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satyesu
11-18-2015, 02:22 AM
My book's tech level is around the arquebus/musket age of warfare. I found Napoleonic warfare was at around that time on Earth, but what I've learned after research is that it basically involved four things: lines of men, columns of men, squares of men, and cavalry. That's awfully boring. I watched a documentary on the Battle of Waterloo, and it was still pretty boring. Could strategy bump ahead of technology? Can I somehow get my protagonist in charge of a "squad"? :D

RichardGarfinkle
11-18-2015, 02:35 AM
It doesn't have to be boring. Read Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels for some very exciting battles in that era.

Once!
11-18-2015, 03:21 AM
What's boring about a musket? You have hundreds of your enemy charging at you with dirty great swords, yelling pagan football songs, with kilts flying around their waists and they are not wearing any undercrackers.

And while all that is happening you get only one shot from your weapon before you need to reload. Reloading is as complicated as making an IKEA wardrobe. There's a rammy thing, a bag of powder, a marble, another go with the rammy thing. Only then do you get a chance to aim and hope that the other blokes aren't close enough with their big choppers to turn you into sushi.

And you call that boring?

satyesu
11-18-2015, 03:25 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but what is there really anything for a soldier protagonist to do besides run/march and fire?

mirandashell
11-18-2015, 03:26 AM
I have to agree with Once. Boring? Seriously? You need to do more research.....

satyesu
11-18-2015, 03:28 AM
I have to agree with Once. Boring? Seriously? You need to do more research.....
Any suggestions? :/ Besides a novel (sorry, Richard.)


dirty great swords
Huh?

mirandashell
11-18-2015, 03:32 AM
Warfare is only boring when you're not fighting. Fighting is fecking terrifying. And exhilirating. And terrifying.


As Once said, imagine trying to reload a musket when there's some big mad fecker running at you with a sharp implement. You reload it quick or you're dead. Boring? Seriously?

The only time a battle scene is boring is when the writer makes it that way.

satyesu
11-18-2015, 03:47 AM
Be that as it probably is, I was thinking for my plot to involve a soldier going throwaway soldier->trusted soldier->elite corp->assassination team member. Or something. Doable?

mirandashell
11-18-2015, 03:51 AM
Totally. The easiest way would be for him to save the life of an officer. Who then trusts him and so on and so forth

mirandashell
11-18-2015, 03:54 AM
And don't forget, in a battle, rank is set but authority is fairly fluid. It comes down to who can command a lot of scared men rather than the pips on the shoulder.

mpack
11-18-2015, 04:06 AM
My book's tech level is around the arquebus/musket age of warfare. I found Napoleonic warfare was at around that time on Earth, but what I've learned after research is that it basically involved four things: lines of men, columns of men, squares of men, and cavalry. That's awfully boring. I watched a documentary on the Battle of Waterloo, and it was still pretty boring. Could strategy bump ahead of technology? Can I somehow get my protagonist in charge of a "squad"? :D

Opening disclaimer, I find the Early Modern period fascinating, so I don't connect with the boring part.

As far as putting your protagonist in a squad, sure, why not? They could be a scout or a guerrilla or ranger or something of similar nature. They don't have to be in the middle of a set piece line formation battle. Even if they do take part in a large battle, there's a lot of things that start happening once the first volley is fired. Lines break and bend and twist. Cavalry rushes by. Fixed bayonet charges. Couriers dashing orders about the chaos of the battlefield. A lot happens, and unless your PoV character is the commanding general, they likely don't have a broad view of lines and formations, but instead an in-the-mud view of smoke and blood.

I'd be leery of changing the tactics too much, as they developed for a reason in response to the technology of the time. Of course, maybe in your book there's a good reason for a different set of tactics.

satyesu
11-18-2015, 05:35 AM
Thanks, folks!

rwhegwood
11-18-2015, 05:56 AM
You may not like their politics, but more that a few of the Southern Generals of the Confederacy were tactical geniuses and got a lot of mileage out of limited men and resources. Gen. Forrest essentially invented the concept and formative doctrines of a mounted infantry and mobile defense. The technology and battlefield tactics of the time was not far removed from the napolianic and the war was fought in transition from those trained in formation drill techniques to creative tactics and advances in war technology. (The south gave us iron clads, submarines, steam powered torpedo boats, rapid firing canons, had a prototype canon mounted steam tractor). Their battlefield innovations are still studied at military universities.

Bolero
11-18-2015, 01:10 PM
Totally. The easiest way would be for him to save the life of an officer. Who then trusts him and so on and so forth

Which is what Sharpe does. :)


And OP - I really don't see why you don't want to read other novels that are doing what you want to do. That is one of the best ways to learn how to tell a story.

I would also highly recommend going to see re-enactors for your period - rather coming out of the re-enacting season - winter quarters at the moment. But speaking as someone who has fired a musket on a battlefield crowded with several thousand re-enactors, boring it ain't. There are also a lot of details and colour - things that can go right, things that go wrong, the sounds, the smells, the feel, that you only really get by taking part, or at the very least being in the audience and talking with re-enactors afterwards. Go play. Its fun.

mirandashell
11-18-2015, 04:45 PM
I've never read the Sharpe stories but I think it's fairly common.....

satyesu
11-18-2015, 07:33 PM
I really don't see why you don't want to read other novels that are doing what you want to do. That is one of the best ways to learn how to tell a story
I have neuro- and psychological reading problems. ;(
The Gen Forrest stuff seems applicable. Are there any (non)fictions on him/his manner of strategy?

mpack
11-18-2015, 08:50 PM
I have neuro- and psychological reading problems. ;(
The Gen Forrest stuff seems applicable. Are there any (non)fictions on him/his manner of strategy?

Bear in mind that the US Civil War is very late for the technology you mentioned in the first post. Tactics and strategy developed during the war were often in response to technological changes moving weapons to what might be considered their modern state. Though muskets remained the most common weapon, they were rifled, giving them a significant range and accuracy advantage over Early Modern weapons. Revolvers were the most common side-arm (Forrest's cavalry favoured the six-shot, .36 calibre 1851 Colt Navy revolver) and many cavalry troops used breech-loading carbines instead of muskets. By the end of the war, repeating rifles, breech loaders, and metal cartridges had begun the process of supplanting the muzzle-loading rifles of the earlier era.

If that's the tech frame you want for your book, that's fine, but it is a far cry from the period dominated by the arquebus, and the war forced rapid developments from the Napoleonic tactics. The last year of the war actually foreshadowed the development of defensive oriented trench warfare most often associated with the Great War, for example see the 9-month Siege of Petersburg.

ClareGreen
11-18-2015, 09:48 PM
The Sharpe books are also available in audiobook form, and ITV made an excellent television series as well.

Kjbartolotta
11-18-2015, 11:06 PM
Watch Barry Lyndon, set during the seven years war and pretty close to what you're describing. Great movie, though kinda a tough watch.

snafu1056
11-19-2015, 02:08 AM
Try reading about what was going on in other parts of the world at the same time. It's fantasy, so you're not obligated to keep your focus on Europe, even if your setting is faux European.

Bolero
11-19-2015, 01:44 PM
The Sharpe books are also available in audiobook form, and ITV made an excellent television series as well.

Seconded on the ITV series with Sean Bean. Small caveat - due to budget the armies are a bit small at times. :)

Alessandra Kelley
11-19-2015, 04:33 PM
Seconded on the ITV series with Sean Bean. Small caveat - due to budget the armies are a bit small at times. :)

They hadn't heard of using volunteer historical reenactors to pad out the backgrounds?

mirandashell
11-19-2015, 05:19 PM
It wasn't often filmed in Britain.

Once!
11-19-2015, 11:13 PM
Be that as it probably is, I was thinking for my plot to involve a soldier going throwaway soldier->trusted soldier->elite corp->assassination team member. Or something. Doable?

Well, yes, but ...

Most armies had their elites. The more experienced soldiers with the best weapons. Quite often they were the King's bodyguards. So it is perfectly possible for a rank and file soldier to work his way up to a more prestigious role. It is not unknown for grunts to become NCOs to become officers.

But we need to be a little careful about the "small squad" thing. A modern soldier can do a lot of damage in a small squad or even as a lone sniper. We can exploit technologies like accurate sniper rifles, automatic and semi automatic weapons, hand-held anti tank weapons, and so on. But more primitive weapons tend to be less effective when used in small groups. Archers and musketmen didn't really pick off individual targets in the way that a modern infantryman would with his assault rifle. Instead they tended to lay down volley fire as part of a large group. The lone elven archer picking off wargs at a hundred paces is a creation of Hollywood. Or video games like Assassins Creed.

So the assassination squad as in "ye olde A team"? It's not impossible but it is starting to sound like modern tactics transposed uncomfortably onto historic weaponry. That's not to say that it can't be exciting. Take a look at the film Zulu, and you'll see what I mean.

satyesu
11-20-2015, 03:23 AM
Found this looking into the battle of Brice's crosssroads (Civil War):

many of the cavalrymen were armed with the newest Colt repeating rifles as well as breech loading carbines.
Am I still looking too far ahead?

Brightdreamer
11-20-2015, 04:14 AM
Found this looking into the battle of Brice's crosssroads (Civil War):

Am I still looking too far ahead?

It's your world, you know. If you find Civil War-era tech/warfare more interesting and engaging than earlier Napoleonic-era stuff, then maybe you need to tweak your story's world to allow for more advanced weaponry and associated tactics. As alt-history/alt-world authors, we aren't duty-bound to precisely replicate a given place and time in Earth's history - it just has to be in-world consistent.

Maxx
11-20-2015, 09:29 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but what is there really anything for a soldier protagonist to do besides run/march and fire?

In most wars, soldiers have found plundering and abusing the local population to be a worthwhile passtime. One odd claim (for example) about the
100-years war is that any English soldier who survived and got back from France, at least had a feather bed as plunder. I always found this hard to visualize and maybe it was a joke, but there are a lot of things to think about there:
1) the value of a feather bed
2) the accumulation of plunder
3) the transport of plunder
4) the chance of making your fortune as a soldier (which would include horses and pack horses even for archers?)
5) the chance of surviving at all
6) the chance of making money selling feather beds or other commodities to plundering armies and how to manage that
7) how to make money as an army commander (selling for example safe-conduct passes to the people involved in 6) above)
8) how this all functioned for say, the young Napoleon invading Italy in 1796 -- he became pretty wealthy pretty fast
9) how the above all works out politically

mirandashell
11-20-2015, 10:08 PM
There was also quite a lot of downtime in warfare even back then, I think. Nothing more likely to get into trouble then a group of soldiers with nothing to do. That's what all the digging and drilling is for, to keep them occupied.

Kjbartolotta
11-21-2015, 12:20 AM
You're getting pretty far in to the modern period with repeaters, nothing wrong with that but it represents a VERY large step forward from the Napoleonic Era.

mpack
11-22-2015, 12:55 AM
Found this looking into the battle of Brice's crosssroads (Civil War):

Am I still looking too far ahead?

Only you know the tech level you want for your world.

If you want breech-loaders and repeating rifles, there's nothing wrong with that, but you're leaving the era of muskets behind, and the arquebus is a quaint memory. If you find inspiration in the US Civil War, run with a mid-to-late 19th century motif. The Crimean War might give you some more ideas for that time period, as well.

frimble3
11-22-2015, 12:40 PM
I'd go with making your characters scouts. Expected to get out front (or to the side), gather information, get it back to HQ and look after themselves, no expecting backup. Some sort of leader, a local ally for info, a cartographer, a couple of couriers/messengers to get word back while the rest carry on, and maybe a couple of regular troops for defending the rest (all of whom who would be expected to fight in their own defense, of course). Probably too large a group to be realistic, but if you need a 'squad', it could be made to work for alt-history/alt-world.

Cilvercat
11-22-2015, 12:54 PM
I'd suggest reading a book on military tactics during the Napoleonic Wars - I was researching to write one story in the same time frame a while back. I was looking for a good secondary source that gives you a feel, atmosphere and the logic of battles during the Napoleonic Wars.

I'd recommend the first of the two books. But both will give you valuable inputs.
http://www.amazon.com/With-Musket-Cannon-And-Sword/dp/1885119275/ref=pd_sim_sbs_14_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51R39KPA1QL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR105%2C160_&refRID=1MZWJ3BHJ5BBTEMXF2NY

http://www.amazon.in/Tactics-Experience-Battle-Age-Napoleon/dp/0300082703

And if you're really ready to invest time in research, then there are many more books out there. Such as so - http://www.amazon.com/Imperial-Bayonets-Napoleonic-Contemporary-Regulations/dp/1853672505

satyesu
11-22-2015, 11:57 PM
I'd suggest reading a book on military tactics during the Napoleonic Wars - I was researching to write one story in the same time frame a while back. I was looking for a good secondary source that gives you a feel, atmosphere and the logic of battles during the Napoleonic Wars....
Crimany, it's $30 used!

jwdoom
11-28-2015, 08:38 AM
I've written some stuff in the period and I can assure you the second time you go through a reload or a countermarch it's quite enough. The POV of an individual gunner or pike carrier or whatever is pretty limited.

My advice is to limit your battles. That's actually pretty realistic for the period. Lots more marching, foraging and the potential for intrigue than actual pitched slaughter.

satyesu
11-30-2015, 02:29 AM
Lots more marching, foraging and the potential for intrigue than actual pitched slaughter.
Would you please elaborate?

themindstream
11-30-2015, 05:19 AM
Crimany, it's $30 used!

Got a local university nearby or a library with a good inter-library loan program? They are things I don't take as much advantage of as I used to and really ought to more.

Incidentaly, I won't claim to be an expert on period warfane but if you do mess with the tech, it had better pretty clearly be alt-history with the reason and effects of the alteration delt with, as the actual history buffs will notice. (And while you said that you weren't looking for other novels, I'd be remiss to mention Naomi Novak's Termierre series as an example: Napoleanic war but with dragons.)