Thursday, 12 December 2013

French Guardsman vs Russian Jaeger

I'm travelling most of this week which will prevent me getting any painting done.  However, it does give me time in the hotels in the evenings to read through a number of books that I've had sitting around for a few weeks now.

I purchased the new Osprey book "French Guardsman vs Russian Jaeger"a few weeks ago and have just finished reading it. 

This book is one of a number in a new range called 'Combat' which compares the organisation, training and combat effectiveness of two historical foes, in this case the Jaeger and Young Guard between 1803 and 1815.

The book focuses on a number of regiments from each formation (1st, 2nd and 14th Voltigeur and the two Russian Lifeguard Jaeger regiments along with the 19th Jaeger Regiment) as the sources used by the author made it "..possible to form a much more detailed picture of their combat performance".

The first chapter after the introduction provides a comparison of the the two opposing units in sections sub-titled "“origins and combat role”, “enlistment and training”, “motivation, morale and logistics”, “leadership” and “weapons and tactics”.  This section also provide colour plates of a Russian Jaeger and French Voltegeur from both the front and the back.  This is immensely useful fro anyone who is painting figures for these units.

The rest of the book is given over to descriptions of three battles Krasnyi (17 November 1812); the fighting around Gudengossa (16 October 1813), south of Leipzig; and Craonne (7 March 1814).  These battles descriptions contain first hand accounts from both French and Russian sources (including privates) along with analysis of their performance in each battle.

The final chapter is an analysis and conclusions section from both the Russian and French perspectives along with "the Reckoning" where the fate of some of the soldiers referenced in the battle descriptions are revealed.  this final chapter is rounded off with a page on Unit organisations and a page summarising the orders of battle for three engagements.

The book comes in at 80-pages and has numerous maps and pictures.  I particularly like the split screen pictures that show a particular combat scene from the both sides perspectives.  I haven't seen this before in a book and I personally think it is very effective.  The text is very readable and brings these two unit types alive.

What I found most interesting for my 1814 project is how the "..decline of the Young Guard and the rise of the Russian Jaeger arm are starkly exposed".  The description of Craonne really highlights the gulf in prowess between the flexible veteran Jaegers and the poorly trained conscripts of the Young Guard. Something that I need to take account of when putting together orders of battle.

At 80 pages the book lacks real detail, nevertheless, a lengthy Bibliography is provided and the book serves as an excellent introduction to the latter years of the Napoleonic wars and these two formations.  At £9 (on Amazon, other retailing options are available) this book is great value and I heartily recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. Sound's good, especially as my Naps opponent has just about finished his Russians