Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The most thankless job in war

I wrote this short introduction for a presentation I will be making at the Poldercon convention on February 12th. They asked for a presentation on the 1815 campaign, and the theme of the convention seems to be the rear guard action, so I decided to combine them. 

"The rear guard: the most thankless job in war. Risking your life to save that of others. Not seldom it ends in total disaster, without a Chanson de Roland to make you immortal. The best you can hope for is to be forgotten.

On the other hand there are many more rear guard actions than pitched battles. It’s the small clashes that determine who has the most advantageous position during the big battle. And it’s the rear guard actions that determine whether a defeat is decisive, or the loser can salvage his force.

Time for some more love for the rear guard action!

I will be taking you through the Napoleonic Wars and in particular the campaign of 1815 using these small but important combats. From the Prussian rear guard at Charleroi on the morning of June 15 to the retreat of general Rapp. What are the secrets of a successful rear guard action and how to bring them to the wargaming table?"


For the presentation itself, I'm thinking of 
  • a short introduction on what the role of a rear guard is
  • followed by a number of examples from the Napoleonic wars (eg 1806 post Jena/Auerst├Ądt, 1812 Russian retreat, 1813 and 1814)
  • Then delve into the 1815 campaign: Charleroi/Gilly, Frasnes, Gembloux, Namur, Oise crossings, Rapp's retreat
  • Try to derive some factors for success and failure
  • Translating it into wargames in the form of scenario's or campaigns

Since this is a 90 minute presentation I'm still thinking hard how to make this an interactive experience.

Anybody got further suggestions for this presentation?

1 comment:

  1. Maybe create a "birds-eye-view" character to add some on the ground perspectives?, Thoughts / Comments from that character, (either imaginary or historical quotes, if there are any) of what it might feel to be one of those Chosen to hold the noe victorious enemy wave back. The character could be giving blame for the Situation they find themselves in, loss of pride, the fear, wether they realise (given the size of some of the battles) exactly what is Happening and why they are doing it.


I appreciate comments. Let me know what you think!