Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bloody Big Franco Prussian Battle

Played the 2nd battle in a Franco-Prussian campaign that I recently started. The 1st battle wasn’t terrible interesting so I didn’t spend time writing up a post on it. The 2nd however, turned out to be a nail biter and highlighted why campaign battles can be so enjoyable.

In the campaign the Prussians have crossed the border early on July 25th in an attempt to punish the French before they complete mobilization. This means they are fighting the first week without the south German state forces, other than the Saxons who have joined III army already.

The battle began with the French 3rd & 4th corps under Marshal Bazaine in position southeast of Metz. The Prussian 2nd Army under Crown Prince Frederick was in position to attack with the 3rd, 8th, & 10th corps with the Guard corps as potential reinforcements. In Metz, and potentially available (although the chances of French reacting are fairly low) was Napoleon III with the 2nd & Guard corps. These last 2 formations had fought the previous day and repulsed Steinmetz so they already were dinged up a bit.

I had to substitute some Bavarians for the 10th corps and some Baden/Wurttemberg for the Guard although they were rated for what they were supposed to be.

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Here’s a rough map of the battle at the beginning and a along with a few photos.

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View from the French left

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View from the French right

 

The battle started with the Prussians advancing on a 3 corps frontage. Their initial plan was for the right & center corps to demonstrate and tie up the French while their 10th corps on the left drove in the French right and hopefully rolled up their line.

 

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View of the Prussian left as they started their attack

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Panorama of the battlefield as the fighting commenced

 

Initially the Prussians met with some success, albeit with higher than desired losses.

 

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On the left the Prussians have driven the French from the village

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And in the left-center they have shoved back the French near the village with the church

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The Prussian right was mostly stalled at this point with multiple disordered units and not much success in advancing

 

By mid-morning, as expected, the Prussian Guards arrived drawn by the sound of gunfire. Incredibly, the French also reacted expeditiously and their 2nd corps arrived at the same time (this took some exceptional dice rolling to occur)

 

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View from behind the French lines. The 2nd Corps arriving en masse behind the embattled army.

Soon the crisis of the battle arose. The Prussians were driving the French back all along the line. It looked like defeat for legions of Napoleon was soon to follow.

 

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The Prussian “masse de decision.” The Guards arrive on the field and prepare to assault the central village.

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View from the French 2nd Corps. Could the “thin blue line” hold?

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On the French left the Prussians had advanced and captured the line of villages driving the French before them.

 

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While on the French right the Prussians consolidated around the captured village but struggled to advance against the French gun line.

 

 

A confused, bloody fight up and down the line resulted. In the midst of the turmoil the French Guard reached the field (a 2nd incredible dice rolling sequence with around a 5% chance of success resulted in their arrival.)

 

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On the French right wing they mount a furious assault to try to retake the village.

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While in the center the Prussian juggernaut appears unstoppable.

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Portions of the 2nd Corps and the Guard allow the French to drive the Prussians back in the center with tremendous losses.

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Panorama of the battle as the fighting rages

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One last desperate attempt by the Prussians to drive through in the center.

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While on the French right things have stabilized. The Prussians will keep the village they’ve paid for in blood but their advance has been stopped cold.

 

The final Prussian assault failed in the center. At the end, the French held their line and as night fell, the Prussians fell back after suffering horrific casualties. After recouping casualties suffered, in the To The Last Gaiter Button campaign rules that’s easier for the defender than the attacker, the losses looked like this:

French – 16 bases lost out of 85 engaged

Prussians – 25 bases lost out of 100 engaged

After the battle the Prussians retreated to regroup while the French also pulled back into the relative safety of Metz in order to try to regain their strength from the losses over the last two days.

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Battle of Prague

After an unscheduled business trip, two weeks with the flu afterwards, and the standard hullabaloo around Christmas I’m finally putting up this AAR.

As anticipated from the balance of forces it wasn’t much of a battle, but that’s the beauty of campaigns: sometimes you get very asymmetrical engagements. As a side note, after looking at this set of pictures I replaced the hideous green on my table with two very nice Cigarbox game mats.

As a reminder from the previous post the opposing forces looked like this.

The Forces:

Prussians Austrians
Grenadiers 4 Brigades 2 Brigades
Musketeers 5 Brigades 9 Brigades (1 reduced strength)
Fusiliers 4 Brigades N/A
Cuirassiers 5 Brigades 4 Brigades
Dragoons 3 Brigades (1 reduced strength) 0
Hussars 1 Brigade 0
Artillery 4 Heavy Artillery units 2 Heavy Artillery unit

In the rules I use, Might & Reason, the Prussians are significantly better than the Austrians on a unit for unit basis. In this case with ~25% more infantry and over 2X the cavalry, it promised ill for the white coats.

And so it went. The Austrians deployed along a hill line a ways behind a stream. It was considered to deploy right up against the stream to take advantage of the difficulties in fording under fire however it was judged that the Austrians had insufficient men to cover the length of the stream and would have left themselves open to outflanking from the more numerous, and more speedy, Prussians. They fervently hoped that either a) part of the Prussian army would not arrive on the field or b) if it did all show up that night would fall before they were too badly bruised.

 

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View from behind the Austrian lines. Schwerin’s contingent of Prussians can be seen approaching from beyond the stream.

 

The Austrians were forced to stretch their lines in order to make a flank attack less likely. This left them dangerously thin across their entire front. Unfortunately for the Austrians, all the Prussians made it to the table and they did it in a timely fashion with the entire army advancing by mid-morning.

 

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Advance of the Prussians. Frederick’s contingent has arrived and is crossing the stream while in the background Schwerin’s group continues their advance.

 

 

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Austrian view of the approaching Prussian hordes.

 

It didn’t take long for the Prussians to engage along the entire Austrian front. Their basic plan was to tie up all the Austrian front line and use a wedge of Grenadiers to drive a wedge through the relatively weak Austrian center.

 

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Looking down the battle line. The Prussians are massing to drive a wedge through the Austrians and into the valley between the hills.

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View from behind the Prussian line as the armies meet.

 

In the end it didn’t take long for the Prussian plan to succeed. Under the grenadier bludgeon the Austrian center melted away. The wings held a while longer but they were taking horrific losses from the rapid Prussian fire. By early afternoon they were falling back behind the walls of Prague. Now the question will be can the relief army save them before the city falls.

 

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Breakthrough in the Austrian center.

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Austrian left still holding but the losses are mounting quickly.

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End of the battle. The gap in the Austrian center is now huge. Time for the remnants to run away.

 

The Prussians ended up losing the equivalent of 2 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades. The Austrian losses were more significant with no less than 7 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades being lost. Including the Reserve army the Austrian/Russian forces still outnumber the Prussians but the advantage is being whittled down quickly.

 

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Luke the Corgi says Merry Christmas!

 

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