Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This site has languished for a while as I have tried to find a review format that was useful for my history interests as well as historical miniature wargaming.  Book reviews I find tedious and trying to pull out information useful to wargaming can involve a lot of typing or scanning. 

At the Historicon 2013 convention, I picked up a book of battle studies of the 1808-1809 Penisula Campaign.   The book is light on grand-strategy, sheds only necessary light on strategy, and focuses on the the set-up, maneuvers, and outcome of battle.  Uniquely, it provides guidance on wargaming the battles. as the authors are experienced miniature wargamers.  This is not a scenario book of battles put out by rules publishers, but is an academic book with a generic focus on wargaming.  A nice mix for my interests. 

It also occurred to me that I could maybe apply their study technique to other battles.  World War II holds a strong interest for me and if I could make the battle the topic rather than the book, I might have something I could keep going and make interesting to readers.

Below is a draft outline for a battle study.  Battle studies will be a dynamic document, updated at material is pulled from various reference sources. The general outline borrows heavily from the book titled "Battle Studies in the Peninsula May 1808-January 1809" by Richard Partridge and Michael Oliver.

  1. Strategic [Operational] Consideration
  2. Geography
  3. Orders of Battle
  4. The Commanders [The Commander's Intent]
  5. The Campaign [The Approach to Battle]
  6. The Battle(s)
    1. Deployment-Disposition-Planning-Coordination
    2. Manuever & Conflict (advance, march, retreat, infiltrate, diversion, opening moves, main attack, secondary attack, first attack, second attack, manuevers on key terrain, tactical-operational pauses, bombardments, etc.)
    3. Aftermath
  7. Wargaming Notes
    1. Orbats
    2. Rules and Umpiring
    3. Terrain and Table
    4. Objectives and Victory
  8. Bibliography
Partridge and Oliver used the above outline to describe Napoleonic battles.  My interest lies more in the 20th century and some adjustments are needed in the above outline and those I have placed in brackets.  Napoleonic battles saw increasingly industrialized states increase their capacity for war and the results on the participants and population were often devasting beyond older periods of warfare.  And 20th Century battles saw the cataclysmic nature of industrialized warfare reach unthought of levels of devastation, murder, and tragedy on the homefronts as well as the battlefield.

In 20th century battles there is less personal leadership, less of a "face of battle," than in earlier times.  Battle is viewed in more political terms and the phrase "warfare is politics by another means," seemingly legitimizes a broader and more deadly civic scope to battle.  So a relevant curriculum vitae of  "Commanders" is less important to understanding a battle but the "Commander's Intent" as produced by his higher direction and by efforts of his staff and subordinates is more important.  The face of battle has been replaced by a regulated corporation.

Also, "strategy" has moved to a higher level as the corporate managers of battle move further and further away from the battlefield to maintain view of the larger and more varied force structures.  "Operations" and "battle doctrine" are the newer terms for the movements to and on a broad battlefield that in Napoleonic times would be described as "strategic" as a single battlefield could determine the immediate fate of an army and even a nation.

It is not the purpose of these battle studies to examine this broad civic-political aspect of battle but to focus as much as possible on the soldiers and military organization operating on the battlefields.  

Some battles entries on Wikipedia have a similar layout but lack the information relevant to wargaming.  I don't intend to regurgitate Wikipedia text though grabbing a map or list of references can be useful.  One purpose of the battle studies would be to add the wargaming dimension to a battle study.  Reader's could also contribute reference information or recommendations on gaming the battle to the battle studies. 

So now I have laid out my plan.  Now I need to add some content.

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