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Monday, July 30, 2012

Mockern October 1813: A FoG-N AAR

Hi All
Well, after a couple of weeks of intense wargaming (mainly MAURICE) it was time for a game of FoG-N.
ABOVE: Marshal Marmont
Stan and I invited Arnaud and Tyler up from Melbourne for a historical refight.
I discovered this scenario on the Slitherine forum, so a big "Thank you" must go out to 'Shadowdragon' for doing all the hard work.
Mockern is an interesting battle, being part of the great Battle of Leipzig .
There is plently of detail on the battle HERE

ORBATS as follows:
VI Infantry Corps
Commander - Marmont (Exceptional, Charismatic)

20th Division - Compans (Skilled)
1 small Provisional Line infantry (average conscript)
1 small Line (Marine) infantry (average drilled)
1 small Line (Marine) infantry (average veteran)
1 skirmisher attachment

21st Division - Lagranges (Competent)
1 small Light infantry (average veteran)
1 small Line (Marine) infantry (average drilled)
1 small Line (Marine) infantry (average veteran)

22nd Division – Friedrichs (Competent)
1 small Line infantry (average conscript)
2 small Provisional Line infantry (average conscript)
1 skirmisher attachment

Artillery (1 unit to be assigned to each of the above divisions):
2 large medium field artillery (average drilled)
1 small 12lb (heavy) field artillery (average drilled)

Corps Cavalry (2 units both to be assigned to one of the above divisions to create a mixed division):
1 large W├╝rttemberg Light Cavalry (average drilled)
1 small Chasseur (average drilled) - unit detached from III Cavalry Corps

Attached Duchy of Warsaw 27th Division (VIII Corps) – Dombrowski (Allied - Skilled)
1 small Polish Line infantry (average drilled)
1 small Polish Uhlans (average veteran lancer)
1 small 6lb field artillery (average drilled)
1 officer attachment

Total Points for VI Corps = 1038 pts

III Cavalry Corps
Commander - Arrighi (Skilled)

5th/6th Light Cavalry Division - Fournier (Skilled)
2 small Chasseur (average drilled)
1 small Hussar (average drilled)
1 officer attachment

4th Heavy Cavalry Division - Defrance (Skilled)
2 small Dragoon (average drilled)

Artillery (to be assigned to the above divisions):
1 small Horse Artillery (average drilled)
1 artillery attachment

Attached 9th Division (III Infantry Corps) – Delmas (Competent) - this division arrives as a reinforcement
1 small Line infantry (average conscript)
1 small Line Infantry (average drilled)
1 small Light infantry (average drilled)
1 small medium field artillery (average drilled)

Total Points for III Cavalry Corps = 582 pts
Total Points for French = 1630

Russian Wing
Commander - Langeron (Competent)

Artillery: (can be assigned to any division in either Corps - Nafziger has the battery belonging to IX Corps while the Napoleon's Battles scenario has it belonging to I Cavalry Corps. allow the player to chose.)

1 small horse artillery (average veteran)

I Cavalry Corps
Commander - Korff (Competent)

Dragoon Division - Arsenievich (Competent)
2 small Dragoon (superior drilled)

Light Division - ?? (Competent)
1 small Jager zu Pferde (average drilled)
2 small Cossack (average irregular)

IX Corps
Commander - Olsufiev (Competent)

15th Infantry Division - Kornilov (Competent) *
1 small Jager (average veteran)
1 small Musketeer (average drilled)

9th Infantry Division - Udom (Competent)
1 small Musketeer (average drilled)
1 small Musketeer (average conscript)
1 skirmisher attachment

Artillery: (one unit to be attached to each infantry division)
1 12lb Field artillery (average veteran)

Total Points = 730 pts.
Note: 'Shadowdragon' states: "I've seen no information that these formations had more artillery than the 2 units above. The "Russian Infantry Corps 1813-14" in ToN has no minimum for attached artillery, so I've given forces above no attached artillery".

I Prussian Corps
Commander - Yorck (Exceptional Charismatic)

Advance Guard – Katzeler (Competent)
1 small Grenadier infantry (average veteran) + rifle skirmisher attachment
1 small Landwehr infantry (average conscript)
1 small Hussar (superior drilled)
1 small Landwehr cavalry (average conscript lancer)
1 medium artillery attachment
1 cavalry attachment
1 cavalry officer attachment

1st Brigade – Steinmetz (Competent)
1 small Grenadier infantry (average veteran) + skirmisher attachment
1 small Landwehr infantry (superior conscript)
2 cavalry attachments
1 medium artillery attachment

2nd Brigade - Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Competent)
1 small Line Infantry (average drilled) + skirmisher attachment
1 small Landwehr infantry (superior conscript)
2 cavalry attachments
1 medium artillery attachment

7th Brigade – Horn (Competent)
1 small Leib Inf (average veteran) + rifle skirmisher attachment
1 small Landwehr infantry (superior conscript)
1 cavalry attachment
1 medium artillery attachment

8th Brigade – Huenerbein (Competent)
1 small Musketeer (average drilled) + skirmisher attachment
1 small Landwehr infantry (average conscript)
1 cavalry attachment
1 medium artillery attachment

Reserve: (to be assigned to above divisions according to ToN restrictions)
1 small Dragoon (superior drilled) + officer attachment
1 small horse artillery (average drilled)
1 small 6lb field artillery (average drilled)
1 small 12lb field artillery (average drilled)
1 cavalry attachment (not to be assigned to 1st or 2nd brigades as these already have 2 cavalry attachments)

Total Points = 1,088
Total Allied Points = 1818

As you can see in the photo BELOW, the French deployed with the 22nd and 21st Divisions forward with the 20th Division, (a mixed division with the large Wurtemburg Cavalry Brigade and the French Light Cavalry Brigade from III Cavalry Corps) supporting. The 5/6ths Ligh Cavalry Division and 4th Heavy (Dragoons) were held in reserve well behind the three infantry divisons of VI Corps. The attached Duchy of Warsaw 27th Division (VIII Corps), under command of Dombrowski hunkered down in and around the village of Gr. Widderitzsch

The Prussians massed between the villages of Wahren and Lindenthal and the Russians to the East of Lindenthal
 ABOVE: The veiw from behind the French lines with the 21st Div furthest from us. Behind them the 20th Div and finally closest to camera the French Light (right) and Heavy (left) Cavalry;
BELOW: The Poles in Gr. Widderitzsch. Dombrowski is organising the defence.
The French plan was simple; await the assault and counter punch with the 20th Division. The poles would hold out as long as possible bearking up any attack from the direction of high ground to the north. The Cavalry would support wherever the greatest need was.

BELOW: The 'Heros of Mockern', the 12th Light Cavalry Brigade consisting of the 5th, 10th and 13th Chasseurs a Cheval. These lads were attached to 20th Division, on the right flank.
 BELOW: Let battle commence!

The battle opened with an advance by all the Prussian divisions converging on the French divisions between the two roads, with the exception of the Prussian cavalry.
 BELOW: The 5/6 Cavalry Divison move off in support of the Poles and to link up with the 9th Division.
 BELOW: The Guns of 22nd Division provide a warm welcome for the advancing Prussians
 ABOVE: Fournier, (looking a lot like Lasalle) leads the French Light Cavalry division off to the right flank and a date with destiny!
BELOW: The Prussians push on,..
BELOW: A view from above and behind the Polish position at 'Greater Widderitzsch’. The Polish gunners firing upon Russian Musketeers. They soon shifted their fire onto the Russian 9th Division

 ABOVE: The sole Prussian success. The Prussian Dragoons charge the French Brigade on the left of Mockern. They caused the French infantry to retire, form square and eventually rout under constant pressure from the massed Prussian Cavalry.
Meanwhile, (BELOW) the remaining Prussians advence into a mailstrom of hot lead.

The Russian Cavalry massed on the road leading onto the battlefield from the right flank in an attempt to prevent the 9th Division arriving. This only seemed to hasten their arrival. Consequently Marmont ordered the French Light Cavalry Division from the Reserve cavalry off on a missin to link up with the 9th, and assist them in turning the Russian flank.

BELOW: The 9th Division arrive only to be confronted by masses of Russian Cossacks and Dragoons. The French Light Cavalry come to the rescue!
BELOW: A brigade from the French 22nd Division forms square as the Prussian Dragoons batter away at them.

BELOW: Crunch time at Mockern. The Prussian Leib Regiment attempts to break one of the 22nd Division's Infantry Brigades. The Gun Battery was abandoned eventually, but the Brigade of infantry held.

While the best part of two Prussian Brigades (Divisions) and their Korps Cavalry pounded away at Mockern itself and the two Brigades from 22 Division defending it, the remainder attacked the line between Mockern and Eutritzsch. These Prussians suffered heavy casualties in the approach, and like the historical battle the French Artillery was responsible the vast majority of pain inflicted.
The fire was so thick that an attached officer in the Advance Guard under Katzeler was killed by round shot whilst approaching the large battery in direct support of the 22nd Division.
(Much cheering erupted from the French command at this unfortunate Prussian Officer’s demise)

BELOW: The Prussian assault developing,..
 BELOW: The view from the Russian left as the massed Russian Cavalry attempt to bar the 9th's advance. The French Light cavalry can be seen coming to their assistance as the Polish Division sits in Gr. Widderitzsch. The Poles were to prove to be a bastion of defiance. As their artillery destroyed one Russian brigade and their Lancers erupted out of the area around Gr. Widderitzsch to take another Russian infantry Brigade in the flank and rout them. All up the Poles destroyed a Russian Division for very little loss. In the real battle the Poles suffered heavy casualties.
The Russians IX Corps were divided in their efforts. The 15thDivision sent their Brigade of Jagers to occupy ‘Little Widderitzsch’ to the north of the Polish in ‘Greater Widderitzsch’ whilst their Brigade of Musketeers seem to just dither in a threatening stance to the west of the village. Whilst the 15thstarted upturning tables and ratted through the locals drawers the Russian 9thDivision sent their Infantry to attack the French. Apparently in an effort to prove the Russian’s could be all things to all Prussians the Russian Cavalry Corps headed east to confront the French 9th Division.

It was these Russians that attacked between the Polish in ‘Greater Widderitzsch’ and the right flank of the French 21st division that took a pounding. The Polish Artillery disordered one Brigade, and then reduced it to wavering. As it continued to advance in was the broken by more artillery fire. Their loss did however spare their brother brigade any real harm. It wasn’t until the started taking fire from the French infantry that their fate was sealed. Disordered by musketry, they were then assailed by Polish Lancers that took them in flank.
The Russian 9th Division was totally destroyed.
 ABOVE: More shot and shell pours into the advancing Prussians.
BELOW: The French Light Cavalry complete their redeployment to the right flank.

BELOW: The view from the perspective of the French 9th Division. Compelled to form squares as soon as the arrived on the field of battle.
 BELOW: The moment just before the charge of the Chasseurs a Cheval from the 20th 'Mixed' Division. The 12Pdr Battery is about to be over-ran buy the Prussian infantry.
 ABOVE: The situation at the 21st Division's position.
BELOW:The French Heavies face off against the Prussian Cavalry Korps who are busy picking their way through the forests and marshes to the south west of Mockern.

 ABOVE AND BELOW: What happens to a Russian musketeer Brigade when disordered by fire then chraged by Lancers in the flank? POOF!
With the redeployment of the French Light Cavalry division now completed, it seem that the Russians decided their cavalry needed to be somewhere else, and the moved off from blocking the French 9th division and started to fall back on to the Prussian’s left flank.

Just as this was happening the Prussians were dealing with issues of their own. They had succeeded in overrunning the 22nd and 20th Divisions Artillery batteries, and had reduced the brigade of infantry from 22nd Div to the east of Mockern to ‘wavering’ and caused them to edge back. Furthermore, the Brigade to the west of Mockern had been broken by the Prussian Cavalry Korps. Essentially 22nd Division was reduced to a single effective brigade, but that Brigade was defending Mockern, and seemed immovable.

The bad news for the Prussians was the amount of disorder they were dealing with.

Now came the French counterpunch. The French Chasseurs’ a Cheval from the mixed 20th Division charged the Prussian infantry that had penetrated the first line when they overran the heavy battery of 12 pounders. Heavily disordered they were soon put to flight by the French Light Cavalrymen. Their flight caused a series of cohesion tests that were failed and soon the bulk of the Prussian units were reduced to rout or wavering.

As this was happening the French 5th/6th Light cavalry Division unleashed one of its brigades, (again, Chasseurs’ a Cheval) on the now redeploying Russian horsemen. The Chasseurs crashed into a brigade of Russian Cossacks. The Cossacks turn and fled after a short action, but they were pursued and destroyed by their French opponents.

The loss of the Russian 9th Division and the Cossack brigade soon had the Russians withdrawing from the field.
BELOW: The Prussian assault is repelled. The French Chasseurs a Cheval thatcaused so much strife can be seen rallying in the boggy ground at the mouth of the river.

 ABOVE and BELOW: The situation on the eastern flank. French Chasseurs a Cheval charge and rout Russian Cossacks. The Russian Corps withdraw.
 BELOW: The situation at the end of the battle. The Russians withdrawing and the Prussians repelled. Fighting still heavy around Mockern. Soon after these pictures the order filtered through to the Prussians to withdraw north. Maybe tomorrow would bring success?

With the Russians withdrawing, and much of the Prussian infantry broken or wavering ‘Yorck’ called it a day.

So where did it all go so wrong for the allies?

I can only speak from the perspective of the French Chief of Staff, (Arnuad was commanding) but I believe the lack of coordination was the big problem for the Prussians and Russians.

The Russians did have a tough gig. Concerned with the arrival of the French 9th division, and the need to provide support for their Germanic allies, they had troops all over the place.

The Prussians seemed overly fixated on taking Mockern. The Prussian Cavalry were initially successful in sweeping the French infantry from the West of Mockern, but then what?

The terrain was terrible for cavalry, and all that excellent horseflesh spent most of the battle wandering around in soggy ground and forest.

In my opinion these horsemen would have been far better place to the east, providing a link with their Russian allies and support to any attacks they might launch in terrain far more favourable. A central position would also have allowed more flexibility in their employment.

Their presence would certainly have caused the French to carefully reconsider any redeployment of the French Light Cavalry Division that in the end caused all manner of strife for the Russians.

I suspect the combination of the French 9th Infantry Division and the French Light Cavalry Division caused the Russians to feel slightly isolated, whereas the addition of the Prussian cavalry on that flank would have had an opposite effect causing 9th Division to be isolated an in all probability destroyed or at the very least forced to retire.

Furthermore, success on that flank would have rendered Mockern irrelevant as the allies would have been able to sweep around from the east.

The only fly in this particular ointment would of course been the Poles in ‘Greater Widderitzsch’.

It was this division of effort I think that lead to the overall failure in the end for the allies, (and in particular the Russians). In attempting to do everything they achieved nothing.

Add the lack of any preparation by artillery fire for the Prussian assault and the attack on the line between Mockern and Eutritzsch was always going to be tough.

In the end it proved too tough.
As Tyler (Yorck) said:
 It was a lot of fun! I had some early successes with the Prussians, driving off French infantry on the far right and racing my cavalry around to threaten the French rear. I hoped that combined pressure on the enemy's front and rear would crumble them. Unfortunately, the Prussian infantry couldn't push through in the middle. Attacks bounced off several times, giving the French plenty of time to redeploy their cavalry to counter my cavalry units sweeping around their rear. Then a counter-attack in the middle broke several of my battered units.

In retrospect, I should have hung back at long range and let the artillery duel for a couple of turns. That would have given the Russians more time to bring their forces up for a more coordinated attack, and between the two allied corps we had slightly more artillery than the French, with their one infantry and one cavalry corps

I’ll give Arnaud (Marmont) the final word:

A great game had by all!
Tyler (Blucher) fought like a lion, I I always do!
FoG-N are great rules that have easy to pick up the basics, but a lot of nuances inside. Play actually helps learning. Of note, after 4 hours of play we reached a definitive decision on all fronts. Play was only slowed down due to the fact Tyler and I (especially me!) are new to this rule set and we were pedantic about going through the checks as we went so that we learned & reinforced stuff. If we were all up to date I'm sure it would have rolled along faster. Plus we had two Corps on the field

ABOVE: The view to the Russian positions from behind the Prussian position.
BELOW: Even as the battle drew to a close, the Prussians persisted in hammering away at Mockern.

 ABOVE: French Chasseurs a Cheval Rally 'Spent' after smashing through the Prussian lines.
BELOW: By contrast 'Fresh' Prussian Hussars take in the sights south of Mockern.
 BELOW: The successful Prussian Dragoon in the forrest behind Mockern. Spent and unwilling to push the issue against the 'fresh' French Dragoons.
 BELOW: Pretty much sums up the situation for the Prussians,..
As usual, comments are most welcome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Battle of Hawthorn Heights: A MAURICE AAR

We played another game of Maurice last night at the MONDAY KNIGHTS.
This time it was an ‘introductory’ battle between myself and our good friend Arnaud using Stan’s army.
Arnaud won the scouting toss and with some advice from Stan decided to defend.
The objective was the hill (Hawthorn Heights). Arnaud (or should I say Lieutenant Governor Arnaud) deployed with his three regiments of cavalry on or near the hill.
The ‘Elite’ Red Dragoon Guards were conspicuous with their tricorn hats and big chestnut horses sitting as bold as brass on the objective.
He deployed his two batteries of Artillery next in line and then his first infantry force consisting of the Governors’ Hessian Guards and two Regiments of The Line. Next were another 3 Infantry Regiments and finally a Regiment of Conscripts and a Regiment of Irregular ‘Rangers’ infantry.
The Lieutenant Governor gathered his officers and Chief of Staff around:
“As inexperienced as I might appear, I am well educated in the Arts of War. I can assure you we shall be victorious today as long as you all follow my direction to the letter. Besides, my father knows people,..”.

I decided that his Elite units were best dealt with by shooting them to death rather than trying to match them in hand to hand combat, given a cannon ball doesn’t differentiate between Guards and conscripts.
Consequently I massed all my horse on my right with my Grand battery consisting of 4 batteries of Artillery between them and my Massed infantry. Finally on my left I positioned my sole regiment of irregular infantry, Bailey’s Jaegers.
SEE DEPLOYMENTS BELOW as seen from my lines

My plan was simple:
Soften up the enemy’s left wing with artillery before launching a massed cavalry assault on the objective. I would then advance my Infantry ‘en mass’ into the enemies centre and win the day; HUZZAH!
My first turn and my grand battery commenced the bombardment. The red Dragoon Guards on the hill sustained most of the casualties, and even attempted to rally off some of the disruption. Incredibly Arnaud refused to move them back behind the safety of the hill. By my third round of bombardment they were destroyed, and at that point the other two horse regiments took their queue to retire. Lieutenant Governor Arnaud complained bitterly that his Cavalrymen were lacking in zeal. His Chief of Staff explained all the ‘Zeal’ in the Free State wouldn’t stand up to 32 Cannon,…
BELOW: The enemy horse are driven from the Heights, and my Cavalry advance.

With the destruction of the Dragoon Guards I felt confident my cavalry were now in a position to see the remaining enemy horse off. As my cavalry advanced my artillery shifted their fire onto the enemy battery and commenced a counter battery duel.
All the while my infantry stood still and patient.
BELOW: My massed cavalry regiments poised to launch their charge on the enemy horse,...
 ... as the enemy's infantry commence their advance!
 BELOW: The cavalry brawl begins with an impetuous 'rush of blood' by one of Arnaud's Light Dragoon Regiments, (I played the 'Heat of Battle' card compelling one of Arnaud's regiments to charge my horse)
Shortly a massive cavalry battle erupted on my right flank and soon both of Arnaud’s remaining horsemen were routed.
Glasses of brandy were sent crashing and smashing to the ground at Arnaud’s HQ. Musicians were hurriedly packing away violins and Chellos as the Lieutenant Governor cursed his equestrian arm:
“These horsemen are pathetic. I’ll turn them all into garrison infantry”!

The enemy started to refuse their new left flank, as the Governor’s Hessian Guards edged backwards to cover their exposed flank. Oxen were brought to their gunline in preparation of a ‘Tactical Retrograde Movement’
Oh, that’s what they are calling it when we run away now”? A gunner was heard to comment.
As Arnaud moved his left back he advanced on his right.
As that was happening drums started beating in the Electors ranks of Infantry:
Vorwarts Mein Kinder”!
The infantry advanced.
 ABOVE and BELOW: My cavalry regiments rally behind the objective, and in the 'Confusion' one of my Regiments (the Blue Dragoons) charges the ememy artillery! fortunatly no real harm was done and they withdrew. All this activity was burning up cards in my hand however,...

Even though the leftmost battalions had to cross a huge cultivated field, scouts had discovered that it was surprisingly good going, and no disruption resulted (read: a "FIND THE WAY "card was in play).
Just as suddenly as my infantry advanced, we were confronted with a major problem. Clearly our scouts were so busy congratulating themselves on discovering a path through the potato fields they had failed to notice a massive swamp directly in the line of advance of the massed infantry, (read: "That's Not On The Map" card).

The Elector moved to a position to better control the now massed but intermingled regiments of Cavalry. Much time was spent in attempting to sort the confused clump of horseflesh and motivate it to continue its attack on the enemy’s flank.
All the while the enemy infantry commenced their envelopment of my left flank.
It seemed the whole battle rotated 90 degrees. (see below)
The Elector sent messengers flying in all directions to each of the cavalry regiments:
“For God’s Sake, just get the cavalry moving; regardless of their disorder, or all will be lost”!
Soon the disrupted mass of Cavalry was crashing into the enemy’s Gun Line, hacking down both gunners and civilian contractors alike, and consequently the open flank of the Hessian Guards, Due to the disruption on the cavalry however they were unable to destroy the Guardsmen quickly.
By the time they did, the enemy infantry was pouring volleys into the flanks of my strung-out regiments.
The cavalry had also lost a regiment in the process of cutting up the Guards.
Soon my infantry collapsed under the withering fire on their exposed flank.
The battle ended with my Army Moral at 0 (obviously) and Arnaud’s at 1!
At one point Arnaud’s Army Moral had dropped to 5, and mine was still at 12. How the situation had turned.

Things I learned.
1. Always have a 'Plan B'
2. Never say die. Even when all appears lost you can still turn the battle around.
3. Open flanks = death on a stick!
4. Avoid ‘Target Fixation’ and maintain situational Awareness. Yet again I was focused so much on one part of the battle (The cavalry battle) I ignored the obvious calamity that was about to befall us (the enemy infantry massing on my left). When I did I found myself devoid of cards to remedy the situation.
As usual comments welcomed.