Friday, March 10, 2017

Battle of the Lisaine, January 15-17 1871

As part of our nearly concluded Franco-Prussian War campaign, Thursday evening the Corlears Hook Fencibles started a Bloody Big Battles game of the 1871 battle of the Lisaine. This was a hare-brained attempt to raise the siege of Belfort, on the hope that this would convince Moltke to raise the siege of Paris. In the following report, all Prussian units are in italics.
Bill and Rick played the evil Germans, while Jay and I played the heroic French. We outnumbered the enemy by more than 2-1 in infantry, though our troops were exhausted, frozen, starving and poorly trained. The enemy was largely entrenched, in one case in a town converted to a fort. We had a free re-roll available since our previous game saw a French win. The last time the French sent a raw army against entrenched Germans the result was a whipping with a heavy butcher’s bill. We were determined to break into the enemy line.

On the first turn Rick’s Landwehr knocked out my weak mitrailleuse battalion. No machine guns for us.



We struggled with command problems and dense terrain, all the while under enemy artillery fire. I launched an attack on the enemy fort. Do you recall the last battle scene from Glory?

The pinned-down troops were swept away by fire from front and both flanks. Jay launched an attack on his front.

More attacks went in.

Here I made a mistake, calling the first night turn after the 4th turn instead of the 5th turn. A French division had got into the gap, forcing the Landwehr to fall back. But at night, the shot up French unit panicked and fled.
The French left.


A French division go back into the gap and was disrupted by enemy fire. The enemy fell back.

Another French division got across the Lisaine and moved to expand the gap to the left.
But the hour was growing late and we were starting to get punchy. Not counting the dinner break, we had played for about 5 hours, completing 7 turns and a night turn. The consensus was that the French had a hard row to hoe to get a tie, victory being out of sight. The place where we got across the easily fordable Lisaine River wasn’t near any objectives. And the losses had been stupendous. French losses were 26 stands of infantry (3 ran away) of 97, and our sole machine gun unit knocked out before it could fire a shot. Prussian losses so far were 3 infantry stands. We had hit another on the first day but it regrouped at night. This is by far the most one-sided losses we’ve seen in two years of playing Bloody Big Battles.

I did have the pleasure of seeing a brief moment of confusion in the enemy camp. Rick had been calling for reinforcements as the French slowly got into the gap in his line. Bill sent the Baden cavalry. Later he sent some artillery to back Rick up. Rick spotted the artillery and had a bad moment when he thought they were French. I couldn’t convince him to fire on them.


We have three turns left of the second day. Should the French actually take an objective, the Germans have the option to call another night turn and one daylight turn after to try to recapture the place. Of the 13 infantry divisions in our field force, 9 are spent, one is completely gone, and three are still capable of offensive action. Two of those are across the river though not in a critical area. I have to decide if we will continue to play this long shot for a tie next time we meet, or just throw in the towel and grant a German victory. I usually don’t concede, but wonder about this one. In any case, it will be a couple weeks before our next session.