Thursday, 27 September 2018

Battle of Jena, 14th October 1806

Julian was dead keen that we do Jena.

I have to admit that I was less so as it was 'out of sync' with my own 'cunning plans'—I can be terribly inflexible at times!

Anyway, Julian prevailed and I'm so pleased that he did. It was a great game that we played out over two 'sessions'; 9th & 11th December 2017.
(I eventually got on board and produced orders of battle and scenario rules/victory conditions.)

Battle close to it's peak
Table looking in a north-easterly direction, the Dornberg in the centre of the photo.
Regular readers will note that this game pre-dated the rejuvenation of the terrain squares at ANF-HQ (aka chez Julian).
Scratch map that Mark and Julian used to set up the table.
A few of those lovely secondary sources consulted.
Suchet & Lannes lead the former's division in the attack on Tauentzien’s isolated Saxo-Prussian division—Biko doing the honours for the French, Mark for the Saxo-Prussians.
Desjardins' division of Augereau VII Corps (centre-left of photo) and Soult (IV Corps) with only Saint-Hilaire's division (bottom right of photo) arrived to join the attack—moi and 'Marc' in charge respectively.
Attack on the Dornberg.
Soult (St Hilaire's) attacked Rödigen, supported by Guyot's light cavalry.
Up the Dornberg!
Augereau (Desjardins) along with Treillard's light cav. (V Corps) threatened Tauentzien’s right.
Soult and St Hilaire came on in strength.
V Corps's attack on the Dornberg progressed, but far slower than in history, thanks to a far more dogged defence by Tauentzien’s stout fellows. They panicked in the real thing, as the French advance rushed on.
View from the north-west-ish corner. Durosnel's cav. (Augereau's VII Corps) closet to camera—smile fellas!
St Hilaire's division ('Marc') ready to make its attack on Holtzendorff’s defenders (Mark's second command).
Still slow going on the Dornberg.
Grawert (Julian), around Vierzehnheiligen, looked on.
Augereau (Desjardins') troops attacked.
An initial set-back (spot the difference in the centre of the photo).
Tauentzien’s tenacious troops try to trip-up t-French.

St Hilaire looked like taking control of Rödigen.
Above and below: masses of French attacked the Dornberg, on a funneled frontage they couldn't bring their numbers to bear.

Prussian grenadiers (Holtzendorff) counter-attacked St Hilaire. That six was just what they needed.
This and the following three photos: as the Guard arrived, the French finally began to gain the ascendancy on the Dornberg.
This was were we left the game on Day 1. We would resume the game a couple of days later, sans the Perthities, so it was up to me to continue the French attacks.
Game Day 2

Murat (little boots) with the lead elements of the reserve cavalry.
Ney (on black horse) arrived with lead elements of VI Corps.
Those Prussian grenadiers were making mischief around Rödigren.
Grawert ordered to head north-east to close the gap behind the Dornberg.
Dornberg in French hands; at last!
Overview of the battle at this stage.
Prussian grenadiers doing well in holding up St Hilaire.
Tauentzien’s  division after retreating from the Dornberg. Importantly beaten but not broken.
Above and next two photos: Grawert's division, lead by von Donnersmarck's heavy cavalry, counter-attacked the French around the Dornberg.

Niesemeuschel's division (originally Stephen) moved to threaten Augereau's exposed right.
Holtzendorff’s defence
Following in the spirit of the dogged defence of the Dornberg by Tauentzien’s division, Holtzendorff’s remaining troops denied St Hilaire's and Guyot's (Soult’s IV Corps) attacks around Lehesten and Rödigen for three more turns, even staging a couple of significant counter-attacks. This was not aided by my poor management of the troops, getting stuck behind the front-line and so not moving around the north to get into the flank of the retreated Tauentzien until the 14:30 turn, after they had rallied.

1/10e legere driven off
6e Hussars (represented by 8e) dispatched by heavy gun!
Grenadier sandwich!
Above and following six photos show the audacious Prussian counter-attack, which reached it's high-water mark with the retreat of Desjardins' (Augereau) division.
Gap left by Desjardins' division.
Arrival of Heudelet (Augereau's second division) to fill the gap.
Above and below: now reorganised and supported by the reserve cavalry, the Lannes and Ney attacked in force.

At 15:00
The Dornberg
View from Viesehnheiligen
Klein’s dragoons and Heudelet’s infantry come into combat with Niesemeuschel (left) and Grawert (right)

By 15:00 (end of the 13th or 14:30 turn) the Saxo-Prussians controlled Prittwitz to the east of Viesehnheiligen, Grawert was defending the hill around and west of that town, Niesemeuschel to his right and Rüchel had newly arrived from the west (around Kotschau). These Saxo-Prussian commands were largely full strength.

St Hilaire was bearing down on the flank of Prittwitz, but his division was strung out due to Holtzendorff’s commendable defence. Lannes’ divisions were debouching from the Dornberg to attack Prittwitz from the front, supported by Ney’s small infantry and cavalry division and d’Hautpoul’s cuirassiers (and Guard on the ridge). To their left, Heudelet’s division (Augereau) was advancing towards a nasty combination of Grawert and Niesemeuschel. The French commands had taken casualties, but had lost few units.

As we had run out of time and were going to run out of players, the game ended about 22:00 on Monday night (11/12/17) at the end of that 13th (14:30) turn.

We then looked at the victory points that I had put into the scenario.

- The Saxo-Prussians got 100 for controlling Kotschau, 50 points for controlling Viesehnheiligen, 8 points for the broken French cavalry division (Augereau’s that I lost early on) and 18 points for Desjardins division (Augereau) being in retreat (which occurred at the end of the 14:30 turn).
- the French got 50 points for controlling Lehesten (the town that you were driving towards with Soult, Marc) plus 90 points for the two broken divisions (Tauentzien and Holtzendorff)—this was mis-calculated as 78 on the night.
That made 176 victory points for Saxo-Prussians and 140 for the French, a difference of 36 in favour of the Saxo-Prussians, so a Draw as the result. We therefore called the game a Saxo-Prussian scenario victory.

This result was fitting, given the far better performance of the Saxo-Prussians than their historical counterparts.

Had it continued for the further two turns scheduled in the scenario or even for a further four turns that could be expected given the time to dark, I reckon that it would have become, at best and on balance, a hard-fought French minor victory. Nothing like the historical smashing victory of history!


  1. Well done for re fighting this battle. I have never attempted this or Aursteadt simply because I couldnt work out how to balance the game. One should be a clear French victory, the other a clear Prussian one.I envy you giving it a go, well done.

    1. Thanks Robbie. The scenario was not perfect, but worked pretty well. It's interesting how you can be misled by the history into thinking that a game is not worth doing. I felt that way about Friedland until we did a game of it. It's very much a close run thing, particularly early. With Jena the French need everything to go well--or perhaps I mean badly for the Saxo-Prussian--to emulate the historic result. At least that is what we found. If one only takes the forces engaged (and have Rüchel arrive in the late arvo') they are actually pretty even.
      Auerstadt is on our list too--Julian is really keen on it (ha, ha). I am too. It will be a tricky scenario to produce in some respects, but I think the narrow frontage of the Prussians will make it difficult for them. Davout's troops will likely require (and warrant) so elevated factors.

  2. A battle to fight and refight, many splendid units and two different army styles...looks great, huge and intense!

    1. Cheers Phil. As the French we probably did not take sufficient advantage of the superior manoeuvrability.

  3. Wonderful report and photographs Fish, a great looking game which, similar to to Julian , I have always wanted to fight.

    1. Thanks Carlo. *That* list is long. Then you do a few of them and want to do them again...!!! :)

  4. Very attractive looking game and surprising result.

    1. Cheers David.
      It is written on the box, remember? "Can *you* as Hohenloe change history?"!!

  5. I love the look of all your games James but the Napoleonic ones are my favourite - always spectacular and inspiring!

  6. What an excellent undertaking James, great stuff!

  7. Thank you Ian and Mark.
    I say it even more strongly Ian; other games are what you do when not doing Napoleonics, the 'real stuff'!
    Makes it especially weird that I was a 'reluctant bride' to this one...

  8. I'm indeed extremely glad that James acceded to my request for this game. I've always wanted to be able to fight out the early battles about which I've known less. It was a hugely enjoyable game and I am so glad people enjoyed it, many thanks to those who have commented on it as well. Now, wasn't there another battle going on not so far away around the same time....?

  9. Great stuff as ever - I have been painting some 1806 Saxons (and buying Prussians) so I might give it a go myself in about 100 years - There are some historians who think Napoleon was lucky to win at Jena !

  10. Phil, there are some historians who claim that Napoleon was 'not much chop', aren't there, so you have to be wary?!
    That said, Jena was the necessarily the walk in the park that it seems. After the Prussians attacked boldly (arrogantly?) before waiting for the Russians, they were turned on their heads strategically by Napoleon and went into a complete muddle. Napoleon's brilliance in this campaign was to be bold in the face of uncertain information and keep the enemy on the back foot. The 'fog of war' is perhaps most clearly evident in his initial response to Davout that he could not have engaged the main body of the Prussians as Napoleon had. To his credit he changed his view by the time the Bulletin was written.
    Capturing the Landgrafenberg the evening before Jena was crucial, but the initial attack by Lannes' small and isolated force (through the fog), from that narrow 'bridgehead' was a bold act. Fortune in the actual battle swung to the Saxo-Prussians when they re-formed west of the Dornberg and counter-attacked with combined arms, including their heavy cavalry. The performance of the French light cavalry seems to have been a key to regaining the initiative (along with the aggressive use of artillery by Napoleon).
    Even 'doing well' as the Saxo-Prussians did in our version they did not win. In our case it would have taken the troops who arrived late for the real thing (remainder of IV, VI Corps and the Reserve Cavalry) to win the day.
    For me, gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of the history is a huge part of the joy of the hobby. The planning and execution of this one delivered in spades in this aspect.

  11. It's just as if I was there. Wait a minute. I was!

    Good to see you getting your posts finished James.

  12. A battle I have never tackled either, due to the disparity in numbers on the French side, and the far superior French leadership. Perhaps I should give it a go as well? Friedland is on that list as well - I think that one would have to be done at home and over several sessionbs.

    Auerstadt I have done, with the original Piquet: Les Grognards, and it is one of the things that sold me on those rules. Despite Davout's Corps being heavily outnumbered, the combination of better French Leaders and a much better French sequence deck resulted in a hard fought French victory, much as in real life.

  13. Congratulations on a very fine effort and for producing a draw out of such a historic Prussian disaster. I look forward now to Auerstadt,

  14. Sometimes you can come across gems albeit 18 months later. Excellent game and I would love to game this as your AAR is an inspiration, may I ask what size of table you used.

    1. Ricky, thank you for your comment and apologies for the tardy response.
      'Discovering' others' games and posts from the past is one of the marvellous things about these blogs isn't it?
      We are fortunate in having quite a bit of space, so the table is 5 m x 2 m. I'm happy to send you any files that I have from the game (orders of battle and map) if you'd like. There's an email at the top of the blog.