Tuesday 29 March 2022

Blücher - Spring 1813 Map Campaign - Second Battle

The second battle of our campaign was to be played at a normal club-night at COGS so we had to choose a smaller one. 

The battle was for the key town of Altenburg, to the south of the map. This town blocks the road that the French are using to advance further into Prussia and also split the French forces and so is doubly important.

Blücher held the town with half of his corps. Barclay de Tolly's corps was just off the map and would come on as reinforcements. Marmont lead the French IV corps in the assault and was hoping for support from XII Corps just off to the west.

Blücher garrisoned the town with infantry, including a guard unit and put his horse artillery on the hill with cavalry behind to defend. As the French columns advanced he bombarded them and swept some cavalry around to the right flank. This served both to threaten the French columns, slowing them, but also to head-off the reinforcements.

The French columns pushed some of the infantry out of the town, but the guard held strong. The cavalry danced around, jockeying for position on the right flank. Things were not looking too good.

Then the Russians arrived and their columns of infantry counterattacked into the town, pushing the French troops out and destroying some units completely.

However it wasn't long before the French reinforcements arrived, but with the Prussian cavalry watching their deployment onto the battlefield they were unable to reserve move enough to really take part in the battle.

As the sun set the French decided that their attack on the town was only going to reduce their strength for further battles and so they called off the assault. The Allies held the town for very minor losses and they'd given the French a bloody nose in the process.

Playing this sort of campaign battle is a completely different experience from playing a one-off game of Blücher. You have to be careful not to over-commit your units and end up with a much reduced force for future battles. It's very easy indeed to do this. The French lost units they could really have done with not losing in this battle. I suspect this may affect them badly in future campaign turns.

There are two more battles to play out in this campaign turn. One looks like we should be able to get it done in a COGS evening, but the other is going to require more time and it could be a while before we get chance to play it.

Sunday 20 March 2022

Blücher - Spring 1813 Map Campaign - Setup and First Battle

We finally started our Blücher Spring 1813 Map Campaign today. 

I first planned to start this about 2 years ago and got everything ready apart from a few extra units. Since various lock-downs occurred and diversions to other projects and hobbies I only finished painting those last few units a few weeks ago.

With a Dales Wargames meet today offering a rare chance to play for a whole day it was possible to start the campaign.

My son, Brendan, took control of the French, with help from David, and Gerald took control of the Prussians supported by myself with the Russians. The campaign is based on the same system and maps as used here, though with the order-of-battle based off my own interpretation of the lists in the George Nafziger book, "Lützen and Bautzen". The French have to have a decisive battle and get some of their troops off the east edge of the map.

After a few initial turns of movement the map looked like this.

The Allies had declared 4 battles in an attempt to block the French movement. The columns marked with A are Allies, F are French.

We decided the play the second from top battle involving F3 and A1, with A10 and A11 as reserves. This would actually involve Napoleon and his guard attacking 2/3 of Yorck's Corp with Tomassov's Russian guard and reserves coming on as reinforcements.

The terrain meant that the Prussians were defending the town of Wittenberg, with most of their forces on the far side of the impassable River Elbe. The only way to them was through Wittenberg or across a pontoon bridge further upstream.

Initially the Prussians were fighting to save their lives and hold ground. Some valiant landwehr held the French guard cavalry. The French needed to destroy just 4 Prussian units before the Russians could arrive in order to win the battle and take control of all the board. The French however, had the problem that their supply-lines were cut by Prussian units. Any lost units could not be recovered at all.

Then the Russians arrived on the eastern side of the battlefield and the objectives changed. The French changed direction and moved to block the Russian's advance with squares of infantry.

The French guard managed to charge the Russian guard and grenadiers as they advanced through the woods and damage them significantly. However the Russian cavalry and artillery managed to destroy several French infantry units completely. They are now out of the campaign.

Licking their wounds the Russians retired from the battlefield. As the afternoon waned the French ceased their attack and both sides re-organised.

This was a great start to the campaign and we're looking forward to getting more battles played soon.