Saturday saw another Big Game Saturday at the Warlords and once again Des came up trumps by putting on a game based on the action at Liebertwolkwitz. Historically this saw Murat in command of a wing of Napoleon’s forces engaged by the advance guard of the Army of Bohemia to the south of Leipzig with the French trying to secure the villages and important high ground in the vicinity and the Allies wanting to pin the Grande Armee in place.
As the combined collections of those involved did not have enough cavalry to re-enact the absolutely huge cavalry fight that happened we would be conducting a slightly different fight, albeit one with a LOT of cavalry – indeed the phrase ‘that is a lot of cavalry’ was said by just about everyone present at one time or another, including those that weren’t playing!
The figures were from Des’ and Andy’s collections with a contribution from Martin too and the rules were standard General de Brigade rules with new order activation and command activation rules for big battles.
The sides were picked and commands were assigned thus:
- Paul – Reserve Cavalry Corps with at least 6 brigades.
- Martin – Corp with 2 French Divisions of 2 Brigades each and 2 foot batteries. Martin also took command of all the Reserve artillery
- Myself – Corp with an Italian Division of 2 Brigades and 3 batteries and the Wurttemberg Division with 2 batteries (Des kindly included these for me as they are a particular favourite of mine!).
- Andy – Allied Cavalry, I think it was a couple of Corps with just about every type of cavalry known to man, from Cossacks to Kurassier!
- Des – Russian Corp with 2 small Infantry Divisions and tons of guns!
- Warren – Austrian Corp with 2 Infantry Divisions, a Cavalry Brigade and attached artillery
We got cracking with setting the table up, all 17 and a half by 6 feet of it, and getting our troops down then a quick cuppa whilst making our plans and then we were ready to get into action.
I will only be able to give an accurate description of what was going on with my own force as once combat started I only knew what was going on to my immediate right and apart from the occasional walk up the other end to ask Paul how it was going I really didn’t have a clue what was going on over there! But first some more pre-battle photo’s:
As soon as we got ready to start I thought that I might have made a big mistake on my deployment, I should have put the larger of my two Italian brigades on the extreme left and put the Wurttembergers in Liebertwolkwitz – I blame only having a few hours kip and being somewhat hungover – however things didn’t seem to be too bad in the end.
After kick-off the wings were where it was at with both Cavalry commanders doing what they should and immediately moving forwards to contact each other, the fight here would sway to and fro all day as brigade after brigade was committed. In the centre Martin had decided to sit tight and try and win the artillery duel with the Russians before committing his command. Des opposite him decided to do pretty much the same and for a while a mighty gun battle raged here until the French finally won the upper hand and started to advance.
Over on my flank Warren had obviously received orders to quickly take the villages as he started attacking from the off. My Wurttemberg artillery did some great shooting though and managed to impede his process on the extreme left as he seemed reticent to move into effective range until the next Brigade along had taken Gross Posna and thus spent some time deploying whilst soaking up casualties. The initial attack on Gross Posna was repulsed, before bundling out the Jager that were garrisoning it at the second attempt, however the attacks to the flank of the village did not meet with the same success as they came up against strong Italian resistance.
To the right of this action Warren’s other Division lumbered forwards with one brigade wasting no time in attacking Liebertwolkwitz and the other the woods between this village and Gross Posna. My plucky Italian lads defending this part of the line were more than up to the task though, ably assisted by artillery fire from Martin’s guns to my flank, and saw off the assault on the village in some style, the number of broken battalions causing a brigade moral test which saw the whole lot leg it from the field!
The trouble with fighting Austrians is that there are just thousands of them and they keep on coming! Even though Warren’s assault had failed he was keeping up the pressure on the rest of the line and managed to start to push into the wood as the Italian Light Infantry posted there fell back before superior numbers (it was just here that one of Warren’s battalions did seem to spend the whole battle refusing to charge home on an Italian battalion and thus earning the sobriquet ‘the von Falterbergs’).
About this time Martin had ordered his Corp forwards as there was now a sizable gap in the Allied line both from the missing Austrian brigade and due to Des having to draw back his Russians after his guns ran out of ammunition. The lack of further threat to Liebertwolkwitz meant that I too could start to move some of my troops, so I ordered the reserve battalions of my Italian Division across towards the wood to counter attack the Austrians that were starting to get a foothold there. As for the cavalry action over on the right I can not say too much, although I believe the better mounts of the Allied troopers were making a difference and they were slightly winning the fight – they had definitely broken at least one of our brigades.
Over on the left I had attacked into Gross Posna to retake the village. This worked initially but a swift counter attack from a fresh battalion caught the victorious Wurttembergers unformed and routed them out of the village which forced the whole brigade to fall back, luckily, although they were broken, not all of the battalions dispersed so I had a chance of salvaging something and re-forming them. Warren then managed to charge my remaining battery in the flank as it was now exposed which he duly overran. I had no other option but to concede ownership of the village and start to fall back with my remaining Wurttemberg brigade to form a new line to protect the flank although Warren’s troops in this sector had received quite a bloody nose in the process.
Unfortunately we had to end earlier than we expected so the battle stopped at this point which was a great shame as it had reached a very interesting point with the Austrian success on the left and the Allies gaining the upper hand in the cavalry fight. However, in between the two wings the French were in command I think, Martin was surging forwards and I was about to push the Austrians out of the woods with my relatively untouched Italian troops so things were balanced quite nicely.
So another great days gaming done and I know I’ve said it before but it really is what the hobby is all about for me: thousands of beautiful Napoleonic miniatures fighting it out in the grand manner with a bunch of thoroughly lovely blokes playing the game in the right spirit, what more could you ask for!
Many thanks go to Des again for the game and to all the chaps involved: thanks again for a great day. A special doff of my chapeau goes to Warren with whom I had a right good ding-dong fight with all day – I salute you sir!
Here’s a link to Des’ photos of the day on his FB page – they will be in better focus than mine as he sensibly didn’t get newted the night before!!