Monday, August 08, 2011

Back to gaming

It has been a while since I have been able to play a wargame so it was nice to dig out my Napoleonics and have a battle this past weekend. While casting around for scenario ideas I came across this nice site, and was able to draw from it to create a scenario based on the 1813 battle at Hagelburg. See the scenario packet below for the details. As usual, our figures are 25mm/28mm/30mm and we play using General de Brigade Deluxe...

Carl and I led the hapless French troops while Mike and Jeff marched on behalf of the Prussian King. Our game was a bloody affair that saw the French lose half their infantry strength due to casualties and troops dispersing. The Prussians suffered as well but their problems seemed to be more related to their troops failing morale tests and falling back from the French at critical times.

The battle opened with a general Prussian advance and an "innocent" artillery exchange. The Russian gunners quickly found the range and drove one of the French batteries off the hill. Casualties from skirmishers soon drove the other battery off the hill as well. The road to Hagelburg now lay open as the Prussian Advanced Guard surged forward. A French Legere battalion moved into town but was quickly ousted by a charge from a lone battalion from the 1st Reserve Regiment. Thereafter, the Prussians held the village as there were not enough French infantry available to retake the hamlet.

On the right wing, Carl was playing as Bavill and his orders to hold the area to the right of Hagelsburg and the woods to the southeast. He did well in fending off 3 Prussian brigades who suffered from poor dice rolls at critical times which disrupted any coordination in the Prussian's attack. In the end, Bavill's men passed several key morale tests which allowed his units to hold up the Prussians. The price was steep as half the Frenchmen were lost as casualties.

On the left wing, Sennegon's Brigade was quickly set upon by the Prussians under Puttlitz. Between being outnumbered in the firefight and watching the supporting French artillery roll an ammo low result, and who then were routed in a bold flank charge by the Cossacks, things were looking bleak for the Frenchmen. Fortunately, de Pusy was able to work his cavalrymen around the Prussian flank and then launch a series of charges that sent the Prussian infantry streaming back towards the woods. The cavalry was thus able to stabilize the French left wing.

At the battle's end the Prussians had seized the little village and stopped the French troops from moving on as had been their mission. The French had battered the Prussians sufficiently to earn a draw which would allow them to slink back toward Magdeburg.

This battle was a bit smaller, in terms of units in play, than most of our other games. The small numbers increased the tension as each roll of the dice seemed just a little more important than usual. The fact that there were really no extra troops, nor extra generals, available to "fix" any mistakes made every move an "important" one. Thus, when generals were wounded and forced away from the lines (there were 5 wounded generals in our battle!) it caused disruptions. Routing units and brigades that were forced to temporarily retire became huge issues for the players to deal with. All in all, it was a great game to play and I look forward to my next game as my dice will (SURELY) be more lucky than they were this time!

Lubnitz - Hagelberg 1813

This scenario is (very) loosely based on the Battle of Hagelburg from August of 1813. The actual battle pitted a motley collection of French 3rd battalions (yikes!) against a force largely composed of Prussian Landwher troops.  Anyone can lead the Grenadiers, but it takes a real man to lead half-trained lads (most of them have muskets…)  into action! From approximations on troop strengths I have decided to amalgamate some units together to create brigades that are, more or less, typical to our scenarios.

Occurring at the same time as Napoleon’s victory at Dresden, this battle was fought between the French Girard’s Garrison (Division) of Magdeburg and the Prussian von Hirschfeld’s corps (Division). It was the goal of Girard’s force (composed by French 3rd battalions and some Rheinbund troops) to join Marshal Oudinot in the advance towards Berlin. Von Hirschfeld's force (Prussian Reserve,  Landwher, and Cossacks) was posted to the right wing of the Army of the North (Bernadotte’s Swedes) to cover its flank while also keeping watch on the Magdeburg Garrison.

It did not go well for Girard and his Frenchmen.  Girard intended to advance from Klein Glien to Lubnitz and then on to Berlin. After being harassed by Cossacks during his initial advance, Girard’s artillery fired with great effect on the first Prussians to appear. Once hit the Prussians would not advance any further. Thereafter, the French enjoyed no further success. Steeling themselves, the Prussians launched a series of attacks that met with good fortune and Girard’s infantry was driven back by successive waves of Prussians. In the end, the Prussians split the French force into two parts and captured many French troops.
Plotho gives the Prussian casualties at 1,012 (234 killed and 778 wounded). Nafziger provides 238 killed, 859 wounded, and 662 missing. Total 1,759 casualties. Michael Leggiere claims that Hirschfeld's losses "totaled 73 officers and 1,722 men."
The French losses were much heavier; the Prussians claim to have taken 7 guns and 5,000 prisoners. Girard also lost the entire baggage of his division. Sauzey stated that Girard's division had only 3,500 men when returned to Wittenberg. It gives 4,500-5,000 casualties. According to Michael Leggiere, Girard suffered 3,000 killed and wounded and 3,000 prisoners.
Nafziger writes: "The battle of Hagelberg is unusual, not in that the French were defeated, but that the defeat was at the hands of a force consisting largely of Prussian landwehr that had only recently abandoned its pikes for muskets. This suggests that the Landwehr was hardly what one would call veterans.
 Theoretically Girard was leading first line troops. It is true that they were mostly recent conscripts, yet it was conscripts that had defeated allies at Lutzen and Bautzen. It was also new French conscripts facing Prussian landwehr which had little difference in its overall training." (Nafziger - "Napoleon's Dresden Campaign" p 136)

This is a simple battle in that the winner is the side who knocks the other off of the battlefield. Terrain points will be assigned to help “judge a victor” in the event that there is no clear cut winner but it all really hinges on one side being able to knock the other out of action.

French Units
Girard’s Division
Général de Division Jean-Baptiste Girard
1 AdC available

Brigade Sennegon
3/24 Legere - Line
3/26 Legere - Line
3/19 Legere - Line
2/1 Croatian Line – 2nd Line

Actual Units Present
3/24 Legere
3/26 Legere
3/18 Legere
3/19 Legere
1/9 Westphalian Line
2/1 Croatian Line

Brigade Bavill
3/134 Ligne - Line
3/56 Ligne - Line
3/72 Ligne - Line
1/Saxon Ducal Regiment – 2nd Line

Actual Units Present
3/134 Ligne
6/134 Ligne
3/56 Ligne
3/72 Ligne
1/Saxon Ducal Regiment
2/Saxon Ducal Regiment

Cavalry Brigade Bureaux de Pusy
13eme Hussars - Veteran
13(bis) Chasseur  - Line

Actual Units Present
13th Hussars
1 Mixed Regiment de Marche

1/9th Artillerie a Pied - 3 Sections 6lb - Elite
16/9th Artillerie a Pied - 3 Sections 6lb - Elite

Actual Units Present
1/9th Artillerie a Pied – 6 guns
16/9th Artillerie a Pied – 6 guns

Prussian Units
Von Hirschfeld’s Division
General-Major Karl Friedrich von Hirschfeld
No AdC available

Langeron’s Advance Guard
1st Reserve Regiment
     2 Battalions - Line
Actual Units Present
1st Reserve Regiment of 3 batts

Puttlitz’s Right Wing Brigade
4/1st Reserve Regiment - Line
6th Kurmark Landwher  - Line
2/7th Kurmark Landwher - Line

Actual Units Present
4/1st Reserve Regiment
6th Kurmark Landwher of 4 batt
2/7th Kurmark Landwher

Boguslavsky’s Left Wing Brigade
2/3rd Kurmark Landwher – 2nd Line
4th Kurmark Landwher  
     2 Battalions – 2nd Line
Actual Units Present
2/3rd Kurmark Landwher
4th Kurmark Landwher of 2 batt

Marwitz’s Reserve
3rd Kurmark Landwher
     3 Battalions – 2nd Line
Actual Units Present
Marwitz’s Reserve Brigade
3rd Kurmark Landwher of 3 batt

Prussian Foot Artillery - 3 sections 6lb - Line
Russian Light Artillery – 3 sections 6lb - Line

Actual Units Present
Prussian Foot Artillery - @ 5 guns
Russian Light Artillery – 5 guns and 1 howitzer

Bismark’s Cavalry Brigade
3rd Kurmark Landwher Cavalry - Line
5th Kurmark Landwher Cavalry - Line

Actual Units Present
3rd Kurmark Landwher Cavalry
5th Kurmark Landwher Cavalry
6th Kurmark Landwher Cavalry

Chernishev’s Cossack Brigade
Vlassov - ??

Actual Units Present

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