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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Battle of Kamenz - AAR Campaign of Nations

This after action report is for part of the Campaign of Nations game.

General der Kavallerie Blucher
General der Kavallerie Blücher, commander of the Army of Silesia had set himself the task of clearing away Maréchal Oudinot and his XII Corps along with II Cavalry Corps General Sébastiani of the Grande Armée.

These forces had already met in battle near Rothenburg (part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3), though XII Corps had time to gather their wits, the Russians had gathered another cavalry Corps ...

This time however the horse had to cover 18 miles to get fully around the flank of the French who only had to march 6 miles.  This meant that the Russians would have to force the French to stand and fight, holding them till past nightfall.

 The ground for this battle was mostly flat farmland, with only two low hills from which the French would be coming out from.  Setting up blind, the French took up the widest frontage possible with massed artillery in the center, while holding the Chasseurs of Excelmans in reserve.  Blucher chose to swing wide right, to avoid the bulk of the French artillery and make an effort to sweep hard into the French left, held by Saxons.

late in the day Blucher caught Oudinot, battle starts on turn 6

Not wasting any time, Oudinot drove forward those divisions which did not have Russians blocking their path out of the battlefield.  The first rounds of artillery were at long range and had no effect.

French breakout in the north and make ready to receive Russian Dragoons in the south
The Russian half of the turn was to make the whole battle line pinwheel in a counter-clockwise direction.

the battle line shifted counter-clockwise all evening
Oudinot wasted no time in moving two divisions to escape the Russian trap
even with the rush off the Russian left flank, there were enough to force a fight or two
With the second pulse the Russians won initiative and used it to good effect in sweeping well past the fire arcs of 25th Division, putting Cossacks within striking range of the French rear.  Other Cossacks facing French Hussars and Chasseurs did not fare so well.

Russians win initiative in pulse 2 and keep moving to the flank
25th Division was clearly the target of Borosdin's Dragoons and the leftmost brigade crumbled under the combined assault. 

Russian Dragoons take no casualties in their first assault
Sebastiani personally assists in close battle with Russian Hussars and Cossacks
French Chasseurs are moved to the center - response as needed?
The turn ends after only two pulses and now the Russians again win initiative.  Blucher uses some of his command dice to move headquarters so as to keep near the fighting and support it if needed.  Likewise Oudinot was to move his headquarters every turn also, though more to escape the jaws of another Russian trap.

Turn 7 and the Russians keep the pressure on
25th Division is cut apart and looses all their artillery to Russian Dragoons
For the French, now almost two Divisions had escaped, along with the Corps artillery, now though the reserve Chasseurs had to turn about and take up new covering positions.  Would they be enough to halt the triumphant Dragoons?

French are escaping ... though there may not be enough cavalry to cover the retreat?
Chasseurs turn about, to cover the now threatened rear
Oudinot's view, now past the center of the field, could he shepherd out more of the battered II Cavalry Corps?
Blucher's blood was up ... capture the hill and get those guns into action!
Wolff's brigade charged the Russian guns, they fled ... though now there was room for the French to escape
two full divisions would have escaped had Pacthod not stalled on tun 7 pulse 1 and rolled a "6" = Hold
Now the battle could have ended, for turn 7 had come to an end, again after only 2 pulses, and the Russians had lost just more than enough brigades (due to one fleeing off table in the first pulse of the battle) to trigger a morale check.  They passed the test and so turn 8 was to come about.

Turn 8 started with the usual command die rolls, this time the French were totally in command of the situation.  They were to have a total of 16 CD's to the Russians 9.  This would mean that the French could afford to do many re-rolls and add plenty of die to combat situations.

the smaller blue (French) and red (Russian) die tell the tale of the CD's for turn 8
French win initiative on pulse 1 turn 8 and conduct more forces out of the area, only Chasseurs remain to cover retreat
Sebastiani again leads directly from this critical rearguard action, while 25th Division desperately moves to get more distance from the Russian Dragoons
Indeed the Chasseur Division is split to ensure that at least half will escape the field ...
d'Hurbal's division was not to survive the Russian artillery, who eliminated that last of the Hussars fleeing
Pulse 2 the Russians won out the initiative, though by then it was too late to do much more than pressure the last of the Chasseurs.  With Sebastiani leading them (and his bonus dice) the Dragoons were forced back, with more losses, while the Chasseurs took none!  (yes I was surprised by the 1's and 2's that the Russians threw in that battle).  Now the French could escape for certain.

Russians could not catch the elusive Frenchmen
Blucher takes the hill and command of the guns from 25th Division
The Karkov Dragoons were thrown back by French Chasseurs led by Sebastiani
25th Division was eliminated by the New Russia Dragoon brigade only the commander and his staff managed to evade destruction on this field.
The result was another fighting retreat for the French, losing more cavalry and the 25th Division.  Blucher and the Russians hold the field and recover more of their losses, though many Cossacks and a Hussar Brigade are not coming back.  At least the remaining horses will make good draft teams for the captured batteries of 25th Division.

French forces that escaped in some confusion
Russians that will be fully recovered by the morning
The Campaign of Nations continues ...