Saturday, 23 July 2016

Back to Bases

A half battalion in close-order
The problem with skirmish battalions is that they're not very practical. They look great when deployed as a cloud of individual figures, but moving them all about is so time consuming that it becomes very tempting to simply leave them out of the battle. This is a terrible waste of scarce vintage troops, particularly when one has small armies like mine. Surely, I thought, there must be a way of also using them in a close-order role.....

My initial thoughts about this problem involved a complicated scheme using magnets, steel paper and especially thin sheets of plasticard so that the figures could be deployed either individually or in close order on 6-figure company bases.

When I mentioned this to Ian S he told me that he was planning something altogether simpler and more ingenious. Ian's plan is to mount each skirmish company onto one three-figure base, one two-figure base and one single figure base. This allows each company to operate either independently as a skirmish unit or collectively as part of a close order battalion.

Well, my first two combined voltigeur companies are complete, so I gave it a whirl. Although the battalion will still be a little unwieldy compared to its truly close-order companions, it'll still be a lot better than trying to manoeuvre 24 individual bases. Ian, you are a genius!


...and deployed as skirmishers

20 comments :

  1. Did 'skirmish' battalions really exist? Light infantry did, of course, but these fine fellows are in line unifirms. I suppose they represent a French division with voltigeurs ordered out from each battalion and given a temporary commander to go operate up in the blue. I doubt they would ever operate as a line unit anyway as, if they retired back on the division then presumably they would rejoin their own line battalions? I await a post from tge Archduke citing chapter and verse where they did form ad hoc voltigeur battalions. Napoleon tried this with grenadiers under Marmont, but did not like the result and so concentrated on building Youg Guard units to orovide a larger elite reserve,The French, of course could put whole line or light battalions into skirmish order as 'grandes bandes'
    Of course now you have cannily based them so they could perform either as the voltigeur companies in formed light battalions, or as the light companies in battalions formed in line. Lovely paint job, comme toujours.

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    1. LG, you are perfectly correct. It is far from clear that there was ever such a thing as a combined line voltiguer battalion, let alone one which would coalesce into a close-order unit. However, I decided to take a bit of artistic licence with this one as I wanted to have my cake and to eat it too!

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    2. Have a read of Captain Marcel's memoirs - he was in a voltigeur company of the 69e Ligne in Spain (Foy's Division of VI Corps, in fact!) - he describes the use of converged voltigeurs for each brigade - he identifies a major of the 6e Léger who was in command of this combined group for the brigade.

      If you are interested, I can send you a pdf by email. For my Napoleonic games, I treat Légère regiments as indistinguishable from the line, and have small supernumerary combined light battalions which do the skirmishing work.

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    3. Yes Please! That sound like vindication! This is most surprising and gratifying, Foy, as any resemblance between the Hinton Spieler and history is more or less entirely coincidental!

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    4. Oudinot's 'grenadiers' in 1807 were a combination of flank companies from ligne and légère battalions, so grenadiers, voltigeurs, carabiniers & voltigeurs respectively. See George Napziger's article about them on the Napoleon Series:
      http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_oudinotgren.html
      He follows on with the converged battalions in Spain.
      Also his army lists, such as 807AXC, 807AXD, 807BXA, 807BXB
      http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/CGSC/CARL/nafziger/index.asp

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    5. This is music to my ears, James, as I've been plotting combined grenadier battalions too! They look lovely, which is no doubt why one used to see so many of them on the tabletops of yore

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    6. Oh yeah, and the 'voltigeurs', so called by Petre, successfully contested the Sortlack wood against the Russian jägers, presumably as skirmishers.

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    7. Most importantly, the figures look grand and the basing is a fine compromise for the tabletop—I too detest moving individual figures!
      (You could commit a small number of figures on larger 'skirmish' bases, say three figs per battalion, but you probably don't want to have them thus fixe-ed. Using 1/72nd plastics we have the luxury of economy that allows such things).

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    8. I did consider that option, James, and who knows, I may still do it. It's what Grant, Gilder and so many of the other classic pioneers used to do. However, as my armies are so risibly miniscule I wanted the option of extra close-battalions!

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    9. My own reading suggests it was pretty rare with "skirmish battalions" much more likely to send a few companies forward with a close-order reserve to provide support and allow rotations.

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  2. Historial or not they are fine looking troops and need to find a place on the table. This way there is never an excuse to leave them out of the OOB!

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    1. Thank you, Ian. I knew you'd understand.

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  3. However they are based the paint job looks stunning, you really do have a special touch with these old castings :)

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    1. Cheers 'Lee. I took a bit of a risk with this lot, but I think the DKs (which are all but four of them) work quite well with the Hinton Hunts.

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  4. A smashing looking unit, I like the idea so much that I am going to use the same idea with my own skirmishers, will also use this for British rifles & Prussian jaegers etc.

    Look forward to more French troops.

    Paul

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    1. Cheers, Paul. I claim none of the credit

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  5. Another basing option that seems popular with 28mm fantasy players is irregular shaped movement trays with round holes into which you slot the individual figure. That way a unit of 24 can be accommodated on just a few trays. See here for an example http://war-bases.co.uk/image/cache/catalog/cache/data/Trays/4a-500x500.jpg

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    1. Ingenious. I'm not sure if it would be right for these guys however - I'd be terribly worried about them falling out. They have tremendously fragile bayonets.

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  6. How do you position your figures so that the bases touch without the bayonets sticking the rank in front?

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    1. It can be a little tricky, Captain. I always do a dry run on the bases before sticking them down, trying out various angles. You'll soon find what looks right for you.

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