Monday 14 June 2021

Siege of Rohrzendorf, Soldiers of Napoleon, campaign game 3

The game’s campaign system 'under testing' had thrown up a siege assault scenario for the next game, an oddity, but I had to come up with a scenario for it. Some reading on Napoleonic sieges later and I had the bones of one, to be tested out in this game.

This was it, von Klopp’s Austrians holding the walls of Rohrzendorf as the French assaulted the breach their guns had smashed. I had only half the points of the French but the big walls to hide behind. Trying to create interest and drama in what is a static defence game is always tough I find. These games feel very one-sided, with all the decisions with the attacker and the defender just waits and opens fire when he can. Which is what I did.

The table was set up and the armies selected and deployed, the French had two strong infantry brigades reinforced by extra guns and some fresh depot battalions of new recruits, as well as issued siege ladders and with one veteran battalion was selected as the Forlorn Hope, deployed opposite the breach – first in…

The game began with the French bombardment of the walls (not to damage them, this is assumed to have already been done, hence this assault is ordered). I had little to fire back with, we decided only light guns (3/4 pdr) would be deployable to the walls or towers, unless the defender purchased a specific ‘artillery bastion’ for heavier guns (I hadn’t). So most of my guns covered the breach and gate from within, safe, but out of the battle for now.

The assault battalions moved up and skirmish fire started from both sides (firing is split between harassing Skirmish fire and Volley fire, at shorter range but with more umpf! ).

The initial French bombardment was accurate, as his guns have been all campaign and the parapets were taking a pounding. I had a single howitzer lobbing shells back over, but not doing much. The French moved up, the forlorn hope cautiously as my own skirmish fire from rifle-armed jaegers at the breach inflicted the first losses.

His main assault was at the gate, a unit of pioneers coming forwards with axes and demolition charges to try and open it, the Grenz battalion holding the gate found the French covering fire too galling, and after a dire rallying situation (I drew no cards that could rally them), they broke. The French rushed the gate and a second battalion raised their ladders to get over the wall here. At the breach, the forlorn hope held its place, no point in risking the carnage here if the gate fell… meanwhile to my right, 3 more battalions were approaching with ladders and my losses had already been heavy to his cannonade. My reserve battalion rushed up to hold the wall here and drove the first assault via escalade back, then the second, but the third saw the French (actually his Swiss mercenaries) gain a foothold on the wall and drive my men back into town.

The situation for me was grim, French troops were pouring in, my cannons gave them a whiff of grapeshot and slowed them down, but I had run out of men. When his forlorn hope won the melee at the breach and another of my battalions broke, the Austrians had had enough. He was in and Rohrzendorf had fallen! Let the looting begin!

An interesting first run through, with many changes to make. We agreed the defenders needs some extra help, badly outnumbered as he is. I’m not sure the wall is enough help and the breech should be the main objective and easiest way in, the ladders are a diversion or secondary method. Here the French came over the walls rather than through them. At the gate his cannons and muskets swept the way clear for an easy climb in – which is how it should be done I guess. Still, fun game and it looked great. I have never played, or even seen played, a Napoleonic siege assault before, so something of  first… back to field battles next time though. The French are winning our 1809-based campaign, but it goes on, although another heavy defeat might see the Austrians forced to sue for peace, so I need a win.

Photos of the action as General Renard’s division take Rohrzendorf. 

White coats deploy onto the walls

as the French deploy for the assault, guns and reserve batteries are in place, ammo caissons full.

The town walls and the breach

Also, guns targeting the town gate, battery, caisson and limber (if required, unlikely)

Forlorn Hope sends out their skirmishers to clear away the Austrians harassing them.

My 6 pdr and howitzer cover the gate from the inside.

Here they come... green dice are for Disruption (damage) to the units
Enemy at the gate... pioneers lay into it with axes but didn't force it... second battalion got over the walls instead.

The siege ladders are up and the fight is on. Two attacks driven back, but the third got over.

Unopposed after the loss of my Grenz, the French are on the walls over the gate. Taking fire from the cannons though...

Numbers diminishing fast, my whitecoats can't stop the tide.

The Forlorn Hope come through the breach, better late than never... but a big French win.

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