Paddy Griffiths Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun (1980)
The perceptive reader may by now have realized that there is a certain
gap between the skirmish game and the Divisional game. The skirmish
game deals entirely with details and individuals, while the Divisional game
deals only with large masses, regiments and battalions. Nowhere do we
really get a full sense of exactly what happens inside a battalion. It is to
fill this gap that we now turn to the brigade game.
The Napoleonic brigade battle
Napoleonic brigades could vary enormously in composition. In Wellington's army they consisted of four or five battalions and a rifle company or two; while in the Prussian army they were almost indistinguishable from what other people called Divisions. In our games, therefore, we may use a handful of battalions, with perhaps a battery of artillery and a squadron or two of cavalry. This can be varied at will, to suit the particular needs of each specific game.
It was even less common for isolated brigades to meet the enemy than it was for isolated Divisions. Brigades would be much more likely to fight as part of a Divisional, corps, or army battle, although in some cases the connecting links might admittedly wear somewhat thin. Wellington's Light Division in the Peninsular War, for example, frequently spread its brigades over a very wide area, and demanded a high level of selfsufficiency from them. In the main, however, it was far more normal for brigades to fight with plenty of support nearby. If they were overwhelmed they could be replaced in the front line by fresh troops, and the battle could continue. Brigades would thus usually fight with a higher headquarters fairly close at hand.
The brigade commander's task was in some ways rather similar to the Division commander's, since both often operated with several lines of battalions which had to be fed in successively at the right moments and in the right places. Unlike the Division commander, however, the brigade commander would have to exercise a great deal of personal control and supervision of his men. He would have to command drill movements, and watch over the morale of his units. He would no longer be a rather remote figure, but would be well known to his troops. In order to design our brigade game properly, therefore, we must give the commander this added responsibility for what goes on at low level.