Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Great Cavalry Battle: Battle of Liebertwolkwitz, 14th October 1813

Liebertwolkwitz, the largest cavalry action of the Napoleonic Wars—and in European history—was a prelude to the Battle of Nations. Marshal Murat was ordered by Napoleon to delay the Allied forces massing south of Leipzig. Always adherent to regulations, the King of Naples consulted his 'book of orders' and found two options: "attack" or "charge!"

Our game utilised the Fields of Glory scenario with the army lists adjusted to incorporate details from Hofschröer's excellent article about the battle and those that I have gathered for the Battle of Leipzig. We were joined for this game by John from the Serpentine Wargames Group. This time he joined me with the French against Mark with Wittgenstein's Prusso-Russian cavalry, Julian taking the Austrian contingent.

An overall map of the battle (above) and the schematic one from Fields of Glory (below) that we used for the table-top. The Fields of Glory scenario focusses on the section of the battlefield bounded by Wachau in the west, Liebertwolkwitz in the north and east and Güldengossa in the south.

The first of a rolling series of cavalry mêlées which were a feature of the real thing and, naturally, our version. L'Heritier's dragoons v Pahlen III's Prussian cuirassiers, uhlans and dragoons and Russian hussars (also lance-armed in a charge).

 Even mêlées come down to the dice rolls. John was in-form; Mark was not.

The French had more troops for the first three turns; I brought up Subervie's light cavalry on L'Heritier's left flank.

Sakomelsky's combined ulan division and von Röder's cuirassiers reinforced Pahlen III's troopers.

von Mohr's Austrian cavalry arrive to the south-east of the on-going and increasing cavalry mêlée.
 Hohenlohe-Bartenstein's Austrian infantry move to attack Liebertwolkwitz.

Mark saved his best dice for Subervie's light cavalry. After a protracted encounter, the 3e hussars were broken.
(It is little-known that Napoleon enlisted many men from previous French colonies of the West Indies to the new grande armée in 1813—either that or there was once again a gap between my painting plans and completed output).
The 13e hussars faired slightly better, retreating from a lost mêlée against Sakomensky's uhlans.
Another 'Julian manoeuvre'? von Mohr's Austrian light cavalry do a left-turn.

Hohenlohe-Bartenstein sent his lead battalions against Maison's infantry in Liebertwolkwitz; their attack blunted by defensive fire from the French infantry.

"That may be; that may be, but we will match them with our lancers."
I received a bit more 'grunt', c/- Berkheim's recently arrived lancers. 

Above: L'Heritier's dragoons continued on their winning way, now reinforced by Milhaud's dragoons (below).

 The French dragoons and lancers continued to get the better of the mêlées...

...unlike Subervie's light cavalry, which were putting up a good struggle, but coming off second best each time.

The French attack was somewhat stalled as Milhaud's dragoons and Berkheim's lancers got themselves inter-mixed.

 "Here comes the cavalry!" von Mohr's Austrians "coming round the bend..."

 "The great cavalry battle" continued...

 ... and seemed to have been won!

Pahlen III's, Sakomelsky's and von Röder's troopers defeated, it was up to von Mohr's Austrian light cavalry with Desfours' newly arrived cuirassiers and chevau-légers to try to defeat the now weakened French squadrons.

 Maison's infantry continued to hold on to five-sixths of Liebertwolkwitz.

 Murat found another order in his book; 'attack'!

Wittengstein was beginning to feel a bit lonely on the hill and wondered about retiring south to the Schlöss Güldengossa.

Mark 'officially' had the worst luck of all four players; by a Russian versta.
The final straw was the attack of one of his uhlan regiments against my French lancers (who were blown). He threw a '1' to my '6', which lost the combat, the cavalry unit and broke the division!

 Somewhat belatedly, Hohenlohe-Bartenstein intensified the attack on Liebertwolkwitz.

Some success, but the French still held out in four of the six sectors (three or more needed to be captured by the Austrians as a victory condition).

Meanwhile, the French cavalry continued largely on its winning ways,
 ...the Kaiser cuirassiers had some success, but ran out of 'puff'.

Turn 12 reached and game over.

The French had by far the better of the luck and, particularly early, so were able to maintain superior numbers in and after the cavalry mêlées.

The infantry too 'did well', holding Liebertwolkwitz. The modifiers are in the favour of the defenders when attacking towns, but excellent dice rolling for defensive volleys helped immensely!


The French lost only Subervie's light cavalry division and still held 2/3rds of Liebertwolkwitz, while the Allies had lost four cavalry divisions. so it was a clear French victory.

Great to have John join us again, the first time with Julian. Even better that he brought his good luck to my side and gave me a bit of it too! :)


Hofschröer, P (1986). The Great Cavalry Battle of Liebertwolkwitz (14th October, 1813). Miniature Wargames 38 (July 1986).

Hofschröer, P (1986). The Battle of Liebertwolkwitz Part II The Campaign So Far. Miniature Wargames 39 (August 1986).

Hofschröer, P (1986). The Great Cavalry Battle of Liebertwolkwitz (14th October, 1813) Part IIb Orders of Battle & Dispositions. Miniature Wargames 40 (September 1986).

Hofschröer, P (1986). The Great Cavalry Battle of Liebertwolkwitz (14th October, 1813) Part III. Miniature Wargames 42 (November 1986).

Leach, C and Conliffe, A (1997) Liebertwolkwitz, 1813. In Fields of Glory: Historical Scenarios for Corps Sized Napoleonic Battles in Miniature. Quantum Printing, New York, NY. 35 pp. 26–27.


  1. Always a joy to read this blog. Great battles!

    1. Thanks Ion. Such supportive comments always help the blogging mojo! ;)

  2. Enjoyable BatRep, James! The luck was not with the Allies on this day. Really a terrible outcome for the uhlans. Ouch!

    1. Thanks Jonathan. You need some luck early in these 50:50 or close to cavalry mêlées. Certainly you don't need the luck to all be with the other side!

  3. Replies
    1. Julian's scratch-built buildings (cat food boxes being the preferred cardboard, I seem to recall) are superb aren't they. Beautifully Saxon!

  4. Wonderful AAR again Fish and always great to see the battles of 1813 on your radar. Very entertaining and I’ll start doing my research on those Jamaican Cavalry of the Emperor.

    1. They were lead by Colonel Ricard "le maître blaster" and well served by Chef d'Escadron Joel le gros Garnier.

  5. Great game and report James - looking forward to more Napoleonic eye candy!

  6. My first game of ANF Shako and the only game of any rules using a purely cavalry OB. Was a much closer affair than it looks here, down to the last few rolls. I learned that rolling more than your fair share of sixes for initiative, especially early on, is very helpful.

    1. Mate, it was never in doubt; we had 'em on toast!!