historical]  The news of Napoleon's abdication on 6 April in northern France did not reached the city of Toulouse in southern France until the evening of 10 April.  Soult with 42,000 men and Wellington with 52,000 men therefore are set for the last and ironically useless battle of this campaign.  Soult, awaiting reinforcements from Italy, believes he must still do his duty for The Emperor!  As always, the Allied peninsula veteran's morale is high.  The forces present, placement at the begining of the battle, and scripts are historical.

+NOTE: The files are NOT a complete game; you will need a starter directory from NIR.  Read the "how to" on the download page for help.   Required is the Talonsoft original NIR CD in your CD drive to start the game.


   1.1 Background
   1.2 Mapboard
   1.3 Order of Battle
   1.4 Objectives
   2.1 Anglo-Allied Strategy
   2.2 French Strategy



[Reputedly upon catching Marechal Soult by the arm while he was in London for the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838]

"I have you at last!"
                       -- Duke of Wellington

This review is very brief.  Perhaps the author will return to it in the future after further time playing with this scenario and expand upon it.  If the reader has any comments or suggestions, the author would like to hear them.  However, it serves to get players a rough appreciation of this interesting twist of British attacker versus prepared French defender.

1.1 Background

[NOTE: Much of the following background is a modified version of several articles appearing in Wikipedia and other freesource web sites.]

In spring of 1814, following the allies successful invasion of southern France, the city of Toulouse was one of the few remaining urban centers still loyal to Napoleon.  Retreating north from Spain, Soult entered Toulouse on March 24th.  His first task was to issue fresh arms and ammunition, clothes, and supplies to his men.  Over 8,000 French troops were without shoes and thousands more lacked even the most basic of equipment, much of it abandoned during the pursuit from Orthes.  Fortunately, Toulouse was a French Army main depot and stocks and supplies were plentiful.  Reinforcements were also found there, which made good some of the losses of the previous few weeks.

Figure 1. Location of Toulouse in southern France

The city of Toulouse was surrounded by a high wall, flanked with towers, but the defences were nowhere near as strong as those at any of the other main towns besieged by Wellesley in the peninsula. The wide river Garonne flows through Toulouse (see Figure 2).  On the west bank of the river was the fortified suburb of St Cyprien, while on the east the suburbs of St Etienne and Guillemerie.  To the north and east of the city flowed the Languedoc Canal and even farther to the east was the river L'Hers.  The main defense of the city, however, was the Calvinet ridge which ran between the L'Hers and the canal to the east of the city.  In fact, the feature called the Calvinet was two ridges, the second actually being Mont Rave.  The ridge, standing some 600 feet high, overlooked the city and once taken, Wellesley's siege guns would be able to pound away at the city with ease.  A series of redoubts were therefore constructed upon the ridge, notably the Augustins and the Sypiere. Other entrenchments were dug also.

On April 10th, 1814 an allied army of the Sixth Coalition, composed of British, Portuguese and Spanish troops under the supreme command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, laid siege to the city of Toulouse.  The Allies had around 55,000 men, and the French around 40,000.  The allied army aimed to take the heights to the east of the city before attacking the city fortifications.  There were three feints and one main attack in The Duke's plan.  The feints on Toulouse were to the east (Stewart's 2nd Dv) and to the north (Picton's 3 Dv with Portugese and Spanish contingents).  The main effort (Cole's 4th Dv & Clinton's 6th Dv) was a wide enveloping movement east of the redoubts on Calvinet ridge; the target of the attack was the south end of Calvinet ridge.  Once in position to the southeast, about 4 PM the 6th Division started to advance north to clear the French from the Calvinet ridge.  It succeeded in driving them from the southern end of the ridge only, achieved after very heavy fighting.  For example, the Augustins redoubt changed hands five times.  Wellesley then ordered guns dragged to the heights of the southern ridge, an operation that was difficult in the extreme, but one that forced Soult to withdraw his army west toward the city. 

While the 6th Division struggled for possession of the ridge, Picton -- ignoring Wellesley's instructions -- launched a second attack to the north of the city.  As earlier in the morning he was again beaten back with heavy casualties including Thomas Brisbane, commanding a brigade of the 3rd Division, who was wounded, and Colonel Forbes, of the 45th, who was killed.  Altogether, Picton's division suffered 354 casualties in his vain assaults north of the canal.

At about 4.30pm Soult finally ordered the Calvinet ridge abandoned.  The remaining defenders had come under increasing pressure not only from the 6th Division, but also from the batteries of artillery that Wellesley had ordered up.  With the withdrawal from the ridge, all French troops were now within the perimeter defined by the canal and at 5 PM, with the light beginning to fade, the fighting died down.  Both armies slept that night on the blood-soaked ground they had fought so hard for during the day.  The allies sustained around 4,600 casualties and the French 3,200.

In the evening of April 10th, Soult received an official communique from Paris informing him that Napoleon had surrendered to the Coalition forces in northern France.  Unsure of what to do, Soult's generals advised him to surrender the city, as reinforcements were unlikely to arrive and further news reached Toulouse informing Soult of the surrender of French armies across France.  The real irony was that this battle need never been fought at all, since Napoleon had already abdicated four days earlier on 6 April 1814.  The next morning Soult prepared to abandon Toulouse.  As nightfall fell on the 11th, his troops began to file out of the city along the road south towards Carcassone.

With the surrender, French resistance in the south collapsed and the defeated Napoleon, who had already surrendered, was exiled to the island of Elba.  The city was briefly placed under Coalition control during the summer of 1814, with the withdrawal of allied troops in September 1814.  The Peninsular War finally ended on April 17th when Soult signed an armistice. Six years of war had come to an end and with it came the break up of Wellesley's Peninsular army.  It was scattered to various parts of the world including America.  It had marched, it is calculated, over 6,000 miles and had fought undefeated across the Iberian Peninsula.  Of that army Wellesley later said, "I could have done anything with that army. It was in such perfect order."

1.2 Mapboard
As an introduction to this scenario, familiarize yourself with the map in Figure 2.  This is the entire mapboard.  The top direction of the map is toward north.  The map is 89 hexes wide and 89 tall (9 x 9 km or approximately 5.5 x 5.5 miles).  Because of the locations of the units and objective hexes, the entire map mostly likely will be used during the battle simulation.  In the map in Figure 2, the city of Toulouse and the Garonne River are plainly visible.  The large elevated area running north and south to the east of the city is Calvenet ridge.

Figure 2.  Toulouse area map (Jump Map view) showing initial positions

1.3 Order of Battle
A detailed comparison of the forces is shown in Table 1.  This table should be considered an approximation with probably up to 5% error due to speed with which numbers were tallied and double-checked.  There are no reinforcements for this scenario.  Thus all forces stated below are immediately available.

Table 1.  Order of Battle Comparison


Line Infantry (men / battalions)
28375 / 53
26500 / 60

Light Infantry (men / battalions) 4925 / 10
6150 / 9

Lower Quality Infantry (men / battalions)* 10350 / 21 1775 / 3

Horse Artillery (guns / batteries)
22 / 4
12 / 2

6 & 9 lb Artillery (guns / batteries)
78 / 13
56 / 7

12 lb Artillery (guns / batteries) 0 / 0
16 / 2

Light Cavalry (troopers / regiments) 5350 / 20**
3000 / 8

Heavy Cavalry (troopers / regiments) 2825 / 11
250 / 1


Infantrymen (Bns) / Guns (Btys) / Cavalrymen
43650(84) / 100(17) / 8175
34425(72) / 84(11) / 3250

     *  For example French national guard or Spanish with Quality 2 or 3.
Includes about a dozen lower strength Portugese and Spanish cavalry regiments.

This table gives a quick method to compare forces.  The number of infantry battalions gives a good indication of the amount of fatigue a side can absorb before becoming incapable of combat, and thus the longevity of action.  The number of infantrymen gives an indication of the amount of damage (i.e., SP kills) a side can absorb.  These two numbers are more of a defensive nature.  Keep in mind that the absorbing nature of a poor quality infantry battalion is much less than a good one; veterans know from experience that a QL 2 or 3 battalion probably won't be there in 45 minutes (or shorter).  This gives the French a slight edge in non-Lower Quality infantry with 69 battalions versus 63 for the Allies.  Surprisingly, the French have nearly 50% more light infantry.  However, in every other area the Allied forces outnumber the French. The offensive nature of the combatants lies in the number artillery batteries (and therefore maximum number of shots per turn) and cavalry regiments.  In this scenario the French are mostly "dug-in" behind fortifications or impassable river obstacles.  And with nearly equal artillery, the advantage in infantry and cavalry enjoyed by the Allies is compensated by the fact that the defensive form of war is considered the stronger and the French are on the defensive in this scenario.  Thus, coarsely considered to this point in analysis, the situation and the forces together seem somewhat equal given that to win the Allies must oust the French from several difficult places or cause them to lose significant numbers of troops or both.  In short, the scenario at this level of analysis appears balanced.

British 33rd Foot
British 33rd Foot

1.4 Objectives
In this scenario the Allies will probably lose unless they gain a few objective hexes.  This is because the Victory Points are set so that the Allies MUST attack the ridge, as happened historically.  Therefore, the Allied player will have to go after a few of the objective hexes.  Conversely, if the French try something tricky, for example ignoring defense of either side of the River Garonne and then using a few battalions to plug the bridgespan, they will be hard-pressed for anything better than a draw if faced with a mildly competent Allied opponent because of the way the VP's are distributed among objective hexes.


We always have been, are, and hopefully always will be detested in France.
-- The Duke of Wellington

2.1 Anglo-Allied Strategy

The Allied strategy probably should follow Wellesley's original plan, as shown in Figure 3.  To do otherwise causes a frontal assault on fortified positions resulting in large numbers of Allied casaulties and most likely a French victory. 

Figure 3. Wellesley attacked the less heavily defended southern part of Calvinet ridge

Wellesley's plan used the 6th and some of the 4th British Dv in a wide envelopment to the east of the ridge, then turned north and attacked the southern end of the Calvinet ridge, which was less heavily fortified.&  The other areas should be assaulted but only enough to prevent the French from withdrawing forces from those areas and moving them to the main effort on Calvinet ridge.  The feints are shown in Figure 3 by the thin arrows; the main attack and its preceding movement is shown with a thick arrow.  It will take a few hours to move the 6th Dv and Cavalry Corps south.  While doing, its western flank should be protected by the Cavalry Corps.  Its eastern flank is (artificially) protected by the mapboard edge.  Make sure this flanking detachment while marching south remains out of artillery range from the ridge.  Also notice that the flanking detachment will have to cross two bridges over the impassable creek Riviere L'Hers, one at Pont de Periole and one further south at Pont de las Bordes.

As commander in this scenario, your decision will be how much of the 4th to send with the 6th, and how hard to press the diversionary assaults.  Press them too hard and you may lose too many troops; press them too little and the French will rearrange his troops to help defend the Calvinet ridge. 

Attack Northeast of Toulouse by Portugese and Spanish Contingent's and (Elements of) 4th Division

First you will have to decide to cross the Riviere L'Hers at the very north of the map using the bridge and the ford, or cross further south nearer the Calvinet ridge.  If you choose the latter, you must fight and hold the Pont de Periole which allows crossing the Riviere L'Hers (impassable creek).  This might erupt into a major battle, depending upon what the French player does.  Once that bridge is controlled, send over the 6th Dv, the Cav Corps, and as much of the 4th Dv as you dare.To avoid this type of action (which did not happen in the real battle), you can use the northern transit.  It'll take a bit more time, but you won't become engaged too early.

Once across the Riviere L'Hers, this flanking detachment will move south out of Calvinet ridge artillery range until the force is abreast of Pont de las Bordes.  Here, you may have to fight for control of this bridge, depending on the French player.  Once across again west of Riviere L'Hers, commence attacking the ridge from the south.  The first objective is the high point at hex (70,65).  From there move north up the ridge bypassing the enclosed fortications unless weakly defended and only attacking and fighting for the objective hexes which are in unfortified hex areas.  Commence an aggressive attack from the north of the ridge to prevent the French from moving forces that way.

While attacking, understand that the real battle outcome was considered a draw, so don't try heroics to "win" the battle by using excessive force to clear the ridge, which can cost you in troops so dearly that you sustain a pyrhic victory.

Diversionary Attack West of Toulouse by 2nd Division

The key here is that the fortifications are not contiguous.  There is a hex without fortifications in the outer wall.  With that you can assault or at least threaten to assault that position.  The French player will probably pull back to the second wall once the Allied begins to threaten that weaker part of the outer wall.  Remember you are not trying to win the battle from this front, but only tie down the troops that are there from reinforcing the main attack to the southeast   Use your rifle companies to fatigue the enemy.  It will take time, but you have (literally) all day.

Diversionary Attack North of Toulouse by Picton's 3rd Division

Don't do what Picton did and frontal assault well-defended fortifications!  He lost many troops and several good officers.  Instead, play the same game as the 2nd Dv is doing in the west of Toulouse:  attack with the intent of tying down as many troops as possible and prevent them from reinforcing the French defenses at the main point of the Allied attack in the south.  Use your rifle companies to fatigue the enemy.  It will take time, but you have (literally) all day.

Main Attack by 6th Division and Cavalry and Artillery Reserve

This attack will be slow to get going.  First you have to move south all the way to the south of Calvinet Ridge.  You have two paths, which either or both can be taken.  (1) There is a bridge just south of the starting position of the Portguese/Spanish units. (2) There is a ford at the very top of the map board which allows you to move to the east of L'Hers which is passable only at the bridges.  Thus if the French player decides to fight for the bridge just east of his starting northeasterly positions, the Allied can be delayed quite some time.  Therefore you might want to cross you troops under cover of darkness at the ford and then move southward during the morning, just out of French artillery range from Calvinet Ridge.  Once you reach the southern part, you'll still have to fight across one of the two bridges in that area.

2.2 French Strategy
The French are in a pickle (as we say in American baseball); they have to defend all sides of the city but really would like to defend only the Calvinet Ridge.  It would be nice to yield the western part of the city, but that is not historical, so the victory points in that portion of the city are made high enough to almost assure a Allied victory if that tactic is attempted.  (Do the numbers and you'll see.) 

a younger Marshall Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult
Nicholas Jean de Soult

However, you can do what Soult did and pull back some of the troops from the west and from the north.  These can be used to reinforce the defenses at Calvinet Ridge.  Don't try to hold too long (if at all) the defenses north of the impassable (L'Hers) creek hexsides.  All that will happen is that your troops will get surrounded and cutoff and then be captured (i.e., eliminated due to no path of retreat in game mechanics).  Instead tuck them behind the impassible creek where ever that is prudent and defend the bridges using the tactics described in NWC Newsletter No. 24 Feature Article #2 "Defending Bridges".  Early, during the darkness, make sure to arrange your troops to be in their best defensive positions.  The reserve under Travout in the far south, can probably be moved up closer to the other units and be made ready to support either an assault in the north or the south. 

Against a clear-thinking Allied opponent, most likely the main battle will end up being over Calvinet Ridge.  This is where you want to order your forces.  Don't think of the forts in that hill as impassible redoubts; they're not.  Instead think of them as did Wellesley of the chateaux at Waterloo: these are breakwaters from which to annoy the attackers by pouring enfilade fire into their attacking columns and lines.  That causes a big morale modifier for increasing rout.  Therefore place skirmishers in there, usually with good morale.

I'd recommend pulling the units north of the impassable creek south of it; this prevents them from being cut off and lost needlessly.  Do such rearranging during the cover of night, which is present for the first few turns and then dusk for several hours.  Remember that this low visibility period gives the British time to rearrange their troops as well, and a good opponent will be doing just that.  You might place some poorer quality skirmishers in protected terrain to the north to warn of approach of enemy units during the night and dusk turns.

In general, don't fight tooth-and-nail for every objective hex.  Perform a Fighting Withdrawal and make the Allied player pay dearly for the gain objective hexes.  You must play near flawlessly to have a chance for a victory.  Most likely a flawless French defense versus a competent Allied player will result in a draw.  However, if the Allied makes any mistakes, be prepared to snatch a minor victory from him.

What to do with the cavalry?  Don't waste it too early.  Instead use it to counterattack and smash up any successes made by the Allied assault.  You might also use it to threaten the Spanish and Portugese, and try to get large portions of them to rout, and then ride them down in the ensuing turns.


& The version of the NiR Project The Battle of Toulouse for this review is slightly modified.


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