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...


  1. I really thought the French had swung it this time, oh well c'est le guerre a cracking game nonetheless. Some Battlegroup next up then?