Somewhere in Germany, summer 1813
Feldmarschall Yorck, with Generalleutnant von Bulow’s corps attached, attacked the French corps of Souham and Bertrand.
The two small armies deployed as mirror-images of each other. Yorck set his heavy cavalry division, under Generalmajor Starkenfels, on his far left, his own corps, von Bulow’s infantry and, on his far right, von Bulow’s landwehr cavalry brigade. Souham deployed opposite Yorck, with his attached cuirassier division opposite Starkenfels, and Bertrand opposed von Bulow, his own Lancier brigade opposite the landwehr cavalry.
Both sides advanced with the practiced eye of experienced command, cavalry in line with the foot, guns a few paces behind. Urged onward by their corps commanders, “Vorwarts!”, the Prussians surged to the attack.
Initially things went well. The Prussian hussars pushed back their French counterparts; the Prussian dragoons engaged in a swirling melee with the 1st Cuirassier brigade. All was going well on the Prussian far left. Just up slope the 11th Reserve pounced on the III Corps artillery, capturing 12 guns and driving a wedge into the 13th Division. On the far right, the 1st East Prussian regiment drove the edge French infantry back and the Landwehr cavalry initially pressed back the Lanciers.
Neither Souham nor Bertrand were too alarmed. In serried ranks, bayonets glinting in the late morning sun, the French counterattacked. Results were decidedly mixed.
Souham’s 12th and 13th divisions were ripped by Prussian musketry and grape. 13th Division recoiled in front of the 11th Reserve and 2nd West Prussian. 12th Division had more success against Leib and 14th Silesian Landwehr but only just. The Cuirassier were more successful, driving back the Prussian dragoons.
Bertrand’s legions did better. The Lancier panicked the Landwehr cavalry, sweeping them from the field and pivoting to threaten von Bulow’s flank. The 1st East Prussians, so promising at the start, were driven back. Generalmajor Hunerbein’s division was in peril on the right! Desperately he formed square to protect against the lancers and braced for 8th Division’s attacks.
Von Bulow rode up and pressed the attack on the heights, leading Generalmajor Horn’s division forward. Hunerbein hung on with great sacrifice, but Bertrand was forced to withdraw the cavalry and 8th Division as the 9th and 10th Divisions on the plateau faltered.
Yorck was doing even greater damage. Hammer blows by the 11th Reserve, 14th Silesian Landwehr, Leib, and 2nd West Prussian forced 3 French brigades to retreat. Major General Pecheux formed a last line with his own 1st and 2nd brigades of the 14th Division, allowing Souham’s shattered regiments to recover and withdraw from the heights.
However, Doumerc’s cuirassier and hussars had also provided space for the French withdrawal. Having routed the dragoons, the French now routed the Prussian hussars and forced back the last Prussian cavalry on the left – the cuirassier brigade. The superiority of the sabre arm forced Yorck to be cautious in his pursuit.
Souham had been badly battered, losing 2800 men out of slightly more than 15,000 brought to the battle, and 12 of his 20 cannon. Bertrand had fared better, with casualties of 1400 and 5 guns lost. Yorck had suffered only 800 casualties, but over half were horsemen; while von Bulow had 1400 losses with 12 guns captured by the rampaging French on the far right. Hunerbein’s division had been shaken and would need many days to recover its elan.
Game was played using 15mm figures and Napoleonic Fury rules. The Long Island Irregulars meet every 2 or 3 weeks and play a variety of historical games. See older blog posts for other examples.
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..