Monday, February 20, 2017

Battle of Gravelotte, August 18, 1870, part 1

The following was played on April 22, 1870

Thursday evening the Corlears Hook Fencibles started another game in our Franco-Prussian War campaign. Bill commanded the Prussians with help from Rick. I played the French, as always. Since the Prussians won Mars la Tour, they have one free re-roll of any movement, firefight or assault die roll.

I deployed looking as far as possible to deny the Krupp guns any easy shots at my line. In return, I had to yield some fields of fire for my infantry. My left flank was mostly in rifle pits per the scenario. My right had one infantry and one artillery unit dug in. I placed the dug in infantry into St. Privat.

The VII and VIII Corps marched forward, with cavalry masking the deploying artillery. They were met by artillery and chassepot fire. Note the puff of smoke and dead horse in front of the German artillery in the middle of the picture. The rest of the cavalry headed for home.

In the center an artillery duel broke out and the Krupp guns began establishing fire superiority.

VIII Corps infantry began moving forward through the woods.

On my left flank dug in French guns held their own against Krupp guns for the while, even sending some back silenced.

As the German IX Corps advanced, the French right center prepared for the onslaught. There were plenty off dust clouds off to the west, indicating the imminent arrival of more enemy.

VIII Corps infantry erupted from the woods. One division made a sacrificial frontal attack, allowing the other to charge the flank of a small French division. It would go right through this and overrun or chase off the remaining French artillery in the center. In a prime example of bad timing, I moved my reserve infantry off just before this.

On the left flank, the firefight continued.

On the fourth turn, the west edge of the table erupted with enemy infantry.

The hole ripped in my center caused quite a fuss. Fortunately, no German supports were nearby to exploit this. The VIII Corps CO had to jump into a ditch at point. He was so confused he tried to lead a VII Corps unit after dusting himself off.

German troops came over the hill at Amanvillers and walked into point blank chassepot and mitrailleuse fire, with predictable results. The German attack was by over-zealous local commanders (high movement dice).

I tried to charge the troops in my center front and rear but both attacks faltered. But they decimated the Germans with close range fire anyway.

IX Corps continued their attacks. Decent French fire dice broke up every attack made on turn 6.

The Guards lost heavily in their attacks due to their packed formations.

German artillery mangled my artillery between St. Privat and Roncourt.

We broke for a leisurely dinner.
Returning to the fray, we played one complex and lengthy German turn 7. perhaps the Belgian beer at dinner played some part in this. Unlike turn 6, my fire dice didn’t break up any attacks and the defenders rolled middling dice in each assault. The result was three German successes.

We left it that way, with 3 and a half turns left to play next week. Losses are heavy, with German infantry decimated. French losses so far are 7.500 infantry, with over 180 guns knocked out or overrun. The Germans have lost over 28,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry, with some guns dismounted.

The Germans have two objectives and need two more for a tie, three for a win. They might be able to do it in three turns. The French reserves have been freed to move, though I wonder if they can really get into action before the game is over. German losses are heavy but the French line is cracking in several places.

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