Sunday, 26 June 2011

Interlude

We're now into the full glory of our English summer which so far has consisted of an assortment of rain, mist, high winds and cloudy skies, variously mixed together to produce a pretty dismal though consistent backdrop to daily life.  However as I write, my better half is sunning herself in the garden, and there's a real prospect that tomorrow might be "pleasant " too.  Which is about as far ahead as I trust the ability of our so called weather forecasters to divine from whichever piece of seaweed or chicken entrails they are currently using.  So why am I wittering on about the weather on a wargaming blog?  I suppose it's because that regardless of the meteorological situation, we're at the period when availability of our regular gamers takes a bit of a hit and we find ourselves filling time.  So once again this week due to unavailability we were unable to continue with the campaign which as you may remember will next consist of the Prusso - Russo attempt to cross the River Spree while Marshall Davouts IV corps takes pot shots at them from the other side. 

Our initial attempt at river sections sporting some of the bridges which the brave Allies will be using.

Though we do have several river boards, there are nothing like enough to cover the fifteen feet of table that Neil wanted to use on the battlefield, so we looked for other solutions.  What we've come up with is simply roofing felt cut into irregular strips and painted blue with a little white on the edges for effect.  Actually they're not too bad and once we've used them for the battle we have plans to improve them by adding banks and the odd patch of reeds.  The good thing is that they only took about thirty minutes to produce including the cutting out and initial painting.  The sections are designed to be not less than five inches wide at any point meaning that any musket fire across them must be at least at effective range and all of the ends are of course the same width to enable them to be placed together.
    It does seem however that the campaign will have to wait a little while longer as with so many of us unavailable due to holidays, exams etc. there won't be enough of us around for a couple of weeks to make continuing with it feasible.  Added to this is the fact that in mid July most of us are off to the Wargames Holiday Centre for the weekend to play Marengo which is one of the new games I've never played before. 

The Prussian right wing lacking artillery support recoils from sustained French fire.

Of course give a group of gamers a little time coupled with a supply of terrain and figures and it won't be long before they've got a game started.  So almost inevitably someone, in this case Steve, came up with a scenario which he'd been mulling over for a while.  It's based on Davouts epic fight against the Prussians at Auerstadt and consists of a prepared defensive line for the French being assaulted by more and more Prussian infantry divisions.  Artillery is limited at the moment which seems to be favouring the French but more enemy troops seem to be arriving each turn.

The French left wing having fought off one half hearted assault awaits the next one.

At the moment the French appear to have the upper hand which is understandable as they have the better class troops and the Prussians have to attack across difficult terrain but as their numbers increase it will be come more difficult for the French to hold them at bay.

One of the small number of batteries so far deployed, firing on distant Prussian cavalry.

We'll be continuing in two weeks as there's no game next week due to shortage of numbers, and we should have it decided by then.  Which means we'll have a week to begin the campaign game on the Spree before we head off to play Marengo.  So all in all a pretty disjointed period here at the garage but eventually normal service will be resumed and the campaign should start to hot up with the arrival of the first Russian troops.

French veteran light infantry beat off an assault  by two columns causing disruption in the Prussian centre. 




Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Fall of Berlin

No battle to report on this week as we spent the whole of wednesday evening carrying out campaign map moves. We did however eventually generate one definite battle and the likelihood of another.

The general area of action, Berlin and upper Saxony.

Following their defeat at Leipzig the Allies retired to the east, splitting their force, with the Saxons and Von Arnims corps heading towards Dresden and the divisions of Brunswick and von Ruchel heading northeast towards Torgau.  The French after spending the morning reorganising followed up behind the northeastern column and were able to catch and destroy the Prussian division acting as rearguard covering the crossing of the Elbe river.  In the meantime Soults' IV Corps having already crossed the Elbe moved through Dessau and continued to advance on Berlin via  Weisenburg and Trebbin. 
    In an attempt to cut off Soult the Prussians abandoned Torgau to its garrison and moved north to Dennewitz, but they were too late and Berlin fell to Soult without a shot being fired.  The Royal family had long since fled along with their government to an as yet unknown refuge in the east but the fall of Berlin was a hammer blow to Prussian morale.  Torgau fell after a short but spirited fight to Marmonts II Corps while Davouts' III Corps continued to follow the Prussians who now headed east from Dennewitz to Leuben.

Two of the many command figures painted by Justin, new ones appear almost every week.  These are Austrian divisional commanders, Elite Miniatures on the right and I think Front Rank on the left. Addendum: both are Elite miniatures.

At this stage the French received information that a Russian column of around 25,000 men was advancing westward with what looked like the intention of joining up with the Prussian army.  Therefore Napoleon decided to try and knock out the Prussians before the Russians could arrive and began to move on Leuben expecting the Prussians to cross the river Spree.  Surprisingly they decided to follow the southern bank of the Spree, shadowed about a days march behind by the Russians who it was discovered were accompanied by the Tsar himself.  They then continued their march and against all expectations decided to launch an opposed river crossing against Soults IV Corps ensconced in Berlin.

More of Justins divisional commanders, this time French infantry and carabinnier both by Front Rank.

Not to be outdone by their Prussian allies the Russians despite having knowledge that the remainder of the French army was hot on their heels followed along behind and have joined in the attack on Soult.  So the situation as it stands at dawn is that Soults IV Corps is defending the river Spree against Brunswick and Von Ruchel with the Russians beginning to appear behind them.  Napoleon with Marmont and Davout are following closely behind the Russians and should start to appear on the table before last light.

More of Justins Front Rank French, I particularly like the basing on the infantry General and his mud splashed cloak.

So it appears we have a must win situation for the Allies with their river crossing or they face the prospect of being caught by a superior force with their backs to a river, the other bank of which is held by the enemy.  In practical terms this means that we have to produce some river terrain before we can fight the battle and as we have very few river boards for the table it's come down to strips of roofing felt painted and laid on to the existing terrain boards.  Not ideal but with a bit of work they could be made to look presentable.

Carabinnier trumpeteer and Cuirassier commander, again both Front Rank.

I thought it would be a good idea to showcase some of Justin Daveys' command figures which he brings along to the garage with amazing regularity, something in the order of two each week.  We use a system whereby divisional commanders and staff officers are represented by a single figure, Corps commanders by two figures and Army commanders by three or more.  So the command base in the  picture above would be used  for a cavalry Corps.  Justin has produced the vast majority of these figures and is, I believe currently painting a group of Russian commanders.

Front Rank French Divisonal commanders.

Attendance at the garage is likely to be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as we head into what is laughingly known as summer in this part of the world so it's unlikely that there'll be a battle report next week either.  However I'll try to keep posting photos and talking rubbish at least once a week so as always, stay tuned.

 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

French Triumph at Leipzig

Well perhaps triumph is a bit of an overstatement but as a member of the French team it certainly felt like a triumph on wednesday evening when by turn twenty four the Prussians were halted and in some places in full retreat.  Once again Neil has provided us with a commentary of the game, though this time it is by necessity less comprehensive than his earlier reports due to him being drafted into the Prussian side as Dom was unavailable.  This was sadly the harbinger of doom for even handed umpiring decisions as Neil vented his Francophobe spleen on his hapless opponent in a vain attempt to claw back some semblance of pride for the battered Prussians......

The following report may be lacking in the same detail as previous reports from the front and may be missing a few of the ancillary happenings as our war correspondent stepped into the boots of Brunswick in command of Von Preussen, Blucher and Von Oswald due to the Prussian CiC being AWOL for the night….

Turn 18 and the French Guard Heavy Cavalry continued its single handed demolition job as it rode through 2 battalions of Scharnhorst’s Prussian Infantry and caused them to rout. This panic spread rapidly through the rest of the command and in short shrift the Division broke, with the exception of a brave but almost certainly foolish officer who steadied his battalion in front of the French Infantry and prepared for combat.
In the centre, half of Von Oswald’s infantry continued its rout whilst the remainder stood on the slope of the hill and re-ordered after its melee victory. Just South of the village itself, Vandamme moved onto the offensive and advanced to put pressure on the previously untroubled Blucher.
On the far South flank, Von Irwing announced his arrival in the front line by charging into and through some French Lancers sweeping them completely from the field.

A little too late to influence the outcome of the battle, Saxon infantry and cavalry arrive to take position in the centre.

Turn 19 and the countdown toward the end had begun for the Allies. Von Pletz receives heavy casualties from fire as he pulls back his line to reduce the open flank left by Scharnhorst collapse. Scharnhorst isolated rearguard gets decimated and eventually cut down by rampant French Infantry from St Hilaire’s division. Von Oswald begins the difficult task of trying to break contact with the French but Caferelli with his blood up isn’t keen on letting them go and advances to match their withdrawal. Blucher throws everything he has available in the way of the charging French Columns but to no avail as his battalions come out second best and the front ranks break. The far South sees the ponderous advance continues.

The field of battle from the North.  In the South Nicks' troops finally push the French defenders back to their second line of defence and end the game as the furthest advanced Prussian troops.


Turn 20 and determined to match the performance of their heavier colleagues the French Light regiment spots an unformed Prussian battalion facing away as it flees and spur their mounts onwards. Alas though, the glory was not to be theirs. Various reasons were given on their return, to the amusement of the Grenadiers, but suffice to say they failed in their efforts to break into the Infantry and instead returned to their own lines.
In the centre, Blucher reorganises from his set-up, Von Oswald continues his gradual withdrawal and there appears a new face on the front line scene as Von Dyherrn’s Saxon Infantry advance between Oswald and Scharnhorst’s position.
T21 sees Scharnhorst regain control over his command however, their flight now sees him occupying ground in a remarkably similar position to where he first assembled some 7 hours previously. More minor manouvering in the centre took place in preparation for the next storm whilst the Village defenders transferred their fire onto anything that remained visible to them. In the South however, Von Mufflings Infantry finally got within Musket range of Oudinot’s Elite infantry and took out their frustrations on the French forcing them to fall back in some disarray.

French reserve heavy cavalry await their turn in vain.

Turn 22 and Vandammes reformed masses crash headlong into the next line of Blucher’s troops and after a fierce and bloody confrontation are again victorious with the Prussians breaking and Vadamme having confirmed his control and domination of the South Central area.
The final stages of the battle saw most sectors relatively quiet being restricted to limited long range fire and minor line manouvers. The exception to this however was the Centre North side of the village where D’Hautpoul managed to squeeze a squadron of his Cuirassier forward to engage Von Oswalds retiring Infantry. Advancing at the trot into Musket range, a hail of balls met the brave troopers and in spite of their leaders best efforts they were unable to be convinced to follow through with the charge and instead fled backwards in some disorder! Von Dyherrn, now the front line in the face of Caferelli, lined out his Grenadier battalion and poured fire into the mass of French Infantry.

Austrian and Russian cavalry playing the part of the Saxon heavy division.

Turn 24 and as the light faded, there was only a single piece of action really left to resolve as Caferelli ordered his already bleeding battalions into the charge against the Saxon grenadiers. The Saxon’s held their cool, calmly reloaded and, waiting until the French were in short range, they ripped the lead ranks apart with a devastating series of volleys. Undeterred and after bloody revenge, the brave French souls continued into melee and gained a slight advantage once they got to grips with their outnumbered German foes. In the second round however, only a single French column could find courage enough to join the slaughter whilst 3 battalions of Saxon musketeers responded and the melee and battle were soon over leaving many hundreds of dead and dying on the ground.

One of the curses of too much artillery, nowhere to go and nothing to shoot.
So the battle was over, in the North Von Arnim had lost much of the ground they had seized earlier in the day and they were in no fit state to continue the fight even if light had allowed. In the centre, Vandamme had held and even advanced his position slightly whilst Caferelli had regained all the ground he had given up. Caferelli’s troops had paid a heavy price in the struggle, less so Vandamme but it was the two main assault Divisions of Von Blucher and Oswald who were licking the heaviest wounds with close to 50% of their Infantry injured or dead on the field – a testimony to the struggle they had been involved in! In the far South, the watching war had resulted in a surprising degree of casualties considering the long range nature of the combat but really resulted in the troops from both sides being in decent order and more than fit should battle resume. Victory goes to the French and defeat to the Prussians in both tactical and strategic terms. It was not the decisive killer blow I think Napoleon hoped for prior to the battle but it ended as a victory without question for the French.
In the campaign, both sides need time to recover and replace their losses properly and decisions now need to be taken by Dom and Noel as to whether to resume conflict with the surviving forces available immediately or break off at Leipzig. Dom has to consider what to do, or try and do, about the French Corps marching on Berlin. Austria has crossed the Bavarian border and engaged a Danube Fortress whilst Maximillian hastily tries to mass and raise his field army to counter....

So there you have it, the campaign movement continues next week and may or not result in an encounter.  It also remains to be seen how the Prussians and their Allies will react to the almost certain loss of Berlin.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Leipzig Week Two

Neil has once again produced the battle report this week which takes us from turm turn eleven to turn seventeen:

The battle continued this week from where we left it. In the North and Centre the French had lost the initial Artillery duel against the Prussians and given some areas of ground ahead of the Prussian advance to reposition to a new line. The Central Village was still held and strongly supported on its Southern flank which was the only sector the Prussians hadn’t really advanced in and seemed content to bide their time.

Dom looks down with an air of grim satisfaction upon his assembled horde.

Turn 11 and Oudinot on the extreme French right begins to adjust his line into a slightly more aggressive stance to counter Prussian light cavalry probing forward. There are also some, albeit limited, signs that Von Quitlow may have aroused from his slumber as his battalions begin to parade behind the front line as if organising into a Divisional attack column. In the Centre Vandamme remains static and resolute in the face of a general Prussian advance but Caferelli and St Hilaire continue to retire to the West leaving a space to the North and Northeast of the central village.
The areas of action taken from the Northen end of the battlefield.

The next turn, and the mid point of the days battle, sees the Saxon Cavalry reserve ride onto the field in the form of Von Cerrini’s Division. They arrive to the centre right of the Prussian line roughly where Scharnhorst began the day. The French battalions of Caferelli, now redeployed, pour fire into Von Oswalds’ Prussian who march stoically onwards whilst their supporting Heavy Cavalry under Von Preussen begin a wheel to their left, and toward the Southwest, to skirt the edge of the central hill and Village. In the far South, French Hussars spur their mounts into the charge against an isolated Prussian foot battery. The misguided gunners thought they were covered by their own lights but unfortunately the Prussian Cavalry are caught napping and find themselves too far away to affect the French strike. The Battery blasts away with Canister but, whilst horse and men fall, the bulk continue, barely breaking pace as they crash headlong into the gunners. A swift and bloody swirling melee later and the battery is wiped out where it stood.

The central village (we really should give it a name) shortly before the sea of Prussians hit it.

T13 and more white clad Saxons, Infantry this time, march onto the field in a Central position some distance behind the lead units of Von Oswald Division who crest the rise of the Central hill for the first time and see the Village ahead of them. Hell breaks loose from the Village as Vandammes Veterans open up but as the smoke clears it is evident, to the relief of the closely packed Musketeers that the Skirmishing Fusiliers and Jagers bore the brunt.. Vandammes supporting Artillery limber up and begin to redeploy to the West as the threat of Prussian Dragoons looms larger. 
     In the far South the French Hussars, fresh from their success clash with Von Muffling’s Hussars who have shaken off their lethargy and after a bloody melee that escalates with both sides throwing in additional troopers, the survivors troop off to their respective lines. The far North of the battlefield sees Von Pletz’s infantry at last get a clear sight of the enemy directly to their west only for it to be the French Imperial Guard Cavalry Division menacingly positioned over a line of low hills….St Hilaire decides his moment has come and he reverses his earlier march to advance on Pletz and Scharnhorst and at the same time protect his foot battery from Prussian Light Cavalry. Scharnhorst meanwhile has brought up a 12lb battery and after a devastating round of fire, more French gunners are slain, compromising the future of the battery.

Meanwhile in the Northern sector more Prussians crest the ridgeline.

Turn 14 opens with Von Preussens’ Dragoons attempting and only narrowly missing out on catching the French 12lb battery limbering up. Von Oswald brings more Infantry onto the central hill in preparation for the assault against Vandamme whilst in the North, Prussian brace themselves and then walk, trot and gallop into the charge against the French Guard Heavy Cavalry. The first round sees very light casualties on both sides but when the French reinforce the remaining Uhlan are cut from their mounts. Rolling volleys issue from the village and tear ragged holes in the Prussian lines but they bravely stand their ground and redress their ranks.
     Elsewhere Von Muffling orders his Infantry in the South to begin to advance in numbers and the final Prussian reserves appear on table in the form of Von Bergdorf’s Saxon Infantry and Von Irwing heavy Prussian cavalry.

Prussian veterans get to grips with Wurtemburg light infantry in the tussle for the woods.

Turn 15 and reporting North to South, the Guard heavy cavalry reform on the spot of their victory and spur themselves onwards into another unfortunate squadron of Uhlan. Von Pletz forms his lead battalions into square to counter the Cavalry threat leaving Scharnhorst to contest the last wooded area before the open ground before the Leipzig outskirts. In the centre Von Oswald orders 3 battalions against the Village but only 2 can muster the courage to advance into the face of the musketry. Napoleon moves his staff to the central ground where together with his two present Marshals he can best direct the columns of French massing to counter the Prussian attack. A devastation volley pours forth from the village and cuts down swathes of Prussians but still they close on the village. A single round of melee is sufficient to further reduce their numbers and it is not long before, their courage spent, they break and flee back down the ridge through their supporting battalions. Prussian Heavy dragoons execute 2 regimental charges and once again French Hussars are asked to stop impossible odds with the easily anticipated outcome in order to protect their Infantry behind.
Finally in the South, Von Muffling’s advance cannot be accused of being overtly rash in its pace against Oudinot as the Heavy Cavalry of Von Irwing move more rapidly to get closer to the action.

The first line of Prussians close with the village despite heavy fire from the defenders.  Shame about the chocolate digestives.

Turn 16 and the Prussians suffer a set-back in the centre as Von Oswald’s Infantry repulsed from the Village pile through their own lines effectively pinning the bulk of the fresh infantry in place. Caferelli takes advantage to push forward in numbers, occupying the ground he held at the start of the battle and putting himself in a position to engage some of the enemy infantry. Bourciers Dragoons also move forward behind Caferelli in response to the threat brought by the distantly approaching Saxon heavy cavalry. In the South Von Muffling continues to cautiously advance whilst at the opposite end of the battle, St Hilaire and Scharnhorst continue a fierce fire fight over the woods. The French Guard light cavalry spot a disordered infantry battalion in line amongst Von Pletz’s squares and charge on through a volley in an attempt to ride them down. The Prussians regain some semblance of order just in time to hold off the Chasseurs a Cheval and who, narrowly thwarted, retire to their own lines in good order.

The same action from the Prussian side of the table.  Happily for the French this first attempt failed, though more is likely to come.

Turn 17, mid afternoon and the last turn of the evenings gaming sees Scharnhorst push on off the hill and move to engage St Hilaire. This may have been encouraged by the Saxon Infantry and Cavalry who are now closing in close to his rear position in support. St Hilaire responds to this aggression and launches his own troops into a Prussian line, wins the combat and by the end of the turn they are ready to take flight. The bitter close range fire fight in the woods also reaches its bloody conclusion as a severely battered Prussian battalion begins to pull back. Finally in the North the swing in fortunes is completed as the Heavy Guard cavalry ride down an unfortunate unit of Von Pletz with the remainder keen to resume their defensive squares.
In the Centre, a series of devastating volleys form the Village edge pour into the brave Prussians of Von Oswald who have lined out and are engaging in a fire fight, a fire fight that they are losing, but stoically holding their ground as they are cut down in swathes. Caferelli continues his aggressive stance and charges into a Prussian battalion on the hilltop just North of the Village, both sides contest the first round of melee and the combat escalates as both sides commit many hundreds more Infantry to the fight sensing its importance. Losses are heavy on both sides but eventually Prussian numbers tell and the remains of three battalions begin to run back down the ridge. South of the village, the Prussian dragoons continue their victimisation of French light Cavalry, carving up another 2 squadrons for little loss whilst in the far south the slow ponderous advance drips onwards… one can only assume that the Allied force are hoping the unseasonal afternoon sun and a large lunch will have caused Oudinot to drift off before they arrive.

The "Guard cavalry" actually a regiment of line dragoons and another of Westphalian light cavalry.  Plans are afoot to remedy the lack of French Guard troops.

So there we have the battle to nearly its ¾ stage. In the North the French appear to have held the position with little prospect of allied advance although the arrival of the Saxon reserves and with plenty of meat left available to him, Eric will no doubt try one more time. In the centre, whilst Von Oswald has taken a hammering and Caferelli some damage, the Prussians have Blucher largely untouched in position and reserves marching up, it is just really whether they can gain a suitable position from which to try and damage the barely troubled Vandamme who stands still defending the ground he began with. Von Preussen and his Cavalry have taken care of the best part of 2 light cavalry regiments for little loss but have been unable to unhinge Vandamme’s position thanks to the Lights sacrifice so whilst horse meat is on the menu tonight in abundance they probably have not played a key role in the battles outcome to date. An accusation that sits better on Von Ruchel’s corps of Von Muffling and Quitlow. Undoubtedly they would have sustained losses in the advance and it is naturally not a tactical place to launch a large attack however strategically the drain on reserves it may have caused from behind the centre may have left the French sweating a bit more on the outcome than I feel they probably currently are…
Still some dice to be thrown but I have to say it looks like it is definitely advantage French at the moment with 6 turns to go until evening and the light begins to fail hindering ongoing fighting.