Saturday, June 07, 2014

GARDEN WARS - ACTION OF LOWENBERG - Campaign of Nations Game

An after action report for the Campaign of Nations

The Prussian Army of Berlin had been pushed out of Potsdam, then defeated in the field north of Potsdam.  Following the battle, the Prussians then managed to cross the Havel River near Lowenberg, following the crossing the pontoons were pulled in by General Lieutenant Bülow.

The pursuing army of French consisted of I Corps of Vandamme and the remains of the Polish Corps under the command of General Nansouty.

strategic situation at Lownenberg
The French orders were:

French-allied forces should be in these positions simultaneously. If possible I'd like to attack late on the 3rd with Nansouty leading with Vandamme's corps and the Poles coming in on the flank/rear of the Prussians.
If necessary, the cavalry could pin them until the infantry arrive?
 Bülow's aim was to score as much damage on the French as possible ...

Lowenberg had a narrow zone to the south, where Vandamme was to assault from

Following the general instructions from Maréchal Poniatowski (yes you read that right Maréchal), the French-Polish forces were first forward to expose the defensive arrangement of the Prussians while Vandamme's I Corps assembled a massive artillery line to barrage the southern defensive line of the Prussians.

 By turn three the forces were finally close enough to start the artillery exchanges ... with the Prussians scoring no hits at all.

French columns surge forward as the first Prussian artillery shot fall on all sides to no effect

Polish Cuirassier move in from the east

Awaiting the Poles were Prussian Landwher Jagers

further in west at the outskirts of the town were more Prussian Landwher

Facing south was a line of Landwher and artillery
The artillery exchanges went on for a couple more turns, with no effect still from the Prussians, while French batteries started their response ... causing the first casualties among the Prussian Landwher.

view from the south as the French columns move into the gap between the river and forest

reverse view from atop the watermill

the second division moving in columns

Polish cuirassier have fallen back from the Prussians

1's mean nothing for artillery fire ... the Prussians continue to miss their shots

forest spaces enhanced to show the field of battle, north is the top

closer view of the Prussians in the town

Polish line with guns to the east

Polish cuirassier seeing that Prussian horse batteries would be setting up - CHARGE!

One Prussian battery escaped, the other WON THE CLOSE COMBAT!
in heavy smoke from the clash with the Polish cuirassier the Prussian horse battery was lucky to be alive
Now the east sector was shown to have weakness ... so the Prussians sent out their only good brigade of Arentschildt, with three battalions of line troops (the others were all Landwher, rated 3/0 - second rate in SHAKO) and two squadrons of light horse.

The artillery continued to pound away for both sides, though the French had more guns, thus more shots, and that began to wear down the power of the Prussian lines ...

view of the field looking west from behind the Polish line, woods are enhanced

Polish artillery began firing at Prussian Landwher

forced back and rallied, the damaged Polish cuirassier make ready to face the coming Prussian horse

view looking west from the edge of the large woods

French artillery barrage was continuous

some French columns had to retreat behind the line, having taken a hit while covering the deployment of the artillery

Vandamme in the center bottom of this image, watching for the break in the Prussian line

the Prussian horse, charged the damaged Polish cuirassier, sweeping them from the field
With the destruction of the covering cavalry, now the Polish line troops were forced to go into square, becoming a large target for the Prussian horse batteries in range.

overview of field, woods enhanced

eastern sector, Polish line battalions with artillery, now facing horse, foot and guns

The Prussian lines now had gaps cut by the French batteries

massed French artillery had been pounding away for five turns - the Divisional square behind the French line is easily visible

a lower view of the French lines

French gun lines were becoming the tale of the game ...
Finally casualties were causing battalions to break, the French were leading 2:1, though it was clear that the Polish were not going to fare well against Arentschildt's Brigade.  The only question would be how long they could hold out, would it be long enough for the gun line of I Corps to break the Prussians?

the artillery exchange continued at the south end of the town

Polish lines pour on the fire while one end forms square against the marauding Prussian cavalry

thw sqare was shot up by artillery, then in comes the horse charge, supported to the rear

overhead view of the Prussian attack in the east

the view of Arentschildt's brigade in column marching east
The Polish were unable to hold for any time, as the assaulting horse rolled up the artillery batteries then clashed with the last line battalion, stuck in line as they had bee disordered by the horse battery fire.

French command now orders a flank assault through the woods, otherwise there will be no chance at victory.

the attacking French columns move through and around the woods as the Prussian gun line had been partly silenced

columns move through the woods

columns surge through the gap in the French artillery line
Vandamme realized that, if victory were to be achieved it would take a show of elan to make it happen.

French horse batteries were sent up to support the attacking division, who were lost as well as half of the assaulting battalions

one French battalion did reach the town itself with no Prussians to stop them

Arentschildt's brigade rushed back into the fray, but were unable to affect the outcome more

French lines even started counter-fire with the Landwher in the watermill

Vandamme had sent in two divisions, now they would have to secure the victory as the guns fell silent - masked by the advancing battalions

keeping fire on the Landwher in the watermill

French enter the town center!

one last French battalion is lost as they strike onto a foot battery and failed in the close combat

French column comes out from the woods and charges a foot battery ... only to fall to defeat in close combat

General Lieutenant Bülow and staff are forced out of the town center
Even with taking the town center, by nightfall there would not be forces in enough strength to hold the area.

Left with no light cavalry at all, Vandamme orders the retreat of French forces and the brave battalion that took the town center was forced to surrender all arms and eagle by becoming surrounded.

In all the French lost two divisions, four artillery batteries and the last of the cavalry they had north of the Havel River.  While the Prussians lost four Landwher battalions and two foot batteries.

A decisive Prussian victory.

For our Garden Wars Games, we use SHAKO (version 1) rules at double scale for movement and artillery.


James Fisher, FINS said...

Oh no, I thought that I had the Prussians set for a fall between Vandamme's hammer and the Polish anvil. You've done so well for me in the other battles, so I guess the good run had to stop...!

Another great looking game in your garden David. Love this novel approach.

MurdocK said...

I think the error was in not closely examining the losses to the Poles.

They were down to one-half Division of foot and only a cobbled-together squadron of cavalry, consisting of mostly cuirassier.

The Prussians also concealed their artillery strength until the battle proper as they had the engineers to get their guns across the Havel.

In the game itself, dice luck ran hot then cold for the French, and exact opposite for the Prussians who suddenly were able to use artillery crews to beat off cavalry then infantry assaults! Admittedly the attackers were either disordered and/or with casualties.

The Prussians were only three hits away (or less if a Division morale check had failed) from having to retreat from the battle.

Jiminho said...

Looks like a lot of fun was had David! Garden Wars is a great idea, I wonder if I would have the courage to use the mower afterwards ?!

And a Glorious Prussian victory! Plaudits to ovn Bülow.


Jiminho said...

Looks like a lot of fun was had David! Garden Wars is a great idea, I wonder if I would have the courage to use the mower afterwards ?!

And a Glorious Prussian victory! Plaudits to ovn Bülow.


MurdocK said...

Thank you Jim,

I stumbled onto the Garden Wars idea one summer with my eldest son, when I decided to take some photographs of the minis in the grass. He liked the idea of trying on a game on the grand tableau of the yard and lo! We have Garden Wars.

Ultimately Little Wars by Wells was played in his garden also.

James Fisher, FINS said...

I knew that we'd taken losses, but also that Bülow's command had been badly beaten at Potsdam, and that it was chiefly landwehr. The Prussians used their few 'good' troops really well and were able to make the most of the ebb and flow of the luck. (Who was playing Prussian BTW?). Perhaps 'Jean-Claude' (!) Vandamme should have practised "No Retreat, No Surrender!" (haha)--or at least gone in earlier. Still, even Landwehr are hard to move from a good position.
As chief Hendrick is reported to have said to Dieskau at Lake George, "if they are to fight they are too few, if they are to die, they are too many"!

Really enjoyed the look of the game and reading the report, even with the result!

Archduke Piccolo said...

I had another reread of this account, and I am still struck by the narrative and the pictures to render a stirring story of the Prussian victory. General Vandamme 'played' true to his forthright and aggressive character: seeking out the enemy, and striking him where found.


MurdocK said...

That would have been a Vandamme champing at the bit as he was held back for two days as the Poles got into position.

Phil said...

Great looking pictures, lovely work!

MurdocK said...

Thank you Phil!