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How many Ranks

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J Flower
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How many Ranks

Post by J Flower on Sat Sep 01, 2012 8:35 pm

I have always understood that the British adopting the 2 rank line was an emergency measure in the Peninsular brouhgt on by lack of manpower. A full strength unit would have problems manouvering in 2 ranks due to the lenght og the line.

Historically many Nations seem to have settlesd on the 3 rank system as the best, giving firepower, but also being of sufficent depth in Defence.

The deeper formations may have merits as well, with the rear ranks loading muskets & passing them foward, although this must have caused some disruption, plus it is an uncomfortable feeling to fire a weapon you haven't loaded yourself. However in the attack such formations may have had the advantage of weight, against thinner formations.

Has anyone successfully adopted the 2 rank system, or are we all I suspect martyrs to the 3 rank system?


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Re: How many Ranks

Post by Guest on Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:38 pm

I agree with your understanding, though there could also be another practical reason: space on the battlefield. This is one of the under-researched aspects of the game.

There is some excellent information on http://www.wargames.co.uk/RandomS/Library/Frontages.htm which demonstrates the dilemma.

1F deployed 3 ranks deep would need 160 yards if stationary, but 240 yards whilst moving. So during the initial deployment, you would need to allow about 300 yards to avoid messing up the formation. Artillery required at least 19 yards per gun: any closer and its rate of fire was diminished.

To put all this in context, a small field army of 24F, 24H deployed with the cavalry on the wings would extend over 3 miles.

Among the other interesting statistics are the marching distances. 1F deployed in a road column would take up 500 yards. The baggage trayne added considerably to the length of the column, so a force of 24F, 24H, 6FA would require an amazing 11.5miles without its baggage, or 35 miles with its baggage. At a steady marching pace of 2-3miles per hour, it would take over 12 hours to pass a single point. Such a force would not only be easy to track, but very vulnerable to ambush. Attacking such a column whilst on the move would place the enemy at a great disadvantage and be almost certain to cost it a portion of its supplies. The larger the army, the harder it would be to concentrate to meet the assault.

Unfortunately there are not many examples of such encounter battles in LGDR, though they would appear to be the obvious low-risk way of dealing with a large enemy force.

Stuart Bailey
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Re: How many Ranks

Post by Stuart Bailey on Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:07 pm

If you want encounter battles you should try G2.

In G7 and some other games campaigns seem very "Western Europe" in feel with the emphasis on the capture/occupation of towns often by formal siege. Warfare even "open field" battles are seems dominated by Infantry, Artillery and commanders/players who seem scared to attack unless they are sure they have a huge advantage.

This I believe also suits some players who view warfare as a form of "diplomacy by others means" and start putting forward offers for talks etc the same month as the war starts. Screams of boreing, boreing from the Bailey corner.

Thus in G7 the only real "battles" to date have been:

1) Assaults on towns like Dresden, London and Ravel which may as well have been sieges.

2) The battle of Besancon........Austrian blocking force uses field works and carefully selected defensive to gain time for fortress preparation. French avoid direct attack and after failed attempts to turn flank force Austrian retreat by Artillery fire.

3) Battle of Staines ..........another artillery fight across a river.

Apart from the lack of Cavalry action these conflicts have also be noticeable for zero pursuit, armies loseing contact with each other and the object being on "place" and "spinning accounts of the action" rather than destruction of the opposition forces.

In contrast G2 seems much more influenced by East European Cavalry style tactics inc laying waste the opponents countryside so he has to come out of his strongholds and fight. Well you can stay behind your walls but your EH & Honour will probably go into free fall if you allow Turks, Poles, Hungarians and Cossacks etc to lay waste to your estates.

This emphasis on aggressive cavalry and defence of open country tends to mean that invaders find themselves being shadowed by light cavalry and faced with continual skirmishing tactics plus the use of ambush and sudden attacks on rear guards and vans............esp when they are crossing rivers and the like.

Warning to Swashbucker characters..........if in G2 your regt invades Poland, Russia, Poland or the Ottoman Empire:

1) Try to avoid fancy uniforms as the local Arnauts, Croats, Grenzer etc carry hunting rifles, they also tend to aim at officers (more loot).

2) Duty as a dispatch rider or in a small escort for a rulers/general could turn you into a hero or get you killed.........Ottoman Lt Cavalry have already killed a King of Poland and a Doge of Genoa and in transit. Another raid just missed the King of France ........Ok he got away but they nailed the Spanish Envoy to the palace gates before they torched the place!

3) Sleep with a loaded Pistol and a sword by your side. Prussians and Anatolians seem deeply fond of night actions.

4) If your regiment is in the Van and you have to cross a river do not carry too much gold across and make sure you and your horse can swim as you may have to re-cross it in a hurry

Finally I would not try the introduction of deep formations and passing loaded muskets from back to front and vis versa in the middle of an open field fire fight its a receipe for confusion and disaster! The only time this should be done is when defending fortresses and the like when your heroic crack shot character mans the fireing position aided by his sexy blond and brunette loaders ........just like the last of the mohicans!

J Flower
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Re: How many Ranks

Post by J Flower on Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:06 am

The longer the line the harder the command & control is, maybe why many attacks went in at the slow pace rather than the quick pace.

In G2 the Prussians have to fight at night because they are always outnumbered. The Ottomans never have enough money so they have to rob every indivdual they come across. Nailing them to doors is just there way of saying don't do it again. Crime prevention meaning something in those days.

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Re: How many Ranks

Post by Stuart Bailey on Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:29 pm

Ref styles of attack,

The C18 English, Dutch an Prussian infantry......the infantryman as a walking musket..........aimed to attack with fire power making use of repeated volleys and the threat of the next one being even closer and hurting even more to break the foe. In many ways this is equal to Cavalry attacking at the trot but in perfect order to break the foe. I assume if you wish to attack in this style you need three lines and well drilled troops.

The French, Bavarian and Ottoman Jannissary corp attack doctrine favoured not fireing and going in with cold steel alone. For this style of attack I would use 5 ranks with the troops at the front being pushed on by those behind. 5 Ranks is not actually that different to a French Column of the Napoleonic Wars, the Austrians Battalion mass or the assault columns used to attack a breach. In theory its deep enough to smash through a infantry line and hold off cavalry but it does offer artillery a really good target.

A mixed doctrine and the most successful of all attack doctrines in our period is the Swedish Ga-Pa tactic where the attack is in 4 lines.......first two fire at 40 paces, lines three & four pass though the first two and fire at 20 paces. Whole lot then charge throgh the smoke without bothering to reload and fall on the foe with Pike, Sword and clubbed masket. To get this tactic to work in Glory you really need a Army of Swedish Nutters who firmly believe in Pre-distination everyone else just ends up in a mess.

A more simple tactic of fire once and charge seems to work Ok ish with Highlanders and other Tribal foot like Afghans, Persians, Ottomans, Pirate bands etc. Good well drilled regulars low SL will probably still do a Culludon on you but if the regulars have high sickness levels or other problems such as generals trying to get them to preform complex Swedish tactics dont knock the simple direct and brutal approach!

J Flower
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Re: How many Ranks

Post by J Flower on Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:51 am

I suspose the Highlanders would fit under the heading of Tribal foot wiht the mob style of attack, number of ranks taking secondary importance.

The Prussians were upto a rate of 5rnds a minute, although thar was under perfect conditions, doubtful if it was actually atained under battlefield conditions. Akin to the question of Ranks is also that of when to open fire? Do you wait until the last possiable minute? will your troops stand there in front of the oncoming rush of steel? Or do you rather attempt to stop the enenmy at a distance with an early volley, and then attempt to get off more as quickly as possable to drive them off. Both methods were in practice, under the right circumstances, wiht the right troops both work. the same can be said for the number of ranks, differing circumstances called for differant solutions. The main concern for Officers in the period was command & control. Hence the tedious drilling of there charges.

Maybe it is worth splitting the doctrine down a little further into attack & defence, as the two would have advantages & disadvantages depending on lenghth & depth of the formations involved.

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