A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Napoleonics: Twilight at Wavre


I have recently been getting back into 15mm Napoleonics... which, along with skirmish WWII was my primary historical gaming interest for a decade.  As time caught up with me, job, family (maybe some burn out with all of the work for Iron Ivan) I sold off all of my Napoleonics and didn't game any for a couple of years.

But, now I am collecting a small late Prussian force... acquired a few Italians to support the French if needed.... and managed to bamboozle a local gamer into trying out one of his scenarios, Wavre 1815


If you game Age of Eagles, his stuff is definitely worth checking out.

I selected Wavre because 1) it has a relatively small number of Prussians involved (my force is still growing, and I have a few units unbased as I await my Litko order) and 2), as the scenario author notes, Wavre is a battle that is pretty important for the Waterloo campaign, but is frequently not given enough recognition.  As it was, I had to borrow a few Prussians from my opponent's collection anyway.

Anyway, following the scenario notes, our initial deployments were as follows .. Prussians holding the crossings (except at Limlette)... Vandamme's French driving en masse towards the Prussians... Grouchy following up with even more forces... Thielemann and his Prussian defenders on their own...

... a lot of French.....

....Borcke and Kampfen holding Wavre, with close battery support....

....while Stupnagel holds Loser Wavre,  Stengels' detachment from I Corps holds Limale, while von Luck (an unfortunate misnomer, I think) prepares to move to secure the Bierge Mill crossing....

... the French begin their advance, to be disrupted by long range artillery from the hills above Wavre.  Hobe's Prussian cavalry mill about, trying to decide where they will be best employed.

The first (of many) French assaults on Wavre is repulsed.

Eventually, they drive Zepplin out with masses of infantry, taking part of Wavre and securing the bridge.

Not for long, as Natzmer retakes their foothold, and repels the French back across the river.

 Meanwhile, on the French right, Exelman's cavalry streams towards the undefended Limelette crossing, as more French infantry attempt to storm Limale.

The French infantry attacking Limale are unsuccessful, but, von Luck begins to redeploy Grolman to bolster Stengel.

The French repeatedly assault Wavre... but eyeing the weakened defenses at the Mill, begin to form attack columns there....

The French assault on Wavre is successful!  Natzmer is sent reeling, and French have part of Wavre again...

... while the French attackers on Limale are shattered....

.... and French cavalry complete their crossing, only to come face to face with Prussian cavalry.  The French have a significant numeric advantage, as Marwitz' Uhlans have fallen behind...

Ominously, a large force of French launches their assault on the Mill crossing, opposed by a small complement of Landwehr under von Luck...

.... but von Luck it seems is worse than no Luck at all.... as the Prussian defenders are shattered, and a huge column of French drive up the hills.

But, in Wavre, Zepplin, supported by Landwehr, retakes the French foothold again (being the 4rth time in this game that the town area overlooking the bridge changed hands).

The French column overruns two Prussian batteries.

Stengel continues to hold firm in Limale!

The French attempt to get more troops across the undefended crossing, as Stengel obviously has no intention of leaving!

Charge!  The cavalry clash, as the late Uhlans look on.... somehow the Prussian cavalry fight the French to a standstill, preventing any of them from exiting the table and supporting their beloved Emperor!

The battlefield at the end of the game (note the assembled Grand Battery facing Wavre).

Our game ran the full 7 turns, representing nightfall.  The French were unable to exit any units (which was their primary objective), so lost strategically.  Tactically, they mauled the Prussians badly... but lost almost as much as they inflicted.  In the end, tactically, the game was a draw.

However, as the Prussian player.... if the scenario was set for a couple more turns... I was in for a big hurting.  The Grand Battery, once assembled, would have crushed my defenses in Wavre.  And, perhaps just as dire, there was a large number of French troops that had forced the crossing at the Mill... I had nothing to stop them with, and would have proved to be very difficult to deal with.  I may have been able to contain things on my right (French left) flank.  I was lucky to not be defeated in the initial round of combat with the French cavalry. 

Stengel proved his worth in this game, supported only by a light battery the entire game (the Landwehr detached from the Mill never reached him... instead they received an assault from their rear amidst the French breakthrough... surprise!)... but Borcke and Kampfen had a hard day too, fighting and re-fighting for the same bloody streets to secure the bridge.  As for Stupnagel, he had a fairly easy evening.  He remained parked in Lower Wavre, as a French division faced him for most of the game..... evidently both Thieleman and Grouchy had decided that there was to be no fighting in this quarter of the battlefield.

A good game, a hard game, and I don't regret the tactical draw.  I could have made better choices in a few places... but my opponent was driving hard, and sometimes you just don't have room to sort stuff out.  You just have to stand and deliver.

Grouchy had a hard task.... this scenario modifies the historical account a bit... but, I don't think he had an easy choice here either.  His only chance was to drive as fast and hard as he could, and hope that the Prussians broke somewhere early in the assault.

Hopefully we get to "march to the sounds of the guns" again, soon!