Sunday, September 13, 2009

More In The Grand Manner

A view of the French grand battery (12 guns) flanked by the Guard cavalry on the right and some Young Guard covering the left side of the picture.

Here are some more photos taken from our In The Grand Manner game on Saturday September 12, 2009 at Chez Leidy. The French had five infantry corps and the remnants of several cavalry divisions and faced two Russian, two Austrian and two British corps. As stated in yesterday's posting, this game was the start of the "second day" of battle, so both sides had the opportunity to reorganize and redeploy their armies overnight.

As Napoleon, my plan was to attack with our left wing consisting of Davout's corps (14btns), the Guard (8btns) and the Guard Cavalry plus some leftover dragoons and cuirassiers. We had a grand battery of twelve 12-pounders sited on a ridge facing the Russian army. Soult (Randy) held the French center and had two corps of infantry and division of heavy cavalry. Bernadotte (Bill) had the task of protecting the French right flank and keeping the British army from cutting off our line of communication on the back table. My story today will deal mainly with the attack of Davout and the Guard, since that is where I spent the day and I had my hands too full to follow what was going on in our center and right.

My general orders to the other players was for Soult to press the center so that the Austrians could not assist the Russians. Bernadotte was supposed to hang on for dear life and do his best to stop the British from cutting the rear road network.

The right flank of Davout's grand battery is protected by a regiment of Guard Polish Lancers and four battalions of Young Guard. The Old Guard (4btns) can be seen in the rear.

Four battalions of the Old Guard back up four battalions of the Young Guard to shore up the right flank of the French grand battery.

The French grand battery left flank was anchored by the river shown above. Davout placed a division on the opposite side of the river to threaten the Russian lines of communication and draw off some of their forces from the main French attack.

The attack begins with light cavalry and horse artillery (already across the table gap and onto the Russian table) and two squadrons of dragoons screening the hammer blow that will be delivered by the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval (5 sqds) and the 1er Cuirassiers (4 sqds). The Guard Horse Grenadiers are deployed behind the initial cavalry screen to take out any Russian cavalry that might counterattack.

Russian 6-pdr horse battery guards their right flank. Unfordable river to their right. This would be the objective of the French 1er Cuirassiers. Once the guns were taken out, the supporting French infantry would advance and occuppy this position and pry out the Russians away from the river protection.

To the right of the Russian horse battery (from the French point of view) sits a large 6-pdr Russian battery, supported by Russian cuirassiers on each side. This would be the objective of the French Guard Chasseurs. With these two batteries taken out of action, the way would be clear for Davout to advance his infantry corps and attack the Russian infantry.

Further to the right of the Russian line, stood the Austrian grand battery and lots of guys in white coats. Napoleon ordered Soult to press the Austrian center so that this lot wouldn't swing down onto the flank of Davout's attack.

While Murat is leading the French cavalry attack into the teeth of the Russian batteries, the French deploy their Guard Lancers on their right to protect the flank of the grand battery from a Russian or Austrian cavalry attack. The sight of these deadly lancers caused all of the Austrian infantry to go into square for several turns. This served Napoleon's purposes very well.

The Polish Lancers got whittled down by artillery fire and all that remained was a squadron and a half, but miraculously, the Lancers repelled the Austrian cuirassiers with some good die rolling. Napoleon was pleased as he thought that the Lancers would be defeated.

The 1er Cuirassiers position themselves to launch the final charge into the Russian horse battery. Two squadrons had to peel off to fight the Russian cavalry counter-attack, seen to their right. The Guard Horse Grenadiers were doing their job of absorbing the Russian cavalry so that the cuirassiers and chasseurs could get into the guns.

And now the Guard Chasseurs (2 sqds) prepare to charge into the guns. Their right is protected by a squadron of Guard Horse Grenadiers while their left is protected by a third squadron of Chasseurs that have peeled off to stop the Russian cuirassiers.

The Chasseurs have ridden down the Russian guns and are returning to their own lines, having missed a 'rally on the spot' by one pip of the dice. The third squadron of Chasseurs defeated the Russian cuirassiers and did Rally on the Spot and turn their facing to charge into the flank of the Russian horse battery on the hill. This battery was charged from the front by the French cuirassiers and from the flank by the French Chasseurs of the Guard. Simply beautiful!

So by the end of the day, the Russians had lost three artillery batteries, while both sides had neutralized the other's cavalry to some extent. The French were now getting ready to hurl all of Davout's infantry and 8 battalions of Guard infantry into the Russians, who would only have one 12 pound battery to face off against three French 12 pound batteries. We had to adjourn for the day at this point, with the game to be continued in two weeks.


  1. All I can say is wow - thanks for the detailed battle reports!

  2. On the right flank, Bernadotte was significantly outnubered numerically and by class of the opposition. Not wanting to repeat the error of the Roman Varus in Ancient Germania, Bernadotte recalled to mind the success of Gaius Suetonius Paullinus versus Queen Boudicca at The Battle of Watling Street. (60 or 61 AD) There Paullinus withdrew to a narrow battle front so the far greater numbers of the foe did not matter.
    By retreating to more narrow confines similarly, Bernadotte played for time, did not lose a man and eventually hopes the enemy's greater strength will be minimized fighting in two narrow areas. Had he not done so, his command would have been pounded to pieces on a very broad front with nothing left to guard the line of communication. This also allows the Emperor to win the day.
    Think of a funnel. Bernadotte started the day at the top. A dangerous place given significantly superior enemy numbers and class. He withdrew nearer to the bottom and is now setting up a shorter line of defense.
    The classic refused wing.
    Votre serviteur,

  3. In the Grand Manner is right! Quite a spectacle!

  4. A massive enterprise. Thanks for sharing. What are the red cards or blocks in front of some units?

    Duke of Baylen

  5. Bernadotte: your strategy reminded me more of Joe Johnson retreating before McClellan in front of Richmond in 1862. You have no more ground to yield. Do as Lee did and attack.

    The red cards are artillery markers reading ball or cannister.

  6. You bet it is! We are always looking for more gamers in the Chicago/Milwaukee area, so contact me if you are interested in playing.


  7. The cavalry mechanism sounds interesting -- returning to lines or rallying on the spot. Can you give a summary of how it works with these rules?

  8. The losers of the cavalry melee, turn and flee - full moves back toward own baseline - a small chance to rally the squadrons before they disappear. The winners take a morale test with 3 dice and add factors. If they score 15 and above they rally on the spot in any formation and facing in any direction and can be treated as fresh cavalry - ready to go. If they score very low they pursue. However the normal result is 'return to own lines' which they do and spend a couple of moves on 'walkabout' breathing the horses, reforming etc. before they can be used again. Therefore the normal result of a cavalry melee is that the losers have gone and the winners disappear for about 4 moves. This is where your reserves come in if you want to maintain the momentum of an attack. Rally on the spot is the gold of results and when it happens is devastating/thrilling depending whether they are yours or the enemy. I hope that helps.

    Duke of Baylen

  9. Does the return to lines happen instantly -- i.e. are the figures immediately relocated to their lines -- or are the figures marked some how and they return one move segment/turn at a time?

  10. At the beginning of the next turn, there is a phase for compulsory moves such as routs, return to own lines, walk about 1, walk about 2, rally etc. So all such compulsory moves are done at the same time.

    If you look at the last picture of the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval, the two squadrons in column were fighting and killing off the Russian artillery crew. They rolled modified "14" and missed rally on the spot by one pip of the dice. So they are seen returning to their own lines during the compulsory phase. BTW, a squadron of Russian cuirassiers are poised to charge into the Guard Chasseurs, so they likely will not make it back to their lines to recover. C'est la vie.

    On the other hand, the squadron of Guard Chasseurs seen pointing towards the flank of the Russian horse battery on the hill, did rally on the spot after defeating the Russian cuirassiers that you can see in the distance with backs turned to the French. So I got to redeploy and change facing to charge into the flank of the Russian artillery at the start of the turn. The Russian guns will be toast. Bon chance!

  11. Cavalry rallying on the spot can change formation and re-organise but any charge made on the subsequent turn should be in the general direction of the initial charge, and importantly, on the same frontage as the original.
    (page 55). Should the rallying cavalry choose to move normaly rather than rally then they can go in any direction/frontage.

  12. Christot: we are using an earlier edition (Green cover) of the rules and they allow rallied cavalry to change direction and charge on the next turn (page 44).