Sunday, February 08, 2015

Campaign of Nations - BATTLE OF LUBBEN

With a great clash of arms the Campaign of Nations has come to a crescendo moment.

Imperial Guard
Napoleon Bonaparte has appeared with the Imperial Guard in full force, combined with three other Corps d'Armee in a massive battle for control of the town of Lubben.  General Blücher, had only the day before gone north across the Spree river to drive back the French I Corps.  Now on the 12th of September, 1813 (fictional)  Blücher was going to have to race back with the remains of his cavalry and shore up the Lubben defenses in order to hold on long enough for the Russian reserves to arrive.

This could be the battle to end the campaign, were Blücher able to hold on and the reserves arrived quickly enough.

For the French, this was to be a hammer-blow against the Allied coalition.  Blücher was in Bonaparte's sights, there was a local superiority of nearly three to one and a flank force ought to be strong enough to delay any rescue efforts from the Allied formations in the south near Luckau.

For the 12th though, the Guard would not be risked, as the XIV Corps was still a days march away from the field, so the battle would open with III Corps providing a screen for the advancing Guard and supporting Corps, while the V bis Cavalry Corps would prevent any immediate re-enforcement, by dominating the fields south of Lubben.

For this battle we are using a modified version of Fast Play Grand Armee, fusing it with SCRUD and GURPS Mass Combat system.  Each 'stand' on the field is representing a Division scale of troops, anywhere from 8,000-15,000 men.  The separate artillery stands are for Corps support artillery and must have at least 4 batteries of guns, so each 'gunner' represents some 16-32 guns of the appropriate class, such as horse or foot guns.

Day opens early, with the Prussians in the south, from the west (left in the image) are III Corps and V bis Cavalry, Blucher has not yet returned and Langeron is in command of the forces in Lubben (top right)

von Roeder's light cavalry in the south with supporting guns

Attacking into the south were V bis Cavalry, mostly French Dragoons, classed as 'heavy'

in the south the battle became one of maneuver

von Roeder was taking no risks with the French Dragoons in force, he moved to Lubben

III Corps maintained a slow advance, so as to get into artillery range for the 'real battle' on the 13th
 The first few moves were limited as the armies were out of artillery range, then once it became clear to von Roeder that the French Dragoons were not so well trained nor lead (they were a 'bis' unit meant to re-enforce the real V Cavalry Corps and had only come from depot trainings), the real horse battle was on as the Russian Heavy Reserve cavalry under Gallitizin was dispatched to ensure the demise of the 'green' Dragoons.

Just before noon, the Russian heavies were moving to flank III Corps

Blucher had arrived in Lubben and had brought all the Cossacks with him

Russian Heavies pushed back French recruit Dragoons, then turned to threaten the flank of III Corps
Once Blucher arrived, the 'initiative' rolls tended to favor the Prussian experienced team of Blucher and Gneisnau, whereas up till then the French newly minted Maréchal Poniatowski had been winning the initiative contests against Major General Langeron.

the field had collapsed down to Lubbn by 14h00

The V bis Cavalry French Dragoons were not going to be able to make any further effect

Russian Cuirassier had crushed half of the Dragoons force

then Blucher decided on a bold stroke => ATTACK!

Sensing that III Corps was not going to take any further action that day, and knowing that more French would arrive before any Allied forces, so this would be his only chance to break up the French momentum

Cossacks CHARGE!
 The assault very nearly succeeded in forcing III Corps off the field ...

by 19h00 the field was quiet ... with the Russians back in Lubben and the battered French still tentatively holding a ragged line to the west.

13 September 1813 (fictional) dawned to show clearing skies and the points of the 40,000 bayonets of the Imperial Guard, standing behind a line of a further 40,000 troops of XIV Corps, now lining up with the remains of III Corps.  Further to the flank was the remains of two more Corps, that had been retreating away from the Army of Silesia for the past two weeks.  On the far flank was the I Cavalry Corps.

An epic struggle was now set.

Bonaparte vs. Blucher, with the winner likely taking the spoils of the campaign, for there were literally no more reserves for either side to fall back on.

on the next morning, the field was fully covered to the west

XIV Corps lined up with Guard and III Corps artillery

Immediately to the rear of III Corps was the Imperial Guard

spreading further south were another 40,000 French infantry and more artillery

from the vantage point of the V bis Cavalry, this day would see many more French actions

Bonaparte himself, present to oversee the destruction of Blucher and the latest coalition in Europe

This time the French were to take no chances and advanced at a steady pace until artillery could batter down some of the defenses in Lubben.

07h00 the French merely move up across a 6 mile front

Blucher is informed that the reserves could not arrive until nearly nightfall ...

now confident that the field was his for one day, Bonaparte moves his army in for the kill

great masses of troops converged on Lubben

Most of the day was spent in maneuver as artillery batteries fired, aiming for supremacy so that the assaults could progress with limited casualties, though XIV Corps was now the primary target of Langeron's Russian Position Batteries and many brigades - indeed three divisions were broken by this barrage.

at 14h00 the assaults were ready to take place ...

huge formations advanced into Lubben ... each 'stand' is a Division of some 10,000 men ...

this time nothing was left to chance as massive batteries of the Guard 20# guns were brought up to close range

one small foray of cavalry was sent out, only to break up the relentless French advance

squeezing ever tighter on the Lubben defenses, Blucher began to examine the escape orders ...

by 17h30 the massed horses of I Cavalry Corps were ready to repulse any Russian re-enforcement

the Cossacks had already been ordered north across the Spree as now the ragged lines of defenders in Lubben were breaking down

disappointed with the retreat of XIV Corps, Bonaparte now orders Guard Divisions into the line, the time has come to storm Lubben.

fragile shadows of Divisions remain in the shattered barns and mills of Lubben

while Imperial Guard divisions muster for the charge

the huge hole of where XIV Corps had been is now getting a short rest, while VII Corps is moved to assault
Blucher manages to get the Cossacks and Cuirassier and some Dragoons across the Spree river before the breach in the lines became indefensible.

the field at sunset on the second day, Lubben was taken by French storm

in the far south Russian Grenadiers and Guards pushed to reach Lubben to no avail

Maréchal Mouton used I Cav Corps to hammer at the Russian reserves

The escape of Blucher with the remains of his cavalry was a small price to pay for this victory

Imperial Guard Divisions stormed the battlements, facing a hail of shot and shell until they were over the barricades

Blucher and his Cossack escort were able to retreat over the Spree, though many of the Russian foot troops were unable to retreat in the chaos as night fell.

The commander of 9 Corps GM Aleusiev was left with 17th Division to cover the retreat, which they did until nearly midnight as the surrender was accepted

17th Division formed the final block in stopping any effective pursuit by French troops.

Most of the French Cavalry was engaged in the south, pushing back Russian Guard and Grenadiers until well past sunset.
The final result was a French Victory.

Though not without great casualties.

I suspect this may be an end to this campaign as the Allies will need a week or two of retreat in order to get any sort of line re-formed and this would likely not see a combined force either, as the Prussians were mostly decimated before the battle, now utterly without firepower at this stage of the campaign.


James Fisher, FINS said...

Vive la France! Vive l'Empereur!

Marvellous stuff David and Eric. What an epic way to end(?) this marvellous campaign.

Thanks so much particularly to you David for being such a marvellous gameister and to the other players for getting 'stuck in'!

Service Ration Distribution (Hobby) said...

Looks like a lot of work but great fun. Well done all.