ALLIED BOMBING OF GERMAN CITIES IN WW2, WAS IT WORTH THE MORAL FAILURE?
As I was watching a well done doc on 1940 I heard Winston in his Voice for democracies, version against German air terror in 1940. I kept thinking:" Man why did not you stay on course?" It reminded me of this article in Armchair general and my itch to answer to it.
This article is biased in several ways and true in many others. Biased because by being so general that the answer cannot be but yes, of course allied air power was decisive just as allied infantry was or navy or capacity to give hot meals to the soldiers. By putting all aspects of air power into the same basket it does little credit to the very controversial aspects of air war Europe. The main and most important issue is the mass bombing of German cities.
1) Main point morally impossible to justify: the slaughter of civilians, in full knowledge, for no palatable strategic results but some form of "reaped what they sawed" revenge, unworthy of the reasons for this fight.
2) Purely military use: soundness, options and waste of manpower and industrial power.
THE MORAL ISSUE
Don't tell me this was war and this has nothing to do with it, collateral damages et all. This war was first of all a war about and for ideas, democracies against Nazis. That is why so many fought, those who thought about it at least. Refer to those movie theater programs: "why we fight"and policy statements by Roosevelt, Churchill and the creation of the United Nations, the universal human rights etc.
They had already said these things:
"PROTECTION OF CIVILIAN POPULATIONS AGAINST BOMBING FROM THE AIR IN CASE OF WAR
Unanimous resolution of the League of Nations Assembly, September 30, 1938.
Considering that on numerous occasions public opinion has expressed through the most authoritative channels its horror of the bombing of civilian populations;
Considering that this practice, for which there is no military necessity and which, as experience shows, only causes needless suffering, is condemned under the recognised principles of international law;
Considering further that, though this principle ought to be respected by all States and does not require further reaffirmation, it urgently needs to be made the subject of regulations specially adapted to air warfare and taking account of the lessons of experience;
Considering that the solution of this problem, which is of concern to all States, whether Members of the League of Nations or not, calls for technical investigation and thorough consideration;
Considering that the Bureau of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments is to meet in the near future and that it is for the Bureau to consider practical means of undertaking the necessary work under conditions most likely to lead to as general an agreement as possible:
I. Recognizes the following principles as a necessary basis for any subsequent regulations:
1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal;
2) Objectives aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be identifiable;
3) Any attack on legitimate military objectives must be carried out in such a way that civilian populations in the neighbourhood are not bombed through negligence;
II. Also takes the opportunity to reaffirm that the use of chemical or bacterial methods in the conduct of war is contrary to international law, as recalled more particularly in the resolution of the General Commission of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of July 23rd 1932, and the resolution of the Council of May 14th, 1938."
"Appeal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations, September 1, 1939
The President of the United States to the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and His Britannic Majesty, September 1, 1939
The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenseless men, women, and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.
If resort is had to this form of inhuman barbarism during the period of the tragic conflagration with which the world is now confronted, hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who have no responsibility for, and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities which have now broken out, will lose their lives. I am therefore addressing this urgent appeal to every government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply."
Then in 1940 the Germans bombed Rotterdam, Warsaw, later Coventry, London. Yes Hitler could and would have done worse, he was limited…by his war machine. Get in your mind Picasso's Guernica. Retaliations? To me, this kind of policy was against the war aims. Acting like those, barbarians you mean to fight (and this is valid today too) is debasing yourself to their level.
Please don't bring me the relative statistics of death. Yes overall the allies did inflict, less pain than the others did, and yes they did fight for the right reasons. But there is only one ball game of senseless horror and dancing in it even with another tune is still in the same room. Don't give medals of horror, having less than the other side is then so much better.
Did they, please act as said? No.
Now read that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Hamburg_in_World_War_II interesting tactics! (when you read firefighters, just add ambulances to have the right picture).
Between 300000 and 600000 German civilians were killed (add occupied countries to it); maybe those were the lucky ones; think about the hundred thousands of maimed, in their mind and limbs, for life. Let us not fight about statistics: a great humanist, Mussolini had something like this about statistics: kill one, it is murder, kill ten this is a massacre, seven thousands is statistics.
Be imaginative, think of a 4 year's old little girl with dimples and blonde hair in a pony tail, with a huge smile and… Now face half burned, one leg less and what 70 more years to live, live?
Yes war is horrible, yes casualties are not avoidable, yes this unlucky girl could have been caught in a village held by the remnants of a SS company in February 1945 (3 months to go!) under a US army artillery barrage. Tough luck. What about the systematic killing of 80000 German children by terror bombing? Maybe some of them were Hitlerjungend like Gunter Grass had to be. To be cynical for half of them, well, it could have been unavoidable as the instruments of war, these bombers were so inaccurate. Yes the allies had to bomb German infrastructure, industry etc. and then yes, civilians would get killed. Yes the allies did inflict damage, far less than they thought, yes they had too.
Think that the greatest slaughter began when the war was close to an end, there was no doubt about the issue, whatever remnants of German power that was, did not matter that much.
On 14 February, 1942, Directive No. 22 was issued to Bomber Command. Bombing was to be "focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular of the industrial workers." Translate: kill civilians in great enough numbers that fear of death by bombs will overcome fear of death from "defeatism" by the SS. Why? Because they knew their attacks on the industry was not doing it.
Dresden, (air raid by UK & US: 13-14 Feb. 1945): 35 000 to 50000 dead
Berlin, (air raid by US: 3 Feb. 1945): 25 000.
Think about Clauzewitz , as this war as politics (democracy, freedom, human rights?) by other means. Any dead that is useless, any large amount of dead that have no military means in war is a war crime. Sometimes the limits are blurred sometimes not.
3) Ok, was it worth it? Was it sound tactics?
If you read the (often partial, dimmed) analysis after the war and what few internal reports from the top brass during the war: the answer is NO!
Why? Because on a purely cynical, practical, military, strategic analysis, the results have to be balanced with the means used for them, the alternate use that could have been.
Airmen losses 160000 (US+UK) or equivalent of almost half total US war death? For what?
Allied personnel needed for that: 1.3 millions!!!!! Dozens of thousands of planes, and mostly 4 engine big ones, those that needed the most material to build.
How many tactical planes they could have instead, together with let's say a dozen more armoured divisions. Imagine ten more armoured divisions around Caen in 44, at Bastogne?
Read (on the net for free please do it) ^ Crook, Paul (2003.). "Chapter 10 "The case against Area Bombing"". in Peter Hore. Patrick Blackett: Sailor, Scientist, and Socialist. Routledge. p. 176.
(Ok I know many of you will freak out because in the title it says "socialists" but even these cannot always be wrong especially when not really talking about economy, even with that kind of author's name…remember the US cavalry in 1876, then it will help.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Bombing_Survey_Europe
Instead of senseless, costly raids in Germany in 1942 many more long range bombers could have been transferred to Coastal Command. Only by late 42 did they do it against the will of the bomber leaders.
By 43 these had already won the battle of the Atlantic. They could have done it six months earlier, saving thousands of merchant mariners. When I say that, think, we talk about a few dozen planes!
Carpet bombing: Cobra? Why not several others? And Italy and bases? And…. German training areas, deployment zones in France to force utter dispersal and great use of fuel for training. What about the Liri valley and elsewhere. Why the Luftwaffe systematic attack of RAF bases was a sound tactic in 1940 and the Allied air power not be the same in 43-44?
Mining the long Hamburg's exit to the sea and keeping doing it, attacking those flimsy minesweepers, would have rendered the port, the Uboot pens etc. just as useless or even more. The intense air interdiction (the most efficient use of air power in WW2) of post Normandy landings might have been sustained with say a couple thousand more long range fighter bombers instead of a thousand B24. I like the B24 (a nice plane btw), Liberator? When bombing civilians it sound a bit like a Catholic priest in South America in the 16th century liberating Indians from their sins.
Only by 1943 did the German industry go to full war production (crazy Adolf did not war to alienate the workers by forcing them to work on 3 shifts! You know the socialist part of national socialist…) in 44 despite the allied effort they produced more of everything than before.Ok if you read about it, with an open mind you'll see.
On a half lighter side, think of all the cultural places that were destroyed, as I am a wargamer too, I would have liked the info on 1815 Hanoverian flags and 1866-70 Saxon flags that was lost in fire raids. (wargamers/historian article hey?)
I will honour Patton and the dead and survivors of Bedford VA, for example but not so Bomber Harris, Carl Spaatz or the 1943 version of Churchill.
DON’T TELL ME ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD
We, miniature gamers all know that the end of the world exists, commonly otherwise known as the table edge.
This most unfortunate feature even calls for special rules, brings in players gamey behaviour. Everyone is aware this straight daunting line can trap units, others vanish by being forced to jump in that void, and at times it acts as a saving deep fog allowing escapes. The trouble is, the fog stops at the table edge.
In many ways for battles, prior to the last century, when they were fought on a limited sized sort of field our tables are Ok as long as one has the needed space fitting with the fight, or more often the fight fitting in the space.
This is actually problem #1
When say after the middle of the 19th century as these fields became huge, or certainly with WW1 and 2, there is no more rectangular battlefield but a huge continual even possibly fluid battle over hundreds or thousands of men and hundreds of km of front. Ok skirmish or nearly so engagements can still be raids, patrols, or the like that are fought in a sort of void on a limited space be it between the lines, behind etc. or very limited in time fights in closed up areas.
Simply put your average ww2 fight whether it is a company against another (say IABSM ; bolt action Pzer grenadier etc.) or battalions (Command decision, Spearhead…) should be part of a bigger operation.
The sides of this fight you play, unless very special cases, well, are connected to other units. In other words there are no safe sides to your table. I am talking here mostly of the lateral sides, assuming at least a quasi linear sort of field not to complicate one life.
This is actually problem #2
On this sketch Blue is attacking red positions. If you are not using my ideas, well red is pretty screwed up as there are two massively covered approaches for blue on either outer sides of the woods. Yet if you look at historical actual fights, you get plenty of that.
In real life those sectors should be covered at least quite some, by other positions out there. Otherwise we have an isolated box… they would probably have chosen another place.
CREATING AND INSTALLING GZATSK 1813
And no you have never heard of this battle...
4000 figurines; THE huge what if 1812-13 battle; 190000 men for Napoleon vs 160000 for Kutusov. Part of my "what if he waited to reorganize and took care of his rear areas in late August 1812..."
Why this place? In his analysis of 1812 Clauzewitz states that the position behind this town of Gzatsk (today Gagarin in Smolensk oblast) was one of the best they could have taken, chosen by Barclay just before he was removed from overall command. We can understand it was abandoned after works had started as too wide to fight the better manoeuvring French (wargaming hint to those who think all commands in all armies are equals) and the available numbers; understatement also means if victorious it would have been too much of a Barclay victory;)
In my what if the French obviously would be better off than at Borodino but so would the Russians, which means they'd have enough troops, probably. And I believe Carl von....
The main problem: I had to find the proper map. I asked and we found Russian sources on line. I did not go to the central library to ferret into the map room and maybe find period sketches and maps, maybe even the report on installing this battlefield! Though whenever I go again I might look.
Using this site I had a map of the place with everything you want from 1871. Other older maps lacking details would be only checked for the villages and extend of the town, just in case it would have changed significantly. Then it has maps from post WW1 and especially a very detailed topographical map from 1941 . Another site which I forgot to bookmark (!) some nowadays flood map that has heights shown in coloured contrasted clear layouts was quite useful to figure out faster the main heights. It also had the feature of measuring things and having local heights with passing the mouse over. And if I want to use it again, for the third time I will have to search for it. Yes.
Even if I started full of elan, I soon realized that the place was complicated and short of doing a huge job of surveying and detailed special 3D full set of polystyrene tiles which I hardly can store (I have a 3x 4.5m surface tables) the main useful features will have to be enough. I am no Bruce Weigl;). Hours of trial and errors using as a bottom layer the 1871 map (after starting with the 1941- but will say further why) I ended up with a not so nice project (as the stuff was after all taken from the internet low rez) but good enough. The choice of the rectangle that would be the battlefield was also a subject of errors and multiple re doing. Studying the stuff as to how would they set up , and how to attack was very important, for all my space I cannot screw up too much. And actually I did, allowing a bit not enough space for the French, which I realized typically once every single tree and Russian was installed! obviously I did not redo it. But if and when I play that again, ho I'd wish, with 3 other guys! I would do it right. The game will say it it was a real problem other that aesthetical (not able to put down all the French-some off table!).
I was very careful about the orientation, not to use a simple North East South as on the internet maps. The Russian defenses as described by Carl Von would mainly follow the crests along the main river and the map showed it makes sense. The French need enough to deploy, the Russians too plus recoiling without falling into that ridiculous end of the world, and the flanks put where they make more sense, keeping in mind it had to fit in 18km by 11.5.
There was one striking difference between the 1871 map(s) and the 1941 map. In 1941 the woods seemed bigger, and there was a lot of water, what looed like ponds, marshes etc . along the river. I guess having been along The Volga, the Don, the Dniepr and many smaller ones (notable at Maloyaroslavets) one bank would higher than the other, and a more or less wide expense of low ground would flat and able to be flooded in spring on both sides. Villages and cultures be on the starting elevation and up. The soviets in their 1920s mess and their innate socialist belief that even Nature (not just human nature) will bend to their will, probably messed up the 1000 years proven local ways. So the floods that were contained or kept harmless would have destroyed newly forced upon agriculture, the collectivisation and industries nearby made these quite numerous villages caring no more about the land around them (I was surprised at the number of villages on this map as one striking Russian feature is- emptiness- in France and Germany you easily have a village every 2km- hence the range of the Milan ATGM-) in European Russia you can go 20 km without one. Maybe more nowadays than then, surely but still... and had a bad feeling about "shall I not have enough "eastern houses" (prompting Timecast and Kerr and King orders!). They also had a railway and a motorway built in 1941, the soviet way, not necessarily caring about water extraction-a standard feature of Moscow streets with heavy rain;).
While doing the order of battle of the 1812 in 1813, more funny things in, as French guards of 1813, the Russian volunteer cavalry from the nobles, who never had time to be fully raised (I have a full division of them with funny dresses, most accurate) could be put in play. And then I discovered I need more Russian generals, and Prussian batteries...
One of the things that would be of importance, most but not all the eastern bank of the river is higher than the "French" bank, This one often not significant for the game. I decided the higher bank would be 2 levels high, the higher steep (a common feature of Russian rivers) one marked with "crests". some of the highest places were put as hills as featured on the modern height map. Most of the rest of the banks as crests, being level 1;
one inch from the river is level -1 in case. Some level 3 crop up south mostly and I curtailed the woods that otherwise bisect too much the Russian position. Clauzewitz says they were on the rear nicely covering the path of retreat. the bigger forested area maybe modern (even 19th century modern) effect of better agriculture and less cultivated land further from villages. Russian woods normally are high trees with not so much brush underneath, only at the edges. So dark and relatively easy to move in, but still surely not in close order formations.
Now ready to install it!
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OF RESEARCHING AND WIKIPEDIA AND THIRD HAND ACCOUNTS
While translating and reading a Russian book on Cossacks, there was this story of the brave Cossacks defeating 2000 dragons near Mühlberg 18th of September 1813. The way it was described and the fact that dragons in 1813 would most likely be the most veteran cavalry around bar of the guard, I sort of smelled a rat. Let’s check it. You know the famous very fashionable fact checkers… except that no big company is paying me, for a specific slant. A notable event (Benevent?) in there was the French commander being captured, the nephew of Talleyrand. Wikipedia in its great wisdom and knowledge, told me that this fight (found because of col. Talleyrand otherwise nada) was between 3 rgt. Of chasseurs, not dragons (8e+9e+?) argh. Then they spoiled it by pretending the boss was general Von Dolschütz, Aie because this one I know was a Prussian… And then there was 2 pulk (bn/ rgt) of Cossacks and 3 sqn of Prussians. Who to believe?
In the Russian book there is a vague allusion to the source which ended up being “A History of Cavalry from the Earliest Times” by GEORGES T. DENISON published around 1900+ which once loaded (Murdoch inquest as finally found it via Haiti trust, thanks to my VPN which pretends I am in Florida,-warmed in winter) was hey! Using Captain Nolan’s “Cavalry its history and tactics “1860 (yes the falling screaming one) .well, guess what I searched for it and loaded it. Ha, this one did not interrogate an 80 years old veteran, he used an obscure book of memoirs (yes could not find it even in German) of a Prussian captain who was there (?) That fellow obviously needed glasses or was not so close to see the chasseurs he took for dragons, or he did not know! Besides he states they fired their carbines at the halt, not sure dragons mousketons can be really fired mounted. There is no doubt they were chasseurs as there is no doubt their famous named colonel was captured there! It is the same as with the “news”, the devil is in the details; when part of the thread is wrong, we have no clue how far it will unroll. In a German bit about this Von Dolschütz, it says not much of a fight, a surprise. A bit of a downgrade for the Cossacks. So the “multiple” sources on internet who copied Wiki (or wiki copied from one of them) the standard too often found on internet, screwed up the names putting the victorious Prussian in command of the defeated French…In the end I think about 7-900 French chasseurs of the new breed of 1813 were mauled/ flanked by some 400 Prussians (33% Black hussars, rest Landwehr) and 5-700 Cossacks. Even Illowaski their chief was badly spelled the same way…everywhere. The Russian author nicely omitted the Prussians and the commander. Well, all is fine. page up
RUSSIAN OFFICER’S CODE OF HONOUR 1804
Кодекс чести русского офицера. Составлен в 1804 году, актуален навсегда.
1. Не обещай, если ты не уверен, что исполнишь обещание.
2. Держи себя просто, с достоинством, без фатовства.
3. Необходимо помнить ту границу, где кончается полная достоинства вежливость и начинается низкопоклонство.
4. Не пиши необдуманных писем и рапортов сгоряча.
5. Меньше откровенничай — пожалеешь. Помни: язык мой — враг мой.
6. Не кути — лихость не докажешь, а себя скомпрометируешь.
7. Не спеши сходиться на короткую ногу с человеком, которого недостаточно узнал.
8. Избегай денежных счетов с товарищами. Деньги всегда портят отношения.
9. Не принимай на свой счет обидных замечаний, острот, насмешек, сказанных вслед. Что часто бывает на улицах и в общественных местах.
10. Если о ком-то не можешь сказать ничего хорошего, то воздержись говорить и плохое...
11. Ни чьим советом не пренебрегай — выслушай. Право же, последовать ему или нет, остается за тобой.
12. Сила офицера не в порывах, а в нерушимом спокойствии.
13. Береги репутацию доверившейся тебе женщины, кто бы она ни была.
14. В жизни бывают положения, когда надо заставить молчать свое сердце и жить рассудком.
15. Тайна, сообщенная тобой хотя бы одному человеку, перестает быть тайной.
16. Будь всегда начеку и не распускайся.
17. На публичных маскарадах офицерам не принято танцевать.
18. Старайся, чтобы в споре слова твои были мягки, а аргументы тверды.
19. Разговаривая, избегай жестикуляции и не повышай голос.
20. Если вошел в общество, в среде которого находится человек, с которым ты в ссоре, то здороваясь со всеми, принято подать руку и ему, конечно, в том случае, если этого нельзя избежать. Не обратив внимания присутствующих или хозяев. Подача руки не подает повода к излишним разговорам, а тебя ни к чему не обязывает.
21. Ничто так не научает, как осознание своей ошибки. Это одно из главных средств самовоспитания.
22. Когда два человека ссорятся, всегда оба виноваты.
23. Авторитет приобретается знанием дела и службы. Важно, чтобы подчиненные не боялись тебя, а уважали.
24. Нет ничего хуже нерешительности. Лучше худшее решение, чем колебание или бездействие.
25. Тот, кто ничего не боится, более могуществен, чем тот, кого боятся все.
26. Душа — Богу, сердце — женщине, долг — Отечеству, честь — никому!
1. Don't promise if you're not sure you'll keep your promise.
2. Keep yourself simple, with dignity, without fatuity. -foppery
3. It is necessary to remember the boundary where politeness, full of dignity, ends and low obsequiousness begins.
4. Do not write rash letters and reports in a hurry.
5. Be less frank – you will regret it. Remember: my tongue is my enemy.
6. Do Not go on a ender; you will not prove mettle, but compromise yourself.
7. Do not rush to converge on a close relation with a person who is not sufficiently recognized.
8. Avoid cash accounts with comrades. Money always spoils relationships.
9. Do not take into account the offensive remarks, witticisms, ridicule said afterwards. That often happens on the streets and in public places.
10. If you can't say anything good about someone, then refrain from saying bad things...
11. Do not neglect anyone's advice – listen. The right, whether to follow it or not, is yours.
12. The strength of an officer is not in impulses, but in unbreakable tranquility.
13. Cherish the reputation of a woman who trusts you, whoever she may be.
14. There are times in life when one must silence one's heart and live one's mind.
15. A secret communicated by you to at least one person ceases to be a mystery.
16. Be always on the alert and do not relax.
17. It is not customary for officers to dance in public masquerades.
18. Try that in an argument your words are soft and your arguments are firm.
19. When talking, avoid gesticulation and do not raise your voice.
20. If you have entered a society in the environment of which there is a person with whom you are at odds, then when greeting everyone, it is customary to give a hand to him, of course, if this cannot be avoided. Without paying attention to those present or the hosts. Giving a hand does not give rise to unnecessary conversations, and you are not obliged to anything.
21. Nothing teaches you more than the realization of your mistake. This is one of the main means of self-education.
22. When two people quarrel, both are always to blame.
23. Authority is acquired by knowledge of business and service. It is important that subordinates do not fear you but respect you.
24. There is nothing worse than indecision. Better a worse decision than hesitation or inaction.
25. He who fears nothing is more powerful than he who is feared by all.
26. Soul to God, heart to woman, duty to the Fatherland, honor to no one else!
Of Pips, command and games.
Yesterday I significantly changed things in my Napoleonic rules. Sort of half departing with the decades old regimental/brigade units towards more flexible (and more fiddly?) 1000 infantry and 4-600 cavalry “units”, mashed up into brigades (with small, average, big sized ones for accuracy). A sort of “sub accounting” of brigades. It would allow flank guards, garrisons, independent cavalry brigades on two waves. It would give cavalry their flexibility. I remember a cavalry division neatly going around the enemy and not doing much damage as it could only crush two batteries per half an hour, from its two brigades’ components, clearly silly. Not battalions, as I still don’t want too many and besides, they will be too small to look good, of infinite sizes variations (to remember!) which means often never right in representations anyway. This prompted a big brainstorming about command and control.
I have a system of orders, with delays and mishaps which, I think, gives a decent rendering of the command problems at higher echelons (army-corps). Parallel to that, in last few weeks I was toying with the need (need?) to play something like Bataille Empire with battalions, to finally be able to use the scenario books of Michael Hopper. This means more painting! I played twice his big Eckmühl scenario, it was fine but the big chunky units were not flexible enough to do it justice. The Austrians should have been able to spread more. Hence the idea that after all, why not use smaller components of my manoeuvre elements (yes I kept it, in honour of my 20 years of Empire playing)?
So I went on changing things, new QRs and so on. Then doubts hit. Will this be too fiddly?
There were 2 basic premises in my game scale choices long ago:
1 lower number of “things” to handle= more troops possible per player. Brigades.
2 The nice-looking big units. More figures per unit.I will now have potentially 12 semi-independent “units” in my Austrian divisions, instead of 4. Sure they can now have only one in square to secure a flank, make refuse flanks in echelons and more. But even if the system promotes grouping for movements and attacks, players being like lawyers, will still sneak into the limit edges of the system.
I was then thinking of re-establishing (it was jettisoned decades ago) a system of control inside the divisions. You know the pips or something similar. Players think it a command system.
1 You must make choices. Good game wise. Does a division general in 1809 have to make choices if he can “move” 4 or 8 of his 12 battalions? I think not. He might want to, say assault a hill. He wants it coordinated. It comes down to how many sub commanders he must explain that to disseminate the manoeuvre to all the units. In the case of this Austrian, two brigadiers and 4 colonels or just the brigadiers who will in turn do it. The difference between Erz. Ludwig and Friant, one relatively inept young, there because of family, and one with 15 campaigns and a position because of his obvious abilities? Not hat Ludwig will move 5 and Friant 9, but that Friant might have it ready in 20 minutes when the other one will take an hour.
2 The limit on units going all over the place. Right. But why should they do that? We have a forever contradiction: Some claim we have too much control over the troops, but in the end we, the players move them, turn left or right, no matter what pips or not we have, we just can do it less. More important I think is the orders/ the intend/ the attitude these troops have. If they are ordered to assault that hill, in most cases, once orders are received, they will go and try. There can be bad coordination, delays, lack of enthusiasm, but overall, they will go unless some more pressing threat arises. The threat thing is often under evaluated in games. We the player also overrule it. We might carry on things the real ones would be reluctant to attempt, because we see and know more than they do. The famous helicopter general. Pips limit your freedom of pushing everything, but you entirely chose what to push. If coupled with orders (as in Bataille Empire) you get a bit of both command and control. But…
I remember an officer telling me, loosing control of the troops (that was about urban fights, groups you can’t see, without comms etc.) is not like in games that they do nothing, that would be easy. It is that they do things, you don’t know where and what. I tried to get a bit with this, having a system for uncontrolled units, doings things linked to the situation and their orders. My take is that in the game control is a fast intervention of the leader, things under his eyes, in the end often via the famous directing unit. Many other things would be reactions to threats, not easy as you the gamer do it in the end, not the troops.
My main pet against pips came from old DBm games. You have this big cavalry wing you sent on a wide outflanking move., you just had a 5 for them. Then they slow down as you have only 2s fine, they got cautious, found obstacles, missed alignments, you name it. But...
Then the enemy who often interferes with your best plans, gets something on the opposite wing that gets nasty. It literally swallows your pips into a fight. Your flanking wing who in real life you told to go an hour ago, suddenly, slows down or halts, the pips being used elsewhere. They still have their orders, they have possibly no clue of what is happening on the other wing. To change their orders would take a big delay in real life. Perhaps your general got all his attention into this new fight, his aides there too. In that case the flanking wing would even more do what it was sent for, not stopped.
I have this with orders, distances, and delays. Most of my orders, you will be happy to know consist of a simple marker under the commander, arrow and code attitude. Nothing is perfect. We still don’t have to be lazy. The occasional slow down and stops of Fire And Fury systems are better for control than pips. They and their occurrence don’t depend much on you. Events cards played with a chance to work can do that too. The problems of command:
Delays, distances, misunderstandings, coordination, cretins, smoke, terrain,sheer bad luck and more.
If the game turn or decision segment, is long enough it can “swallow” many of these.
I don’t want an excellent commander with 15 bn (Davout’s corps divisions in 1809) be in trouble because too many, and a smashed-up Austrian with only 6 left, happy with life as clearly we don’t read of Gudin, Friant, Morand etc. having terrible problems with my list above.
So, I will resist the pips. Also fighting anything that adds plenty of dice rolling, storing etc. So far, I am very satisfied with my orders system (command quality and use of time) and my uncontrolled random reactions. To represent a bit of misgivings into my now more numerous units inside a division, comes a die roll part of movement. Yes more rolls? Well, it is a saintly habit of Fat Lardies games and it has numerous merits. I also have event cards.
1 it takes some dose of trouble out of your hands.
2 it neatly pushes players to use groups and directing units to move. Well a bit like the real ones.
If you don’t, you might be punished by the enemy pouncing on troops disconnected to their supports ahead of the rest. Obviously, we will have gamers pushing those 12 units in all directions individually. I think it will pass. Still afraid this might slow don the game. Testing never ends.
What reading history does to you...
Village fights in games are sometimes done in a sort of fantasy way. And they should not, that is there is no need, it does not even speed up things for the "pure fun types" of gamers.
Basically there would be three types of doing it in games, depending on the scale of the game. Black powder, "horse and musket era" till maybe 1870.
1 Huge things with mostly brigades as the unit.
2 units as battalions, can be big game or 'divisional"
3 grand skirmish thing, lots of figures per battalion or lower level units represented (Sharp Practice type)
This picture was taken from here, a gold mine of maps and what villages and terrain looked like in Austrian 18th-19th centuries.
How would you defend such a place?
of course the place has changed, expended, a,d they even planted the awful windmills...
but a couple of goggle maps pics will give an idea. this village was something like 400+m long by 250 at the largest width.
Obviously in practice a lot depends on the way of the village is built, the surrounding terrain up to a point. As for the terrain, villages layouts (would be different elsewhere, but short of the perched, or walled layouts of Southern Europe, the idea is valid) this Austrian gave it a lot of thoughts and has great explanations and material.
So the village defense would be layered in 4 parts.
A First they would identify and enhance the "sanctuary" the strongest place , that needs be opposite (as much as possible) the expected enemy approach, and strong enough to be a final resistance point, for a while at least., wide enough to receive the wounded, the ammunition reserve and HQ. Here it is surrounded in red. #1
B The round blue blops #2, a sort of skirmish screen (using the gardens, (walls , fences hedges) outer houses, as a security element, active counter recon, disturbing advances (shooting cadres?) information pickets. This is not intended to resist close order determined attacks.
C The main resistance blocks #3. should use all possibilities, interlocking fires, ambushes, always have a way out (or in for replacements) .
The #1 blue rectangles are local reserves for limited counterattack and feeding more troops in C.
Then behind the village, sheltered from fire, battalions in support, wait to immediately counter attack, a major penetration, and feed more troops in. You would have a village commander and an overall commander who has the hand over the whole set. Ideally one can have guns on the side to discourage flanking. the idea is that the enemy will tire, disorganise and lose control from its advance inside and be ejected by the fresh counterattack which will have had less time ti disorganise itself. the fights of Sokolnitz Telnitz in 18052 are great examples.
I will evade fast the grand skirmish game as most of us won't be able to assemble such an amount of figures and real estate. You would need a low ratio of men per figures to do it right, something as one to ten. In fact it could be a funny thing for a show or a club with multiplayers and strict limits of talking between them plus chaos and some control rules. A big sharp Practice might work.
For other games:
First (pet) grumbling about villages in games. One simply do not go in line and shoot down the defenders with musketry. Not even nowadays (ok maybe snipers, if they show up?). It works in games, way too often, never ever seen any reference of that in books and it makes sense. You can shoot say up to 200m away? (further in 1870 but they would hardly see any details after a few shots), shoot what?
In my defense example the picket line will be mostly hidden, the best shots in a position to snipe on you and your line shooting will be mostly lost on cover. After a while you will run out of ammo, and it is quite likely that the exchange will be in your disfavour. It certainly will do no harm to people who are in houses, behind walls, if they do not need to show up. They only would if you get too close, and have "assault parties" coming in. Then yes local platoon "suppression" fire are done (can be seen in period pictures, even before, Chew House anyone?), but then all this is very close, a few dozen meters. In a game it is all relevant to our assault / melee confrontation. You did have artillery bombarding, especially if they have howitzers (and again they do talk about it relatively close and bigger guns, as on good Euro houses, black powder balls very fast lose power). I shudder still thinking about a game of Fuentes last century, with Empire rules, where my combined elite cos, in the village, where destroyed by French lines shooting them down.
So in games, except skirmishes, infantry vs villages should be restricted to assault. You could have skirmishers bickering against the occupants to tire them, the limit their ability to make a nuisance of themselves outside. Think of a properly occupied village as of a fort, it can shoot (resting musket- better) out 200m; guys can skirmish out of it and snipe at you...
Be a unit a battalion or a brigade or so, your ground imprint will be say from 10cm to 20 in line, which will give your surface scale. More often than not 1cm= 20 to 40 m or more! So my Höflein will be 20 x10 to 6x10 cm. It makes it quite difficult to put more than two houses inside except in 6-10mm and even. But considering that in reality the enemy would not venture inside the 200m fire zone around except to attack (Zone of control?) then your area could easily be represented ad a compromise 500-600x400m area. Much better at 1cm=40 m 15cm x 10 cm and it is a small village, many are much bigger. It makes it nicer, you can have courtyards or gardens to put troops in (yes I did too have hovering bases on roofs back then..yes I confess). You also solved the problem of the zone of control/ danger from the village, anything that comes to touch will attack. If you have a figure to men scale (and then a bigger village) you might even show "sectors" and the "redan" (sanctuary) give it a better defense.
To make things simple and yet realistic, (it depends how long is your game turn/ decision segment) troops should be defined as occupying (had time to analyse the layout, spread and do the above system) or just moving in. A successful assault should disorganise the attackers for a turn or fraction, leave them moving in (so less benefits for defense) allowing for the counter strike from the rear. It should take a turn (?) to occupy. Another thing, it is very rare they do an all around defense as said in (too) many rules. No one normally wants, or plans to be encircled. Again it all depends of the scale and time of a game turn. In 1/2 hour games, you can probably pass over the switching defense, but maybe a die roll to see if they reorganized in time (and fully get their cover bonus) could be good.
Another thing with villages. I don't think morale rolls as in the open should be too realistic. Mostly we are talking of disconnected groups who hardly see much further than a few dozen meters (the ones who could have a better perception of what is happening be the officers, but then you could expect them not to be the first to run?) so panics and shaken results should be limited if not avoided. It is also very common to have mixtures of troops from different outfits, which in game terms can be of different "morale" grades. Hougoumont comes to mind. Bombardment can grind down numbers, but short of big spreading fires would hardly drive them out (and then the attacker can hardly go in too). It can help attacks (and they say so in books) but not as a garrison destruction method. Maybe a bit more post 1850 with shells. All this is simple to implement into existing rules. it might even make games faster;) page up
One can find sources for this in: (and others I can't remember ;)
The mat itself was intended for desert, back last century. Does not work well as "hairy" and neither now as too light coloured for earth or well not grassy otherwise, but I have to use what is there, not to waste.
1 find maps, and some pictures of the ground, not just from battle paintings.
2 draw with chalk, start with rivers, roads village zones; woods zones.
3 pastels for rivers and roads.
4 paint spray for... everything else
5 finish up /correct with pastels
6 blur up things a bit with hand. It will get less vivid with time and use.
Research for the map:
just start with asking google
Plenty of useful maps and even more nearly useless.
the napoleonistyka.atspace.com and napolun.com from this Polish American guy (I think?) sumptuous sites by the way, has done a good job of focusing details on some parts,. Helpful to fine tune at the end.
This site I used for Gjatsk and to check other maps. Invaluable for heights as normally, at least, this should not have changed much. And it can "see under" nowadays built up areas.. Bit of help here too.
Many of my finding,I obviously did not bookmark (!) and can't find easily anymore. because of copyright, better not put a slew of images here. If you want them, send me an email, I will make a zip for you.
The unusual thing I found (as all battle maps seem to be from same sources) there is an elevated central sort of plateau which could be sensitive if the fight sort of pivots. The red part on the picture.
Made from screenshots overlaid via Powerpoint. The obviously reworked area which nowadays had big water reserves around the river puts a bit of question marks. I think they were on the general lower "table bottom layer" except for a couple of spurs.
Late XIXth century maps gives valuable levels, but the villages may have changed shape and increased (suburbs) plus the railway.
That same polish-us site has precious pictures of what it looked like.
You can also search the net with Leipzig diorama. I assume the Germans who did them (the museums there) knew what they were doing. Gives an idea of the appearance.
Well tons of field?
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