Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Battle of Lowenbruch 1813

As the club wasn't able to meet in its regular location last Saturday, Quinny kindly volunteered the use of his pool room for us to play a special 4 a side match based on the historical Battle of Lowenbruch. Andrew B. planned the game and supplied the figures, Calpe Prussians and Front Rank French and Allies.

The premise was that Bertrand's command wanted to seize the road to Berlin, but the Prussians were determined to stop him. As it was set in 1813, both sides had a great deal of conscript and landwehr troops to increase the frustration levels. The French command consisted of a French (Robin, taking command as Bertrand),  a Wurttemberger (Garry) and an Italian (me) division with Wurttemberg cavalry and the French guns commanded by Andrew. The Prussians were commanded by our host Quinny (Thumen and arty. res.), Tim (Tauentzien and cav. res.), Jim (Borstell) and Pete E (Krafft).

The game started with both sides advancing, me to grab the village in front to secure the right flank, Garry secured the woods to his front and Robin just advanced to the front. Andrew linked Garry's woods with my village with the artillery reserve and kept the cavalry reserve on my right flank.

There was a good deal of maneuvering  for the first few turns, and Jim threw away his Jaegers by trying to disorder my guns on the left flank of the village, but good rolling on my part wiped them out fairly quickly. Tim went straight up the guts and placed himself in front of Robin's guns and then declared a charge on them. Robin responded by counter charging with his infantry stationed behind the deployed batteries. The resulting melee caused the Prussian landwehr to flee. Meanwhile, Garry's Wurttembergers came out and charged the remaining Prussians on the left flank of the broken units,  which continued the rot, causing them to flee as well. Robin's extreme left battalion of the charging brigade ran into one of Quinny's batteries whose crew elected to fire and then flee the guns, causing the decimated French battalion to also flee, leaving a lonely set of guns in the middle of the field. These defeats led to a divisional morale test that Tim failed, resulting in his whole division retreating to the edge of the board.

Meanwhile, on my flank, I wasn't playing my most tactically brilliant game! I'd taken a couple of the built up areas in the town, but left myself exposed on the right flank of the village, occupying a BUA that faced the might of Pete's forces in front of me. I could see that 3 of his infantry batallions were shaping up for a charge to expel me from that BUA, so I decided to evacuate rather than be forced out, but still moved a battery up to the flank of the building I'd just evacuated, inviting it to be charged or fired on in the flank at a later stage, almost guaranteeing it's destruction. Jim had already taken 2 BUAs on the other side of the village, bottling up one of his better battalions, while he tried to charge through the town to reach my other troops ensconced in BUAs. But these troops were conscripts and couldn't deal with the number of disorders caused, allowing me to repulse his attacks easily.

Robin's success couldn't be exploited, as he had no reserves to follow up with. Quinny, took advantage of this, getting in on Robin's exposed flank and letting rip with his 12lbers. Robin's exposed battalions couldn't take much of this and broke, or were persuaded to leave the field by Quinny's nearest battalions and the cavalry reserve. Robin withdrew to regroup, leaving the yawning gap caused by Tim's retreat safe for the moment. Robin's other flank was kept in check by some Landwehr lancers as he had no cavalry to counter it.

Garry's moment came to put pressure on the centre and take some off Robin. His Wurttembergers advanced to threaten both Quinny's and Jim's Prussians, forcing their attention away from following up on Robin's sad and sorry Frenchmen, followed by Andrew's heavy 12lber artillery.

On my flank, I'd crowded my reserves too close to the forward line and would have been in a pickle if I'd left them there when the inevitable charge happened. I also had to sort out my line in order to give Andrew's cavalry a chance to influence the battlefield, as I kept encroaching on his charge lines. Tim sent a messenger to Pete to tell him to stop shilly-shallying (or the German equivalent; 'Nichts mit der gestumpfing, dumkopf!' maybe?) and get on with the attack, so Pete sent in his jaegers to soften up my doomed artillery, but again I blasted them from the board with some fairly impressive dice rolling (even if I do say so myself!).

Next turn I tried to limber the artillery and move it, but fired in the flank at close range from the BUA on the left caused the crews to break and flee. Pete then put in a charge by 2 battalions of his better infantry on the extreme right battalion of Italian light infantry which were in closed column to counter the cavalry threat. The Italians broke and fled, leaving Andrew's guns exposed. He limbered and moved his guns out of range of the threat.

Pete withdrew the successful battalions out of harm's way and I formed my 2 remaining Italian light battalions in an anchored line on the BUA to the left, in order to dissuade any further fuss. I survived a charge by his cavalry, getting my right hand light battalion into square with the general attached, which caused his charge to fail. Pete and Andrew, then fought an inconclusive cavalry battle on the extreme right flank, but that's all we needed, as it stopped Pete getting through our flank. It was good going with the dice on Andrew's part, as his Wurttemberg chasseurs weren't much chop compared to Pete's hussars.

Pete then launched a charge on my anchored line, succeeding in pushing it back with losses, but leaving him exposed to counter-attack. I had previously maneuvered my best unit, the Milan Guard, to a position to threaten any flank presented to it, but Pete had also prepared a second line to counter charge any attack on his exposed unit. I sent one of my weaker line units in as the sacrificial lambs on a suicide attack on the exposed column, triggering the inevitable counter-charge from the Prussian second line defense, but I in turn, launched my Milan Guard at the exposed flank of this attack, carrying on through that battalion into the next and causing all sorts of trouble for Pete. Andrew chimed in with some well placed artillery shots and quickly Pete suffered a divisional morale check that sent everything scooting back 9". Breathing space for the Italians!

In the meantime, Tim had rallied his division and rejoined the battle, but Garry aggressively counter-attacked, breaking a couple more battalions leading to Tim's 2nd divisional morale check, which he again failed. Quinny had Robin on the ropes on the left flank and ended up forcing a divisional morale check on him, resulting in Robin's French also giving way (As you may note, the details are sketchy here as to how these things happened, as I was engrossed in my side of the table!).

The battle ended here with neither side being able to land a killer blow and follow up with reserves, as neither side had any. One could argue tactically, the Allies won as we had forced 2 divisions out of 4 to break off (3 if you count Tim's original break), but one could also argue strategically that the Prussians won as they denied us the road to Berlin.

Whatever, it was a great battle with ebbs and flows with neither side getting the upper hand. I was pleased that my tactical mistakes weren't fatal and that I could pull a short term victory off in forcing Pete into a divisional morale check. Even Robin was not completely abandoned by the Dice Gods, as he usually is, and managed to roll well when needed (well, sometimes!), and Quinny seemed to be affected by the bad dice juju, instead.

Battle of Lowenbruch OB


Prussian 3rd Army Corps

Reserve Cavalry
4th Brigade - Thumen 2nd Brigade - Sydow
1/4th East Prussian Infantry 2nd Silesian Hussars
2/4th East Prussian Infantry 2nd Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry
Fus/4th East Prussian Infantry 4th Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry
1/5th Reservist Infantry Horse Battery #5
2/5th Reservist Infantry
3/5th Reservist Infantry Artillery Reserve - Holtzendorf
1/Elbe Infantry Regiment 12pdr Battery #4
2/Elbe Infantry Regiment 12pdr Battery #4
3/Elbe Infantry Regiment 6pdr Foot #11
East Prussian Jager
Pommeranian National Cavalry IV Corps - Tauentzien
6pdr Foot #6 1/3rd Reserve Infantry

2/3rd Reserve Infantry
5th Brigade - Borstell 3/3rd Reserve Infantry
Pommeranian Grenadier 1/1st Silesian Landwehr Infantry
Attached Jagers 2/1st Silesian Landwehr Infantry
1/1st Pommeranian Infantry  3/1st Silesian Landwehr Infantry
2/1st Pommeranian Infantry  1/1st Kurmark Landwehr Infantry
Fus/1st Pommeranian Infantry  2/1st Kurmark Landwehr Infantry
1/2nd Reserve Infantry  3/1st Kurmark Landwehr Infantry
2/2nd Reserve Infantry  1/2nd Neumark Landwehr Infantry
3/2nd Reserve Infantry  2/2nd Neumark Landwehr Infantry
2/2nd Kurmark Landwehr Infantry 3/2nd Neumark Landwehr Infantry
Pommeranian Hussar 6pdr Foot #27
West Prussian Uhlan 3rd East Prussian Landwehr Cav
6pdr Foot #10

6th Brigade - Krafft
1/Colberg Infantry
2/Colberg Infantry
Fus/Colberg Infantry
Attached Jager
1/9th Reserve Infantry 
2/9th Reserve Infantry 
3/9th Reserve Infantry 
1/1st Neumark Landwehr Infantry
2/1st Neumark Landwehr Infantry
3/1st Neumark Landwehr Infantry
4/1st Neumark Landwehr Infantry
1st Pommeranian Landwehr Cav
6pdr Foot #16

French                      Army of Berlin

12th Division    - Morand38th Division
2/8th Legere1/9th Wurttemberg Light
4/8th Legere1/10th Wurttemberg Light
1/13th Line1/7th Wurttemberg Line
2/13th Line2/7th Wurttemberg Line
3/13th Line1/1st Wurttemberg Line
4/13th Line2/1st Wurttemberg Line
6/13th Line1/2nd Wurttemberg Line
1/23rd Line2/2nd Wurttemberg Line
2/23rd Line1/4th Wurttemberg Line
4/23rd Line2/4th Wurttemberg Line
6/23rd Line1/6th Wurttemberg Line
1/2nd Foot Artillery2/6th Wurttemberg Line
3/2nd Foot Artillery1st Wurttemberg Foot

15th Division24th Light Cavalry Brigade
1st Brigade1st Wurttemberg Chevauleger
3/1st Italian Line3rd Wurttemberg Jager zu Pferd
4/1st Italian Line1st Wurttemberg Horse Artillery
2/4th Italian Line
3/4th Italian LineReserve Artillery
4/4th Italian Line24/2nd Foot Artillery
2nd Brigade26/2nd Foot Artillery
2/1st Italian Legere25/4th Foot Artillery
3/1st Italian Legere8/4th Horse Artillery
4/1st Italian Legere
3/6th Italian Line
4/6th Italian Line
3rd Brigade
1st Milan Guard
2/7th Italian Line
3/7th Italian Line
4/7th Italian Line
1/1st Italian Foot Artillery
13/1st Italian Foot Artillery

The board set up, Allies at left and Prussians at right.
The Allies

The Prussians
My Italian command
Garry's Wurttembergers
Robin's French
The Prussians
Gott mit Uns!
En avant!
Eh, watsa madda for you? (Sorry, don't know any Italian!)
Wurttemberg cavalry...
...Prussian cavalry
More Prussian cavalry
Oh, Grand old Genl. von Bulow, he had 10,000 men...
...he marched up to the top of the hill...
...and he marched them down again!
The scramble for BUAs on my right flank
Where'd those jaegers go?
Getting crowded in the town
Tim shaping up for his big charge
Robin's forces ready to counter
Andrew's heavy guns with my Italian battery and Garry's Wurttembergers in support
My infantry coming up in support of the guns
The Italian light infantry on the extreme right flank beside Andrew's Wurttemberg horse guns.
Pete's forces facing my right flank with Andrew's guns and cavalry in support
Jim's forces in the town and behind in support
My reserves crowding too close to the front line, while I bring my 2nd battery up.
Garry's Wurrtembergers face Tim, while protecting Andrew's guns' left flank.
Tim's death or glory charge goes in, and Robin meets him!
Only the front ranks of the columns were moved until the combat was resolved... the French favour!
Garry moves up to exploit Robin's success and to threaten any counter attack on Robin
Garry's line charges...
...and sends more of Tim's command scattering.

The rot sets in for Tim
Robin's victorious French now left exposed...
...with cavalry on the right and infantry ahead to to the left.
Robin's left-most battalion charges the guns...
...but are bloodily repulsed...
...while Quinny's gunners flee after firing to live another day.
Tim's division flee to the edge of the table after failing their divisional morale check.

The Prussian reserve cavalry try to stop the rot and cover the gap
The cavalry reserve guns about to dissuade Robin from following up.
The large open space in front of Andrew's nasty 12lbers gets bigger with Tim's absence
After evacuating the top right BUA, my gun battery is left exposed!
After his brilliant success, Robin is in all sorts of bother, forced into square on the right and about to be fired in the flank on the left
Garry's Wurttemberger's hurry Tim's retreat.
The rest of Robin's command dealing with skirmishers and protecting the flank...
...but standing by for some Prussian 12lber target practice!
Jim's Uhlans
Pete's charge goes in on my closed column. It was a smashing success!
Garry's and Robin's troops flee after suffering combined arms attack from the cavalry reserve.
Causing the rest of Robin's successful chargers to flee after copping Quinny's flank fire
Meanwhile, the other 2 Italian light battalions form an anchored line (or will do, after the column becomes a closed column)
Finally sorted out my rear echelon support!
Garry advances over the road supported by Andrew's limbered artillery.
Quinny's guns have a target-rich-environment!
Pete's hussars charge my anchored line and are repulsed by small arms and artillery fire.
Tim's division rallies and returns to the fray
The Milan Guard gets ready for action, but my other artillery battery maneuvers too close to a Prussian held BUA and is forced to flee.
Pete's charge forces back my light troops, but leave themselves open to counter-attack
My Milan Guard hitting their 2nd target after wiping out the 1st
Pete's division is forced back!
Robin forces one of Quinny's units back on its guns, before suffering his divisional morale check
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