Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Accidental Meetings Per Jomini And Us

Colonel René Chartrand's 1/51st leads 2/51st de Ligne in Germania. Both are in BAR "Closed Columns of Divisions." Each battalion has three divisions front to back. The divisions are separated by perhaps 1/2" simulating actual historical intervals. This formation is good for infantry combat. However, because the divisions are so close together, forming square will take more time.

Notice intervals front to back. This is a dangerous formation if cavalry suddenly appears.

Excerpts from The Art of War by Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini. "The accidental and unexpected meeting of two armies on the march gives rise to one of the most imposing scenes of war. A great occasion of this kind calls into play all the genius of a skillful general and of the warrior able to control events. There is so much chance in these accidental battles that it is by no means easy to lay down precise rules concerning them.... [When meeting unexpectedly, one can,] do nothing better at first than cause their advanced guard to deploy to the right or the left of the roads they are traversing. In each army the forces should at the same time be concentrated so that they may be thrown in a proper direction considering the object of the march. A grave error would be committed in deploying the whole army behind the advanced guard; because, even if the deployment were accomplished, the result would be nothing more than a badly-arranged parallel order, and if the enemy pressed the advanced guard with considerable vigor the consequence might be the rout of the troops which were forming. The advanced guard must always be halted and formed, and then the mass of the troops concentrated in that direction which is best suited for carrying out the object of the march. Whatever maneuvers the enemy may then attempt, every thing will be in readiness to meet him." Pages 207-208.

In the game to be resumed on the 30th, we are compelled by Jomini's advice to form now to be in readiness to engage the foe. Unless ordered to the contrary that is what my infantry corps will do. Surviving cavalry will rally behind for later service. The question remains if I should continue to press forward to occupy the field on my right flank beyond which is the left of the corps commanded by Randy. I am told this is important to do but it is an exposed salient.

It seems a reasonable request on my part to ask that the Austrian battery to my front be withdrawn given umpire error in my initial attack. Keith mentioned he adjudicated it wrongly and that the battery should have suffered severely with probable loss of morale and retreat. However, as in baseball, the ruling will perhaps stand. I am content either way. It may be almost out of ammunition anyway.

Bottom line: My best bet is to form my corps on the back table and afterwards move forward or to await an enemy attack. I can occupy the above-mentioned salient or not pending orders.

Votre serviteur,


To finish my story about columns when cavalry is near, see the following sequence.

1/51st de Ligne in BAR "Open Column of Divisions." The interval is about 3".

The lead division halts. The second division wheels its two companies outwards. The rear division continues to march forward.

The sides of the square are formed while the rear division about faces. The result is a fast way to form a hollow square and give fire on the ever-approaching lancers. Forming a square from a "Closed Column of Divisions" takes longer.

1 comment:

  1. Jomini and Protz make a good point about holding back until we are formed into battle line. The one thing is that I hate to cede the farm yard to the Austrians. While it could be a salient, it could also threaten their center and serve as an anchor to our center.

    One thought is to withdraw the 8 pdr battery and the horse guns from the ridge and form a new 45 degree line with your right on the farm and your left on the woods where the btns are already in square. I think that we are already committed to the farm yard. It also serves to protect Randy's left flank should we decide to attack the British.

    Then we don't attack the big town until the Guard comes up. Davout will not be attacking either.