Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Hagelsberg Aug 1813

Looking back it is six months or more since the 15mm Napoleonic figures were on the table; their last outing was for the Kukrowitz game at the end of August so a Shako scenario was long overdue.  I decided on Hagelsberg (or Hagelberg) which involved a force from the Magdeburg garrison under General Girard and

three brigades of Prussians under GM Puttlitz.  Girard had been ordered by Napoleon to particiapate in a joint advance on Berlin with Davout (from Hamburg) and Oudinot (from Dresden).  Oudinot's advance had been stopped at Gross Beeren and now Girard was on his own and having to cope with marauding Cossacks into the bargain.  Bulow eventually persuaded Bernadotte to allow an attack and the Prussians marched towards the French position. This is the map for my scenario based on the battle.

Girard holds the hill.  He has two brigades; Dupont (6 line battalions, foot battery) holds Hagelsberg and the right of the hill; Rivaud (5 battalions, a composite light cavalry 'regiment' and a battery) the left.  There is a third foot battery which can be placed at Girard's discretion.  His objective is to hold his position and maintain control of Klein Glein, which ensures his lines of communication back to Magdeburg.

Puttlitz has 14 battalions in two brigades under Hirschfeldt and Borstell  (7 battalions in each) and a brigade of light cavalry (Bismarck) with two landwehr regiments and one line regiment.  He also has two batteries of foot artillery.  The Prussians deployed their infantry in the woods where they got some protection from the French artillery.  Borstell on the left and Hirschfeldt the right.  Bismarck was in reserve in the open ground between the two woods as were the artillery.  All the infantry brigades, Prussian and French,include one skirmisher stand.

Supported by their artillery, the Prussian infantry left the woods, formed up and advanced towards the French position. Puttlitz intended to pass Bismarck's cavalry behind Hirschfeldt's infantry once the latter had moved far enough forward as there was more open ground on that flank.  Even though the Prussian guns were firing at long range Rivaud's front line soon began to suffer casualties.  However, as Hirschfeldt's men grew nearer to the ridge the French guns began their execution.  Particularly badly hit were a battalion of Frei Korps.  They were far happier menacing lines of communication rather than standing in line of battle.  Once the French changed to canister rounds and losses increased, the men could take no more; they broke and ran for the trees.To their left the Pomeranian Militia ignored these events and plodded on before halting, firing a volley and then charging their opponents.  The French line absorbed the shock and then repulsed this first attack.  Undaunted, the supporting militia also attacked,only to be stopped in their tracks by a devastating volley.

On the left, Borstell also moved forward. He edged to the lef to try and outflank the defenders, but Dupont responded by extending his line.  Once again the French artillery took a toll on the attackers.  Two Silesain line battalions charged into contact, but weakened by their losses they could not force their way over the wall held by the French defenders.  Falling back, they began exchanging volleys with the French, but could not subdue the fire of the tenacious defenders. Borstell next sent a column of battalions against the angle of the wall; but although the landwehr charged home they were unable to dislodge the defenders.  The brigade fell back to reorganise ready for a second attack.

Bismarck had now reached the right of the Prussian line, but he was too late to prevent a successfult French cavalry attack on Hirschfeldt's infantry.  One battalion of the 4th Reserve Infantry regiment strayed too far from its supports and before the inexperienced recruits could form square the French cavalry were on them.  Inevitably losses were heavy and as the survivors fled for the trees the experienced French cavalry officers held their men in check and ordered the regiment to fall back to reform.  They had seen the approaching Prussian cavalry and did not want to be attacked by superior numbers whilst still disorganised.

The Prussian hussar regiment had taken some casualties from the French artillery as they moved to the flank, so Bismarck put his two Landwehr regiments in the van.  As they moved forward to take on the French cavalry the left hand unit strayed into musketry range of the French infantry.  Their inexperience cost them dear as two well-directed volleys emptied many saddles.  The remaining cavalry charged forward and were counter-charged by the French.  In a brief, brutal melee the French prevailed and the remaining Landwehr cavalry fell back.

Both Hirschfeldt and Borstell sent their men forward again.  Once more the Prussians gallantly charged home through the French volleys, but once again they could not dislodge the defenders from their position.  The battered battalions fell back to recover, but with losses of 50% the survivors were not too keen to ry for a third time and so Puttlitz had to accept defeat and leave the field to the French.

I made a couple of errors compiling this scenario, the principal one being to make the defence too strong.  In retrospect  9 battalions against 14 Prussian battalions would have provided a better game, stretching the defence and making it more difficult to provide support for the front line.  Also, the original map shows the intervention of some Cossack units around Klein Glein.  Although the Cossacks may not be the most lethal attackers, they could have made the French 'look over their shoulders' and again stretch the defence. Particularly, they could occupy the French cavalry and enable Bismarck to pin some of the French defence in square and so support the infantry attack.

No comments:

Post a Comment