Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Battle of Coulmiers, part 2

The following was played on October 13, 1870. German units are in italics.

Thursday evening the Corlears Hook Fencibles completed our game of the 1870 battle of Coulmiers using Bloody Big Battles rules, part of our ongoing Franco-Prussian War campaign. Rick and I led the French while Ken showed and led the 1st Bavarian Division, which had half the infantry strength of the Bavarian I Corps when the game started. It was down one brigade by this time. There were two turns left in the game. The French needed 5 objectives taken for a win, four for a tie. We had one and moved first. I had Chanzy’s 16 Corps on our left; Rick had the 15 Corps on our right, facing 1st Bavarian Division. We had had a piece of luck the previous turn when an optional French reinforcement had arrived threatening the Bavarian right. There were two objectives within reach, only one guarded.  

But on the last turn a panic broke out (lousy move dice). The raw troops ran screaming “we are betrayed”. Most were rallied, far, far away from any objective. We weren’t done yet.

About the same time as the raw brigade ran off, one of my brigades in the center rolled a full move. Moving by the flank they would make it into an objective village that was unguarded at the time. It was not to be.

15 Corps, burdened by passive troops, finally came up and engaged the last brigade in 1st Bavarian Division. Rick rolled good solid dice – not fantastic, but good. Two brigades of French armed with Chassepots at close range with some help from flanking artillery and mitrailleuses sufficed to destroy most of the Bavarian brigade, the survivors heading for the hills.

The woods were our second objective and our cavalry, detained by some stops to feed the horses and men, just managed to squeak unopposed into the southernmost objective town. That gave us three objectives and a Bavarian win, in slightly under an hour. We broke for dinner and then played some DBA.

French losses were 8 stands of infantry while 2 ran away. The Germans lost 5 stands of infantry, 1 ran away. 2 Prussian cavalry and 1 artillery battalion were lost. Von der Tann could hold his head high but would likely have to evacuate Orleans after taking such heavy losses, with no reinforcements within sight. We presume they marched out during the night leaving campfires burning, unnoticed by the exhausted and raw French troops. The Germans have a free re-roll in their next game because of the victory. They didn’t use their free re-roll in this game. The next game, Loigny, won’t be played until sometime in November as we are off to Maine for a while.

Bill’s original plan, to not contest the two southernmost objectives and guard the rest, was good. It ensured that 15 Corps was striking air for most of the game, although when they finally connected a Bavarian brigade was destroyed. My plan went down the tubes as I got engrossed in the minor aim of giving the Bavarian artillery a hard time. This was done but in the process, what should have been a flanking move to the north (Bavarian right) instead became a frontal attack on the strongest part of the enemy line. Perhaps this was where Plan 17 of 1914 fame was born.

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