Korbitz, 21st September 1759

There are a few excellent Volley & Bayonet blogs on the Internet, one is the Seven Years War blog run by Fabrizio Davì called the Torgau Project. Here Fabrizio documents his research and army building, in 6mm. Recently Fabrizio has posted a four part series on the scenario and mini campaign for the Battle of Korbitz which is now packaged up as a full scenario and published here. To set the scene I will hand over to Fabrizio.

At the beginning of September 1759, a Prussian relief corps under Maj.Gen. Wunsch was sent to counter the Austro-Imperial invasion of Saxony: despite arriving too late to prevent the Dresden surrender, it recaptured however most of northern Saxony. With the help of a corps commanded by Lt.Gen Finck, Wunsch recaptured Leipzig: the two reunited corps marched then on Meissen. To counter them the GFML prince Friedrich von Pflaz-Zweibrücken, commander-in-chief of the Reichsarmee, left 16 battalions to garrison Dresden and marched with his army, reinforced by the Austrian corp of Hadik to attack them. The whole operation was supervised by Field Marshal Serbelloni.

The plan was to fix the Prussian left wing in front of Meissen with the Reichsarmee whereas Hadik was to flank the Prussian position with his corps. The Wunsch wing contained the Reichsarmee ineffective attack: in the meantime Hadik attacked the Finck wing. The approach march of Hadik wing was delayed by the very poor terrain conditions and Hadik asked repeatedly to call off the attack. However Serbelloni ordered to proceed and Hadik troops arrived piecemeal on the battle scene.

To continue with the background and see the full scenario click here or visit the Scenario Section of this site.

Advance to Zwenkau – May 1813

My gaming room has been out of action for a few months but with repairs finally complete it was time for a fictional 1813 engagement using the “Road to Glory” scenario system and my 6mm miniatures…

The Prussians, commanded by Blucher, comprised two corps (3000 points using the Road to Glory system). The stronger, II Corps under von Kliest, comprised four infantry divisions and a cavalry reserve. Bulow’s III Corps was spread out and as it transpired only two infantry divisions and a cavalry division would be available for the upcoming battle, the remaining divisions would not reach the area of the battlefield until nightfall. The infantry divisions generally comprised three brigades, one of regular infantry, one of reserves and a final brigade of landwehr supported by artillery. The cavalry also comprised three brigade, one of dragoons, one of light cavalry and a final one of landwehr.

Opposing them Ney also fielded two corps (also 3000 points). X Corps, commanded by Rapp, comprised four infantry divisions and a cavalry division. This corps drew heavily on various allies and included troops Baden, Hessians, Poles along with two divisions of French Provisionals, hastily raised. Oudinot’s XII Corps small corps comprised Raglovich’s Bavarians and supported by Pacthod’s 13th Division. Ney however was further supported by a division of Young Guard and a “Heavy”, in name only, cavalry division of two dragoon brigades.

As Blucher viewed the battlefield about, around noon he found himself outnumbered with only Kleist’s Corps deployed on what would become his centre and right (Build up Echlon Right card 10). Deployed opposite were six French infantry divisions and one cavalry division (Returning Detachment – Reserve card 14). Clearly the burden of the attack rested with the French. However, with a portion of the French army behind a stream and separated from the remainder BLucher opted to advance his centre and right while expanding his own left as elements of Bulow’s III Corps arrived. Indeed, by 12.30am two of Bulow’s divisions were beginning to deploy and by 1.30pm Hessen-Homberg’s division were moving rapidly forward.

The Prussian 11th and 12th Divisions, actually designated brigades in Prussian terms, were first to be engaged when their artillery began to fire on Granjean’s (Polish) and Heudelet’s divisions deployed behind the Verbeck stream. The Poles quickly fell back, replaced by Baden and Hessians of 39th Division. However, as both commanders were reluctant to press home with the bayonet a long range artillery dual resulted. By 3pm having had suffered the worst of the exchange the Prussian divisions retired 400 yards.

Above, the situation around 1.30pm with the French 39th Division, comprised of Baden and Hessian troops, in the foreground with Prussian troops opposite and lining the stream. French troops extend the line.

On the Prussian left varoids regiments deployed from road column and now extend the Prussian left. As a result the weight of the Prussian attack moved to the left centre where attacks were launched against Semele’s 52nd Division holding a small partly wooded hill around 2pm. The Prussian Regular and Reserve regiments were thrown into the attack. Supported by artillery the attacks were driven home with great élan, often supported by Prussian sharpshooters. In due course the Semele, the French divisional commander, abandoned the hill. However, when pressed by the advancing Prussians, he reformed and tried to regain lost ground. In the following hours, despite desperate efforts by its officers, the 52nd Division collapsed as a fighting unit. A hole now appeared in the French centre, until around 6pm, Brigade Rothemberg, from the 2nd Young Guard Division, stabilised the critical situation with a counterattack.

Above and centre left, the Prussian 9th Division prepares to advance on the 52nd Division holding the small hill. The 9th Prussian Division comprises three brigades and is supported by the 10th Division. Each division has its landwehr brigade deployed to the rear of the main line. Prussian artillery is also deployed to the rear and will soon move forward. Top left Prussian troops from Bulow’s Corps can be seen extending the Prussian left.

On the extreme Prussian left a confused battle developed. Initially Bulow’s divisions seemed to have the advantage. Especially as Oudinot had dispatched the 29th Bavarians in a flanking movement. With poor marching drill the Bavarians were significantly delayed, allowing the Prussians to inflict considerable damage on the French 13th Division that alone under Pacthod held the French right. However, once the Pacthod was reinforced by the Young Guard the situation stabilised. Now, the flanking Bavarians and 4th Cavalry Division attacked Bulow’s own left. Bulow’s divisions was forced, reluctantly, to give ground.

As Bulow came under pressure on the Prussian left so did the Prussian right. Around 7pm the reformed Polish division, supported by the 8th Light Cavalry Division bEgan it’s own attacks on the Prussian right. A poorly positioned Prussian horse battery was quickly overrun and a general melee developed. With the Prussian cavalry forced back, though not broken, Blucher determined it was time to retire and reform while the army could be covered by his own cavalry.

The Battle of Zwenkau provided an excellent evenings gaming for all players. Poorly drilled troops provided plenty of challenges for manoeuvre while delayed arrival and initially unbalanced forces provided scope for an interesting battle to develop.

Wavre Refight

With the recent 200th anniversary of the Hundred Days Campaign there have been a number of Waterloo re fights being played in different parts of the globe. Indeed, I would have organised a game myself if it were not for the fact my gaming room is out of action while earthquake repairs take place. However, Paul Reynolds took the time to organise a refight of Wavre recently in Wellington, New Zealand. The game looked excellent and well worth a report here. I’ll let Paul pick up the story at this point…

On Saturday 20 June 2015 we played a Volley & Bayonet refight of the Battle of Wavre to mark the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo / Wavre.

When I last saw Rob Cameron in January, before he passed away in May, he encouraged me to stage a Volley & Bayonet game to mark Waterloo. Roy, our regular host, also suggested that we should play a V&B game to mark the 200th Anniversary of Waterloo and suggested the 20th of June. Waterloo itself was too large especially as I didn’t have any British troops. I therefore settled on Wavre and used the scenario from the V&B “Napoleon Returns” supplement updated for V&B Road to Glory with the help of Keith McNelly. The figures used are 6mm figures from Heroics & Ros mounted on 3″ bases.

By 2pm the French had deployed III Corps on the hill overlooking Wavre, IV Corps was close behind and I Cavalry Corps was an hour or two behind on the road to Limale. The River Dyle could only be crossed at the three bridges at Wavre, Bierges and Limale. 

Cannon fire had been heard in the direction of Mont St Jean since about noon so Marshal Grouchy launched III Corps against Wavre to clear the south bank of the Dyle and pin the Prussian forces there. IV Corps marched past Wavre to cross the bridges at Bierges and Limale. I Cavalry Corps lead by 21st Infantry Division attacked Limale. Or so was the plan…

The initial deployments can be seen below with the Prussians on the left.

  

Some early success for the French.

  

  
  

The game swings back and forth.
  

Late in the day with little fresh infantry the French throw cavalry across the Bierges bridge.

  

As darkness starts to fall and the firing from the direction of Mont St Jean falls silent…

  

A really enjoyable and tense game, the French crossed the Dyle four times yet each time the Prussians had fresh reserves on hand to repulse the French before they could recover from the disorder caused by fighting across the river. The attempt to pin the Prussians everywhere and the time pressure to come to Napoleon’s aid had dispersed the French efforts. The Prussians were bruised but the careful use of their reserves had allowed them to hold the line of the Dyle.

A better plan may have been to concentrate on the bridge at Bierges where there was only a village providing less cover for the Prussians. I suspect this is the plan the French will use tonight as we play the game again with the players having swapped sides.

At War in the Americas

Paul Reynolds recently provided a battle report using the “At War in The Americas” variant to Volley & Bayonet, published by Greg Novak, using his recently painted 10mm figures. Now, over to Paul…

After real life of myself and others had interfered with my plan to christen my AWI on 15  March, 233rd anniversary of Guilford Courthouse, and a subsequent attempt I decided to go with a solo game. I am using the Volley & Bayonet Wing scale variant “At War in the Americas”.

I set up a small, 5’x3’, table with some hills, woods, buildings, fences and two roads on each long table edge. Both forces logically divided into four components; for the British each was a battalion, for the Americans each was a brigade or similar. Each turn I rolled one D6 for each road to determine which of the components 1-4 came on that turn. If a 5-6 or an already arrived component was rolled nothing came on that road that turn. I then did the best I could for each side based on what was on the table. This seemed to generate enough uncertainty in the plans of both sides to lead to an interesting game.

Turn 1:

Turn 1
In all photos of whole table the British are on the left and the Americans on the right. On turn 1 the British got only the Hessian Jägers on their left. While the Americans got Lee’s Patizan Legion on their left and Butler’s North Carolina Militia Brigade on their right.

Turn 2:

Turn 2
The Hessian Jägers moved up onto the hill and fired into the flank of Butler’s Brigade. Despite being sharpshooters they rolled no higher than a 4 and all missed. Meanwhile the 23rd Foot also arrived on the British left.

Butler managed to turn his Militia to fire on the Jägers on the hill. His first battalion was surprised to see the British advancing rapidly up the road. On the American left Lee moved his Legion to Butler’s support.

Turn 3:

Turn 3a
This turn saw a lot of action. The 33rd Foot arrived on the British right, deployed and fired into the flank of Lee’s Legion, all missing. Half of 23rd Foot advanced into the central field and also missed Lee’s Legion. The other half of the battalion charged the left of Butler’s Brigade with dramatic results.

Turn 3b
Butler’s first battalion failed it’s morale test and as it was already disordered because it is Militia it routed between the wood and the buildings. The British broke through onto the flank of Butler’s second battalion. Much to everyone’s surprise this battalion passed its morale, it rolled the required 1 on a D6. This meant a melee, which the British won. This routed the second battalion through the third battalion, which joined it in rout. This exhausted the brigade which promptly failed its exhaustion test causing it to collapse. All the routing stands were therefore removed. Leaving Butler wondering how it had gone so wrong so quickly.

Turn 3c
Lee decided that an immediate counterattack was required to restore the situation before the British could regroup. He charged the isolated right wing of the 23rd Foot with the infantry of his Legion supported by one troop of Dragoons. Meanwhile Campbell’s Virginia Riflemen turned and fired on inflicting one hit.

The Fifth Virginia Continental Regiment arrived on the American left and moved towards the central bridge.

Turn 3d
Lee’s gallant charge did not go as planned. The Dragoons cleared the snake fence but failed to inflict a hot on the British. Likewise the Legion infantry failed to score a 6, so no hits. The British rolled two dice against the Legion infantry, no hits. They roiled one against the Dragoons, a 6, the dragoons are removed, dead, and the Legion infantry retreat disordered into the wood.

Turn 4:

Turn 4a
The 33rd Foot was suffering from the accurate rifle fire so responded by charging. The 23rd Foot and the Hessian Jägers redeployed to fire on the remaining dragoons of Lee’s Legion.

One of the detachments of Campbell’s Riflemen failed its morale test and was disordered. Unfortunately this was the one of the two stands that hit in the melee and the British saved successfully. In return they rolled three 6s out of six rolls. This was enough to exhaust Lee’s Legion who then failed their exhaustion test and collapsed. The survivors of Campbell’s Riflemen were removed and the Legion infantry routed through the wood.

Turn 4b
Lt Colonel Hawes commanding the Fifth Virginia Continental Regiment was stunned. His was the only intact American unit on the field.

Turn 5:

Turn 5a
The British Legion Dragoons arrived on the British left. This allowed the British infantry to advance to the right and apply pressure on the Continentals and the survivors of Lee’s Legion. Concerned about the casualties suffered by the left wing of the 33rd Foot Captain Cornwallis holds them in reserve.
Turn 5b
The Fifth Virginia Continental Regiment deployed along the stream between the two bridges and fired on the 33rd inflicting two hits. The remaining American unit, Steven’s Virginia Militia Brigade arrived on the American left and moved up to support the Continentals.

Turn 6:

Turn 6a
With both wings of the 33rd Foot having suffered 2 out of 3 hits Captain Cornwallis withdrew his battalion. The British Legion Dragoons replaced them on the British right.
The left wing of the 23rd Foot supported by the Hessian Jägers charged the collapsed infantry of Lee’s Legion. Only Lee’s infantry scored a hit and this was saved. The British lost the melee tie break when the Americans rolled a 6 to their 1. The better British morale could not make up the difference so they retreated disordered.

Turn 6b
Lee’s infantry withdrew across the stream. Steven’s Militia Brigade deployed along the stream between the Continentals and Lee’s infantry. To their front was the right wing of the 23rd Foot. The four American battalions scored two hits from eight dice destroying the unfortunate right wing of the 23rd Foot. Part of the Fifth Virginia Continental Regiment moved to cover the other bridge and fired ineffectively on the leading British Legion Dragoons.

Despite the early British success a winning draw to the Americans.

Lessons Learnt:

“At War in the Americas” is a lot of FUN! The smaller scale leads to a number of interesting differences from normal Volley & Bayonet.  The longer ranges for weapons allow multiple stands to fire at a single stand if it is in an exposed position. Both British battalions fell suffered badly from this. Each stand represents much fewer men and can take fewer hits. One hit destroys Cavalry and Detachments and so they are very fragile. Poor American Militia is really really poor! Butler’s Brigade collapsed totally in one turn when charged by half of the 23rd Foot!