[Solved] Combined Arms
The use of combined seems to have been a tactic that was used during the Napoleonic Wars and I believe it was a consideration even at the grand tactical level. I came across a couple of quotes in relation to the French cavalry charges at Waterloo that point to this:
General Guyot (commander of the Guard Heavy Cavalry Division) wrote that they charged 'each time without success despite all our efforts, because he (Ney) had need at this point, of a lot of artillery and infantry to defeat the same type of troops and of the defence that the enemy opposed to us'
Colonel Ordener (Commander 1st Cuirassier Regiment) wrote 'a few infantry battalion in support would have seen the end of the English army. Ney searched for some everywhere, he cried out loud, but there were none'
How does one exploit combined arms in ESR? I can see that infantry being attacked by cavalry do not contribute in the skirmish phase, unless they have an infantry target within range and arc. I can also see that a cavalry formation that has artillery in support might be able to force the enemy to make an Assessment. Whilst both of these things is potentially helpful is there something else that I am missing that I could be doing to get the benefit of combined arms?
How does one exploit combined arms in ESR?
With regard to your example, the general problem of cavalry is that they can't hold ground, they can deny it, and they can often take it, but they can't generally hold it. Either infantry or cavalry (or artillery for that matter) can potentially deplete an enemy, making the ground viable for taking, but if you can't hold it… so what?
In ESR there are a couple things going on, however, they generally differ from what the average historical wargamer is used to in a more tactical focused game. In the traditional tactical game, players are used to marching cavalry near enemy infantry – or maybe charging and then bouncing off of it – to compel the enemy infantry into square, then they march infantry battalions up to it (or maybe bring up artillery), and slaughter the infantry square due to a bunch of bonuses. But ESR isn't a tactical game…
As you note, the presence of cavalry in a Formation on an Attack [A] directive will negate enemy skirmish threat, so there is a potential for screening an infantry assault with cavalry, however, the more useful solution is… grander.
Cavalry, sometimes combined with light troops are commonly able to compel the enemy to deploy and determine the location of the battle, providing time for the advance and deployment of friendly troops. This is often accomplished more by the threat of an attack than actually going to contact with the enemy, referring back to ground denial, though both can work. Cavalry is a strong spoiling element due to its ability to strike at a distance without much warning and this is often how it can compel the enemy to deploy where you dictate rather than where you desire.
Cavalry is also an innately exploitive force on the battlefield. Sweeping away a broken enemy, turning a retreating enemy into a broken enemy, or causing a depleted enemy to retreat – each through committing to the attack. While this role can also be accomplished by infantry, cavalry is a much faster reaction force, so while you can have an infantry Formation supporting an assault, in ESR, that infantry Formation generally can't jump into the void created by the assault succeeding until the next turn because of the distances involved. However, a cavalry Formation very likely can.
Combining these things together, an assault led by an infantry division with ample artillery, supported by a cavalry brigade, supported by an infantry brigade can each in turn:
1) Deplete the enemy with bombardment and skirmishing.
2) Attack and compel the enemy to retreat.
3) Once the initial attack is successful, supporting cavalry can commit in the same turn to change the Retreat [RT] into a Break [BK], or if the angles are available, into the rear of an adjacent enemy Formation, creating a void.
4) On a subsequent turn, the supporting infantry can now join the exploitation, and unlike the exploiting cavalry, can hold the ground.
Of course, if you're recreating Ney at Waterloo, you can send cavalry division after cavalry division into enemy infantry, and, at the cost of a lot of those cavalry, deplete the enemy infantry… and then… not bring an infantry Formation up in support 😉
Another good historical example of combined arms at this level can be seen at Eylau, though also at Friedland, Wagram, and many others.
Thank you for your very comprehensive answer and the useful example of how infantry and cavalry formations could potentially work together to achieve powerful effects. I look forward to experimenting with this in my next game.