Saturday, 29 May 2010

A setback for the French

Russian heavy cavalry advance to counter the French threat to the south of Schweinfurt

Our first campaign game came to a close on thursday evening with a pretty decisive victory for the Allies.  Casualties on both sides were heavy amongst the infantry, though understandably heavier for the French.  Andys' VIII infantry corps and III cavalry corps from the army of the Danube withdrew to the fortified town of Wurtzburg leaving the Allied Weissenwolf corps to hold Schweinfurt. 
The order of battle was as follows:
VIII Infantry Corp

1st Division
3 x 36 vet
4 x 36 1st class
4 x 36 2nd class
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 24 Lt Cav
2nd Division
2 x 36 vet
6 x 36 1st class
4 x 36 2nd class
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 3 gun 12lb foot bty
1 x 24 Lt Cav
III Cavalry Corp
2 x 32 Cuirassier
2 x 32 Dragoons
1 x 24 Lancer
1 x 2 gun 6lb horse bty
Corps Weissenwolf

1st Division
1 x 32 vet
3 x 32 1st class
3 x 48 1st class
2 x 48 2nd class
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 24 Lt Cav

2nd Division
1 x 32 vet
2 x 32 1st class
1 x 48 1st class
3 x 48 2nd class
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 32 Lt Cav
Cavalry Division
1 x 32 Cuirassier
1 x 32 Dragoons

As this was a relatively small battle between two single corps the infantry arm on each side was increased by roughly fifty per cent. 

Steve considers his options whilst Nick writes out yet another list of his ten favourite biscuits.

So what went wrong for the French?  Initially they had the upper hand with two divisions in position to attack a single defending division on two seperate fronts.  Neils reinforcements were taking time to arrive and would have to feed into a relatively small area.  Well to start with, the French had three gun batteries, one a 12lb'er which played little or no effective part in the battle.  This left their infantry with the difficult task of ejecting practically untouched infantry from a decent defensive position.  Andy's original plan was to wait until both assaulting divisions were in place and then attack at the same time.  This was a sound idea but I think it would have been better for Erics' division attacking from the west to begin its' attack further up the table.  This would have given space to deploy the guns and split the defenders more effectively.

   Neil who commanded the Allied contingent

                                                                                                  Andy the French Commander

However even without the support of the guns the attack had a good chance of  success.  The French teams' next mistake was to bring their cavalry corps on table directly behind the infantry division in the south.  To be fair they were a little unlucky to be held up for such a long time by a single squadron of cavalry though this was compounded by poor deployment of the French light cavalry.  The effect of this delay was to force the right flank of Andy's attacking infantry to form square thereby reducing the number of battalions available for the assault.  By the time this had sorted itself out the Allies had been able to bring up heavy cavalry to threaten the advancing infantry.  This was when the French heavy cavalry was needed but it was still stuck behind the infantry and remained unavailable for the whole game.

Russian infantry arriving to bolster the defence

Even now there was a chance that Erics' attack might succeed but this time the dice Gods abandoned him, and his troops after fighting three bloody rounds of combat were driven back by the defenders.  This withdrawal was subsequently turned in to a rout by more casualties and the presence of other routing troops and the writing was on the wall for the French.

Erics' division quit the field whilst the gun batteries mill around looking for something to shoot at.

The end of the battle led to much frenzied activity on the campaign map and for a while it looked as if there may be another battle of schweinfurt.  Thankfully for all of us the fighting has now moved north though not very far, to Menningen where Dom has taken up a position and is awaiting Neils' Allies.  Oddly enough it appears that everyone has got the point about concentration and this next battle will be between larger bodies of troops.
  We'll be kicking off the battle of Menningen next week and as usual I'll post an update in the following days.


Rafael Pardo said...

Never attack a well defended position only with infantry, particularly if they are Russians!
This lesson I did learned the heavy way
Congratulation to the winners

Doc Smith said...

Combined arms (all three) wins battles - if you can't bring your guns up or your cav are stuck in a traffic jam, victory will not be your friend! Looks like your modified gun batteries are working though - I'm guessing its allowing for much more movement for the cav and inf?

Be interested to see how the next battle goes for the French!


Robert said...

A combined arms failure- I know all too well how to do that, unfortunately.

Great write up. I look eagerly forward to the next battle of the campaign!

Noel said...

Doc, the jury's still out on the smaller batteries. They didn't see much action in our last game though the next one should be more suitable to test them out.


Der Alte Fritz said...

"Traffic Management" is the key to success when playing ITGM. You have so many figures to use (and you never really have enough, right?) and so you have to plan ahead so that you get that artillery up front where you need it and the cavalry isn't blocked off by the infantry.

That said, bad traffic management has happened to all of us at one time or another.