ABOVE: Troops deployed for a game of General d'Armee at League of Ancients in Melbourne.
So I introduced another friend, Arnaud to ‘General d’Armee’ yesterday.
I loaded up the car with two 18mm Napoleonic Armies (1813 French and Prussian/ Russian) and drove 2 hours to Melbourne.
The ORBATS can be seen below.
The terrain was dominated by a small village roughly in the centre of the table near a cross roads. To the east of the village was a small ridge and to the southeast a small hill.
To the west of the village the terrain was covered with a wood extending southwest.
The French deployed to the north, with their German allies on their right or western flank.
Their 1st Brigade (and most powerful under their ‘Excellent’ Brigade Commander) was deployed on or around the eastern ridge.
Their 2nd Brigade deployed in the centre and their Cavalry was held ‘off table’ in reserve.
The Prussians deployed oppositely (to the south.
The Russians deployed on the west or left flank and the Prussian 1st Bde deployed in the centre. The Prussian Cavalry Brigade deployed on the east or right flank and the Prussian commander held his 2nd infantry Bde ‘off table’ in reserve.
So the Allies (Prussian / Russians) had all but one Brigade go ‘Hesitant’ on the first turn but at least their Cavalry Bde succeeded in a ‘FORWARDS’ order and advanced rapidly to give the French Brigade on the French left some pause.
The French Brigade in the centre however quickly moved a Battalion into the village. On the French right their German allies moved into and to the west of the woods.
The Prussian Cavalry now launched a series of charges against the French 1st Bde and elements of the French 2nd Bde not in the village.
This only succeeded in forcing some Battalions into square but it was my intention to pin these French Battalions down and focus the French on the potential threat to their left so that was a type of success.
After a very brief bombardment of the village the Russian ELITE Battalion stormed forward to Assault the village. Initially this seemed to go well with the Russians only sustaining 1 casualty on the way in and the French garrison was unformed by skirmish and artillery fire.
Unfortunately the Russians only managed to roll 3 on two D6 and so were repulsed.
I found the Russian effort to be a tad disappointing....
The French now brought onto the field their Cavalry Brigade and quickly charged the Russian Elite Battalion that was preparing to assault the village a second time.
This resulted in the Russians retreating so the French Cavalry attempted to charge the Russian battery instead.
The fire from the Russians proved sufficient to repel the French Cavalry but the net effect was the Russian Elite Battalion wasn’t going to be assaulting the village any time soon.
Now a Russian Musketeer Battalion attacked the village.
Again the French garrison was unformed by Artillery fire and some skirmish fire and they were at ‘4’ Casualties so no longer fresh! By contrast the Russians were fresh (1 total casualty) and their Brigade commander was leading them forward in person.
Again the Russians only managed to roll a ‘3’! The Russians were proving to be a disappointment.
All the while this was happening the German’s in the woods were trading skirmish fire with Russian and newly arrived Prussians who had been brought up from the reserve. The Prussian 2nd Bde was deployed on the left or western flank.
Now the Prussians launched a Battalion at the village.
Again a brigade commander lead his troops forward, this time with an inspirational ‘Glory’ attachment!
And again the French were unformed!
The Prussians rolled ‘8’!
The French.... 12.
The Prussians pulled up short and fired a ragged volley into the town.
I decided to attempt to switch my effort to enveloping the French right flank. But no sooner did I start to threaten there one of the German Battalions charged out from the edge of the woods into my third Russian Battalion.
The Russians fired an ineffective volley at the oncoming German’s which achieved nothing! The CoTR Germans continued forward and swept the Russians away. To make matters worse the Russian Brigade Commander suffered an ‘unsightly demise’.
Now the Russian brigade was faltering.
I was disappointed in the Russians,...
True to form they failed their Brigade Command roll (I rolled a 1)
Because the Russian elite Battalion was so far back and close to the table edge their ‘retire’ result took them off the table.
Did I mention I found the Russians to be a bit of a disappointment?
The result was a yawning gap in the Allies’ Line.
At this point I conceded defeat.
The result was Arnaud is inspired to build his own armies for General d’Armee.
French GdA 2000 pt army
Div Commander: Incomparable 150
1st Bde Excellent Brigadier 50
1 x Elite Line 200
1 x Vet Line 150
2 x Reg Line 200
1 x Reg 8Pdr Bty 125
Generates 4 Skirmishers
1 x Vet Line 150
2 x Reg Line 200
Generates 3 Skirmishers
Confederation of the Rhine Bde
3 x Reg Line 300
1 x Reg 8Pdr Bty 125
Generates 2 Skirmishers
1 x Regt Lancers 190 (Battle Cav)
1 x Regt Hussars 165 (Battle Cav)
1 x Horse Artillery Battery (4 Pdrs) 125
Total 2005 pts.
Div Commander: Incomparable 150
• 1st Brigade:
2 Line Btns
1 Reserve (reservists)
1 Foot Battery (12 Pdr Bty)
Generates 3 Skirmishers
285 +150 = 435
• 2nd Brigade:
2 Line Btns
1 Landwehr (Enthusiastic recruits)
Generates 3 Skirmishers
285 + 0 = 285
• 3rd Russian Brigade:
2 Line Musketeers,
1 Elite Guards (Large)
1 Battery (Large 8 pdr)
Generates 2 Skirmishers
435 + 150 = 585
• 4th Brigade:
1 Dragoons (Battle Cav)
1 Kurassiers (Heavy Battle Cav)
1 Lancers (recruits, Battle Cav)
Total 2000 pts.
Terrain Matt is from ‘Cigar Box’
Miniatures and 18mm AB and Blue Moon with a few Old Glory.
Arnaud sent me his AAR of the Battle.
Much better than mine:
General de Division d’Arnaud looked out across the battlefield and contemplated his first move.
The Emperor had entrusted him with this important mission, hold the crossroads of this minor German village against the advancing Prussian and Russian forces and secure the army’s flank.
This was his first action commanding a division. His predecessor in command had done very well with the division and was a canny campaigner. A fellow Norman, he had instructed d’Arnaud while his Chief of Staff. When the old man had been called up to lead a Corps after the disaster at Berezina he had quickly handed command of the division to d’Arnaud with the words, “Know when to be prudent, and know when to be bold. Remember the Conqueror!”.
With a hill to the left of the village and some woods to the right of the crossroads, if he could anchor his centre in the built up area of the town overlooking the roads, then the natural protection of the rise and the woods should forestall any enemy advance.
His right comprised some German troops…loyal enough to the Emperor in the glory days, but some of those erstwhile allies had waivered in recent times with the advance of the Russians and the betrayal of the Prussians. Still, they were competent soldiers and should fight well enough. It was funny how much the Germans hated each other and the Russians even more than the French. He had bolstered them with stalwart Swiss troops and placed the entire brigade under Chef de Brigade Clee. An experienced soldier from the Lille region.
His ADCs pushed out to all the Chef de Brigades with his orders, and he was satisfied to see his brigades move in accordance with his directions. In order to make the town the bulwark of his defence, the centre brigade’s voltigiers stormed into the buildings while the troops under Chef de Battalion Nathaniel D’Engey pressed forwards behind them.
Despite his initial qualms, he could see his German allies taking advantage of the surprising slowness of the Russian brigade to their front as their commander drove them forwards at the double in echelon to seize the woods and possibly the right flank.
As he looked over the high ground to his left flank, Chef de Brigade McGrath (how long had that Irish family served France? More than a century!) skilfully manoeuvred his brigades behind the feature as he prepared to advance over the heights and around to the left.
Glancing across the field at his enemy, he was surprised to see them milling about in apparent disarray. This was surprising; the Prussian commander Graf Von Driscoll was an experienced campaigner. However, it appeared that the wily Prussian’s new Russian allies were proving difficult to conform to his desires as the enemy’s left flank appeared to be hanging back from engaging and this seemed to have a follow on effect on the nearest Prussian infantry in the centre. However the cavalry were pushing on surprisingly strong towards left. Hopefully the high ground would hold them back.
D’Arnaud called in his ADCs and detailed his next movements. As they sped off, he prayed that his centre could secure the village before the advancing tide of Russian green and Prussian blue.
On his right, his German brigade continued to push forward into to the woods and their skirmishes appeared to be holding the feature for the rest of the brigade to follow up. Some smoke indicated sporadic firing, however it did not appear to be effecting either side.
The German batteries immediately deployed at the crossroads and set their sights to fire across the front of the town. Anyone daring to push in were definitely going to enjoy a whiff of shot.
The volitgiers had secured the village and were being largely ignored by the Prussians and Russians in the enemy centre. However it appeared that a massed group of Russian grenadiers was being assembled before the town. Chef de Battalion Nathaniel D’Engey’s battalion of Norman infantry pushed into the built up area overlooking the crossroads. He knew his countrymen would have the same tenacity to hold the village that had allowed their ancestors to conquer England.
To the left McGrath’s brigade was advancing up the feature with precision. The brigade commander was highly experienced and knew his business.
Suddenly, there was a cry and the blare of bugles from enemy cavalry as a flash of silver in the sunlight waved across the formation of the lead regiment of Prussian Cuirassiers. To d’Arnaud’s shock these heavy cavalrymen spurred forward towards the heights on the left supported by a regiment of dragoons. The high ground blocked the view of the French infantry behind the hills as the enemy horse vaulted up the far side of the feature and topped over the rise. The smashed into McGrath’s converged battalion of grenadiers. These veteran soldiers must have heard the crashing of hooves as they rapidly moved into a ragged square. They were just in time! The square held (just!!!) against the onslaught of enemy cavalry who were rebuffed and turned back towards their own lines. Support from the veteran line infantry to the left of the square had allowed the grenadiers to hold.
At last! The Norman battalion under Nathaniel d’Engey had secured the village and were busy securing the area from the coming Russian assault. With the rebuff of the enemy cavalry on the left, the skirmishing clouds of volitigiers moved out into the plain beyond to screen the advancing troops of the French centre.
To the right, the German artillery had deployed and were getting ready to range in on the slowly advancing Russians. The Swiss and some of the German troops pushed into the woods, while their skirmishers began harassing fire against their Russian equivalents. A battalion of Saxons pushed further up the right flank to the rear of the woods. Hopefully they would be able to skirt them and turn on the Russian flank.
To the left the grenadier battalion was recovering from the shock of the Prussian cavalry charge and held in place. The veteran line infantry to their left advanced to the top of the heights to cover the front of the feature. The brigade artillery was manhandled forward with an infantry battalion in support to their rear while another line battalion pushed forward to secure the left flank. A strong skirmish screen was sent out as the French infantry advanced into the plain against the enemy cavalry.
The enemy was finally moving, much to d’Arnaud’s consternation as he searched in vain for his ADC’s. Where had they got to? Only one of his subordinates had arrived and had quickly been sent off again to push the German’s to complete their hold on the woods. While the Normans held the town firmly, their supporting battalions were seized by an unexplained paralysis. Had the charge of the Prussian cavalry caused them consternation?
The left wing was still pushing over the rise and into the plain, but at a snail’s pace.
Suddenly, there was a cacophony of sound from beyond the town. D’Arnaud moved to where he could get a glimpse of the plain beyond. A large Russian column of grenadiers came on at the rush as they manoeuvred to storm the town. The German guns fired on the dense mass of soldiers, however the shot appeared to do little to the formation. Interestingly enough, the Russian musketeers behind the grenadiers seemed to have suffered more. The sound of musketry increased sharply with a mass of smoke rising on the far side of the town. Suddenly, there was a decrease in the firing and then the sound of cheering from the buildings. A messenger came up from the town with the news that D’Engey’s battalion had rebuffed the Russian grenadiers!
At last, some of his ADC’s had shown up. He sent a group to the rear to bring forward the cavalry brigade. Chef de Brigade Avoines was an experienced cavalry commander with seasoned troopers under his command. He was also incredibly lucky! The sound of hooves pounding on the road coming up from the rear was most welcome indeed as the battle experienced Lancers and Chasseurs moved forward to cover the crossroads. The horse artillery came up and moved up next to their foot slogging counterparts from the German brigade. The German gunners were still working at their charges and harassing the retiring Russian Grenadiers.
Scattered skirmishing fire continued on the right as the Germans slowly made their way through the woods while holding their formation.
The blare of bugles brought d’Arnaud’s attention back to the centre as the Prussian cavalry launched themselves at his infantry battalions who were attempting to round the left-hand side of the town. The veteran troops to the front quickly moved into square, as did their compatriots in the next battalion. A short sharp action saw the cavalry seen off back across the plain. However the entire French left was moving at a snail’s pace. The infantry barely reaching the top of the rise while the gunners were manhandling their way around the feature.
Something had to be done…
With his ADC’s obviously being held up by the enemy activity across the centre and right, d’Arnaud decided to focus his attention on the cavalry. A messenger duly went off to Chef de Brigade Avoines; “Monsieur! The General desires that you press the Russians while they are repulsed from the town. Clear them from the field!”
Avoines looked across the crossroads and smiled. He pulled off his helmet and mopped his bald head with his kerchief. Calling forward his groom he reached for proffered bottle of local German brandy…an acquired taste from years of campaigning throughout the Rhine region. He took a swig and passed it on to his squadron commanders gathered around him. With a wolfish smile he turned at the wavering mass of Grenadiers just across the crossroads.
“Gentlemen, en avant! We go in at the gallop. Lancers in the front, Chasseurs in support. We aim for the Grenadiers. Remember, it is always a longshot…”
“Except when it is important!”, cried his squadron commanders.
Tying his helmet back on his head, he spurred on his horse and moved to the front of the Lancer regiment arrayed in column of divisions. He was soon joined by their command element. The Commanding Officer acknowledged his Brigadier and confirmed that the Chasseurs where formed and ready to their rear. Drawing his sabre Avoines pointed at the Russians and said, “Let’s be on our way.” The Lancers’ buglers sounded the advance and the regiment moved forward quickly. With a roar the front ranks raised their lances as the points glinted in the sunlight and then as one they lowered them into the couch as their pennons fluttered in the wind. The advancing tide of horsemen moved rapidly towards the Russian Grenadiers who appeared to be suddenly moving more rapidly in the opposite direction. Fantastically, the mere sight of the advancing cavalry had completely unmanned the Grenadiers and they began to stream at a rapid pace towards the enemy rear! Their retirement had turned into a rout…and they had exposed the Russian artillery!!!
Avoines moved up next to the Lancers commander and shouted, “Edouard! To the left! The guns! The guns!”, as he pointed with his sabre. It is extremely difficult to shift cavalry once they had put spurs to mounts, however the French were experienced campaigners and with the clamouring of bugles and the waving of sabres the officers shifted the direction of the charge left and onto the Russian guns. The Russian gunners scrambled to turn their pieces at the oncoming cavalry and let loose a barrage of grape shot, while the Russian musketeers to the French right raked them as they crossed their front. Men tumbled from their saddles and horses shrieked and went down or ran off in all directions. The Russians stubbornly held to their guns as scattered musket fire brought down more men. Avoines was neither reckless, nor stupid. His men had achieved what was required and signalled his subordinates to turn the mass of horsemen around and back to their lines. Both regiments retired in good order and formed up behind their own artillery line. The enemy centre had recoiled…for now.
Prussian guns had been pounding the French infantry in the town for some time and the casualty reports were mounting. A line of Russian Musketeers formed themselves up to storm the buildings and with a yell advanced on the French defenders. The sound of shot and shell filled the air before a ragged cheer broke out from the town as once again the brave French battalion held against the green uniformed tide. The Russians recoiled backwards from where they had come and formed up next to their guns.
To the right the woods were sheafed in smoke as the Swiss and Germans traded fire with the enemy to their front. They executed a precise lateral movement to cover the entire front of the woods and now both the foot and horse artillery were in play. The cavalry had formed behind the artillery and were licking their wounds for another tilt at the enemy centre. D’Arnaud soon received the news that a fresh brigade of Prussians was advancing on his right. They were being held up by stiff German fire, although both sides at times seemed to be losing discipline and were blazing away at each other and the skirmish screens.
The centre had formed out into two supporting lines of infantry and followed a cloud of skirmishers onto the plain to the left of the town, while on the extreme left flank McGrath had pushed his entire Brigade over and around the high ground and covered the plain in a sea of blue uniforms.
As d’Arnaud scanned the battlefield he noticed a dark mass of Prussians advancing on the town from the left. A senior Prussian officer was at their fore, waving his sword in the air and urging them on. With a yell the Prussians advanced on the outer buildings of the town when a crashing volley thundered from the French defenders which seemed to have stunned the Prussians with its ferocity. Suddenly the entire Prussian line simply stopped its advance and began to engage in a pointless exchange of fire with the French defenders from the open and exposed position in front of the town.
To the left the slow but steady tide of French troops advanced against the increasingly isolated Prussian cavalry. The battery had finally gotten their range and opened a loud, but ultimately ineffectual fire against the enemy horsemen. Evidently the exertion of manhandling their guns forward had taken a bi of a toll on the French gunners.
To the right the French guns harassed the Russians in front of them. The firing along the wood line had finally steadied, although it appeared that both the Russian and German skirmisher screens had been forced back on their parent units. The new Prussian brigade on the extreme right had stalled in its advance. Hemmed in by the trees and the German battalion lined up in front of them.
Suddenly there emanated from the woods a ferocious roar and from the tree line advanced one of the German battalions at the bayonet! Chef de Brigade Clee had thrown caution to the wind and seized the opportunity to lunge at the Russian battalion to his front. The Russian line held its ground and with an almighty crash the two units slammed into each other in the open plain. Sporadic firing could be heard and a milling, thrashing mass of men could be seen vying for mastery on the plain. D’Arnaud could see that the Russian brigade commander had also thrown himself int the fray when in a most dramatic fashion he managed to advance directly in front of one of those ridiculous little popgun field pieces that the Germans seemed to insist on adding to their infantry lines. The German gunner in either excitement or nervousness at the approach of a senior enemy officer must have suddenly touched his match to the vent hole as the gun discharged directly at the Russian. The result was explosive and dramatic as the Russian general simply disappeared in a cloud of white smoke and red mist! A significant portion of which appeared to have been blasted all over his own troops behind!
The Russian line had obviously decided that it had enough and immediately began to rout to the rear as the Germans charged forward and seized their position. This had an effect on the next Russian unit down the line which suddenly began to move backwards as well.
D’Arnaud watched as the enemy division commander tried to stem the tied of retiring Russian troops. His ADC’s fanned out across the Russian units when suddenly with much shouting (“Were they yelling, “Sauve Qui Peut”???) the entire enemy centre disintegrated. Russian guns were limbered up and trundled off away from the battlefield. The Russian musketeers who had been wavering turned tail and followed their brethren in a precipitous dash for the rear. This caught up the Russian grenadiers who had been trying to reform but continued to leave the battlefield.
The two separated wings of Prussian forces decided that the advancing French tide on the plain and the swinging line of German infantry from the woods were too big a bite to handle in isolation. With bugle calls and muffled drums the Prussians began to pull back from the crossroads.