1st ZUG (Platoon) finished.
Each ZUG comprising 4 Korporalschafts (Sections)
The Imperial German Infantry tactics used in the first months of the Great War, was based on two important tactical milestones. First the doctrine of fire superiority developed as part of 1888’s “Exerzier-Reglement”, which to a large degree changed German tactics from Shock to Fire, and secondly the 1906 “Exerzier-Reglement”, emphasizing the use of skirmish lines and the individual initiative of squads.
German ZUGs would deploy into open skirmish line,
when advancing under enemy fire.
The result of the innovation was a highly offensive infantry doctrine, prioritizing fast and flexible tic-tac tactics of advance-fire-advance, closing in with the enemy and pouring fire on them, while adopting open formations to suit terrain and the enemy’s defensive fire. The final argument would then be made at the point of the bayonet, as they would press home the charge.
My two latests Korporalschafts - completing my first ZUG.
In effect, most of the German charges during the first battles of WW1 had a similar pattern. Upon reaching the battlefield, the Companies will go from marching order and divide up, advancing in Zugs (Platoons. 3 Platoons per company).
ZUG in marching order.
Two Zugs to the front, one following behind in support, about 30 paces back.
They would advance closing in on the enemy to a distance of 700 meters before commencing the firefight. If terrain allowed it, they would seek to go even closer. From this distance, the Zugs would open up into skirmisher order with 1-2 meter space between each man. The Zug would then advance in waves, using the terrain for cover best they could.
The 4 Korporalschafts have split up into "Extended Skirmishers",
offering them flexibility in terrain and protection against enemy fire.
If the terrain was open, and thus offered the enemy a good field of fire, the formation would go from “skirmishers” to “extended skirmishers”, further increasing the distance between each soldier. Again the squads would be the basic tactical attacking unit, as Zug commanders and company commanders would find it increasingly difficult to control the large spread of men.
The "Ausmarsch uniform".
Early 1914 German uniform.
All in all, these dispositions were sound and when used by the superbly drilled German army, and in combination with supporting arms, they would prove effective in the Great War’s early months. The rapid improvement of artillery and automated fire, in combination with German fatigue and French/British Success at stopping the advance on Paris at the Marne, not only threw the Schlieffen Plan out the window, but with it all tactics and doctrines would follow, as the stalemate of trench warfare would force tacticians back to the drawing table to come up with new solutions.
Organizational chart of a 1914 German Infantry Regiment.
When building my Early War German army, I’m going to go down to company-level rather than battalion. This will offer me a chance to portray the German infantry doctrines actively when playing. My idea is to build two companies, with 3 ZUGs in each – like their historical counterparts. I’ll let the ZUG be my basic unit, with each ZUG being divided into four bases, each representing a “Korporalschaft” (a Section)
Another beautifully colored picture.
German uniforms 1914.
Here follows a few thoughts on how to play the units in reference to the German Infantry Doctrine used in the great open battles of 1914.
STEP 1: ZUGs advancing.
STEP 2: ZUGs taking light fire, can adopt Skirmish formation,
symbolized by spreading out the bases lightly.
STEP 3: ZUGs advancing under heavy enemy fire, and in need of extra protection can adopt the "Extended Skirmishers" formation, further widening the distance between the bases and breaking up the linear base alignment. This formation will make it harder for enemy automated and artillery fire to target the unit, but also make it increasingly hard for the Company commander to issue effective orders.
I will continue to experiment with rule adaptions, to suit the 1914 tactical situation,
and any suggestions on the matter is much welcome.
Thank you very much for reading!