On Friday the 3rd March a whole family of Brothers and a son/nephew took on members of the Newbury and Reading Wargames club in a hum-dinger of a battle! Three brothers and one son took up the sword on behalf of the Allied empires, while the Newbury and Reading boys looked to defend one of Napoleons largest supply depot’s in Saxony.
If the French lost the battle it could really scupper the plans of the Little Corporal, while the Allies failure could result in the Monarchs being brought to the table to discuss a treaty.
So with it all to play for the combatants took up their positions. The Allies had a deployment restriction where they had to deploy at least one of their Army Corps on the western side of the stream which traversed the entire width of the battlefield from south to North. Apart from this they were free to deploy.
The Prussians under Kleist were deployed west of the stream, moving from left to right, Colloredo was next, behind them on the heights were the Guards, both Prussian and Russian. Further along to the Allied right in front of the Gross Garten was the Russian combined Grenadier division, deployed in Line. Deployed behind these was the Russian division of Gortschakov and to their right was Witgenstein all under the command of Barclay de Tolly.
More Russians from the Centre’s Front Rank collection.
Further to the right and moving North were the remaining Austrian formations of Gyulai and Chasteler right behind them to the east. The Austrian reserve commanded by Chasteler comprised the finest troops the Austrian’s had to offer with their combined grenadier battalions and regiments of Cuirassier.
Opposing these the French had three line corps, two cavalry corps, Teste’s division, the Dresden Garrison and the Imperial Guard. The stream formed the right flank for the French over to the west, Teste and the Garrison were ordered to defend the stream area occupying the villages on the Northern most part of the table and lining the stream. The Prussians would have their work cut out getting across this! Opposite Colloredo and the Russian Divisions in the French centre Marmont deployed his Corps with St.Cyr to protect the centre, on the French left Marshal Victor deployed his corps opposing the Austrian masses.
In the Gross Garten the divisions of the Young Guard took up residence.
Young Guard take up position.
These are actually Bicorne miniatures Middle Guard. Too nice to leave on the shelf though!
Most of the guys were experienced wargamers although only a few had used the “In the Grand Manner” rules, so we took it easy to start, talking our way through each move phase by phase.
The battle takes place on the second day of the real battle, so Napoleon has arrived as have his Guard, the Allies are committed and deployed and it’s raining, only lightly, but it’s wet! The Drums beat and the Allies set off, the Russian Grenadier division headed for the Gross Garten supported by Wittgenstein and Gortschakov, Colloredo advanced in the centre, Kleist’s Prussians flooded across the plains west of the stream, heading toward Gorbitz, Teste’s division occupied the village of Friedrichstadt and advanced a couple of battalions west to occupy the outlying village on the Northern most area of this sector.
In the East, Gyulai’s Austrians advanced on Victor, the outlying village was occupied and the Hungarian infantry set about loop holing the position in case of French counter attack. Chasteler advanced his Cuirassier regiments and the Grenadiers advanced toward the eastern sector of Dresden to further support Gyulai’s men.
The Russian Hussars advanced at the trot to ascertain just who was occupying the Gardens, fire from twio batteries of French artillery soon sent them running for cover however but not before they saw the pennants of the Young Guard. This was going to be a tough job and the Russian Grenadiers were the men to perform this grisly work.
The first clash was the cavalry of Gortschakov and St.Cyr’s light cavalry, the French got the better of the initial engagement, both retiring to lick their wounds. The Russian Grenadiers began to close on the Gardens.
On the Allied right Gyulai’s men came under fire from a horse battery and Victors foot battery, it was decided that a full frontal cavalry charge would be the order of the day and a hussar regiment galloped forward to deal with these threats.
The Austrian 12 pdrs were unlimbered to pour fire into Victors Corps and the defenders of the Gross Garten. The rain turned heavy however and due to the lack of visibility the Austrian Hussars had to continue their advance in order to see the targets. Fire from the Gross Garten was desultory with only a few casualties in the Grenadier Division. The infantry of Colloredo’s corps advanced steadily into the teeth of the artillery from Marmont’s Corps and the position artillery in redoubt L4, they couldn’t see each other as the rain had increased, but each knew the other was there! Kleist urged his troops on, the dark masses of the Prussians flooded across the Plains, some fire came from the isolated buildings and casualties were recorded on the lead elements of the light cavalry.
The rain poured down, visibility was down to 24″ and the assault on the Gross Garten continued unabated. The Grenadier Division, it’s battalion columns lined out in front of Gortschakov’s division were holding their first volley until they got within charge distance. The Young Guard Tirraileurs had nine of it, they let rip a vlley into the lead battalions and the casualties mounted, the Russians took two such volleys then with a mighty Hurrah let off their own first volley, only a few Tirrailleurs fell though and the Grenadiers crashed into the walls. All the work now would be at the point of the bayonet! Rouget’s Young Guard took the brunt of the assault, Gorschakov’s battalions urged on by Barclay threw themselves into the fray, after three rounds of melee the Russians fell back, regrouped and went again! Charging headlong into the volleys from the Young Guard, more Russian Grenadiers fell, young Musketeers stepping over their comrades and adding their weight to the fray!
The Austrian Dragoons under Gyulai manoeuvred into two deep line and steadied themselves for the charge, their comrades the Hussars retired in some disorder back to their own lines after being decimated by the French fire.
Fine figures from Elite Miniatures.
Austrian Light infantry.
Figures from elite Miniatures.
An isolated building just to the east of redoubt L2 was housing some French Voltigeurs and the 32nd infantry regiment was sent to capture it, the fire from the Horse battery along with the 12pdr’s in the redoubt decimated the regiment, to the point that they refused to charge the building once they got in range. They soon came back!
The Austrian Lines were moving steadily through the wooded area east of the Landgraben, crossing the ditch just as the trumpets sounded and the Dragoons walked forward, the first volley from the French took many infantry down and the fire from the horse and foot batteries emptied many of the saddles in the Dragoon regiment.
Still their nerve held and they built up into the charge, on they rushed in the driving rain, the canister from the foot battery emptying still more saddles, then they were on the guns, smashing through the battery and on to the infantry in square beyond.
A rally call was issued and they fell back, their work done.
In the centre, Colloredo’s Austrians advanced into cansiter range of the guns, great swathes of infantry were cut down, but still the huge blocks of the Austrian infantry advanced. The drums beat and the charge went into the redoubt L4 and on to Marmont’s foot battery, more Austrians fell going in but they made short work of the gunners, cutting them all down to a man. The French infantry behind the guns lined out, preparing to deliver some retribution for the cut down of their colleagues.
The Prussians seemed to be having their own trials, the isolated buildings were proving to be a real thorn in the side, pot shots at the cavalry, combined with the supporting fire of the 12pdr battery in redoubt L5, saw off the lead battalion of Prussian Musketeers which caused no amount of problems for the supporting battalions.
They soon sorted themselves out though and came on again, determined to take these troublesome buildings at the bayonet. Their batteries of artillery deployed on the west side of the stream and began to pour fire into the French in and around the redoubt L5.
The focal point now became the Gross Garten as it did historically, the rain had only abated for one turn, with the heavy rain continuing for three consecutive turns meaning that any musketry in the open had effectively ceased.
On came the troops in Gortschakov’s division, the Grenadiers had reformed behind them and moved in to support them. The South Eastern garden fell, the Tirailleurs and Voltigeurs from Decouz’s Young Guard division streaming back through the rest of the Gardens.
The Russians however were too exhausted to capitalise on this victory and still waited outside the garden reforming. The centre of the garden was a milling mess but still in French hands.
A Russian Grenadier battalion took the bold step of advancing into the garden, the French sent out voltigeurs to harry them and awaited the inevitable assault! Rouget’s men in the garden to the North west of this still hung on, Gortschakov and the Grenadier Division were severely mauled but the Young Guard must be in just as bad a state! One more effort! Bring up Wittgenstein’s men and Chasteler’s Austrian Grenadier division.
On the allied right Gyulai’s men crossed the Landgraben, Cuirassier from Chasteler’s reserve charged into the guns of the horse battery, cutting them down. The village was emptied as the Hungarian battalion issued forth in support of their comrades crossing the Landgraben. Victors troops stood resolute in their squares waiting the cavalry mass heading their way. The downpour continued!
In the centre, some of the French reserve cavalry galloped out to deal with the Russian battery deployed at the foot of the slope, linking up with the 5th Hussars the 3rd Lancers of the line charged headlong into the gun line, canister took down the lead elements of the cavalry but on they thundered, straight into the guns, wiping out the battery. They were exhausted though and returned to own lines after this. The 5th had just fought a melee with Gorschakov’s hussars and caught up in their victory here had charged on to the guns.
Over behind Colloredo’s troops, the Allied Guard cavalry emerged out of the rain, galloping forward in support of the Austrian victors, this may well be the blow to break the line. As the Prussian Heavies neared the lines the Lancer de Berg regiment appeared out of the rain and galloped into a charge, bearing down on the Austrians reforming after the fight for the redoubt. Seeing this the Prussians sounded the charge and hurtled into the lancers!
The fight was short and sweet, the Lancers backed off as did the Prussian Heavies, out of the rain could also be seen the pennants of the 2nd regiment of the Imperial Guard’s Chevau Leger de Lancier, the Dutch Lancers. Things could get tricky for Colloredo without adequate cavalry support and the rest of the Guard cavalry was moving down the slope still a move away.
The rain had continued for most of the game, the powder was wet, so the Austrians began forming square. No sooner had they done this then the cries of “Vive le Empereur” resounded from the French lines, out of the rain came the dreaded bearskins of the Guard, they crossed the abandoned guns, sporadic fire from the Austrians felled a few of the Grumblers but still they came!
The Austrians were trying to retire on their cavalry and this had not proved easy, some of their battalions had suffered over forty percent casualties and had begun to retire, Marmont’s infantry had volleyed into their ranks and then charged the reforming battalions, who then turned at bay and fought the French to a standstill, the Guard may be just the straw to break the proverbial camels back though.
On the far side of the stream the Prussians had charged into the isolated buildings hunting down the light infantry defending them. Twice they charged and twice the French threw them back. The village to the west of Friedrichstadt was cleared by a Prussian battery pouring canister into the buildings, the defenders seeking the better part of valour had slipped out the back and were falling back on Friedrichstadt.
The Allied right saw Gyulai’s men lined out and returning fire into the French defenders, the front battalion however panicked and retreated back across the Landgraben before rallying, Three squadrons of Cuirassier in successive lines smashed a French square, riding down the luckless battalion, the rest of the squares stood firm though and the Cuirassier retired out of harms way.
Meanwhile back in the Garden the Austrian and Hungarian Grenadier battalions had deployed and now advanced on the defenders of the Eastern garden. On through the driving rain, supported by the troops of Wittgenstein’s division they ploughed on through the gardens. Stopping at effective range to deliver a shattering first volley then to cries of “Vorwarts” they charged into the remaining Tirailleurs of Decouz’s Young Guard. The Russians were stopped again, but the Austrian Grenadiers broke in! Fierce hand to hand fighting ensued with the French finally breaking, only half the Gardens had been captured and at what cost!
The French still held their exit routes, the Allies had tried in vain to break into the Gross Garten, while the Russian Guard were intact the rest of the army had lost a lot of men and the majority of the French cavalry was still in good shape, only one French Cuirassier regiment having fought an Austrian Cuirassier regiment over near redoubt L1.
The Allies would have to retire on their lines of communication, the French held the vital supply depot and had most of their troops in good order. The Young Guard were hors de combat, this could be a problem in replacing these valuable troops but still the bulletin’s going to Paris would ring with the words “Victory”.
Out of a game lasting nearly twenty turns, the rain only stopped for two, the remainder was either light or heavy.
Great game with a great bunch of lads.
On to the next!