Cartouche: 18th Century Supplement
1690 - 1790
The Eighteenth Century was a period of constant tactical experimentation and growing sophistication. Technically it saw the introduction of the ring bayonet, improvements to the infantry musket that included the metal ram-rod, and an improved flintlock mechanism. Tactical theory moved from deep battalion formations with little flexibility to linear fire lines capable of maneuver. Cavalry gradually moved out of the main battle line to the flanks and reserve, and the artillery saw great gains in mobility and rates of fire. Commanders such as Marlborough and Frederick sought new ways to overcome the limitations of their tactical deployments. Professionalism on all levels increased in all the armies of the period. It was also during this century that the first true world war was fought in climates and terrains far from the European norms. New types of troops, such as trained light infantry, flourished in these new conditions. No period can boast of more theoretical development and innovation of tactical doctrine than the eighteenth century.
The Wars of Marlborough
Starting with the Great Northern War and through the War of Spanish Succession, one man was a dominant presence, John Churchill, The Duke Of Marlborough. In a period that featured many sieges and a few very bloody battles, he stretched the current military systems and used the strengths of his armies as no commander before Napoleon. The early part of the period saw the last remnants of the Pike on the battlefield, by the end of the Marlburian wars the stage was set tactically for the linear warfare of the mid-century. Issues such as whether cavalry would be a shock or fire entity were decided. The intrinsic problems of battle formations and drill were initially addressed. The War of Spanish succession marked the first of a series of French failures to secure European leadership from the English during the 18th century.
The War of the Austrian Succession
Frederick the Great would introduce many of the tactics and reforms that formed the core of military development in the 18th century. The shallow linear formations employing platoon fire gained ascendancy over the deeper and less maneuverable 4-6 deep lines. Horse became firmly committed to melee at the charge, rather than fire; and the artillery began its' slow climb to battlefield dominance. The Leadership of De saxe and Frederick illustrated the importance of command control in this period.
The Seven Year's War
Using his central position to great advantage, Frederick's disciplined army consistently took on superior numbers while fighting off the threats from Austria, France, and Russia. However, as the war continued the toll on the Prussian Army was great, and led to a decline in its capabilities. His adversaries gradually improved, both from experience such as Austria, and, in the case of France, from great theoretical gains in drill and administration. Victories for Frederick became fewer and more costly. Nevertheless, the war ended with most of Frederick's continental demands satisfied.
The French And Indian War
The British and French carried the European Seven Year's War to North America in an effort to resolve the fates of Canada, the English Atlantic Seaboard, and the West Indies. In every case the English prevailed; but, as in the instance of Braddock's defeat in the midst of the densely wooded Northwest Territories, not without great cost in men and fortune. The acceptance light infantry's role in warfare resulted from these experiences in the New World.
Clive in India
The conflict between England and France also flared up on the Indian sub-continent where small contingents of European foot were augmented by troops supplied by warring native factions. By exploiting the native distrust and hatreds, the Europeans directed a brutal little war to determine who would exploit wealth of India. Under the brilliant command of Robert Clive, British forces defeated the French at Plassey and secured Bengal. Eventually, India would become "The Jewel In The Crown".
The American Revolution
The string of British victories would end with the American War of Independence. From the rather unpromising start of losses and retreats, George Washington would build an army that could stand toe-to-toe with the English and give as good as it took. Facing daring commanders such as Greene the British in the South found themselves confined to a few coastal cities. The much improved French had the delicious revenge, after a century of strategic defeats at the hands of the British, to assist the Americans in securing victory.
It was a century of many intriguing what-ifs. How differently could things have been if the Guard held, the charge struck home, or the artillery had found the range? Piquet is the time machine/simulation game that will let you explore these questions. Good history and good fun, that is the goal of Piquet.