Saturday, November 21, 2015

Somewhere German-speaking: 56 years later

Empire has always been our Napoleonic rules of choice, love it or hate it, I don't care.  Today's scenario was set in 1813.  So gone is the army from the Camp of Boulogne.  In place of it is a mass of conscripts bolstered by veterans recalled to the colors or built around cadres from Spain.  Cavalry is down-graded and it faces a resurgent Prussia.  Eager to avenge past indignities.

The Prussian right.  The large stream is slow going and disorders
chargers except at fords.
The road to France is covered by a corps led by Marechal Marmont, Duc du Ragusa.  His 34 battalions. already depleted by the rigors of war, and cavalry full of regiments on remounts, faced off against Marshal Blucher.  "Alt Vorwarts" had 36 battalions to attack with, ranging from grenadiers to landwehr.  His cavalry was plentiful if not spectacular, but he had plenty of guns.

Prussian left.  My command.

Prussian center with a massed grand battery.

The river and skillful fire initially stopped the Prussian flanking movement by cavalry on their left.  The terrain and deployment meant that although in large numbers, cavalry did not play a significant role in the engagement.

Contact was made across the field and very few elements were unengaged from the start.  Due to leadership and decent dice the attacking Prussians held the tactical initiative for all four hours of the battle.  In the picture above an elite "brigade" of Prussians first massed in dead ground and then began to work on the French lines.

The Prussian grand battery was ineffective at first but rapidly began to shred the hapless French battalions facing it.  While the French guns were still Class I and the Prussian only Class III, the weight of numbers told quickly.

On the left center the Prussian grenadiers and guards (only rated grenadier) advanced methodically due to the disordering effects of the water.  But once beyond it were aggressive, even though uncomfortably pressed together.

French view of the Prussians breaking through.  The heavy guns on the hill have stalled some but the grenadiers are pushing the French conscripts and veterans back steadily.

The grand battery in action as cavalry and a reserve "brigade" await the orders to advance on the shot up French.

Another view of the somewhat stagnated Prussian right.  Their cavalry simply couldn't break through.

The Prussian left-center has broken through and is threatening even greater advances.  The reserves were committed the fourth hour of combat to run over the severely depleted French center and support the breakthrough element.  And so Marmont decided to yield the field.  Given that the Prussians had mostly been ordered to attack to specific territorial objectives, once broken off the French could easily open up a breathing gap.

So in the end our five players completed four hourly rounds of combat in four real hours.  We are a bit rusty on the rules but the game played quickly and with much laughter as we experienced the joys of poorly trained troops rather than the usual crack armies.  The Prussians had 432 infantry against only 306 French castings, but we felt the defensive nature of the battle and troops would make it a good fight.  In the end it was the mass of Prussian artillery that made a difference.

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