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Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

sansovino
Thanks a lot for all your helpful informations and links....

I have to study still more pages and links, but it seems that vertical pockets were quite rare in the french army which I won´t name it as simplicty. Sorry Zouave, but simplicity is for me surely an other thing. I am impressed that the WSS was really a axis-time where many details of uniforms and arms were rapidly changing - and later, after 1715-20 the uniforms and arms stayed quite unchanged till 1740.
Enjoy your researches Sansovino!

PS: around 25% of French line infantry had vertical pockets in some shape or form in c. 1720, so not really that rare. These units included some of the oldest and most famous French regiments eg: Picardie, Champagne, Bourbonnais.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

It is a big subject and also a very contentious subject - but the Anglo-Dutch used "Dutch Drill" platoon firing (most of the time) and always fought in three ranks; the French began in five ranks then reduced to four, and typically fired off one rank at a time or occasionally several en masse. The Austrians probably retained five ranks rather longer, having developed their tactics to fight the Turks (hence the deep order).
It's not worth bothering about coat pockets in 1/72, but for more information go online and get the Editions Brokaw booklets; and - highly recommended- the Charles S Grant book on Armies of the War of Spanish Succession.
I'd ignore any wargame rules that give the Brits and Dutch a killer advantage in musketry - it is largely propaganda; however the quality of their infantry generally was reckoned very high.
With some minor exceptions all West European infantry of the period looked essentially the same (with some variants for grenadier headgear), and "British" infantry are fine for any troops of the period.
Interesting exceptions include Hepburn's regiment in the elite Scottish Dutch Brigade, which wore grenadier hats with falling bag.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Roy Beers
It is a big subject and also a very contentious subject - but the Anglo-Dutch used "Dutch Drill" platoon firing (most of the time) and always fought in three ranks; the French began in five ranks then reduced to four, and typically fired off one rank at a time or occasionally several en masse. The Austrians probably retained five ranks rather longer, having developed their tactics to fight the Turks (hence the deep order).
It's not worth bothering about coat pockets in 1/72, but for more information go online and get the Editions Brokaw booklets; and - highly recommended- the Charles S Grant book on Armies of the War of Spanish Succession.
I'd ignore any wargame rules that give the Brits and Dutch a killer advantage in musketry - it is largely propaganda; however the quality of their infantry generally was reckoned very high.
With some minor exceptions all West European infantry of the period looked essentially the same (with some variants for grenadier headgear), and "British" infantry are fine for any troops of the period.
Interesting exceptions include Hepburn's regiment in the elite Scottish Dutch Brigade, which wore grenadier hats with falling bag.
Valuable insight there Roy.

In reading accounts of various of the battles of the War of Spanish Succession in Europe, and in particular Ramillies/Oudenarde/Malplaquet. it is notable that senior French commanders are known to have been advised by their superiors (including the King himself) of the dangers of under-estimating English/Scots/Dutch infantry. This, amongst other things, seems to have been one of the reasons why, at Blenheim, the village of Blenheim itself was 'over-reinforced' at a crucial point in the battle; and why parts of the Franco-Bavarian line at Ramillies two years later were more heavily held than might have been prudent (but then hindsight is a fine thing).

The same 'warning' is extant decades later in relation to Dettingen (1743), Fontenoy (1745) and Minden (1759).

All of which might suggest that, as a French commander, there was an element of truth in needing to take precautions when facing British (as it was after 1707) infantry.

But.... I am under no illusions here. The French had some fine infantry units and could give the British, Hanoverians, Dutch and anyone else a run for their money. English/Scots/Dutch infantry were good...but then so were quite a lot of Swedes, Danes, French Guards, Irish, Swiss, Germans, Prussians, Austrians, Hungarians and others

Somewhere though, the 18th century did see the beginning of a reputation for controlled and devastating musketry amongst British (and similarly trained) infantry that saw its culmination around 7pm on the evening of 18th June 1815 in fields near Brussels, Belgium.

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

The British were certainly rated as the best infantry by the French, although not necessarily for their musket drill, or at least not only that, and as you say this was used to advantage to pull the wool over French commanders' eyes on occasion.
I don't know if you remember the old book Firepower by Maj Gen B P Hughes (which I think all wargamers had back in the distant 70's): he produced stats which surprisingly appeared to show that early 18th century musketry could be more effective than later Napoleonic.
However I think we have to take a big pinch of salt, or maybe snuff, with this period, in many different aspects - the other canard (to use a nice French word) is the "French cavalry were old fashioned and useless" argument, as they supposedly relied largely on mounted pistols and carbines. I think the Anglo-Dutch did have an edge, but at Malplaquet the French Carabiniers (supposedly firearms troops) charged and routed Withers' flanking cavalry force; and at Ramillies the Maison du Roi broke four successive lines of Allied cavalry on the Allied left before reinforcements drove them back, and at Malplaquet, again, despite enormous Allied cavalry superiority the Maison du Roi counter-charged repeatedly until the closing stages of the battle, then covered the retreat of the army and never in fact broke ... although admittedly they were the cream of the French army. By contrast I don't think the French dragoons were ever any good, and were useful only as scouting and screening troops in the grand tactical approach to battle.
One factor which must be mentioned is the large number of new infantry regiments the French created to try and meet accelerating demand, and most of these would have been very poor, and in no way a match for the British, Dutch and of course Prussian infantry.
Fascinating period which I am very much looking forward to doing in 20mm ...I'm painting up Strelets GNW Russian dragoons as assorted German dragoons while waiting for Cadogan and the British Horse to arrive!

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

Roy Beers
The British were certainly rated as the best infantry by the French, although not necessarily for their musket drill, or at least not only that, and as you say this was used to advantage to pull the wool over French commanders' eyes on occasion.
I don't know if you remember the old book Firepower by Maj Gen B P Hughes (which I think all wargamers had back in the distant 70's): he produced stats which surprisingly appeared to show that early 18th century musketry could be more effective than later Napoleonic.
However I think we have to take a big pinch of salt, or maybe snuff, with this period, in many different aspects - the other canard (to use a nice French word) is the "French cavalry were old fashioned and useless" argument, as they supposedly relied largely on mounted pistols and carbines. I think the Anglo-Dutch did have an edge, but at Malplaquet the French Carabiniers (supposedly firearms troops) charged and routed Withers' flanking cavalry force; and at Ramillies the Maison du Roi broke four successive lines of Allied cavalry on the Allied left before reinforcements drove them back, and at Malplaquet, again, despite enormous Allied cavalry superiority the Maison du Roi counter-charged repeatedly until the closing stages of the battle, then covered the retreat of the army and never in fact broke ... although admittedly they were the cream of the French army. By contrast I don't think the French dragoons were ever any good, and were useful only as scouting and screening troops in the grand tactical approach to battle.
One factor which must be mentioned is the large number of new infantry regiments the French created to try and meet accelerating demand, and most of these would have been very poor, and in no way a match for the British, Dutch and of course Prussian infantry.
Fascinating period which I am very much looking forward to doing in 20mm ...I'm painting up Strelets GNW Russian dragoons as assorted German dragoons while waiting for Cadogan and the British Horse to arrive!
I think we are pretty well in agreement on most of this Roy!

I am always deeply suspicious of anything, and any era, where for some reason a certain troop type or unit(s) is/are rated as greatly superior to others. True 'elites' do exist, but they are few and far between. The 'elite' phenomenon is, as I think you observe, something that pervades many sets of wargames rules but is not really very accurate, historically.

And, having read a great deal about French armies in the 18th and early 19th centuries, I am generally in awe of their military prowess and achievements. Certainly, they had a bit of a 'dip' in performance during the Seven years War, but otherwise...

Rapidly-formed units will, inevitably, be inferior to units which have been together, drilled together and perhaps fought together for years. It was ever thus and always will be. So it is no surprise that, with the rapid expansion of the French infantry in the early 1700s, and then again (through necessity) in the later stages of the Napoleonic wars, the quality of that infantry would always be somewhat unreliable.

But...Maison du Roi cavalryman circa 1706 v. English/Dutch/Danish cavalryman? My money would (probably) be with the Frenchman....he, after all, is well-mounted, well uniformed, well-equipped, and is fighting on behalf of the most powerful King in Europe....

I am also looking forward very much to the release of the Strelets WoSS cavalry sets.

PS: yes, the Zvezda GNW cavalry sets are very good. Have just been painting some of the Swedish cavalry of Charles XII set as Dutch WoSS cavalry this morning....

Re: WSS infantry firing and attacking - how?

I agree with the need to be suspicious, even cynical, about alleged troop type superiority: we used to call it "red jacket syndrome", in which it was "plus 1" for everything as soon as you put on a British uniform ...but difficult to strike a balance as in both 18thc and Napoleonic most British troops were among the best, if not the best, in Europe - except for the notorious "fox hunt" tendencies of the British, but not KGL, cavalry.
In WSS some period-specific rules draw a sharp line between Anglo-Dutch practice and quality and French/continental, which I've never been convinced reflects the reality.
French and many other cavalry did still rely on pistols and carbines to a greater or lesser extent, whereas the Anglo-Dutch famously attacked at the trot without recourse to firearms; come to that the British also looked after their horses better (in both periods)too.
In the WSS "dragoons" would include Hay's and Ross's regiments; Scots Greys and Irish, who appear to have been near equivalents to "Horse" but could also fight on foot, whereas French dragoons, apart from elite royal regiments, appear to have been poor in both the infantry and cavalry roles.
The Gendarmes de France performed very poorly at Blenheim, while the Maison du Roi seem to have been exemplary wherever they fought - and no doubt the line regiments were every shade in between, depending on unit and campaign background, leadership etc.
I tend not to like generic "horse and musket" rules, as too much is averaged out, but have never found a WSS set I believe in, so we'll be using home-spun rules with theatre specifics for the war in Spain.
Meanwhile I think Zvezda are the best figures yet produced by anyone - a big claim, but they really are superb - and it's tragic they have accepted reality by largely ditching figure sets for their expensive WW2 stuff ...but best of luck to them.
Strelets and also Red Box are astronomically better than previously, and often among the very best available; and Strelets are incredibly prolific.
I agree with others on this forum that the WSS pikemen are a waste of a set (although maybe of use for GNW!) and the muskets in two of the French sets are inexplicably way too short ...but luckily the British sets are splendid and unless you are obsessed with pockets (in 1/72 why bother) they will do the job for most WSS infantry with a suitable paint scheme. The masters for the cavalry look terrific, and I am going to pre-order some from Models2U.