Friday, 22 July 2011

The Battle of the river Spree, Day One.

We're all back safe and sound from our weekend at the WHC where we had an excellent time playing Marengo.  Sadly I don't have access to the photos which Neil took of the game at the moment so I can't do a proper blog update on it until I have them.  However when one door closes another opens and so I'm now able to report on our campaign game taking place to the South of Berlin on the river Spree.

Probably the most difficult of all of the crossing points were the ones entrusted to Eric.  Covered by infantry and artillery they have so far proven impassable.

The battle kicked off with the Prussians probing forward over four of the five crossing points in order to find a weak spot.  This met with little success and their initial forays were easily dealt with.  However it was just a matter of time before the Prussian artillery was able to get into position to cover the crossing points and make life difficult for the French.

Prussian heavies make an attempt to find space on the far bank but are stopped by volley fire from French troops occupying the village.

It became clear relatively quickly that an all out assault across all of the bridges wasn't going to work and so the Prussian Artillery was called into position.  Two twelve pounder batteries began to take a heavy toll of the defenders on the French left forcing them away from the western bridge.  This allowed Dom to push some infantry over the river but once again they took heavy casualties and were forced to retreat.

The first Russians arrive and with them yet another twelve pounder battery to torment the French left.

 The Allies had apparently decided to throw everything into breaking the French left flank in order to gain a bridgehead and consequently another twelve pounder battery was unlimbered, this time a six gun Russian foot battery which immediately started to pound away at the hapless French infantry which was forced to find cover wherever it could.  Eventually the pressure began to tell and the Allied infantry was able to gain a toehold on the Southern bank, led by a lone Prussian battalion the Russians began to pour over the bridge.

Another courageous but ultimately unsuccesful attack by the Prussians in the early stages, led by light cavalry a couple of battalions sprint across the bridge to be met by a hail of fire.

However the French were now covered from some of the Allied guns by the advancing Russian troops and took the opportunity to push forward against the attackers who responded by charging at them.  The resulting melee was fought out for three rounds and though the Russians lost all of them they held their nerve and though they were forced back they were undefeated.  However almost as a sideshow this allowed a single French veteran battalion to charge into the flank of another Russian battalion which had earlier been pinned by a retreating unit which promptly turned and ran.  Undaunted the veterans charged on into the flank of the rallying combatants and this was to prove too much for them.  Having fought one tough melee they were in no mood for another and they in turn retreated from the attack.

The French counter-attack forcing back the Russian infantry and gaining some breathing space.

The whole Allied bridgehead was now in danger but instead of attacking the lone Prussian battalion which was the only formed unit on the French bank of the river the French believing their job done withdrew behind the cover of the hill.  This allowed the Russians to recover and the minor crisis for the Allies was past.  As it stands now on turn twenty with only four turns to go until nightfall the allies maintain a small but established hold on the Southern bank of the river and are poised to push more troops across in the last few turns.  Nightfall will probably bring a redressing of the lines and if the Allies will be able to move more troops over during the night.  Of course they will have to bear in mind that the arrival of the rest of the French army in their rear is imminent and will need to consider how many troops they can afford to push over the Spree without leaving the remainder of the army hopelessly outnumbered.

Calpe Prussian Landwehr painted and based by Julian Waites.

Finally here is the latest arrival at the garage, a battalion of Calpe Landwehr which was painted by Julian Waites.  Julians' output isn't great in terms of volume as he doesn't get much time to paint but the quality is outstanding and the figures are always worth the wait.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

River Terrain

It looks set to be a lean period for the next week or so here on the blog.  There was little to report last week as we had decided to give our usual weekly get together a miss so rather than just babble on I decided against making a post.  This week once again there's not much to say as we spent much of Wednesday evening sorting out some of the terrain for our forthcoming campaign battle on the river Spree.  Steve's Auerstadt game continued in the background but it was a half hearted affair and we decided to finish it early with no result so that we could begin the campaign battle next week.

The river Spree from the Northern bank which is where the French will be defending.

We'll be starting the game on Thursday evening and I would normally then create a post at the weekend.  However on Friday morning we're all off to the Wargames Holiday Centre for the weekend to refight the battle of Marengo but more of that later.  The campaign game has Soults' IV corps defending the line of the river Spree in order to stop the Allies from retaking Berlin.  They are opposed by two Prussian divisions under Von Arnim and I think Von Ruchel (I'm one of the French players so I'm unsure about the Allied formations).  Both of these divisions took part in the battle at Leipzig and have suffered losses in numbers and morale also one of them lost an entire brigade at the crossing of the Elbe. 

The Spree from the Southern bank, the Allies should have their work cut out to make a succesful crossing.

This leaves both infantry arms roughly equal with the French probably having the edge in the class of their troops.  Fortunately for the Prussians however a Russian army of about twenty thousand is hot their heels and might be able to make the difference once it gets into position.  We've been told that the Tsar is accompanying this force and so it's almost certain that the Russian Imperial Guard will also be in attenadance.  What further complicates the scenario is that Napoleon with the rest of the French army is closing on the Allies from the South and can be expected to make an appearance before the game ends.  This puts the Allies under tremendous pressure.  They will need to decide whether to try to force the crossing and take the inevitably high level of casualties or to try and deny the crossing to the French and turn to face the Emperor.  Either way they have a difficult task ahead of them.


Three battalions of Russian grenadiers which have recently hit the shelves at the garage.  All are from Front Rank,the centre and right hand ones were painted by Neil Sheardown.  the ones on the left by myself.

Finally back to the weekend away, as I stated previously we're playing Marengo which is not a game I've played before and from what little I know of the actual battle it should be an interesting challenge for the game designer. Weekends were always a bit of a headache before the centre moved to a more easily accessible location due to the amount of time spent travelling between Plymouth and Scarborough but now we can make the journey in three hours. This still means however that there'll be no blog update until we return, and that will primarily be about the weekends' game.  I'll try to get lots of pictures and do a full battle report but I tend to get a bit involved in the games at the centre and forget all about it.  That said there should be plenty of us taking photos and Mark Freeth who runs the Centre will as always have an after battle report on the website so if I do get carried away with the game I can always just put a link to his site on the blog.