This is the first in a series of specials by one J.P. (to remain anonoymous) on tactics for the BGW novice...hope this helps!!
Chef de Bataillon Pomme de Voie, Commanding. Just listen-up!! - this is basic training. Your Marshal's Baton stays in the pack for now.
Strive to keep your troops in order (that is not DISORDERED).
Formation - LINE: Purpose is to maximize fire power of ONLY ONE battalion per hex. A major disadvantage is loss of mobility because moving IN LINE requires well trained, experienced troops and the hazards of terrain can really screw them up - they become disordered. Then only the god of the program can return their good order and fire power. If you put two battalions in line in a hex, they look good to the general for a parade - but only one can shoot, and you have probably put the smaller one in front, you silly ass.
Formation - COLUMN: Purpose is to maximize mobility. It takes only a few well trained, experienced troops to head the column so the hazards of terrain are less likely to cause disorder. A major disadvantage is loss of fire power; however several battalions may fire from a hex. Some generals like to mass their battalions in column for melee (cold steel bayonet) attacks and who are you to question that?
Formation - SQUARE: Purpose is to screw a cavalry charge when you are caught in the "open". If the general has put your batallion out in the middle of an area with no "disordering" terrain while the enemy cavalry is lurking over the ridge, you need this formation. In any case, when you use it you are sure the cavalry is not three times as numerous for the attack and the troops can also shoot a little bit in any direction. Just remember, you can't move much and disorder seems to last forever, bugger. Here we see the Highlanders showing off to the Guards:
Formation - EXTENDED LINE: There are only a few units who get to do this. Purpose is to maximize defensive coverage of hex frontage. Unless you get stuck with such a unit in a scenario, reserve consideration to the advanced tactics class by Fabius Maximus (usually scheduled just after the battle when the instruction would have applied).
Formation - SKIRMISHER: There is a great debate going on about these troops. As a novice you need to put them out to: refuse your flanks, scout your obscured frontage terrain, and generally confuse and harass the hell out of the enemy. If you happen to be lucky enough to command a "light" battalion, then you must become the foot equivalent of the cavalry by spreading confusion and death among the enemy by sending at least 50% of your battalion strength out in packets of ones or twos (never more than 250 men per hex) to disorder the enemy while helping to keep your own forces in order. Poor sorry units, they are the place to take infantry losses so the ordered battalions can use their massed strength to destroy the enemy in melee. And you need to be out there with them from time to time, you silly ass - why were you issued that horse. The following example shows skirmishers covering a friendly battalion at Papelotte..and so they should too!
OTHER FORCES ON THE FIELD:
The Novice Infantry Officer needs to attend to the needs of the other Specialized Arms on the field of battle.
THE CAVALRY: When disposing your battalions, leave open lanes for your cavalry to charge; but try to frustrate the boulevards the enemy will use to destroy you.
THE ARTILLERY: Keep your formed units out of the battery's line of fire. Protect your artillery, but not at the cost of their ability to fire. Terrain is essential for line-of-sight fire; perhaps a skirmisher or two may be what the battery commander needs.
Thats it for lesson one soldiers! We`ll have you at "Armchair General" status within the month!!