Friday, 9 July 2010

Second Menningen

You could forgive the good folk of Menningen for being just a little bit fed up with our current campaign.  After the defeat of the French army of the Saale and its subsequent retreat towards Fulda, Neils' allied army of Bavaria-Ansbach took the opportunity to rest and recouperate at the scene of their triumph.  However their relaxation was cut short by the news that the French army of the Danube had left Wurtzburg and was now advancing up the road from Schweinfurt.  Neil had the option of standing his ground or retiring towards Widensong with the disadvantage that this would leave his army unrested, being a wargamer he decided on the former.

Russian heavy cavalry, dragoons and cuirassier, show the plucky but short lived French lights the pointy ends of their swords.

Like the Allies before them the French were attacking northwards towards Menningen though this time the  difference was that the Allies had decided to contest the southern suburbs of the town by placing and avant garde division and a heavy cavalry division in the area.  The remainder of the Allied army was drawn up in a line based on the Menningen - Widensong road some distance to their rear.  On the face of it this left the avant garde force in a dangerously isolated position.

French Infantry supported by heavy cavalry advance into the open ground opposite Menningen.

The French deployment left them with a corps directly in front of Menningen and the remainder of their forces arrayed in a mass with a large open space to their front.  Things were looking bleak for the isolated Allied division as more and more French troops arrived and began to move in to position to cut off their avenue of retreat.  Unfortunately for the playability of the game it appeared that the French had no intention of engaging the main Allied force and were solely concentrating on destroying the Allied avant gard.  This meant that at least two of the Allied players would be reduced to the role of spectators.

Austrian infantry and artillery feeling a little unloved await the onslaught.

The initial action commenced with a cavalry combat on the Allied right between Russian curassier and dragoons, and French light cavalry.  The result would prove to be an indicator of French fortunes for the rest of the evening.  The heavies swept away their original opponents and though the dragoons returned to their own lines the cuirassier rallied on the spot and crashed into more light cavalry.  Very quickly two regiments of French light cavalry had been effectively taken out of the battle for little loss to the Russians.

French infantry experience more bad luck while assaulting Austrian veterans.

In order to achieve their aim of destroying the single Allied division the French opted to assault the woods where most of the Allied infantry was located.  Three columns moved into position supported by close range fire from their artillery.  The Allies charged in and suffered only two casualties per battalion from defensive fire but this was enough for one of the attackers to decide that discretion was the better part of valour and break into retreat.  Even with this setback the remaining two battalions were still confident of success and crashed into the line.  Being in column they immediately became unformed in the woods but their impetus and numbers meant that that they won the first round of melee.  Amazingly the line passed its morale and was reinforced by another battalion in line which was able to maintain its order.  The second round was lost by the attackers and they broke, routing away from the woods.

French Lancers and Austrian Hussars mixing it, once again the dice Gods interceded on the side of the Allies.

On the Allied left the mass of French cavalry continued to advance, being opposed by only a single regiment of light cavalry.  The Lancers finally got into position to attack and both sides charged, the French were able to get heavy cavalry in place to reinforce the melee in the second round whilst the Allies had no one to call on.  Once again the French failed to do enough damage whereas the hussars achieved seven kills.  The lancers broke and the hussars pursued, neatly extracting them from the danger of the hovering dragoons.

French Cuirassier regiments waiting to make their impression on the battle.

Due to the centralised nature of the game we got through eleven turns pretty quickly and though there was little for some of us to do it was still an interesting contest.  By the end of the evening the avant garde despite having fought off the initial attacks were beginning to get cut off by the advancing French.  We'll have to see next week whether to come to an adjudication of the game or whether there is any value in playing a few more turns.  Stay tuned.


VolleyFireWargames said...

ok question did bothe the allied line and the line moving up to reinforce them make and pass their unformed rolls for being in the woods?

Rafael Pardo said...

Another great set of pictures!.. I am always green with envy when I see your 'big battalions'

Chris Cornwell said...

what he said!

Noel said...

Volleyfire: Yes, the line tested after firing and the supports tested for charging in. One thing I didn't mention is that this is an open wood and therefore easier to remain formed in. The Allied player consistently rolled well to stay formed all night.


Noel said...

I've been asked to post the following comment from Dave Cooper as he's having issues with his internet at the moment.


"interesting I have found that die roll to be a near run thing at any time also one of the things I find particularly wierd about these rules - (unformed) is a decidingly English wargaming concept - don't see it in many rule sets here in the states if any personally I would find it hard for a infantry unit being able to claim support from a rear unit in ANY difficult terrain - just because of the naturally disordering nature of the terrain on any formation of massed infantry - and this also goes back to an earlier argument I made about Cavalry charging into open woods - if a second line of massed infantry can support a fron line of infantry mind you they cant even see the attack coming stay formed why cant cavalry do the same".

Doc Smith said...

As usual a most interesting and informative AAR. Watching the progress of this campaign has been particularly enjoyable. Gott Mit Uns! - go the Austrians! C'mon - reinforce that Advance Guard - give'em another battery to put on the other side of that village!

Re Dave Cooper's comment about cavalry charging into (open) woods - little historical evidence they did that alot. At best at the trot and strictly light cav or dragoons only and in no formation of any kind! Charging into ANY woods would most likely result in riders having close encounters with low branches - the horse will happily run underneath them to the great distress of anyone on its back!

Any rules that allow this are just plain wrong IMO. 'Zum Befehl' Mien Herr!


VolleyFireWargames said...

Hey Doc now your gonna get me lookin - but just outta curiosity why should cossacks be allowed to move through any better than othe light cavalry or dragoons or hussars especially cossacks armed with lances, All depends on what "the" definition of "open" woods is and I say again if 1800 men in two Austrian Battalions can stay formed in Line and present an closed line formation to an attack - then by golly those woods aint so disordering to either infantry or cavalry

Doc Smith said...

Aha my young Padawan - its a matter of degrees it is! Cossacks, especially as irregular cav can move through woods precisely because they have no formation - so nothing to disorder. The hint here is 'move' - not charge! It stands to reason dashing through a wood risks riders getting smacked in the head by the odd branch as opposed to carefully picking your way through individually to avoid that problem.

The same would apply for irreg infantry (no formation to worry about) and perhaps to light infantry in skirmish order, but I was under the impression that most rules state any infantry are disordered in or by transit of woods. If they met the enemy in the woods this would cancel out as both would be disordered. They'd form up again once clear of the woods with its bears and such.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.


VolleyFireWargames said...

Ah DocSmith well grasshopper - I think your mistaken my friend as far as too the "irregular" status of cossacks and not being in formation. Strictly speaking sounds like more of a rules mechanics thing than actually a reflection of any real battle tactics, more likey BECAUSE cossacks were not considered battle cavalry against other cavalry of any kind would be the basis for their irregular standing. And I have played many different rules over the past 30 years - perhaps we can continue this debate in the ITGM yahoo group or some such rather than filling up Noels blog with it
Signed Marshal Davout

Doc Smith said...

Splitting hairs Davout! It is a rules mechanism thing - you can be formed AND disordered (for combat purposes) at the same time. You're right, most cossacks are irregs BUT there were some that were also considered battle cav like the Russian Guard Cossacks.

The point was light cav in skirmish can move through a wood but cannot charge in formation in or through said wood. Period. To suggest anything else would be ridiculous.

Step in here any time Noel... apologies for filling up your blog with some old chat!


Noel said...

Ok I'm happy to add a few points from my perspective:
1. It's important to remember that this is an open wood which reflects an orchard or planted copse etc. These are well spaced and would have less effect on a line than a column hence the ruling.
2. There are anomolies regarding cavalry in woods, I've spoken to Ged Elliot regarding this in the past and it's something he's aware of.
3. I think remaining formed in a charge means not arriving peicemeal and it's my belief that the open woods wouldn't affect the formation too significantly.
4. I can't see how any cavalry could charge through any type of wood and remain formed. Cossack swarms are allowed to charge from the edge of a wood only, not into it.

I'm happy for this discussion to continue on the blog, that's one of the reasons for it, though the Yahoo group might be more productive as there would be a greater variety of opinion.