Sunday, June 30, 2013

Campaing of Nations : Potsdam AAR

In connection with the Campaign of Nations game that I have organized, with battles and players on three continents and five countries, here follows the after action report from a battle taking place south of Potsdam.

Generallieutenant Bülow
Generallieutenant Bülow, urged into the attack from the fortifications of Potsdam by the persistent orders of Charles John, Crown Prince of Sweden and commander in Chief of the Allied Army of the North, decided to call for help from the forces besieging Magdeburg.  Once they were in motion then he launched the 3rd Prussian Corps across the Spree in an effort to break the French lines and cause some potential relief to the threatened capitol, Berlin.

Facing him across this particular stretch of the Spree was French V Corps under the command of General Laurison.

This ground was tested in the playtest for the campaign and so it was relatively quick to lay out the battlefileld.

The field of battle, to the left are French, to the right Prussians
Lauriston chose to deploy V Corps in an arc to blast at the bridge and any crossing it, holding the Chasseur brigade and his horse artillery as a mobile reserve.

V Corps Center and Lauriston
overview of V Corps deployment
Bülow had the support of 4th Prussian Corps artillery and his own 3rd Prussian Corps, to give fire support and drive back the French left flank in order to permit the 3rd Prussian Corps to push across the river.

Prussian deployment and starting to cross the Spree river
 The first 'turn' became turn 3 (about noon) when the Prussians and French began the artillery cannonade, the Prussian Brigade at the bridgehead was severely mauled, taking 3 of 5 possible hits in the opening moments.  While the Prussian guns boomed out ... they were just so much smoke an noise - for they hit nothing, indeed the three foot batteries rolled three '1's.

Prussian guns at the opening did poorly, the three 1's rolled can be seen on the right as they lay on the table.
The Prussians did surge forward though, reaching more than half the distance between the lines.

Prussians move in
 The French were immediately put into some disorder as the 19th Division commander Rochambeau in the center wanted to attack, while Lauriston demanded that he fall back.  In this read that the CD's rolled for the Division was '11' and Lauriston 'grabbed the lapels' and rolled a '3'!


Field situation after the first pulse


The French center in some disorder ...
 The second pulse of the first turn went France's way for initiative and so Lauriston was able to recover the center position, and even move 19th Div to the left further as it was clear where the Prussians intended to break through.

French center, re-formed next to the Headquarters
 17th Div and Puthod were going to have to make do on the left until 19th Div could be re-deployed.

French left
French right
 Dermoncourt's brigade of Chasseurs a cheval had been re-deployed to the right, in order to help protect the newly formed artillery line and shore up the rear of the now stretched right flank.

a view from the toy soldier's perspective....
 Prussian 6th Brigade of von Krafft  began to assault that French right as the advancing Prussian columns broke out first to the French left then right.

Prussians attack French right
While pressing in from the center was another Prussian infantry Division followed by a the Prussian 3rd Corps Cavalry reserve.

even MORE Prussians coming!
The French center had 'stabilized' and begun to shift to the left
Pulse 2 was to be the end of turn 3, as in FPGA the turn 'length' is a variable based on die rolls.

the field at 13h30
Turn 4 pulse 1 was now the time for French artillery to ... fail as bad as the Prussians had at noon.

French turn for smoke and noise, the horse rolled a 3 and foot rolled 2 1's!
 Meanwhile the last of the Prussian Divisions was crossing the Spree, soon all Prussians that could cross into the battle area would be across...

leading brigades of the last Prussian division to cross the Spree
Prussians had also now taken the artillery on the French left, capturing many guns.

Prussian Divisions now held the former French left
French shoring up of the left flank was now limited to holding a line with the guns...

Harlet's brigade needed to hold on to permit the French left to stabilize
While those self-same guns were going to have to deliver much more punishment if the French were to stop the Prussians this day...

Lauriston demanding to hold the line and deliver fire
Now, a pulse later the French won initiative again and managed to shatter the leading Prussian brigades with more effective artillery fire, though the score was close against the French, for they had lost three brigades to the Prussians four, the French needed to get two more while losing none of their own in order to even have a chance at forcing the Prussians to re-think the crossing.

French center holding on grimly ...
French right also now lost its artillery, still keeping the Prussians back with skilled use of conscript brigades
Turn 4 ended on pulse 2, with the critical event of the Prussians charging into the French center batteries and destroying half of them ... the horse batteries managed to flee, however now this left V Corps headquarters vulnerable ...

the field at the end of turn 4, 15h20
Prussians now shoring up their position on the French left
soldier's eye view of the action
Prussian cavalry now breakout on the former French left, this part of the plan is going well
utter devastation for V Corps as the artillery is overrun by Prussian MX brigade
view of the carnage of the French Corps from the horse battery fleeing
The start of the next turn was the worst result for the French, the Prussians gained initiative and pressed home on all sectors in an effort to secure one more French brigade as casualty.

Prussians win the initiative and press on all sectors
Laursiton himself became a target as the Prussian MX brigade attempted to take his headquarters!

French General Laurison V Corps HQ
Unable to take the French HQ the MX Brigade then swung about and charged into the flank of a French foot artillery battery group, they withdrew in good order, leaving the French center utterly smashed and both the left and right wings vulnerable to enfilade attacks.

French rearguard action preparing ... could any French brigades escape?
From the Prussian view this was a wild rout in progress, now all that was needed was to trap the flanks from escape ...

could the Prussians gain a rout of the French?
from Bulow's command post, this battle was very nearly over ...
The French half of pulse 1 turn 5 was all about establishing a final rearguard of artillery and working to break out either flank that could get out.

Artillery rear guard established
Dermancourt's chasseurs blunt the Prussian advance
turned by the Chasseurs and not getting the command rolls the Prussians halted and fired
Rochambeau's division was not able to escape the Prussians, all brigades on the French left were gone
only Maison's division on the right held on grimly
Dermancourt's Chasseurs open a way for Maison to escape
Lauriston, driven to the edge of the field, could only watch as V Corps crumbled
Turn 5 saw a third pulse, this time the Prussians won initiative and utterly devastated the French, while only gaining the one more brigade killed, they did push all other French brigades down to their last hits.

Prussian Dragoons crushed the Chasseurs of Dermancourt
punishing casualties on both sides
some Prussian brigades fall back from the fight
While the Prussians did get to the 4 French brigades needed to force an army morale roll, so too did the French gain the6 Prussian brigades needed to force the Prussians to foll for army morale.  The casualty count was mounting quickly ...

part of my miniatures mounting system permits the use of the mins as casualties, you can see here where the hot area of the field was ...
Maison, left without support, had to roll a 7 or more on 2d6, he only managed a 6 - forcing him to 'hold' status
the field at 17h20
Now came the army morale rolls, both came up less than the 14 needed to cause that force to rout, meaning that another turn would come.

Bad news for the French, again the Prussians won the initiative, this time would be the last ...

Prussian Dragoons put an end to Maison's Dvision and very nearly Maison!
advancing as best thy could through the carnage of the road, Prussian divisions still had a few 'hold' orders
the field at 19h00, end of battle
The French half of turn 6 pulse 1 was to flee off the field, indeed only one brigade, with 1/5 of its battle power remaining, Dermancourt's Chasseurs a cheval was even able to break away from the conflict.

The Prussians had won the ground, though at a terrible cost, Prussian 3rd Corps was down to only one capable Division.

Prussians pushed across the Spree, with great casualties to gain the ground
a single Prussian Division remained in any sort of fighting form
All the French that escaped the battle zone
Prussian 3rd Corps that was still effective at the end of battle
the carnage ...

5 comments:

Jiminho said...

Goodness gracious - well done von Bulow! The PRussians are proving to be a resilient foe in the north. I half expected to read Lauriston's obit there.

von Bulow's corps is big but full of second rate troops, it is a hard command to handle. One has to applaud their success. I hope there is something left for von Bulow to command...

MurdocK said...

Lauriston had to face three rolls against his command, came close only once.

Most certainly a bloody battle, though the Prussians will get more 'recovery' of forces they will be mostly Landwher.

The Dragoons will be missed and the lack of cavalry for the French is starting to show.

James Fisher, FINS said...

Quelle horreur! At least Lauriston made the Prussians pay dearly for securing the crossing but, as you point out, since they hold the field they will recover more than the French will! We'll have to see how St Cyr goes!

Rafael Pardo said...

A very bloody affaire! Were the players forcing their troops too much?
Rafa

MurdocK said...

Rafa, not really pushing ... the rules permit brigades to come into contact as long as they have more than 1 hit left on them (2 or more).

Very often the brigades would have 3 hits left and go in against a foe of near equal quality (plenty of French Conscripts vs Prussian Landwher) then they would exchange casualties (in one fight this meant no hits at all).

After the engagement the victor - if moving - is required to occupy the ground that the opponent held.

This battle saw the initiative switch back and forth a few times and this can cause formations to get into vulnerable positions (especially if they get a bad timed "Attack" order for the division and have no higher formation commander to grab lapels and pull them back). Some of this comes from issues that Fast Play Grande Armee uses.

So I would not say that the players were incredibly aggressive, but that rather the circumstances hit both sides rather hard this battle and neither of them came out to be able to claim a clean victory.

Prussians certainly won the battle, they paid for it dearly.