Friday, May 31, 2013

France 1814 Campaign - updated May 26 - Day 2 Completed

(this post will be updated as the campaign progresses rather than added new posts which appear in reverse order and make it hard to read)

LAST UPDATED: May 26 2013 - Day 2 Completed

So our weekly Empire V group have begun a new 1814 Campaign.

Peter is playing Napoleon with myself as a French tabletop commander as well as the Campaign movement guy.

Jose is playing Blucher with Dave, Leith, Mark, Doug and anyone else who joins in as various Allied commanders and tabletop commanders.

We are using a very very streamlined bunch of campaign rules based on Napoleon At Bay. We are using the map from this game. This just covers weather and movement in order to generate tabletop battles. We have no attrition, no supplies other than keeping a line open to the starting point and no reinforcements of men. No stacking. No scouting. Nice and Simple.

Commanders simply send in orders of which formation is moving, from where and to where and the route of march, along with the order of march and the level of aggression it will take if contacted by the enemy – AGGRESSIVE (attack anything), NEUTRAL (attack smaller), DEFENSIVE (attack no one).
There is definitely a feeling of excitement in the air.

Feb 26th - Day 1

It’s Feb 26 1814 and the allies have begun movement threatening the French borders. Napoleon has his formations assigned and is eager to seek and destroy the invaders. It’s barely a few hours since the allies began moving and a contact is made already.

A large force pushed south towards St Dizier and after just a few hours march came across a French force defending a river crossing with the bridge still intact. Both forces were keen to show their commitment to the early campaign and settle in for battle.


Battle 1 of the campaign begins with Blucher and a mixed Prussian and Russian force attempting to cross a bridge defended by Oudinot.

The contact was ititially at 1100hrs but Blucher decided to hold the enemy in position and await the majority of Kleist's II Korps.

At 1600hrs he opened the attack with some minor movements to threaten the bridge along with some massed artillery bombardments on French positions across the river. The French responded with the same.


Oudinot placed as much artillery as he could muster on the hills behind and covering the bridge. Behind this was a brigade of infantry in columns as support. Behind this infantry was a brigade of cavalry.

On the right was placed a brigade of cavalry with its horse artillery covering the open river area on the right flank.

On the left flank where the area around the river opens up, another brigade of infantry with guns was deployed on heights overlooking the river.

Massed artillery and infantry on and behind the hills overlooking the bridge

View from behind the massed artillery in the centre

Cavalry covering the river on the right flank

Infantry in the centre

Close up of the massed artillery and the bridge

Artillery and infantry covering the bridge

French forces covering the river on the left flank

Close up of infantry on left flank

close up of artillery in heights on left flank

close up of infantry columns on left flank


A mixture of Prussian and Russian elements lead by cavalry moved across the French position.

Large Russian cavalry formations opposite the French left

Russian cavalry

Prussian infantry and cavalry deploying opposite the French right

Prussian columns

Prussian columns

View across the river just right of centre from the French skirmisher lines

1700hrs HOUR 2

Allied cavalry and skirmishers moved forward. Prussians columns were spotted moving also but quicker disappeared behind some hills. Most of the action this hour was intense artillery bombardments, mostly on the enemies opposite gun teams.

Prussian infantry swarm behind a hill for protection as they move forward

Close up of Prussian infantry behind the hills

Prussian infantry columns hiding in safety

1800hrs HOUR 3

More artillery duels with an entire Cossack battery destroyed on the Allied side and the deployment of the Allied massed artillery to the heights overlooking the bridge crossing point.

Allied massed artillery begin deploying on a compressed frontage on the heights

Allied infantry demonstrate across the river on the French right

Close up of the Allied lines of infantry on the French right

Prussian cavalry swarm the riverbanks

Prussian lines screened by the cavalry on the river

At 1900hrs it was nightfall and seeing as the campaign is based on 10 hour days, Day 1 was over for this sector of the theatre.

Both sides decide to contest a 2nd day and so we leave it here to move north to another sector of the map. We will return to this battle for day 2 soon.


To the north of Battle 1, a large French army moved south from Revigny after cavalry scouts spotted a Prussian Korps under Yorck approaching from the south using a river as flank protection and looking to cross the river to the southwest of the city. It was unknown to the French at the time whether or not this force would attempt an assault on the city but with enemy also in contact to the north of the city, the French commander decided to move out rather than be attacked from 2 directions at once.

The contact was on opposing sides of the intact bridge and immediately both commanders took a defensive stance, goading each other to attack across the river. Ultimately the Allies won with defensive barricades going up during the night and guns being rolled in to defend any attempted crossing.

The French knew they had to cross into the storm of lead in order to force an outcome but decided to deploy all their guns to exact a heavy toll on the Allies should they defend too close to the river.

Day 1 of this battle begins and finishes late in the day with the artillery of both sides blasting each other with considerable loss to the Allies.


Allied artillery and infantry placements

Allied 2nd line of defence


French guns find enfilading positions to fire on the allies

French massed guns including some from the Guard

French Guard cavalry massed for action


Blucher decides to stay the night and probe the French pickets along the river for a place to assemble his pontoon bridge. The bad weather all night does not assist him and at early morning light the pontoon location has been selected but construction has not yet begun.

Meanwhile the French did not fare much better during the night. Engineers wnet forward with armed escorts to set explosives on the bridge but due to the weather it was only able to be blown just prior to 0900hrs to everyone's surprise. As the sound of the explosion made its way around the valley, Blucher calls up Russian engineers with a task of assessing the damage in order to repair it for a crossing. 2 crossing points are much better than, especially with so much French artillery on the other side of the river.

Early morning reports come in to Bluchers breakfast table - the French have withdrawn 600 yards south away from the river. This is good news, if the allies can get across the river they can establish a beachead and fan out to engage the French on wider frontage than just 2 river crossings. This could be the break he was looking for.

The French had indeed pulled back, but only to restablish better fields of fire for their artillery on a group of hills further south. A large massed battery covered the river on the left, another smaller battery in the centre with combined arms support, and all 3 arms deployed on the right in case the allies cross the river at that position. All was set to meet them on French terms.

Russian engineers reported back to Blucher bad news. The bridge blown by the French this morning was very badly damaged and would not be repaired today. Still, Blucher had his bridging train who had their orders.

As the light of the day intensified, Allied formations could be seen deploying, eager to come to grips with the French waiting across the river.

The French in their new defensive positions watching the Allies assessing the damage to the bridge

French light cavalry keep an eye on the Russian engineers at the bridge

French forces covering the main road from the bridge. Not even they knew how well the bridge was destroyed.

Allies going nowhere after hearing the bridge would take days to repair for a crossing.

French massed artillery covering the river on the French left

Allied massed artillery in position to support a river crossing at the bridge that never eventuated.

The frustrated Allies at the smoking bridge.


Both sides settled in to duelling artillery fires with the French getting the upper hand. On the left the French had deployed a large battery of artillery overwatching the river but the Allies had deployed their pontoons on the French right so the only target on this side was a brigade of Russian cavalry and horse artillery which paid dearly for being so exposed. After just 2 hours of bombardment, half the battery and half of one regiment of cavalry had been decimated forcing the brigade to retire to safer ground.

Massed French artillery firing on exposed Russian cavalry formations.

Russian cavalry brigade after 2 rounds of bombardment fire


More artillery fire although reduced in effectiveness due to the weather.

1100hrs - 1300hrs

Heavy snow flared up and both sides settled in to wait it out not being able to see the other. Scouts were deployed but no contacts were reported.


The snow lifted enough for artillery fire to resume although at a greatly reduced effectiveness. Effective enough to begin raining down on and around Blucher's pontooniers. It was not long before he had them withdrawn to safety. This weather would not assist anyone to get across the river in any hurry.

1400hrs - 1900hrs

More heavy snow resumed for a number of hours and for the rest of the day all that was achieved by both sides was the resumption of long range artillery and little else.

And so the end of Day 2 for Battle 1 is reached with Blucher and his Prussians and Russians still on the original side of the river and the French safely holding their side with little loss to report. Seems the weather is playing well into Napoleon's hands.

Casualties to date for French:
2500 Infantry, 0 Cavalry, 8 Guns, no leaders

Casualties to date for Allies:
180 Infantry, 300 Cavalry, 39 Guns, 1 leader slightly wounded


In the north the battle between a large French force and Yorck's Prussians and Russians starts afresh on the morning of Day 2 of the campaign. Yorck decides to defy his orders to hold the French at the bridge and withdraw back a little distance to a line of hills and chateaus after taking a beating from massed French guns across the river.

The French oblige by pushing forces across the river to engage the Prussians. Day 2 consisted of a lot of artillery fire as the allies moved away from the river and a push of French infantry across the bridge to deploy and engage Prussian infantry.

Allies abandon their fortified positions and fall back to the village and hills out of artillery range

French infantry take the opportunity to close the gap and prepare to cross the river

The allies new defensive lines

Allies awaiting the French advance

French cavalry prepare to move to the river to support their infantry brothers

French bridgehead formed under little enemy fire

End of Day 2 of battle with French across the river


Further south along the road from Chaumont to Bar-sur-Aube, a large allied army pushes west and with it a French cavalry screen in front of it all the way west along the road as it advances into French territory. The army uses an extended march to reach the city only to find it well defended with French fortifications. It's commander decides to fall back from the city to a location of his choosing and employs engineers to build his own defenses. 

Thus ends Day 2.

(to be continued)


warpaintjj said...

Good looking game and a good insight into how your campaign runs. This something we should look at.
Passable attempt at snowy ground - always tough!

War Depot said...

Thanks mate

paulalba said...

Looks like a great game and cracking figures!

War Depot said...

Thanks Paul