Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Battle of Lützen, Fictitious Second Day, 3rd May 1813

Just Four Full-on Turns
This game of a second day of battle at Lützen used as a starting point the positions and status of the two armies at the end of our bicentennial re-fight of that battle.
We separated the troops by at least 7" and allowed re-deployment of non-frontline divisions, according to the house rules that we'd written for our game of Fuentes de Oñoro (described in our previous post about the re-fight of Lützen).
Below are two photos of the armies at the start of the game, the top one viewed from the west and the bottom one from the south-west. Note the proximity and density of the opposing forces. It was gonna get ugly early.

Mark redeployed the Russian guard light cavalry to the 'eastern' sector, a move that was to bear big dividends, beginning with forcing Gérard's leading infantry to be deployed in square.

With a limited frontage, I could only make small changes to the French-Allied distributions. I put the four weak cavalry divisions of Latour Maubourg's cavalry reserve in two columns to the left (roughly north) of Marmont's infantry and put the guard cavalry behind Morand's division (Betrand's corps) while moving Peyri's division of the same corps to the west of Starsiedel, as a general reserve.

Turn 1

Wittgenstein moved the Russian 1st Cuirassier Division to a position north-east of Gross Görschen to support the attack of the foot grenadier divisions.

Wittgenstein surveyed the Russo-Prussian attacks from his command post on Monarch’s Hill (above and below) and thought that it looked good.
The French-Allied army also attacked along the line (top of photo).

Turn 2
Play was temporarily suspended to admire a beautiful, complete rainbow outside ANF HQ. A good omen for the superstitious, but good for whom?

The god-fearing on the French side thought that they had their answer when the 1&2/139e ligne from Morand's division (Bertrand's corps) beat off a charge by the Prussian Silesian cuirassiers (die roll 6 vs 1)!

From west to east across the battlefield at the end of Turn 2...
Morand’s division advanced in square in the face of the overwhelming Prussian and Russian cavalry.
The first attack of the Young Guard was unsuccessful against the 1st East Prussia Infantry Regiment (centre), while the Prussian guards continued their relentless attack on Friederichs’ division (centre-left).
The initial attacks viewed from Monarch’s Hill.
Schachafsky’s Russians attacked Gérard's men in square.
Turn 3
In the west, with Girard’s division (Ney's corps) having finally been broken, the way was clear for a successful charge by the Prussian Guard Light Cavalry, which broke two units of Franquemont’s Württembergers, although leaving them open to a counter-attack from the 2nd Neapolitan chasseurs à cheval...
supported by the Guard cavalry.
Successes for both sides. The Young Guard against von Hünerbein’s brigade of Yorck’s II Prussian Corps (right); while von Röder’s Prussian Guard continued their winning ways, finally breaking Friederichs’ division (centre); and Doumerc’s dragoon division of Latour-Maubourg’s reserve cavalry broke the remnants of von Pirch I’s brigade, breaking through to the lead units of von Steinmetz’s brigade (top left).
In the east, Gérard's division (MacDonald's corps) was broken by the combined attack of the Russian Guard Light Cavalry and Schachafsky’s infantry...

leaving the French-Allied left greatly weakened...

before the attack of the combined Russian 1st Cuirassier Division and foot grenadier divisions.

Turn 4
Konovnizin’s grenadiers attacked the infantry of Charpentier’s division and Marchand’s ‘German’ division (forced into square by the Russian cuirassiers), while the horsemen turned to face Latour-Maubourg’s French cavalry.
Back in the centre, the Young Guard with Bonnet and Compans’ divisions of Marmont’s corps were getting the upper hand against Yorck’s Prussians, but the Prussian Guard continued to press against their left flank (top of photo), plus...
the Russo-Prussian cavalry abounded on the French-Allied right...
and Lavrov’s 1st and 2nd Russian Guard divisions stood in reserve around Rahna.
In the east, the Russians were in complete control, although Ledru des Essarts’ division of MacDonald’s corps continued to defend in Eisdorf...
lead by the Neapolitan élite regiment.
Next three photos: Charpentier’s and Marchand’s divisions just managed to resist the Russian onslaught.

The French-Allied centre-right was also facing increasing pressure...

as the Imperial Guard cavalry launched their attack.
Looking across the table from east to west:

Game Completed
We called the game as a clear Russo-Prussian victory at the end of Turn 4. There was no way that the French-Allied army could breakthrough at this point.
Both armies had suffered a lot of damage, but the French-Allied army had suffered more. Over the two days of battle (historical re-fight and this fictitious second day) the losses in morale rating of broken divisions was 197 from a total of 584 (33.7%) for the French-Allied and 119 from a total of 490 (24.3%) for the Russo-Prussian.
Stepping back and looking at the entire collection of photos  from the three days of gaming, it became obvious to me what some of my main mistakes were. My first mistake was in the second part of the re-fight of the historical battle. Rather than attack to my left, towards Kaja to link with Ney's troops while sending only a portion of my force towards Starsiedel, I attacked more or less straight ahead to support Girard, thus limiting my area for deployment and, most importantly, playing into my opponents hands by putting myself in front of the Russo-Prussian cavalry and, worse still, splitting my army. I then repeated the error in this fictitious second day of battle.
Of course, success would not have been guaranteed had I counter-attacked the other way but, failure was guaranteed the way that I went!
This is not to down-play the good tactics of the Russo-Prussians (Mark and Julian) who attacked aggressively from the outset. Particularly impressive was Julian’s aggressive use of the Prussian Guard, “surely their finest hour,” he said!
We had Stephen and Peter join us for this game. It was great to have them along as it makes managing such a large game much easier when we have more players. Stephen did particularly well at the eastern end of the battlefield.
The next game in our bicentennial ‘series‘ is Bautzen.

Massed Russian grenadiers and cuirassiers; marvellous!


  1. Very nice looking game James, very very impressive...your table must be solid!
    Glad to see a "rainbow-looking-stop-the-game", and glad to see divisions Charpentier and Marchand resisting to the Russians!

    1. Thanks Phil.

      It was a bit funny that they ended up defending when they were supposed to be part of the attacking army!

  2. A great AAR. I like the French Guard cavalry charging
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks Rafa. It would have been nice to have carried it through, but it would not have succeeded in the long-run, plus we had already had a good days wargaming, despite only being four turns, because a lot happened in each one!

  3. Great looking game. I particularly enjoy seeing the old Airfix figures in use (mine sit silently in their cabinet since I switched to 15mm). Years I ago I was part of a Luzten refit using Napoleon's Battles. It was tough for the French being short of cavalry.

    1. Thanks SoY! The cavalry imbalance was a hurdle that I did not manage to overcome. Worse still, I played into their hands!

      I note that you are a fellow West Aussie. Let us know if you'd ever like to dust off those 1/72nd figures have them (and you) join us in a game!

    2. Thanks, I will be in touch.

  4. Huge game with intense action from the start on Day 2! Makes you appreciate Napoleon's achievement historically all the more when you see what he was up against!

    1. Thanks Peter.

      I couldn't agree more with your observation. One of the many things that I like about re-fighting historical battles is what it teaches us about history. Borodino, and more particularly this one, highlighted what the Great Man managed to "achieve". I don't think it is all due to me being a long way short of him in the warfare caper and my opponents being more adept (or at least armed with clear hindsight and rules) than his opponents. To me it reflects the "spectre" of the man which made the allies just a tad over-cautious.

      Playing a second day, which simply involved more "banging of one's head" demonstrates to me how useless a second day of Borodino would have been (had there been the will to carry on). Mind you, there's an idea for a wargames scenario in the future...!