With no game this week, I thought I would take a closer look at one of those battles which tends to capture the imagination, Minden. One particular incident, the charge of the French cavalry against the British infantry was of interest. This is because, in the Konig Kreig rules, which Steve and I use, the French cavalry units only field 6 figures and so are vulnerable to failing morale tests when they start to take casualties. In addition, the rules make the British musketry fire more effective (a 50% chance of inflicting a casualty with each die rolled). So,to see if the charge could work using these rules I carried out a paper exercise, running through the charge procedure 20 times. All dice were d6.
I began by checking the morale of the participants. The French (rated 6) could not fail, the British rated 5,could fail on a 6. On 4 occasions the British failed the test and retreated. When the British stood, they fired a volley. Six dice were rolled, requiring 4 - 6 to hit. On average you would expect to inflict three casualties on the French cavalry with each volley. In the event a total of 41 hits were obtained for 16 volleys, a rate of c2.5. The casualties on their own would not stop the charge as you only check morale once per phase, but they could effect the melee value of the cavalry, as increments are gained for ranks and numbers of figures.
However, before the melee takes place the cavalry have to 'break the bayonets' and close on the infantry. Again this is a 50% chance if the infantry are in line; so you would expect a melee in 8 of the remaining 16 charges. In the event only 6 melees took place and of these 3 were won by the cavalry and 3 by the infantry.
In total, of the 20 charges only 7, ( 4 in which the infantry failed their morale check and 3 victorious melees) could be counted as a success. Bearing in mind that I discounted the effect of the supporting British artillery it would seem that the commander of the French cavalry would be well advised not to charge full strength British infantry units as the chances of success are not good.
I ran the exercise again using Brunswick infantry, they inflicted fewer musketry casualties, but the French cavalry only managed to 'break the bayonets' 7 times out of 17 attempts. However, they won 4 of the resulting melees, meaning that the overall result was the same as for the British infantry; 7 French successes out of 20 attempts.
For my third attempt I charged the infantry with a larger unit of Reichs Armee cuirassiers, (12 figures strong). They had more luck with the dice; breaking the bayonets on 9 out of 17 attempts and they won all of the resulting melees. Even allowing for the vagaries of my dice rolling it seems to support the dictum about 'big battalions'. The solution could be to combine two French cavalry units together to make them less vulnerable; but this would then have a negative impact on British cavalry units which are of 8 figures and are generally classed as medium rather than heavy. In a melee therefore, the British (melee value 7) would face French cavalry with a melee value of 10, rather a large handicap.
WW2 French artillery
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