Recently WR wrote up his Battle of Wartenburg October 1813 scenario, with scenario map, notes, general battle outline and various reference and linked materials. Today WR posts his report on the recent scenario game using the Wartenburg 1813 scenario.
Following report covers the entire tabletop twenty-one turn scenario (7 game hours) performed by the team players in actual seven hours time (includes pizza lunch break). Scenario starts at 1000 hours and ends on 1740 turn with misty weather at start. Scenario was played in WR’s new man cave gaming room featuring a 8×6 table, terrain closet, and nearby sofas and various electronic screens (see WR has moved!). Food and drink on the sofa table in easy reach. YouTube videos links, with turn by turn summary, available at end of blog article.
Woods outlined by felt and trees, marshy ground by blue-green felt, and boggy ground has small clumps of lichen scattered about. Ox-Bow lakes untreated blue felt… for now.
Prussian team (Andy, Daniel, and Bill later) had the decision how to attack. Four Prussian brigades, with infantry, cavalry and artillery in each, to breach the French Allied defensive position. Once either Bleddin or Wartenburg taken, the mass of Reserve and Advance guard commands in the Army of Silesia, plus the attached Russian corps, can strategic road march across the tabletop for the scenario win. The problem is simple: How many brigades to send against the Wartenburg dike position, the central woods, or the village of Bleddin. Historically the Prussians sent one against Wartenburg dike (really a pin down the French attack), a late attack into the center woods, breaking the Italians, and one plus one supporting brigade against the Wurttemberg defenders at Bleddin. This last attack won the battle because the Prussian wheeling advance forced the French late afternoon retirement.
For this scenario play, team Prussia decided on two Prussian brigades against the Wartenburg dike position (played by Andy) and two against the Wurttemberg held Bleddin position (played by Daniel), screening off the Italians. Seems a compromise… two attacks with odds.
French Team (Rob and WR) followed the classical passive planning option. Wait for the Prussian advance to show their strength, and weakness, then hope to hold their positions using the Italians as the local reserve. The 12th French and 15th (Italian) Divisions should hold the dike firmly, the weakness was the scenario starting depleted 39th Division (Wurttemberg). With only four converged battalions they needed to hold the river bank road and Bleddin, delaying the Prussian advance. Two very small cavalry brigades, 24th (Hessian) and 29th (Wurttemberg) available to assist the 39th Division. So, the French Allied plan was complete and Rob given the task of Wurttemberg engaging defense. WR played the French 12th and the Italians stood by… ready to react to Prussian movement.
Scenario tabletop map and initial command starting positions. See Wartenburg 1813 scenario notes for complete French and Prussian rosters (1:90 miniature ratio), terrain details, weather, off map artillery transfers, and victory conditions. Turns are 20 minutes each, three per complete hour. Ground scale 1″ = 50 yards.
First hour – Turns 1000 to 1040: Prussian 1st (Steinmetz) and 7th Brigade (Horn) slowly advance towards Wartenburg, crossing the small stream while under cannon fire. The roundshot generally just plunged into the boggy mass of wet ground. French stood to behind the dike position while their 12lb positional battery fired upon the slow advancing Prussians. Colonel von Steinmetz, commanding 1st Brigade, falls wounded by French shot. Battle scenario proved to be a deadly day for Prussian commanders. On the river roadway, the Prussian 2nd Brigade (Mecklenburg-Strelitz), being backed by the 8th Brigade (Hunerbein) marching from the Elbe River crossing, came under cannon fire from the 38th Wurttemberg Division defending Schuberg dike position. Being on drier land, the roundshot skipped through the dense Prussian ranks causing losses.
Second Hour – Turns 1100 to 1140: Slowly approaching the Schuberg dike position, the Prussian 2nd Brigade is suddenly charged by 29th Light Cavalry Brigade (Wurttemberg) while infantry skirmishers exchange their deadly shots. One brave squadron of converged Wurttemberg Chevau-legers sound their trumpets and thunders home on the bayonet ready Prussian mass.
Near Wartenburg Prussian 1st Brigade struggles across the wet ground in linear formations. 7th Brigade battalion columns follows in their footsteps. Prussian artillery batteries find only good ground is on the roadway. French 12th Division gunners keep up the bombardment, but watch the majority of shots just plop into the wet ground.
Note: Boggy wet ground past the dike causes 2″ movement loss from the close order infantry movement (6″ linear, 8″ column). For artillery the movement become 4″ cost and movement like positional batteries (cannot move and fire). The stream adds another 2″ cost to cross that feature hence slow going for the Prussian infantry under the French guns. Roundshot fired at targets in the boggy wet ground is reduced to 1/3 effectiveness… no bouncing cannon balls. The dike gives 50% firepower protection reduction.
Charging home, horses, riders and infantry are enveloped in smoke and haze for the moment. The Wurttemberg squadron creases to exist but not before putting to flight two Prussian battalions. General von Jett was untouched but his tailor may discuss several new holes in his uniform. Prussian fusilier battalion skirmishers work their way around the open Wurttemberg dike position. Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz rallies his Prussians forward to resume the Prussian advance, calling forward the Prussian hussar to chase away the pesky Wurttemberg skirmishers.
General Franquemont sees his outnumbered Wurttembergers holding the forward Schuberg dike position till now. Time to retreat to the next position (Bleddin) with the three converged line battalions still intact. Seeing the Wurttemburgers retire, Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz summons forward his 2nd Leib Hussars to charge over the dike roadway. A Prussian battalion seizes the vacant Schuberg dike post-house while the nearby Wurttemberg converged chevau-leger squadron skirmishers look on.
Back at the dike before Wartenberg close range musketry and assaults have raised the tempo of combat. After trading several fire phases, the East Prussian Grenadiers lower bayonets and charge up the dike face. Bitter close bayonet work at the summit as nearby French campaign seasoned line battalions fire volleys into the struggling mass. French General Morand (12th Division) struggles with a Prussian grenadier showing leadership to his seasoned conscripts of 1813. Few grenadiers return to the Prussian lines.
Third Hour – Turns 1200 to 1240: During this hour the 39th Wurttemberg division (in name only.. really a depleted brigade) occupied their final defensive position at Bleddin. Behind a marsh, across a disordering stream, and the buildings of Bleddin village. They delayed Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at Schuberg post-house for several crucial turns early in this scenario. But now General von Franquemont only has three converged line battalions, a converged light battalion, and a battery of artillery to cover 24″ (1200 yards) frontage of slow marsh terrain.
Note: Marsh terrain allows infantry only, No cavalry or artillery permitted except on travelled roadway. Slows infantry movement by 2″ for column or 4″ for linear formations. The stream costs additional 2″ of movement.
Prussian 2nd Brigade (Mecklenburg-Strelitz) restores their formations and slowly advances, awaiting the supporting 8th Brigade’s (Hunerbein) arrival to continue their advance on Bleddin. Will the 8th arrive quickly to storm Bleddin alongside the 2nd Brigade?
At Wartenburg, the struggling Prussian infantry battalions; grenadiers, line, fusiliers and landwehr… lots of Silesian landwehr, from two brigades, find the French campaign seasoned conscript defenders ready. The fallen Prussian grenadier crumpled bodies led the way to the dike. Approaching the dike, French massed musketry flames out along the dike, with French 6lb cannister shot ripping into the steady Prussian landwehr ranks. Prussian 6lb artillery batteries, manhandled into point-blank range, sweep the dike face before Wartenburg, adding French ranks to the fallen along the dike. Miniatures, representing 90 men on the tabletop, are removed in piles after the diced morale checks are thrown. Neither side, landwehr, conscript, or veteran gives any wet soggy ground.
First up the dike were Silesian landwehr, in column they rush the edge of the dike near the ox-bow lake, outside of Wartenburg. Both sides commit their commanders (Morand vs. von Horn). A French legere battalion fires point-blank into the heaving mass before them, climbing the dike face. Half the landwehr battalion is hors de combat, staggered ranks… they roll and pass the morale, madly plunging into the French ranks. Musket clubbing or grim bayonet work causes the French legere battalion to retire behind the unlimbered Italian 6lb battery, lit litstocks ready. Touch holes touched… cannons roar, and the leading Silesian landwehr battalion is singing with the angels.
After seeing the Silesian landwehr “victory of sorts”, the Prussian regulars form into dense columns and struggle over the dike face, Prussian dead and wounded grenadiers underfoot. Several infantry columns attempt the grand assault on the French position while French musketry volleys rips glaring gaps in their leading ranks. General von Horn, fresh from the bloody Silesian landwehr carnage, dismounts and leads his soldiers onto the dike. Simple brute force action…. no tactical drill or command here. More miniatures removed and morale tests taken. Disorder starts to enter the ranks of both sides.
While the Wartenburg bloody action rages on, the action around Bleddin is fairly quiet. Wurttemberg settles into defending the three buildings with their three converged line battalions. Their 6lb artillery battery seeks a position to flank fire on the causeway crossing. Von Jett’s remaining cavalry regiment, a squadron of chevau-legers, trots about behind the village. Only distant skirmisher firing tells the onlooker that there is a battle near Bleddin.
Finally the 8th Brigade arrives behind the 2nd Brigade. Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz cannot wait to attack Bleddin with both brigades. But wait…. in the central woods. Are those Italian skirmishers?
Fourth Hour – Turns 1300 to 1340: The total carnage of battle rages on near Wartenburg. Prussian losses are mounting fast. The 1st Brigade exceeded 20% losses after the last French turn. Final defensive musketry volleys pluck off more Prussian miniatures on the dike. One Prussian column wins their melee brawl but suffered half losses in the leading battalion. A second Prussian column routs a French conscript line battalion, after they failed to receive the Prussian bayonet tipped advance. The last Prussian landwehr column died almost to the last rank on the dike, broken by flanking 12lb roundshot and close range musketry. That assault never came home… just bloody bodies still or crawling about the forward dike face. Still a breach in the French position causes General Morand and Bertrand to rally and order forward reserve French battalions.
No… the Prussian last gasp assault dies before the French reserve battalions. The leading Prussian line battalion flees in terror from their crippling losses. Several Silesian landwehr battalions, reduced by losses, break their ranks and flee towards the rear. Other Silesian landwehr battalions, so far untouched by French action, man the recently taken dike position, covered by French and Prussian casualties. A period of musketry erupts again, punctuated by 6lb cannon blasts of cannister from both sides. The ordeal is too much for the Prussian 1st and 7th Brigades. General von Yorck sends orders to stop the assault and just engage the French in place (pin them) while hoping for the Prussian 2nd Brigade to turn the corner through Bleddin.
On the road bank road the situation has changed. Seeing the advance of the Italian 15th Division (Fontanelli) into the central woods below Wartenburg, the Prussian 8th Brigade is diverted from supporting the advance of 2nd Brigade. They turn and march into the woods to engage the Italians, maybe take Wartenburg from another angle thinks General von Hunerbein.
Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, seeing the 8th Brigade advance into the central woods, leads his unsupported 2nd Brigade towards Bleddin. From overwhelming odds against the weak Wurttemburg defenders to almost one to one, the odds are stacked against any Prussian victory now.
Boom… boom… boom. Prussian 12lb positional batteries have arrived across the Elbe River and shell the French end defensive positions. For several early turns of the scenario the Prussian player team forgot their reserve 12lb positional cannon. Finally General Yorck ordered the batteries to position themselves across the river and bombard the end of the French line. To late, the bloody Prussian dike assaults ended as the first roundshot and shell fell on the exposed French 12lb positional battery.
Slowly the French campaign seasoned conscript line battalions close the range and engage in musketry against their opposites, the Prussian Silesian landwehr. Conscripts vs. conscripts in 1813. Men fall, crumpling to the blood soaked ground, while their officers, young or old, try to maintain the positioned ranks. Prussian 1st Brigade reaches 40% losses, 7th Brigade hits 20%, and the French 12th Division hits 20% on their side of the dike. Former 2 or 3 rank formations now are reduced to single ranks with gaps.
Note: 20% (-1), 40% (-2) or 60% (-3) are the three command loss levels used in the game rules. Each adds additional morale deductions ( ) for unit morale tests. A unit with no losses and CMR of 6 in command at 40% loss suffers -2 or adjusted morale rating CMR of 4 for 10d morale tests (0 = zero). Roll over the adjusted number (5+ in this example) and the unit is morale disordered or routing to rear.
In the central woods the Italian legere battalion quickly becomes engaged by the advancing 8th Brigade (Hunerbein). Looks like WR’s painted Milan guard battalion may finally see tabletop action this scenario.
Knowing that any Prussian victory hinges on taking Bleddin quickly (see scenario notes), Pz. Carl of Mecklenburg-Strelitz orders the assault on Bleddin. His Mecklenburg-Strelitz Hussars (of future Leipzig fame) form column to charge over the narrow bridge and into Bleddin, hopefully causing Wurttemberg disorder just before the two infantry columns cross the marsh and stream terrain.
Fifth Hour – Turn 1400 to 1440: While musket balls fly about the outskirts of Wartenburg, the Prussian regulars march across the marsh before Bleddin. Slow going but at least no Wurttemberg artillery yet. Gathering speed, the Mecklenburg-Strelitz Hussars hoofs thunder over the small bridge into Bleddin. Engaged by firing from all sides in Bleddin, the hussars turn tail and ride back through the musketry. Still the charge was effective, it drew the attention of the Wurttemburg defenders as the Prussian infantry crossed the open marsh ground.
On the following turn the Prussian column crashed into the out buildings of Bleddin village. A column of Silesian Grenadiers march across the body strewn bridge. General von Franquemont dismounts to rally his countrymen in Bleddin, personally leading the young Wurttemburgers back into the hot action. Success as the last Prussian column, the Silesian Grenadiers is defeated.
In the central woods, The Italian 15th Division forms into lines and small columns to defend the woods. Prussian linear formations overlap the Italian lines. The Italians deploy the Milan guard battalion… first time in tabletop combat for WR’s painted unit…. maybe the only time this battalion unit is used for a historical tabletop battle.
Slowly the Prussian 1st and 7th Brigade battalions disengage from the French held dike position. Silesian landwehr and the 1st battalion Leib regiment hold firm on a section of dike, refusing to give the hard-fought position back to the French infantry.
The French right flank is secure. The battered 39th Division, at 20% losses, has held the exit at Bleddin. Light skirmishing will remain at this sector till the end of the scenario.
Central woods firefights in the woods. Skirmishers dart among the trees. A Prussian column is repulsed by an Italian column. Someplace the wood boar and fox miniatures have darted.
Still the savage musketry extends over the dike position. The Prussian Leib battalion and Silesian landwehr just don’t retire. Nearby Prussian infantry, mostly landwehr, fail to advance into the fight, instead try to rally their thinned ranks.
YouTube summary of scenario so far covering turns 1000 to 1440: Wartenburg Video Part I
YouTube summary of remaining scenario turns 1500 to 1700: Wartenburg Video Part II
Sixth Hour – Turns 1500 to 1540:
The loss laden 1st and 7th Brigades cannot hold their forward position near the dike. Battalions, mostly Silesian landwehr, start to fail their morale checks. Seeing nearby battalion break and flee, more landwehr battalions, mostly suffering losses, rout towards the rear in a growing path of despair. General von Yorck rides forward to rally his defeated Silesians. Some rally out of French range, but others continue their flight towards the river crossing at Elster. “Where is Blucher?” some are heard to shout.
Note: At start of 1500 hours turn, the cumulative French losses and their hourly order usage expense caused the French IV Corps to exceed their MFP threshold. From here on during the scenario, the French Allied army suffers minus one CMR loss every hour, increasing one level (-2) on second hour, third hour (-3) etc. Simple morale tests will cause the French to retire or rout if they elect to sustain the battle, especially with spent units. Being larger, the Army of Silesia has higher MFP threshold and can sustain maximum effect longer.
General von Horn is stuck down by a French musket ball. Wounded, he is carried to the rear alongside 1st Brigade’s von Steinmetz. Unknown battalion majors now command the remains of the two Prussian brigades.
Central woods action heats up with the Prussian 8th Brigade (Hunerbein) pressing the Italian legere battalion back. Prussian columns march to flank the Italian 15th Division (Fontanelli) battle line. WR’s Milan guard battalion failed to stop the advancing Prussian column and retired to reform their ranks.
Prussian assault crashes into the Italian linear formations. Transfixed by firing lines to front, the Italians are attacked by columns on the flanks.
The fighting is over near Wartenburg and the French 12th Division. The French are restrained from pursuit with their Defend position orders. Both Prussian brigades are shot apart, one at 60% and the other at 40% losses, and both Prussian brigadiers fallen. French 12th Division isn’t unscathed, suffering nearly 30% losses for their defense of the dike position against two Prussian brigades.
Seventh Hour – Turns 1600 to 1640: Scenario ending turns. With the Prussian assault on Wartenburg finished in a bloody ruin, 2nd Brigade’s assault on Bleddin stopped cold, only chance for Prussian face-saving victory lies in the central woods. Prussian 8th Brigade vs. the Italian 15th Division. General von Hunerbein leads his Prussian infantry into the close range fighting, tree to tree, pushing the weaker Italian Division backwards into the open ground near Wartenburg. Several Prussian columns assaults send successive Italian battalion backwards to reform.
With the close combat ended at Wartenburg dike and Bleddin, the central woods battle, like the other actions, ends in a bloody dusk stalemate near the ox-bow lakes. French (the Italians) remember the special event card for heroic action. Playing the card, the Italian line stiffen their defense under Prussian assault.
The ragged Prussian 1st and 7th Brigades form a line behind the stream. Just desultory artillery bombardment till scenario ending nightfall. After losing two cannon from enfilade fire, the French 12lb is forced to limber up, from the weight of Prussia 12lb shot fired from across the Elbe River.
Even with the backbone stiffened special event card, the Prussian column won the melee. Now the Italians are fighting in the small open ground below Wartenburg. But General von Hunerbein falls from leading his victorious infantry. That’s three out of four Prussian brigade commanders on the day seriously wounded.
Last Prussian assault for the day as dusk descends. Seeing the French use their special event card, the Prussians use theirs for heroic action. Their special event card could have been useful in the earlier bloody assaults at Wartenburg or Bleddin. Sometimes the gamers just get caught up in the scenario action.
Eighth Hour – Turns 1700 to scenario end: Nightfall at last. The French are weary and suffering army morale effect (MFP) from losses and command usage. Prussians end their assault on Wartenburg for the day. Final movements end the combative forces in the positions at scenario end. Bertrand will have to retire during the night since he cannot stop the growing Army of Silesia presence across the river, especially with his army morale failing (French Allied IV Corps exceeded their MFP level).
The 39th Wurttemberg Division (20% loss) holds on to Bleddin supported by the remaining half of 29th Light Cavalry Brigade. Prussian 2nd Brigade (20%) controls the far side of the marsh.
Central woods ends with 8th Brigade (20%) holding the central woods and the 15th Division (20%) Italians defending the ox-bow lake gap into Wartenburg. Off photo to left is the 24th Hessian Light Cavalry Brigade (Beaumont) who spent the entire scenario covering the exit roads from Bleddin.
And on the major carnage sector, the much depleted 1st and 7th Brigades (60% and 40% loss respectfully) defend the shallow stream. The boggy ground covered in bodies of valiant Prussian soldiers, mixed in with French losses near to the dike position. The victorious 12th French Division (20%) firmly holds the dike and town of Wartenburg.
Looking at the scenario victory conditions, the French can declare a Major victory since their losses for the IV Corps didn’t exceed 40% across all commands. The Prussian strategic reserve Advance guard and Reserve cavalry was delayed entering the tabletop since neither Wartenburg or Bleddin was controlled by the Prussians during the scenario.
Fun scenario. Prussian team wants another chance to defeat the French Allied position. Looking over the scenario videos and play notes WR quickly saw the better Prussian option. Bleddin village is the key, just like the historical battle. Prussians should send three brigades, two to assault Bleddin directly and one to pin the Italians with a woods fake out or follow the leading two brigades. The sole remaining Prussian brigade (1st) stands at a distance in front of Wartenburg, pinning the French 12th Division at Wartenburg. Once Bledding taken then the Prussian Advance guard and Reserve cavalry command stream onto the road network, causing havoc in the French rear zone behind Bleddin. The weak French cavalry brigades cannot stop the expanding Prussian movement options, hence a forced French retirement from the tabletop. Otherwise, throw three Prussian brigades at Wartenburg and skirmish with the last one against the Italian and Wurttemberg divisions. Brute force may win over the tried two brigade assault during the scenario game. When possible force the smaller French Allied army to spread out their units since the Prussians have more battalions and cavalry regiments.
Thank you Andy, Bill, Daniel and Rob for attending the scenario game. WR looks forward to new scenarios in his game room. Watch the email. If others wish to join in, just contact WR at his information page “About the Wargamerabbit“.
YouTube summaries of the turn by turn Wartenburg 1813 action, plus some WR game commentary:
Cheers from the warren. Next month another interesting scenario game in the warren.