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Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

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Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby ochoin » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:53 am

I’m getting organised for my first ‘General D’armee’ game which will be in 3 weeks.

I’ve decided we’ll use the scenario in the rule book. This involves a Russian force. My Russians haven’t been used for a few years so I need to blow the dust off them & get them ready to fit the requirements of the new game.

As you may know, one of the unique features of G D’a is the Brigade Skirmish line. Brigades can be given a base per battalion to serve as a skirmish line.

My understanding of the Napoleonic Russians says that just because you’re designated as “Jager” doesn’t mean you have the skills to be a skirmisher. Am I correct in thinking that the better-trained jagers were used in a skirmish line but we may also see the better-trained Line infantry & even with Grenadiers (combined or otherwise) working as skirmishers?



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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Nordic weasel games » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:16 am

Haythornthwaite seems to suggest that the Russians were not particularly adept at (or interested in) skirmishing, lacking a manual for skirmish operations until 1818.

From what I can gather, his take is that the Jager may have been light infantry in name more than anything.

From a gaming perspective, I think you could definitely have Jager in regular formations as well as better infantry in skirmish action, but don't overdo it on either.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby ochoin » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:49 am

Thanks, Ivan.

The rules back you up on this. They state a Russian skirmish line loses 2 bases prior to 1808 & 1 base thereafter. This will be pretty significant I think.

I think my 4 Russian Brigade skirmish lines for the game will be mostly Jager but with some line troops for one or two as per your advice.

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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Stavka » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:10 am

A lot depended on the year, the regiment, and the amount of training received. Jagers who were veterans of the wars against Sweden and the Turks were considered very proficient indeed.

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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby ochoin » Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:12 am

Stavka wrote:Any perfunctory demand for sources TMP style will be merrily ignored. I’m not a paid researcher.



And I'm not a TMP wanker. ;)

Thanks, Stav.

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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Greystreak » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:30 pm

This is a hoary old chestnut, entirely down to Mr. Brown only reading English-language sources, and very old ones at that. If you want to play his rules, you're stuck with the caricature of the Russians that David is comfortable with. If you want 'history', there are many, many sources that would have Russian Light Infantry practices reflected rather differently.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Stavka » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:17 am

Exactly this.

I’d add that over the years this particular chestnut conveniently fitted the Western narrative of the superiority of individual initiative under an (allegedly) enlightened meritocracy, over that of stifling autocratic despotism.

This was further fueled by Cold War suspicion of all things Russian- not helped by the fact that primary sources in the Soviet Union were almost impossible to access.

Old stereotypes die hard. But if the Russian army was as hidebound and inflexible as many rules would make it out to be, I wonder how people think it ever managed to push the French back across a continent, and to end up parading in triumph through the gates of Paris in 1814.
Last edited by Stavka on Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Etranger » Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:21 am

Stavka wrote:...
Old stereotypes die hard. But if the Russian army was as hidebound and inflexible as many rules would make it out to be, I wonder how people think it ever managed to push the French back across a continent, and to end up parading through the gates of Paris in 1814.


Must have been The Czarist steamroller (a deliberate anachronism) ... A similar excuse to that from the Germans to explain losing to the Russians in WWII. ;)
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Ronan the Librarian » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:15 pm

Stavka wrote:I’d add that over the years this particular chestnut conveniently fitted the Western narrative of the superiority of individual initiative under an (allegedly) enlightened meritocracy, over that of stifling autocratic despotism.


Well, that's us Brits/Irish f****d then. :lol:
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Stavka » Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:47 pm

Ronan the Librarian wrote:Well, that's us Brits/Irish f****d then. :lol:


First ones up against the wall, Comrade...
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby olicana » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:51 pm

I don't know much about the Napoleonic Russian army (I visited Borodino for a day, and I've read Zamoyski's 1812) but I do know you should never underestimate the tenacity of uneducated (but wily) Russian smurfs - they must have been terrifying.

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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby bangorstu » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:19 pm

I could be wrong here... but didn't the first British light infantry manual turn up around 1800?

And yet light infantry were developed twenty years earlier....

Russia is big and rural. It seems surprising that no-one would have the same basic understanding of light infantry tactics as the Germans and Austro-Hungarians...

Plus of course they had a tendency to fight in places like Finland which isn't exactly like the Hungarian plains.

So I'd imagine they were no worse than anyone else.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Greystreak » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:18 am

Indeed. Having fought for decades in the Caucasus mountains, as well as the Balkans, the veteran Russian Jägers were easily a match for their French light infantry opponents; newly raised or 'converted' Jägers may have struggled more, as all newly raised or "re-tasked" troops would.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby bangorstu » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:55 am

While reading a spectacularly bad tempered discussion on TMP - someone made an interesting point.

To get to Borodino, the French army had to march less distance from its Baltic supply bases than many of the Russian regiments called up from far flung corners of the empire.

Throughout the Napoleonic Wars, Russia often fought in three or more theatres at once.

And yet its much maligned Commissariat doesn't seem to have collapsed.

Possibly the Imperial Russian Army was a bit more competent than many suppose.
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby Ronan the Librarian » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:01 pm

Or, from centuries of bitter experience, it was better able to cope with very little.

(Come on, let's have a link to the PMT thread!)
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Re: Napoleonic Russian skirmishers

Postby bangorstu » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:55 pm

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