Monday, July 30, 2007

The Battle of Jena refight: 15th October 2006

The tables

The scenario

The whole notion of doing Jena troubled me to start with. I knew a little of the 1806 campaign and in the usual way of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing I assumed theat the vast numbers of French would overwhelm the Prussians and it would not be much of a game. I was very wrong.

According to the research done by the Liphook group it was a lot more phased, with the big wedge of French cavalry only arriving late in the day. So the Prussians, although confused and starting from a really bad position did have the opportunity to at least survive.

This is the summary from the Liphook website:

The French were well organised, well commanded at all levels and the troops were not of the highest quality but they were largely Veterans of Austerlitz.

The Prussians/Saxons were poorly organised, poorly commanded at the higher level, the troops were largely good qualityand disciplined but inexperienced in battle.

To try and represent these differences on the battlefield we made a number of changes to the rules including, reducing the command radius of Prussian/Saxon Commanders, introduced the concept of Veteran, Seasoned and Raw - giving considerable advantages to Veterans and likewise disadvantages to Raw Troops, upgrading the fire effect of the Prussian/Saxons and there discipline and steadiness underfire; but introducing the possibility of them going out of control under some circumstances.

The Orders Of Battle

There is a general myth surrounding this battle that the French significantly outnumbered the Prussians; this is far from the case. Hohenloe had about 40,000 with about 13,000 more by mid afternoon ; the French attacked with an army rising to 54,000 by lunch with another 18,000 arriving mid afternoon (Soults 2nd & 3rd Divs). A headline figure of 96,000 is often quoted for the French but this figure was not achieved until after 6pm and most of them had forced marched so were in no condition to fight, including most of the Reserve Cavalry. Napoleon was in fact woefully short of Cavalry, only 8 of the 20 regts of the Reserve Cavalry were able to fight at Jena.

Things were particularly confusing when it comes to trying to establish the formations of Hohenloe's 40,000; most OOBs out there will give you the state at least before the Battle of Saalfield and sometimes as per more than a week earlier. The first job is to take off casualties for Saalfield and attrition and then try and construct the formations that were hastily put together by Hohenloe in the early hours of the morning of 14 Oct 1806. This latter can only be done by reading the accounts of the battle to see what units actually fought under whose command and doing some educated gessing; some Prssian Infantry Regiments even have battle honours for both Jena and Auerstadt; they are either being economical with the truth or had batalions sufficiently spread out so the IR could be in two places at once. We eventually settled for the OOB that you can download from the link above. We also broke out the Schutzen from the Saxon battalions because, although this was unusual, their separate use was mentioned in some accounts.

The French OOB was slightly easier as the formations are fairly well known; it was just a case of taking off those units that never arrived or arrived too late, or in no condition to play a part in the battle.

Painting 25mm

Captivated as I had been by the Austerlitz game I decided that I would ‘help out’ with figures at the Jena refight. 1806 Prussians would not have been my first choice of army to start with, I admit, but I was not repelled by them. Indeed it turned out that they looked really nice and I am currently looking at expanding them a bit. Clearly getting the figures to start with was a struggle, insofar as I was really limited to Elite for a comprehensive range.

The Zweiffel Musketeers

I had initially wanted to do Ruchel’s command, as it seemed a good size with a nice mix of troops. But research for the game indicated that the advance guard of that division was scattered all over upper Saxony and was not present at Jena. Instead I was persuaded to do the Prussians from Tauntzien’s formation. I had already painted up a musketeer battalion and a fusilier battalion for Ruchel, but saw no harm in changing course.

The Zweiffel Musketeers in line

I had not really done 25mm before and had no idea what to expect from Elite. But, as figures went, they were not bad, and as a starting army I think my Prussians turned out rather well. I am now thinking about getting the Saxons from Tauntzien’s command as well, and I have bought a few bits to add on as they were also pressed into service to play L’Estocq at Eylau. Also, looking at the orbat, I should have had a 3lb battery in the game too, so I am now chasing an appropriate model.

The Pirch Musketeers (from Eylau) supported by a half horse battery

For the next post I will look at the orbats, plans and orders for the Prussians, and specifically what our Hohenlohe wanted me to do.


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