Had a pleasant game again tonight. Bavarians and Russians contesting a crossroads in 1813. It was supposed to be a double mismatch with Wrede binging eight big brigades against Sievers' six while Neubronn with only three Wurttemberg brigades faced Borosdin's corps of six more Russians.
In the end it was Sievers who originally pushed back Wrede, though numbers eventually told and the Bavarians won back some of the ground lost, but not, by the end of the game, the crossroads! On the other side Borosdin never did get his assault going and the gap between the Russian corps was exploited.
In the end, though Sievers occupied the crossroads, Russian losses had been severe, over 20%, with three brigades smashed beyond usefulness. German losses were less - about 10% - and Neubronn still held the high ground.
We use Fire and Fury Napoleonic variant and 15mm.
With apologies to Marshal Marmont and General Leutnant Klenau
20 May 1809. Camp outside Klein Clausterthal, Austrian Empire.
To: The Duke of Portland, No 10 Downing Street
I have the pleasure to report to Your Excellency that the Austrians showed a bit of fight this day, battling the corps of Marshals Soult and Marmont for eight hours. They will be forced to retire on the morrow – news has arrived in camp that Davout threatens to interpose between us and Vienna, but it was a glorious action!
Prinz Hohenzollern, showing unusual energy for an Austrian, aroused his III Korps in the early morning hours and advanced on the exposed corps of Marshal Soult at the small crossroads of Klein Clausterthal. Despite several couriers, General Leutnant von Klenau was delayed in rousing his VI Korps and thus the Prinz was forced to start the action alone.
Marshal Soult, upon seeing the approach of the Prinz and being warned that von Klenau was nearby, dispatched riders to call up Marshal Marmont’s corps to his aid and launched General de Division Morand in an all-out attack from the French right. Morand, his troops well in hand, was soon fully engaged with the Prinz’s left-hand division under General Leutnant von Schwartzenburg. Meanwhile, General de Brigade Lasalle advanced his outnumbered French hussars to engage Major General Brady’s hussar brigade in advance of Klenau.
Prinz Hohenzollern, unperturbed by Morand’s attack, pressed forward with Hohenfeld’s division as well as General Leutnant Hesse-Homburg’s grenadier division and Major General Nostitz’s Grenzer division. However, without Schwarzenburg’s division, Soult launched another spoiling attack, sending the 3rd Swiss into Hohenfeld’s flank. With Lasalle and Brady fully engaged and Klenau not yet up, Soult also made a spoiling attack on his left (north) with the 105th Line.
Schwartzenburg bent but he did not break. The French surged ahead with their usual intensity and elan. Over the course of the entire day’s fighting both Infantry Regiment Number 14 Oranien and Infantry Regiment Number 24 Strauch were forced to retire. But both rallied and, eventually, returned to the fray. In a death match Infantry Regiment Number 38 Wurttemberg destroyed the 48th Line, literally grinding it out of existence and capturing its eagle. At one point the 10th Legere captured the 3rd Reserve Battery but, again, by day’s end, the Austrians had recaptured and recrewed their 4 undamaged guns.
Lasalle and Brady surged back and forth, first one squadron sweeping forward only to retire before the sabers of its foe and then repeating, but in reverse. In triumph, well past midday, Lasalle forced the Austrian hussars to quit the field, only to succumb to the fresh horses of Nostitz’s uhlan brigade. By then, however, the sun was sinking low, and Marshal Marmont’s corps was well up. There would be no horsemen thundering over panicked infantry.
At Klein Clausterthal, brute force won the day. The 105th Line succeeded in chasing away a cavalry battery during its spoiling attack, and then forced the Peterwardiner Grenzers back. However, a third opponent was too much. As Lasalle’s hussars were retiring, blown, and the 48th’s eagle was finally falling, the 3rd Converged Grenadiers forced the 105th to retire on Marmont, clearing the north face of the village.
On the south face, the Swiss drove off Infantry Regiment Number 22 Lacy and then, after much desperate fighting, Infantry Regiment Number 9 Clerfayt. The 13th Legere was fed into the fight by General de Division St Cyr and they defeated the 2nd Converged Grenadiers and then fought the resurgent Warasdiner Grenzers (see below) to a standstill. However, these two French regiments’ reward was to end the day virtually surrounded by Hesse-Homburg, Hohenfeld, and Nostitz, suffering over 200 men captured before they could recover their own lines.
At the crossroads all honor went to Infantry Regiment Number 29 Wallis. Ignoring the Swiss, who were causing so much havoc to the rest of their division, Wallis surged forward when the bugle sounded and routed the 111th Line regiment. Then, pivoting, smashed into the 30th Line and forced them to retire. This placed them to the rear of the village where they faced Molitor’s entire division in Marmont’s advance as night began to creep over the battlefield.
In the village itself, the boys of Warasdiner Grenz Regiment were repulsed by the 108th Line. Hesse-Homburg then gave the order for the 4th Converged Grenadiers, and they stormed into the village. The French line troops were forced, grudgingly, out of the village. They prudently retired out of the range of Wallis’ muskets, leaving the village, smoldering, in the arms of the grenadiers.
Von Klenau, when he came up, did come with a rush, swinging wide to the north of and simultaneously through a copse of woods to engage Marmont. General de Division Friant’s division was fully engaged with General Leutnant von Ulm’s division on the far northern end of the battle when darkness brought an end to the slaughter.
Losses were extremely heavy. From official reports coming into this headquarters, Klenau suffered about 900 casualties. Marmont, it is said, 600 with another 300 stragglers. Soult, from sources, including a young staff officer captured after dark, has 5000 men who will not fight tomorrow. Finally, Prinz Hohenzollern, he of the unusual energy for an Austrian, has suffered 6000 casualties, or over 22%.
Honors to the French 10th Legere who captured one color and, for a time, 6 cannon. The 3rd Swiss who took two colors. The 48th Line, who fought to the death. The 13th Legere who took 1 color. The 105th Line who repulsed three attacks and, again temporarily, took 6 guns. And, finally, to General de Brigade Lasalle and the French Hussars who fought almost the entire day, outnumbered, and triumphed over the Austrian Hussars.
Honors to the Austrian Infantry Regiment Number 38 Wurttemberg who destroyed the 48th Line. To the 3rd Converged Grenadiers who took the north edge of the village. To the 4th Converged Grenadiers, the honor of taking the village. But highest honor to Infantry Regiment Number 29 Wallis, who captured two eagles and made the furthest contested advance of any Austrian unit.
Your Excellency, Prime Minister, we may yet have a worthy ally in the Austrians.
Major Douglas Heresy, Special Observer for the Crown
It is 1807, late spring. The fields are green with new wheat and the first crop of hay is already in the mows. Cattle are fattening nicely, and the new foals are starting to gambol about in the great estates of Poland. However, war is afoot. Napoleon and his legions of veteran French troops are driving into the heart of Poland and the Tsar’s armies seem unable to even slow them down. On a prominent hill near the manor od Count Politnotski and the market village of Snotaratnik, the Seventh Corps of Count Raevsky, tired from marching and short on rations, has set up a defensive perimeter. Generals Vandamme and Gerard, with the French III and IV Corps respectively swing in a wide arc to snap up this juicy target. But Hetman Platov spies out the advance and Baron Scherbatov and his reinforced Third Corps marches hard to his fellow’s aid.
While Vandamme deploys carefully and Raevsky waits his doom with classical Russian patience, Gerard and the cavalry corps of Milhaud find that instead of sweeping in and engulfing the hopeless Raevsky they are faced with the hard-marching Cuirassier of Von Pahlen and the infantry of Scherbatov.
Vandamme, faced by only two sotnias of Cossacks on the plain (there was no chance Raevsky would detach a single jager from the hilltop), deployed casually and the Hetman pounced. 3rd Sotnia struck two batteries as they approached. The guns, stunned by the audacity of the irregulars, failed to unlimber before being overrun. The Cossacks cut the traces, lanced man and horse, destroying half of Vandamme’s artillery in a single strike. Maurin’s light cavalry brigade failed to react in time, the brigadier having called his colonels to a council of war.
A Russian horse battery, commanded by Captain Rashashellsky, dashed out with the Cossacks and confronted Vandamme’s entire corps of infantry, alone. An aide from General Paskevitch raced out and recalled the gunner after he had fired a few rounds into the leftmost French regiment.
His honor smeared Maurin now launches his brigade at a gallop into the offending plainsmen. Perhaps it is the elan of a French sabre-wielder with his honor on the line, perhaps only an irregular’s desire to avoid personal unpleasantness, but the sotnia is forced back with over a hundred lancers deciding they needed to be somewhere else.
On the other side of the field Gerard and Milhaud, unimpressed with Scherbatov, boldly sidestep across the Russian’s front to press forward in their planned attack on Raevsky. Vandamme now has his infantry in motion toward the hill as well.
The battle is now joined in earnest. Milhaud throws Berruyer’s light cavalry brigade at the massed Russian 12-pounders at the point of the hill. The cavalry general knows if he can sabre the guns there will be nothing to stop his cuirassiers from decimating, if not annihilating, the Russian infantry. However, the Russian gunners are up to the task. Their rapid and accurate canister blasts empty hundreds of saddles and Berruyer, struck by three balls himself, is forced to retreat.
Maurin, his blood now fully up, leads his brigade with a flourish into the Hetman himself and the 4th Sotnia. Perhaps because they were under the eye of the great man himself, these raiders and plunderers retain their cohesion and only give way a short distance before reforming, glaring at the French horsemen over the snorting snouts of their mounts.
On the far Russian left, the Kurland Dragoons do their best to keep Gerard’s interest away from the hill. They engage Domon’s light cavalry and manage to push them back and overrun a horse battery. Gerard, knowing a gnat when he sees one, ignores the turn of his right.
Von Pahlen sees his opportunity, launching four regiments of cuirassier over the wreckage of Berruyer’s brigade. They strike a weak screen of horse artillery and brush it aside though Astrakhan does take a measured dose of double canister that carries away a chef d’escadron, a major, and the first trumpeter. However, Gerard’s leftmost regiment, the famous 57th Ligne, having been campaigning since Napoleon was in Italy, formed square and Farine’s brigade of cuirassier rushed forward and Von Pahlen recoiled. The heavies found themselves in the same situation as Platov and Maurin!
Vandamme, while the cavalry thundered to and fro, marched steadily forward, his serried ranks glinting in the sun as the drums beat the cadence. Raevsky, fearing the veteran infantry most of all, stands like the rocks from which his infantry are descended, and braces for the inevitable impact.
Now we come to the great climax, the point at which the fate of the day hangs, the coup de main.
Vandamme launches his infantry forward, up the slopes of the hill and into the waiting muskets and bayonets of the stoic peasant infantry. Rome’s brigade, Schaeffer’s brigade, and Capitaine’s brigade in a wave, forward for France, forward for l’Empereur! Rome is up amongst the guns that did so much damage to Berruyer, this canister not so devastating, perhaps aimed more for a saddled armored cavalryman than a sweating, crouching, grognard. He is through! At the jager, boys! But the jagers have seen the elephant too and they have not raced up a hill and bayonetted and clubbed their way through a hail of grape. Rome’s men recede, like the wave they were, back down the hill.
Schaeffer never makes it up, rolling volleys of musketry and the determined point of a battalion bayonet charge force him, too, to recede like a wave upon the sands. But Capitaine, yes Capitaine sweeps forward and takes the volley but presses on. Here it is French bayonets that are sharper and Russians who stumble back. But it is a lonely triumph and the 47th Jager levels its muskets for the next round.
Milhaud too launches a final push. All eyes are on Farine’s brigade of veteran cuirassiers. Over the debris of previous struggles, broken caissons, dismounted guns, broken horses, and bloodied comrades, they surge. They first meet the survivors of Astrakhan and push them aside to crash headlong into the Military Order Regiment. Here, under the hot Polish sun, they duel like the champions of Greek mythology, hacking, slashing, twisting, turning, neither giving nor expecting quarter. In the end, they separate, as if by mutual exhaustion, each having lost half their number, staring numbly at the destruction they had wrought.
Gerard, assessing the situation critically, issues the order to withdraw. Raevsky will live another day. Vandamme will curse the Cossacks at the campfire this evening. Honors of audacity and valor to General de Brigade Farine and his troopers, and to the 57th Ligne, to the Military Order and to Hetman Platov.
Diatribes are simply often humorous recountings of the games played by the Long Island Irregulars. We play with toy soldiers and are unabashedly happy to have never lost this part of our childhoods..