Category Archives: 1813

Blucher at Beilenberg

Last night our miniatures were deployed for an 1813 game between a Russo-Prussian army under Blucher and and the French under Ney. Unfortunately I failed to take many photos of the game and with a late start time was more limited than usual. Still, I trust even this shorter than usual article is of interest to a few readers.

The Allied Army of Silesia was strung out in road column. Forming the advanced guard was the Prussian I Corps. Advanced elements of the Corps had secured the high ground near Beilenberg when French forces were observed to the front. Kleist deployed three divisions of I Corps. Advancing towards Beilenberg were at least five French infantry Divisions. An additional two divisions moving towards the Prussian left though these were clearly delayed by a marshy banked stream to the Prussian southeast. In all two full infantry corps were moving on a converging course towards three Prussian divisions. Interestingly no French cavalry were evident and Kleist assumed the French cavalry would soon approach from the west to reinforce the French centre.

Blucher, arriving on the scene around 4pm was soon aware of the predicament the Allies now faced. He concurred with Kleist’s general deployment. He however ordered the main defence, centred on rising ground in the Prussian centre, to be protected with withdrawn flanks. This position while exposed would allow room for reinforcements to deploy and utilised what terrain existed to strengthen the position. On the left the line was somewhat protected by a wooded area. Blucher believed this could be an ideal position for the Landwehr who were known to be brittle in open battle. On the other flank the small town of Beilenberg would mark the Prussian right.

Below, the general situation around 5.30pm, with the Russo-Prussians mostly deployed. Elements of Prussian III Corps have however not yet arrived and nor are all French forces are in the photo.

Blucher’s left was clearly the most exposed and here he placed the next two divisions of I Corps – the infantry divisions are called brigades in Prussian parlance. The Prussian 12th Brigade, some three regiments, under August von Preussen was pushed to the left. Von Roder’s Cavalry Reserve took a more central position on the left.

Blucher however was soon to be surprised. He had expected the French cavalry to be advancing towards his front. Now, at 4.30pm and to his surprise and alarm, French cavalry were reported to be advancing rapidly against his open right flank in a clear turning movement which would unhinge his entire position.

Fortunately Baron Wilhelmovich’ Russian XI Corps had made good time and around 5pm entered the battle area. Blucher ordered Wilhelmovich to deploy on the Prussian right with his two divisions running from the town of Beilenberg due east facing north. They would have to halt this new threat. The various Russian regiments were well supported by position batteries as well as division and corps artillery. Below, the Russians can be seen deployed.

Soon after their deployment the Russians were hit by French light cavalry supported by two horse batteries, shown below.

The stoic Russian musket and cannon fire was to prove devastating. Despite the some initial success, where French cavalry overran two Russian batteries and forced two others to fall back, the Russian infantry remained in place. Having suffered heavy casualties in the initial charges the French cavalry were in no position to suffer the massed fire of the Russian infantry. By 6.30pm the French cavalry had fallen back demoralised and exhausted.

Soon after the attacks on the Prussian right the French infantry moved forward against the Prussian centre and left, despite their preliminary artillery having produced little results. The focus of one such French attack was the point in the Prussian line held by a Reserve Regiment of Pirch’s Brigade and where the Prussian line turned 90 degrees. Below, the point where the French attack would be launched.

Disordered by close range artillery fire the the regiment, along with several others, were assaulted by French cavalry and several infantry regiments. These attacks resulted in several Prussian regiments routing. However, further down the Prussian line determined Prussian brigades fought off a series of French attacks. Around 7.30pm, on the extreme Prussian left, Ney was wounded and the attack thrown back while encouraging one such attack against a Landwehr regiment of von Klux’s Brigade.

Prussian artillery continued to belch death at the French formations assailing the left and that had advanced in support of the attacking regiments. Now a series of localised Prussian counterattacks where launched to reestablish the line, starting at 8pm. With Ney wounded and elements of Prussian III Corps now fully deployed, French resolve for further attacks lessened. The Allied line had held, though the position remained perilous.

The game had been developed using the Road to Glory system. The Allied commander had selected Card 7, Advance Guard – Echelon Centre. In contrast the two French players had selected Card 24, Turning Manoeuvre – Left from the two possible cards they had drawn. All figures are from Heroics & Ros 6mm ranges. The Allies are from my own collection while the French are from Jon’s collection.


Schwarzenburg Strikes

Last night it was great to deploy our 6mm miniatures for a most enjoyable Volley & Bayonet encounter. This time an 1813 engagement using my Austrians and Jon’s French. As is almost always the case we use the Road to Glory scenario system to develop the situation. The gaming room was full, with both the French and Austrians commanded by three players each, including two out of town visitors.

As it happened the Austrians, commanded by Prinz Schwarzenburg, had the burden of attack. Under his command he had two Korps but only four divisions concentrated. Additional divisions were advancing and would swell the Austrians to six divisions, but the arrival and deployment of these divisions would take time. The French meanwhile were isolated with only two divisions initially deployed. However, their initial reinforcements would arrive earlier, potentially swelling the French to parity. Schwarzenburg attack, if it was to be successful needed to inflict casualties before the French could concentrate, and disrupt the deployment of these French reinforcements.

The initial Austrian attacks were delivered with great determination, starting around 3pm. The town of Freilberg, forming the initial French left, was taken quickly by two Austrian infantry regiments from Murray’s 2nd Division, themselves from III Armeekorps. However, a swift French counterattack dislodged the Austrians. Undeterred, the Austrians attacked again, though this time the attack failed and Freilberg was now firmly in French hands.

Extending the French positions to the right of Freilberg were several regiments. Simultaneously with the attacks on Freilberg Austrian forces also advanced here. Initial attacks involved elements of Greth’s Division, but soon Wimpfen’s Division, also from Colloredo’s I Armeekorps, supported by artillery, pressed the French. Here to the battle hung in the balance for several hours and involved charge and counter charge.

Above, Austrian units advanced through tall crops to engage the French. The town of Freilberg is visible in the distance. Below, the more general situation.

Initial French reinforcements were thrown in to stabilise the position around Freilberg with the result that the battle now extended both sides of the town. The Austrian right mostly comprised the Austrian Light Division from III Armeekorps, but was bolstered by regiments from the 2nd Division.

As the Austrian forces slowly lost momentum the Gyulai, commander of III Armeekorp, hoped to regain the initiative by the deployment of his’ 3rd Division. However, it had taken almost 5 hours for the major elements of this division, commanded by Hessen-Homburg, to advance by road to the area of battle and shake out of road column. During this time the French had stabilised the situation and were beginning to move to the offensive.

Above, the general situation around 7pm. Hessen-Homburg’s 3rd Division is starting to deploy in the Austrian centre but some regiments are still in road column. Hardegg’s Light Division is on the far right centre. In the foreground two Austrian regiments, who have previously routed, are visible. On a number of occasions Austrian regiments lost melees on morale ties as the grenadiers of these regiments had been removed for use in converged regiments.

By the time Austrian forces ceased their attacks at 8pm one Austrian division had collapsed and a second teetered on the edge. In contrast the French had sustained far fewer casualties and these spread among several divisions. The Austrian attack, without the army being fully concentrated had been a gamble. Initially it seem as if it would be successful, but as the day progressed it was clear it had in fact been a mistake. But of course that always makes a great game…

Advance to Kutzenberg

The dawn following the desperate and bloody battle along the Weissbach was pleasing to Prinz Schwarzenburg. Ney, it seemed, had abandoned the field retiring northwest. Could this be the beginning of Napoleon’s defeat? Schwarzenburg ordered an immediate advance and the Austrian regiments moved forward in pursuit, the white clad ranks of Austria moved forward confident in their cause. By noon however the French forces were located around two miles east of the important town of Kutzenberg. Ney had formed a new line northwest of the Weissbach.

In the centre Schwarzenburg deployed Colloredo’s 1st Korps, some three divisions, all veterans of the previous days fighting. The 2nd and 3rd Divisions, comprising infantry, formed the centre with four regiments deployed on two seperate hills while other regiments deployed in support. The 1st Division, a mix of Grenz and Hussars, covered the left. To the right the Austrians were supported by the Prussian 2nd Corps, commanded by von Kleist. This corps deployed a further three divisions, of which two were infantry while the third comprised cavalry.

Above, Colloredo’s 1st Korps. On the left is Hardegg’s 3rd Division and on the right Greth’s 2nd Division. In the distance is Wimpfen’s 1st Division.

With the French opposite having a considerable numeric advantage. Prinz Schwarzenburg now focussed his attention on deploying more of his advancing Austrians into position, particularly Klenau’s 4th Korps and elements of the Austrian Reserve before the expected French attack could fall.

Unlike the Allies, with two corps deployed, Ney was concentrated and had three corps in position. On the French right Marmont’s VI Corps was well positioned despite it’s retreat from the Weissbach. In the centre was Lauriston’s V Corps, reinforced by a division of Young Guard. Of all the French corps on the field this was the largest. Finally, on the French left, and therefore opposite the Prussians, Reynier deployed elements of VII Corps, reinforced by a division of Westphalians.

Two situations perplexed Schwarzenburg. His left was lightly held and it would be another hour before Klenau’s 4th Korps would arrive on the field. Another two hours would likely pass before it would be fully deployed. During this time the Austrian left could be hard pressed. However, of more immediate concern was the right. The redoubtable von Kleist was clearly spoiling for a fight and had advanced his corps forward towards the town of Geisig. This resulted in a gap between the Prussians and Austrian centre which could be exploited.

Ney, around 2.30pm ordered forward Reynier’s VII Corps. While Gruyer’s Brigade secured the town of Geisig other brigades from the 13th and 32nd Divisions moved further to the French left no doubt to counter any Prussian flanking movements. Meanwhile on the French right and centre, the various divisions of Marmont’s VI Corps and Lauriston’s V Corps moved forward. Progressively French batteries would deploy and over the next couple of hours a series of ineffectual bombardments of the Austrian centre would occur.

The battle now focussed on the Allied right where von Kleist at 3pm launched his Prussians forward in a dramatic attack on the town of Geisig. No less than three regiments drawn from the 9th and 10th Divisions were thrown into this attack. While two regiments were well drilled, one comprised Silesian Landwehr and its early commitment indicated the resolve of von Kleist to seize the initiative and the town. Despite being heavily outnumbered the French fought with determination and the Prussians were forced back with the Silesian Landwehr in full rout.

Above and below the Prussians attack the French in Geisig. The central of the three Prussian regiments is the Silesian Landwehr of von Klux’s 9th Brigade. The Prussian 2nd Corps Cavalry Reserve, some 3000 men under von Thielmann, can be seen in the left, in reserve.

While the attack on Geisig had failed Schwarzenburg took heart as the Austrian Reserve deployed in the centre. The Converged Grenadier Division of Bianchi and three cavalry brigades from Klebelsberg’s Division would soon become a critical reserve plugging the gap between the Austrian centre and Prussians.

Below, the Austrian Reserve moves forward and will soon deploy to the right.

Unlike the French left the French right seemed less aggressive. Colloredo fearful of an attack on his left, before 4th Korps had arrived, hoped to secure his left by securing the town of Hauberg. As a result one of the Grenz Regiments from 1st Division moved forward to seize the town. This of course resulted in a counter attack by the French. No sooner had the Grenzers deployed than two French brigades advanced. While fighting desperately the Grenzers were ejected. Acting quickly Schwarzenburg ordered three additional regiments forward. An additional Grenz Regiment as well as two regiments advanced under Schwarzenburg personal direction driving the French from Hauberg.

Before the Austrians could consolidate their hold on Hauberg another French attack was launched resulting in more confused, but desperate, fighting. Yet again the Austrians were forced back.

Undeterred Schwarzenburg ordered more regiments of the Austrian left flank forward, now supported by horse artillery. Again the French fell back unable to withstand Austrian determination.

Below, Deutsch-Banet Grenz and Froon’s infantry regiment attack Hauberg.

Now, unwilling to contest Austrian resolve, the French attacks against Hauberg ceased.

Colloredo, finally reinforced by elements of 4th Korps, slowly increased the pressure on the French left. First by massing his artillery and later, as dusk approached by attacks launched from Hauberg itself, such as the one below, by the Deutsch-Banet Grenz.

However, Schwarzenburg had faced serious problem on his right for much of the afternoon where no fewer than four French cavalry divisions, from the reinforced II Cavalry Corps advanced against the Prussian right in the early afternoon. Here the French cavalry commanded by Sebastiani comprised a total of 4000 light cavalry, 2000 Dragoons and a further 2000 Cuirassiers in four divisions.

Above, the French cavalry as it arrives on the battlefield and below the general situation.

Below, the Prussians an hour later, now supported by Austrian Grenadiers, and realigned to face the French cavalry.

Around 4.30pm, supported by various horse artillery batteries the French cavalry surged forward. Simultaneously Decouz’s Young Guard advanced against the Prussian left flank. The hastily formed Prussian line generally held and where some brigades broke the gaps were in turn filled by Prussian cavalry, Austrian reserve infantry or Austrian cavalry in a dynamic battle that lasted for two hours. Casualties were heavy with several divisions, of both armies, exhausted by the unceasing attacks and counter-attacks.

Above, a gap is created in the Prussian line. Soon another Prussian regiment would retreat. Below, Austrians launch a counterattack against Decouz’s now isolated Young Guard.

Below, Prussian Landwehr engage in a musketry exchange on the Allied right against two brigades of Württembergers.

As dusk fell both armies paused for breath. Ney, with the burden of attack had failed to dislodge the Allies. His cavalry while launched at the Allied right with determination had failed to break the resolute Prussians supported by the Austrian allies. Indeed, the French cavalry were falling back from the fresh and advancing Allied cavalry. Decouz’s Young Guard had also been exhausted by their attacks, though so to had the Austrian Grenadiers. Yet despite the losses Schwarzenburg prepared to renew his advance in the morning…

The battle had again been developed using the Road to Glory system with both armies comprising 4000 points of troops. The Allied players, of which there were two, had selected Build-Up Echelon Right #10 while the French player selected Turning Maneuver Left #21 and therefore had the burden of attack. All figures are from Heroics & Ros 6mm range. The Allies are from my own collection while Jon provided the French.

Eagles on the Weissbach

In early October 1813 the two armies, one with gold eagles the other with black eagle on yellow standards, were separated by the meandering Weissbach stream, which in this area generally ran south to north. In front of the two armies three bridges crossed the Weissbach. Between the norther and southern bridges the banks were firm. Outside this area the banks were less defined and often broken by traditional ponds and marshy banked. As the two armies deployed, banners flapping in the wind a frontal assault by one or other of the combatants seemed likely.

In general terms the main French and allied armies were north of the Weissbach, with the Austrians holding the southern front. Indeed, Napoleon had pushed his main army east and the Austrians along the Weissbach found themselves southwest of Napoleon and therefore potentially exposed.

Prinz Schwarzenburg had deployed on the Weissbach two of his Austrian Korps. The 1st under Colloredo and the 3rd under Gyulai. To the rear, and available to support any attack, were Graf Weissenwolf’s Grenadier Division and a Cuirassier Division under Klebelsberg. Much of the Austrian army was solid if unadventurous, best described as plodding, solid in defence but arguably lacking in élan when pressing home a charge. The French, commanded by Ney, in contrast were full of fighting spirit but apart from three divisions were recently formed and, unlike the Austrians, they generally lacked drill making the difficult manoeuvre. They comprised Marmont’s VI Corps and the smaller IV Corps under Bertrand. Ney, hoping to achieve a decision in the area of the Weissbach had sent requests for reinforcement from the main army.

Yet Schwarzenburg, unwilling to retire, planned to launch an attack. This was thwarted when Ney advanced several French divisions aggressively towards the Weissbach. This was especially so on the French left where the divisions of Bertrand’s IV Corps, specifically Morand’s and Fontateli’s Divisions, advanced against the Austrian right held by Colloredo’s 1st Korps. Some 36 guns formed a grand battery near the town of Lichnau.

Opposite the Austrian centre, which itself contained the divisions of Murray and Hessen-Hamburg from III Korps were the two divisions from Marmont’s VI Corps, Compan’s 20th and Lagrange’s 21st Divisions who took up blocking positions ready to exploit any success. On the Austrian left, Crenneville’s Light Division demonstrated forward to pin the French right, which comprised Friederiches’ 22nd Division and Rousseau d’Hurbal’s Light Cavalry Division.

Above, the Austrians, in the foreground, face the French across the Weissbach. The town of Lichnau is visible on the right. Several Austrian brigades have become disordered by the French artillery forming opposite.

Soon, however the French divisions detached by Napoleon approached the Austrian flank. Now all hope of an Austrian offensive was gone. Below, Curial’s Guard Division and Defrance’s Heavy Cavalry Division advance on the right rear of the Austrian line.

Schwarzenburg ordered Colloredo to realign the right flank and repel the expected attacks. Simultaneously reinforcements moved to form a second line. The town of Lichnau would become the corner of the line which now turned at right angles to the Weissbach stream. No sooner had Greth’s Division redeployed than the French attacked.

Above, the French attacks can be seen attacking Greth’s Division, while Wimpfen’s Division forms to the rear. Simultaneously the Austrian forces are subjected to attacks along the Weissbach. Austrian resolve, though tested, held. As a result the Guard and cavalry attacks were repelled with massive casualties.

With the right flank stabilised Schwarzenburg now ordered counter-attacks along the Weissbach to drive back the French and Italian troops who had crossed near the town of Lichnau.

Above, elements of Wimpfen’s 2nd Division engage in counter-attacks while Austrian converged grenadiers, under command of Wissenwolf, advance in support. Below, additional Austrian formations can be seen engaged along the Weissbach, while Austrian Cuirassiers have advanced forward and prepare to exploit any opportunities. While some Austrian regiments would press home their attacks others would attempt to utilise musketry and artillery to dislodge the French.

On the Austrian left the situation had also become critical. Friederich’s 22nd French Division, forming Marmont’s right, finally advanced across the Weissbach in a section that ran generally east to west for a short distance. Three French provisional brigades, almost 8000 men surged forward late in the afternoon. They were supported by artillery and Rousseau d’Hurbal’s Light Cavalry Division. Facing them was Crenneville’s Light Division comprised just 3000 Grenzers and 2000 light cavalry. The Austrian cavalry countered, crossed the Weissbach, and routed a number of French cavalry.

Below, the situation after a French cavalry regiment was destroyed. Austrian infantry of Murray’s Division have crossed the Weissbach to reinforce the attack.

Alas, the Austrian success was short lived. Friederich’s Provisional Brigades pressed the Austrians and as dusk fell the entire Austrian left collapsed. Now both armies left flanks had collapsed and the centres had fought each other to a standstill. It had been a costly clash which surprisingly had resulting in stalemate.

The scenario was developed using 3000 point armies and the “Road to Glory” Scenario System and used my 6mm Heroics & Ros miniatures. The Austrians had selected card #20, Returning Detachment, which meant their reserve wing comprising converged grenadiers and heavy cavalry arrived during the game. The Austrians expected to be attacking. However, the French players opted to use Card #23, Turning Manoeuvre Left, which placed the French Reserve on the Austrian right. With such a high card the French had the burden of attack. At the end of the battle both armies had sufferd heavy casualties. The Austrians having suffered 29 while inflicting 26. The French Guard had collapsed and several other divisions had been exhausted or were almost exhausted. The Austrians left had collapsed and two other divisions were exhausted or near exhaustion. It had been a dramatic battle for both armies!