Sunday, 29 May 2011

Clash at Leipzig

Our long awaited campaign finally got under way on wednesdy night with a battle between the Prussians and French in the area of Leipzig.  The French with two Corps took up a defensive position and awaited the attack of the Prussian army.  Fortunately because of the size of the battle we had enough French to field their entire force and by adding Austrians and Russians the to the Prussians we could also field the entire Prussian army.  Neil who has devised the campaign has done a battle report so I'll hand over to him....

The early mist of the 8th November 1806 lifted pre-dawn and as the weak hazy light of the sun spread slowly across the field at Leipzig it revealed over 100,000 men in final preparations to make battle. The field had scattered hills and stretched from a wooded valley in the North down across rolling low hills and undulating cultivated land toward the South. A line of hamlets and villages were scattered across the centre with a central hill dominating and topped with a Village.
The French army had drawn up in an advanced position centred around this central village with the Divisions of St Hilaire, Caferelli, Vandamme and Oudinot running North to South in the front line. Further reserves were ready behind to add their support when needed. Lined up ready to attack, again running North to South, were the Prussian Brigades of Von Pletz, Scharnhorst, the Heavy Cavalry of Von Preussen, Blucher’s Infantry in the centre flank in the far South by Von Muffling and finally Von Quitlow.

Troops of St Hilaires division forming the French left wing.

Napoleon had opted for a forward position to try and punish the Prussians with his superior artillery before they were able to close on his Infantry. It was with some consternation and dismay, that he viewed a formidable gun line opposing his troops made up of Foot batteries, Horse guns and battalion guns. 
Side note: This unfortunate situation had arisen at least in part due to the solution arrived at by the umpire on paper for the campaign to ‘model’ battalion guns. It was to create smaller, non-howitzer batteries who could not ‘grand battery’ up with others and used a d12 die to hit instead of the normal d10. This achieved the weaker batteries invisaged but has a flaw in that it still does create ‘batteries’ which are a different beast to battalion guns. More on solutions to this mis-modelling at a later date but the Demon was out in the room so, for this battle at least, that is how they are to be played.
The opening turn saw Von Pletz and Scharnhorst begin to advance amongst the trees and valleys in the North whilst the rest of the Allied army sat behind its gun line which opened up across the front. The French gunners retaliated and began an artillery duel. Turn 2 saw more of the same with a largely static Prussian army gaining the upper hand in casualties in the centre but suffering themselves in the South. In gun terms, the artillery in the Centre/North saw 3 French batteries of 3 x 12lb, 3 x 8lb, 3 x 6lb and 2 howitzers battling against 6 Prussian Batteries totalling 6 x 12lb + 2 howitzers, 6 x 6lb and 6 x 6lb battalion guns. In the South, the 3 French batteries had 6 x 8lb, 3 x 12lb and 3 howitzers facing 3 Prussian batteries totalling 3 x 12lb + howitzer and 6 x 6lb battalion guns.

Prussian heavy cavalry and infantry advance against the French left.

Turn 3 and Von Pletz continued his advance in the far North whilst Scharnhorst’s Brigade slowed beside him. The remainder of the Allied force appear almost catatonic in its state as the guns did their bloody work on the French batteries! Turn 4 and 5 saw more of the same but also saw Napoleon decide that the threat in the North was becoming an issue so activated his first reserves with both the Infantry of both La Roffiere and the Imperial Guard moving out from their initial positions.

    Turn 6 and 7 and mid-morning arrived and appeared to stir the Prussians from their lethargy…. In the far South Von Muffling sent forward his Light cavalry squadrons toward Oudinot’s Infantry whilst in the North, Von Pletz halts his advance behind a ridge of hills between him and St Hilaire. In the centre Blucher’s Infantry begins to change position.
    Turn 8 and the first Prussian reserves advance on table just to the North of Blucher in the form of Von Oswald’s Infantry Division. This turn also saw the French Divisions of St Hilaire and Caferelli, who had been exposed on the front line, begin to pull back and find some protection from the bombardment.

Russian infantry and battalion guns on the allied left.

Turn 9, St Hilaire seeks cover as Von Pletz begins to advance again in the North whilst in the Centre, Von Oswald’s march signals a general advance as he is joined by Blucher and the Heavy cavalry of Von Preussen moving towards the French lines. Turn 10, approaching the half way point of the battle and things are moving as the Prussian right and centre continue to push on and Margeron throws out a couple of squadrons of light cavalry in a counter move which is short lived after heavy musketry from a wood on their flank sends them backwards. The only position that still seems static at present is the far South where Von Muffling and Von Quitlow appeared resolved to hold their ground in a stale mate situation.
    From my perspective as the umpire, and with the pseudo apology in place already for the battalion guns and therefore ignoring them, the French had a sound plan of holding the edge of the open ground and pounding the Allies as they advanced toward them. In the South this sort of worked as they had gun dominance and were able to fairly effectively drive off the Prussian 12lb’s leaving a whole Prussian Corps ‘pinned down with only barrels of cannon to look forward to if they did advance. In the centre however, the Prussian decision to ‘soften up’ the opposition before a general advance led to the artillery duel, which they in turn won, and now the French Infantry will find themselves fighting full strength Prussians rather than the weakened ones hoped for… 

The Prussian centre begins its advance.

The battle began with the Prussians having a slight numerical advantage, some 53,000 men to the French 49,000, but the French defending the outer environs of Leipzig. There is a long way to go in this battle yet with hardly anything truly committed to action and next Thursday when we convene should see both sides getting into the meat of the matter.. In Campaign terms, there is still the obvious issue of where the other third of the French army is whilst the whole of the Prussians are committed to battle at Leipzig together with their Saxon allies who are yet to make an appearance on table.

Neil intends to give us a blow by blow account each week which should make for entertaining reading, stay tuned.


Steve's Wargame Stuff said...

What can you say but WOW!!!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Awesome yet again!


Sgt Steiner said...


Mind blowing as ever

That pic 'Prussians begin advance' is spectacular !


Rafael Pardo said...

Amazing! the pictures are soooooooo biiiiiiiig! I am green with envy
Best regards

Justin Penwith said...

Do you have notes on the campaign rules and structure available somewhere? I am working on campaign ideas, myself, and am interested in seeing what works for others.

Iowa Grognard said...

I have to read your blog entries at least three times. The first time to oooo and ahhh over the eye-candy, a second time to read the context and a third to appreciate it in detail. Great stuff!

Noel said...

Justin: The campaign is being organised and run by Neil who's one of our regulars. I'd be happy to pass on your email address to him so that you can contact him direct if you wish.


Justin Penwith said...

Noel, that would be great. Do you have another site I can contact you through? I fear posting my email addy here would expose me to the many spammers on blogspot.

BFG said...

Great stuff Noel! Looking good as ever.

Noel said...

Justin, sorry about the delay I meant to get back to you a long time ago. You can contact me throught the "In The Grand Manner" Yahoo group if you wish and I'll then pass on your email address to Neil.