Monday, 15 August 2011

Yet more from the Battle of the River Spree

After last weeks post youcould be forgiven for assuming that the allies would by now have rolled up the French on the southern bank of the Spree and settled themselves down to await the onslaught from the northern bank. 

The cascade of Russian routers floods backwards causing havoc for their supporting cavalry and forcing the Guard to form square to avoid being pinned.

At the commencement of the evenings play things were looking quite rosy for the Allies.  With a third crossing point under their control and the phased withdrawal of the covering force on the northern bank under way their plan to capture and hold the line of the Spree seemed to be working.  However despite their numerical advantage on the southern bank they took the opportunity to feed yet more troops across into the area between the opposing frontlines.  Steve the French commander, having had the opportunity to redress his lines and push his last remaining fresh troops to the fore responded by attacking them whilst they were at their most vulnerable and before they had arrived in large enough numbers to become unstoppable.

The view from the French side, a mix of Prussian and Russian troops attempt to cross by the bridge whilst in the background the remainder of the rearguard attempt to hold off the advancing French reinforcements.

The result was a minor disaster for the Allies.  Troops routing from the melee caused morale checks on the units in their vicinity, some of which had already taken casualties and panic ensued in the Russian ranks.  If you've ever used ITGM rules you'll be aware of just how easily a couple of routs in the wrong place can spread like a disease amongst the surrounding units with even fresh units sometimes breaking.  This was precisely what happened and the whole Allied attack on the south bank ground to a halt.

Steve's last bastion against the Russian hordes which turned the tide of the game even if only for the time being.

Of course it's hardly all over for the Allies, they still have plenty of fresh units to throw into the attack once the routers have cleared and they should still have the upper hand.  What Steve's attack has achieved however is that it has bought precious time for the remainder of the French army to close with the allied covering force by clogging up one of the main crossing points.  In addition the Prussians which make up the right wing of the covering force should by now have been close to being able to cross the river at the final bridge which the Russian attack was designed to capture.  As it is they are in great danger of being caught between the advancing French and the river.

The position on the north bank, having come under heavy pressure routing and retreating Russian troops attempt to find a crossing point to safety.

We have now reached turn sixteen with the game still balanced in favour of the Allies.  With eight turns left they still have enough time to reorganise and once again assault the weakening French line.  This time the job will be given to the Russian Guard infantry who will be much more difficult to repulse.  On the plus side for the French they have the opportunity to destroy the remaining troops of the covering force before they can seek the comparitive safety of the south bank.

A panoramic shot of the battle from the Northern bank of the Spree, more and more French reinforcements push on to the table in an attempt to catch the defenders.

As usual we meet again on thursday, possibly to conclude the battle though it's even possible that this could become a three day fight with the final day seeing the Allies having reversed the original positions and defending the southern bank of the Spree against the French on the northern bank.  Stay tuned for the next report.

And finally.... some Prussian Uhlans, just because they look nice.

Monday, 8 August 2011

The Battle of the river Spree, End of Day One and Day Two

Following on, albeit a little late, from my last post the Allies despite a last gasp attack by the remainder of Justins' division were able to secure a viable bridgehead over the Spree before night fell and the various commands were reorganised prior to the next days fighting.

Having crossed the western bridges, Nicks' Russians reorganise and push on to try and wipe out the remainder of Steve's command.

Steve withdrew the division which had suffered so much at the hands of the Allied guns and formed his new line to the East.  However things looked dire for his position as once again the Allies were able to use their superior artillery numbers to fire directly into his flank across the river whilst simultaneously pushing fresh units into a frontal attack.  There was little coming in the way of help from the remainder of the French army which arrived sporadically on the far side of the back table as day two wore on only to be faced with Prussian and Russian heavy cavalry. 

The French eventually begin to arrive across the rear table but are delayed by large numbers of Allied cavalry.

This deployment led to a major confrontation between the two cavalry arms when French Cuirassier and Dragoons charged into three regiments of Prussian heavy cavalry which made up the Allied right.  The fight lasted for three rounds of combat but in the final round the Prussians were heavily outnumbered by fresh French cavalry and were bloodily defeated.  On the Allied left the Russian Guard Cavalry were opposed primarily by infantry and gave ground slowly though not without some loss.

The Prussian survivors of the cavalry melee finally break and flee.

Things were not going so well however for the French on the other side of the Spree.  Nicks' juggernaut continued to drive back Steve's battered battalions supported by heavy cavalry and uhlans and with the added impetus of the Russian Guard infantry. 

Russian Guard Infantry supported by a smattering of Prussian Battalions head eastwards in support of the Russian attack.

This was the situation at close of play on Thursday evening.  With Steve trying to maintain his lines against ever increasing pressure, whilst the French relief columns battle their way through the delaying forces of the Allies.  It appears that the Allied tactic is one of crossing the Spree once the last of the French have been cleared from the Southern bank and then holding the river line themselves in order to stop the remainder of the French army.  Whether they can do this in time is dependent on whether Napoleons force can reach the river line quickly enough to stop them crossing, though at the moment this looks unlikely.

The remnants of Steve's Corps prepare themselves for another Allied onlaught.