Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Gross Beeren August 1813 - a Shako scenario

Following on from the Markkleeberg game we have taken a second scenario from the latest issue of WSS.  This centres on the fighting around Gross Beeren between Reynier's VII corps and Bulow's III Corps.  Reynier'scorps was part of Oudinot's 'Army of Berlin' which had been given the task of capturing the Prussian capital.  Bulow's Corps was part of Bernadotte's 'Army of the North'.
Oudinot was advancing north along three parallel routes, he was with XII corps on the westerly route, Reynier was in the centre and Bertrand on the east route.  Earlier in the day, Reynier had heard gunfre to the east as Bertrand came into action with Tauentzien at Blankenfelde. When the guns fell silent, Reynier assumed that Bertrand had prevailed and was continuing northwards covering his right flank. Actually, Bertrand's advance had stalled and he had withdrawn from action.
Advancing in the light rain, Reynier reached Gross Beeren at about 4pm.  He had three infantry divisions and a light cavalry brigade.  The lead division, (25th under General Sahr) deployed and attacked Gross Beeren village, pushing out the Prussian garrison and then established camp.  We began our game at this stage, just before the Prussian counterattack.

The Prussians caught Reynier unprepared and we allowed the Prussians a double move and one salvo of artillery before the French could reply.  We also used the special rule suggested in the magazine where rain began on a roll of 4 or more.  Once rain began all musketry ceased, a considerable benefit for the attack.  After one turn, a second die roll requiring 5 or more began, to indicate rain had ceased.  After a further turn musketry could begin.  For a strategic victory Neu Beeren, the ridge and Gross Beeren had to be controlled by the same corps;  a minor victory was control of two, anything less a draw.  The drainage ditch to the east, (right), of Gross Beeren can only be crossed by the bridge.  The Allied reserve artillery arrived after the battle began and the Russian guns were delayed, so their arrival was dictated by die roll.

Steve drew the short straw and got to command Reynier's corps.  Things did not start well for him as Borstell's artillery immediately found the range and inflicted casualties on the Saxon grenadiers defending Gross Beeren.  Wasting no time, Borstell sent in the Pomeranian infantry regiment.  They arrived at Gross Beeren at the same time as Kraft's infantry. Vastly outnumbered, the Saxons manage to stall two of the attacks, but not the Pomeranians and they were bundled backwards out of the village.  Borstell's artillery then  shifted target to the second sector of Gross Beeren and again softened up the defenders before the Pomeranians attacked.  By the end of turn four Borstell had achieved his objective; Gross Beeren was in Prussian hands.  However, the bottleneck of the village slowed any further progress.

On the Prussian right, Hessen-Homburg moved directly towards the low ridge held by Lecoq's division. He was supported on his right by Oppen's cavalry which had orders to swing round the Saxon left and pin them in square.  The Saxon artillery was unaffected by the rain, (which had arrived on turn 2) and Hessen's infantry suffered quite heavy casualties as they advanced.  To their right the Prussian cavalry had advanced and attacked the outnumbered Saxon cavalry under the command of Gablenz.  In a decisive action the two Prussian light cavalry regiments were totally defeated and as they streamed from the field the supporting dragoon regiments were swept up in the rout, (ie the division failed a morale test and had to fall back to reform).  Obeying their orders, the Saxon cavalry held their ground and recovered from the melee.

The rain had proved to be only a light shower and by turn five musketry returned.  This proved a saviour for Lecoq as it enabled him to stall the charges of Hessen's infantry and then shred their lines with volleys.  By turn seven Hessen's men had to fall back due to poor morale and they took no further part in the action. The only pressure applied by the Prussians on this flank at this time was the fire of the Russian reserve artillery which ahd at last arrived on turn six.  On the Prussian left, Kraft had now redeployed and moved forward to seize the ridge to the west of Gross Beeren.  Sahr's men tried their best but they were swept away by the weight of the Prussian attack.  Fortunately for the Saxons, Reynier had ordered forward Durutte's division and as Kraft's men reached the top of the ridge they were met by volleys from the French battalions.  This fire was supported by a battery of field guns and Kraft ordered the Silesian militia to attack the battery.  The militia stormed forward and shrugging off casualties they carried the position.

However, the militia were now exposed to counter attack and the 2nd battalion of the 10th line fired a telling volley and then charged forward. The militia could not withstand this attack and broke and ran to the rear.  The Silesian infantry were also suffering heavy casualties from musketry and Kraft's men had to give ground, Durutte was regaining the ridge.  However, there was no time for celebration as Thumen's brigade had arrived to support Kraft and was advancing quickly to attack the ridge.

Bulow now ordered Oppen to charge the Saxon cavalry a second time.  The Gablenz responded and in a close fought melee the Saxons prevailed, the Prussians having to fall back again.  However, Borstell had by now begun to advance from Gross Beeren, threatening the communications of Reynier's corps.  With the light now fading, Reynier ordered a withdrawal and in the bad light the action ceased.  The Prussians held Gross Beeren, but at the close of play, the ridge was still contested.  Hessen had made no progress in capturing Neu Beeren so Lecoq still held the village.  Under the victory condition a draw was declared, but the position of Borstell's brigade meant that the French would have to withdraw from the ridge.


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