Sunday 18 February 2024

Prussia Rising - campaign game 6 - Rearguard at Dolmau

It is game 6 of the 1813 campaign. August 27th, the day after the battle of Katzbach, and the French, defeated are retreating out of Lower Silesia ahead of Blucher's army. McDonald’s corps is returning to link up with Napoleon’s main force, and in this fictional engagement, my division, General Houlier’s, has been selected as the rearguard and must fight a delaying action against the Prussia pursuit. This was a 'Special Circumstance' rolled randomly, so I would lose any brigades in reserve , of which there was one, the poor Wurttembergers, as they are marching away. My other three brigades, 2 infantry, 1 dragoon, would be required to hold up the Prussian advance, on the Katzbach stream, near the village of Dolmau. The French would be defending, whilst the Prussians chose a 'steady advance', with their 3 deployed brigades, advanced guard, infantry and freicorps, with their light cavalry in reserve. So, could Houlier’s men hang-on long enough to let the rest get away? Breakpoints were a big problem, 31 to the Prussians, just 19 to the French… tough ask then.

 The battlefield, randomly generated - Prussians top, French bottom.


I set up my defence, with my strongest brigade facing his best route of advance, through the village. In the centre was a weak infantry brigade (2 battalions and a battery) but they were dug-in with the earthworks. On the left was my dragoon brigade of two regiments. The plan was simple, sit tight, let him come and counter-attack to keep him out of my deployment zones (big VPs on offer for me if I could). The Prussians had something of an issue, in that attacking with his three brigades would be problematic. The freicorps, on his right, are weak landwehr and volunteers. The advanced guard, on the left through Dolmau, are also weaker now, 5 battles having taken their toll, their fusiliers and grenadiers and uhlan are now all reduced battalions. The centre then, facing earthworks was a weakish brigade of just 2 battalions but with extra guns (the 12 pdrs again). So, post-deployment, I felt confident my lines would hold. Only his light cavalry, once here, would be the threat, and my dragoon’s job would be to stop them. Initiative was with the Prussians, so time for the off.

The first deal of cards changed my plan. I had, in hand, both ‘at the gallop’ events and a ‘stalled’ event. Looking at my dragoons, opposite them was his weak freicorps troops, all in lines, with only reserve cavalry (lancers though). All militia. With those cards my dragoons could be across the table, stall his own cavalry from counter charging, and hit his infantry lines. Very aggressive, but moving like the wind, my dragoons would in amongst his poor infantry very quickly, it could be slaughter… but the defensive plan? Damn the plan, let’s give it a go!

So, again, my Dragoons set out at top speed galloping for the enemy lines, to the Prussians great surprise… they hadn’t even deployed any skirmishers yet… then, with his reserve uhlan frozen into inactivity, another ‘at the gallop’, and then the orders to charge! Both dragoons regiments plunged into landwehr lines and, the result was a hammering for the surprised infantry, who retreated,through their own lines and rallied… I wasn’t going to stop, after an order on the infantry to fire some cannons and get skirmishers out, then the dragoons charged again, hitting his cavalry and smashing them up too, before overrunning the freicorps’ artillery (a single howitzer)… the brigade was a mess and rallied again to avoid losing any units. My dragoons rallied too, for free, and by the end of the turn 1 the French eld by 5 VPs to 0. Lutzow’s men were in a panic, as the dragoons ran over/through them and their table edge was very close. I could drive them off it in turn 2.

My dragoons continued having their heyday… winning another couple of melees as his uhlan tried to counter-charge but where beaten back and fled the tabletop. The landwehr soon followed, but the dragoons did take one heavy musket volley, so again, needed to rally and lose some stands, but supporting cannon fire was also hitting the landwehr and lacking any more militia rally cards, another battalion broke, leaving just 1 left before the brigade was wiped out. The dragoons had done amazing working, torn a brigade to shreds. Turn 2 ended 12-0 to French on VPs… and the big disparity in starting VPs had been nullified. Time to recover the dragoons to my lines as best I could. The Prussian main attack hadn’t really started, at Dolmau his uhlan came forward, too far, and took accurate cannon crossfire from my batteries, then retreated and rallied as well, down to just 2 stands… maybe I would hold the line. Because an attack here would be without any cavalry, and my musket lines were waiting.

Turn 3 and his light cavalry had arrived, led by the Leib ‘Totenkopf’ Hussars, with uhlan and horse jaegers as well. They came at the gallop, heading straight for the dragoons. Using a ‘well-drilled’ event, they turned about and rode back, but consecutive orders saw the light cavalry keep galloping in. The uhlan charged, and just caught one dragoons regiment from behind…eek… just not far enough away. The dragoons lost (no surprise) and would, by the end of the turn be broken. I’d lost 1 regiment, could the other escape? Almost, but not quiet. I moved at the quick to escape but the faster hussars’ charge, elite troops, and in column for speed caught up with them again. Another melee lost and Dragoons had to rally and loose stands. Not much left now, but the last 2 stands escaped back to my lines.

Whilst this (3,30 from Haydock-like) cavalry chase was on going, the Prussians had also fired some guns and finally moved up to occupy the front buildings of Dolmau. This allowed them to claim an objective, but did mean they were taking including cannon fire. They hunkered down, obvious now that no attack was coming. Their cannon did some good work on my veteran light infantry battalion though, steadily building up the disruption, I need to take care of that, because standing around in front of guns is never great. In the centre, the Prussian infantry hadn’t moved, just fired long range cannons at the earthworks to no effect.

So, the cavalry pursuit continued, My skirmishing infantry where now hitting his hussars and uhlan (the horse jaegers got left behind), I tried to protect my horse battery, but the Leib hussars saw an easy win and charged in to cut down the crew, as my infantry wheeled around to get a volley lined up. Not quick enough, the hussars rallied, fell-back and then, consecutive again, fell-back again to get out of range after their bold raid on the guns. Still, my skirmishers were shooting them, but they are very good troops in the Leib regiment. It was going to break them.

Well, thinks had changed quickly in that turn. Suddenly the Prussians had 14 VPs and were closing on my breakpoint quickly. The French had reached 25. It was very close again.

Now, into the final turn, things became cagey, both sides not risking much. My last dragoons stragglers moved back to some ‘safety’, we traded cannon fire and skirmish fire but nothing looked like breaking. I had to rally the dragoons again, giving up the VP. The Prussians had the card advantage though (4 brigades vs 3 and Blucher had turned up to inspect this ‘attack’, so 2 extra cards), and used it well. Unable to react, his hussars moved forwards into my deployment zone, thus deny me the big VP gain… drat! Then, last card of the game, an ‘artillery bombards’ on my veteran light infantry, which scored enough hits to break them… hammered by shot my stalwarts broke… and no cards left to rally. Seasoned troops gone. 

The final VPs total, Prussia now had 21 vs French 30, 1 point short of his 31 breakpoint, but over my own… the Prussians had sneaked it at the end.

Well, somehow, that was defeat from the jaws of victory. I really good and exciting game, in which the Prussians looked doomed, but had a big comeback, led by the Leib Hussars’ speeding counter attack. My dragoons bold attack had almost won it, but again paid the heavy price. So close. Maybe I should have sat back and waited.

Now it went... roughly...

In the campaign ‘March Phase’ we sorted casualties and rolled for the ‘Sue for Peace’, and the result was the Prussians had won. After 6 games it was over. Houlier’s division, cut-off in the retreat from Lower Silesia would have to surrender and become POWs. The Wurttembergers got away, but they’ll soon be throwing in the towel anyway as Napoleons allies desert him. No fight left in them (not much to begin with really). It was real fun, Prussia has defo risen and given the hated French a bit of kicking… time to play some other games for a bit and paint/plan for another SoN campaign later in ’24, ‘1815 - the Road to Waterloo’ I’ll call it.

Cherou's big infantry brigade blocks the way through Dolmau village. They moved across some guns and a battalion to occupy the centre earthworks as well.

Prussian advanced guard move into Dolmau, but not the buildings, yet. There battery hits the French lines, and annoyance, that became vital.

The field, turn 1, at the far end, the dragoons have already charged across and into the freicorps, and the slaughter begins.

Gerrard's dragoons, at the gallop (twice) and Charge! The reserve uhlan can't counter them, stalled! Lutzow freicorp take a sabre-ing...

The earthworks and the battery of 8 pdrs, picking away at the far Prussians

The dragoons see of the uhlan in short order, driving them back into the infantry again.

Lutzow's last battalion standing...

As Cherou's men wait in lines (and columns) for an attack that isn't coming. Cannon fire traded. Uhlan seen off.

The Prussian centre, in march column for a quick advance, but no order came.

The uhlan come forward, to threaten and intimidate, but cannon fire rakes through them and they fall back, rally and have taken heavy losses.

The dragoons attempt to get away, but the hussars are faster and catch them.

Victorious the 'Totenkopf' ride on down the flank, eyeing a vulnerable French horse battery.

Another charge, and the battery is cut down with ease.

The French left flank at the end, Prussian cavalry have us outflanked, the rearguard position must be abandoned... but Houlier's division will not escape the pursuit. For them, the war is over...

Sunday 11 February 2024

Prussia Rising - campaign game 5 - the Battle of Gorlitz

Game 5 of the campaign, this time a made-up battle at Gorlitz, as my division, part of MacDonald’s corps, moves against Blucher’s Army of Lower Silesia. The summer truce is over and both side’s forces have started moving again, Napoleon with the goal of taking Berlin. The Austrians have entered the war (so Austrian allies are allowed for the Prussians).

This action would be outside the town of Gorlitz as Blucher, believing Napoleon is in command, is pulling back and throwing rearguards in the French path. This is one such rear action.

The Prussians, defending, have occupied a large hill and dug-in with a redoubt on it. My division, General Houlier’s, is ordered to attack, but that hill looks formidable, another plan must be found.

Here is the day’s battlefield. 

Looking at this, my plan was to use my cavalry arm to try and win this one. An infantry attack up the hill, against his strongest brigade, dug-in with extra guns, would be bloody and the Wurttemberger allies are reluctant (and mostly militia quality) troops, they can’t do it, they just die attacking a stronger enemy. My French might, but again, half of them are reservists and militia, so not a strong attack force. Instead, they would just threaten an attack, a diversion, whilst I used my cavalry. I wanted a cavalry on cavalry fight, he only has light stuff, uhlan mainly, some hussars, but I have the dragoons, they would be the hammer, they can beat this lot! (I think). So, draw them forwards with my light cavalry, skirmish, draw his lance charges, then hit them full force with the dragoons. His reservist cavalry are weak, maybe I can destroy that entire brigade. Meanwhile, behind the cavalry, the Wurttembergers would aid as they can with skirmish fire and artillery fire. 

So, deployed, French infantry on the left, Wurttembergers on the right, screened out front by my 3 light cavalry regiments (4th Hussars, 10th Chasseurs and 1st Wurttemberg chevau-leger). It was time to go, and await the dragoons from reserve.

It started very well. Both sides sent out some skirmishers and my light cavalry cautiously advanced. With an ‘at the gallop’ special event his uhlan sped forwards to engage (good), and I used a 'stalled' event to stop the lead regiment cold. Oops, they stopped immobile in the centre of the field, under skirmish and cannon fire, before the Wurttemberg chevau-leger charged them and routed them! A win… the German light cavalry got shot-up for that but pulled back, rallied and lost some stands… but worth it.  We exchanged cannon fire and I moved some infantry up, then rolled for a senior officer arriving, it was Napoleon himself, come to see what the hold-up was with these Prussians. Than obviously spurred the dragoons into action and they arrived, ready for the main strike.

Up front, sparring still, I pushed my hussars up, and his reservists cavalry came forwards and deployed into attack columns. A first clash with the hussars saw them narrowly defeated and pullback to rally, but the lance sting was drawn. My chasseurs covered the horse battery guns from a sudden charge, and drew cannon fire themselves. From up on the hill, the Prussians opened fire with big 12 pdrs which covered most of the field from there. My counter-battery fire couldn’t hit, so he had my gunners ducking for cover with his longer range (and full caissons). Those cannons would be a pain for the rest of the battle, chipping in with hits.

Time for the main cavalry fight to get underway. My reserve dragoons galloped up and formed lines, ready to charge, as his cavalry lined up as well. We faced each other, and then… wait for it… nothing! The Prussians didn’t advance (it turned out without any militia rally cards in hand they were not about to start a big fight) and my dragoons were too far away yet and not risking the counter-charge. So, cannons fired and two primed cavalry forces looked at each other, waiting for the other one to blink.

I did first, OK, we’ll take it to them, both dragoon regiments and the hussars moved up, the dragoons ‘at the gallop’, then charged, crashing home, sabres out, and smashing his uhlans as they counter-charged. It was on. The fight was close, but the dragoons won, the hussars followed up to lend their handy aid too. Keeping up the pressure, the dragoons went in again, and won again, and his cavalry was in mess, trying to rally and losing stands as they tumbled back through his infantry lines. One reservist unit broke and ran. But my dragoons paid for their aggression, in skirmish and volley fire from a lot of Prussian infantry and riflemen, and cannon fire. They had to pullback and rally too, and loose some stands, and suddenly another two fresh uhlan units came forwards to try and finish them. My hussars intercept one and they fought and won, but the other’s charge broken a dragoon regiment in their counter-attack.

Phew, to-and-fro with the cavalry, but his reservists were not worth much in VPs. I need to break the line uhlan units really. Rallied, my last dragoons tried again, and won again… driving the uhlan back, but they rallied to avoid breaking. Last restort, I sent in the chasseurs at speed to try and break an infantry line, but their brief attack didn’t do enough damage (it did win, first for my chasseurs), but the return fire was costly. In two intense turns of action, casualties had been high for both sides. His guns (especially those 12 pdrs on the hill) were hammering my cavalry and I lost the hussars.

My cavalry attack was spent, it had come close to breaking the reservist brigade, two units had been routed, one was badly mauled on his own table edge, but I could not get to them to finish the job. The return damage done to my dragoons had been horrific (just 2 stands left from 10)… and the lost of the hussars cost me the VPs to win it for the Prussians… what?  

Lost again… I did more damage, but to far less valuable units (rolling 1s 3 times on the VPs table for militia cavalry didn’t help). Luck just didn’t go with at the end. My dragoons won fight after fight (8 out 10 cavalry to cavalry melees went to the French), but the Prussians claimed a cheeky ‘Hold the Line’ objective too, and the hussars are very good troops to lose.

Post-game discussion, and really we both wanted the other side to come to us, I blinked first and was tempted by the ‘at the gallop’ special event (again). So my cavalry was taking punishment from his skirmishers and cannon, which I couldn’t do back. Maybe I should have waited longer (patience, patience), used 'Intimidate' actions with the dragoons to force his cavalry to do something, and/or moved my infantry into skirmish fire range first, so they could help. I fought with basically 1 arm, the cavalry, he had all 3 in the action. In the end, it was cracking fight, a real cavalry brawl this time. Infantry was largely untouched for both of us. The only Prussian ‘mistake’ was, perhaps, to be too strong in the redoubt. A weaker force might have attracted an attack, but his best infantry and most guns up on the hill made it an easy call for me to ignore them. If there were the poor old freikorps up there, maybe I have a real go at them, and its a different game.

Shots of the action. Game 6 is due soon, if I can’t get a win, it’ll likely be the last of the campaign. Our next campaign plan is to do one set in the hundred days… Brits and Prussians vs the French in Belgium for 1815... later this year, some units to paint first.  

Wurttemberger's screened by the light cavalry on the French right.

French left, infantry lines around the copse, no attack order here.

Prussian left, the advanced guard, now rather battle weary.

The heavily defended redoubt on the hill, 12 pdrs with a rand stand view (and line of sight)

Wurttemberg cavalry, first to charge, but suffering for it. The smoke is for 'obscuring smoke', from all the muskets shooting them.

Skirmish lines square up as the French light cavalry manoeuvre.

More action on the French right flank, the Wurttembergers have withdrawn, replaced by the hussars, chasseurs lurking if required.

The arrival of the dragoons... well, command stands, until they all gallop on and deploy into lines.

The Emperor arrives, and looks grumpy... 'the Dragoons will carry the day your Majesty'

There they go, hammering into the Prussian cavalry in the centre, but too close to their infantry lines.

The ill-starred 10th Chasseurs, they did, err.. a bit... no glory, but not disgraced again today.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Prussia Rising - Game 4, Kleingorschen @ the Battle of Lutzen

As part of the battle of Lutzen, the small village of Kleingorschen, close to the centre of the battlefield, changed hands several times. By mid-afternoon, after heavy fighting, both sides had pulled back and it was in no-man’s land between the lines. Both sides had orders to seize it back, and for this task the French had part of the Young Imperial Guard in reserve. In this game, I brought them forwards (forward deployed) and would use them to take the village. Whilst the rest of my force, the Wurttemberg and French infantry and supporting light cavalry, would hold the fields beyond the village itself.

My main attack then would be on my left, with the Young Guard infantry, whilst the others held the line to the right of them, and my light cavalry counter-attacked to stall his cavalry.

Here was the battlefield at Kleingorschen.

The battle began well, with the Guard infantry on the left getting forwards, into the village, sending their skirmishers through the gardens and lanes, and doing heavy damage to the Prussian fusiliers ahead of them. The fight for the village streets would consume the first ‘phase’ of the battle, and the Guard came out on top, breaking one fusilier battalion and damaging the other. Behind them, their grenadiers lurked to counter attack though. I claimed the ‘Take a Strongpoint’ objective and French had the early lead.

The Prussians, seeking to take pressure of the street-fighting, sent their cavalry swiftly forwards and the French light cavalry where slow to arrive from reserve. French skirmishers did some damage to the Prussian lancers and hussars (including the 1st Lieb regiment), but they charged and drove the infantry back, needing the rally. But the return fire was heavy and the Prussian cavalry too had to pullback to rally. My line had been dented by held, although one Wurttemberger reservist battalion did break and run. It was close in VPs after this second ‘phase’ of the fighting.

The battle for the streets of Kleingorschen resumed, with the Guard attacking agin, and driving the last Prussians out of church at bayonet point with a furious charge, crying ‘Vive L’Empereur!’. Then the Prussian grenadiers counter-attacked and drove them back too, and it was see-saw fight in the streets. Both sides rallying, the skirmish fire heavy, but neither side broke. The Prussians just rallied the second fusiliers battalion and the French were creeping closer to victory.

But, the Prussian cavalry, mostly uhlan, hadn’t finished. They came forwards again, in a repeat of their first attack, but this time breaking a French battalion. My cavalry’s counter-attack stalled, (terrible Discipline rolls and no command points left), and so the Prussian uhlan did more damage. Another Wurttemberg battalion broke, their square intimidate by the uhlan around them, and their artillery battery was overrun. Their light infantry jaegers did, by a fluke, see off a charge of horse jaegers, but my own hussars’ charge was also defeated. The Prussians had sneaked into the lead. More intimidation from those damned uhlan saw my Chasseurs break (that unit have failed in everything in this campaign, utterly useless), and that was enough to see the Prussia claim the win.

Well, that was close and I felt I had it with the Guard infantry doing good things and winning the village fight, until his grenadiers counter-attack saved the day. By then, the Guard had been weakened, but such good infantry excelled in the street-fighting. Really, my (utterly rubbish) light cavalry lost me the game. They failed to keep his cavalry off my own infantry and then lost fights and broke! Ah, another Prussian win, taking it to 2-10 to the Prussians in campaign VPs. Big gap.

That was the end of the first half of the campaign, the summer truce of 1813 would now be called. We’ll have a quick reset, to then continue in late August, with the campaign VPs halved and both sides getting some much needed new recruits as reinforcements (all militia quality infantry though). We’d start again, with game 5, at 5-1 Prussia. Napeleon needs comeback soon, or this campaign is lost. Prussia is rising too fast!!


The field. Prussia closest, French far side.

Prussian infantry deploy on their left

The Prussian centre

Their advanced guard, to contest the village, fusiliers, grenadiers and uhlan regiment.

French lines on their right

Wurttemberger centre, advance to defend the hedge/windbreak

Prussia moves into Kleingorschen

and so do the Yound Guard infantry

The whole field. White cotton markers are a reminder that this is taking place in fog and drifting smoke clouds. -1 dice to firing and restricted artillery range... drat!

Wurttemberg, about to get in the fight today, and regret it.

Forth the Young Guard, take that village.

The allies at the hedge line, but under fire, and not looking very solid.

Guard voltiguers doing a brisk business in the streets.

Prussian skirmish line, with riflemen

Charge to take the church... the Prussians are breaking! Onward the Guard!

The Prussian cavalry come forwards to begin their attack. Hussars and uhlan.

Wurttemberger square, shaky... then running....

But the light infantry hold the hedge and see-off the horse jaegers... rare win

The hussars charge and cut down French light infantry.

French hussars finally counter-charge, but are then defeated as well. Terrible from my cavalry.

Overview of the field... Prussia cavalry have done enough to win the day. The French must pullback from Kleingorschen.