"All resources will be used to make the army ready for war." - Napoleon, 1813

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Für Gott und Vaterland!

Vorwärts meine kinder!

(Be sure to check out the Prussian OOB page HERE or this post doesn't make much sense.)

For me this 1813 Napoleonic project all starts with with the Prussians, so we'll start off there.  This is the first in a series of posts where we'll chat a bit more about the Order of Battle pages that have been lingering towards the top of the blog.  These provide a basic framework of our "planned" project forces.  I'm sure both will be tweaked more than a few times before those initial goals are met.

Although I've been aware of using OOBs for the basis of collecting wargaming armies for quite awhile, this still was a very new experience for me.  The last time I did Prussians it was in 15mm for the Napoleon's Battles rule set in the 90's.  Units were at the brigade level and force sizes collected were corps or even army level commands.  So I didn't really have to be choosey or understand the ins and outs of particular battalions, I just painted up EVERYTHING for a particular battle.

The rest of my gaming experience is solidly in the "army list" driven games department.  Although I might have created "story driven" Warhammer armies, figuring out how to collect a "historical" ones despite not actually planning on re-fighting any particular event was going to be quite different.  To make things more interesting, historical Order of Battles are just like snowflakes: no two are the same.  I really started to surf the blogosphere regularly in 2011, and spent a lot of time trying to make heads or tails of other Prussian armies to slowly figure out how I wanted to create my own.

Taking it to Johnny Frog!

First though, I had to figure out a few things.  What period / campaign of the Napoleonic Wars was my army going to be based on?  How large of army and what command level was a good size for 28mm wargames?  Then finally settle on a commander and OOB to serve as a background and structure for my force. 

The first question was easy to answer.  If I was going to do Prussians it was going to be in 1813 fighting the patriotic Befreiungskriege (Wars of Liberation).  I had no interest refighting a one sided affair in 1806, or the ever popular and overdone "Two Weeks in June" of the Waterloo campaign of 1815.  For me the army is an interesting mix of regular line infantry, reserves, and zealous militia Landwehr.  Although the period might not be as attractive for the post 1812 French player having to paint up a large fraction of "Marie-Louises" and conscripts, it does offer a very even parity between all the armies involved.  The variety of nations involved is also a huge plus.  Along with France and Prussia, there's also Russia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Saxony, Württemberg, Bavaria, Confederation of the Rhine (More Germans), and the Duchy of Warsaw (Poles).  The French ranks also include Italians, Croatians, Neapolitans, Badeners, Hessians, and possibly some Swiss.

Choosing the right command...

The answer to the second question seems to be a Division sized force.  A force of two to four infantry brigades, plus cavalry and artillery a side commanded by one or two players is about the right size to knock out a game of Black Powder in around three or four hours.  For most part, our group is trying to paint up roughly two brigades each along with supporting cavalry and artillery.  This also allows for smaller one brigade projects like the Poles I hope to do, or even for players who wish to dabble in the period on a more limited basis.  I think the optimum sized battle for an evening's enjoyment is about two or three players a side, with things maxing out with four plus players and a corps level command each.

So now that I've determined I'm collecting a division sized force of 1813 Prussians, it's time for the real hard part: choosing exactly which one.  I'm not going get into more details on the organization of the Prussian Army here, but there is an excellent article by Martin Kelly over at Befreiungskriege 1813-14 written for Wargames Illustrated #268 that can be found HERE.  (The Prussians actually called their divisions "Brigades," but for simplicity I'll try to keep referring to them as divisions.)  At this point it might be easy to pick a more generic / cookie cutter looking division like von Kraft's 6th Brigade (Division) in Bulow's III Corps, but it's always nice and more motivating to pick an OOB or commander that's more characterful or personally interesting to you.  I think it gives you a bit more depth, meaning, and sense of connection with the units you're collecting, painting, and eventually playing.

 Marschall Vorwärts

By far, one of my favorite characters of the Napoleonic Wars is the hard drinking, hard riding, hard fighting old hussar himself, Generalfeldmarschall von Blücher.  Nicknamed "Marschall Vorwärts," his direct, aggressive, and relentless approach to warfare and the pursuit of Napoleon's final defeat is truly the spirit after which this blog, Immer Vorwärts! (Always Forward), takes its name.  Given the possibility of Blücher showing up on the battlefield as a random event to led some cavalry charge means my Prussian division had to come from his command: The Army of Silesia.

From there the Army includes Russians and the Prussian I Corps under von Yorck.  I Corps was known as Blücher's "Fighting Corps" and saw more than its share of action in the Fall of 1813.  In studying the various battles leading up to Leipzig, I came across an account of the Battle of Wartenburg were the Leib (Life) Regiment of von Horn's 7th Brigade (Divison) had distinguished itself and delivered the decisive blow of the battle.  The attack almost failed as the first assault was brought to a halt, before von Horn himself after having his horse shot from under him, grabbed a musket, and personally lead the second and successful assault with the words: "Ein Hundsfott der einen Schuβ thut!"  (A scoundrel that fires one shot!  Meaning: don't pause to shoot, just attack!)  Even though von Horn would have an even bigger day fighting at Möckern, my "connection" had already been made.  :-)

Yorck doffs his cap to the 2nd Bn, Leib Rgt, in recognition of their bravery at Wartenburg.

Von Horn's 7th Brigade (Division) not only includes the Leib Regiment and your typical Landwehr, it also includes the flashy ulhan uniformed 3rd Silesian Landwehr Cavalry Regiment and the unique but short lived Thüringian Battalion.  At times the 7th also included parts of the the Brandenburg Hussars, 2nd Leib Hussars, and the Guard Jaeger Battalion.  As already mentioned in the OOB page notes, given the ad hoc task force organizational nature of the Prussians means I can realistically choose other units from I Corps to paint up and include under von Horn's command from time to time.

Some final thoughts... although we do not plan to actually recreate a certain historical event, when choosing opposing OOBs, it's always more interesting to pick those that might have actually fought each other or were at least in the same vicinity and certainly could have.  With this in mind, we are also taking a lot of inspiration from the Battle of Möckern which was the northern front of the huge Battle of Leipzig.

Other notes:   Our individual battalion basing scheme and model count were already covered extensively in previous post (HERE).  As mentioned above, since we're not reenacting one particular battle we're also not needlessly limiting our armies/units based on the unit strengths recorded on a particular day in history. Although the focus of our forces are firmly from the period of August through October 1813, the same battalion that would have 800+ men on August 1st would have 500+ on the first day of Leipzig. Our battalions will have a good general look and feel, and can always be tweaked through Stamina points in Black Powder, or by adding or subtracting stands later.  If figure scale ever does matter again in the future, then our battalions can simply be thought of as 1:30+ in August and 1:20+ in October.

Immer Vorwärts!

Some of the resources I used:

Leipzig 1813, The Battle of Nations (Osprey Campaign) by Peter Hofschroer

The Napoleon Series: 
Allied OOB at Leipzig.


  1. Interesting decision points. You've put a lot into this and it shows!

    It seems to me the bar is set higher on Napoleonics than any other period. I doff my cap to you guys!

    1. Thanks Monty. You're no Generalleutenant von Yorck, but you'll do. ;-)

  2. I think your going the right way about it, its sometimes very difficult just be build a force around one battle, its always best to make a mixed force so you can use it multiple times. Good Luck!

    1. I don't like agreeing with Ray but it's sound thinking about getting the most from the period.

    2. Thanks guys! I will be getting into this a bit more in my post on the French OOB. Although our project focus is on the Fall of 1813, we're trying to create our forces keeping a bit of flexibility in mind. Especially with the French, Poles, and Russians we should conceivably be able to cover the period of 1810 to 1815 if we want.

  3. Those are some nice images of Prussians. I like the second image a lot - love to see Napoleonic skirmishing. Best, Dean

    1. I don't know, but something tells me someone didn't read the actual post... ;-) j/k

      Note to self: Nice pictures might be distracting.

  4. You may have come across his blog before but 'Von Peter' is quite the Prussian-o-phile, and lots can be found on his blog here : http://vonpeterhimself.wordpress.com/
    Hope this helps.

    1. Yep, I follow his blog and he follows mine, thanks. I've recommended him (great guy) on "Der Feldmarschall" before (Leibster Awards).

  5. Fantastic work Jason and very thorough. I've been immersed in so much French- I needed to be reminded of my enemy. :)

    1. Thanks Eric! You'll get to know my Prussians better soon enough... :-)

  6. Very helpful Jason and an interesting read.

  7. An interesting post.

    I collect my armies for different periods in different ways. For my Seven Years War I selected units because I liked their flag & uniforms; or perhaps they suffered above and beyond the call of duty in a battle. But for my Napoleonics I am also following (in the main) a post armistice 1813 order of battle for my various armies.

    My aim for my Prussians is to recreate the 3rd Brigade from 3rd Corps form The Army of the North. Their supporting cavalry are likewise drawn from the same 3rd Corps, but when I get the kuirassieres they will be from The Army of Bohemia as that's the only place Prussian kuirassieres are to be found.

    Likewise my 24th Division Russians and their supporting cavalry are sourced from The Army of the North ... apart from a brigade each of grenadiers & kuirassieres who will be sourced from The Army of Bohemia. I could get converged grenadiers from The Army of the North but I wanted flags and regimental titles (oh the vanity!) for the grenadiers and that's where the Russian kuirassieres were.

    von Peter himself

    1. Thank you sir!

      Before Eric committed to join me in Napoleonics, I was about to start my SYW project. I planned to select my forces much in the same way you have. For Napoleonics, as long as I didn't end up an ugly flag or something, I really wanted to find an interesting historical connection with the commanders instead.

      Although as detailed above, von Horn's 7th BDE seemed to be a fit for me, it was a bonus that I didn't notice anyone else (out of the blogs that I visit anyway) that had done the same thing.

      I Corps has more than enough Grenadier Battalions for me to choose from. I might borrow my Kuirassieres from another corps or I might just paint up some nicer looking Russian Kuirassieres instead. :-)

  8. Very interested in your work and looking forward to seeing your progress. As for myself I am a Prussophile for Naps and SYW. Black Powder is my primary rules with General de Brigade as my 2nd choice.