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Infantry advancing on Cavalry.

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Hi, new owner, Version 2. BIG fan already but one area has me baffled: 


Cavalry vs Skirmishers. 

Ok, I get that Cav threatened by infantry needs to deploy patrols to harass Skirmishers and this causes fatigue. Skirmishers can't really be harmed as they withdraw to parent unit and "relative safety" from Cavalry attack. . Perfectly reasonable. (Maybe they should incur some fatigue too, though, from increased speed needed to withdraw from Cavalry? But then again, skirmishers are usually a small proportion of parent unit)  Cavalry are restricted to, AT MOST, a single ineffective volley even if armed with carbines, yes. This seems to be the basic logic behind Cavalry not having a threat range, or, more correctly, Cav having a threat range of “contact”.  

I get the analogy of cavalry being like armour and not being able to “take and hold” ground unsupported.  


On one of the videos on youtube (in which David participated)  there is a section where the Infantry (unsupported by cavalry) advance and push back enemy cavalry because the enemy cavalry risk amassing critical amounts of fatigue if they don’t withdraw.

I don’t know of a single instance (and I will stand corrected) of infantry forcing cavalry back in this way in the Napoleonic Wars. Advancing yes (Quatre Bras) , actually threatening cavalry, no.   

This seems to fly in the face of cavalry being used to deny ground.

I also know that combat is abstracted here but if an underlying practice effects the outcome then the abstraction, naturally, should take that into account in determining that outcome.


A Square can move, yes. Cavalry can’t hold ground, no. However, the risks attendant upon moving infantry unsupported to intimidate cavalry and push them back are huge. For a start, in reality, cavalry that charged stable, formed infantry squares DID tend to flow around them (García Hernández et al notwithstanding) without real effect. However the infantry also tended to fail to cause any significant effect on the cavalry. Quartered fire at moving targets with small bore weapons not being particularly deadly.  

For a Square to move, the sides must turn facing into a “mock” column. This entails some “reforming” and closing up if returning to an effective “cavalry proof” square. (Don’t take my word for it, take Dundas’ word.) This likely gives the cavalry an opportunity to charge with some effect.


So, consider this. Formed infantry set skirmishers and cause the cavalry to deploy patrols to neutralise them. The infantry decide to advance in square. The cavalry now counter advance to just outside or at extreme musket range. The moving infantry can halt but risk being charged while re-establishing a “cavalry proof” square. They could deploy skirmishers but risk either losing them OR the disorder caused by trying to re-absorb them into the square whilst “closing up” the ranks on the sides.  The whole thing develops into a stalemate with neither wishing to spend fatigue OR press the issue in a full out attack. Ground denied!.

I had a “local rule” in Napoleon’s Battles to stop artillery monstering around like a 1940 Panzer Battalion. I’ve introduced another here, prohibiting infantry, unsupported by cavalry or artillery, from advancing to within 450 yards or closer of cavalry that are in good order. Infantry may, of course STAY within 450 yards if they end up there through circumstance. The cavalry may then decide to withdraw to beyond 450 to avoid fatigue caused by skirmishers.. or wear it! 

Abstracted combat/skirmishing rules thereby deal with the above problems without actually needing to “represent” it within the mechanics on a tactical level.


Interested in comments?

New Member
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*NOTE   "Smooth Bore" not "Small Bore"  😉