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Author Topic: Retreat from melee?  (Read 1210 times)

Offline paul c

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Retreat from melee?
« on: September 21, 2023, 05:53:43 PM »
Is it historically realistic if a set of wargames rules allows a battalion of infantry to retreat from a melee with another infantry battalion, without penalty? There was a big debate about this in game that I played at my club the other night. Thanks.
"For we went, changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance." B. Brecht

Offline Norm

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2023, 08:50:10 PM »
For Horse and Musket, some rules will say that their melee / close combat is not actually representing man-on-man / bayonet type fighting, but rather is a generalisation to represent the CLOSING of one side against the other, the last 100 yards thing and that it is the PRESENCE of one side prevailing over the other that is actually occurring, so one side may be giving way, by falling back, before a mass contact takes place - in those circumstances, a ‘falling back’ seems perfectly natural and is just some fancy footwork that is matching the attackers approach.

Offline DCRBrown

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2023, 09:41:49 AM »

One point to consider is in the confused heat of close battle would the order to retreat be heard across the entire battalion and how successful would the order to retreat be carried out, even if all the individual companies actually heard the order?

I suppose the colonel could certainly try but I think he'd be lucky to succeed.....   and would his order to retreat simply disintegrate into a rout?

DB

Offline wkeyser

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2023, 11:53:01 AM »
Not sure if you mean the gamer decided to retreat or if it was a morale result caused by a game mechanic.  I dont think this is something a player should decide, of course if you are playing a game where you are specifically a battalion commander then you might be able to do so but it will be hard. If it was a morale result then the game should make the mechanic of retreat a bad think for the retreating units, and this will depend on the game on how this is shown. There also might be a mechanic for the winning unit to lose control and follow up the retreating unit without order.

William

Offline jon_1066

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2023, 01:38:52 PM »
Is it historically realistic if a set of wargames rules allows a battalion of infantry to retreat from a melee with another infantry battalion, without penalty? There was a big debate about this in game that I played at my club the other night. Thanks.

I would say absolutely not.  They would be disordered at a minimum.

Offline Ethelred the Almost Ready

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2023, 08:56:48 PM »
Not sure if you mean the gamer decided to retreat or if it was a morale result caused by a game mechanic.  I dont think this is something a player should decide, of course if you are playing a game where you are specifically a battalion commander then you might be able to do so but it will be hard. If it was a morale result then the game should make the mechanic of retreat a bad think for the retreating units, and this will depend on the game on how this is shown. There also might be a mechanic for the winning unit to lose control and follow up the retreating unit without order.

William

This topic brings up all the fascination and frustrations I have with Napoleonic tactics. 
William is right - the charge had risks for the successful attacker.  They could become disordered and then suffer a counter attack.
The descriptions of of charges I have read mention defenders retiring (in order??), retreating (possibly with some disorder) and routing.

I have not done any extensive Napoleonic reading since 2015 (200th anniversary of Waterloo) but I dimly remember a story of charges see-sawing where one battalion fell back, reordered and counter charged only for the same to happen in return.  This was probably a rare occurrence.

Le Feu Sacre rules had a good combat outcome system.  It combined what would be the attacker and defender morales and charge outcome into one roll.  This allowed for the charge faltering, defenders giving way or routing or the whole thing to bog down into prolonged musketry.



Offline wkeyser

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2023, 08:16:43 AM »
Hi Esthelred
In the rules I use when an infantry unit charges another enemy infantry unit it is essentially locked in combat and th ie gamer loses control of the unit. It will either be successful and push the enemy unit back or it will retreat, and it might even stay locked in combat. The units will stop at 100 meters from each other. This is an abstraction of course but functions as an indicator that the units are in combat. If the combat continues the units might even close to 50m and musketry becomes very lethal.

Melees happen very rairly in the open field more common against opponents behind linear obstacles or built up areas.
William

Offline vtsaogames

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2023, 03:15:17 AM »
IF it is a player ordering a unit to retreat from from a standing close combat (melee or close range firefight) then I'd think the possibility for the withdrawal to turn into a rout is certainly there. A green unit would most likely collapse, a regular unit might and the Old Guards likely pull it off in good order. If it is part of the combat result, then hey, whatever.

After all, one of the hardest things to do in actual combat is to retreat in good order under fire. Not so hard in many games. Just pick them up and move them. Little tin guys don't fall into disorder unless the rules say they do.
And the glorious general led the advance
With a glorious swish of his sword and his lance
And a glorious clank of his tin-plated pants. - Dr. Seuss


My blog: http://corlearshookfencibles.blogspot.com/

Offline Harry Faversham

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2023, 02:25:23 PM »
Don't agree.
Boney's Old Guard routed bigstyle from that hell like ridge in Belgium. That kind of tells you summat about breaking close combat...
in my 'umble opinion.
  :o
"Wot did you do in the war Grandad?"

"I was with Harry... At The Bridge!"

Offline vtsaogames

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Re: Retreat from melee?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2023, 03:45:05 PM »
Don't agree.
Boney's Old Guard routed bigstyle from that hell like ridge in Belgium. That kind of tells you summat about breaking close combat...
in my 'umble opinion.
  :o

Don't think that was a planned withdrawal, think that came under rout combat result. Not surprising when hit front and flank by superior numbers. Later Old Guard units did retire in good order under cavalry attack and artillery fire, at least for a while.

I think the OP was talking about planned withdrawals. But he hasn't been back to clarify.

 

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