Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hanau an old AAR

Kelly Jones
For Hanau, a battle fought on 30 & 31 October 1813, I go back to a time before this blog existed, at a Vancouver games event called Salute.

The host and moderator was Kelly Jones and the rules were a modified version of Shako I.

We were using 25mm miniatures, mostly from Kelly's collection with sections from the North Shore Wargamers collections.

We were setup on a monster table some 8-10 feet by 28-32 feet, remember when you are looking at the pictures that these are 1 inch minis.

Hanau is a post Leipzig battle where the Bavarians had dashed into the path of the French, not realizing that they were in the planned route of the main body.  The Bavarians had hoped to just be rounding up some 20,000 to 40,000 stragglers and taking them prisoner.  I wonder what Wrede ended up telling his subordinates after the dust settled?

The map used for planning
I had arrived at the convention with no set games plans of my own, so when I saw that Kelly had this big game on the go I was IN!  The came the divvy up of commands.  The Allied force was quickly spoken for, leaving four of us to run the French.  After a quick set of questions the other three players selected me as Bonaparte!  This was to be my first run in the big role and I was not going to accept any egg on my face ... so we did a quick map and ground appraisal then set about a staff plan and discussion with the corps commanders.  We were told that only the plan could be followed for the first few turns and that until Bonaparte arrived (the command stand did not start on the board) then no major changes to the plan were allowed, the Corps commanders could not 're-jig' the plans.

So I was going to have to wait until I could adjust anything, this meant that I had to be really clear with the strategy from the start.

We decided on a left refused strategy, blocking off the one main bridge crossing with the one Corps in that sector, everyone else would to a 'flank move' to the right so as to concentrate strength on the great road.  Then once the Guard had arrived a main line push would start on the road.

As luck would have it, the Allies (Austrian and Bavarians) chose to deploy in a simple line formation, totally braking up their strength across the intervening river.  Then during deployment our Sebastiani player noted something most unusual ...

The field as deployed (each of the sticks are 1 yard)

Bonaparte in 1813

The mass of French on the right

The French in the center as deployed

part of the left forces
Allied left

Allied center

Allied right and the critical bridge
Our Sebastiani noted that the Bavarian artillery were too far forward deployed to have any effective cover from their own horse.  This meant that rolling attacks would not activate any defensively positioned forces.  His orders were to prepare the ground for the main thrust once the Guard arrived, so he knew that he would soon have superior numbers and skill on his side.  So a charge into the vulnerable guns was ordered at once.

the overhead situation

French Cavalry pounding into Allied Batteries

These French horsemen sent the Allied artillery from the field or crushed those that remained
over at the bridge the Bavarians were unable to hold their ground

only one Corps was holding down nearly three times their number
Allied command in the center was hard pressed to adjust to the changes in the French opposing them

some French brigades were set to cover duty

keeping Austrians in the center from any movement

while the Allied left was busy rushing to the left as that flank was going to crumble without any more artillery
after a few turns a major salient was forced into the Allied left

the last of the Allied horse, ready to hold?
with an extreme effort the Allies are now crossing the bridge - the French have left the center

French in a series of columns covered by a line of others are on the move to the right flank from the center
French right wing, with Sebastiani in the lead

Sebastiani was to lead an excellent flank attack

French horse artillery now had open targeting to massed Allied horse
the Allies were warned that great cheers of 'Vive l"emperor!" were coming from the woods

now the Bavarians were going to assault en mass

combined arms struck out now as the last Allied artillery on their left was overurn
in the bridge sector, even with crossing happening - the French were still causing disorder and casualties with artillery fire
Allied assaults in the center were reckless

masses of cavalry waited for opportunity while infantry waded into the thick of the cannister fire

the sheer volume of lead on the table won this game demonstration the award for 'most tonnage'
at long last Bonaparte was here and so was the Imperial Guard

along with Guard batteries

Guard chasseurs

veterans of more than a dozen campaigns

supported by elite horsemen, now forming a second line behind Sebastiani

confident of success

the cheering could be heard across the battlefield
Little did I know that the Allied players had decided that the outcome of the battle could not be changed ... there was no way to stop the Guard Juggernaut, however it could be possible to overrun Grand Armee Headquarters and either kill or capture Bonaparte!

Bavarian horse makes the first try ... they are overwhelmed by superior French

Austrians seek to break into the flank of the Guard, they are cut to pieces by the better Guard die rolls

Sebastiani and the French cavalry now with Guard horse, break through the Allied left and open the road to escape

Allied morale suffers another failure and more Divisions convert to hold orders or outright retreat

as those Allies flee they are sent off by Guard Horse artillery

Hanau would end with the sound of these guns sending off the retreating Allied force
Not unlike the historical results - other than the crazy attempt at Bonaparte - the Allies just did not really change any plans from their historical starting points and the ground left them with little choice than to accept battle as it was historically.

The convention was memorable also as another good gamer, Dennis Chin won the baton award from the Trumpeter Wargames Club.

Dennis Chin with the Trumpeter Baton

1 comment:

David Cooke said...

That was a very enjoyable batrep! Thanks.