Dresden 1813, the only battle won during 1813 by the French. Here was a chance for the Allies to change the course of history, or were the French up to the job and could they defeat the huge army of the Allied nations of the Sixth Coalition?
The defence of the Gross Garten on the first day.
Well everyone arrived Friday afternoon and took in the ambience of the Wargames Holiday Centre, I am still genuinely pleased whenever we receive newcomers to the Centre, the moment they come through the door and stand there taking in the grandeur of the shelves, the look on their faces is priceless, it’s like Christmas as a kid!
The Three Emperors oversee the fighting in the Suburbs near the Landgraben (figures painted by Julian Wates and Doug Mason).
So the guys chose their respective sides, elected a CinC and got busy with the choice of tactics and deployments. Once this has been decided it’s all about writing out the tiles, for those of you who don’t know, this is how we impart a bit of fog of war. The tiles can take up to two battalions of infantry and sundry skirmish screens, a battery of artillery or up to one regiment of cavalry. This means that on setup, one doesn’t really know what’s in front of them, you could guess, but it could be wrong!
German infantry from Colloredo’s Austrian Corps.
The Allied plan was to hit the defenders of Dresden hard on the French left. This presented the shortest distance to cover, albeit the most difficult ground (crossing the Landgraben), but still two Russian divisions, one Austrian Corps along with the Austrian Grenadier division should suffice, this would be a real battering ram. The Allied Centre was held by the Russian Guard and Grenadier division along with a Prussian Division, while opposite the French right the rest of the Prussian force deployed. One of the Austrian Corps under Gyulai was deployed to attack the Gross Garten.
The suburbs of Dresden and the approach of the Austrian Corps.
The French started the game with a bluff on their right, they had decided to deploy the Imperial Guard Cavalry division along with Latour-Maubourgs Cavalry Corps in the form of infantry, the plan was to lure the Allies toward them only revealing that they were cavalry once the enemy was within sight, some of this being at very close quarters, given the lay of the land.
The Russian Guard Division got as far as the Redoubt in the centre of the French lines as night fell.
The Dresden Garrison of six Westphalian battalions and the Old Guard were held in Dresden itself, while St Cyr and Victor’s Corps deployed across the Centre. In the Gross Garten were the Young Guard divisions, with Victor holding the French left in front of the Land Graben.
From the off the Allies were extremely aggressive with their tactics, the opening shot from the Russian 12lber battery smashing Marmont’s foot battery and destroying one of his guns with the opening salvo. Luckily for the French we had four redoubts placed with three gun position artillery, so they still had plenty of firepower. The Russian divisions surged toward the Landgraben, the Austrian Corps under Colloredo on the Allied right moved into the suburbs of Dresden and tried to get an angle on the batteries of French artillery deployed in front of them. Gyulai’s Austrians marched toward the Gardens with the Combined Russian Grenadier division in support. On the Allied left/French right the plan seemed to be working, the Prussians ploughing into the village on that flank and pushing in to the centre of the right wing. The French cavalry moved as infantry and remained hidden on tiles.
Position artillery in their redoubts outside Dresden, there were four of these overall.
Very quickly the Russian Grenadier Division outstripped the pace of the Austrian Corps and charged into the south-west section of the Garden, they were met by some devastating fire from the Veterans in the Young Guard, one of their battalions being stopped in it’s tracks. The rest of the division hit the outer wall and a hard fought melee ensued. The Russians threw their second wave into the melee, unforming themselves in the process, still the Young Guard held on! The third round saw the French hang on further and the Russians retired to reform for another attack.
Prussian infantry on the Allied left, retire through their own lines.
Across by the Landgraben the Russians plunged into the ditch, coming out the other side to be met by volley after volley, driving them back onto their supports. The Austrians managed to get a Battalion of Jaeger into the suburbs and volleyed the deployed artillery with devastating effect.
On the French right The French Cavalry regiments crested the hills in front of them to look down upon and reveal the Prussians, it wasn’t quite what either player expected, the Prussians had two batteries of deployed six pound batteries, one of which was a horse battery, while the Prussian, expecting some infantry got Saxon Elite Heavy cavalry in regimental formation. The Prussians fired killing twenty five percent of both formations, the French tested and held their nerve! They charged down the hill, into the batteries, it was the only thing to do! The Zastrow Cuirassier taking a murderous canister rounds from the foot battery only to turn and flee.
The Saxon Garde Du Corps fleeing back to their own lines, pursued by the Prussian Cavalry.
The Garde Du Corps however were made of sterner stuff, they rode down the horse battery, rallied the other side of it, charged head long into the Prussian Dragoons, beat them cutting down the lone squadron, rallied again and charged into the supporting Dragoons, Uhlans and Landwehr cavalry, this time the Saxons were deep in the Prussian lines! The ensuing melee saw hundreds of dice being rolled, the Prussians snatching victory. The Saxons were down from thirty two figures to sixteen, they broke and fled…what would the Prussian cavalry do now…PURSUE, Dragoons, Uhlans and Landwehr flew after the fleeing Saxons heavies. Just at this time a regiment of Chasseurs charged into the throng adding their weight, so the fight was on again. Over twenty figures killed on either side and still it raged on. The final fight went the full three rounds, both sides retiring to lick their wounds.
Another pivotal moment was on the Allied right, the Russians were making headway over the Landgraben, the Austrian 12lber batteries were duelling with the French artillery when a lone French Cuirassier Squadron finally broke through the hail of fire and charged them!
The French Cuirassier charging headlong into the Austrian guns (Connoisseur figures painted by Doug Mason).
They weathered the canister and charged home cutting the gunners down, the resulting retreat causing mayhem in the Austrian ranks, only the Austrian Grenadiers of Chasteler’s Division saving the day.
The French Old Guard attacking the Austrians in the suburbs of Dresden (Connoisseur figures painted by Doug Mason).
While this was going on the French had moved the Old Guard from Dresden to bolster their defences. Seeing the success of the Cuirassier, the 1er regiment of the Chasseurs a Pied charged the Jaegers in the suburbs, the Jaegers stood their ground and held on, the Grenadiers poured in to support their plucky brethren along with a forty eight man Austrian line battalion, the ensuing melee saw the Old Guard bounce back from the combat, retiring behind their gun line to re-group.
The Old Guard take on a German Grenadier battalion in line.
The French Carabinier manage to break a German Grenadier in line.
Night fell, on the second day, the French right was reinforced with the Dresden Garrison and Testes division with orders to take the fight to the Prussian Corps, more Prussian cavalry had moved in overnight, so this was going to be a tough one.
The Russians here decided to place one of their six pound batteries to pound the French of Victors Corps, their Uhlans would flood through the gap in the Landgraben, deploy into lines and then attempt to charge the French gun line. The Austrians pushed their Cavalry forward to try to punch a hole through the French line just North of the Gross Garten, the other Austrian Corps squared up for another attempt at the Garden.
The Austrian Uhlans punch through the French lines.
In the Centre of the French lines Vandamme had arrived overnight, the Old Guard had moved to the Centre and an all out offensive by the French looked possible.
It started well for the 1st division of the Young Guard, they moved out of the Gross Garten towrd the Austrians, they had the support of Vandamme and the Old Guard and Marmont to their right. St Cyr moved out in support but was harried by the Russian Guard cavalry, so his advance was slow.
Westphalian Chevau leger move to counter the Austrian cavalry pouring through the gap in their lines.
Over by the Landgraben the Russians finally got a foot hold, the French were still in position however and they were dealing some heavy casualties to them, still the Russians advanced. The Austrian cavalry on this flank charged into the French Cavalry reserve, catching some of them at the halt. The Austrians dealt a huge blow to the French but had to return to their own lines as a result of the casualties they had received.
Over on the French right the Cavalry of the Imperial Guard was now getting heavily involved, swirling cavalry melee’s were seen with neither side giving quarter.
Heavy cavalry of the French Imperial Guard.
To the south of the Gross Garten the Austrian lines deployed into lines to volley the Young Guard, however after some initial exchanges of desultory fire the Austrian nerve broke, the front line retreating through it’s support allowing the Young Guard regiments to plough into the unformed columns behind, the ensuing melee’s being pure carnage!
In the end the French were driving the Allied Centre back while their flanks held on grimly, so the overall concensus was of a French victory.
Everyone had a great weekend, it didn’t rain once, (in the game) there is a roll for light rain you see! However it just never happened, over twenty turns of combat not a drop of rain.