Right, time for a battle posting! First out the traps are my 2mm Napoleonics, as the fate of Central Europe gets decided between France and it’s Confederation allies, versus the Sixth Coalition of Russia,
Prussia and . For this, I’m giving my first full-scale trial for the ‘Table Top Battles’ rules set, by Mike & Joyce Smith. Here's the battlefield: Austria
Ah, such bucolic bliss! The French will be entering from the south, and they plan to mass their strength on hte left and centre, using the more broken hilly & wooded ground for their attack, reducing their lack of decent cavalry (this is 1813, after all!) Forcing ahead, the notion is to protect their right flank, while their left and centre chop through the allied lines.
Allied plans however focus on the open ground, where they plan to have their line swing on the pivot of the large hill in their centre, where they'll mass their artillery. With their superior numbers they should catch the French in a salient right under the allied grand batteries, where they can be cracked like a nut.
The allied lines
Allied GHQ (mounted on a penny, almost as high as the Grosshugel!)
Napoleon on his white horse, inspecting the Imperial Guard
(those with red tops to their black bearskins)
Turn 1 - a general French advance, while the allies move only on their left. The allies throw out some skirmishers to the Jagerwald on the extreme west of the battlefield, while the French similarly move all their cavalry to the Osthugel, hoping to distract the allied advance.
French cavalry on the Osthugel have a less-than-encouraging view of the oncoming allied masses!
Turn 2 - the French advance further, and minor clashes break out - those skirmishers in the Jagerwald hold up the French attack on the extreme left, while the allied advance on the French right has occupied the large Grandwald woods.
Turn 3 - the allies' advance has battered the French cavalry on the Osthugel, as the fire of the infantry and superior quality of the Allied horse quickly tell. The French, seeing the doomed horsemen are too isolated, refuse their flank in front of the Sudwald to present a solid obstacle to the allies. Infuriatingly, French infantry on the left prove unwilling to charge headlong into the Jagerwald to clear out the allied skirmishers, as the fire of the light infantry keeps on forcing the superior French columns back before they can close.
Turn 4 - just as the allies wheel their attacking left-wing to face directly westwards, the French attack explodes forward! With two bases pinned down at (and yet again failing to take) the Jagerwald, three infantry plough forward, hit the allied line and smash it! The attack can be seen below, immediately before impact, just to the west of the Grosshugel.
the allied nutcracker is swinging into place though, and the allied monarchs watch as Russian infantry descends from the Grosshugel and Austrian/Prussian troops come west out of the Grandwald. The French line is bent at right angles, but still fighting on!
Close-up of the French attack - the Austrian cavalry recoiled from their fire, but the Austrian infantry was destroyed! On the left, the still-defiant Jagerwald can be seen, and the right shows the hotly-disputed Nordwald.
Blucher watches from the Grandwald.
Turn 5 - I've added a yellow line to denote the front-line, now it's less apparent! The French try and flank the grand batteries on the Grosshugel, and move up the Guard to finish the job. The allies' left wing finally descends and engages the French right - just as well, as the French centre held up to the initial allied assault.
Jagerwald finally begins to give way, as the Imperial Guard pass the wood and satisfyingly prove their worth - their fire onto the wood causes half of the allied skirmishers to recoil and flee.
The allied left wing, facing off with the French right, between Sudwald and Grandwald.
Turn 6 - The allied grand-battery swings round to face the French attack, which has made little headway into a storm of defensive fire. Elsewhere, the Allied assault now hits with piledriver force - the French centre has been forced back into Sudwald, where it takes heavy losses. Similarly, the French extreme-right has been turned as the allies bring cavalry and infantry to bear at once, collapsing the French resistance.
French Imperial Guard (in the middle of the picture) were heading obliquely to attack the Grosshugel, but can they storm the Allied bulwark before the rest of the line collapses?
Turn 7 - For one heart-stopping moment, it seems the answer is... No! Allied troops burst through the shattered French left, with Austrians now flanking the defenders of the Sudwald and one unit of Prussian infantry even thrusting daringly into the French rear! Napoleon himself, at his headquarters near Treffenwasser, gets a shock as his infantry need to rush to his protection! Luckily, a single base of Guardsmen is able to destroy the rash Prussian spearhead.
Turn 7 - An overview. The Jagerwald has been finally cleared and the defenders compelled to fall back, but the front-line now rages on the western slopes of the Grosshugel. Imperial Guardsmen and line infantry storm some batteries but can't get onto the hilltop. Russian infantry take the Nordwald and advance in the centre, while the disarrayed remains of the French left try to cling on in the Sudwald while Napoleon batters a new line together around Treffenwasser itself. Each side has virtually no reserves left - surely the end must come soon!
Turn 8 - Napoleon rushes the single base of his Guard in the south to try and hold his extreme right, and orders an all-out counterattack elsewhere. The Guard press on again at the Grosshugel and Nordwald, while the reformed French line advances back to the Sudwald.
The Guard hold the French extreme-right flank, even against the masses of Allied cavalry. What spectacular soldiery! Both Blucher and Marshal Ney look on approvingly.
Turn 9 - Sensing the allies are off-balance, the French press on their last desperate assault. The Imperial Guard drive off and destroy the allied guns, but can't get on to the Grosshugel. Tirailleurs retake the Nordwald and rout the allied infantry, while the French under Ney re-occupy the Sudwald and the exhausted allied infantry before them cracks and flees.
End positions - with almost all their infantry gone, the allies are spent and casualties are rapidly mounting as the day goes on.
Allied HQ cancedes defeat, and rapidly withdraws behind the Russian Guards' protection.
French rejoicing at Napoleon's headquarters - Vive l'Empereur!
What a tightly-run affair! A french victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and each side looked like it was going to storm to victory several times. I'll put in my conclusion & roundup shortly, but for now it's champagne all round!