Napoleonic Warfare

This is for Discussions about Napoleonic History only.
User avatar
Sir Isaac Brock
Yeoman
Yeoman
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 4:49 pm

Napoleonic Warfare

Postby Sir Isaac Brock » Sat Dec 04, 2004 4:53 pm

I think that the way people fought during the american revolution and napoleonic eras was rather stupid march up to your enemy in a long line and take turns blasting the bejesus out of each other
Forward The 49th, Push on York Volunteers

User avatar
Sir Richard Bolitho
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 281
Joined: Thu Nov 25, 2004 5:20 pm
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, UK.
Contact:

Postby Sir Richard Bolitho » Sat Dec 04, 2004 5:37 pm

It's OK if you can blast away faster than the other fella......... :twisted:

If you can't you might be in a bit of bother though..... :evil:

There was little more to it than that though, and as you had to get damn close for your weapon to be effective, the more men you have the better - hence nice large armies taking pot-shots at each other :D ....so much the better for games such as NTW IMHO :P
"Diplomacy - the art of saying `Nice doggie' 'til you can find a stick." - Wynn Catlin

"Cavalry is useful before, during, and after the battle" - Napoleon

User avatar
CrashTestED
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 164
Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2004 9:47 am
Location: Romania

Re: Napoleonic Warfare

Postby CrashTestED » Sat Dec 04, 2004 9:05 pm

Sir Isaac Brock wrote:blasting the bejesus out of each other


Bejesus...LOL good one... :D

I still do not understand why they advanced in a line formation, to the sound of the drums, which took a lot of time. Why didn't they just run to the enemy, fire a salvo, and charge their bayonetts! (sorry about the spelling). :)

User avatar
Sir Isaac Brock
Yeoman
Yeoman
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 4:49 pm

Postby Sir Isaac Brock » Sat Dec 04, 2004 9:31 pm

in what is bejesus funny?
Forward The 49th, Push on York Volunteers

User avatar
Lady Meg
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 7466
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 4:57 pm
Location: Kissimmee, Florida
Contact:

Postby Lady Meg » Sat Dec 04, 2004 9:52 pm

Yes, it was rather dumb, but it was the way it was. Sure it was not the best way to save your mens's lives, but it did cut down the enemy if you couold fire volleys rapidly. Muskets were not that accurate during this time period, so you had to get close in order to shot anything, that's why they got so close to one another. The line formation was the perfect way to bring the most muskets to bare on the enemy, so more shots were delivered in each volley. Advancing to the beat of the drums kept the ranks together so that the line would move as a whole, and also the bands gave heart to the men.

Devoirs The Empress
"Act well your part, there all the honour lies." -Pope

"England Expects That Every Man Will Do His DUTY" - Nelson via Mr. Pasco at Trafalgar 1805

User avatar
Sir Isaac Brock
Yeoman
Yeoman
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 4:49 pm

Postby Sir Isaac Brock » Sun Dec 05, 2004 1:32 am

your right there but they could of thought of a more intelligent way of fighting like trench warfare ;) I know only a bit smarter than napoleonic fighting
Forward The 49th, Push on York Volunteers

User avatar
lesterribles
Knight
Knight
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:22 pm

Postby lesterribles » Sun Dec 05, 2004 3:56 am

I'll bet trench warfare really sucked on rainy days!

User avatar
Buxford
Posts: 1221
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 12:11 am
Location: Louisiana, USA
Contact:

Postby Buxford » Sun Dec 05, 2004 6:12 am

It was all about firepower :twisted:
"Sic semper tyrannis." -State motto of Virginia

User avatar
King of Saxony
Baronet
Baronet
Posts: 722
Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2004 8:21 am
Location: Banned

Postby King of Saxony » Mon Dec 06, 2004 5:00 am

It was all about who was smarter. The British invented tanks to counter act trenches, and later our good ol' boys the USMC just decided to go around to the trenches.

User avatar
lesterribles
Knight
Knight
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:22 pm

Postby lesterribles » Mon Dec 06, 2004 7:12 am

That's all good, but...what about the "Napoleonic Warfare" posting?

User avatar
quiver
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 246
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:33 am
Location: Sweden, Stockholm
Contact:

Cannon tactics

Postby quiver » Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:16 pm

Battlefield Deployment and Use
The positioning of artillery was of the utmost importance. While common sense may lead one to believe that high ground is always the best place from which to fire, this was not the case during the Napoleonic era. Artillery usually fired iron balls, called roundshot or just "shot," which was most effective when fired at a level trajectory about chest high. If allowed to pass straight through ranks of men, the shot could cause enormous destruction. Ultimately the ball would bounce several times and begin rolling, still capable of tearing off feet or breaking ankles. If fired from high ground, or on a steep trajectory, the shot would hit the ground at such an angle that even if it hit anyone, the "bounce zone" would be much shorter. As a result, artillerists usually sought areas of flat, hard, open ground, devoid of obstacles or irregularities. It was across these areas of hard, bare ground that artillery could grind an assault dead in its tracks! One benefit of high ground would have been the slow approach it forced on attacking units. Artillery stationed on high ground was, if time allowed, placed behind makeshift redoubts and issued plenty of shotgun-like case rounds to use against enemy units as they toiled upslope. This ammunition is now commonly called grapeshot, even though true grapeshot was a special heavy caliber ball ammunition used only by navies of the period. Case shot was made in two basic types; light case and heavy case. Light case was used at close range, and was composed of 60 to 120 small balls enclosed in a thin cannister which broke apart as the artillery piece fired. Heavy case was employed at longer ranges than light case, and was composed of roughly 30 to 60 larger balls in a similar container. Both types of case could tear gory paths through the ranks of vulnerable units, so it is not surprising that frontal attacks on case-armed artillery was one of the most unpleasant of duties.
Regards ---

"Hur m?nga g?nger har inte Sverige allena brutit m?rkrets lockande bris"
-R.E Svalling

User avatar
Lady Meg
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 7466
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 4:57 pm
Location: Kissimmee, Florida
Contact:

Postby Lady Meg » Wed Dec 08, 2004 12:23 am

lesterribles wrote:That's all good, but...what about the "Napoleonic Warfare" posting?
That was it, I'm not sure I understand what you are asking. Sir Isaac Brock asked the question so we are trying to answer it. :?

Devoirs The Empress
"Act well your part, there all the honour lies." -Pope



"England Expects That Every Man Will Do His DUTY" - Nelson via Mr. Pasco at Trafalgar 1805

User avatar
lesterribles
Knight
Knight
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:22 pm

Postby lesterribles » Wed Dec 08, 2004 4:26 am

It was the tanks, trench warfare and USMC portion that threw me off the "Napoleonic Warfare" part...for a moment. Sorry.

User avatar
Captain Ard B'Stard
Villein
Villein
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:25 am
Location: Essex, Uk

Postby Captain Ard B'Stard » Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:28 am

Empress Meg had it spot on. There is nothing quite as frightning as 5k Red coats with 23 inch bayonets marching towards you, shoulder to shoulder. A wall of death with bagpipes playing and a complete contempt for the huge cannon balls your firing at them. Fear and firepower were the reasons for the formation and mode of war.


your right there but they could of thought of a more intelligent way of fighting like trench warfare


I can understand your thinking behind using trench warfare but is it really more intelligent. What's best, a fight between 2 champions, casualties 1. 1 days hard fighting, Napoleonic stylie, casualties circa 40k or 4 years trench warfare. WWI dead numbered in the millions. British casualities on the first day of the Somme were 67,000. Next time you watch Man Utd play at Home look at the size of the crowd !! Scarey thought.
Always Onward

User avatar
Lord Uxbridge Ist
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 880
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 5:33 pm
Location: UK

Postby Lord Uxbridge Ist » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:05 am

Quite right. The tactics of the Napoleonic period were as advanced as we can expect. To modern eyes it must seem like a dumb way to fight a battle, but given the technology of the time (ie extremely inaccurate firearms) it was the only way to fight.

Furthermore, trench warfare would have been next to useless during the Napoleonic period because forces (for their time, and especially Napoleon's armies) were highly mobile and outflanking maneuvres were the order of the day. The reason WWI degenerated into trench warfare was mainly because the theatre of war was one of closed flanks, the thinking being 'if we can't go around them; dig in'.

LU
"There is no beating these troops. They were completely beaten; the day was mine, and yet they did not know it and would not run." - Marshal Soult in his report to Napoleon after the Battle of Albuera, 16th May, 1811

User avatar
Lord Shand
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 1928
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 5:50 pm
Location: SYDNEY

Postby Lord Shand » Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:28 pm

Lord Uxbridge wrote:Furthermore, trench warfare would have been next to useless during the Napoleonic period because forces (for their time, and especially Napoleon's armies) were highly mobile and outflanking maneuvres were the order of the day. The reason WWI degenerated into trench warfare was mainly because the theatre of war was one of closed flanks, the thinking being 'if we can't go around them; dig in'.

LU


That and the machine gun!!!! :twisted:

I imagine, charging and capuring an entrenched position in the napoleonice armies was slightly easier if the men defending it only had muskets, different story when they have machine guns!
When theres been a bad harvest, and workers are striking, and young chaps have developed a craze for growing moustaches and whiskers, just watch out!

User avatar
Lady Meg
Honourary Lord
Honourary Lord
Posts: 7466
Joined: Wed May 26, 2004 4:57 pm
Location: Kissimmee, Florida
Contact:

Postby Lady Meg » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:52 pm

Lord Shand wrote:


That and the machine gun!!!! :twisted:

I imagine, charging and capuring an entrenched position in the napoleonice armies was slightly easier if the men defending it only had muskets, different story when they have machine guns![/quote]

Good point, the reason Napoleonic warfare dies out around the time of the American Civil War is due to the increasing technology of the time. The better made weapons were inflicting highr butcher's bill in the tightly packed ranks via Napoleon-style. If the weapons would not have improved, we may still be fighting with tactics Wellinton and Ney used, funny stuff.

Devoirs The Empress
"Act well your part, there all the honour lies." -Pope



"England Expects That Every Man Will Do His DUTY" - Nelson via Mr. Pasco at Trafalgar 1805

User avatar
quiver
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 246
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2004 11:33 am
Location: Sweden, Stockholm
Contact:

Postby quiver » Sun Dec 12, 2004 1:41 pm

Well it was the idea the armies with the most muskets won, the whole concept is from the musket as a weapon.

It couldn?t be used in any other way to full effect
Regards ---



"Hur m?nga g?nger har inte Sverige allena brutit m?rkrets lockande bris"

-R.E Svalling

User avatar
lesterribles
Knight
Knight
Posts: 467
Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:22 pm

Postby lesterribles » Mon Dec 13, 2004 7:27 pm

Actually, the generals of the era considered the bayonet as the most important part of the musket.

User avatar
Le Petit Caporal
Villein
Villein
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 7:29 pm

Postby Le Petit Caporal » Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:48 pm

As you guys were saying line infantry had to be lined in squares due to musket innacuracy. You can only really fight a 20th century battle once all your soldiers are armed with rifles. Napoleon hated rifles as they took to long to reload and were expensive. However his voltigeurs suffered against the rifles accuracy. Once a method was found of quickly reloading a rifle warfare changed completely asit would eb ridiculous to use Napoleonic formations with such accurate guns.

User avatar
Le Marhceal Davout
Villein
Villein
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:54 am
Location: Nowhere but in the Napoleonic Wars
Contact:

Re: Napoleonic Warfare

Postby Le Marhceal Davout » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:26 am

Sir Isaac Brock wrote:I think that the way people fought during the american revolution and napoleonic eras was rather stupid march up to your enemy in a long line and take turns blasting the bejesus out of each other


Trench Warfare is for gurellia fighting. The Napoleonic style of firing was simply the same method being carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries. I think it was an excellent way to fight the enemy. Gave you plenty of opportunities to outflank the enemy. It should be bought back. And more than that, the role of art and cav weren't limited as they became in the world wars and AWC. Trench warfare was rubbish. Same with WW2 fighting, because it just seems to me like light infantry tactics implemented on the main core sections of the army.

User avatar
Le Marhceal Davout
Villein
Villein
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:54 am
Location: Nowhere but in the Napoleonic Wars
Contact:

Re:

Postby Le Marhceal Davout » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:27 am

Le Petit Caporal wrote:As you guys were saying line infantry had to be lined in squares due to musket innacuracy. You can only really fight a 20th century battle once all your soldiers are armed with rifles. Napoleon hated rifles as they took to long to reload and were expensive. However his voltigeurs suffered against the rifles accuracy. Once a method was found of quickly reloading a rifle warfare changed completely asit would eb ridiculous to use Napoleonic formations with such accurate guns.


The AWC had the Lee and Enfiled muskets, or rifles, and they fought in Napoleonic formations. No wonder they lost a lot of men.

User avatar
Seimour01
Gentleman
Gentleman
Posts: 245
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:17 am
Location: Canada, Quebec

Re: Napoleonic Warfare

Postby Seimour01 » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:17 am

This is an old thread but I feel I am forced to add in something of my own!
While it seems sensible for us modern folks to despise line tactics, there are several factors to take in consideration:
Morale
Training
Accuracy
Cavalry
Maneuvering
Skirmishing

Keeping troops in tight lines with a drum beating allows for officers to give orders more easily and therefore ease movements which is heck of a lot harder to do when everyone is scattered around. It also makes them a lot less likely to rout when the enemy comes close by.
Drilling troops was easier to do if everyone was kept in formation and thus follow those that were in front of them. Most soldiers would have behaved poorly and required a lot more training to make effective use of skirmishing tactics. Skirmishers were usually smaller and more intelligent and until the napoleonic wars, were not trusted to stray too far from the battlefield to prevent desertion.
The accuracy of muskets and their reloading time meant that you were unlikely to see the entire line die unless engaged at very close range and you needed to compensate by bring as many muskets as possible to bear in the smallest area possible.
If everyone was fighting in loose "Smart formation" then it would be easy for cavalry to rush in and disrupt these formations that would be easily scattered and hacked down. It's almost impossible to keep control of a large group of soldier when they are spread loose over a large area. Think on how hard it would be against well trained cavalry. A square itself only stops cavalry because horses are reluctant to charge the bayonets.
My last point would be that Line formations are a direct evolution of the pike and shot musket and not something completely new. It was the natural next step from the pikes and shots formation and therefore retained the same tactics for the same reason. Our modern way of fighting simply didnt fit the period.
You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them.

User avatar
Chuckman
Baronet
Baronet
Posts: 837
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:53 am
Location: Canada

Re: Napoleonic Warfare

Postby Chuckman » Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:59 pm

The British and others had great success in fighting in open order after the Napoleonic Wars. Basically line units would fight in skirmish mode. The troops were much harder to hit and were faster on the ground.
"Don't you know me? I'm Ney! Marshall of France!"


Return to “The Napoleonic Library”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests