Sunday, January 24, 2016

Maida 1806 using Carnage and Glory 2 (Part 2)

Maida     July 4th, 1806          Part Two: The Game           

In Part One, we discussed the historical background, terrain, and OOBs of the Battle of Maida. Now, to the game itself. After programming all data into the Carnage and Glory 2 system, we decided to deploy our forces historically. My son took the British under Stuart, while I took the French under Reynier. We both decided to switch sides as GM when the other was moving.

The historical deployment

The terrain from the British point of entry

....and from the French perspective

British view of the table deployment

Keeping in mind that the French had to win within 8 turns (two hours of simulated time), I decided to use Compere's brigade as the primary attack, just as it happened historically. Peyri and Digonnet's brigades would advance and engage the British in skirmishing and long range firepower. To put pressure on the British right flank, I advanced one battalion of the 1st Legere  across the stream in open order through the disruptive terrain while Compere's other two units engaged the Combined Light battalion on the British right.

Compere's brigade advances to engage the British right

The other French brigades advance to pin the British, while the British maneuver to solidify the line
Compere's brigade quickly came under artillery fire, causing a steady stream of casualties. The 1st Swiss advanced in the center and, with the aid of the lone French horse battery, raked the British 81st Foot regiment with heavy casualties.

The Swiss infantry and French horse guns attempt to disorder the British center. The British guns, in turn, are having none of it, opening up as well

After exchanging musketry with the Swiss, the 81st Foot soon retreated in disorder. Meanwhile, the Chasseurs on the French right looked for an opportunity to create havoc. Through the first several turns, the main carnage involved the 1st Swiss and the 81st Foot (and then the 78th Highlanders, who admirably plugged the hole vacated by the 81st) as well as the vicious musketry duel between the Combined Light battalion and the 1/42nd Ligne. All batteries on both sides were blazing away during the havoc.

Firefight between the Swiss and the 81st Foot from another angle. The batteries on both sides are causing great "carnage"

Meanwhile, the British Combined Light Battalion and 1/42nd Ligne exchange close-range vollies. The 81st Foot can be seen retreating in the background

Another angle of the action in the center and British right

The French 1/42nd Ligne has had enough and retreats, while the 78th Highlanders advance to bolster the center. The 1/1st Legere is continuing to creep onto the British right flank through the disruptive terrain

French Chasseurs charge onto the tired British guns

On turn 4, the Chasseurs charged the center British horse battery, which it judged to be greatly fatigued. Nope!  The British guns bloodied the French light horse and sent them packing. In the same turn, the 1/42nd Ligne retreated in disorder as well. These were the first signs of problems for the French. The plan was to pin the Combined Light battalion from the front while the 1/1st Legere maneuvered onto its flank from the stream. With the 1/42nd Ligne's retreat, the coordination for the attack was out of sync (the Legere battalion attacking across the stream was not yet in position). Also, the 1st Swiss were routed by the resolute Highlanders in the center and the French cavalry were retreating as well. Here is where the supporting units advanced to the attack. The 2 battalions of the 23rd Legere kept up the pressure on Cole's British brigade while the French cavalry regrouped. The lowly Polish conscripts formed line formation to block the victorious Highlanders, but the French got a break here. Acland's brigade, due to the fatigued horse battery and the shattered 81st Foot received a "no advance" status. The Highlanders could not advance and the Poles dared not advance, so the entire center of the battle ended up in a staring match.

A stalemate in the center. Both opposing brigades had command/control problems at this point and could not advance. Neither side had skirmishers either. The Polish conscripts were lucky today !

With the game winding down, General de Division Reynier placed himself at the head of the 2nd battalion of the 1st Legere as the other Legere battalion was finally in position to strike across the stream. Under this pressure and constant casualties from French skirmishers, the Combined Light battalion finally retreated in disorder, covered by a 272 man unit of Corsicans and Sicilian conscripts. On the other flank, between the French 23rd Legere and the Chasseurs, the British were caught in a pincer. This was the situation entering turn 8, the final turn. The French furiously launched multiple charges on both flanks, hoping to win at the buzzer. If the untested (but totally fresh) Corsicans and Sicilians fled in the face of an overwhelming charge, the French would roll directly into the retreated Combined Lights. The entirety of Kempt's brigade would be shattered. But it was not to be. Kempt himself attached to the Corsicans and Sicilians, who promptly delivered a punishing volley to the charging 2/1st Legere. The French lights halted at 50 paces and the charge was stopped ! The Chasseurs on the other flank refused to charge, but the 23rd Legere did force back the Inniskilling Regiment of Foot. It was not enough and the game ended.

With the retreat of the Combined Light battalion, the lowly Sicilian and Corsican unit was the only thing blocking the French charge. If these troops fled in front of the charge, the entire British flank would evaporate

The Corsicans and Sicilians held and punished the French charge, which had already been weakened throughout the game due to the fire of the British guns. Kempt attached himself to the unit and the French charge was halted at 50 paces

On the other flank, the French Chasseurs failed to charge in and the British units fell back but were considered to still be in good order

What a nail-biter. I had tried to be aggressive and yet my timing of the French attack was thrown out of whack by the inability of the 1/42nd Ligne to hold up to the musketry of the British Combined Light battalion. As the game ended, we realized that one unit can make a difference. The Sicilian/Corsican battalion literally saved the game for the British.

As we turned to the end of game calculation we decided that since the British were not forced off the field, they should be given a territorial advantage. The system then calculated casualties with the end result being ..... a draw ! Taken one step further though, walking wounded returned to both forces and the system finally concluded that the battle was a narrow British victory. Both sides fought extremely hard. The British stood steady and firm throughout while the French were extremely aggressive, launching intimidating attacks. Final British casualties were 512 troops while the French suffered 549 (all after walking wounded were added back in).  This was almost as close as it gets !

If the game had not ended at 8 turns, and we used the Army Morale system within the software, I do think that it would have ended as a French victory, but an extremely hard-fought one.