Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Battle of Friedland - Prequel

A Re-fight of the Battle of Friedland - Prequel

On the evening of 13th. June 1807 Russian troops, of Benningsen’s Army of Poland, cross the river Alle at Friedland, ejecting some French light cavalry of Lanne’s Corps. A couple of battalions of Advance Guard Jaegers chase the French back into the Sortland Woods. Benningsen then orders bridges to be built across the Alle, in Friedland, for the rest of the army to pass over the river in the morning. He orders further bridges built across the Millstream to link the two wings of his army.
At first light, 3.30 am the rest of the Advance Guard cross over and take supporting positions near the Sortland Wood, where the Jaegers continue their combat, now with skirmishers from Oudinot’s division, for possession of the woods.
At about 5am elements of 8th Division, supported by cavalry from the Right Wing attempt to take Heinrickstadt, on the Koenigsberg road. They are ejected from the village by three battalions of grenadiers from Oudinot’s Division supported by Naounty’s heavy cavalry. The cavalry combat continued, drawing in Beaumont,s Light Cavalry and Dragoons for the French, and the Right Wing cavalry for the Russians. The Russians withdraw to the plain, on the right of their infantry. The French withdraw behind the village.
The rest of the Russian army, covered by the reserve artillery and the 14th Division, cross the Alle; march through Friedland and form-up on the plain beyond.
At about 9am the Russians have completed their deployment, and the head of Mortier’s Corps arrives along the Koenisberg road at Heinrickstadt.

Now our battle begins.
The players:
The Russian players are Kev (S); Kev (P); and Kev (I).
The French players are Jim; Sean; Connor and Ryan.
Game Mechanisms:
To represent the strong French skirmish screen the following were used:
The Russians deployed all their troops directly on the table;
The French deployed almost all their troops as movement bases;
The spotting was made as though into low terrain;
The French were allowed two movement bases per division, and did not need to decide which of these the troops were on until spotted. This gave the French an enhanced ability to react to the Russian deployment and movement.

Russian Setup and Plan
The Russians adopted an aggressive stance, deploying almost all their divisions forward to a steam bisecting the battlefield, and many attacking from the off. They also decided to bring their reserve artillery forward to form two grand batteries. Their plan was to hold the French attack down the Eylau road, while attacking with the infantry on the right into the village of Heinrickstadt, and sweep around the village with all the cavalry to flank the French attack.
French Setup and Plan
The French held Oudinot’s Division, minus its detachments, in and around Posthesen on the Eylau road, and linked the two villages with the cavalry divisions on dummy bases. As reaction to the Russian moves one division of dragoons supported Oudinot, while the other supported Beaumont on the left. Oudinot (Ryan) was ordered to hold Posthesen, on the Eylau road, and Sortland Wood for three hours, when he is to be reinforced. The left wing cavalry (Conner) are to attack the Russian Cavalry opposite and attempt to sweep around the Russian right flank. Mortier is to hold the Heinrickstadt.

The Game
The initial setup from the South, looking over the Sortland Wood

Having deployed up to the stream the Russian first moves were slowed, but later they were glad of the cover it afforded. This slow movement allowed the French cavalry in the North to counter attack with good effect. Although, subsequently they succumbed to the superior Russian numbers they slowed the attack and greatly damaged the Russian cavalry.
In the right centre, Prince Kevan, the Russian advance was thrown back by more French cavalry.
On the centre left, Prince KevIan, the Russians patiently awaited the French Infantry attack, not yet realising that there were no French Infantry.
On the far left the Advance Guard, Prince Kevin, advanced slowly against Oudinot. He was slowed more by their lack of command and control than by the French.
The Russian Centre Being Thrown back by the French Heavy Cavalry

In the centre the Russians finally deployed their reserve artillery as two grand batteries, these had been slowed by the difficulties of getting through Friedland and then by the retiring troops before them. Once deployed they rapidly cleared the French from before them. On the left Oudinot’s divisional artillery was literally blown away.
Both sides were advancing very slowly, the Russians being slowed by their lack of command and control, while the French were hampered by their lack of numbers, plus a fear of the Russian grand batteries.
In the North what remained of the Russian cavalry spotted Ney’s Corps reaching the battle field. This force had been redirected by Napoleon to complete the encirclement of the Russians. Unfortunately no longer having cavalry support Ney’s infantry formed square and began to advance very slowly. The Russian cavalry had halted before the massed French infantry squares and was suffering from the artillery of Mortier’s Corps.
The Russian centre right infantry had finally redressed its ranks and regained the line of the stream.
The Russian guard cavalry had advanced through the infantry it was supporting to assault Verdier and Polentz. This delayed movement came too late as these divisions had been able to form square, and repulsed the attack.
The Russian Guard Cavalry Advance too late

In and around Sortland Wood Oudinot’s division faltered and withdrew, faced as it was by another Russian assault and the massed artillery. However the Russians were in no state to pursue immediately, and were still hampered by their command and control.

Thus by 4pm our Russian commanders: General Prince Kevan; General Prince KevIan and General Prince Kevin, had bettered their historical counterparts. Much of the French cavalry had been destroyed, much of it while throwing back massive Russian infantry attacks. The remaining Russian cavalry, thus had control of the battle field and would be able to cover a Russian withdrawal back across the Alle.
Our Russians could hence claim a victory. Having severely damaged substantial French forces, and being in a position to retire to the relative safety of the right bank of the Alle, before the overwhelming French forces could concentrate and destroy them.
However, there remains 6 hours of daylight; Victor and Guard are about to enter the battlefield; a fighting withdrawal would be an intriguing batlle, as would refighting the prequel.

Chris F

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