Sunday, December 27, 2009

Open Column Of Companies Forms To The Right

A second vignette adapted from Paddy Griffiths, French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815. (Osprey Elite Series Booklet #159) Paddy's remarks and diagrams were adapted from the 1791 Réglement concernant l'exercice et les manoeuvres de l'infanterie as follows: (Click on photos so each fills your screen.)
Date: 1792
Situation: Trouble approaching the right flank through a defile.

Two mounted squadrons of 1st Hussars (formerly Bercheney from my SYW l'Ancien Régime Army) while a third is dismounted firing carbines at a foe coming through the defile. An officer rides in earnest to the rear to report what is seen.

He reports to the Chef de Batallion.

They converse. The battalion is in open column of companies. (See remarks below)

The battalion will quarter wheel (ninety degrees) by company to the right and form line.

The Colonel and his drums post themselves at what will be the center rear of the new formation.

The drums immediately commence beating this order for all to hear while officers and NCOs in the rear make sure the command is understood and instantly obeyed.

Each company wheels simultaneously. We are mid-way through the wheel.

Finished and ready to face the threat.

En avant mes amis. Bon chance!
Closing Remarks
1. Eight companies were common for 1791-1808 French line battalions. The Grenadiers are absent - again.
2. The eight companies were merged from two battalions in my collection for this vignette.
3. One of the special things we can all consider doing is moving each company as shown.
4. Never mind lifting and plopping them down. Instead, march them to their next position using your movement rates. It might take more or less than one turn. You might even need time to adjust left and right, etc. just like they really did. Are your movement rates sufficient?
5. Practice privately before game day to get intervals just right. Get your lads onto a quiet drill field to train them -- and you.
6. The battalion started in an open column of companies. The interval between each company front to back was measured so the quarter wheel occurs without bumping and creating an entangled muddle. The above does not seem to visually simulate the larger interval actually used. This is because the depth of miniatures is far greater than in history. I used a 1" interval.
7. At the start of the wheel (pivot) hold down the upper right-hand corner of each movement tray while wheeling the same tray in a clockwise manner with your other hand. It was not perfect but was close enough. At first my intervals were almost 3". Nope. After wheeling about five times and changing the interval, a 1" gap worked best. It will be different for you. This is why practice is needed.
8. Start at the top. It is best to wheel all companies half way first. When all are half way through their wheel, go back to the top and finish the last half of the march. A two-step process.
9. If the battalion was "closed", meaning in our case, with all trays touching front to back, this formation change is impossible.
10. A new kind of fun. Different and satisfying.
11. You CAN do this with your collection -- as is. Let us know how things turn out.
12. The nice thing about the French Bercheney Hussars of the Seven Years' War is that their 1791 uniform is similar to that worn in the SYW. All I did was switch out the SYW flags for GMB Napoleonic 1804 flags. Lucky me.
13. Comments welcome immediately below.


  1. Bill,

    Again, another valuable visual aid! Thanks,


  2. a visual treat as usual...
    p.s I trust your son is feeling better.

  3. Superb performance and lovely looking figures too

  4. Love it.
    I'm going to try to have a little pre battle fire fight with the leading elements of the two armies in the upcoming Frankszonia / Coalition of Colon rumble(to finally get to USE BAR (I've more than enough infantry, a squadron of Hussars, and four cannon painted up ... ought to work) ...
    ps Wife has finally found most of her cameras which had been missing for months, there may be pictures!


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