This is the first of a series of previews we hope to release before the completion of the Napoleonic Total War 2: Borodino pack. This preview focuses on the largest - and perhaps most important - element of the armies of the Napoleonic Era: the Infantry.
For those not familiar with Napoleonic Total War 2, here is a brief update:
- The latest project from the award winning Lordz modding collective that brought you Napoleonic Total War and American Total War for the MTW engine, Napoleonic Total War 2 brings the wars and armies of the Napoleonic era to the Rome Total War engine. The Barbarian Invasion expansion is not required in order to play this modification, but it'll run on RTW 1.5 and BI 1.6.
- The mod will be released in several "packs", each with it's own theme. The first will be the "Borodino pack", focusing on the Russian campaign of 1812, with it's climax at the Battle at Borodino. The second pack will feature the battle of Waterloo, adding the British, Prussians and Dutch-Belgian armies to the game.
- We hope to release the Borodino pack before the end of August, and the Waterloo pack a few months later.
- For more information, visit www.thelordz.co.uk (site is being updated, go to the forum for a FAQ and screenshots topic)
Napoleonic Infantry tactics were by their very nature dynamic. It was the time where infantry, armed with musket and bayonet, played a versatile and demanding role.
The main weapon of the infantry was the musket, a rough but deadly firearm. With the introduction of the bayonet, the musket became a versatile killing combination that dominated European battlefields for centuries.
The basic tactical unit of the day was the regiment or battalion. The introduction of the column formation gave the troops the edge they needed. The basic line formation, which was usually three men deep, was still best used if you needed maximum firepower. However, with the introduction of the column battalions would no longer move only in a long, straight, and often unwieldy line. With the much smaller front of the column, infantry could now move more quickly over rough terrain and use roads, and could more easily counter threats to its front, rear or side or form into square when threatened by cavalry.
Light Infantry was also a major part of Napoleonic warfare. The use of light, skirmishing infantry heavily influenced the way battles were fought. Light infantry would scatter in open order in front of the formed bodies of infantry. Unlike the regular Line infantry, who had to stand shoulder to shoulder and would only fire on command and en masse, the Light infantry used the available cover of the terrain to harass the enemy, picking off enemy officers and artillery and pinning down the enemy infantry. Line infantry, whose massive volleys would be far less effective against such a spread out and hunkered down target, had few effective tools to deal with enemy Lights, often simply sending out their own skirmishers to keep the enemy out of musket reach.
Of course things could go wrong: friendly fire, the "fog of war" caused by smoke and dust, bad weather, fatigue, malnutrition, and of course poor leadership. And even if a soldier were to survive the horror of combat, diseases killed as many men as musketballs. Choking smoke, screaming shells passing overhead, and cavalry charges all demanded steady nerves and good discipline. It was truly "Hell on earth" for the basic infantry soldier, whose greatest ally was often capable officers and NCOs, who could guide the men through the raging maelstrom of Napoleonic battles.
Over time, mixed formations of infantry in line and in column, surrounded by clouds of skirmishers were developed and fine tuned, always with the close support of cavalry and artillery arms. Napoleonic warfare was very complex, and the lessons learned on the fields of Borodino, Waterloo, and all across the world are still studied and educated intensely at every major Military Academy around the world.
INFANTRY TACTICS IN NAPOLEONIC TOTAL WAR 2
In NTW2, the basic Light and Line infantry are the most cost-effective units. As long as they are properly formed up and not in loose formation, they can be counted on to repel most cavalry. However, should enemy cavalry catch your Light infantry skirmishing in the open without any support, your lights will be butchered. And when you really need to take or hold a position, you can depend on your Grenadiers or even the feared Guard infantry to get the job done. Using Napoleonic infantry is a violent chess game, with each type of soldier having to be used in the way they are most effective and in the way they best compliment their comrades.
All infantry units are equiped with muskets, and except for the light units they all have the same effective range. Line infantry firing from long range does little damage, but close range volleys are deadly and may instantly rout enemy units. This creates a difficult choice for players: how close do you bring your men before firing? Or do you not fire at all, but instead charge straight in with bayonets fixed? Generally, Light infantry does the long range skirmishing, using their quicker foot speed and slightly more effective range to harass the enemy, then safely withdrawing before they can be engaged. Line and heavy infantry is used to defend or for concentrated attacks on weak spots in the enemy defence. Prolonged shooting duels are very rare, and generally result in victory for the defender because he has a better chance of using the terrain to his benefit.
Unit morale is generally low (compared to most other mods), and units cannot be upgraded by extra armour/weapon or valor. Therefore you need to keep your men happy and protected. The best way to do this is by keeping officers nearby and by keeping your troops close together; men who feel that they are without leadership on the field and see no friends nearby will quickly decide that discretion is the better part of valour. But this is often more difficult and dangerous then it sounds. Deploying in a long line is often impossible, because it forces units to leave the protection of hills and villages, making them easy targets for enemy artillery. Deploying in a deep, compact formation is just as dangerous, because the units then become sitting ducks for enemy artilley and are easily surrounded. And if your troops are packed too close together they will block each other's line of fire, something a clever opponent will use against you.
The French army was the largest army in the World and was at war with several enemies at once. In this very difficult situation accepting only volunteer soldiers (as it was in the small Swiss and British armies) was simply not enough. To meet the required numbers, the French used conscription. Conscription hustled to arms a lot of quivering creatures who would never have gone to war of their own free will. So the process of weeding out the weak was under way in the first stages of every campaign. The French infantryman was found everywhere. Little worried him; neither the pyramids of Egypt nor the vast plains of snowy Russia. No matter where he found himself, he considered himself to be a representative of the French way of life.
During these "Glory Years" French military soundly defeated every major European power on land, and the French infantry was its backbone. Napoleon's light infantry enjoyed a great reputation in Europe.
However, in 1812 disaster struck the French army. As Napoleon Bonaparte marching into Russia in an attempt to destroy his neighbors to the East, the majority of his army was swallowed up by the snowy winter of Mother Russia. The casualties were horrible and it required a heart of stone to look on those gallant veterans of so many battles, mangled, frozen and torn, and heaped by the thousands over the fields and roads. Of some 700,000 troops, only 10% returned from this campaign.
In 1815 ,after the 100-Days Campaign and Waterloo and the final defeat of Napoleon, the French King Louis XVIIIth decided that no reminder of the Republic or the Empire would be allowed to survive in the army. The organisation of the army and the uniforms from the Empire were banned.
THE FRENCH INFANTRY UNITS
These units are usually best used as cannon fodder - although a clever opponent might not even waste his ammunition on them. Low morale and close combat skills, combined with poor reload speed and below average accuracy result in a unit that is only good to save some money to purchase more elite units.
The French National Guards (or militia) are conscripted from all able-bodied male citizens capable of carrying weapons from the age of 17-50. These men are the last resort and entrusted with the final defense of France. They garrison outside the capital walls of Paris and throughout other cities in France. They are armed with the smoothbore muzzle-loading musket and dress in the same fashion as the line infantrymen, but retained the bicorne. They are hastily trained and lack the discipline of the line infantrymen but are considered brave and hardy troops and are lead by retired veteran officers of the elite Old Guard.
The Fusiliers of the Line are the basic workhorse of the French army. Their shooting ability is good enough to deal a lot of damage to much more expensive units, and they are cheap enough to absorb enemy artillery fire if necessary. But their morale is low compared to the elites of the field, and their hand-to-hand fighting skills aren't impressive. Therefor they need proper protecting and leadership or they can be routed by a quick and decisive strike.
The French Fusiliers (French Line) are armed with a muzzle-loading smoothbore musket and able fire off three volleys in a minute. These troops are the backbone of Napoleon's army and were generally young men conscripted from the ages of 20 and 25. The line infantry had large numbers of men who served for long periods. The uniform was a dark blue coat, white breeches with black knee-length gaiters, and felt shakos. These men are trained and could perform impressively. Their marching speed and maneuvering is superior to any other nations' armies and are known for their steadiness in maneuvering under fire, for speed of movements was crucial for Napoleon. He often said that, "he won because of his soldiers boots." Even though the French line infantry marched fast they were not as disciplined during march as were some of the German-speaking armies.
Historically in 1804-1811 France had among the best line infantryman which had ever existed in Europe. The line infantry epitomized Napoleon's army. Many regiments were of high quality and only few could be called poor. Tragically, by 1812 the majority of these veterans were swallowed up in the Russian winter.
If you want to compare Napoleonic Total War 2 armies to Rome Total War armies, then the Chasseurs would be the French "archers", while Fusiliers are the basic infantry. Chasseurs are skirmisher units that should be used to provoke the enemy to attack and protect the rest of the army from enemy skirmishers. Like all skirmishers, these units have a high range and accuracy, as the men are trusted to take their time aiming and shoot at will, and Light infantry can operate in loose formation (unlike most other infantry). This makes them effective at harrasing enemy infantry from a safe distance. The loose formation also makes them take less casualties from artillery bombardement, making them useful to snipe enemy gun crews. However, be wary of enemy cavalry...
French Chasseurs (meaning "hunters") are light infantrymen and are comprised of hunters or woodsmen. They are generally of slightly smaller stature, making them easier to hide in villages and gardens then the more clumsy line soldiers. They are also smaller targets for the enemy's shooters. Their uniforms were darker and less visible to the enemy as well. These men are more intensively trained in marksmanship and in executing all maneuvers in slightly higher speed, especially skirmishing. Armed with a lighter musket, their primary target were enemy's officers and gunners while screening the Line infantry from the harassing fire of enemy skirmishers.
Voltigeurs represent the elite force of Light infantry that was available to the French army. They have a (slightly) higher range and accuracy then Chasseurs, and their elite status also gives them a bit better morale. This makes them small "commando" units who can even harrass enemy skirmishers without getting in harms way. The downside is their small unit size and high cost, which makes them less cost-effective then Chasseurs at standard skirmisher jobs such as sniping enemy artillery crews.
The Voltigeurs were a new branch of infantry and were introduced by Napoleon in 1803. The Decree issued in March 1803 ordered raising a 10th Company in the regiments of Light infantry. These were Voltigeurs and were formed by taking the 6 smallest men from every Chasseur company in the battalion. The Voltigeurs were the best suited troopers for skirmishing, ladder climbing, urban combat, and for scouting. The Voltigeurs were trained in firing rapidly and accurately and were expected to be able to march at the trot.
In Rome Total War terms, Fusiliers are the light/medium infantry. The French Grenadiers are the heavy infantry. While not a true elite unit on the level of the Young or Old Guard, they have slighty better morale then Fusiliers, and are effective in close combat. The result is a cheaper - and more expendable - shock unit than the true elite units, that can be used to assault enemy defenses or fight off enemy cavalry attacks.
These men are usually selected for their stature (they are often the biggest men) and war experience(a minimum of 4 years of military service)and are very strong. The French grenadiers are the shock troops; brave, good marchers and are often used as a spearhead of attacking forces. They present a formidable sight to see and, being big men, they made good use of the bayonet!
The French Young Guard are a versatile unit of talented soldiers. They are better then the Fusilier regiments in every aspect, but excel at shooting. They are also the only non-skirmisher unit capable of operating in loose formation, but lack the high range of dedicated skirmisher units. And while they can decimate enemy units with close to mid-range volley fire, their hand-to-hand fighting abilities do not equal those of Grenadier or other Guard units.
The Young Guard were formed in 1808 by Napoleon. The men were drawn from the Empire's regular line regiments, from the strongest, tallest, and most intelligent recruits to the best of the year's conscripts. They are armed with a muzzle-loading smoothbore musket and able fire off 3 to 4 volleys in a minute. They are usually used as a tactical reserve and lead by battle hardened veteran officers of the Old Guard. One of the most popular divisional commanders, Henri Francois Delaborde, led his division of Young Guard with these words: "My children, when you smell powder for the first time, it is stylish to stick up your nose!" The martial air of the Young Guard astonished everyone, which inspired the line regiments to fight on when the battle got tough. Once they engaged in combat they were well disciplined fighters, who perform brave heroic deeds for their beloved emperor. They are one of Napoleon's best soldiers in the French army, for he remarked that, "they won battle's using their legs."
Without a doubt the Old Guard is the strongest infantry unit in the game, probably even THE strongest unit, stop. Their sheer presence disheartens enemy units, and combined with their high morale and excellent close combat fighting skills, it makes them they ultimate unit to crack open a wavering enemy defence. However, they are not the best shooters in the game, and they die just as easily from musket fire as any other unit. Therefore they are only worth their high price if used at the right time and place in battle.
The French Old Guard were an elite military force that grew out of the Garde des Consuls and Garde Consulaire after Napoleons crowning in 1804. These men were selected carefully, and the requirements were not easy to meet for the candidates. Like all other guard units these men had to be strong, tall (at least 5'10"), be able to read and write, and had to be harded veterans of at least 10 years service; some had 20 campaigns or more! Tactically they were kept in reserve but were often thrown into a battle as the killing blow. The Old Guard's ranks were made up of battle hardened veteran soldiers who did not fear death. They were fanatically resolute, always marching stoically into the teeth of enemy fire. These men were considered the elite of the elite, the creme de la creme of Napoleon's infantry; they were the most ferocious fighters on earth. They therefore enjoyed the highest prestige in Napoleons army and were very devoted to their Emperor.
There was nothing but empty plains and vast woods in Russia. They extended farther than the eye could see. The roads were either very broad or very narrow. In winter the snow storms made the roads impassable and the extreme cold made travelling dangerous. The cities in Russia were vast in extent and appeared empty. The streets and squares were broad and the houses stood far apart as comparing to western Europe. Russia was torn between Asia and Europe and only sparsely settled. The vast land together with the long winters produced the melancholy and mystery not felt in any other country.
By the 19th century it was estimated that about 50 per cent of Russian peasants were serfs. These serfs would form the great pool out of which Russian Infantry was recruited.
By 1810-1812 Russian generals such as Barclay de Tolly had analyzed the French army, its organisation, structure and methods of combat and introduced many military reforms.
The Russian infantryman was known for his tenacity in combat. French general Marbot wrote: "The Russians had to be beaten down man by man, our soldiers fired upon them at 25 paces, they continued their march without replying, every regiment filed past, without saying a word or slackening its pace for a moment. The streets were filled with dying and wounded, but not a groan was heard, for they were forbidden. You might have said that they were firing at shadows. At last our soldiers charged the Russian soldiers with the bayonet, and only when they pierced them could they be convinced that they were dealing with men."
The Russians were the premier believers in what could be called The Cult of the Bayonet. The Russian bayonet attack was fierce and well-known throughout Europe.
Generally the Russian infantryman was not the best shooter in Europe. The men were trained in firing quick volleys by entire platoons and battalions. Only few commanders trained their troopers in aiming their muskets and emphasized the accuracy of fire.
In June 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia with a force twice as large as the Russian army facing him. He hoped to inflict a major defeat on the Russians and force Alexander to sue for peace.
The Reformed Russian army performed well in 1812 and ended up beating back, with the help of the frigid Russian winter, a French army that had taken control of most of Europe.
The Tzar was determined to defeat Napoleon and 'liberate Europe.' He said "I shall not make peace as long as Napoleon is on the throne." And so he did. In 1813 the Allies defeated Napoleon's troops in Germany and again in 1814 in France.
Tzar Alexander triumphantly entered Paris and the Russians camped in front of Napoleon's palace. Napoleon made remark: "The Russians learned how to win."
THE RUSSIAN INFANTRY UNITS
Opolchenie is simply a difficult name for what many commanders boil down to "angry russian peasant." They are poorly trained and equiped, making them very poor shooters with low accuracy, ammunition and slow reload speed. However, they are not completly useless in hand-to-hand combat and can deal quite a lot of damage to average enemy units - provided they can get close enough, something that isn't made any easier by their very low morale.
Historically Kutuzov tried to make a difference with the emphasis on the ability 'to chop and shoot' rather than maneuver. New recruits were issued with the pike, a seemingly archaic weapon on the battlefield of muskets, but even these men stood well alongside the veterans under cannon fire and charged with as much passion. Their uniform was in Prussian style, and they were as much feared by the allies as from the enemy for they were responsible of some atrocities in 1812. Curiously some women also served in the ranks, one major being a Suliot heroine named Moskho.
They perform the same tasks as the French Fusiliers, but have a slightly less accurate shot. But true Russians as they are they are a bit more effective in close combat fighting then their French equivalents.
Historically Russia had one of the biggest populations in the world; 30 million as compared to Prussia's 5 million, Austria's 25 million, and France's 29 million (Imperial France with annexed territories had 36.5 million). But despite the big numbers Russia was unable to match Napoleon with the strength of the regular army, for often a quite large number of young men would hide in the woods at the first rumor of a levy. Many new recruits were marked with a tattoo-like cross and kept in chains to make running away more difficult.
The Russian Jaegers are a small unit of skirmishers. With high range and accuracy, these units can deal a lot of damage while operating in loose formation. They are not as capable as some of the elite light infantry of other nations, but are still able to keep enemy skirmishers at bay and protect their own lines.
Historically Jagers carried the infantry musket, except NCO`s and 12 sharpshooters per company, who had rifled muskets; a sword bayonet was also carried. After June 1808 sword bayonets and rifled muskets were withdrawn, with the infantry musket becoming the standard weapon. In the coming November it was ordered that the bayonet should always be carried fixed, just like the line, though at a later date scabbards seemed to have been used.
Just like the French Grenadiers, the Russian Grenadier is a relatively cheap shock attack unit. They have a bit better morale then the French version, and can be counted on to drive home a charge under even heavy fire. Russian Grenadiers were long considered excellent soldiers.
Historically for days at a time they would march regularly every night and yet fight all day with the very minimum of rest and food. A western reporter E. Warnery wrote, "they are always in good humor, even when in the greatest misery." The Russian Grenadiers were instantly recognizable by their Shakos, which had a yellow brass badge in form of a grenade with three flames. Their uniform was based on the Line-Grenadiers. They were armed with muskets except for the 12 sharpshooters in every regiment.
One of the most instantly recognizable units available to the Russian commander, Pavlov Grenadiers have excellent morale and close combat fighting skills, making them excel above all others as shock troops capable of driving home a final attack or counter-attack.
Historically the Pavlovsk Grenadiers wore the old-fashioned mitre caps. In 1807 for their gallant fight at Friedland, Czar Alexander ordered that, alone of the infantry, this regiment should henceforth retain its mitres "in the state in which they left the battlefield as visible mark of its bravery and Our grace." Their officers however did not wear the mitre caps. In 1812 at Polotzk, French cuirassiers and four infantry battalions cut off the Pavlovsk Grenadiers and a detachment of Grodno Hussars. The grenadiers however fought so valiantly that they escaped and even captured and brought in 100 prisoners!
Russian Foot Guard
The Guard regiments in Napoleonic times were always among the most capable on the field, and the Russians boasted some of the very best. High morale and excellent marksmanship make these units very good defenders. In addition, their close combat skills match those of the Grenadiers making them easily capable of winning the inevitable bayonet fights.
Historically after the battle of Kulm the Austrian Emperor was so impressed with the tenacity and bravery of the Russian Guards that he ordered a monument to be built to salute them. Even Napoleon was highly impressed about the Russian Guard and said, "I was surprised at the precision and assurance of this infantry, so well disciplined and of such extraordinary firmness would be the first in the world if, to these qualities, it united a little of the electric enthusiasm of the French."
And for your viewing pleasure, a few screenshots of the units in action. Just pure NTW2 glory and gloom!
Russian Jaegers engaged in a skirmish with the French Chasseurs
Artillery prepares to load canister to unleash hell upon the approaching Fusiliers
Chasseurs clearing a forest of opposition
The charge is ordered while cannonballs hit the entire line
The Fusiliers charge with bayonets fixed while the Russians deliver one final devasting volley at close range
A French Officer leads by example as the columns overrun the Russian redoubts filled with artillery
The Russians remain steady as their officers shout their orders