Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Campaign Move 27 – Calm before the Storm

1600 - 2000 31 July 1813

Blucher inspected 3rd corps in the main square of Helmstedt as soon as they arrived from Brunswick. Just eight hours earlier their commander general Bulow had been surprised to receive an order from Blucher to abandon his pursuit of XIII French corps and march at his best speed back to Helmstedt. They arrived tired and dusty just as day was fading, and received an inspiring address from Prince Blucher.

All was now in place for Blucher to turn the tables on Davout. The previous day the Prussians had received a serious defeat at Wolfsburg. 1st corps had been smashed and lost half of their infantry and all of their cavalry. Their frantic retreat south to Helmstedt was covered by 4th corps.

Delighted with his victory Davout ordered V and VI corps to follow the broken Prussian army south. He was confident that they would make a stand at Helmstedt, he was also confident that he could defeat them again – just as he had at Wolfsburg. This would sever the Prussian lines of supply to Magdeburg, and would force them to abandon their pursuit of XIII corps. It would thus save Hanover, and guarantee victory for the French.

As soon as 1st corps broke and ran at Wolfsburg, Blucher was aware that he was in great danger of losing not only Helmstedt but also the whole campaign. He must hold Helmstedt to secure his communications with Magdeburg. Even as he attempted to rally his shattered 1st corps he sent orders for general Bulow to abandon his pursuit of XIII corps and his advance on Hanover.

3rd corps must retrace their steps to Helmstedt and arrive no later than nightfall on 31 July. Their march east would be screened from Davout by the hills in L7 and the woods in K7. XIII corps would report their march to Davout, but by the time he received news it would be too late to avoid battle on 1August 1813.

The scene was set for the second battle of Helmstedt.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Campaign Move 26 – The current situation

1200 - 1600 31 July 1813

Another quiet period as the corps involved in the recent fighting rest and recover.

In the north 2nd Prussian and IV French corps have broken contact. Both have suffered heavy casualties and neither are in any condition to take offensive action at present.

In the centre Blucher has personal command of 1st and 4th Prussian corps and has withdrawn them to Helmstedt to hold the vital Magdeburg to Hanover road. Davout is following them with V and VI French corps, who defeated them at Wolfsburg yesterday.

Further west XIII French corps is retreating towards Hanover pursued by 3rd Prussian corps. If 3rd corps can take Hanover, Blucher will have won the campaign.

Davout is aware that if he can take Hemlstedt he will have cut the main Prussian supply line.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Campaign Move 25 – Rest and Reorganisation

0800-1200 31 July 1813

After the recent spate of heavy fighting, both armies are in much need of a short break and an opportunity to regroup

There is not one single corps at full strength after seven battles. Some have so many casualties as to make them non operational. Despite this both Davout and Blucher are well aware that the longer they delay the more opportunity their opponent has to strike first. There is a fine balance between allowing the corps to recover fighting fitness, and allowing the enemy to dictate the location of the next battle.

A corps which has lost a battle has to avoid contact for the next three moves, and this will prevent them taking part in any battle the next day.

Commanders know their own casualties, but not those of the enemy. So they are not sure exactly what they are up against if they opt for battle.

24 hours earlier the Prussians appeared to be in an unbeatable position. They had won a major battle at Helmstedt and the road to Hanover appeared to be open. Then they suffered a crushing defeat at Wolfsburg, including the surrender of two brigades.

One more decisive victory could decide the outcome of the campaign.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Campaign Move 24 – Rosche and Wolfsburg

1600- 2000 30 July 1813

After a hard fought battle IV French corps retreated towards Uelzen, leaving 2nd Prussian corps in possession of Rosche

Further south Davout won the battle of Wolfsburg. The Prussians retreat towards Helmstedt was covered by 4th corps who had played little part in the battle.

The French victory at Wolfsburg has given Davout one final opportunity to turn the tables. If he can take Helmstedt he might cut the Prussian lines of supply and force them to abandon their march on Hanover.

Battle of Rosche at 1900

As the three brigade French column approach the Prussian line the gunners concentrate their fire on the left hand brigade, which breaks and routs. The remaining two brigades close on the weakened 7th infantry brigade, which soon routs.

The left hand French brigade turns to face the remaining three Prussian brigades, but is unable to hold against such odds. As it breaks it takes the third brigade with it.

Further north events are also going badly for the French. The cavalry attempt to break the enemy horse, but lose the melee and rout. The gunners drive off the Prussian cavalry, but when their supporting infantry break under Prussian artillery fire they break with them.

By nightfall the whole of Reyniers corps is in rout. Much against the odds Kleist has not only held IV corps, he has soundly beaten them.

Casualties were heavy on both sides. The French lost 11 casualties and abandoned their guns. The Prussians lost 12 casualties, but only one brigade had broken and fled the field.

Battle of Wolfsburg at 2000

1st Prussian corps have one cavalry and one infantry brigade in reserve north of Wolfsburg. As V French corps nears the town, they send their cavalry brigade to engage the enemy hussars. The French win the melee, and the hussars rout into the supporting infantry square. Both brigades are forced to surrender as they are pinned between V and VI corps.

The fighting in Wolfsburg continues until early evening. Three of the original four brigades in the town have routed, but both sides have sent in reinforcements. As night fall Blucher orders a withdrawal, leaving the French in possession of the town

1st Prussian corps has lost 20 casualties, including two brigades captured. Under cover of darkness they retreat south to join 4th corps

4th Prussian corps have not played much part in the battle, and they fall back south towards Helmstedt

VI French corps have suffered 9 casualties, but finish the day in possession of Wolfsburg

V French corps halt north of the town to await further orders.

A decisive victory for the French, who must now consider how best to take advantage of their strong central position.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Campaign Move 23 – Rosche and Wolfsburg

Battle of Rosche at 1500

By mid afternoon the battle is going badly for the French.

Reynier deployed his corps to the north of the town, and ordered the garrison to withdraw from the town and join the main corps. His artillery failed to cause any casualties on the Prussian cavalry, and he was forced to order his own cavalry to engage them to secure the ground for his infantry attack. The French cuirassiers lost the melee and fell back. Fortunately the gunners hit the Prussian cavalry as they advanced and they fell back shaken.

He ordered three of his infantry brigades to advance and engage the left of the Prussian battle line. One was routed as they approached, and the other two failed to break the already weakened Prussian brigade.

With his corps separated into two groups, Reynier is finding it difficult to control both groups. He is forced to concentrate on the infantry attack, but that leaves it without artillery support.

Battle of Wolfsburg at 1600

Both commanders are aware that possession of Wolfsburg is the key to the battle. Fierce fighting has continued all day in both the east and west sections of the town.

Both are also aware that by mid afternoon reinforcements are approaching the battle field. 4th Prussian corps is approaching from Helmstedt, and VI French corps is in danger of being pinned between them and 1st Prussian corps.

V French corps is approaching from Bodenteich, and 1st Prussian corps is equally in danger of being pinned between them and VI French corps.

1st Prussian corps started the battle nearer to the town, and by midday were fighting for both town sections, but had also established a strong position to the east of the town.

VI French corps moved to the west of the town, in order to join up with the fast approaching V corps.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Second Wolfsburg – Move 12

1900-2000 30 July 1813

Table at the start of move 12

As night falls both reinforcing corps are too far away to influence the battle

Both sides have put fresh brigades into the town

Top left Prussian POW being escorted off battlefield

VI French corps

Marshal Marmont (Average) – 4 CP - Engage

Artillery fire on enemy artillery (6) but miss

Marmont moves to centre of town

21 infantry rout back towards their supports

Skirmish 23 French (6) with 3 Prussian (6)

3 Prussian receive third casualty

3 Prussian test (4) and fail morale and rout

22 French test (6) for rout, fail and continue to rout

1st Prussian corps

General Yorck (Gifted) – 7CP – Hold

Artillery fire (3) on infantry and miss

Move shaken 1 infantry behind supports

Yorck moves to centre of town

Move routed 3 infantry behind supports

Skirmish 2 Prussian (1) with 21 French (4), no casualties

Test morale (4) for shaken 1 infantry, fail and remain shaken

Test morale (4) for routed 3 infantry, pass and become shaken

Prince Blucher (Average) – 5CP

Move to join 1st corps

Change orders to retreat south towards 4th corps

Move to 4th corps

V French corps

General Laurison (Average) – 6CP – Engage

17 infantry advance 6”

19 infantry advance 6”

18 infantry advance 6”

Artillery advance 8”

20 infantry advance 8”

Cavalry escort prisoners to rear

Marshal Davout (Gifted) – 7CP

No action

4th Prussian corps

General Tauentzien (Poor) - 3CP – Engage

Artillery fire (4) on square and miss

Tauentzien move to rear column

Column advance 8” to west of town

Battle for Wolfsburg

Much confusion as brigades rout towards enemy

Three of the original four brigades have routed out of the town

Both sides have orders fresh brigades to join the fight

The French hold west Wolfsburg

Both sides contest east Wolfsburg

Table at the end of Move 12

Notes on Game

1st Prussian corps has suffered heavy casualties of 16 infantry and 4 cavalry

This includes the infantry and cavalry brigade captured north of Wolfsburg

4th Prussian corps has not suffered any casualties, nor played much part in the battle.

V French corps has not suffered any casualties, but their cavalry brigade has played a significant part in the battle. They defeated the Prussian cavalry and captured the whole brigade, plus a supporting infantry brigade.

VI French corps has suffered medium casualties or 9 infantry, including one brigade in rout.

Blucher has accepted defeat, and ordered 1st corps to retreat towards 4th corps

Under cover of darkness 4th corps will retire south towards Helmstedt.

Davout is in a stronger position at the end of the battle than at the start.

He has joined V and VI corps, and occupies a central position.

This will allow him to move on Magdeburg via Helmstedt or Kalbe – or both

Monday, August 15, 2011

Second Wolfsburg – Move 11

1800-1900 30 July 1813

Table at the start of move 11

Its starting to get messy

In west Wolfsburg the French brigade is routing towards the advancing Prussians

North of the town Prussian cavalry and infantry brigade are caught between the two French corps

1st Prussian corps

General Yorck (Gifted) – 6CP – Attack

Artillery fire on infantry (4) and miss

Yorck changes orders to Halt

Withdraws 1 infantry from west Wolfsburg

Replaces them with 2 infantry

Skirmish 2 Prussian (4) with 21 French (5) – no casualties

Skirmish 3 Prussian (4) with routed 22 French – no casualties

Shaken 1 infantry test morale (5), fail and remain shaken

French cuirassiers declare an Opportunity Charge on the shaken hussars

They pass the test and charge the hussars

French combat points 8

Hussars rout back into square

Square test morale (-2) fail and join rout

Both routs are halted by advancing French infantry brigade

Caught between infantry and cuirassiers the Prussians surrender

4th Prussian corps

General Tauentzien (Poor) - 3CP - Engage

Cavalry advance 6”

Artillery advance 4” and unlimber

Marshal Davout (Gifted) – 7CP

Move 32” to join 1st corps

Change orders from Halt to Hold

Return 32” to 4th corps

Prince Blucher (Average) – 7CP

No orders

VI French corps

Marshal Marmont (Average) – 5CP - Engage

Artillery fire (6) on infantry column and miss

Cavalry advance 12” towards 4th corps

23 infantry move into west Wolfsburg

22 infantry test morale (5) for rout, fail and continue to rout

V French corps

General Laurison (Average) – 5CP – Engage

Cavalry take control of Prussian prisoners

17 infantry advance 6” towards Wolfsburg

19 infantry advance 4” towards Wolfsburg and form column of attack

Artillery advance 8” towards Wolfsburg

20 infantry advance 8” towards Wolfsburg

Cuirassier brigade escort infantry and cavalry prisoners

Battle for Wolfsburg

22 French rout from west Wolfsburg

23 French enter to contest possession of the town

1 Prussian withdrawn from east Wolfsburg

2 Prussian replace them

21 French too many casualties to skirmish

Notes on Game

This is the first time I have ever had to take prisoners during a game

The Prussian infantry and cavalry rout was pinned by French infantry and cavalry

We have no rules for POW so had to agree what would happen

We agreed that the cavalry would escort the prisoners

As this happened just before nightfall we did not have to agree for how long

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Second Wolfsburg – Move 10

1700-1800 30 July 1813

Table at the start of move 10

The fighting continues in both sections of Wolfsburg

Davout and Blucher are trying to coordinate their widely separated corps

V French corps is arriving at the top of the table

4th Prussian corps is entering at the bottom of the table

VI French corps

Marshal Marmont (Average) – 7CP - Engage

Artillery fire on 4th corps, but at 19” they are out of range

Marmont moves to command range of cavalry

Hussars about turn and move 7” towards 4th corps

23 infantry advance 6” towards Prussian square

Skirmish 22 French (5) with 1 Prussian (1) – both miss

Skirmish 21 French (3) with 3 Prussian (6) – 1 French casualty

21 infantry tests morale (5) for second casualty – pass remain formed

V French corps

General Laurison (Average) – 6CP - Engage

17 infantry advance 4” and form column of attack

18 infantry advance 4” and form column of attack

19 infantry advance 8”

French cuirassiers charge enemy hussars

Prussian hussars test to counter charge (4), pass and charge

French combat factors 8

Prussian hussars retire 8” shaken

French cuirassiers halt disordered

Prince Blucher (Average) – 6CP

Move to 1st corps

Change orders from Engage to Attack

1st Prussian corps

General Yorck (Gifted) – 7CP – Attack

Artillery advance 4” and unlimber

2 infantry form column of attack from square

Yorck moves to centre of Wolfsburg

Orders both brigades in the town to attack

1 Prussian attack 21 French

Total combat points 5

Prussians retire 4”, shaken and two casualties

French halt disordered with one casualty

3 Prussian attack 22 French

Total combat points 11

Prussians disordered with one casualty

French rout with three casualties

French artillery pass morale (4) for nearby rout

Marshal Davout (Gifted) – 7CP

No orders

4th Prussian corps

General Tauentzien (Poor) - 4CP - Engage

Cavalry advance 6” and form line to cover corps deployment

Corps column advance 8”

Battle for Wolfsburg

Blucher orders Yorck to attack and clear the town

In east Wolfsburg the Prussian lose the melee and retire shaken

In west Wolfsburg they smash the French who rout from the town

Notes on Game

The loss of west Wolfsburg is a blow to VI French corps

They will have to move their artillery and try to organise a counter attack

They have held on to east Wolfsburg, but a Prussian counter attack is ready

The next two moves will decide whether a second day of battle is required

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Second Wolfsburg – Move 9

1600-1700 30 July 1813

Table at the start of move

VI French corps have moved to the west of Wolfsburg

1st Prussian corps are trying to move to the east of the town, but cavalry and infantry are pinned by French cavalry

V French corps are about to enter the table from the north

4th Prussian corps are about to enter the t able from the south

Prince Blucher will arrive with 4th corps

Marshal Davout will arrive with V corps.

V French corps

General Laurison (Average) – 4CP - Move

Cavalry advance 12” to cover corps approach

Corps move 8” to 16” from nearest enemy

Corps artillery are at the rear of the column

1st Prussian corps

General Yorck (Gifted) – 7CP – Engage

French hussars declare Opportunity Charge on Prussian cavalry but fail test (2)

Prussian hussars form line and advance 7” towards V corps

4 infantry (square) move 2” to protect rear of hussars

Yorck moves to command range of artillery

2 infantry form square

Artillery advance 8” towards V corps

Skirmish 3 Prussian (1) with 22 French (4) – no hits

4th Prussian corps

General Tauentzien (Poor) – 4CP - Move

Double corps move (16”) towards Wolfsburg

Prince Blucher (Average) – 7CP

Move 16” to join 4th corps

Change orders from Move to Engage west of Wolfsburg

VI French corps

Marshal Marmont (Average) – 5CP - Engage

Unlimber artillery facing 4th corps

23 infantry move 6” towards Prussian square

24 infantry move 4” and form square to protect gunners

Skirmish 22 French (1) with 3 Prussian (2) – no hits

Marshal Davout (Gifted) – 5CP

Move to join V corps

Change orders from Move to Engage east of Wolfsburg

Battle for Wolfsburg

Once more both commanders are concentrating on their redeployment

All quiet in east Wolfsburg

Skirmish in west Wolfsburg, but no casualties

Notes on Game

The two CinC have now taken command of the battle.

1st Prussian have a problem with infantry and cavalry caught north of the town

The fighting for the town has eased as commanders use their command points to redeploy

V French and 4th Prussian corps enter the table

V French have their artillery near the rear of the column, which will cause delay in deployment.