Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Battle of Montmirail

On 12th September 2010, we played the first of our Napoleonic games, and first test of the Shako rules, with a re-fight of the Battle of Montmirail 1814. This is one of those dreams for every French commander, with heaps of guard, mainly Old Guard, and all of the favourites grenadiers à cheval, chasseurs à cheval, lanciers polonnais, grenadier/chasseur à pied and the great man himself on the battlefield (photo below). All this quality has it’s pressures though—imagine if you lost?!

Seeing their best chance for victory as coming before the French had all of the guard on the board, the Russians attacked!
The infantry on the Russian right were ordered to defend the villages of Marchais (top left of photo above) and Les Genereux (top right of photo above), while the cavalry marched towards Fontenelle in an attempt to bring a flanking attack on the outnumbered cavalry of the Old Guard. For their part, the French launched a pinning attack by Friant’s old and middle guard on the troops around Les Genereux, a stronger attack by Ricard’s conscripts on Marchais and sent the guard cavalry against the Russians. Thus, the scene was set for a decisive cavalry action (photo below).

The Russian dragoons, and even the cossacks, charged in, making some head-way against the guard chasseurs and lancers, but “the big heels”, les dieu, the grenadier à cheval were not to be denied, breaking three Russian dragoon regiments in succession. The Prussian hussars from Pirch II’s troops joined the fray. Their superior numbers forced the grenadiers à cheval back, but they then reformed to join Defrance’s newly arrived gardes d’honneur in a counter attack.
On the Russian right, Ricard’s French conscripts made slow progress against the Russian regulars but, despite several battalions fleeing, they held in time to see the bearskins of Michel’s old guard marching across the field to join Friant’s men in a general attack (photo below). So, with their cavalry attack a near-run thing, but ultimately unsuccessful and their centre under pressure from the best infantry in Europe, the Russians ordered a general withdrawal.

This scenario came from Chris Leach's Fields of Glory.

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