Monday, 20 October 2014

Refight of Battle of Montmirail 1814

With the plan for a game still in effect but with a necessary change in the number of players and their timing in arrival, I needed to have a smaller game with later arriving reserves and so the 1814 battle of Montmirail in the campaign for France seemed to fit the bill.  Well, OK, minor changes required with my Prussians replacing the Russians and the newly painted Hanoverians taking the Prussian's place!  The French were still the French fortunately as my original collection was designed specifically for this battle.

With everyone with coffee and cake in hand,  I had the "umpire chat" with Bob and Ian commanding the Prussians (Sacken's Russians)  With only Ricard's French Division on the table, I told them that they were ordered to take the village of Marchais to open up the road to further advance per the historical plans.   While I did indicate further French forces were moving up, I did not indicate that these were the French Imperial Guard in great numbers!  Sacken was equally surprised apparently.
I commanded the Prussians of Yorck - my Hanoverians - which guarded the LOC for the army.  I took these as Yorck historically seemed to do little which is ideal for me.  Involved with the rules for the others, I often forget to move my own troops!

The "chat" with Dave commanding the French has him wanting to destroy the Allies.  However he has negative victory points for losses of Old Guard elements. Nevertheless he was excited to command an attacking ( ! ) force with good troops for once.  He had the quality, the Allies had the numbers.
Interestingly this battle had few cannon as the mud of northern France during this rainy winter of 1814 made the movement of artillery extremely difficult and only a few batteries were available to Napoleon.  The flat terrain of the area and no significant historical influence meant a flat table.  At this level of combat, the problems of hedges, minor streams and the like, are of no concern of the corps commander/player.  Makes terrain deployment easier anyway!

The Prussians I had deploy first. As they ARE Prussians I left the original command labels on the bases and so Thielemann = Lieven and Bulow = Taillsin's corps.  Ian also commanded Vassilitchkov's cavalry labeled as "Jurgass".   Ian and Bob decided on corps deployment lines and with that, placed all their meagre artillery on the right and left of each respectively thereby creating a 'grand battery' of 17 points ( ! )

 With Ricard's Division holding Marchais, Dave moved the Old Guard infantry forward but was faced with the move by Bob holding a good position to his flank but the massed Prussian batteries to his front.  His moves by the very powerful French Guard horse were a bit less troublesome but he did have to pick his targets as not to get into an attrition contest with the more numerous Allies.  My historical holding back of the Prussians helped him somewhat but he still had to worry about this flank also.
You can read more from his blog at :  link  He writes an excellent report of our battles

The Allies numbers and good tactics were seeming to hold sway for the moment but I had planned for the later arrival of Barry after his early day shift.  I had him command the French Young Guard reserves.  Their arrival on the tabletop was predicated upon when he would show up!  His timing was good as it turns out.  

A few more turns later, the Prussian horse were beaten from the field by the powerful French guard horse and one of the Prussian corps had collapsed.
The Hanoverians with necessary action required with the arrival of the Young Guard, tried to hold Bailly and Fontenelle on the Allies left flank to protect the line of retreat. Widely spread, attacks of the powerful Young Guard and the 'Red' Lancers of the Guard broke the corps eventually.

We forgot to plot the number of turns completed but all agreed there were many and so concluded that on the short winter days of northern France, night was to fall and the fighting concluded.  While a  minor French victory, it cost Napoleon three wrecked Old Guard elements.

A scenario with powerful but fewer French elements in a central position with more numerous but poorer quality Allies holding front and the flanks made for an interesting game I thought.  

Much discussion again about the rules.  I suppose at this point the players all consider each game a play-test and so the rules are now always scrutinized!  Much of the discussion can be more about tactics than about the level we are trying to achieve with these rules, however all agreed they are coming around and are fun to play.  Most of the proposed changes are more procedural than any huge change.

I thank the boys for coming down and having a good game.  My motivation is revived.
early moves of the battle with the Old Guard marching up toward the massed Prussian guns of their center, the mass of Bulow's (nee Taillisin) corps behind the farm of Greneaux and the hand of Ian moving up Prussian dragoons trying to hold the mass of the French Imperial Guard horse

Close up of the Prussian infantry
The Old Guard seeing the massed Prussian guns in the distance and probably whispering "oh, merde!"
The initial cavalry clash
My newly painted and seemingly nervous Hanoverians. Rightly so under my rather dubious command.
My Hanoverians - historically the Prussians - thin on the ground with the Young Guard Division about to take the Village of Bailly [ top ] and part of the victory conditions and [bottom] the Guard Red Lancers threatening a brigade in square [noted by the cube marker on the base] in front of the village of Fontenelle.
 my Young Guard in the command of Barry during the battle 


  1. Love the use of the 'cubes' for squares definition ... I can read more of what is going on in any still photo now.

  2. Yup, just, well, a square piece of wood painted black and terrained on the top to blend in.