Wednesday 30 June 2021

Lohmen’s Windmühle - Game One, 1813-14 campaign for Soldiers of Napoleon.

Change of campaign for the Napoleonics play-test gaming, moving on from 1809 to 1813, with new army lists (same model collections though).

The first battle of this second mini-campaign would take place somewhere near the Elbe river, approaching Dresden, as my Austrian division, still under under Graff von Klopp's command, marched as part of the War of the 6th Coalition against Napoleon.

Here is my army list for the battle, 3 brigades. 2 would start deployed, with a third (the cavalry) in Reserve.

Kraweitz’s Infantry Brigade
3 Line Fusilier battalions        6 stands each
1 Landwehr battalion        3 stands
1 Foot Battery of 6 pdrs        2 guns
1 attached Jaeger detachment

Actherburg’s Infantry Brigade
3 Line Fusilier battalions        6 stands each
1 Landwehr battalion        3 stands
1 Foot Battery of 6 pdrs        2 guns
1 Foot Battery pf 12 pdrs        2 guns
1 attached Jaeger detachment

Grujik’s Light Cavalry Brigade (in Reserve)
5th Hussars                5 stand
4th Chevau-Leger            4 stands
1 Horse Battery of 3 pdrs    2 guns

The French force facing me was constructed of 3 brigades. The first an Infantry brigade, mostly reserve infantry battalions, with a couple of regulars just to stiffen them, and its own artillery reinforced with 12 pdrs from the central reserve. A force suited for defensive action really, that reserve raw infantry would struggle in attack. The second was a strong light cavalry brigade, 1 regiment each of Hussars, Chasseurs and Line Lancers, supported by a horse battery. The third, his reserve, was a Dragoon brigade, 3 Dragoon regiments and their horse battery, moving up behind. His shock force.

Here is my estimation of the French force:

Infantry Brigade
2 Line Infantry battalions        6 stands each
3 Reserve Infantry battalions    5 stands each
1 Foot Battery of 8 pdrs        2 guns
1 Foot Battery of 12 pdrs        2 guns

Light Cavalry Brigade
Hussars                4 stands
Chasseurs                5 stands
Line Lancers            5 stands
1 Horse Battery of 6 pdrs     2 guns

Dragoon Brigade (in Reserve)
3 Dragoon regiments        4 stands each
1 Horse Battery of 6 pdrs     2 guns

We randomly generated the battlefield, with its single building, a windmill (a chance to use the new model). It was open fields mostly, so good cavalry ground - err, not good! No doubt this why the French chose to fight here.

My plan was to conduct a steady advance to contact, pin down the French infantry and then, send my cavalry on fast flanking assault on my right, round his left, which looked weak with just 1 reserve infantry battalion out there and no guns. So, close in with steady pressure, then a right hook.

The French, well, they had decided to be very aggressive. Their infantry would sit back and hold and line, centre and left, whilst the cavalry attacked, in force, concentrated effort, on his right flank, my left, by the windmill. He’d have to wait for the Dragoons show-up first, so maybe I could et into place and be well on top by then?

Well, no plan last long in contact with the enemy. Mine lasted… about 2 minutes!

The French had the initiative and wasted no time in sending his light brigade rushing me on my left, they galloped forwards, sabres out, lances lowered, and instantly my infantry lines had a problem. Skirmishers out, their fire did some damage, but not enough. I would have to form square, and thus would end my advance. Except, a special event card I held allowed me to redeploy my reserve. I could call them across to the left and counter his cavalry with mine. I did, and my own Hussars and Chevau-leger, and their guns, arrived post-haste. My Hussar’s charge saw off his Chasseurs and, my fire and the threat of being charged saw his lancers withdraw. Not before they had routed a line battalion though, pointy-sticked to death… I’d also lost a 6 pdr gun battery when the gunners fled his approaching horsemen. That battery was now replaced by the 3 pdr horse battery though, so I had some cannon support. Still, so much for my right hook… I was dancing to the French tune, on the defensive, from turn 1.

We traded fire and neither side advanced much, skirmishers did their work, and gunners (for once the French guns missed a few times, obvious not the same men as 4 years earlier, those veteran gunners were now dead in Russia!).

Turn 3 ended, the French had a narrow early lead on VPs, but I had halted his early, unexpected, light cavalry rush. My guns did broke one his reserve infantry battalions with concentrated fire… green troops were not going to stand in front of accurate 12 pdr fire. Now, with a senior officer (General St Cyr) arriving to take a look over the battlefield, he directed in the Dragoons, streaming in in columns of march, for speed, and cantering right, my left, for the windmill. Basically, most the fighting took place around the windmill. Could I stop his Dragoons with my light cavalry and my infantry lines behind? That would be the battle today.

The answer was, err, no! His Dragoons rushed up and deployed into lines for the charge, I fired, volleys and skirmishers joined in, as well as my 3 pdrs gamely banging away, but those Dragoons were in the mood today. I did not immediately form square, mainly as I calculated I had enough firepower and my own light cavalry counter-charges to halt him. Be brave, stand and fight boys! When his first Dragoons charged, my Chevau-leger counter-charged to stop them, fought the melee, and lost! Badly lost, cut to ribbons, the few survivors fled back to my board edge. When the second Dragoon regiment charged, my Hussars counter-charged to meet them and did halt them in a close fight, but were pushed back. His third Dragoon regiment was stalled (a special event from me), just checking orders, they were not ready to go yet. Those lost melees saw the French jump well ahead on victory points. We both furiously rallied to recover damage and good order, and prepared ourselves for another turn of cavalry dueling around the windmill. My excellent Hussars quickly got back into good order and, after another volley from the 3 pdrs, charged into the Dragoons again. This time, they lost again and took heavy losses as well, the Dragoons riding to meet them with the heavier horse having the slight advantage over the light. My 5th Hussars were driven off again, and the Dragoons ploughed on into the 3 pdr battery and sabred down the gunners. That defeat was enough for the Austrians, the far left flank had gone, French Dragoons would soon be round it. Time to retreat and conceded the field. The battle was over, a decisive French win…

Well, nice to have a cavalry-heavy action, his Dragoons had done their job and won the fight (it was never very even). On the right, my infantry were untouched, as were his, they had faced each other and exchanged cannon fire, and that was it. My own attack never started, pushed on to the back foot and reacting from turn 1 by his bold cavalry assault. I had stopped the first wave, but couldn’t hold the second, more powerful wave of bigger horsemen. One mistake I’d made was not to get into firing lines for the infantry to bring some withering volleys to bear. My battalion ‘mass’ columns didn’t pack the firepower, but might have resisted a charge better. Should have got into lines and risked it.

Another defeat, these French are good. For the campaign we did the ‘Marching Phase’, between battles, determined losses, experience and generated the next game. My men, demoralised by the defeat, faced a hard march and lost some army morale, grr!  The French were bouyed by the win - double grr! The next battle, well, it’s a big one, an Army-sized game (the biggest), part of ‘Grand Battle’ of the campaign with extra VPs at stake. So, von Klopp will lead his division into the Battle of Dresden and do his part against St Cyr’s defenders, with Napoleon himself marching in to aid. He could even turn-up on our bit of the bigger battlefield (special events in the game allow for this - you can’t just chose to have the Emperor, or Wellington etc. in command, but they can show-up to aid and take a look over your sector).

My 3 brigades will be reinforced by 2 more from the army list, so 5 in all. I already know what they will be. A first outing from my grenadier brigade and a chance for my Cuirassier brigade to get into the action. With those big-hitters in support I guess I better attack… all out attack next time, hit them with the heavy-weights… that’ll be fun. Or maybe I should be more cautious? … these French know their business. 

Achterburg's brigade deployed on the right. And there they would stay... quiet day for them.

Kraweitz' brigade, on the left, facing the windmill and the main French cavalry assault. In battalion columns for the advance. Never corrected that mistake.

Graff von Klopp inspects the French lines, as his 12 pdr battery, full caissons just behind, ready themselves to give them fire in the centre.

Line lancers, grim Polish-types, race forwards past the windmill, skirmishers and jaegers snipe away.

Achterburg's skirmishers go forwards, a few Voltiguers hold the walled paddock are encountered. A few musket shots traded here won't effect the day's result. 

Chasseurs spur-in, their first charge, soon countered and seen-off by Austrian Hussars.  

Here they come, to the rescue... Hussar!
Meanwhile, light cavalry, jaegers and skirmishers counter the lancers

Dragoons pile onto the tabletop and move forwards at speed.    

Into lines now, in open fields, and heading for my far left, through shot and shell, but very determined today.

Dragoons sweep past the windmill, having just wrecked by light horse regiment, missing are the piles of dead men and horses.
Onward! Into the horse battery, cutting down the gunners... the end of the battle.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Fabulous Warwick, seems like a great scenario, I will try out the scenario myself I think