Sunday, September 4, 2016
After a much-too-long hiatus, Chris, Casey and I, along with our newest recruit, Matt, got together for a Labor Day battle. The next chapter in our Leipzig Campaign. Todays battle was the fictional Siege of Gorlitz.
This battle would have taken place sometime between the Battles of Lützen and Bautzen in mid- May 1813. A large Prussian force has been sent to dig the French out of the town, but the clever French are using the town's medieval defenses to their advantage.
We played on a 6' x 8' table and used slightly modified Black Powder. We altered all moving and shooting ranged by 2/3 since we were using a relatively small table.
Blücher versus Ney. Casey's infantry was all regular, but Chris' was all untested Marie Louise's. We also rolled for random traits for our Brigade commanders. Matt and I both had normal commanders. Casey's was Hesitant and Chris' was Head Strong.
Matt and I had to breach the walls of the town in the center before the French reinforcements arrived. Casey deployed his army in the town to start, and Chris could move his cavalry on starting turn 2, and his infantry on turn 3. The battle was set; the men took their last sips of schnapps and took their last puffs from their pipes.
The Prussians were deployed in the large field to the east of the town with hussars to guard the right flank and a 12 pdr to provide covering fire from the left. Two brigades moved forward to begin the assault.
To the northeast, Matt deployed his Austro- Prussian force containing 3 squadrons of cavalry, 2 batteries of artillery and a regiment of Austrians. He was immediately met with two squadrons of French Dragoons, who had sallied forth from the town.
The range was and firepower was in the allies favor and both squadrons became wounded and disordered. Perhaps this battle would go quicker that we expected?
The French had deployed their men on the wall and their Voltigeurs in the dead ground.
The Silesian battalion immediately failed their command roll and were stuck at their line of departure. However the East Prussians quickly crossed the field and began to skirmish with the Voltigeurs. From the hill, the 12 pounder began to drop solid shot of the town's defenders.
The scouts reported that the French relief column had been spotted coming down the road to the west. Blucher dispatched the Life Hussars to head them off and cut the road off from the town. With a blare of the trumped, away they went!
Obviously the French were not going to open the town gates to the Allies. Immediately, they returned fire from the wall with musketry and 12 pdr shot.
Closer and closer the Prussians moved. The East Prussians moved into escalading position. Ladders at the ready, they prepared to take the walls. The Silesians broke to the left. Ran through the stream and began to fire on the defenders.
The Uhlans and Hussars under Matt's command could not rightfully storm the gates alone. They had to keep their distance and wait for the infantry to break through. But after a second round of shooting from the two batteries, both Dragoon squadrons were scattered. One fled to the town square when Marshall Ney joined to rally them and the other fled into a nearby swamp, dismounted and began to harass the Austrian flank.
With some excellent musketry, the 12 pdr defending the wall was destroyed. Only one battalion stood in the way. The Prussians would be drinking and celebrating before night fall!
Forward marched the Austrians. Their cannons blasting the fortifications and dug-in infantry in the closest houses. The battalion on the left broke left and assaulted the dragoons in the swamp, while the right battalion edged toward the gate.
Cavalry! Form Square!
The Silesian battalion attached to the East Prussians had little option but to form square with heavy cavalry bearing down the road toward them. Luckily the Hussars rode to intercept.
Only one squadron of hussars was available to protect the entire right flank. Three French squadrons had just entered the fray. This would be a tough task for any unit, but the Leibhusaren were up for it!
The large Austrian battalion made quick work of the small Dragoon unit in the swamp. After quickly rooting through the dead for valuables they made their way through the swamp to the other side of and prepared to assault the town from a third angle.
Two battalions of Prussians continued their assault on the wall. They would be victorious or they would break their backs on the wall.
And they had to hurry. The French infantry had arrived!! Right on time. Reinforcements quickly replaced the battered battalion that was defending the wall.
Blücher had but one order. Vorwärts!! So single minded were the infantry commanders, no one noticed the French Cuirassier which had begun to flank around the farmhouse. The valiant hussars, which were catching their collective breath after fighting moments earlier, did notice and moved to intercept.
Finally a breach! The Austrians had succeeded quickly, where the Prussians were still losing men left and right on the wall. I was here that I made a critical error. After defeating a French battalion that was manning the wall, I forgot to move my two battalions into the breach.
Chris was quick to capitalize and on his turn moved a fresh battalion into their place. I would have to recapture what I had already gained!!
Both batteries were demolishing the houses and forced the French battalion to retreat. Two Austrian battalions were storming the gate and began to move amongst the French defenders. Prussain Dragoons moved their way into the town. Had I moved my battalions in, we would have had them in a fatal position.
The 12 pdr on the hill saw a glare from Ney's bald head, lobbed a shot and destroyed the Dragoon squadron and, vicariously, Ney! Their commander was knocked out! Victory was in our reach!
After the Austrians moved through the swamp, two battalions of French were sent to engage them and prevent them from easily entering the town and completing the encircling snare.
Blücher sent his last two fresh battalions into the meat grinder. The East Prussian Grenadiers led the charge. Scrambling, climbing, and fighting.
|Grenadiers fight for a foothold|
The Leibhusaren could not hold the Cuirassier at bay. They broke and positioned themselves to charge the rear of the assaulting force. The next turn they charged the grenadiers' rear, breaking them and their supporting battalion. The 12 pdr in the town annihilated the Silesians in square.
One of my two battalions was broken and in flight! Fleeing the heavy cavalry, who were riding them down.
"Damn. Damn damn!" cursed Blücher.
With that, the siege was broken. The nasty heavy cavalry had saved the day for the French. Without them, there was a good chance that the Prussians would have entered the town and the Austrians would have cut off the reinforcement.
Oh how important remembering to follow through on charges is! That error proved fatal for the siege. But, all told, it was still an incredibly fun game.