Monday, January 11, 2016

The Road to Leipzig using Carnage and Glory 2

Recently, our Roanoke gaming group hosted a Napoleonic scenario based on an ahistorical preceding action just prior to the mammoth battle of Leipzig. In attendance were Doug, who ran the French, Italians, and Germans, while Andy controlled Osten-Sacken's and Langerons' Russian Corps. I ran Yorck's Prussian Corps. The terrain was produced by Doug Kline's Battlefield Terrain Concepts. The figures were supplied by Doug and myself.

The preferred rules were Carnage and Glory 2, which we were all familiar with. The scenario pitted Bertrand's and Lauriston's Corps of the Grande Armee against Blucher's Army of Silesia. Murat was tasked by Napoleon to act as wing commander for Bertrand and Lauriston. Basically, this was a rear guard action to cover the rest of the Grand Armee's concentration around Leipzig. Murat's force occupied a formidable position but were outnumbered in all arms. The game was to last 18 turns (although we called it after turn 15) and each important terrain objective was assigned victory points.

The table before the fight. Klinefeldt is in the foreground

The table again with Beedledorff in the foreground

The French position was anchored on both flanks by minor towns (Beedledorff on the right and Klinefeldt on the left). The large town of Gross Klinefeldt in the center dominated the surrounding area. Ridges in front of Gross Klinefeldt and to the right of Klinefeldt had to be taken as well. A large  wooded area to the left of Beedledorff was also a major obstacle.
Bertrand deployed his Corps to defend the center and Beedledorff, while Lauriston occupied the rest of the field. Murat deployed substantial reserves to the rear of Gross Klinefeldt. In addition to the towns and ridges, the French had to be wary of their lines of communication as well, especially in the face of superior numbers of Blucher's cavalry.

Total numbers were approximately 42,000 Prussians and Russians to 29,000 French, Italians, and assorted Germans.

Blucher's plan was to pin the French center with an impending attack and focus initially on the two flanks. The Russians would attack Klinefeldt, while the Prussians would attack Beedledorff.

Action at Beedledorff
The game started well for Blucher's forces, with the Prussians advancing steadily into Beedledorff and the woods which flanked the town. Initially, the Italians defending Beedledorff melted like butter in the face of the Prussian onslaught, but would prove their mettle as the battle raged on. Prussian grenadiers and Jagers took control of the large wooded area next to Beedledorff but were exhausted due to French skirmisher fire and the disruptive terrain. But they held the woods. Prussian cavalry attempted to advance around the French right flank but French cavalry stiffened and threw the Prussians back. Even though they outnumbered the French cavalry on this flank, the Prussians would eventually be put on the defensive and end the battle in a very vulnerable position. As for Beedledorff itself, Prussian grenadiers and Landwehr would take 75% of the town but the Italians rallied over and over again to maintain a foothold. A timely charge by Wurttemburger cavalry crushed an advance on one side of Beedledorff and  Yorck's Prussians would advance no further. This flank saw the Prussians control the large wooded area to the side of Beedledorff and most of Beedledorff itself, but the French right flank was still intact.

The Prussians line up against the French right flank at Beedledorff

Another view of the French right flank anchored on Beedledorff

The Prussians advance against Beedledorff

More action versus the Italians in Beedledorff

The Italians doggedly hang on in Beedledorff

French and Prussian cavalry tangle on the flank
Action at Klinefeldt
Osten-Sacken's cavalry swept onto the French left flank around Klinefeldt, while the main attack proved to be an advance onto windmill ridge just to the right of Klinefeldt. The French artillery on the ridge punished the Russian infantry and artillery attempting to advance. Although the Russians took heavy losses, eventually numbers began to tell and the huge Russian batteries began to blow holes in the French formations. Still the French held. Steadily advancing up the ridge (and aided by a heavy mist), the Russians waged a back and forth struggle with the French over this ridge. At the end of the battle, the ridge was contested by both sides, but the French had held long enough. On the extreme left flank, the French cavalry had been forced back due to weight of numbers but with the arrival of French Dragoons, had successfully refused the flank behind Klinefeldt and protected the Army's rear. The Russians had exposed the flank of Klinefeldt and were punishing the French garrison with a 12 gun battery of Russian horse guns. At this stage of the battle, several Russian regiments swept onto the refused flank behind Klinefeldt,
hoping to buy time for the advance on windmill ridge. This resulted in one of the bloodiest episodes of the battle, as the French batteries supported by cavalry tore through the ranks of the Russian horse. The sacrifice achieved its aim, but the price was terrible. The battle ended with the Russian infantry controlling about 60% of Klinefeldt, the windmill ridge in contention and one of the minor French lines of communication cut. The French cavalry had successfully protected the rear of the army and the primary route of retreat. The huge Cossack division never made it onto the table; there was never an area to break through on this side of the table. This area of the battle saw horrible losses on both sides.

The French left flank was anchored on the town of Klinefeldt

The Russians advance on Klinefeldt

Good view of the entire table during the Russian advance 

The fight over windmill ridge was brutal
Action in the center
On turn 9, as the attacks on both flanks were well underway, the Prussians committed the reserves into an all-out assault on the French center. Brave French infantry attacked downhill to disrupt the Prussian advance but could not stand up to the larger Prussian battalions. Another bloody chapter was written as the French artillery stationed at the top of the ridge pummeled the Prussian infantrymen. With cavalry in support of the batteries, the Prussians literally crawled up the ridge. With heavy casualties, the Prussian infantry continued to advance. By the end of the battle, the exhausted French batteries retired from the ridge, but the Prussians were so bloodied, that the ridge remained in contention at the end. And with the French holding the ridge until the end, the town of Gross Klinefeldt and the primary route of French retreat were never threatened.

          The center looks sparse now, but not for long. The fighting was vicious by the end

The Prussians and French square off in front of Gross Klinefedt

 The field at the end of the battle

A great game; it lasted a full weekend. there were over 2,000 figures on the table.

With all French reserves committed, the Prussian and Russian attacks were blunted. As dusk was falling, the French began an orderly retreat, having held their position long enough. Due to the French still controlling more terrain objectives, Murat was awarded a Minor Victory, but it was a costly one. Total French losses were 2,300 while the Russians and Prussians suffered 4,300. It was a hell of a battle. Kudos to Doug for his tenacious defense;it was a hard won victory. A great gaming experience was had by all and Carnage and Glory, as always, proved to be an incredibly realistic simulation.