We returned on Sunday from what turned out to be an excellent weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre where we had a refight of Bautzen. For those of you unfamiliar with the battle it took place on May 13 1813 and though it was a French victory, it was to a large extent negated by the French lack of cavalry which precluded an effective pursuit.
The eight of us were split into four French and Allies per side with Ged Elliot, our host taking one of the French corps to help move things along. As in the real battle the French significantly outnumbered the Allies in infantry but were at a distinct disadvantage regarding cavalry and artillery. In addition on the Allied right Marshall Ney soon began to arrive with both Lauriston, and Reyniers' Saxons to further increase the odds.
The Allies had a good defensive position and were allowed to place three more redoubts after the initial deployment. These were equipped with twelve pounder batteries which meant any frontal assault would be very costly. The French plan was to pin the Allied centre left with an assault by Marmonts corps whilst Ney attempted to force the allied right. On the right MacDonalds corps was pushed up through the woods in order to outflank the Allied redoubts which would in turn allow Oudinot to advance.
The first shot is from the rear of Ney's command as it advances towards the Allied right flank. This second shot gives a good view of the French deployment against the Allied redoubts. In the foreground MacDonald advances through the woods and has already forced the evacuation of one redoubt. Then in order leading in to the distance are Oudinot, Soult, Bertrand and finally Marmont who had to cross the river Spree before attempting to assault Kreckwitz. The Guard infantry and the Guard cavalry were deployed on the rear table in the area of Bautzen with the restriction that the cavalry could not be committed until turn 7 and the infantry until turn 11.
The Allies deployed their line corps in the defensive positions with the guard cavalry and infantry in reserve and awaited the onslaught. In general terms the battle went pretty much to plan for the French. The diversionary attack by Marmont across the Spree took a pounding but tied down precious allied resources and took some of the pressure off Neys advance which ground slowly forward. In the centre Soult and Bertrand supported by the Guard foot batteries began to push forward whilst taking heavy fire from the Allied line and on the right Macdonald was able to advance practically unopposed to un-pin the Allied left supported by Oudinot.
Here we see the Russian Guard cavalry which was deployed to the Allied right in an attempt to slow the advance of Ney. At the other end of the Allied line the Guard infantry was pressed into service to counter Macdonald and Oudinot but found itself outnumbered and hampered by retreating troops from Barclay De Tolly's command. It wasn't all plain sailing for the French, in the centre Soult and Bertrand were both repulsed with heavy casualties and only the arrival of the Guard allowed the French to maintain any pressure. Whilst on the left as expected Marmonts corps after struggling across the river and into the teeth of a four gun redoubt finally broke and several battallions were ridden down.
In the end however The French were able to claim a victory as both Allied wings began to collapse under the enormous pressure of numbers. The game had been hard fought throughout with successes on either side. With four out of the eight players being WHC virgins, Bautzen was a good choice for a first battle. There were plenty of troops to command without the numbers being overpowering and there was still enough room to maneouvre. We got through the game in quite a short time as everyone was conversant with the rules and were able to get in a second battle before driving home on the Sunday to plan next years game.
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