Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Battle of Bautzen

The Allied Plan

This was a curious battle, as it was going to be successfully won by the allies by retreating. The basic principle was the withdrawal from the trap created by Ney's force arriving on the Allied right. I was playing Blucher, with David Shepherd as Barclay. In effect the Prussians were facing the 'main body' of the French, whilst the 3rd Army of the West under Barclay found themselves in the path of Ney. Operationally the big challenge was the withdrawal of the three Prussian 'brigades' (in effect divisions) from the cul de sac formed by the Boserwasser and the fishponds along the Kleine Spree. This meant that there were only really two bridges that were available to pull them out over, Klein Bautzen and Preititz. 

The overall plan, then, would mean that Barclay and Yorck would have to hold on whilst the bulk of the Prussian army pulled out, and once intact it could take up more credible defensive positions. Tactically the Allies were heavily outnumbered in infantry, but placed their faith in their more numerous cavalry to delay the French while the infantry and artillery made its escape.

The battle

The battle opened with the French attacking the village of Pleiskowitz. This was held by a fairly weak Russian Division, Insov's 9th, but the Russian cavalry, active to the rear of the village, prevented the French from outflanking the place and committed them to some costly frontal assaults. In this fashion Pleiskowitz held on longer than the Allies had any reason to expect, but it was crucial as it prevented the French from taking the bridge at Klein Bautzen. Meanwile the Russians lined the Boserwasser with artillery in the expectation that the area between Klein Bautzen and Preititz would become a killing zone when the French eventually broke through.

Meanwhile the Prussians were moving. Starting with the Brandenburg Reserve Brigade they started pulling out of their position along the road between Doberschutz and Pleiskowitz. The French cavalry had effectively made the bridge at Preititz unsafe, as they had entered along the road south of Malschwitz towards Preititz. Unsafe; basically infantry in march column would be too vulnerable to risk a sudden French breakthrough. So that left one bridge at Klein Bautzen. York, comfortably ensconced in his redoubts had also placed a forward garrison at Kreckwitz, which was a very fortuitous move. This effectively prevented French attacks on his main position and cut off any prospect of the French outflanking his redoubts or passing troops over the Boserwasser.

Further French columns made their appearance. Before  Doberschutz the Wurttemberg Division made an appearance. A Further French force, Delmas' Division, began arriving over the Spree having thrown over a pontoon bridge and yet another (Albert's Division) from Sarchen having skirted round the back of Plieskowitz. A luckily drawn 'impassable' card was played by Blucher on one of the Pontoons (it 'collapsed') reducing Delmas' Division to one bridge. Still, the Prussian brigades in the centre began closing up in defensive postures, backed up by the Guard Cavalry.

The most dangerous French column was undoubtedly that of Rochambeau's Division and Chastel's Light Cavalry  on the extreme Allied left. Driving for Baruth and Rackel, thinly held by Illowaisky's Cossacks and Lansky's 'mobile corps', with no infantry at all. But, by skilful handling of the cossacks, the French were reduced to a crawl. The Prussians quickly realised that the Russians here had to be reinforced. Whilst the Brandenburg Reserve escaped over the bridge at Klein Bautzen and made for the space east of Preititz to draw up, the Lower Silesian Brigade (next out) was detailed to withdraw to Belgern and occupy the heights there, cutting off any French effort to sever the Allies' line of retreat.

The French were just not able to move fast enough. Two main obstacles confronted them: the ubiquitous Allied cavalry and the 'channelling' effect of the various streams. The French, once they had finally taken Pleiskowitz found themselves funnelled into the killing zone that Barclay had created with his artillery lined up behind the Bosenwasser. The Prussian reserve cavalry got out having lost one regiment to the French, and several infantry battalions as well whilst the survivors of Von Zeithen's Upper Silesian Brigade struggled over the Bosserwasser and formed up behind Yorck around Purschwitz before themselves starting out in the direction of Wurschen.


This had only brought the French up to the Bosserwasser itself, marshy and difficult to cross, it had been identified by the Allies as their main line of defence. But, with a Prussian Brigade comfortable positioned at Belgern, another on its way and the Brandenburg Reserve plugging the hole between Preititz and Belgern the Allies had effectively escaped the trap relatively unscathed. Indeed the French were pretty much intact too, as units of infantry in the open had either formed square when charged or simply dissolved. Most remaining units on the table were pretty much intact.

From the Allied perspective they could probably have comfortably sat behind the Bosserwasser all day, with Yorck withdrawing to a position parallel to Preititz and the Prussians spoiling to put in an attack against the fairly isolated Rochambeau, who was going to prove hard to reinforce.

The Allies had ruthlessly exploited the rule which said that no infantry unit was able to advance against a cavalry unit unless in square. A single regiment could not hold up a brigade, but the Allies had plenty of cavalry to spare, whilst often individual French units not in square or disordered were picked out and dissolved in the face of a charge. This caused considerable irritation to Ney (Steve Clubley) who complained loudly to anyone prepared to listen, and even those that weren't.  Not prepared to change a rule in the middle of a game, which would be madness, I still think that there should be a tweak to cover cavalry exhaustion. Whether this is through 'blown' markers or taking longer to recover disorder I do not mind. But it has to be noted that multiple charges by Heavy Cavalry in particular were pretty rare in a battle, they seem to have been a 'one shot' weapon!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

For Sale: Bavarian Generals

For Sale

A few months ago I bought one sample from each of the range of Front Rank's Bavarian Generals. I had hoped that they may prove suitable for my Wurttembergers in some way, and a couple are as ADC figures from the Guard Infantry Regiment. The remaining three I painted up as Bavarians, and if anyone is interested in them drop me a line at I was thinking around £5 sterling each plus whatever the postage costs...


Refight of Fuentes de Onoro

Fuentes de Onoro

Another holiday in Spain

This is just a brief summary of the latest 200-ers battle, Fuentes de Onoro, that took place on the 20th February. As it was a Peninsular game, and the Peninsular bores me to tears, I was umpiring. In fact, we were so short of players (and one did not turn up on the day either) that I was the only umpire, although two other players were designated player umpires, and one (David) was commanding the British cavalry. He managed to get virtually all of it destroyed within the first 90 minutes of play and reverted to a full umpiring role.

The opposing plans

The British plan was a classic Peninsular one: stand on the defensive. Indeed, given that they were supposed to be covering the siege of Almeida, it made perfect sense in the context of the game. The overall command was taken by Haim, his first time in overall command, and it was a big ask. Basically the French had an overall superiority of 5000 infantry and 2000 cavalry.

The French plan was considerably more complex and comprehensive. The sheaf of orders was considerable, primarily because the French CinC was Peter, an ex-Gunner and staff officer so it was all very Nato-inspired. You can get a flavour of this from his Jena orders back in 1806 that are on this blog for that year. The French plan, in essence, was to use their numerical superiority to 'fix' the British in the centre, while enveloping the flanks. Particularly important was the considerable French advantage in cavalry: 2000 does not sound like that much, but at our ratio that is an extra 40 figures, maybe half a dozen units.

The battle

The battle very quickly broke down into three separate combats. The first was around Fuentes itself, the second in the centre, and the third being the envelopment around the British right flank and the Almeida road.

The Centre battle initially was where the action was. The French looked very threatening as the bulk of 9th Corps plunged quickly towards the isolated 7th Division along with the single division 8th Corps. To stave off this rapid advance the British sacrificed their cavalry, and this bought some time for 7th Division to gradually withdraw, although they lost one isolated battalion and the vast majority of Wellington's slender cavalry force had gone. Meanwhile, the remainder of 7th Division pulled back and anchored itself on 1st Division with the Light Division on its right. Left behind in the woods near Pocovelho were the Brunswick-Oels Jager. With no orders to do anything (even general ones) they confined themselves to roadwatching and hiding in the woods. The Centre then became more static as the French 9th Corps faced off against the British, who put in a couple of sharp charges in line to spoil the French deployments. Despite this neither side looked like making a breakthrough here: although it must be remembered that the French were not tasked to do so.

Then the French triggered their next move: the march of 8th Corps' single division and the Army of the North's cavalry around the British right flank. This was partially disrupted by some irregular Spanish cavalry under Sanchez above the Almeida road, but this was really just an irritant. By launching this left hook the French forced the British to deploy their sole remaining reserve, Pack's Portuguese, to extend their line. Wellington was now committed to his uttermost limit, with no reserves left.  Meanwhile the French cavalry superiority now came wholly into its own as Marshal Bessieres led his cavalry along the Almeida road towards Villa Formosa, deep in the British rear and their supply nexus. Along with the cutting of the road to Almeida this would leave one remaining road open to the British.

Over in Fuentes de Onoro the French 6th Corps under Richard Shilvock faced off against Asher Ben-Zion, Haim's son and on his second game. Richard had been told to hold until the British were wholly committed. Once this had happened he launched a division-level attack north of Fuentes de Onoro against a scanty British defence. The British had five battalions tied up in Fuentes itself, which could have been successfully held by two, and as the British started running out of men to stop Richard's attack they eventually started pulling them out. This was helped by a sharp attack that Asher had put in against a French division south of Fuentes which had been very successful. With no pressure on that road at least they could withdraw in safety. Equally, Asher's defence around the walled area immediately to the north of the village was trenchant and held off the French. But Richard's attack on the heights north of the village had swept aside the British, and one French brigade and the 6th corps cavalry plunged towards the last remaining British escape route, cutting it and sealing Wellington in. At this stage the British capitulated. The only non-prisoners were the Brunswick-Oels Jager, who slipped away quietly to join the partisans.

Post battle analysis

This had been a pretty one-sided affair. The overall French superiority of numbers, a highly experienced French CinC versus a tyro British one and a Peninsular battlefield where cavalry were actually useful made it a bit of a walk in the park for the French. The first thing to note, and as I said to Haim, is that a good catastrophe is always instructive and best to get out of the way early. My first time in the big chair was Eylau and I was captured by turn 10. Ideally the British needed at least another division in order to hold their position, and Haim was right when he put his finger on the British lack of cavalry as a main reason for his defeat. But there were others, smaller factors, that contributed too. One was the understandable draw of being bogged down in the tactical, rather than looking 'up from the mud' and seeing the bigger picture. Haim, like many others, was guilty of this, but that is a matter of experience. His decision to defend all of Fuentes how he did with the numbers that he did is also open to question. A more economical defence would have been to abandon most of the town and pull back to the churchyard, and defend the walled area to the north only along the exit side rather than man the garden itself like a redoubt. This could have freed up three or four battalions, enough maybe to stop Richard's attack to the north of the village.

Personally, and I mentioned this to Trevor, the two commanders should have been swapped over, giving the veteran Peter the far harder challenge. But, again, like Hohenlinden everyone ended up doing something, rolling dice and moving troops. This level of activity is good in a big game, where often one sector stays pretty quiet. A comprehensive French victory, and the capture of Wellington and his entire army.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Art of Command

The Two Hundreders
I have been thinking for some time about battle management, specifically in relation to the big games that we do. In many ways this is a true life test, involving various levels and types of management that are often confronted in many other environments. So I thought that a short essay describing my thoughts, now I have personally commanded several major battles and participated in more, would act as a good basis for discussion. For the record I have taken the big chair at Eylau (a catastrophe), Sacile (stumbled to victory), Aspern-Essling (a very clear victory), Auerstadt (slightly less of a catastrophe than Eylau) and Hohenlinden (a victory). In other words my efforts have veered between total disaster and outright victory.

The nature of our battles

Ours are not standard wargamers' battles, with maybe one or two players per side at corps level. We undertake very large projects, with between six and ten players per side, sometimes more, fighting very large battles on a large scale. Played with 25/28mm figures, with the figure scale at between 1:40 to 1:60, these are complex undertakings. The very scale of the things goes some way to preclude the 'helicopter General' approach, but we also always have one to three umpires, plus Trevor who builds the terrain and acts as a sort of Ringmaster, keeping us moving and trying to stop things getting bogged down.


Each battle is a stand-alone and is hedged in with restrictions. It is these restrictions that a CinC must first consider when embarking on the battle. These may be related to terrain, weather, formation arrival times or communications to name but four. In other words no CinC confronts some sort of Tabula Rasa when approaching the battle itself. In some cases these restrictions are open to adjustment, as I did at Aspern-Essling based on the terrain, in some cases they have overbalanced the game, as they did at Auerstadt. In other words a balance has to be correctly struck, and, of course, players usually want as few restrictions as possible! But these restrictions have to be incorporated in any initial thoughts about the game and really have to be nailed down before effective planning can take place.


Players map for Auerstadt
The first rule here is to have one. A bad plan is better than no plan at all. Taking a step back from the situation as it stands will provide certain parameters that give any plan its initial shape or provide a series of options. One of the first issues any general will face is considering his army's attitude: 'will this be an attacking plan, a defensive plan or a combination of the two?'  It is very rare, in my experience, for players to adopt a purely defensive stance unless the enemy is compelled to attack. In some games, such as several Peninsular games, this is the case. Far rarer in my traditional stomping ground of central Europe and Italy, but Jena was a case in point. More frequent is the plan that involves attack with pretty much everything. This was the principle I adopted at the recent Hohenlinden game. Here the Austrians had no choice but to attack, given the structure of the battle and the context it should have sat in.

More likely a general chooses to attack along some part of his line and defend somewhere else, maybe adding complications like feints and outflanking moves into the mix. This was my eventual choice at Eylau, opting for a right hook rather than defence all along the line. At Sacile my decision to attack with my right was changed due to the circumstances of the table and I started to back my victorious left: in other words do not let your plan become your gaoler.

Colin Boulain at Austerlitz
So, once you have decided on your overall attitude and taken into account objectives, timetables, the weather and a whole host of other factors you can attempt to draw up a plan that looks workable, but with enough slack in it to deal with unforseeable circumstances. In this plan you will take into account given objectives and the terms of victory. Layered on top of that is the 'art of the possible'; what you actually think is realistic. Orders should be clear and precise leaving no room for doubt. I am still developing my skills here, often using convoluted language and refusing to call a spade anything other than a broad bladed digging implement. They should be despatched, with a map, well in advance of the game to the appropriate subordinates.


Aspern-Essling underway
Unlike smaller games, larger ones involve lots of people management. Once you have hit on a plan you consider workable you then need to consider its implementation. As CinC you are not going to be doing this; your subordinates are.  In other words this is not a role that lends itself to control freakery. A lot depends on how well you know your subordinates as individuals. In a club you are far more likely to know your opponents than your historical counterparts did, and possibly less likely to know your own subordinates. Still, it is often worthwhile to look at the subordinates that you have been allocated, or have signed up for your side. I am unusual as a player as I do not play French. Even more so in that I am now almost totally socialised into thinking and behaving like an Austrian general! Most players are not that unfortunate.

Players may be good or bad, be aggressive or defensive, thoughtful or rash, willing to exceed their orders or rigidly obey them. Trying to fit round pegs into round holes is quite important and can give your plan a better chance of success. I have never been keen on the long screwdriver, so I like to issue mission or objective related orders and leave it to the players to carry them out. I have seen plans that specify the disposition of individual battalions, robbing players of their initiative, something I categorically refuse to do.


It is important not to get too bound up in this. While it is clearly of value to put yourself in the opposing general's shoes and try to consider what options are open to him, it is an approach that has clear weaknesses. The more options your opponent has the less valuable this exercise will be. If you know where your enemy will be, and that he has a limited range of opportunities, counter-intuition can yield positive dividends. A good example is the plan I wrote for Aspern-Essling; I knew exactly where the French were due to be and that they had three effective options. But at the opposite end of the spectrum would be Hohenlinden; I had no idea where the French were, what freedom of redeployment they had been allowed and what restrictions they were operating under. The only things I did know was that I was looking for 5 divisions and that in order to win they needed to seriously maul me. The only response here, given the other restrictions and expectations, was to draw up a plan that attacked everywhere in the hope that enough attacking formations would succeed to bring victory. Both approaches were successful in their given context. The trap that you must never fall into is to allow this process to paralyse you into 'what if he does this? What if he does that?' and use it as an excuse for inactivity. 

Archduke Charles and staff
Objectives and Intelligence

Some battles we play have clearly defined pre-game objectives, such as towns, villages or geographical features. These would have been taken into account when drawing up the battle plan. Beyond this there will be objectives that may reveal themselves during the game, such as enemy lines of communication or objectives which unhinge an enemy position.

As well as what may look like obvious positions for the enemy to be, or head for, the pre-game emails may reveal additional intelligence. This may be incorporated into the plan, or may be unveiled during the 'approach' to the table itself. For Hohenlinden we were all mystified by sounds in the forest, tracks in the snow and various ambuscades along the line of march. Potentially more reliable than counter-intuition, the bumping in to real enemies may build on growing doubts, could be wholly misleading and rob the CinC of common sense in favour of firefighting.


Sometimes we hold pre-game briefings. This very much depends on the nature of the game itself. These are very useful insofar as they allow players to clarify their individual orders and understand how they fit into the greater whole. These must not, however, dissolve into a discussion of the validity of the plan itself: this is not a Council of War. You cannot expect to rewrite a whole battle plan in the 5 minutes before a game starts.

In-game intervention

I managed to create a traffic jam at Eylau
You can generally tell how well a game is going, as CinC, dependant on how many orders you issue. If your plan is going smoothly then your need to intervene should be limited. If, however, things start going off the rails then you need to start despatching orders redeploying and realigning as well as using the potential of the CinC to give direct orders to formations. By far the worst defeats I have seen is when the loser moves in an apparent fog of battle, seemingly unaware of an impending catastrophe, intervening far too late or not at all. On the other side is the habit of creating traffic jams, especially at the point of attack. My own personal weakness, demonstrated at Eylau, Sacile and Auerstadt, is the ability to overload an area with troops who simply get in the way of each other. This, in my case, is where I really have to sit on my hands in a big way. The concept of reinforcing victory, not defeat, is a principle that can be taken too far.

So, to sum up:

  • Be clear about restrictions and on-map objectives
  • Decide on the overall attitude your force will adopt
  • Draw up a plan reflecting that attitude
  • Fill roles as best you can with players that fit the plan
  • Be counter-intuitive if possible, but do not become its prisoner
  • Be aware that pre-game intelligence is only a snapshot of the true situation
  • Use briefings to illuminate the orders and the overall plan
  • Do not intervene in-game unless you have to


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hohenlinden Battle Report

The battle of Hohenlinden

I have waited to post this until the photos were available so I apologise if it has taken a little time to put this up. Thanks to Colin and Margaret for these. More are available on out Yahoo Group:

Hohenlinden Map

As you can see from my Dispositionskarte posted earlier, I had constructed a plan within the limitations of historical deployments. Reading that document you will also note that there is very little mention of the French, no counter-intuitive analysis as there was for Aspern-Essling. This was quite deliberate. Other than knowing that the French were ‘out there somewhere’ I had no notion of how much they were going to be allowed to alter their deployments so I simply wrote a plan around the basic assumption that they did not exist. This meant that columns may or may not bump into the French anywhere along their line of march at any strength, the corollary being that all columns would advance and that one or two might work their way to their objectives.

As the columns fought what were essentially separate battles I will treat each in separation.

The Right Column: FML Kienmayer 

Kienmayer was being played by David Shepherd, one of the best players, if not the best, in the club. This meant I could leave him pretty much to his own devices and, as he was going to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, it worked out well. Assisted by Charles Moore as Archduke Ferdinand, his column was supposed to take Forstern and draw the French from the centre to allow the other columns to attack. This column was 100% successful in achieving its objectives.

Archduke Ferdinand arrives

Carving through the Division of GdeD Grenier (Brett Smith) and a significant portion of Bastoul’s Division as well (Asher Ben-Zion), displaying a high degree of aggression and assisted by the remarkable success of Esterhazy’s cavalry from Baillet’s Column (see below) the column drove on relentlessly, ending the game comfortably ensconced in Forstern with Ferdinand’s infantry untouched, this was effectively a cavalry engagement. In terms of drawing French troops from the centre there was no central reserve to draw off, only some cavalry which could be redeployed, without totally stripping the defence of Hohenlinden completely. These gestures were pretty futile and by the end of the game the Divisions of Grenier and Bastoul were effectively destroyed.

Centre-Right: Zweibrucken’s Division

Bavarians garrison Mittach

Glt Zweibrucken, commander of the reluctant Bavarians, was played by the charming Rod Sharp, not a great player, but keen and seemingly made of india-rubber. Zweibrucken arrived at Mittach to relieve Baillet, but there was no Baillet to relieve and there was no indication what had happened to him. Looking at his orders Zweibrucken elected to press on towards Hohenlinden, pushing Deroy’s brigade and Dorth’s cavalry to the edge of the treeline to see the spires of Hohenlinden. At this point an Umpire’s Cock Up intervened as Chaim Ben-Zion, playing Ney said ‘hold on, I have units all along that stream’, pointing to an area of the battlefield that the Bavarians could have seen openly 5 turns ago and had been happily marching past. This effect was disastrous for Zweibrucken. If they had been there then he would have been able to form a defensive line against them, instead they were allowed to march into their positions, threatening his LOC. In effect they were caught on the march. With poor training and morale the French carved through them with a light battalion, a battery and a cavalry regiment on the ‘wrong’ side, cut off from their compatriots. Wrede’s brigade smartly occupied Mittach to deny that to the French. Deroy tried to pull his brigade together in the woods as Zweibrucken’s little advance guard looked very isolated before Hohenlinden. 

Ney cuts Zweibrucken in half

But, as Rod argued at the wash and brush up, Ney’s attacks worked to our advantage as it drew on Baillet’s infantry to save the Bavarians. By the end of the game Ney was the one looking isolated and the Bavarians were back to being a fighting force.

The Column of FML Baillet de Latour

Baillet was due to be played by Steve Sharp, an experienced and aggressive player, assisted by Seb Twinning. At the last moment this was all altered: Steve was ill and Seb had other commitments on the new date. The new team was Ceasar Slattery as Baillet and a new young player whose name escapes me. Inwardly I groaned. The centre now had no shepherd; instead there were two fairly weak players and a newbie. Luckily, Steve Clubley as umpire, watched this area like a hawk and prevented the worst cock ups. Now I have particular issues with Ceasar: although he has now played in more than half a dozen games he seems to have learned nothing. He is also very needy. Both of these demand constant oversight, but in a battle like this that is impossible.  The new lad, who was playing Esterhazy, commenced his wargaming career with the club in great fashion. Carving up the road towards Kienmayer the French had placed a battery covering the bridge, but had crucially placed the supporting infantry battalion to the side, rather than behind it in square. Esterhazy also had the ‘Lucky’ fate card. This combination meant the battery missed and the Kurassier smashed through it into the open spaces beyond, and Esterhazy started to cross swords with the cavalry of Bastoul’s division. He had a great time from then on and contributed significantly to Kienmayer’s breakthrough. 

Baillet's column

Baillet, meanwhile, after some prompting, realised he needed to save Zweibrucken from Ney. So his infantry and a couple of cavalry regiments began to attack Ney’s infantry that had caused such devastation to Zweibrucken. As the battle came to a close Ney’s division was not broken, but it was clear that it was going to be in serious trouble very shortly as it was now very much out on a limb. Meanwhile Baillet had pushed some troops to the edge of the woods before Hohenlinden. Before them was pretty much nothing, and if the game had carried on it was clear to me that Ney would have been brushed aside or trapped between Baillet and Kienmayer, leaving it open for both Zweibrucken and Baillet to assault Hohenlinden.

The Centre Column: FML Kollowrat-Krakowsky

This was commanded by me. The issue here became one of timing as I faced off against Grouchy’s Division commanded by a new player (Nick Goddard) but backed up by Colin Boulain who was now in the big chair instead of Chaim. Having sent GM Spannochi’s brigade off on a separate route that arrived on turn 6 were I wanted it. I then waited for 11 more turns before the remainder of the column arrived. So I deployed into line and began to shuffle Spannochi forward. When Beyer’s brigade arrived I deployed them into line too tacked on to Spannochi’s right, anchored on the woods left and right.

Kollowrat's troops commence their attack

I then began a slow, steady attack against Grouchy’s line. The cavalry under Liechtenstein I ordered through the woods to strike behind Grouchy as my infantry pinned him. This was opposed by what French cavalry remained in the centre. It was difficult, emerging from the woods and unable to use weight of numbers, instead having to attrit the French, which would have led to an eventual breakthrough, just not a rapid one!

The Left Column: FML Reisch

Austrians attack Schutzen

The left column under Reisch (Bill Scott) assisted by Simon Brooks as Gyulai, soon found the remaining two French divisions: Decaen and Richepanse. This part of the wood was very dense and the battle here soon bogged down into a war in the woods, complicated fighting that left Richard Shilvock, umpiring, pulling his hair out. I had never really anticipated Reisch being able to join up with Kollowrat as his orders instructed, but he did manage to take Schutzen as a first step. In effect Reisch pinned two French divisions in a close battle that was even more isolated from the rest.

End Result

Baillets troops head for Hohenlinden

I had fully expected to lose this game, expecting the French to bung up the mouseholes with artillery and infantry. Instead they made several errors which contributed to their eventual defeat. The first was I could not discern a French plan. I am still not sure if they had one. Then there were deployment issues. The two reserve cavalry brigades should have been on their left which was more open to face off Kienmayer: they were in the centre and by the time they did get there the Austrians had already defeated the French cavalry in situ, they were too late to affect the actual issue. Ney was probably too far forward. Although the attack on Zweibrucken was successful, and undoubtedly personally satisfying, Ney was in his turn exposed to attack by Baillet. The third, and the one Steve Clubley highlighted, was the position of Decaen’s division. He argued that it should have been in the centre (where, at the end, it had skirted round to, but too late to have any effect). Colin pointed out that he was told if he moved Decaen he may not have arrived at all. My point was he was no real use where he was and not having him would have made no difference to the way the game went, but having him in the centre would: it would have been worth the risk. 

Decaen on the road

Qua game: it was excellent. Every player was engaged fighting, no-one was bored or doing nothing all day. We were all busy. Luck was also present, Ceasar and I rolled so many sixes we lost more melees than seemed feasible as we failed to inflict casualties. On the other hand Esterhazy’s card played at the right time was critical in collapsing the French left. In the end all my columns were pretty much intact, in some case untouched. The closest the French came to victory over a formation was against Zweibrucken, but having the woods to flee into and pull himself together in Ney could not destroy him. On the other hand two French divisions had been destroyed: Grenier’s and Bastoul’s and the French left was gaping open. In effect all the Centre had to do was pin the French and allow Kienmayer to roll them up.

Family Photo (Colin was behind the camera)