Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Plauen: Austrian Commanders Report

Here's the first of the commanders battle reports from Plauen written by Eric the Austrian commander. he's the smug looking bloke on the left.
During the campaign moves I identified a point where I could put half my army across the French line of march, whilst the other half would be on his flank. Due to a campaign rule misunderstanding the two halves of the army were not as mutually supporting as I had planned. This meant that the entire French army managed to attack half my army, with the flanking force turning up well into the battle. Fortunately the force that was attacked contained the two divisions created for holding actions supported by my heavy cavalry division. The other half of the army was my infantry assault division and the light division which I had expected to use for flanking actions anyway.

As defender I had the choice of table edge to set up on. Neither choice was perfect. If I chose one side I would be able to occupy the dominant central village, but the rest of the terrain was poor for defence. In addition the rear French divisions would come on more quickly. I chose the other side which had villages that I could use to anchor both flanks, but it meant surrendering the central village, heavily limiting counter-attack opportunities.

As I was expecting reinforcements on my left I expected the heaviest assault to fall on my right, so that's where I stationed my best troops, anchored by a village on their extreme right and supported by the Kurassier regiment from my heavy cavalry division.

On my left I asked my allied Prussian division to take the village to their front and then hold until the reinforcements arrived. Between the two, able to support either way, was the rest of the heavy cavalry division - two regiments of Prussian heavies.

As expected the battle started with the forward French divisions moving towards my right, although they had not decided to outflank it. They occupied the central village with skirmishers who initially restricted the movements of my heavy cavalry, so I left them where they were as a threat or for use as a coup-de-grace. The French were tentative in their approach on my right, presumably scared of the Kurassier regiment. My divisional commander Justin managed to keep them from launching an all out assault whilst causing increasing casualties, until they retired due to events elsewhere on the battlefield. Half the French army tied down for most of the battle, without having to fight a major action. A definite positive result on this flank.

On my left the Prussians took their designated village unopposed and engaged in desultory artillery fire until the third French division started to advance on it. It was at this point that the French cavalry division finally appeared at the back of their lines. At the same point my infantry assault division appeared behind the Prussian's left flank and the French halted their assault.

I had delayed the entry of the light division so that they could enter further up the left flank. Leading with their two hussar regiments, they ran straight into the French cavalry. A large cavalry action promptly ensued, with the French having the advantage due to their large dragoon squadrons. Winning the first round of combat by stupendous dice rolling (nine 6's on eighteen dice!), I was disappointed that the French passed their morale (had they failed it probably would have been disastrous for their whole army), as their reinforcements for the second round were more dragoons. My dice couldn't save me a second time and my hussars fled.
Leaving the rest of the light division to distract the French cavalry and the guard division that had marched to support it, attention turned to the infantry assault coming in from the left and aiming for the French in front of the Prussians. The French had more battalions available but they had already been significantly weakened by the Prussians. The combat was evenly matched and casualties were high, but eventually the French routed and played no further part in the battle.

With the French reserves fixed on my light division their centre division was exposed to attack by the Prussians and the assault division. At this point I had secured at least a draw but I scented victory and ordered a general assault on the French centre. This was when I realised my mistake. To ensure my assault division passed its morale checks I had moved the army commander over to them. This meant that any orders to the heavy cavalry and the right flank took three turns to get to their commanders. The battered French left was given time to interpose itself in front of my right flank and stop it interfering in the centre.

The French skirmishers in the central village were now much depleted so my heavy cavalry could now advance without heavy casualties. They caught the enemy in the flank as they attempted to face off against the infantry assault and the French started to crumble. A charge by the infantry finished the process and their centre collapsed.
With my cavalry now dominant against a shattered enemy, the only thing that saved the French from annihilation was the onset of darkness. The French guard had caused considerable casualties to my left flank, but it still held and they had exhausted themselves in the process. A significant victory, especially given the initial odds. The only regret I have is that the campaign rules mean that despite my victory and cavalry superiority, the French will recover as quickly as I do.
Of course that all depends on the scale of French losses not only in numbers but in quality. Next up will be the French commanders view of the battle.

1 comment:

Ravenfeeder said...

I encourage folk to click on the pictures and get a full size view. Neil's camera is taking excellent quality pictures of a fantastic battle.

Eric