I called a halt to my FPW campaign. The campaign rules I was using allowed for a much more rapid French mobilization than what actually occurred, faster than the Prussians even, and it was obvious that the French would end up victorious. While I figure out what I’ll do for the next attempt at a full campaign I took advantage of a visit from my brother to do a one-off battle using Bloody Big Battles. I’m not a great scenario designer so I turned to history, yet again, and decided to do a version of Gettysburg but set in 1870. The Prussians took the role of the Confederates while the French acted as the Union.
The Prussian army consisted of 3 Prussian corps, 2 Bavarian corps, and a division from Wurttemberg. Altogether 11 divisions. The French had the I, V & VII corps along with the Imperial Guard. This added up to 12 divisions on the table. The Prussian divisions were a bit larger, averaging around 10K infantry while the French were more in the 8K range. The Prussians also had significantly more artillery, roughly 40 guns per division compared to the French at 24.
Early morning on day 1 facing south. The French VII Corps is on the field with 3 brigades NW of town and two due north of the town. The corps 6th brigade is deployed in reserve on the large non-cemetery hill south of the town. A division from the Bavarian I corps is just arriving from the NW road.
Although reinforcement rolls were biased towards the Prussians the French were the first to receive help. The Vth Corps is just arriving on the field from the east. In the distance is Gettysbourget with the early morning fighting to the NW of tow.
Prussian, or in this case Bavarian reinforcements arrive! The remainder of the Bavarian I Corps comes on from the northwest while the entire Bavarian II Corps deploys to the north and northeast of town.
The Bavarian I Corps slowly pushed their way through the trees to their front but were not making much progress. However, the II Corps made short work of the 2 brigades to their front and were poised to move into the town.
Thankfully for the French their V Corps continued to arrive. One brigade was sent to occupy “Culps Hill” while the rest of the corps moved forward towards non-cemetery hill.
The Bavarian II Corps has completed the destruction of the division to their front and are prepared to move forwards towards “Culp’s” hill.
Seeing the threat from the Bavarians the French deploy a 2nd division from V Corps while their 3rd division prepares to take up a reserve position.
The remnants of the 3 French brigades to the NW of town begin falling back under pressure from the Bavarians and the newly arrived Wurttemberg division.
Desperate to extract as many troops as possible the VII Corps cavalry make a desperate charge into the oncoming Wurttemberg forces. Their losses were horrific but they managed to buy enough time for the infantry to break contact and make their way back towards the French lines.
Mid-afternoon overview from the NW looking south. The Prussian V Corps has arrived and is beginning to head south behind the tree line. The Bavarian’s and Wurttemberg divisions press forward towards the French.
View from the northeast in the mid-afternoon. The Bavarian II Corps begins moving on “Culp’s” while the French V Corps takes up positions on the hills at the edge of the tree line.
Luckily for the French the elite troops of the I Corps began arriving from the south. Apologies for the unpainted rock walls, they arrived in the mail literally an hour after we started playing and were immediately pressed into service.
Overview near the end of day 1. The French V & VII Corps have deployed along the hills facing north. The I Corps continues to arrive and will take up position facing west. Meanwhile the divisions of the Imperial Guard begin to take their place in the reserve.
At the end of the first day the French had taken 15,000 combined casualties, dead, wounded and routed while the Prussians had only lost 7,000. A great start for the forces of Germany.
The Guard Voltigeurs deploy behind a stone wall at the “hinge” of the position. Behind the grenadiers can be seen marching up the road.
The French positions are nearly complete with a continuous defensive position running from “Culp’s” down to Repaire du diable, or Devil’s Den if you prefer.
At the French far left infantry arrives at petit sommet and grande sommet (off camera to the left.) This is the end of the line and if the Prussians break through here, it won’t be pretty. In the distance the newly arrived Prussian XI Corps approaches.
View from behind the French center as the Prussian attacks begin on day 2. Two corps will be sent against this section of line, the Bavarian I and Prussian V.
To the north the Prussian VI and the Wurttemberg division move up behind a large battery that would eventually grow to over 200 guns.
The beginning of the southern battle. Prussian artillery has driven the French off of petit sommet while a division begins moving over grande sommet towards a lone French brigade.
In the northern sector the grand battery, now up to 192 guns begins blowing French units off of non-cemetery hill. For the rest of the battle the French would struggle to keep anyone alive on the slopes of the hill under the deluge of metal from the Prussian guns.
To the south the French easily repulse the lead Prussian brigade and impetuously begin following the retreating Germans up grande sommet.
The Prussian “masse de decision” begin driving towards the hinge between the north and east facing sectors of the line. The massive battery has killed many of the VII Corps defenders. All that’s blocking the 3 Prussian divisions are the remaining intact VII Corps brigade and a bloodied brigade of Guard Grenadiers.
Overview of the battle, early afternoon of the 2nd day. In the foreground the massed Prussian assault goes in towards the hinge. In the middle background the Prussian/Bavarian attacks towards the stone wall have become a bloody mess. To the far south it is still touch and go in the battles for the sommet’s.
The climax of the battle. A 2nd Grenadier brigade has moved up in support while the Guard cavalry performs a heroic, and seemingly suicidal charge to slow down the Wurttemberg division. Everything hung in the balance as the bloody fight at the hinge continued.
In the center the Prussians made one last desperate push towards the stone wall. Even with horrific losses they did their best to prevent French reinforcements from turning north to aid in the battle at the hinge.
The fighting was desperate all along the line as the Prussians in the south made a final push and drove the French back from the grande sommet.
The French were able to rally units who had been blown off the hill earlier. They charged into battle just as the defenders were on their last legs. The Grenadiers had been decimated, losing an entire brigade, but the remnants valiantly held on. The Prussians were down a brigade and the 3 remaining brigades were disordered but it would only be a matter of time for them to rally and press on.
Taking advantage of the momentary disorder in the Prussian ranks the Guard cavalry slammed into their flank causing the entire mass to recoil. Shortly thereafter, as the Prussian center fell back from their efforts at the wall, the Voltigeurs would move up to support the remnants of the Guard.
At this point the Prussians began falling back all along the battle front. After recovering stragglers and rallying the routers the French losses totaled 20,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 96 guns. The Prussian losses added up to 28,000 infantry and 24 guns. A victory for the French but at a terrible cost for both armies.