'My' first Napoleonic campaign was not going so well for the French. The fact was that Philip, who was directing the campaign, had decided that the less experienced gamers (not that any of us were overburdened with that quality) should command the armies, and no real provision had been made for individual corps commanders. Well, the whole thing was not meant to be anything complicated. The operations of the French Army of the North having led to a defeat saved from ignominy only by determination of its soldiers, it remained to be seen what might be achieved by the Army of the East.
|Two Divisions - enough for a small Army Corps -|
in our games of nearly 40 years ago.
Where were the Austrians? It would have been nice to learn that they would be several miles away sitting this one out. No. Scouts reported that the Austrians lay not far to the east, in imminent reach of what was to become the battlefield. That was not good news: nothing we saw was good news. We were outnumbered by an enemy, two-thirds of whom were dug in, by something like 10,000 troops (57.000 to 67.000, or 570 figures to 670 if you prefer).
There was nothing for it: the wine had been drawn and now must be drunk. Although the French 'C-in-C' (I'll call him Marshal Ouijabord) was present, I pretty much formed a hasty plan, and ran the the show - a bit like Ney to Napoleon at Waterloo. Taking command of III and IV Army Corps I undertook to throw the Prussians out of Westburg, clear the left bank of the Splasch River, and then, crossing that stream, fall upon the Russian right flank. For his part, Marshal Ouijabord was to soften up the Russians with his massed artillery, preparatory to attack in combination with my command once the Prussians had been driven away. At the same time, he was to try and fend off the approaching Austrians long enough with the cavalry supported by the Imperial Guard.
|The voltigeurs now form the light companies of 4 line regiments:|
17th, 30th, 51st and 61st.
Meanwhile, the Austrians had been flowing onto the field, the bulk of whom marched towards the French right flank. There Ouijabord massed his entire cavalry - and a formidable barrier it must have seemed, for the Austrians did little more than build up their line and look menacing, all day.
|This was my second ever Division: 1st generation Minifigs,|
bought second hand and very much in need of a refurb.
|For a long time they enjoyed a semi-retirement as garrison or|
otherwise second line troops, but have recently been rejuvenated:
15th Light and 33rd Line infantry ( or VII and part of VIII Divisions
in my new scheme)
Well... that was the campaign, pretty much. I don't recall that we were so close to exams and such (unlike the year before) that one or two battles might yet have been fought, but the fact was that the disaster to the Army of the North, and the failure in the East to split up the Allies for piecemeal attention, had left the French in very poor state to carry on the struggle.
Losses were about equal in this action (I think about 190 figures on both sides). The bulk of these were from the Prussian Army. I have since wondered whether the Prussians didn't lose more than half their strength in this action. It must have been close! Had they done so, then there would have been grounds (with the rules we were using) for their retreating altogether from the field. The French might then have had a chance of winning the battle, but even had they lost, with the Prussian 2nd Army temporarily out of the campaign ( few days say) the French would have been in a position to fight on.
As it was, the outnumbered French consistently gave as good as they got. But that was never going to be enough.
Next time: Recapturing old times with new ideas...