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.