Sunday, April 29, 2018

Austerlitz Redux

In 2004 I joined forces with Kelly Jones to put on a bicentennial game in 15mm of Austerlitz.

Mainly using Kelly's collection and terrain, with my own additions to the scenario and some role-play elements in an 'orders session' that took place the night before the battle, simulating the sort of interplay that the Allied supreme command between the Russians and Austrians might have been like.

a small sample of the Jones Collection in 15mm

At this year's Salute Convention I had the opportunity to connect with a number of old guard Napoleonic Grognards, whom I gamed with in the 1990s and knew that Kelly's collection was still intact and the possibility for using it again appeared.  At the same time I was connecting with a number of historical miniatures minded players that live south of me here on Vancouver Island.

We have set a plan, to re-stage the Austerlitz game with the Jones Collection at a location in Nanaimo.  May 20th.

I am already gearing up my writing and materials to support this game, while we may not be able to get the night before briefing and role-play included this time, we are certainly shaping up to have more than five players in the game!

panoramic view of the battlefield from 2004 game

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bonaparte's Day June 16, 1815 (fictional) part 2 - Namur

Bonaparte in person at Namur

The Ogre's appearance in a single day at the site of two major battles may take the Prussian command by surprise!

Early in the day The Emperor was seen directing battle at Yvoir, and departed around mid-day.

Now here he was to command The Imperial Guard, in person at Namur!

The Guard had approached the region via a forced march from early that morning, then halting just outside of cannon ranges, they assembled ranks and prepared to meet the Prussians defending the city and fortifications with their 'little Corporal' to lead them.

The fortifications are south of the main walled city of Namur (top left) with the rivers clearly marked in blue chalk. Forested regions are north of the city and east of the photo (just outside of camera angle to the center right)

It was 16h40 by the time the formations of French troops could be identified by the Prussians standing in defense.

Noticed early was the leading command elements of the field HQ of the Guard and Bonaparte himself!

The south crossing was held by an under strength cavalry formation

Quickly identified were columns of French infantry, the bright white cross-belts and bearskins of the Imperial Guard could not be missed!

Massed formations marched towards the southern flank defenders.

while further columns of French Young Guard revealed themselves more to the north and headed for the river ford to the east of the walled city of Namur.

First moves were mostly maneuver, though the Prussian horse did have a battery of horse guns and chose to train them on the advancing Guard formations.

The Old Guard merely formed lines

While the middle Guard (represented by Italian French) also formed lines and made to advance on the Prussian Horse and battery

While in the north Prussian Line formations were ready to defend the river ford

with many layers of troops

More time passed and the French continued to press on towards their ground objectives.

in the heat of mid-day during the game, we had set up a shady spot to retreat during breaks, indeed the miniatures at time were so hot from being in the sun that you could only handle them briefly and made certain not to press them together as the clear coat on the surface on some minis had become 'tacky' enough to stick the minis together.

The overall situation, at the cross-roads are the Old Guard, along the road deployed facing west are the Middle-Guard and to the north at the ford are the Young Guard.

The Prussian horse were still holding ground before the Vauban 3-point fortifications

While massed formations of Prussian Infantry and artillery were at the river ford and more columns were approaching, just near the water-mill in the photo.

by now the Young Guard had brought up the artillery and were going to use it as a battering ram to open a way across the river!

Now the time of maneuver was over ... real battle was going to get active as both sides now had artillery in range with Infantry ready to support.

Guard Artillery started to deliver devastating blows

Prussian Infantry faced the guns and could only hold ground

The Young Guard did not immediately advance, as they awaited the results from more battery fire

While just south the Middle-Guard chose to move artillery closer to the opposing Prussian horse

Middle-Guard in line, while farther north (near the mill) the river crossing was being contested

the Middle-Guard was charged by Prussian horsemen and calmly formed defensive squares

while the Prussian artillery was directly assaulted by Middle-Guardsmen, in the distance the Vauban 3 point fort can be seen while to the left on the horizon are the towers of Namur

Young Guard pound away

and pound away ...

Then the reason for the Young Guard confidence arrived!  Guard Light Cavalrymen had ridden all day and awaited the sound of the guns to mark their advance on the field!

Now the river ford was going to come under a two pronged attack!

Old Guard at the cross roads (new orders have arrived for the Division as you can see the white slip of orders under the Division commander)

The situation near the 3 point fort has changed now with the Prussian horse scattering from the fire of 4 Guard batteries

while fresh Prussian Infantry have now sallied out east from the fort and are ready to stand off against ... the Imperial Guard!

Young Guard now move into musket range at the river ford

Prussian defenders are forced to cover the east flank as the ford comes under the two-pronged attack

Those 'new orders' for the Old Guard?

Shift to march north towards the river ford.

while north of the ford Prussians race into a defensive formation to hold off the coming Guard Light Horse

at the same moment - in the ford - Prussian line troops face off against massed Young Guard lines
The battle now could turn on a few lucky rolls ... for the Prussians, as the powerful Guard of the French would not 'quit' the field lightly.

Middle-Guard form lines to screen the columns of Old Guard racing north and directly assault the Prussians near the 3 point Vauban star

these Prussians in the south did not fare well ... they ended up retreating into the fort

Old Guard cannon see off the Prussians in the south

While Old Guard columns join with the Young Guard crossing at the river ford

Young Guard in the lead make the river ford their own

last lines of Prussians create a rolling defense as they are ordered to fall back towards Namur as night takes over the battlefield.

von Bulow and IV Korps were not going to be able to stop the French from crossing ... though they could deny them the fortifications of Namur.

Last lines of Prussians take parting shots at the French Guard columns

While a tactical victory and the crossing on the east flank of the Prussians had been secured, the remains of IV Korps were not in retreat, so another day of battle was likely ...
Final result was a French Tactical Victory and now Bonaparte was across the Meuse River at Namur, though the city was not in his control, the Prussians no longer had any viable supply lines.

French Forces at battle end.

Hardest hit for the French were the Middle-Guard, down a full 1/3 strength, with little or no replacements of that caliber to make up the losses.

Next was the Guard Light Cavalry, down 1/4 of their strength, again with no way to replace the horses of that same quality.

Finally the Young Guard was down about 1/5 with a good chance of recovering back to near full fighting capacity as the majority of casualties had come with a unit breaking from losses due to musket fire.

Prussian remains that had retreated behind fortifications or city walls by night fall.
For the Prussians losses were greater.

All of the horse and their batteries were gone, 100% losses having scattered in the darkness after sending off messengers to Blucher to inform him of Bonaparte's presence in Namur.

Remaining to defend were two full strength and one under-strength divisions of foot and a few batteries of guns.

June 17th would dawn with the French able to cross the river and make their way westward (though only slowly as there would be no easy roads to use as they moved around Namur outside of artillery range.  Or would the French mass up here and assault Namur direct?

Only time will tell ...