Thursday 16 February 2012

33e Ligne - Wagram, 1809

Regiment of the Day

Today we have the 33eme ligne, which fought as part of Friant's 2nd Division, III Corps, at Wagram 1809.

4 bases of line, including command element and skirmisher. Figures by warrior miniatures.

I have photographed this regiment on a 'tactical sabot base' which I use on the tabletop to aid moving them about.

The sabot base covers an area of around 400m x 300m in scale ... and the 'edge' of the sabot base represents half the effective scale musket range.

That way, when 2 sabot bases are in edge to edge contact, the gap in between them is equal to the effective musket range of the line troops.

I have this regiment rated as veteran (allowing 1 veteran unit at random for the Division as a whole).

The veteran status is denoted by the addition of a base of line grenadiers, and the use of a red and yellow plume for the skirmisher.

Another block of troops down ... III Corps is coming along now slowly but surely.


  1. I've had the 33e Ligne (and all the regts of Davout's three primary Divisions, Morand, Friant, and Gudin) in my wargames armies in one version or another since the 1970's. As a confirmed Francophile and fan of the "Iron Marshal", in 1809 probably *all* the units of these three Divisions could be "veteran", but not too many of the other French units.

    Good to see of Napoleon's boys take the field...


  2. Good point - III Corps is probably the elite formation in the Grande Armee. It was reading about their exploits at Auerstaedt in the first place that got me (back) into Napoleonics. I still scratch my head trying to fathom how on earth this little force managed to utterly destroy the entire Prussian army in a single afternoon. After many years of reading, I thought I had a good handle on military theory, but reading about III Corps' exploits on that single day threw me a bit of a curve ball.

    I am modelling Jena-Auerstadt to make sense of that event, and doing Wagram (and Leipzig, and everything else) frames a broader perspective on that exersize.

    By 1809 though, the French army as a whole was starting to show some cracks perhaps ? The constant strain of endless campaigning and mass conscription would have had begun the process of dilution. 6 years later, it would have been a mere shadow of the original army that built Napoleon's reputation.

    The campaign notes from WTJ claim that Wagram was a difficult battle for the French - with many leaders needing to expose themselves to danger to keep the tempo rolling. A lot of the formations there are rated as green, or average at best. III Corps I am fielding as average with a scattering of veteran units ... since the rating is only relative to the opposition. In rules terms, its a +2 tactical factor on a D10 ... not a game changer, but still a significant advantage that loads the odds in their favour.

    By 1809, the equally diluted Austrian forces would have been somewhat more proficient than those that turned up during the earlier campaigns at Ulm, so I think that fits well to call it a dead heat between the average Austrian soldier vs the average French soldier. The French have the advantage of a vastly better command model, whereas the Austrians have an advantage in the significantly larger unit size (5-6 base regiments vs 3-4 base regiments for the French). So the French can dance around the Austrians all day, but still need to close to contact at some point - at which point the numbers do eventually add up.

    Compared to the lightning campaigns of earlier years, 1809 would have been a bigger, more evenly matched slog-fest I assume ? Industrialised total war of attrition vs deft battles of grand manoevre.

    III Corps also turns up at Wagram with the unusual addition of 4th Division ... being a motley collection of battalions pulled from other III Corps line regiments. I am assuming that these 'provisional brigades' are holding battalions for recently conscripted recruits ? Got any details on these ? I have these rated as Green, as per the WTJ campaign notes. Be interested in any light you can shed on that.