Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Markkleeberg - a Shako scenario

During the summer the Gentlemen Pensioners put on a game at the Gauntlet show covering the action on the southern front at Leipzig on the 16th October .  The game produced a long running battle for the village of Markkleeberg and when I saw this scenario in the September issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy I thought it would be interesting to try out with the Shako rules.  The numbers involved in the fighting for the bridges over the Pleisse River were fairly small and so we used our own variant of the 'skirmisher melee' rule. 

If skirmishers want to engage in melee with other skirmishers they move forward and the defenders have the chance to fire at them.  If the defenders roll a 5or 6 on a d6 then the attack is deemed to have stalled.  Assuming the attackers close to melee then three 'roll offs' are carried out (one for each figure on the skirmisher stand).  If the defender is in a built up area then they roll a d8 rather than a d6.  If the die rolls are tied then both sides roll a d6 to decide the issue.  After all three rolls the losers move back 4 inches and the winners roll a d6 - if they roll 5 or 6 then the losers take one casualty.

Also, as the bridges in the south (on the Mill road) were broken the Austrians were deemed to have engineers present.  They required three clear moves to get the bridges ready for infantry to cross.  The engineers could be fired at by the Poles and a roll of 4 or more on d6 prevented that move counting towards the 3 necessary for the bridge to be completed.

We also took up the article's suggestion of having to roll a 4 or more for the reinforcements to arrive on the table.

Here is a sketch map of the battle.field  A denotes the arrival point for the Polish reinforcements, B and C the Austrians arrival points and D where the Prussian reinforcements arrive.  A large part of the area is flooded water meadows and only skirmishers can move off road here.  The Poles have two artillery batteries off table which can engage any units attacking the eastern (ie right hand side) of Markkleeberg.
For the Poles, loss of the school house and Markkleeberg would be disastrous as the whole French position would be outflanked and the Austrians trapped to the west of the Pleisse would be able to enter the battle. 

The battle starts with the Austrians gaining control of Markkleeberg Manor and the School House.  (Historically the Poles neglected to destroy the bridge and their outposts were caught 'napping'.  Seven battalions of Prussians under the command of Kleist are advancing on Markkleeberg from point D and Grenz skirmishers are covering the engineers who are trying to repair the bridge by the mill.
Dombrowski has three battalions in Markkleeberg, one between the town and the mill and one supporting Markkleeberg on the road to the school house.  There are four battalions available as reinforcements from turn 3.  Steve took command of the Poles and decided that the battalion on the mill road should move back to Markkleeberg asap.

Over view of the table
The Polish skirmishers defending the mill must have been disheartened by this move because they failed to inflict any delay on the Austrian engineers repairing the bridge over the Pleisse.  In three moves the bridge was ready, but the only Austrian troops able to exploit it were the Grenz.  They charged across and suddenly the defenders found their shooting boots; rolled a 6 and stopped them in their tracks.  At the school house the defending Grenz were happily holding off the Polish skirmishers, but were unable to do anything to stop the Polish reserve battalion sent to regain control of the vital bridge over the Pleisse.

By this time (end of turn 3), the Poles had regained the school house, but failed to stop the repair of the mill bridge and also the main Prussian attack was closing in on Markkleeberg itself.  Steve now had a stroke of luck as his first reinforcements arrived right on time.

Just in time as the three battalions of the Pomeranian Infantry regiment charged the Poles in Markkleeberg.  The fusilier battalion fared worst, unsettled by a defensive volley they renewed the attack before they reformed and were destroyed as a fighting force in the ensuing melee.    To their right the 2nd battalion of the Pomeranians was also repulsed with loss, but the 1st battalion advanced with elan and pushed back the 1st battalion of the Polish 13th regiment.

To the east of the town the Prussian infantry were suffering from the fire of the off table artillery.  The militia and landwehr battalions advanced with difficulty and were not able to provide much support to the Pomeranian battalions.  The second two battalions of French reinforcements also arrived on time and were marched at top speed towards Markkleeberg where the Prussians now controlled half the town.

The Austrians now began to arrive on the road by Markkleeberg Manor, three line battalions marched down the road keen to seize control of the school house.  At their head were the Warasdiner Grenz.  They charged over the bridge and threw out the Polish defenders in a trice. Behind them came two battalions of the Weidenfeld Regiment.

Where were the second column of Austrians under Sodenburg who should be attacking the mill? Three times I rolled for the arrival of these reinforcements and three times I failed.  Fortunately, I did manage to get the Prussian reinforcements to arrive, because Kleist's division had almost reached the end of its tether.  By the end of turn 6 three of the four sectors of Markkleeberg were under  Prussian control, only the 2nd battalion of the 13th Polish regiment still held firm.  With the Austrians regaining the school house, victory was within my grasp. However, turn 7 saw two landwehr regiments eliminated due to  artillery fire and the 2nd battalion Pomeranian regiment destroyed in melee.  A divisional morale check caused Kleist's division to retreat.  Steve now moved his reserves into Markkleeberg and the Prussian reserves took up the challenge.  Ably supported by the Prussian artillery the Silesian battalions moved forward, led by the 1st regiment.  They hit the gallant 2nd battalion 13th regiment and against fresh troops the Poles had to give ground. The 1st batallion 2eme Ligne also had to retreat due to heavy losses from the Prussian artillery.

The Poles near the school house, supported by two battalions of Naval Infantry charged forward and regained control of the vital bridge.  Just as the game drew to its close Sodenberg's column made its appearance, but was too late to affect the outcome.  The fighting in Markkleeberg ended with both sides controlling two sectors, crucially the Prussians now controlled the bridge, so the Austrians could join the battle on the morrow.

We adjudicated the game to end in a draw.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable scenario which swung one way and then the other.  The 'special' rules worked well.  In terms of figures it was one of the smallest Napoleonic games we have done, only about a dozen battalions were involved, but that was down to the nature of the terrain which precluded much in the way of manoeuvre.


  1. Nice report. This is a very interesting situation. I'll have to think about playing it with Volley and Bayonet.

  2. An excellent scenario and great looking game. Keep up the good work sir!