Representing skirmishers in GdA

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Contrarius
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:35 pm

Representing skirmishers in GdA

Post by Contrarius » Wed May 15, 2019 8:47 am

I'm having a few problems reconciling skirmishers on the tabletop.

Now, I have French and British Napoleonic armies based around a standard battalion of 16 men. For the French infantry battalion of 6 companies this naturally generates a base of 3 men as skirmishers, representing the voltigeur company.

For the British, however, with their 10-company battalions, the light company would be equivalent to about 1.8 men (1/9th of 16), rounding up to 2 men on the tabletop.

I wouldn't be averse to having 2-man skirmisher bases for the Brits vs 3-man bases for the French, but it doesn't chime well with the rules which allow three casualties before a full base is removed. I use three-man sabot bases for my skirmishers (a perfect arrangement since they are also usable for Sharp Practice), eliminating the need for casualty recording -- I just remove a figure after each 'kill' and a full sabot base after three.

Now, to the core of my query. How did the British employ their skirmishers? Where they genuinely weaker than French skirmish lines? What about British grenadier companies, were they normally used to 'top up' the skirmish line? (Certainly both flank companies were detached from British guards regiments e.g. at Waterloo, but not for use as skirmishers.)

Archdukek
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Location: Linlithgow, West Lothian, UK

Re: Representing skirmishers in GdA

Post by Archdukek » Wed May 15, 2019 9:13 am

Hi Contrarius,
Wellington's Standing Orders required battalion light companies to be detached to form a brigade skirmish screen under the command of a field grade officer which could be augmented by any attached rifle companies. The GdA rules capture that very effectively.

I'm sure that I read somewhere that it was common practice to keep the flank companies up to strength by drafting in men from the centre companies and giving them priority for replacements. So given the effects of campaign attrition that could mean that the light company had proportionally more men than the 1/10th ratio of companies. That plus the possibility of drafting in some grenadiers gives me enough comfort not to worry about it! :-)

Besides what matters, both historically and in game terms, is what was the relative effectiveness of British and French skirmish screens. From what I've read the British skirmishers in the Peninsula certainly held their own for the most part, so I don't have a problem with British skirmisher bases being treated as equal to French in game terms or feel the need to make them weaker.

John

Contrarius
Posts: 221
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:35 pm

Re: Representing skirmishers in GdA

Post by Contrarius » Thu May 16, 2019 12:51 pm

Thanks for that John, I feel somewhat reassured. However, did the French voltigeur companies not also get priority for recruits?

Archdukek
Posts: 4285
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:49 pm
Location: Linlithgow, West Lothian, UK

Re: Representing skirmishers in GdA

Post by Archdukek » Thu May 16, 2019 6:06 pm

Contrarius wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 12:51 pm
Thanks for that John, I feel somewhat reassured. However, did the French voltigeur companies not also get priority for recruits?
Don't know, quite possibly. However, you risk disappearing down a rabbit hole if you try to use maths to determine the outcome as to the relative effectiveness of brigade skirmish screens in my view. For a start how big are your battalions?

Theoretically a British Light Company had 100 privates compared to 120 in a French Voltigeur company, but of course neither are likely to be true on campaign. According to Napolun.com the average size of British battalions at Waterloo was 665 while for the French it was 520, in theory that translates into a light company with 67 men compared to a French Voltigeur company of 87, again giving you a difference of 20 men in favour of the French. Do you really want to concern yourself with what appears to be a difference of half a figure at the figure to men ratio you appear to be using?

Personally I don't think this is worth troubling about. :D

John

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