Saturday, 26 June 2010

Allied Victory at Menningen

Despite their best efforts the Allies still managed to get a victory on thursday evening.  In the end it seems that the sheer weight of numbers made the difference and the Allies were able to break through the French centre cutting off VI Corps, the survivors of which were forced to retreat through the woods to their rear.  Things didn't go all the way of the Allies as the Russian left which consisted of Doktorovs' Corps was comprehensively defeated  by the French right.
The game at the beginning of turn 16.  In the foreground French forces hold stubbornly onto the small village while Doktorovs infantry attempt to reform for another assault.  In the centre Austrians from the Hesse Homburg division assault the key central village.

The Orders of battle were as follows:
V Corps
3 x 36 Veteran
3 x 36 1st class
2 x 32 1st class
3 x 36 2nd class
2 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
4 x 6 Light cavalry
VI Corps
2 x 36 Veteran
6 x 36 1st class
2 x 32 1st class
4 x 36 2nd class
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
4 x 6 Light cavalry
II Cavalry Corps
2 x 32 Cuirassier
1 x 32 Dragoons
1 x 24 Light cavalry
1 x 2 gun 6lb horse bty

1 x 32 Veteran
2 x 48 1st class
3 x 32 1st class
4 x 48 2nd class
2 x 32 2nd class
1 x 4 gun foot bty
1 x 3 gun foot bty
4 x 6 Cuirassier
4 x 8 Dragoons
1 x 32 Veteran
1 x 36 Jaeger (Elite)
1 x 36 Grenz
1 x 36 Veteran
2 x 36 1st class
3 x 32 1st class
2 x 32 2nd class
1 x 4 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 3gun 6lb horse bty
4 x 6 Light cavalry
4 x 8 Light cavalry
1 x 32 Veteran
2 x 48 1st class
3 x 32 1st class
4 x 48 2nd class
2 x 32 2nd class
1 x 4 gun 6lb foot bty
1 x 3 gun 6lb foot bty
4 x 8 Cuirassier
4 x 8 Dragoons
4 x 8 Lt cavalry

The Austrians finally capture the strategically vital central village, thereby sealing the fate of VI Corps.

Casualties on both sides were heavy The French have lost the whole VI Corps for campaign purposes for some time.  Stragglers will make it back to French lines and by adding fresh drafts of troops it will eventually be brought back up to strength.  However the new corps will be of much lower quality than the original.  Less hard hit were V Corps who were able to withdraw towards Fulda, and their losses of 136 infantry plus a few cavalry will have little effect on the Corps as a fighting force.
For the Allies the victory came at a steep price with 332 infantry lost, 144 of these in Doktorovs Corps alone.  This will mean a period of rest for the army of Ansbach/Bavaria and once again there will be a reduction in the quality of the army as replacements come in.

Polish infantry from Erics' V Corps expel the last of Steves' Russians from the woods on the extreme Allied left.  Doktorovs Corps became bogged down in this area in a futile attempt to cut the Fulda road.

To summarise the battle I would say that the Allies have achieved what they set out to do by effectively destroying an entire enemy corps.  However they would not have done it if they had not had such a large advantage in numbers.  Though Eric thinks I was a bit harsh, I stand by what I said in the previous post.  The Allies had a workable plan but nearly failed to achieve their aim despite the huge advantages in men, guns and horseflesh that they enjoyed.  In a game which lasts for 24 turns the failure to use a large superiority in artillery to prepare the way for assaults is a major oversight. This along with serious errors in deployment nearly cost the Allies the game.  Even at the end the Allies were still committing basic mistakes such as leading attacks with units at over thirty per cent casualties.  On the plus side the Allied right despite being a relatively weak formation was able to force the French out of their redoubt and take its objectives.  It only had to stop when it ran out of fresh infantry.

Russian heavy cavalry moves up to exploit the hole in the French centre.

For the French, though they lost the battle and have taken heavy losses there is the moral victory of having faced off a superior force for so long while inflicting heavy casualties.  Their only real error in fact was to accept battle in the first place but I think that is very much down to the fact that at the moment we are all relatively inexperienced in the Grand Strategy aspect of wargaming.

Doktorovs' Corps rout from the battlefield after failing to capture any of their objectives.

Next week we'll be continuing with map movement and if a battle ensues, setting up the table and troops for the following week.  So far the Allies have gained the upper hand with two victories, but there are lots more Frenchmen roaming around Northern Germany just spoiling for a fight.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Making Hard Work Of It

Thursday evening saw a continuation of the battle of Menningen with the Allies trying to cut off a smaller force of French from their preferred avenue of retreat.  Desite this the French have had other ideas and are still hanging on tenaciously to their right flank and the centre.  Their left flank however is beginning to crack under the strain of relentless Allied assaults.
Russian troops assaulting a farm complex on the French left.

To say that much of the Allied attack has been mishandled would be an understatement.  On the Allied left far too many troops have been concentrated into a small area in an attempt to clear the French from woods which were not even a part of the original objectives.  The Allies have a healthy advantage in heavy cavalry and artillery but these are sat impotent behind infantry who cannot get out of square due to the threat of French heavy cavalry.
Russian Cuirassier reduced to charging squares in the hope of a lucky dice roll.

In the centre the Allies have fared little better.  Their assault on the central village has been punctuated by moving from column to line and back again and they now face the real prospect of being unable to take their objective due to lack of numbers where they are needed most.
Austrian infantry despite a having a huge open area to advance through decide to go around a skirmish building.  While Russian and Austrian cavalry mill about aimlessly.

If the Allies do eventually muddle their way to a victory it will be a very costly one and is unlikely to be anything like as decisive as the one they should have achieved.  The Allied left which should by now be advancing to cut the Fulda road is now actually further back that when we started play on thursday evening and the attack in the centre is more than likely to fail.
French Cuirassier having a whale of a time holding up an entire Corps

If my battle report seems a bit harsh on the Allies it isn't meant to be, I was hoping for scathing.  The overall plan was good but other than on the right flank it has been very poorly executed.  The Allies despite a numerical advantage in every arm have failed to rise to the occasion.  This was illustrated by the sight of an unsupported second class Austrian battalion being formed into line in front of cuirassier with inevitable results.
A bad day at the office for the Austrian infantry.

Next week may well see the end of this particular battle and we'll move on to more campaign movement.  Rest assured that the final turns will be recorded on this very blog.

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Battle of Menningen

Menningen is the second battle in our campaign based in Northern Germany.  The Allies having forced back the French following the battle of Schweinfurt were able to follow up and secure Wurtzburg.  However more French forces from the army of the Saale moving south from Erfurt threatened to cut them off and they were forced to retrace their steps back towards Schweinfurt  The French halted at Menningen and the Allies now joined by a further two corps advanced northwards to force them to fight or withdraw.  The French though only two corps strong elected to stand at Menningen despite being informed of fresh Allied forces advancing on Langensalza.

The situation at daybreak on day nine of the campaign saw the French forces facing south holding a line with their right on Menningen and their centre and left holding the road to Widensong in the East.  The Allied advance corps having captured the outlying farms and hamlets on the road from Schweinfurt took up a position facing the French left and their place was filled by a further allied corps arriving to face the French right.
the French are in a dangerous situation, their only avenue of escape should they be defeated is west along the Fulda road.  A retreat northwards through the forests would probably lead to them dissolving into an uncontrolled mass and result in the abandonment of their artillery.  In addition by the time they arrive at Langensalza it will probably be in enemy hands leaving them with little option other than surrender.  For the French commander it is vital that the Fulda road remains open and that none of his forces can be cut off from it.

Menningen from the east.  In the foreground is the Fulda road which the French will have to keep open if things don't go their way in the battle.

The Allies began the battle with the unusual deployment of a one corps on each flank but nothing in the centre.  This gap would shortly be filled by the third corps' arrival and Neil the allied commander could be reasonably sure that the French would not be attempting to seize the initiative by advancing into the very open terrain to their front.

The game began with the, by now almost obligatory defeat of formed cavalry by a squadron of cossacks.

Once again the flank assaults began with little or no artillery preparation.  Though in fairness there did appear to be little to oppose the mass of Russian and Austrian infantry which crossed the start line on the Allied left.  This illusion would not last for long however as veteran French infantry appeared defending the woods on the French right supported by cunningly hidden cuirassier.  Steve, the allied corps commanders' reaction was to line out his Russian infantry and engage in a firefight with the veteran French who had the advantage of soft cover.  Whilst his Austrian forty eight man battalions had to form square due to the cuirassier threat. 

The Austrian advance is halted by a lack of supporting cavalry or artillery.

Unfortunately for the Allies they appear to have crammed too much infantry into too small an area and will now have to come up with some very clever manoeuvres before they can continue to advance.  They will have no effective counter to the cuirassier until they can get their own heavy cavalry into a position where it can challenge the French and to do this the allied cavalry will have to move past a French held village which will doubtless take a heavy toll of the Allied horsemen.

That's the situation on the Allied left at the moment and as we have no game this week due to me being away in Bristol, I'll update the rest of the battle so far, at the weekend.