(I apologise in advance for the pics - I am currently rebuilding all my terrain and scenics and some of my army formations are incomplete and not painted yet)
For International Solo Wargaming Day this year (1/1/11) I thought I would have a game of Empire V with about a corps of French on 1 side and a corps of Prussians on the other. I would play the French and with instructions to "attack the enemy to your front holding the area just south of the road to Berlin". No worries I thought. Under my command was III Corps made up of 3 Infantry Divisions and a Division of Cavalry. Unfortunately, 1 of the Cavalry Brigades from the Cavalry Division was out scouting for the main army which left me with a single Brigade of Light Cavalry.
I took my escort and scouted the area to my front. Over a few hours I had gethered some good intel on the force I was to attack as my formations marched to the assembly areas I had assigned for them. Ahead of me I had an open area of flat grassland broken up with a number of farmed fields and 2 main farms. This is where I spotted the enemy. 2 x Division strength groups defending the 2 farms and the area around them. I would need to push through these formations if I was follow my orders and attack north to the road to Berlin. 2 x Brigades of Prussian Infantry should be easy to cast aside. What worried me was what lay behind them, if anything at all.
At 0900hrs my divisions began moving according to the orders I had sent out hours before:
"5th Infantry Division (5DIV) is to attack the enemy force holding the ground in and around the left farm to the right of the ridgeline. Lead off with your 1st Brigade with a battalion of Legere in semi skirmish in order to screen your movement."
"6th Infantry Division (6DIV) is to attack the enemy force holding the ground in and around the right farm. Lead off with your 1st Brigade with a battalion of Legere in semi skirmish in order to screen your movement."
"7th Infantry Division (7DIV) is to stay in the assembly area in reserve."
"2nd Brigade/3rd Cavalry Division (3CAV) is support/intercept to the right and slightly behind 5DIV."
With an entire Division held in reserve I felt I could comfortably engage and push aside the 2 x Prussian Brigades (Divisions) and continue to the road.
At 1000hrs, 5DIV and 6DIV both contacted the enemy quickly and battle ensued. My Cavalry advanced in support of 5DIV and stayed out of contact with the enemy until needed.
6DIV on the right, found itself with half of it's lead Brigade right in front of an enemy battery and so it concerned itself with charged numerous times, taking casualties each time only to be repelled, recover and try again.
After 1 hour of fighting, we had made little progress and I received word of the death of the Brigade commander of the lead brigade from the 6th Infantry Division. This came at about the same time as I got a report from 5DIV mentioning it had killed the enemy commander of the Prussian forces it was in combat with. I wondered how many more good leaders were going to die today.
At 1100hrs, with the enemy guns removed from the centre in front of the farm, and a battalion of enemy infantry in square to it's right, I caught a glimpse of the area behind the enemy formations and decided this was a good spot to exploit. I sent orders for the 7th Infantry Division to attack this location immediately. I also had a reserve battery of 12 pounders that serves as my corps artillery. This I attached to the attacking 7DIV.
"7th Infantry Division is to attack the location to the immediate right of the right hand farm and push the enemy from this position. Lead with your 2nd Brigade in attack columns and use your elite light regiment to assault any resilient defenders."
As I watched it's progress through the farmed fields towards it's objective, my heart sank. Beyond the enemy positions I could just make out what appeared to be enemy reserves moving into position closer my objectives. On the left I observed a Prussian Cavalry Brigade and in the centre I saw a 3rd full Brigade of Prussian Infantry. So now I was engaging 3 x division sized formations of Prussian Infantry and a brigade of cavalry. This may turn out to be a little harder than I had 1st anticipated.
The attacks on the enemy lines continued. Prussian Landwehr battalions were defending admirably, but they would not be able to hold up for much longer. My battalions were firing and assaulting them repeatedly and the larger landwehr battalions were taking huge casualties for their efforts.
The guns defending the attack from 6DIV were overrun and it's artillery deployed almost on the same position and began firing canister at the enemy.
My infantry were having a hard time of it. Numerous close assaults and firefights had resulted in a number of my battalions routing from the attack. My commanders were chasing them all over trying to rally them, and in doing so, were removing themselves from their positive affect they have on their men. My attacks were stalling. These Prussian lines were beginning to take a toll on my corps.
Prussian casualties were mounting and yet they were still holding. My men were getting tired. 2 battalions had been routed off the field from 6DIV after 2 squadrons of Prussian Landwehr Cavalry had caught them on the flank. Both failed to form square in time and were cut down. A 3rd battalion also did not form square in time but managed to fight off the enemy horsemen who then fleed the field.
More of my battalions were fleeing the field. 6 at a time at one point. I was beginning to get the idea I needed to break off and rest and rally my troops and maybe get some reinforcements to assist me. The Prussians were annoying me.
A courier from 6DIV reported to me that most of their 1st brigade was now shaken and enbroiled in a tit for tat shooting match with the Prussians. Assessment of 5DIV confirmed they had lost most of their 1st brigade and their 2nd was now mostly in line and shooting also. This was not how a fast attack through the enemy should be done.
It was 1200hrs. I sent out break off orders to all elements and decided to hold a defensive position to the south as I await reinforcements and instructions from my commander. My III Corps had a bloody nose but I was certain revenge could be obtained soon.
(this game was played using the rules Empire V with the 6mm figures from Adler Miniatures and covered 4 hours of battle and took about the same time in real time as well - David)