Designer Notes: France ‘14 - Part II
by, 10 Jul 10 at 16:18 (1569 Views)
The German Army
German jäger battalions were an item of frustration. Some sources place jäger battalions as a corps level asset, however, other sources and historical accounts place the same jäger units in various German cavalry divisions. Thus, in 1914, it was decided to place most of these active jäger battalions in the cavalry divisions since it is indisputable that they were indeed attached to some of these divisions at some point. However, it may be noticed that the jäger assignments are in no way uniform. Historically, some German cavalry divisions had several jäger battalions and others had none at all, and this is represented in the order of battle. German reserve jäger battalions also were a bit of a headache. Conflicting sources placed the reserve jäger battalions in specific reserve divisions, and some had them as Reservekorps level assets. Again, a decision was made which placed these formations in specific reserve divisions. However, all jäger battalions that are located in an infantry division are at division level, regardless of the fact that
some sources place them in specific infantry brigades within that division. This was done because the jäger would be used where needed by the division commander and putting them in a brigade restricts their use too severely. It may also be noticed that the jäger battalions which are assigned to cavalry formations are truck borne, but they should not be referred to as "motorized". These troops were not "motorized" in any modern sense of the word, they were simply crammed onto slow moving and unreliable trucks so they could keep up with the cavalry; true motorized infantry did not come into existence until the 1930s.
Although the jäger battalions were frustrating, nothing was more frustrating than trying to determine the organization and structure of the 1.Marine-Division. Every source consulted, in both German and English, seems to have a different answer to what structure this division had in 1914 and anyone who has ever had interest in researching this has probably ran across the same issue. The two aspects of the division that have the most inconsistency are in regards to attached brigades, artillery, and machine guns assigned to the unit. Some sources place the Landwehr-Brigade.37 and 38 in the 1.Marine-Division, and later the Reserve-Ersatz-Brigade.2.15 The same sources that list these brigades as part of the division also place Landwehr artillery in the division itself along with Landwehr cavalry squadrons. However, Die Schlachten und Gefechte des Grossen Krieges 1914-1918 (S und G) specifically lists these two Landwehr and Ersatz Brigades separately when listing the units which participated in the same battles that the 1.Marine-Division participated in. In the end, a judgment call had to be made. The end decision is that both S und G and Hermann Cron.s Geschichte des Deutschen Heers im Weltkriege 1914-1918 was used as the final source for the division structure which basically represents the division in its “bare bones” status. This means that the two Landwehr-Brigade.37 and 38 and Res.Ersatz-Brigade.2 (later) are represented as separate independent entities that really only acted in close support of the 1.Marine-Division. The two landwehr brigades were mixed combined arms formations16 which contained their own artillery, cavalry and pionier units and these are the same units that some sources list as being attached to the 1.Marine-Division. The S und G and Cron approach implies that the two mixed landwehr brigades operated in close support of the 1.Marine-Division and, as such, lent its cavalry, artillery and pionier services to the division but were never formally assigned to the division itself. The actual amount of organic artillery assigned to the division only consisted of a single battery of guns,17 which should not be confused with the naval artillery brigade that was assigned to the division as infantry.18 The one naval artillery battery approach seems to be consistent with how the 2.Marine-Division
15 A mistake that has been perpetuated over time is that this brigade was called “Ersatz-Brigade.2”. There was never an independent 1st or 2nd Ersatz Brigade in existence in the German army; these two units were both reserve ersatz brigades.
16 These mixed landwehr brigades were referred to as “gemischt” landwehr brigades.
17 Hermann Cron, Imperial German Army 1914-18, 100.
18 The “naval artillery brigade” which was assigned to the division was used as infantry which made up the two matrosen regiments and these troops were utilized as infantry, not as artilleryman. was established at the end of November and provides a nice uniformity to the two division.s structure. So in the end, the flexibility is left up to the user to choose whether to use the two mixed landwehr brigades in a supporting role to the 1.Marine-Division or to send them elsewhere.
Pionier battalions within the pionier regiment might seem like they have the incorrect number of companies at first glance. It is true that pionier battalions had four companies before mobilization, however, after mobilization the 4th company of a pionier battalion was split off and used as the foundation of a reserve pionier battalion. The first three companies of a pionier battalion that did not form pionier regiment was divided up amongst the regular infantry divisions, and the fourth company and first and second reserve pionier companies were divided up amongst the reserve divisions. During mobilization, ten pionier battalions were pre selected to form pionier regiments for the purpose of siege warfare. These pionier battalions were the 18-20, 23-25, 29-31 and Bavarian. When mobilization began, these select pionier battalions took on the regimental number of their original battalion designation and the first three companies in the battalion formed the I. Battalion of the regiment. The fourth company was combined with the first and second reserve companies assigned to it and formed the II. Battalion, thus making a regiment of two battalions, each of three companies and a siege train and allotted minenwerfers. For simplicity, the II. Battalion of the regiment is a matching quality of its fourth company so that the battalion can combine into one unit. It is arguable that the fifth and sixth companies of this battalion should be of lesser quality because they were in fact formed from the reserve component but this would cause unnecessary clutter. Also, just as it can be argued that these two companies should be lower quality, it could also be argued that the diluted battalion would take on the quality of its senior company once the units are combined.
Somewhat related to Pioniers, minenwerfers units deserve special mention. In 1915, the Germans began organizing minenwerfers into battalions of 30 mixed light and medium minenwerfers. In September 1915, company sized formations of 12 mixed heavy, medium, and light minenwerfers were established, and these company sized units were attached to each division. These are the most commonly known minenwerfers. In 1914, the Germans did indeed have minenwerfers, but they did not have many. At the start of the war, the minenwerfer was held in the greatest secrecy, similar to the 42cm howitzers, and these secret minenwerfers were specifically designed to be used against field works and light fortifications. The German Army was the only army that took to the field with such a weapon on the western front, but in late 1914 the French soon followed with antiquated but longer ranged 220mm de Bange 1880/91 mortar. In the early period, the German minenwerfers were not organized into any official units and, because of their level of secrecy; it is difficult to find concrete data about them in the early months. However, German sources indicate that the minenwerfers they did have in 1914 were organized with army level pionier units, specifically assigned to what they referred to as the regiment's siege train. In that regard, the early minenwerfers have been grouped in a siege train battery for each pionier regiment.
There is a common misconception on what an “ersatz” formation was composed of in the German Army of 1914. Firstly, it is important to note that the "ersatz" formations did not draw men from the Ersatz Reserve. The Ersatz Reserve was a pool of men who could not make it into the army because of their physical condition. The ersatz formations drew its soldiers from excess soldiers who were supernumerary to active army units, after the initial reserve formations had been formed. In this regard they intended to act as a replacement pool where the trained troops flowed in and awaited to be assigned to other units so they are essentially rated the same as regular units. Ersatz divisions were often used as a stopgap force to reinforce a sector and were even used in frontline combat. Where they were at a disadvantage was in the fact that these Ersatz units lacked a full cadre of officers and NCOs (leadership) and lacked much of the "logistical necessities" needed for a field unit to operate effectively and supply itself effectively. For this reason, Ersatz formation HQ units are rated very low in order to represent these shortcomings and deficiencies which made them less effective as a front line force when employed as a stopgap fighting formation.
When the German Army took to the field in 1914 they were lacking many of their machine guns. The equipping of the German Army with machine guns was done just prior to the start of the conflict and many reserve formations suffered from a shortage. Some reserve infantry brigades and reserve jäger battalions went to war without their machine gun companies. As the campaign progressed, these units would eventually regain their missing companies, primarily from the machine gun sections that were scattered amongst German fortress garrisons. Once the threat to the fortified areas was removed, these units were pulled from their garrison and organized into companies to bring the machine gun compliment of the army up to full strength.19 Thus, after August, there was a sharp influx of machine gun units. However, it is almost impossible to determine exactly when each missing machine gun company was regained on a unit by unit basis.20 It is important to mention that two assumptions were made in game design in regards to German machine gun troops. First, it can be reasonably assumed that any second draft reserve division or jäger battalion formed between October and December were likely given their full compliment of machine guns since reequipping was a constant and ongoing process, and it is unlikely that a new unit would have been created with the same shortage that was currently being addressed. Second, as for the original units that were not at full compliment at the start of the campaign, it is known that the process of stripping the machine guns from the least threatened fortress garrisons began at the end of August. It can be assumed that these units started forming and redeploying shortly after this, therefore the "late" order of battle contains these missing machine gun units. As a side note, under the reign of von Falkenhayn, and after the full compliment of machine gun units had been established, German machine gun troops began to drastically expand during 1915. This expansion was Germany's long cherished plan of having one machine gun company of six guns for each infantry battalion,21 and to equip every jäger battalion with an addition company of machine guns. This was only possible after stripping virtually all machinegun companies from their fortress garrisons. In addition to the 19 Eventually the machine gun compliment would surpass “full strength” in 1915 and 1916.
20 It is important to represent that this happened, rather than leave these units missing from the order of battle during the period in which they were being replaced.
21 This is referring to all types of infantry battalions; regular, reserve, ersatz, landwehr and landsturm. shortage of machine gun companies for reserve units, there was also a similar shortage for cyclist companies for the reserve jäger battalions. While the reserve jäger battalions gained their missing machinegun companies, they never would gain the missing cyclist companies.
One unique aspect of the German Army in 1914 was its well throughout reserve system. The German Army of the period without a doubt had the most extensive, well organized and effective system of reserves out of all the armies in Europe. Unlike other armies, the Germans strictly classified and kept track of their reserves by each year in which they passed from the active army and into the reserves.22 This resulted in a grouping of reservists into classes by year where each class was of similar composition in readiness, physical condition and overall quality. This method allowed the German Army to organize them in such as way as to maximize their effectiveness and dramatically swell the armies ranks with highly trained reservists at mobilization time, while keeping the older reservists separated. Service in the German Army was divided into two years in the Active Army (three years for cavalry); five years in the Reserve (four years for cavalry); eleven years in the Landwehr. The Landsturm included youths between the ages of 17 and 20, too young for Active Army service, and trained and untrained men between the ages of 39 and 45, who were over ordinary military age.23 The reserves conducted strict annual training in order to retain their level or readiness. At mobilization, reservists in the first two year classes were utilized to fill out the ranks of Active Army units to bring them up to full strength, used as replacements and, most importantly, used to form the
22 As mention in the French Army section, , this was the direct opposite of the French system of reserves which kept track of the first two years and then put all other reservists in a huge pool of troops which diluted their effectiveness.
23 Edmonds, Sir James E. Military Operations: France and Belgium 1914, Vol. I.,
21. original Reservekorps and divisions. These initial reserve formations were comprised of the newly made reservists who were still fresh in their training, albeit many were a little out of shape physically, and who were supernumerary to the requirements of the Active Army (in excess to the reservists used to fill out the Active Army's ranks). The remaining reservists (third to fifth year classes) were then mobilized second and used to form the "first wave" (also called "second draft") of Reservekorps which began entering the German Order of Battle in October. In France '14, the "initial reserves", which are the reserves that make up the initial Reservekorps and Reserve-Divisions, are for the most part all rated as equal quality (C) to active army units.24 The difference between active army and reserve infantry battalions is that the reserve infantry battalion assault ratings are slightly lower since there was indeed a real world qualitative difference between the two entities.25 The "second draft" follow on reserve formations which began to show up in the late "Race to the Sea" period had a slightly different divisional organization and their quality ratings are less than the "initial reserve" formations. The shock to the world in early 1914 was that the German "initial reserve" formations were almost equal in effectiveness to that of the Active Army formations because of the German's strict reservists classification system and annual training. In many cases the German initial reserve formations were the tactical equals of the French Active Army divisions.26 The initial German reserve formations could certainly handle any threat they were met with, but despite all of their qualitative similarities to active army divisions, reserve divisions
24 An exception to this is with the divisional pionier units. The 1st and 2nd company of a reserve pionier battalion was composed of reservists, and the 4th company was composed of active personnel. To represent this difference, the division that contains the two reserve component pionier companies has those pionier units rated as D quality, and the division that has the 4th company has this pionier company rated at C.
25 The lower assault rating for these units helps represent the fact that even reservists who had only been in the Reserve for one or two years were still not as in shape as active army troops.
26 Zuber, 85. were equipped with less artillery and the Reservekorps lacked heavy artillery and supporting troops. This shortcoming is what often relegated the German Army to use these reserve formations as follow on forces, or utilized in less critical areas (since the active formations had more combat power).
The Landwehr formations in France '14 are rated as D quality units. These formations were highly trained as they were veterans of anywhere from eight to eleven years in the army. Quality wise this means that it would not be justifiable to rate them lower or higher than D quality, but these formations were equipped with obsolete equipment and rifles (since all the up to date equipment had to be sent to the massive reserve formations), and the Landsturm combat ratings reflect this.
In late 1914, the Germans raised a second draft of reserve divisions (also known as "first wave") under the XXII to XXVII.Reservekorps and the 6.bayer.Reserve-Division. Each reserve infantry battalion in these second draft formations received a cadre company of an Ersatz battalion numbering 300 men. These men were trained reservists and they were split up between the four companies in each of the four reserve infantry regiments in the battalion.27 The remaining 75% of infantry came from a mixture of untrained men which were over and under the military age, as well as landwehr and landsturm infantry. The artillery in these divisions was also led by “officer substitutes” but the artillerymen were of traditional reservist quality. In France .14, the decision was made to make the artillery units in these "second draft" divisions at D quality and the reserve infantry battalions are also rated at D quality. This creates a big difference in effectiveness between the second draft reserve formations and the initial reserve units.
27 In other words, each company received 75 of the 300 men.
Only one of the four "Big Bertha" batteries was actually "motorized". The other three were rail transportable only. However, for game play concerns it was discovered that a cunning allied player could destroy a few key rail junctions which would completely stop the siege guns. Since there is no way to repair rail lines within the course of the scenario, a compromise of sorts was required. The rail transported batteries are of the horse class, with a speed of 1. This means that these batteries should primarily be transported by rail but, if need be, they can also be off loaded and transported very slowly in disassembled pieces to the next available rail line.
BAK28 units, which were designated as FLAK29 units in May 1916, are not present in either the early or late period order of battle. When the war began, Germany was still developing a true air defense organization. The Germans had a few individual BAK guns which were mounted on motorized transport. These individual guns were assigned to the I, VIII, XXI.Armeekorps and two BAK guns were assigned to the XV.Armeekorps. These guns were virtually useless when it quickly became apparent that the real threat was not from balloons, but from aero planes due to the growing enterprising spirit of enemy airmen. It was not until the "reorganization period" of late 1914 when BAK units began to effectively form, and true BAK batteries of guns were not used in a sizable force until the middle of 1915 to 1916. Therefore, in France '14, the German order of battle does not contain any BAK units because they were not yet formed into an effective force.30
28 Ballonabwerkannone – balloon defense gun, or anti-balloon gun.
29 Fliegerabwehrkannone – airplane defense gun, or anti-aircraft gun.
30 One or two guns at each AOK adds useless and wasteful counters to the game.
Equipment and Training
Countless books have been written about the quality of the German Army in World War One, so the subject will not be covered in any great detail here. It is undeniable that the German Army was one of the best all around armies in Europe at the time, second to the small professional British Army of course. The German Army was a well trained, well equipped, and well oiled machine that could accomplish almost any task assigned to it and it was operating on the pride and many past victories since Frederick the Great. The individual soldier was not necessarily better than that of the French Army, Russian Army or any other army in Europe, but it was a collection of advantages like an abundance of high trajectory artillery and machine guns, an extremely efficient reserve system, and good quality equipment and training, that made the German army a horde to be feared and respected.
The HQ insignia for the German Army are insignia based on traditional military map symbols that denoted the size of unit. The colors are based on traditional colors used for the various Germanic states that made up the German Empire. The colors are mostly for artistic purposes, but they are for identification purposes and historical flavor.
Kingdom of Prussia: grey and black with white numerals
Kingdom of Bavaria: blue and light blue with white numerals
Kingdom of Saxony: green and white with grey numerals
Kingdom of Württemburg: red and black with grey numerals
Kingdom of Hessen: red and white with white numerals (black border)
Kingdom of Baden: red and yellow with yellow numerals (black border)
German Empire (multi): black and white with red numerals (grey border)
Minor kingdoms: black and white with gold numerals (grey border)
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The British Army
The British cavalry have been classified as one makeup regardless of if they are dragoons or lancers. This was done because the differences between them were not as great as the still specialized cavalry of the German and French armies. Instead, regardless of whether the British cavalry had a lance or a saber, they were very effective in assaults and were also highly trained marksmen; they were also uniformly well skilled in dragoon type warfare from their Boer War experiences. From this experience, the British began a total "modernization" of cavalry where the principle weapon would now be the carbine and the pistol, instead of the lance and saber. The result is that the British cavalry differ from the German and French in that they are good all around troops, effective at reconnaissance, marksmanship, and shock. Generally speaking, they are everything that the German and French cavalry were, rolled into one package, but were not as effective at shock as some specialized German and French cavalry were. At this point, the British cavalry was mostly a homogeneous force with only their historical names remaining intact.
Overall BEF organization was a bit of a headache when creating the order of battle for France '14, given several reorganizations they made throughout the conflict. Because the scope of the campaign scenarios can span many months, and because the forces on both sides had a tendency to change their organization throughout the war, an approach was made to make BEF organization as simple as possible. For example, the BEF's Cavalry Division was split up around September 1914 and was to become one of the divisions in the new "Cavalry Corps". However, 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades became "Gough's Command" from 6 September to 13 September where it was known as the 2nd Cavalry Division. Somewhere between this point and 14 October, the Cavalry Corps was formed. For the sake of simplicity, and to eliminate unnecessary confusion, reformation will not take place during a scenario. Instead it will occur in following scenarios. For example, the BEF underwent a few minor structure changes during the period of the Battle of the Aisne. These changes to the BEF organization will be in place in the scenarios following that battle, in the Race to the Sea phase. It is impractical in the game to have units removed from the game then return under a different designation or organization given that casualty level and fatigue levels would be lost and it would be impossible to determine where to place the unit as reinforcement on the map.
Equipment and Training
The short barrel, magazine fed, Lee Enfield rifle (SMLE) was arguably one of the better rifles in the world at the time. The SMLE had one of the smoothest actions when compared to its contemporaries, could be reloaded quickly and easily, and was light due to its compact design. The SMLE was not without its flaws, but most of its flaws can be attributed to early war ammunition. Where the SMLE stood out was when it was in the hands of a capable and highly trained British regular. In the pre-war years, the British school of musketry sought to increase the number of machine guns assigned to each infantry battalion from two to six but this was denied. When war broke out in 1914, the British Army was severely lacking an effective and unified machine gun force since the guns were divided up into two gun sections to support each infantry battalion.31 To compensate for this lack of firepower, the school of musketry trained the soldiers in special rapid fire marksmanship drills and the British Army offered pay incentives to regular soldiers who demonstrated good marksmanship skill. Years of pre-war training increased their proficiency with the SMLE, thus enabling the BEF regular soldier to execute accurate and intense rapid rifle fire which would later compel many German soldiers to believe that they were under machine gun fire. All of this combined to create an almost mythical legend for the SMLE and the 1914 British professional soldier that wielded it. In game play terms, something was needed beyond a simple quality level increase in order to properly represent the doctrinal and proficiency differences with the BEF professional force. It was decided that in addition to high troop quality levels, the BEF professional infantry and cavalry would also have a higher soft attack rating, which is attributed to a combination of the SMLE's advantages as well as the BEF regular soldier's proficiency and specialized training in its use. The BEF regular infantry also have a higher defense factor but this comes at the expense of a lower assault rating, since they generally had a much greater reliance on firepower and marksmanship skill rather than brute force cold steel, unlike the other infantry of Europe. These special traits combine to create a realistic advantage for the small BEF which was an extremely effective force, and this advantage is offset by the fact that the BEF generally had little to no replacements and slowly dwindled away by the end of 1914. These "special traits" are only present in the BEF "professional" regular infantry; guard infantry; and cavalry units of 1914, and are not present in non regular infantry units, such as the British naval and 31 This two gun section per infantry battalion organization was similar to the French Army's approach. marine infantry,32 Commonwealth infantry,33 territorial and yeoman units,34 nor any of Kitchner's "New Army" units that followed in 1915.35 In other words, following the demise of the core BEF professional force at the end of 1914 and the subsequent dilution of replacements in 1915, British units became comparable to other European armies in terms of combat factors.
32 Naval infantry were ill equipped and composed of raw recruits, and marine infantry were composed of reservists and recruits.
33 Commonwealth troops were mostly non professional in comparison to the “professional” sense of the BEF regular, or they did not stress the same level marksmanship, or, in the case of the Indian units, were only freshly equipped with SMLEs.
34 Yeoman and territorial formations were made up of citizen soldiers.
35 Kitchner.s “New Army” was comprised of hastily trained and poorly led troops and was an emergency stop gap measure to get more troops to the front.
Another issue involved the stop gap heavy artillery the British began to employ in the latter months of 1914. Due to a lack of 60 pounder guns, in October the 7th and 8th Infantry Divisions arrived in Flanders fielding the awkward 4.7 inch naval guns which were mounted on Percy Scott carriages. Initially these guns were an improvisation for the Second Boer War. In that conflict, the British had no answer to the French made 155mm Cruesot “Long Tom” field gun that the Boer.s employed. The solution was to dismount the 4.7 inch naval gun from some ships and coastal batteries and mount it on a carriage designed by Captain Percy Scott of the Royal Navy. The gun lacked any mechanism for recoil and it had very limited elevation. The 60 pounder gun was created specifically to address the stop gap and replace the 4.7 inch naval gun improvisation. In 1914, the 60 pounder was initially in very short supply, and this required the British to bring the 4.7 inch naval gun back into service. However, in France .14, the ratings for these ground based guns differ from the true naval mounted 4.7 inch guns for a couple of reasons. The naval mounted 4.7 inch guns have a longer range and higher combat factor than the Percy Scott carriage mounted guns because of the latter.s limited elevation capability and the fact that the naval mounted gun could utilize more powerful charges.
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Veterans of either the Panzer Campaigns or Modern Campaigns series may notice that attachments are handled differently in France „14. In France .14, attachments are made an army level, therefore, corps can be attached to different armies, and independent divisions and brigades can also be attached to different armies, but divisions cannot be attached to different corps. The decision to go with this type of attachment scheme was not an easy one to make. Evidence has shown that divisions were indeed transferred between corps and corps transferred between armies, however there was overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that corps were reassigned amongst armies much more often than divisions were reassigned amongst corps. The fact is, most division parings remained the same amongst a corps, and when troops were needed elsewhere the entire corps was reassigned to another sector of the front, under another army.s command. During early alpha tests, it was also discovered that when division to corps attachments were allowed it often influenced the reassignment of supporting units to create an a-historical "breakthrough corps" of sorts, by combining all heavy artillery from several different corps. Clearly this type of flexibility was not available during the early part of World War I, so from a design point of view this was another reason for choosing an army level attachment scheme in France „14. It was eventually decided that army level attachments of corps was the best choice given both the grand scale of the game, the potential abuse of divisional attachments thus producing unpredictable results, and, most importantly, the evidence that it was the most likely and most frequent reorganization method that occurred. While this approach is not perfect, it works well and allows moderate flexibility and reorganization to occur, but not complete flexibility.
The exception to this intentional limited flexibility is that, in many cases, some armies allowed cavalry divisions and reserve divisions to be reassigned amongst armies and this has been modeled. In fact, special mention must be made of the French Army's organization. The French Army in 1914 reorganized itself more than any other. Corps were sent from the army formations in the east to army formation in the west as needed, and reserve and territorial divisions were committed to different armies in crucial areas as well. In the early part of 1914, there are a couple of unique aspects of the French reserves. As a French player, you will have more flexibility to transfer units around but at the same time you may end up with a completely disorganized force if it is not managed properly. The second distinctive characteristic about the French Army and its attachment capabilities are its reserve and territorial divisions. The GQG Reserve and Territorial Reserve contain individual divisions allowing the French to attach these divisions as needed, directly to various armies if necessary. Actually, any division that may have been independently transferred between armies has been represented as a direct army level attachment, as a kind of independent division. Some French infantry divisions fit this description as well. Of special mention is the French 37th and 38th Infantry Divisions which were sent from North Africa at the outbreak of the war. These two divisions bounced around many different French corps during the conflict so it was decided to allow these units to attach directly to armies as well, creating a capable fire brigade or sorts.
Cavalry Units, cavalry tactics, and cavalry types
Cavalry units in First World War Campaigns of 1914 represent the twilight period of cavalry in the traditional sense of the word. Most cavalry during this period still had its roots in Napoleonic warfare and were still training in the tactics of arme blanch.36 While cavalry met with some success on the more mobile eastern front, cavalry units on the western front had little usefulness other than dismounted infantry after 1914. However, during the fluid battles that were characteristic of 1914, cavalry were still used in their traditional role until the point in which the west front developed into a static line, devoid of any flanks.
36 Arme blanche is a French term which literally means cold steel. In this literal sense it refers to the use of thrusting or cutting weapons in battle. In regards to cavalry, it describes their sole traditional role: to be held back until the right moment as a decisive tactical striking force. In modern times this is often referred to as “shock”.
Cavalry units in this series differ from anything available in the Panzer Campaigns series in that when they are in Travel Mode they are not classified as being in "travel mode" per se, rather they are just simply considered to be "mounted". From there it is assumed that when these units are "mounted" they would be able to move into charge formation or column formation rather quickly, and they do not need to be micromanaged on when to do this. While this might seem like a rather abstract approach, it works nicely given the scale of the game. Cavalry can move rapidly and conduct charges while in their mounted Travel Mode state, or they can dismount and perform as if they were infantry.
Some cavalry units have specializations while others do not. However, this is said with reservation and depends on the nation in question, and the experiences they had at the time, and not necessarily related to the armament of the individual cavalryman.
During the First and Second Boer War in South Africa, the British were matched up against an opponent to which they were initially unprepared. The Boers, essentially Dutch farmers in South Africa, utilized fast mobile hit and run cavalry tactics where they relied exclusively on the carbine. Initially, Britain.s traditional cavalry were unable to deal with this threat until they switched exclusively to dragoon type tactics to match their foes. Following the war, several British military studies were conducted on lessons learned and how cavalry should evolve. Some advocated for no change in cavalry from its Napoleonic style because the Boers were hardly considered to be a similar threat that another European army would be. Others argued that with the modernization of weapons, the lance and saber needed to be discarded and that a single unified mounted infantryman type cavalry force needed to be made.
One of the first British tacticians to argue for a complete change in cavalry tactics and composition was Colonel F. R. Henderson. Colonel Henderson spent a considerable time studying the American Civil War and came to the conclusion that the Americans had "stuck the true balance between shock and dismounted tactics." Henderson pointed out that by 1861 firepower had become the dominant factor in battle, and the Americans had adopted alterations to traditional cavalry tactics that were necessary to both counter and maximize firepower. Henderson believed that the true balance lay in the American's choice of mixing both fire and shock. The result was that by 1907 the British began modernizing their cavalry into a single homogenous force that was well rounded in dismounted warfare, marksmanship and shock tactics.
General Francois de Négrier was a Frenchman who had been an observer in the Russo-Japanese War. He believed that lessons learned in that struggle demonstrated the need for a change in the methods of cavalry as well. Similar to Henderson, Négrier was convinced from what he observed that cavalry needed to abolish the traditional distinctions among lancers, dragoons, hussars and the like in favor of a single robust cavalry force trained in both shock and fire tactics. However, he failed to reckon that the French would be the most reluctant of all to change. Despite his studies, France went into battle in 1914 with almost no change to the cavalry over their Napoleonic ancestors.
In Germany, one of the leading military writers of the pre-Great War period was General Frederick von Bernhardi and he had much to say about cavalry tactics of the future. Although he had strong faith in the value of dismounted action, he maintained that cold steel remained the chief cavalry threat on the battlefield. However, Bernhardi pointed out that modern cavalry should not rely exclusively on shock tactics, but instead should consider various methods of fighting to create a single homogenous force capable of both cold steel and dismounted accurate rifle fire. Like Négrier of France, he was to be a voice in the darkness. Other nations, such as the United States and Britain, seemed to pay more attention to their studies than their own armies did.
In the First World War Campaigns, specialized cavalry of the period were very similar to, and in some cases exact, Napoleonic period formations and were trained, or sometimes specifically equipped, for a certain style of combat. Lighter cavalry units such as Uhlans and Chasseurs specialized in reconnaissance, and were somewhat weaker in their shock capability than other types. Some cavalry of the period were classified as "heavy" and consist of large men, sometimes wearing obsolete armor,37 and were mounted on large powerful horses. These heavy cavalry units were the Napoleonic equivalent of modern main battle tanks, and at the time of the First World War this was expected to still be the case. All of this translates into the cavalry unit ratings in First World War Campaigns; man cavalry units in the game have inherent advantages and disadvantages which determine when they should and should not be used.
37 The French Cuirassiers of 1914 went into battle wearing their armored breastplates for traditional purposes and not for actual protection. The polished, shiny, breastplate was quickly covered with a brown cloth, and the breastplate was completely discarded by French cuirassiers by the end of 1914. At the start of the Great War, German and Russian cuirassier cavalry only wore their breastplates in full dress uniform for cerimonal or parade purposes.
The primary advantages of all cavalry is their mobility and, due to their mobility, their inherent strength in reconnaissance operations. Some cavalry have the ability to conduct the recon spotting ability, which is a unit command menu order that instructs the selected unit to expend movement points in an attempt to spot enemy units within their line of sight. This is useful when cavalry units are moved forward into areas that were not spotted at the beginning of the turn and helps you to avoid a blundering move into enemy forces. In game play terms, cavalry that have this recon spotting ability are the light cavalry units. These include, but are not limited to Uhlans, Lancers, Chasseurs, Cossacks, and the “modern” classless British cavalry units. These light cavalry units should be utilized in screening and reconnaissance, and should rarely be used in a full blown charge unless the situation is extremely beneficial to do so. Another advantage of cavalry units is their ability to evade the enemy when mounted.38 When a mounted cavalry unit is assaulted, it will retreat (if possible) and avoid high combat losses. However, this is only true if all the defending units in a hex consist of mounted cavalry.39 These two advantages, mobility and evasion, combine to make cavalry extremely useful in a role of rear guard, covering a friendly infantry force.s retreat long enough to put a substantial distance between it and its pursuers, and then repeating this process as necessary. Perhaps the greatest advantage of mounted cavalry units is their ability to conduct a cavalry charge. Unlike other units, mounted cavalry only require 1/3 of their movement to conduct an assault, allowing them to make repeated assaults and to move almost to their full extent before assaulting. When mounted cavalry units conduct a charge, their assault rating is multiplied by four times its normal value, which, in the case of a charge en masse or in the case of a heavy cavalry charge, can result in an absolutely overwhelming result for the defender. As with every other assault, the end result is of course due to the condition, size and type of the defending unit(s), and the terrain they are situated in.40
38 “Mounted cavalry” are cavalry units which are in Travel Mode. See the User Manual for more information.
39 See the User Manual for more information.
40 For the class based cavalry of the early war, it is intentional that only the dragoon cavalry type has as hard attack rating. This was done because the dragoon is essentially mounted infantry, which have comparable ratings to standard infantry formations. This means that cavalry units of other classes in 1914 cannot assault fortresses, redoubts, bunkers nor armored cars. These cavalry units can push such enemies out of a hex if they are disrupted, but they are intentionally not sufficiently powerful enough to cause any other effect.
The greatest disadvantage of cavalry units is their vulnerability when mounted. As with all other units in Travel Mode, mounted cavalry are more vulnerable to enemy fire than a deployed unit. As mentioned, Travel Mode for cavalry units is not representing that they are in column formation like standard units, instead it is an abstraction to represent that they are mounted on horseback and, because of this, a larger, much more vulnerable target. A poorly executed cavalry charge can have the opposite result that the attacker intends, and can leave the cavalry unit vulnerable to retaliatory fire on the enemy.s turn. Use cavalry charges with caution, the ability should only be used in a situation of either desperation or extreme advantage, not as norm; cavalry units should be husbanded and not wasted in futile cavalry charges. Part of the reason for this is their next weakness. Cavalry was an expensive branch of service to equip, maintain, and train; it took roughly three years to turn a man on a horse into an effective cavalry trooper. Because of this, regular (non elite) cavalry units received very little replacements, and elite cavalry units received even less. Strategically, cavalry of the period generally regarded itself as a one shot weapon, something that would only be used en masse and in force "when the time was right". The cavalry arm of all sides generally viewed itself as a force that would battle enemy cavalry on the flanks in sweeping battles where they would trade loss for loss, similar to trading knights in a game of chess, as they cover the flanks of the armies. Cautiously utilized cavalry as a reconnaissance force would obviously be around longer than a mass used as an offensive striking force, and this is partly why both sides shied away from committing massed cavalry in one huge decisive action. When a cavalry unit is decimated in the early period of First World War Campaigns, it will essentially be gone forever if it is an elite unit, or it will take a very long time for it to regain its strength if it is a regular unit.41 Also, the expense to equip and maintain them 41 This is due to the fact that in the "early" period all regular cavalry units have a 1% replacement rate, elite cavalry units have a 0% replacement rate. In the "late" period (Race to the Sea and beyond), no cavalry units receive replacements, however at that point all units (cavalry and otherwise) begin to receive recovery. In the early period, the cavalry replacements represent the finite pool of troopers that were being trained but who had not yet completed training, or those who were being processed from the ersatz units. Recovery is set to 0% in this early period to represent the fact that both sides were on the move and had not yet established permanent rear area facilities to process stragglers and the treated wounded. The pool of treated wounded soldiers who could return to duty had also not accumulated yet. In the late period, the lack of cavalry replacements represent the "drying up" of the pool of replacements, and the start of recovery represents the fact that units began processing strength from losses at the start of the war (it represents a transitional period). See the user manual for the different between replacements and recovery.
These units, as well as the high cost of potentially losing both the mount and rider, means that cavalry units are worth two times as many Victory Points as infantry formations. A successful cavalry commander of the period must always keep in mind that a cavalry charge which might cause a massive proportion of enemy infantry loss may carry with it a substantial loss of irreplaceable cavalry in the charge, possibly making the charge itself an exercise in futility. The infantry formation can usually, depending on the nationality and supply situation, recover and replace its losses with ease where as the cavalry unit cannot. In addition, the point value of friendly cavalry may actually turn out to be equal to, or higher than the loss inflicted on the enemy. The higher victory point value for cavalry loss makes the proposition of their use as stand in, dismounted infantry cannon fodder an expensive proposition; this option should only be reserved when combating and standing up against enemy cavalry formations that are employed in a similar manner, such as the case in the First Battle of Ypres, 1914. All of these advantages and disadvantages create a dilemma where knowing when and how to utilize cavalry efficiently and effectively is a challenge, and a great deal of fun!