How Men of Quality Resolve Differences

How Men of Quality Resolve Differences
Poodle attacks - an ugly but inevitable part of any 17th C. British Civil War, "Oh! The Shame of it All!"

Monday, February 4, 2019

19th Century: Franco - Prussian War resources

French Girls are Easy! And their food and wine are waaaay better!

one has to know how to inspire the troops, after all...,_August_16,1870_by_Emil_H%C3%BCnten.jpg

Been enjoying working on this 19th C. European Wars rules project. It has the grandeur of Napoleonics without quite as much hot air, and far fewer experts. The armies are almost as colorful, and if one wants color one can always go get Turks to fight the Russkies! The rules have been working out well and I have been carefully controlling both what goes in and what goes out of them. They are getting tighter and tighter, and now just need some additional playtesting, especially along the lines of optional and command rules.

The period drama is pretty intense. France really goes down hard, starting with a fast-moving disaster and then going into a long, slow-motion catastrophe . The number of troops and troop types is just amazing, and even the Prussians get allies that add variety to uniforms and quality. There is a lot of vigor and desperation in many of the battles, and both sides take it in the chin periodically. It reminds me a lot of the American Civil War, with the methodical, overwhelming Union [Prussia] slowly tearing apart the dashing but overwhelmed Confederacy [France].

True, the French lose the military campaign, but had they more energetic and courageous leadership, they might have dragged the war on until they had mobilized too many men for Prussia to crush them utterly. I think it would have been a lot more like WWI, with a marginal victory for Prussia at the beginning, leading to a unified German Empire but without territorial concessions by France. But, what do I know?

In any event, it is certainly time to share some of the top resources for this project, just in case you may be considering moving into this era yourself!

Absolutely the best place to start is Bruce Weigle's work. In addition to being a great person to interact with, Bruce is definitely an expert on wargaming this period. He has several sets of rules out, appropriately and intelligently titled by their year of battle:
1859: the Italian War of Independence
1866: the austro-Prussian War
   - includes 1864, the Schleswig-Holstein War [yes, the one Flashman was in]
1870 the Franco-Prussian War
1871 Quick-play rules for the Franco-Prussian War

1859 Grand Tactical Rules for the Second Italian War of Independence; also includes complete rules for 1864 - the Second Schleswig War by Bruce Weigle 1866 Grand Tactical Rules for the Austro-Prussian War by Bruce Weigle 
1870 Grand Tactical Rules for the Franco-Prussian War by Bruce Weigle 1871 Fast Play Grand Tactical Rules for the Franco-Prussian War by Bruce Weigle

I own the first three, and find them indispensable resources of BOTH history and game mechanics. True, one may not steal all the ideas, but Bruce has been gaming the period a long time, and his ideas and insights are always worth considering. Also, his bibliographies are amazing - you will probably never even gain access to most of it. So whichever period interests you the most - GET THE BOOK!

Three great F-P books to start with - all of mine came from my [excellent] library system. There is a lot posted about them at Amazon, so check them out. 

Howard is the standard and almost final word just now, despite being from 1961. I am most of the way thru it, and it is excellent history, which is why it is "the definitive English Language Work on the topic. Used copied of the earlier edition can be obtained cheap [I ordered mine] and the new edition is for some reason retailing for no less than $25. As his intro makes it clear that there are no changes and additions, there's no reason not to save $20 and get the older edition.

Wawro makes insightful comments and asks great questions and is provocative to one's thinking - however, his history is a bit sloppy and he has errors and omissions that make him more of an "idea guy" than a reliable history. Still, worth reading AFTER reading Howard, I think. I read the first few chapters and found it energetic but not as trustworthy as Howard. Still, I will read it fully in the future.

The Osprey is, well, the Osprey! It is short and sweet, and has a lot of character for the size, including some great quotes and pics and a nice approach - instead of detailing the war blow by blow, it makes salient points and then focuses on "exemplary" people whose story typifies the time. Worth reading, especially if your library has it. But if not, consider getting it used for $10 or so - it is a great start to the Franco-Prussian war.


Sedan 1870: The Eclipse of France by Douglas Fermer
I've obtained but not read this book. It looks good. I am wondering who has the temerity to cover the ground Howard covered in his first 223 pp. Still, like Wawro, I am hoping it provokes thoughtfulness and some re-reading of Howard. Author himself claims it is a "narrative introduction to events" which sounds right for 200 pp. up to the Sedan battle.

Killed at Saarbruck: A British Newspaperman's View of the Franco-Prussian War
This is a great book! It is written with journalistic eagerness and immediacy, and British sensibility. Sure, one should take it with a grain of salt, but grab a copy and enjoy - I am!

Last Throw of the Dice: Bourbaki and Werder in Eastern France 1870-71.Hope to get a copy of this soon.

Cavalry in the Franco-Prussian War
Probably a depressing topic as they got shot to pieces! Hope to get a copy of this soon.

German Armies 1870–71 (1) MAA 416 Prussian & N German confederation
German Armies 1870–71 (2)MAA 422 Prussia’s allies
The Army of the German Empire 1870–88 MAA 4
French Army 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War (1) MAA 233 Imperial troops
French Army 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War (2) MAA 237 Republican Troops
All of these are useful books in that way Ospreys are. 
Generally speaking the German ones are WAY better than the French ones, including way more detail and better scholarship. I have all but MAA4, and I don't regret obtaining any of them altho the French ones are more useful for the various facts about the Imperial and Republican armies than the uniform details - for which you have to search and are incomplete [another Osprey problem]. 

To help with this, I have now added a couple of simple on-line uniform plate style pages from Foundry and Bacchus on the links at the right. Also, here are two books on the Prussians and French:

  • Ending at the campaign against Austria, but apparently a great history of the Prussian army during this time is Armies of Bismark's Wars, Prussia 1860-1867 by Bruce Baden Powell. It seems a bit mis-named in that it also covers the navy [and probably balloons, so air power??]. From the title, perhaps there will be more volumes forthcoming?
  • Recommended but in French, L'armée de Napoléon III: dans la guerre de 1870 is almost 200pp and "has almost 140 uniform plates and maps. More than 1000 infantry, artillery and cavalry drawings" so sounds fine for anyone with some cash and a French dictionary.
Of course, if you are just banging out some 10-15mm armies [not to mention 6mm] you can probably get by just fine with the free uniform plates in the painting guides, and a few questions in the better forums.


way more than I thought - 23 altogether, unknown to me if they'll be easy to find or not, but what a large selection listed [HERE] at Boardgame Geek!

Old Glory 15s are familiar to anyone who has the WWII line, Command Decision, altho they sold it to a 3rd party. They re now selling Blue Moon as their 15s/18s line. I have a pile of Command Decision Italians and Americans, and have lots of good things to say about them as opposed to the Battlefront sculpts [altho I hear they're getting resculpted and are nicer - still they can only be even more expensive when re-sculpted, right!?]. Things to note:
  • They are a bit softly sculpted, paint up nicely and are famous for animation. 
  • They are not the best, cleanest sculpts, but they strike a great balance. 
  • especially cheap with the present Christmas sale in progress. 
  • Normally, they're a very reasonable $20 for 6 guns/24 crew, 50 foot, 16 mounted, with substantial daily discounts for quantity at any time. 
They are about the same price per figure - on sale - as my 10mm choice, Pendraken. The pros for me are:
  • my gaming pal has F-P 15s, so we could put on some mega-games. 
  • I can see them pretty well, and they should be easy to paint. 
  • While they don't have the "mass" effect of Pendraken, they fit nicely on the table. 
  • The packs are just the right size for the basing / formations I have in mind. 

So in the end, I went with "made in 'Merica" and pulled the trigger on them - results for a future post!

Lancashire miniatures are another choice. However, there was no doubt who had the best prices and quality overall - Old Glory. Still, Lancashire might be useful to round out one's collection in 15mm, so don't count them out - just check the shipping and such charges before you decide on spending the money. They have decent pics and you should get a good idea what you're buying.

More to be added on this in the future, to be sure!

FIGURE SIZE, BASING Now, some thoughts on figures. To left is 15mm Peter Pig WWII Germans. To right are 6mm Bacchus ACW. Both certainly convey different impressions. The left 15s look like a smaller Unit, maybe a platoon at most. The right 6mm look more like a company. There are 16 figs on 4 bases to left, and about 50 6mm to the right. Certainly, the 6mm are more suitable to any big-battle endeaver, altho without the flags...who would know what they were??

Below, K2's figs from Rank and File [sold by Old Glory 15s]. They sit pretty tight on a 1&1/4" x 3/8" base [about 35mm by 15mm]. I'd say that 40mm x 20mm is the right size for them if you want to have a little space to protect four figs. These are also metal bases and have a tendency to overlap one another; of course, you must pick them up by the figs.

What should these Units look like on the table? Below are 15mm Command Decision, actually a little smaller than the 19th C. line F-P war figures, sitting on top of 40mm x 20mm bases from Litko. NT recommends 4 x 3-fig bases for each BATTALION of figures, a ratio of about 1/60 - 1/80. And this is what they look like...squads, basically.

I'm trying to get the effect of columns of companies ranked behind companies of skirmishers with the above. Net is still 12 figures.

Below in line and column according to NT's rules. Looks pretty good.

Below, in double-scale, or 24 figs a battalion, more like a 1/40-1/30 ratio. Note that the 2-fig stands are skirmishing companies, and the 4-fig stands are the "massed" companies behind. They can be in column for maneuver or charging, or spread out into line for a firefight. I think they look good either way.

Below, on the left are 20mm x 40mmm, and 1" x 2" to the right. I dunno, the ones on the right look a bit "looser" I think. Overall, I'm favoring the larger bases to right, and with about a 2mm height so as to protect the figs a bit - hopefully, gamers will pick them up by their bases, not the bayonets!

I'll be adding to this post periodically, and keep updating the date, so check back if you are looking for a start in this period. Also, send me more resources to add to it!

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