Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Game 30 : Vauchamps Feb 14th 1814

This is a battle fought in the early days of 1814. It is between Blucher with Russians & Prussians and Napoleon. It could be described as an encounter battle as the Napoleon is trying to catch an Allied Corps in Vauchamps itself. The Allies have larger numbers in all arms, but Napoleon has all his best troops present; the Old Guard, the Young Guard and the Guard Cavalry. It is numbers against quality.
This shows Vauchamps from the French lines. It is a key in this battle and forms the central part of the Allied line, indeed the central part of the Allied defence. It is a group of buildings, each counting as a built up area and totalled 7 "villages" to use a rules parlance. The entry to the village from the French side is through a gatehouse and walled enclosure. Even more fun when attacking! In the background on the wall is a good shot of the play sheets for the rules. You can see the full set of 6. On the wall behind the French, the system is repeated.

This is taken from the French lines to the right of Vauchamps. It shows the Allied left flank deployment and an assault is in progress. The French troops in the bottom of the picture are the Young Guard

This shows the French preparing to attack Vauchamps and the Russian defenders awaiting the attack. The French infantry division would fight all day conducting many assaults, all of which were repulsed. In the end, only 1 part of Vauchamps would be lost by the stoic Russian defenders.

This is the French left flank where the Guard cavalry deployed, advanced and swept away the Russian cavalry and Cossacks on this wing. The Allied deployment was a refused flank, trying to use the woods in their rear as an anchor to their defence. There would be a running fight all day in this sector.

A picture to the right side of Vauchamps from the Allied side. The Russians are continuing to resist all attacks. On the far side of the village, the Allied attack has been broken and become a shambles. The French have counter-attacked, only to be caught in the open by Allied cavalry that has then caused some mayhem. The French eventually stabilised the flank and renewed their advance, whereas the Allies broke off but did manage to create a secure line further back.

This is the Allied high point on their left flank. The battle raged back and forth until the Allies were forced to retire and the French renewed their advance.

This is towards the end of the day. The French formation just to the right of Vauchamps is a mauled French infantry division. Just above it, going further into Allied lines, is the Young Guard division, again very badly mauled by incessant artillery fire as it tried to advance. The top right of the picture shows the Allies beginning to retire. But ominously, in the bottom left of the picture, the French Old Guard are advancing past the village to engage the Russian right flank infantry. Not good for the Allies!
The Allied right had been pushed back and exposed the Russian infantry to the French Old Guard. The Russians had no cavalry support, the French had plenty. In addition, the French cavalry had also cut the main road to the east, the Allied supply road.
The Allies had fought bravely and inflicted heavy losses on the French. However, the day belonged to the French as the Allies would have to retire away from the main road with all the consequences that such a retreating manoeuvre entails.
Next stop is a revamped brand new Austerlitz to be fought over Easter.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Game 29 : A sort of Arras

I've called this a sort of Arras as it was based on a scenario where the Brits in 1940 think they are on the defensive, but then have to realise they have to act offensively to ambush a German Motorised Division reinforced with a Panzer Regiment. The set up was a gamers worst nightmare. The Germans thought they were attacking from one side and had to arrive by 3 main routes. I asked for an order of march for each road. As they went away to plan, I briefed the British. They were in defensive positions around a canal to their rear which must be held at all costs, and villages to their front. They were also briefed, continuously until game start, that the game was not what it seemed!!
The Germans arrived back to find out that they were advancing from the opposite side of the table they had planned for. Furthermore, all forces had to enter on their nominated roads in the specified order of march. In addition, they then had to travel across table, on these roads, moving at truck speed and were not allowed to leave the road until they had been engaged.
The Germans did well to play their turns with a straight face as if they had planned just to drive up a highway. The British were a bit non-plussed. One General did catch on to the brief "its not what it seems" but his two other Generals couldn't get out of the defensive thinking. They were supposed to launch an ambush, whilst they could, and try to get an advantage.
As it was, the British remained largely in place and engaged the Germans. The game ran well as the sides were still well balanced. Superior British armour in terms of "armour" but far less manoeuvrable that their German counterparts.
The game ended with the British flanks being squeezed slowly and the infantry being forced/persuaded to defend in the villages. The main organisational problem was that my camera had a technical fault and so the pics are from an earlier game but add to the flavour.
Atypical Brit start up with infantry in cover in the fields and the armour thrown out on the flanks. There were interesting encounters between German armoured cars and fast light British armour.

As the British pulled back somewhat to defend the villages, German airpower had more dense targets to engage, albeit they are in cover.

Who will flinch first? German crews tend to get the upper hand in static engagements by trying to concentrate on the weaker British armour and "smoke" the heavier armour. The British need to keep manoeuvring to try and not get picked off.

A typical look to the battlefield. Villages surrounded by fields and woods. The canal was to one side of the battlefield and ran the whole length of the table.
A brief report, shows we are still going strong. The next report is back to Napoleonics and an 1814 battle that I will post next week.