Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Moderators: hammy, terrys, Blathergut, Slitherine Core

BrettPT
Lieutenant Colonel - Panther D
Lieutenant Colonel - Panther D
Posts: 1266
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:52 am
Location: Auckland, NZ

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by BrettPT » Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:08 pm

As it wasn't covered in the latest errata, and is IMO about the only aspect of the rules that are broken, I thought I'ld bump this thread to the top again.

To recap, it is almost impossible for mounted to lose to foot in difficult (woods in particular) under the rules as they stand. Skirmishers have a small chance of surviving now that they don't auto-evade, but not line infantry.

This is roughly because:

1. Cavalry advance to 2MU of foot - they don't have to fear shooting, as infantry need 6's to hit them, and get their dice number halved.
2. If the infantry don't pass a CMT to form square (within 2MU of enemy) or go backwards, they are dead
3. Cavalry charge, if not in square infantry drop a level for being within 2MU
4. Infantry shoot and fight 2 levels lower than the now disordered- ie get no dice
5. Regardless of whether the cav score sny hits in combat, the infantry will retire.
6. Retire moves are halved in difficult, pursuit moves are not. Most likely result is cavalry catch retiring infantry in the rear and fight again this turn.

Anyway, after plenty of discussion, we've decided to keep it simple at our club (and at the forthcoming convention in February) and say that cavalry cannot declare assaults against infantry who are in difficult terrain. (they can still pursue them into difficult).

Thoughts anyone?

Cheers
Brett

KeefM
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:08 am

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by KeefM » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:35 am

I read the rules as saying that the infantry can form square without needing a test when charged (2nd bullet pg 30 actions requiring a test excludes infantry if not in open).

And, thus, if in square the combat outcome would be for the cav to retire (not being able to do a pass through move cos not in the open).

So, a bit of a non-event all round.

Plus, any cav in difficult terrain aren't going to be moving far anyway unless irregular or regular light in single rank and they'd need to test to charge.

For me, the only bit still needing a tidy up is to halve the pursuit move in difficult.

Sarmaticus
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:53 am

As posted in other threads, cavalry beating infantry in rough going is fine. In difficult terrain cavalry could hardly operate at all. If it was hard for infantry to form square in open woods, they would hardly attempt it in dense. Having cavalry charging squares in dense woodland (or any other difficult terrain) doesn't seem right at all. Squares being formed more surely in dense woods than in the open seems very odd in itself and the whole interaction seems unnecessary. Cavalry operated in dense woodland only along tracks and paths.

hazelbark
General - Carrier
General - Carrier
Posts: 4957
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: Capital of the World !!

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by hazelbark » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:12 pm

Cavalry should not be able to win at all in difficult. Almost never in rough. It isn't what happened in the Napoleonic wars. You just don't see 500-800 cavalry on battlefield going into any kind of terrain intentionally to fight.

Sarmaticus
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:47 am

hazelbark wrote:Cavalry should not be able to win at all in difficult. Almost never in rough. It isn't what happened in the Napoleonic wars. You just don't see 500-800 cavalry on battlefield going into any kind of terrain intentionally to fight.
Re rough, you're wrong. There are contemporary accounts of cavalry (including cuirassiers) in open order attacking infantry in open woodland. The inability of infantry to form close order or square gave the advantage to the horsemen.

hazelbark
General - Carrier
General - Carrier
Posts: 4957
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: Capital of the World !!

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by hazelbark » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:57 pm

Sarmaticus wrote:
hazelbark wrote:Cavalry should not be able to win at all in difficult. Almost never in rough. It isn't what happened in the Napoleonic wars. You just don't see 500-800 cavalry on battlefield going into any kind of terrain intentionally to fight.
Re rough, you're wrong. There are contemporary accounts of cavalry (including cuirassiers) in open order attacking infantry in open woodland. The inability of infantry to form close order or square gave the advantage to the horsemen.
Nope you are wrong and I am right. 8) :roll:
I get that we disagree and sorry I can't leave it be. So please take this with a smile. The examples cited have been in my view clearly anomalous and uncommon. Not at all typical battlefield behavior. You can find an exception to just about everything. People swimming the Rhine, artillery blowing up a gunpowder depot, this all happens. But not in the real actions. Historically it was very clear cavalry felt contained to open areas.

Sarmaticus
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:25 pm

hazelbark wrote: Nope you are wrong and I am right. 8) :roll:
I get that we disagree and sorry I can't leave it be. So please take this with a smile. The examples cited have been in my view clearly anomalous and uncommon. Not at all typical battlefield behavior. You can find an exception to just about everything. People swimming the Rhine, artillery blowing up a gunpowder depot, this all happens. But not in the real actions. Historically it was very clear cavalry felt contained to open areas.
The examples cited come from two real battles where experienced officers clearly believed that deploying infantry in open woodland where they could not form up, was to their disadvantage versus cavalry. The cavalry duly attacked and won.
At the Beresina http://www.wargamer.com/article/3287/mi ... f-berezinathe attack was made by 1,200 cuirassiers and 1,100 polish lancers.
At Hanau the attack was made by Sebastiani's II Cavalry Corps.
Those are both real actions, of considerable size in important battles.
The classic case of disadvantaged cavalry is Pavia (1525) when arquebusiers in an hunting park were able to shoot down frenchgendarmes: hunting parks have coverts of thick woodland scattered across open pasture - parkland, in fact. Rough going is precisely the sort of open wood that in both the cited cases was held to prevent infantry forming square and evidently, open order cavalry were superior to open order foot.

hazelbark
General - Carrier
General - Carrier
Posts: 4957
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: Capital of the World !!

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by hazelbark » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:49 pm

Sarmaticus wrote: At the Beresina http://www.wargamer.com/article/3287/mi ... f-berezinathe attack was made by 1,200 cuirassiers and 1,100 polish lancers.
From your link:
The Almighty spoke and Chaplits made little headway against the French and soon called for support, Chichagov responding with the 9th and 18th Divisions. However, given his inexperience on land, he turned direct supervision of these two units over to his Chief of Staff, General Ivan V. Sabaneyev. He in turn, deployed his infantry into an open, dispersed formation, likely due to his own light infantry expertise and the forested nature of nearby terrain.

1) Inexperienced officers
2) deploying in open order
3) "forested nature of nearby terrain"

So he wasn't in the terrain.

KeefM
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 274
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:08 am

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by KeefM » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:09 am

Which units stormed the great central redoubt at Borodino ? "Shock HC" in FoGN terms. And, under FoGN rules this assault by shock HC against fortifications isn't permitted.

Also at Borodino, the Russian central cavalry reserve made numerous several counter attacks around the 'fleches' which were sited among marshy gullies. Again, not a FoGN norm; neither for the fortifications nor the rough or difficult terrain.

KendallB
Sergeant First Class - Elite Panzer IIIL
Sergeant First Class - Elite Panzer IIIL
Posts: 416
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:01 pm
Location: North Shore, New Zealand

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by KendallB » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:32 am

KeefM wrote:Which units stormed the great central redoubt at Borodino ? "Shock HC" in FoGN terms. And, under FoGN rules this assault by shock HC against fortifications isn't permitted.
The heavy cavalry most probably attacked the open rear of the fortifications, definitely through "entrances". Also the French artillery had done a pretty good job at reducing the redoubts which were, after all, just earthen banks with unreinforced faces. Very few cuirassiers actually jumped over the ditches and embrasures. A good account on this is in Alexander Mikaberidze's book

In FOG N cavalry are permitted to charge the rear of a fortification.

Sarmaticus
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 4:31 pm

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Sarmaticus » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:29 pm

hazelbark wrote:
1) Inexperienced officers
2) deploying in open order
3) "forested nature of nearby terrain"

So he wasn't in the terrain.
1) The deployment was in part due to the inexperience and partial experience of the commander; the consequences were due to that deployment. His subordinates remonstrated with him and there is no indication they were particularly inexperienced.
2) The deployment was due to being in or near forested terrain (the quoted passage could have either sense but see below).
3) The article goes on to say:
'The movement felt [of the earth from hooves] was the charge of General Doumerc’s 1,200 cuirassiers, with 1,100 Polish lancers right behind in support. Seeing the Russians unformed and knowing they would not be able to form square, Napoleon unleashed these “iron men” over the hills and through the woods, smashing into man and musket before they could react. Chaplits penned,

“This cavalry charge had a tremendous effect, especially since the soldiers, who were supposed to support me, were scattered all around the woods and, in the confusion, began firing in my rear so I found myself between fires. This only increased the commotion among our troops.”'

The first paragraph has cavalry charging through the woods because the troops in them would not be able to form square (see also the painting at the head of the article). The second, a quotation from participant Chaplits, might be construed as his men being deployed ouside the woods and their supports within but we learn from the first paragraph that the cavalry charged both; trampling the 9th & 18th Divisions and taking 3,000 prisoners. Col. Gray sees this success "as against all expectations" but as Napoleon unleashed the charge, "knowing they would not be able to form square", it was certainly not against his.

Then there is the account in Marbot:
"In the direction from which we were coming, a large forest, through
which the road runs, covers the approach to Hanau. The tall trees of
this forest allow movement without much difficulty. The town of
Hanau is built on the other side of the river Kinzig."
<snip>
"On the 30th of October at dawn the battle began, like a great
hunting party. Some grape-shot and some small-arms fire from our
infantry, together with a charge in open order by Sébastiani's
cavalry, scattered the first line of the enemy, somewhat unskillfully
placed at the extreme edge of the wood; but as one penetrated a
little further, our squadrons could not operate except in the few
clearings which they came across, only the Light Infantry followed in
the steps of the Bavarians, whom they pursued from tree to tree to
the end of the forest. At that point they had to stop, faced by an
enemy line of forty thousand men, whose front was covered by eighty
guns."

That was at Hanau. Note that the cavalry are able to run down infantry placed at the edge of the wood but unable to operate very much further in. It is precisely at the edges of woods that wargamers like to deploy their infantry, safe from cavalry attack. However, it seems from the accounts above that they were better off forming in close order outside of a wood or seeking refuge deeper within it (the coverts of an hunting park being an obvious exception).
Where the terrain merely breaks up formations without greatly impeding the movement of individuals, it makes sense that mounted men would have the edge over those on foot.
Last edited by Sarmaticus on Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:10 am, edited 3 times in total.

terrys
Panzer Corps Team
Panzer Corps Team
Posts: 4189
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:53 am

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by terrys » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:09 am

It seems that a certain consensus has been achieved by now, that some change must be done about the rules of fire and combat in terrain. I will suggest doing that via a change in the POAs when in terrain, or in some types of it. We think to play for now on that at least in difficult terrain nobody gets a POA. Equally skirmishes need some update. A possibility is to allow them when assaulted in terrain to do like artillery i.e take a test and if successful fire before evade if the assaults began more than2 MU away o to stay and fire If within 2MU. In any case I will encourage the authors to fix that question, as I don’t like homemade rules very much.
The attempted 'fix' for skirmishers in terrain doesn't work too well because of the wording.
They should have to evade from cavalry !
The other issue of number of dice is a slight problem - it was rare that enemy were broken in difficult terrain, although were often made to retreat.

At the moment anyone fighting in terrain gets a double reduction - down to 4 dice for not being in the open, and then reduced by a cohesion loss (or 2).
If we changed the cohesion loss to 'none for rough' and '1 for difficult' would that improve the situation?

Rekila
Sergeant - Panzer IIC
Sergeant - Panzer IIC
Posts: 188
Joined: Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:57 pm
Location: Galiza

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Rekila » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:06 pm

I must confess that up to now, not change had give us very good results, so again I encourage ( or beg!) the authors to give the issue some attention :wink:

MikeHorah
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Staff Sergeant - StuG IIIF
Posts: 271
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:57 pm

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by MikeHorah » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:11 am

1. I am also a keen geographer and one who always looks closely at the passing terrain from a military perspective when in trains and vehicles and even from low flying aircraft on occasion and of course walking . Admittedly one is looking at terrain today and not 200-300 years ago. But I have been equally struck by how dense some woodlands are in central Europe are( Alpine woods alongside alpine huts and summer cow pastures and lower down the slopes as one descends - sometimes by cable car!) and yet how open others are such as the Vienna Woods in Austria ( whence John Sobieski led his famous charge against the Turks. )

2. I can recommend Simon Schama’s magnum opus “ Landscape and Memory “ which evokes the woods of Poland and the east and those of Germany referring at times to military history and myths. But I have yet to finish it having got fatefully lost in one of his many verbal entanglements :roll: . There are some good illustrations but it is a big book.

3. In European woodlands who had the advantage during the 18th and early 19th century - light infantry or light cavalry – regular or otherwise? The period is key because we have firearms and we specify the continent and no longer have dragoons as such . Even today North American woods are still wildernesses of many thousands of seemingly endless square miles as I have seen for myself in upper New York state and in Canada . Although that did not prevent the men of 1861-64 from engaging each other in them at great cost in Virginia and the west ( Shiloh, Chancellorsville and the Wilderness). But they are different.

4. It must depend on the nature of the woodlands . In FOG(N) we have been less specific than in FOG(AM) talking in general terms about “ rough/cover”. Perhaps we need to get more specific?

5. At the root of this debate are the trade off ‘s in woodlands between tree density , and irregularity of tree cover ( and ground- wet and marshy ground is also common in some woods), ground cover and visibility. At one end of the spectrum it can allow deployed light infantry the possibility of longer range fire to drive cavalry ( or others) off or to keep them at bay. Sufficiently open woodlands would enable regular light infantry to deploy with the usual mix of paired skirmishers to the front and groups of four and a reserve to their rear as a secure base to fall back on ( Osprey’s Elite series “ British Napoleonic Infantry Tactics" by Philip Haythornthwaite illustrates it well - Plate H opposite page 41. )

6. But undergrowth is also part of the key for mounted troops , low and light enough to enable them to pass relatively unhindered and with good sight lines and tall enough to obscure the vision of foot soldiers and no low hanging branches and fallen trees. On the other hand open order troops have that cover to hide in so it’s all a bit 50:50 .And we should not discount the option cavalry had to skirmish with their carbines which might contribute to a stand-off. Perhaps one should treat some confrontations as numismatically worthless – without outcome- in the context of a game at Corps level :shock: ?

7. I think we can safely regard vines as fundamentally disadvantageous to cavalry – there are some good examples from 1870-71 of cavalry coming to grief . Olive groves less so perhaps but these are not common other than in the southern Mediterranean and are often irregularly planted and on uneven slopes and the low branches are not helpful for mounted troops . Orchards are pretty horse friendly as the trees are a bit higher than olives and usually in rows. So are some deciduous managed woodlands- free of undergrowth .

8. So there are concepts we might use of “open” and “closed” woodlands some of which may also be uneven underfoot ( so bad for horses) , some managed and some not. But that said “open” woodlands should be treated as more cavalry friendly and less relatively “ safe “ for light infantry in open order. Irregular light infantry such as Grenzers or genuine Jaegers ( as in men who were recruited from huntsmen game wardens etc ) would have an advantage in closed woods.

9. Having separately covered Vines, Olive groves and orchards , one simple approach would be to treat all managed woodlands as open woods, and all other woodlands as “ terra incognito” – rather like rivers are treated and determined to be “open” or “closed” with a d roll on placement . Some closed woods could also be rough underfoot similarly determined.

10. There are some parts of Europe where the propensity for unmanaged woodlands to be one or the other is skewed. The east more likely to be open, and as Schama describes, often well managed for timber and game, and central Europe more likely to be closed in hilly and mountain areas . We already need to review that terrain from the perspective of the Tyrolean Revolt.

11. One final anecdote re terrain and woods . At one of the early Wargames Developments conferences (COW) we had a TEWT (Tactical Exercise Without Troops) set in 1870-71. One player related how, as he ordered his imaginary company of infantry to charge at the double to the edge of some woods, he discovered , as he got near ,that it was not undergrowth he had seen at the edge , but an ivy covered wall . ( So not suitable for cavalry then :lol: ) The Umpire accompanying him had known that I believe. Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted.

hazelbark
General - Carrier
General - Carrier
Posts: 4957
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:53 pm
Location: Capital of the World !!

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by hazelbark » Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:26 pm

A valuable review.

Therefore I would just break it easily. All difficult is closed woods and therefore a serious challenge to cavalry. Rough cover is the open woods variety.

Blathergut
Field Marshal - Elefant
Field Marshal - Elefant
Posts: 5804
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:44 am
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Blathergut » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:50 pm

Dead. and I tried the "0 for rough and -1 for difficult today. We had wooded rough in two key places. We applied the mods for shooting as well as combat.

>French light infantry + arty attachment put out a lot of fire from the rough by not being disordered while in tactical.
> Shooting into the rough was all but futile.

It seemed a bit one-sided. You got the benefit of the cover but no consequences at all.

Blathergut
Field Marshal - Elefant
Field Marshal - Elefant
Posts: 5804
Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:44 am
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada

Re: Skirmishing cavalry in Woods

Post by Blathergut » Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:34 am

Has this been adopted by most? Has it helped the situation?



BrettPT wrote:
a) making skirmisher evades optional in terrain
c) making the automatic cohesion drop for being charged within 2MU by cavalry only apply in the open.
e) halving pursuit moves in difficult terrain.

I certainly agree with (a), (c) and (e). Not sure about the others as yet.
If we introduce those 3 we'd also have to make infantry only fight as 1 combat level lower when in difficult.....Otherwise they'd always lose badly to skirmisher.....Although I think it would need to be a CT to stand with skirmisher in rough/difficult.
Hi Terry
Thanks for the reply.
I think that (a) (c) & (e); plus a CT for skirmishers to stand; plus infantry changing to light blue (ie 1 cohesion level lower) in difficult would cover the issue very nicely - in fact we have a small tournament coming up in February and I think I'll make it an 'umpire's rule' that we do this (Lasalle got bad press here when it became apparent that cavalry were really good in woods - don't want the same criticism for FoGN).

Regarding infantry v LI;
If infantry fought 1 cohesion level lower in difficult rather than 2, a small unit's chances of doing 2 hits in combat would rise from 25% to 50%. LI - fighting with 4 dice and needing a 5+ to hit - have a 41% chance of doing 2 hits (according to http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~bcd/SR/dicerollcalc.html ).
Given that the LI would always be the non-phasing player (skirmishers not being able to initiate a charge against formed opponents), the most likely result would be a push backwards for the skirmishers, possibly disordered.

Seems about right.

Cheers
Brett

Post Reply

Return to “Rules Questions”