Saturday, 13 July 2013

Gauntlet Show

A bit late, I know, but having returned the troops to their barracks and caught up with the chores, I have now chance to post a few photos of other games at the Gauntlet show.  The two games put on by the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers were "Road to Tebessa" on Saturday and then two scenarios for "Longstop Hill" on the Sunday.  I got so involved with our game on Sunday I didn't have chance to take any photos, but there are plenty for both days on Wills blog .

A game which arrived for the Sunday was "The Relief of Hawarden", a very impressive ECW game in 28mm.

More photos of this game can be found on the Stone Bridge blog

I have added a few more photographs of the Leipzig game to the gallery page (you will find them after the document scans)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Leipzig; or, the Gentlemen Pensioners outing to Gauntlet

As trailed in my last post, the Gentlemen Pensioners put on a game at the Deeside Defenders Gauntlet show over the weekend.  The scenario was a Shako Large Battles version of Leipzig, or to be precise, the action between Napoleon and the Army of Bohemia to the south of Leipzig on the 16th October 1813.
This is a map of the table (12' by 6' overall) with north at the top.  To the west is a marshy triangle of land.  Most of the bridges over the Pleisse river had been destroyed by the French and Napoleon had deployed a thin screen of troops to cover likely crossing points.  Historically, the Austrians under Merveldt did fight long and hard (they suffered c4,000 casualties on the day), to try and cross the Pleisse and attack Napoleon in flank .  Including this fighting on the table would have provided one player with a very limited range of options, attacking the same places over and over again in the hope that eventually they would beat the odds and force a crossing.  Therefore this part of the fighting was abstracted to a die roll during the command phase.  The Allied commander rolled a d10, if a 0 was rolled then Napoleon would have to deploy an infantry division to counter the threatened flank attack .

Klenau's corps await the orders to advance
 The Allies deployed up to 12" onto the table from the southern edge; Barclay de Tolly, with three columns of troops plus some cavalry (see orbats on the Leipzig page), to the west of the wood, and Klenau to the east. The corps of Victor was deployed from Markkleeberg to Wachau and Lauriston from Wachau to Liebertwolkwitz.  All the Allied reserves would enter to the west of the woods; the Austrians having to enter via the bridge into Crobern.  For the French, Macdonald and Sebastiani would arrive opposite the Kolmberg, whilst the Guard and Reserve cavalry would enter behind the Galgenberg.  Augureau's small corps would enter near the western edge of the table.

At the beginning of the game the initiative lay with the Allies, so they moved first for the first two moves, after this initiative would be decided by die roll.  Historically the Allied advance was not very well co-ordinated and therefore Barclay and Klenau rolled a dice at the beginning of movement to see if they moved and if so whether is was a half or full move.  In the event historical precedent was followed and Alasdair (as Klenau) spent the first two moves stationary, betrayed by the dice!  This slowed the Austrian advance on the Kolmberg and almost allowed Macdonald to get there first. 

Kleist nears Markkleeberg
Barclay's troops were not hampered by the dice and Kleist's Corps moved swiftly towards Markkleeberg.  Victor's artillery did inflict some damage on Hellfreich's Russian division, but Kleist was on hand to rally the troops.  The Prussian brigade under Price August Ferdinand did not falter and charged home against the Dombrowski's Polish division who were defending the village.  The enthusiastic Prussian Landwehr forced their way into the buildings and soon had the defenders tumbling out of then village back towards Leipzig.  First blood to the Allies!

Augureau's Corps had by now reached the field and was originally intended to support Dombrowski. However, Napoleon had noticed that the Galgenberg was very weakly held and had therefore directed Augureau in that direction.  Their line of advance put them right in the path of a bold attack by Pahlen's cavalry division.  Barclay had decided to cover Eugene's advance on Wachau by sending forward Pahlen.  The Allied cavalry moved forward to the east of Wachau, with Von Roder's Prussian cuirassiers covering their right flank.

Von Roder on the Galgenberg
Maison's infantry division was caught as it tried to form square and was ridden down.  Napoleon was caught completely off guard by the Allies and had to leave his vantage point on the Galgenberg and seek safety with Augureau's infantry, which has formed square.  With all Victor's cavalry deployed near Markkleeberg to hamper any further Allied infantry advance, it was very fortunate that Pajol's cavalry corps began to arrive to counter the threat from Pahlen.    The first Allied attack on Wachau was launched as Pahlen advanced, but was driven off with heavy losses by the French infantry defending the town.

Von Roder led his men round to east to return to their own lines and found himself to the rear of Albert's division which was part of Lauriston's corps.  Giving the infantry no time to react, Von Roder ordered the charge and soon the division was in bloody ruin, totally destroyed in minutes.

The destruction of Albert's division
Levaschoff's cuirassiers and Von Wrangel's landwehr cavalry attempted to follow Von Roder, but they were caught by Pire's lancers and very few returned to the Allied lines.

Pire exacts some revenge
In Wachau, another Allied attack  had been driven off.

Further east, Lauriston's men were desperately trying to hold onto Libertwolkwitz. The divisions of Pirch and Mesensov were closing on the village, despite having to pass through heavy artillery fire.  Platov's cossacks were swirling round the flanks of Lauriston's infantry, forcing him into square and therefore unable to support the defenders of Liebertwolkwitz.

On the eastern flank the fight for the Kolmberg began.  Sebastiani had clashed with Klenau's cavalry and both sides fell back to reform.  Macdonald's infantry attacked the redoubt on the Kolmberg, but were forced back by close range artillery fire.

Macdonald prepares to attack the Kolmberg

Sebastiani moved forward in support of Macdonald's next attack.  While Marchand's division moved up the hill and defeated Zeithen who covered the left of the redoubt; Excelmanns cavalry charged Best's division who covered the other flank of the redoubt.  The cavalry prevailed against Best, but a breakthrough charge against Splenyi's Hungarian infantry failed in the face of steady volleys from the squares.

Pirch's men forced their way into Liebertwolkwitz, but their success was brief as Lauriston rallied Maison's division, counter attacked and regained the village.  As part of this attack Lauriston sent Demoncourt's light cavalry forward to clear away Platov's cossacks.  Outnumbered, the French cavalry were defeated and had to fall back to rally, but it did give some respite to the beleaguered infantry.

Maison recaptures Liebertwolkwitz

 Gortchakov had rallied his infantry and attacked Liebertwolkwitz again, this time preceded by heavy artillery fire.  The shaken defenders could not withstand this second attack and fell back towards the Galgenberg.  Here they found the Young Guard divisions commanded by Mortier which were forming up ready to attack.  Also on the Galgenberg were two more Young Guard divisions under Oudinot and the remains of Rochambeau's division from Lauriston's corps.  This raw division had been left exposed on the forward slope and had been targeted by 5 Allied batteries.  Oudinot pulled back the division to save it from destruction, but it would play no further part in the battle.  One of the Young Guard foot batteries on the Galgenberg was overrun by Von Roder's cuirassiers, but only after three tie-break rolls .
[ We don't use the Shako tie-break mechanism as we feel it favours the elite troops too much.  Instead we re-roll ties with no modifiers applied.  The highest roll wins, the loser takes one damage point and falls back]

Wachau's garrison stands firm again

Wachau's garrison had repulsed yet another attack by the Russian grenadiers and Victor's line infantry were doggedly holding the line between Wachau and Markkleeberg, though they were coming to the end of their tether.

The fight between Wachau and Markkleeberg
Over the next two turns Victor's units lost their melees and had to fall back.  Dombrowski's Poles were destroyed as a fighting force as were Dufour's Frenchmen.  However, Eugene's men were also in a bad way and were kept in check by the threat of the dragoons of L'Hertier and Milhaud.

This was where the first day's gaming came to an end.  The Allies had captured two of the main villages and established a strong artillery battery in the centre.  Their guard divisions had arrived and were advancing steadily towards the Galgenberg.  For the French they had contained Kleist's troops and halted Barclay, but at a heavy cost.  Lauriston had been weakened by the early cavalry attack and the fighting near Liebertwolkwitz.  However, they still held Wachau and the Guard was intact.

Sunday's action began with an attack by Victor's cavalry against the infantry supporting the garrison of Markkleeberg.  With no infantry available in the area, Victor had to resort to bombarding the town with his artillery.  The cavalry made no progress and had to fall back to reform.  Pajol's cavalry defeated Gudowitsch's cuirassiers and also Raevsky's grenadiers, but Pire's lancers were bested by Pahlens reformed cavalry.  Amid this sea of cavalry the garrison of Wachau held firm against yet another attack.
On the Galgenberg the Young Guard artillery began counter battery fire against the Allied grand battery, though the fire shifted to the approaching allied guard divisions as the range shortened.

Decouz's Young Guard division attempted to charge Liebertwolkwitz, but a timely counter charge by Von Roder's cuirassiers forced the guardsmen into square.  Lauriston's battered divisions came to their aid, as did Bourdesoulle's cuirassiers and at the second attempt the village changed hands again
Klenau's advance

On the French left,  Macdonald's successes became a distant memory as the Austrian divisions rallied and began to advance.  Defour's cuirassiers made a telling charge against St Germain and then followed this up with a devastating attack on Excelmanns. Suddenly Macdonald's infantry had no cavalry support and with this threat removed Klenau's advance gained pace. To make matters worse the Russian Guard heavy cavalry division moved onto Macdonald's right flank.  Lauriston intervened with Demoncourt's light cavalry and against the odds (the Frenchmen had been trounced by the cossacks earlier in the battle) the elite Russian cavalry were defeated.  But, before the French cavalry could reform, they were charged by the Light cavalry of the Russian Guard.  Brave as they were, the French troopers were overwhelmed, the French left was now in grave peril.

On the Galgenberg a flank attack by Latour-Maubourg's First Cavalry Corps was only partially successful, it slowed the allied advance, but the cost, particularly to Doumerc's Dragoon division was very high.  Chastel's light cavalry charged Pirch's landwehr, but with parade ground precision the Prussians formed square and beat off the attack.  Alvensleben's Prussian Guards now charged Barrois' Young Guard.  It was a close fought melee, but the Prussians prevailed on the second tie-break.  Alvensleben's progress was halted by the threat of French cavalry, giving time for Barrois to rally and move onto the Galgenberg again.

The Prussian Guard on the Galgenberg
 Napoleon had now called up his last reserves, the guard infantry divisions of Curial and Friant, the Old Guard artillery and the Guard cavalry.  It was at this point that the Austrians made a further impact on the battle.  Firstly, the reserve cavalry and infantry divisions arrived at Crobern and also the Allied commander threw two zeros in successive moves.  This meant that Napoleon had to send two divisions to protect his right flank and the only two available were Friant and Curial.

Austrian reinforcements arrive at Crobern
 The Old Guard artillery made an immediate impact destroying Klux's division in a storm of shot.  Walther's Horse Grenadiers and Dragoons charged and defeated Nostitz's cuirassiers and the Chasseurs a Cheval defeated Puschnitsky's Russian infantry.  Against this Lewin's grenadiers eventually fought their way into Wachau, ending a gallant defence by the men of Dubreton's division.  The capture must have been unexpected because Barclay twice ordered his artillery to fire on the village after it had fallen!

Victor launched Pajol's cavalrymen in a last ditch attack on Barclay's infantry.  Raevsky's grenadiers were overwhelmed, but Schahowski stood firm.  The losses sustained in this attack pushed the French army beyond their breakpoint and an allied victory was assured.

So ended a very enjoyable two days gaming.  The action flowed back and forth with everyone playing their part.  In retrospect, the key move would seem to be Ian's bold attack with the allied cavalry in the first few moves.  This stalled French preparations and gained the time and space for the allies to set up their grand battery in effective range of the Galgenberg, denying the French the opportunity to do the same with their own artillery.
Special mention must be made of Von Roder's Prussian cuirassiers who made several telling charges and also Dubreton's gallant garrison in Wachau.

 So, thanks to Roy, John, Ian, Alasdair and Steve for making the game a success.  Also to Steve for being transport manager and mine host for the weekend in addition to being umpire and Tsar Alexander!

The OOBs and reinforcements schedules are on the Leipzig page (see gallery above) and I hope to add some more photographs over the next few days.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Leipzig game

Very busy at the moment getting everything ready for the Leipzig game at the Gauntlet show this weekend.  The Large Battles rules from Shako have been updated on the large battles page (link also available at top of page) for the Leipzig scenario.  The layout is still not right, my IT skills need updating, but I hope you can get the gist of what the rules are.

Hopefully, there will be a full report next week.  Details of last year's Borodino game can be found on this post with photos on a gallery page (link above)