Columns

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thomalley
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:40 pm
Location: Nags Head, NC

Columns

Post by thomalley » Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:01 pm

This question is from some of the people in my club. Other than against cav (-2 and easier to form square) why would you ever fight in column. The speed of movement is minor and the only other effect seems to be on recruits rolling on the DT.

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vlad48
Posts: 219
Joined: Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:21 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC

Re: Columns

Post by vlad48 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:07 pm

Well, attack columns move faster, they are easier to maneuver and in some cases there narrower frontage could allow more than 1 battalion to charge a weakened enemy.
We often use columns when racing for objectives such as towns or if advancing with Elites or Veterans which can change formation on the fly.
So attacking in massed columns against a tough undamaged enemy generally doesn't seem to be effective - but there are some uses for the speed and flexibility of a column in our games.

Archdukek
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Location: Linlithgow, West Lothian, UK

Re: Columns

Post by Archdukek » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:35 pm

The essential tactical doctrine for all armies in the Napoleonic Wars was summed up in the old adage "Manoeuvre in Column, Fight in Line!" and the rules reflect that. If you attack with a single infantry unit in column against one in line, it will probably be defeated as columns were historically unless the line's morale broke. Piecemeal attacks in Column will probably fail, you need to attack as a Brigade.

Under the rules Columns have several advantages most notably they move 50% faster than units in line, can manoeuvre across the battlefield more easily using smaller wheels and can line up to charge the enemy much more readily than a line can. Not withstanding the limitations imposed by the Massed column rules, you can still potentially move two units in column into contact with an enemy line overwhelming the enemy unless it is well supported.

If you get the timing right it is possible to launch your assault columns from just outside close order musket range against a segment of enemy line weakened by prior artillery and skirmisher fire to achieve a breakthrough. Something which is impossible to do with units in line.

You can use columns to concentrate your main effort far more easily than units in line, but to get the most out of assaulting columns needs coordination of all the units in the Brigade. If you prepare the ground and get the timing right they can punch a hole through the enemy.

John

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