Monday, February 20, 2017

Battle of Froeschwiller (Worth) August 6, 1870 Part 1


This following was played on February 18, 2016. 

Last night the Corlears Hook Fencibles started playing a scenario of the 1870 battle of Froeschwiller using the Bloody Big Battles rules. Bill commanded his Prussians, aided by Rick. I led my brave if somewhat immobile Imperial French. This is the scenario that is in the rule book. The terrain is challenging to set up (and play in), using up most of my hills, houses, trees and streams. I had to put down some of my rivers when I ran out of streams. As always, our figures are 15mm.

This picture shows the initial deployment. Froeschwiller is incorrectly labeled as Woerth, just on this photo. That will teach me to check before saving. The lead elements of 3 German Corps are on the table. The French have one brigade to arrive.
More Prussians arrive. Prussian 20 Brigade advances across the Sulzbach and is pinned down in the near block of the real Woerth town. My middling dice keep them from paying a higher price. Prussian artillery has already forced my mitrailleuses to limber up and fall back. Curses.

On my left, lead elements of Bavarian II Corps move up to the foot of the steep slope. They will do well.

On my right, the French artillery can’t run fast enough. Krupp guns find their range.
Bavarians got close to Froeschwiller and came under fire from artillery and mitrailleuses that had been forced back earlier, taking losses.

A swarm of Prussian infantry mounted the slope and drove the Zouaves back through Froeschwiller. While this was an anxious moment, they masked the fire of the 72 Krupp guns across the valley. The cloud had a silver lining.

A series of assaults were launched on my left and center. My dice rolled hot and the attacks were almost all stopped with heavy losses. Something went wrong on my left and 1/1 brigade failed to stop the Bavarians, who shot the French up, then closed and beat them back. Another turn or two saw 1/1 brigade scattered to the wind. At Froeschwiller a Prussian attack closed in disorder but was beaten back.

A battery was silenced and hit badly. While they pulled back up a steep slope the crews and teams were shot down by needle guns. Meanwhile the Turcos halted attack after attack with their blistering rifle fire. 2nd French Division arrived after a dilatory flank march just in time to prevent the Turcos from being flanked.

These last pictures are taken after we stopped for the evening. This is from the French right, showing the swarm of Prussians coming up the hill.

A closer view of Froeschwiller (left) and the Turcos (right).

We moved various buildings around during the game to make troop movement easier. These are the ruined buildings that are inside each of the Paper Terrain buildings. Very nice they are.

With three players and a lot of toys on the table, the game moved slowly. It goes faster with 4 because then two parts of the table can be resolved simultaneously. Lots of assaults the last few turns slowed thing down. There was one long pause while I had to look up just when artillery low on ammo was allowed to fire. All else was on the quick reference sheet. We took over 4 hours to play 6 turns. There are 4 turns left in the game. We should be able to put that away next week. French losses so far: 9 infantry stands removed and one run away (of 39) and 2 of 5 artillery gone. The Germans have lost 7 Prussian and 1 Bavarian infantry (of 76). One artillery has taken hits. The Prussians have not tested my right flank. The main effort has gone up against my center. The line is holding, though mighty thin in places. The shallow hook around my left was met by my slow moving reserve, just as 1/1 brigade dissolved.

I think we are on track for a tie or maybe even a French win, at least by the terms of the scenario rules. In real life, I think the best that can be asked for is to do better than MacMahon did on the actual day. That means retreating quietly during the night instead of running in mad panic during the evening. If the thin line holds for 3 or 4 more turns…

Both sides need to figure out how to coordinate their artillery better. And that hurts the Germans more because their artillery is so powerful. We’ll see what transpires next week. 

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