Wednesday 3 January 2024

Prussia Rising, campaign game 3 - the Battle of Neutz

The third of our campaign games, set in the spring of 1813, with the Prussians here moving south from Madgeburg towards Halle, with orders for the advanced guard to contest a bridge over the Saale river, at Wettin, but my reinforced French division are already in place in a blocking position near the village of Neutz. This would be a 1000 point game, Corps-level, with 4 brigades each. My forces were the 2 infantry brigades of Houlier’s division, Cherou’s French infantry and von Zieger’s allied Wurttembergers. Added to this were, for their first outing, Gerrard’s dragoon brigade and, in reserve, Le Tallec’s light cavalry brigade.

The Prussians had Ritter von Fuch’s division of the advanced guard and Lutzow’s Freicorps, with attached, a light cavalry brigade of uhlan and horse jaegers and a small infantry brigade, reinforced by rifle detachments. The cavalry would start in reserve.

Here was the battlefield at Neutz, the edge of the village in Prussian hands (bottom). They deployed with Lutzow’s Freicorps on their right, holding Neutz. In the centre, screening again, was the strong advanced guard, with the other infantry on the left, backed by the reserve cavalry. Lining up against them, the Wurttembergers were on the French right, with their main attack in the centre with the infantry and the dragoons on the right, behind them would quickly (from turn 1) come the light cavalry in support. The plan for the French was to attack in the centre, wait for all the cavalry to gather and launch a strong cavalry attack on the right, and win it here. The Wurttembergers would make a demonstration/harassing effort towards the village, but only to draw in Prussian troops and attention. The infantry would keep the enemy busy until the cavalry hit with a swift right hook… not complex stuff. For this, I took the bull by the horns and chose an ‘All Out Attack’ strategy – go get ‘em! 

The basic movements of the battle. Generous to the Wurttembergs here, never got passed the house.


The Prussians would be making a steady advance with their infantry, pushing hardest with the strong advanced guard brigade in the centre, with some support on each flank from his other infantry. His cavalry would have to try and counter mine, but hopefully the dragoons would give me the edge here.

It began with both sides moving up, getting guns into place and range and some early skirmishing, to not much effect. The French light cavalry didn’t turn up on turn 1, which would have been handy, but patience was required, they be here, then we go. Prussian artillery fire was generally terrible, a feature of this fighting so far, they do struggle to hit much, whilst the French did some damage. After a few moves, the two centres were about to clash, my light infantry screening line with his fusiliers, an even(ish) fight, with lots of good skirmishers about, but a withering volley from his line sent mine back, bloodied and rallying… (this has happened before, in game 1, deja vu). So that didn’t go too well. Turn 2 ended and my light cavalry again didn’t show up, even with a command point re-roll… ho-hum. The dragoons patience wouldn’t last forever, they were under cannon fire now and keen for the off. Many tempting Prussians ahead of them to attack…

Turn 3 and, with an ‘At the Gallop’ special event too useful to ignore, my two dragoon regiments spurred off towards the enemy in a lone attack, with a follow-up charge sending one infantry battalion reeling, in disorder, into a ragged square and rallying. First blood, but the return fire was heavy, and the dragoons also had to fallback to rally. Prussian infantry formed square… a must really to avoid carnage, but the ragged one was intimidated by the aggressive dragoons and broke anyway, fleeing the field. The cavalry attack had started without the light cavalry, but gone OK, my dragoons were exposed though. End of turn 3 and Le Tallec’s hussars and chasseurs arrived and would gallop up at top speed in line of march to get into the action which had started without them. In the centre it was stalemate, both sides skirmish firing away, cannons missing. The Wurttembergers and Freicorps had had few orders and so sat looking at each other, too far away to play much of a role. I needed to get them up, but the demand on cards, to get those light cavalry moving meant they’d have to wait… you just can’t do everything!

Turn 5 and the French had slim lead, but the Prussian’s in the centre were starting to get the upper hand, their grenadiers attacked, charged and smashed a light infantry battalion into rout, forcing me to march up a reservist battalion to try and stop them. These too would be defeated by the bold grenadiers, but in doing so, the grenadiers too would be lost. All of this of course was a distraction (and deliberately so) from the main event, from my attempted cavalry attack. This also struggled. One dragoon regiment was ‘stalled’ (by a special event) and so could neither charge on, or fallback to safety and rally, and so, despite my best efforts, it would be shot-up and lost. The light cavalry moved, got into position and formation to charge, but when the time came, to try and push for that grand assault objective, only the hussar actually charged, to be met by counter-charging uhlan, which they beat, just. The cavalry assault was now on, if only I could pass some charge tests (command points had all now been used and not one actual worked as a re-roll all game).

Into turn 6, it was close still,  but the Prussians now had the narrow lead. I had one turn to complete my grand assault objective, or, most likely, lose. So, I threw everything into the cavalry attack, the hussars charged again, to be met by counter-charging horse jaegers this time, and won again (finally, hussars doing well), but they also needed to rally and faced Prussia guns loaded with canister. My other light cavalry, the chasseurs and Wurttemberg chevau-leger, refused again… so frustrating!. My veteran 19th light infantry did charge and win their melee, driving back his fusiliers so the light cavalry regiments were the key to it, charge gloriously, win the melees against his ragged infantry or already disordered cavalry, gain the important objective and take the game… just pass those charge tests! I tried, a lot, and failed all. The chasseurs and chevau-leger would not go forwards (oh to have saved the command point re-rolls). Instead, they took more skirmish fire and I had to rally them and the hussars to keep them from breaking. Still, the rally and then the failed objective’s VPs gave the Prussians just enough VPs to claim a win. Drat… sometimes the damned dice just thwart you.

It was close, and the French light cavalry could have still won it right until the last card play, if only they would charge (even on a risky consecutive order), but instead of gaining a D6+3 VPs, I lost a -D3, and that was the narrow difference.

It was not all the dice's fault, my cavalry attack had been an ill co-ordinated affair, the dragoons went too soon without support, I used the 'at the gallop' event when I should have just waited… patience failed me. The dragoons didn’t do enough damage and ended up taking a beating. I didn’t do enough with the Wurttembergers either they were wasted this game and could have helped out, even with skirmishers, in the centre. This attack had not been well commanded...

Neutz then was a narrow Prussian win… they had done just enough… we rolled up the campaign events and sorted the attrition on our divisional units… several are now looking very tired (except the under employed Wurttembergers, they need to take some of the heavy lifting next time I feel). One event would be major ‘grand battle’ for next time. In our 1813 timeline, this would obviously be at Lutzen, so that will be it, next time we’ll meet somewhere on that battlefield, with extra campaign VPs at stake in a large army-level, game with 5 brigades… big bash, that’ll be fun.

 Action at Neutz...

Wurttemberg stands ready... ready to do very little... unreliable allies...

Gerrard's dragoons on the French right, with their horse battery, well out of range.

Lutzow volunteers move into the edge of Neutz and around it. It would be a quiet day for these men.

Prussian centre, with supporting uhlan and grenadiers. The advanced guard are proving effective as a combined arms unit, good light infantry, riflemen, grenadiers, uhlan and cannons... a mini-army in itself.

The dragoons dash forwards, but have gone too soon... still the Prussians have to rapidly form square.

Back at Neutz, and the Wurttembergers aren't coming... ah well, brew up then! Their guns have been limbered up and dragged forward to get into range and join in as they can. They then did a lot of missing...

The glorious 19th Leger move up in the centre, lots of good skirmishers deployed by both sides. Withering volleys from the fusiliers would see my line driven back.

The Prussia infantry on their left, facing the dragoons. Form square then...

The Prussian grenadier columns come forward in a bold attack into the musketry.

Le Tallec's light cavalry, arriving at last, speeding up at the gallop in columns of march. Chasseurs, Wurttemberg chevau-leger and Hussars.

Developing the main cavalry attack, the far dragoon regiment is stalled and taking a pounding. The other has pulled back with heavy losses (down to 2 stands). Not what the plan required, but it is still enough cavalry to complete the grand assault objective.

Chaos of the attack, the 4th Hussars have fought their way up, to end up in front of a Prussia battery loading grapeshot... a lot of disordered cavalry trying to get back into good order (and failing). Those uhlan have already been beaten once.