Monday, September 22, 2014

La manoeuver sur les derrieres

La Monoeuver sur les derrieres schematic

La manoeuvre sur les derrieres was employed no less than thirty times between 1796 and 1815 and was designed to crush a single enemy army which had strayed out of close supporting distance of its allies or supporting forces.  Its aim was to achieve a favorable battle situation on Napoleon's own terms.  The Emperor, while he was quite prepared "to break eggs to make omlettes," as von Clauswitz puts it, was always eager to gain total victory for a minimum expenditure of manpower and effort.  Consequently he disliked having to force a full-scale, fully arrayed frontal battle -- that is to say, marching directly against the enemy to fight him on ground of his (the adversary's) choosing, for such battles were inevitably expensive and rarely conclusive (Borodino in 1812 is a case in point).  Instead, whenever possible, after pinning the foe frontally by a feint attack, he marched his main army by the quickest possible "safe" route, hidden by the cavalry screen and natural obstacles, to plce himself on the rear or flank of his opponent.  Once this move had been successfully achieved, he occupied a natural barrier or "strategical curtain" (usually a river line o mountain range), ordered the blocking of all crossings, and thus isolated his intended victim from his rear depots and reduced his chances of reinforcement.  Thereafter, Napoleon advanced relentlessly toward the foe's army, offering him only two alternatives -- to fight for survival on ground not of his own choosing, or to surrender.

The advantages afforded by such a strategy are obvious.  The enemy army would be both taken by surprise and almost certainly demoralized by the sudden apparition of the enemy army in its rear, cutting its communications.  The opposing general could attempt one of three things to try and remedy the situation; if he was bold enough, he could continue his advance against the "pinning" force; or, second, he could try to place himself across the main French lines of communication -- which would necessarily be extensive; or, third, h could order an immediate retreat toward the main French army in the hope of forcing a way through to reopn his communications -- in other words, accepting a battle.

~ The Campaigns of Napoleon, D. Chandler, p. 163

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Parliamentary Force - an Autumn Parade

Bleubear Jeff and I are assembling forces for some English Civil War games, Jeff has recently posted images of his currently completed foote formations and asked that I compile something similar.

Here is an Autumn Parade of the Parliamentary Army, as I have it so far:

A command stand, with the officer in green - Manchester - from the Old Glory line
Lord Saye and Sele's Regiment in blew
Lord Robartes' Regiment in red and yellow
Sir William Constable's Regiment in blew (2)
Sir William Fairfax's Regiment in gray (probable colour for Edghill)
Sir Henry Chomley's Regiment in blew (3)
Lord Mandeville's Regiment also in blew (4)
The Lord General's Regiment in orange
Lord Brooke's Regiment in purple
Denzil Holle's Regiment in red (2), crossing a bridge
There remains three more foote regiments to finish, two in gray and one in tawny and yellow colors, which will bring the total to 12 regiments.

Ordinance in blew

Ordinance in red
There are also some 18 or so other gunners in a variety of tunic colors, so manning smaller pieces from the extensive Napoleonic artillery will be a simple task to accomplish.

one of two units of commanded shotte, this one in green, the other in black for use as cannon sentries or skirmishing

one of two models I have for Cromwell
two regiments of trotter horse with blew flags
two regiment of trotter horse, with red and yellow flags
there are a number of mounted officers to serve as colonels or brigadiers, this one in green with a yellow sash
galloper horse was less used by the Parliamentary army, so only two units will be in my force, here with red and orange flags
The Parliamentary horse will have four more regiments, in orange green, indigo and purple.  They are all mounted on painting stands and have been base coated since this bare metal photo.

part of the four more regiments of horse
Here then in overview are the forces I have completed for my Parliamentary Army.

commanded shot in the lower right, foote through the center and crossing the bridge, with horse to the left of the image and top off-center.  Ordinance is on either side of the foote lines

The forces are building and rules sets are in review.

What are your favorite English Civil War war-games rules?

Friday, September 19, 2014

The BIG One - LEIPZIG ... teaser

Bonaparte in the setting sun of Empire
The last sunny day of autumn here was September 16, 2014.

I managed to pull together nearly all of my sheet steel 3" square bases in a massive effort to game out the grand battle of Leipzig.

It was a success, After Action Report will need some time to assemble, yet I wanted to tease with a couple of the shots from the day.

using up all but 4 of the 3" square sheet steel bases, each 'unit' was a Corps in strength

the field of battle, using most of the yard to represent many miles around Leipzig

Just a teaser for now as I have other work to complete and I want to do this effort justice with an active AAR.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Garden Wars - Battle of Wildberg - Campaign of Nations

An after action report for the Campaign of Nations.

General Barclay de Tolly had miscalculated and now had to force march as much of his army as possible to catch up with and, if possible, force into battle the retreating French before they crossed the Elbe River at Meissen.

Charpentier had to deploy his 36th Division so as to delay the pursuing force enough yet still allow some of his men to escape north.

Only the vanguard of de Tolly's force was actually able to catch up with a trailing division of French, the 36th under Charpentier.

the field of battle as seen from the west (green enhanced areas are woods)

Lissanevitch had Uhlans riding in support of de Tolly's pursuit force

Wittgenstein was tasked with cutting off the French and forcing them to stand long enough for the pursuit force of infantry to come into battle

a sense of scale for the miniatures, with a man's hand deploying them

the French columns looking from the head back south towards the line of Russians with de Tolly

same view looking south, lower to the ground ... that tiny line in the distance are the Russians

Pahlen III and his Hussars were supporting Wittgenstein, tasked with the hard duty of stopping the French retreat and forcing them to stand and fight

looking northward into the columns of Simmer's brigade

de Tolly's view looking north ... the tiny white spots are the French infantry battalion flags

also coming onto the field were the leading elements of Second Reserve Corps under Prince Wurttemberg, seen here with the artillery of the Corps which, being horse-drawn, had managed to force-march at a better pace than the plodding Russian foot battalions, some two hours march behind ...
The stage was set for a pursuit intercept battle, the Russians needed to break six French units, early on so did the French have to break six Russian units, though over time more would be coming; turn 4 eight would be needed, turn 8, 11 breaks would have to happen before the Russians would call off the battle; and by turn 18, 13 squadrons or battalions would have to be broken.

Wittgenstein had a large HQ escort, containing mostly Cossacks and a vital force of Russian Dragoons

early French action was to range artillery (here with sappers forming a guard)

by turn three most of the active forces were 'visible' seen here with labels to identify units

de Tolly also had Cossacks for his HQ and he released them early to keep the pressure on the retreating French, hoping to force them into squares so as to have them halted

in a great photo, the Hussars of Schufanov's brigade ride hard to get in front of the French

desperate to get the French halted, Wittgenstein sent off all of his HQ escort cavalry

the early battle was all about maneuver

massive divisions of horse were bearing down on the infantry only 36th Division
Maneuvers were quick on the Allied part, for if they were to ever intercept the French then they must get ahead of the moving columns of foot.

pursuing Russian artillery was starting to get shots on the fleeing French columns

Russian Uhlans (on the right) are catching up with the French of Meunier's brigade

these Uhlans would sweep-in close enough to force the French into squares ... which were then blasted by the attached horse battery

Meunier had to choose a battalion to halt, form square and face off the pursuit force while pressing all the other battalions north

here the Uhlans can be seen from Charpentier's HQ position

meanwhile Wittgenstien's HQ escort had combined with Rudinger's brigade of Hussars

the HQ escort included a force of Dragoons, the most powerful unit in this battle
Maneuvers continued, with the French sacrificing a battalion to busy the Uhlans and also setting up a full foot battery with sappers as guards to face off against the wall of horseflesh appearing in the west.

looking south from the French leading columns the huge wall of horsemen can be seen on the right of this image, along with the de Tolly pursuit force in the distance center top

other sappers and the rest of the Divisional artillery were busy moving north

the first big cavalry clash as a Hussar squadron hits a fresh French Leger square, the results were not good for the Rudinger Hussars

getting out to maximum range on his command, Count Wittgenstein decided to move closer to the battlefront

cossacks press home on a square defending artillery, while behind the square French columns are marching to safety

closer view, this time showing the Uhlans also engaging the French on the rear quarter

Prussians arrived, on the flank of Wittgenstein, though behind the main French positions now...

the scale of the tabletop comes into view as you see the players standing on the field (or kneeling - during deployment and movement)

Commander of the Prussian 12 Brigade (though more of a division in strength)

all Russian artillery continued to roll forward in preparation to catch some French in square, in range if possible
finally hits were taking down units, the Allies had lost three this turn, here the Prussians are running in columns to keep up with the fleeing French

the Colonel in change of Wittgenstein's HQ escort, just before a critical moment ...

both the escort commander and the staff of Wittgenstein's HQ were aghast as a French infantry battalion in column crashed though both of their positions.  The colonel was killed and Wittgenstein was mortally wounded ...

the die roll for survival of the Russian command were going terrible this day!

now retreated further west (past where they started) the command of the flank force would be in disarray for some time

meanwhile French squares continued to stave off the horse assaults, though now they would be stationary large targets for Russian batteries
Prussians in column continue to march

though taking losses, de Tolly knew that the imminent arrival of a brigade of Russian foot would soon stave off any chance of defeat

at the north end of the battlefield the Schufanov brigade of Hussars were finally ahead of the French, ready to attack

the former French battery, now only the wounded and disordered sappers remained, assaulted on three sides by Cossacks, Prussians and the powerful Russian Dragoons

arriving were the leading formations of Second Reserve Corps, Ivanov's brigade

A turn of artillery fire and another charge of cavalry saw off the battalions covering the French retreat, while the head of the column was now having to halt and form squares, still though a force of infantry were in columns running for the escape behind the cover of these squares ...

a lone French square of Meunier's brigade, facing down an army ...

command was becoming almost impossible for the battered 36th Division, though Meunier managed to keep his brigade from fleeing ...

now Simmer's brigade was coming under fire from the flank force of Hussars ... battle was everywhere one looked on the French lines
Prussians ready to fire ...

Prussian Horse artillery setting up

the ascendant Russian Dragoons had killed 1/2 of a French foot battery, and two battalions of French foot

still the french square held on in the rear

watching 6 times their numbers marching forward

with their officers at the head ... a huge Russian brigade advances

the cost of forcing the squares was high, as this was all that remains of Rudinger's Hussars

a wider view of the pursuit and the fourth assault by the Russian Dragoons onto a French square

Russian artillery were limbered up again as the pursuit resumed

de Tolly was pleased with the progress, though if the French could just be halted in the north, then a complete rout could be effected
Grim times for Charpentier, now faced with having to surrender 1/2 of his division just to have the hope of escape.  More Russian infantry could be seen coming in from the south, if 36th Division were to have any survivors then they would have to break out to the north.

overview of the situation, Ivanov's brigade was part of Schachafskoy's command

that Russian brigade was massive - you can see the orange cone - the finish line for the French in the distance

one last attempt made to close the escape route

French foot and guns fleeing north, covered by trailing skirmishers

Urged on by Pahlen III himself, Schufanov threw his tired Hussars into one more charge

the mass of Russian foot now crossing where the French had started the battle

still with more ground to cover before the full strength of Russian arms could be brought to bear

a last line of French stands and does not break against the furious cavalry charge

the Hussars were thrown back with losses, into the view of a half-battery of cannon ...

again the horsemen charged - again they were thrown back - here Russian and Prussian horse combine on a steady French line - no attempt at square, just a brutal bayonet battle

further south, a French square stands as it is attacked by Cossacks and Uhlans on all four sides!
Some of the French had now escaped north, though not enough to fill a brigade, still more units had a chance to escape, so Charpentier stayed to urge them on ...

Ivanov's brigade surged forward, past the start point of the cavalry

now conscript battalions were having to hold the line

one last artillery supported square, would it hold on long enough to get the others out?

Barclay de Tolly, informed that the French had scattered in the north, as the sixth kill was registered ... the battle was over

Rudinger's Hussars had finally rallied, after nearly 8 turns in confusion

Russian horse batteries had delivered the final kill

the Horse batteries did great work in 'flying' to keep up with the fleeing French

the last square did not hold, as it took too many casualties from point blank artillery fire

another French square was overrun by Russians and the attached half-battery was captured

utterly exhausted the French in the last square simply lay down arms and surrendered to Ivanov's equally tired brigade
The gamble to catch the retreating French had not resulted in a major field battle ... though it did shatter the 36th Division; in the process of doing that the Russians lost a wing commander, his HQ escort and a Hussar Division and the remaining Russian foot troops would be trailing in for days after the scattering effects of the forced march at nearly 4x normal march speed.

de Tolly's main body was still in tact with an extra few French guns captured

the French 36th Division was no more

Prussians were just tired, no appreciable losses

the command of Wittgenstein was no more and Pahlen III's Hussars would be broken up
Game was played out using SHAKO (version 1 with mod's) rules, using double scale distances, for all things like movement, shooting, etc.