The Napoleonic Period can be divided in many ways. Time frame and geography are a few. These periods are governed by changing tactics, OOBs and difference in uniform. Here some thoughts on how I divide the periods:
1. The French Revolution
A. War of the First Coalition – 1792-97
While covering many engagements, including Valmy and the Vendee Revolt, the interesting area for me are the Campaigns in Italy 1796-97. These saw the emergence of Napoleon into his prime. Battles at Lodi, Arcole, Castiglione and Rivoli present good options for gaming. A reasonable sized miniatures OOB of Austrians and French can allow play of any number of historic and hypothetical engagements in both Italy and Germany.
B. Egypt – 1798-1801
Gaming Egypt is really a separate project. Uniforms changed markedly once the French arrived in the Middle East. Very unique units can be formed (Camelry, etc), but you’re not going to be using these forces in Europe. Egypt also offers the opportunity to see English vs French somewhere other than Spain or Waterloo.
C. War of the Second Coalition – 1798-1802
Austrian uniforms, particularly headgear, underwent major changes after 1797, so the period covering major battles like Novi, Hohenlinden and Marengo argues for a new Austrian set of figures (in my case I have not bothered, but purists might object to my lack of Austrian helmets fighting along side Suvorov in Italy).
2. Early Empire – Wars of the Third and Fourth Coalitions – 1803-07
This takes us though the grand battles of central Europe that led to Napoleon’s dominance – Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland.
3. The Danube Campaign – 1809
1809 is a very good option for a project. The multitude of battles, fairly evenly matched forces, solid source material and real options for a campaign, including Kevin Zucker’s 1809 boardgame. At some point, I’m going to look at this for an 18mm project using AB/Eureka figures.
4. The Peninsula War – 1807-14
For me this is a problematic period. I don’t know much about it, and have the sense that uniform changes over the time period make it difficult to do one OOB to cover the entire war. The large variety of forces engaged is appealing – Spanish, French, Portuguese and British, plus large diversity within each. For me this period is one to look at for skirmish gaming, particularly in light of the Sharpe novels.
5. The Russian Campaign – 1812
My thoughts are that the lack of battles beyond Borodino, which is certainly too large for my means, leaves this campaign something to pass on. That said, La Bataille de la Moscowa, offers as good a way possible at recreation of the battle.
6. The War of the Sixth Coalition – 1813-14
Napoleon on the ropes, still with a chance of pulling out victory. Some of the largest battles of the Napoleonic Wars – Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden and Leipzig. Numerous smaller engagements – Hanau, Montmirail and Vauchamps. All of the forces of the Napoleonic Wars engaged from Italy to Germany to France to Spain.
7. The 100 Days Campaign – 1815
Not much to add here. This period is covered by my Waterloo game.