Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Battle of Loigny Dec 1-2 1870

The following was played on December 15 2016. German units are in italics.

The Corlears Hook Fencibles finally played our long delayed game of the 1870 battle of Loigny, from our ongoing Franco-Prussian war campaign. Travel plans, family emergencies, babysitting and other manifestations of real life had prevented the game from being played since early November. To further inconvenience us, my aging point-and-shoot camera acted up. Many times I thought photos were being taken, but all it did was focus. Most of the shots are of early game or the game end, after I discovered the problem. Bill commanded his Prussians aided by Ken as the Bavarian von der Tann. I commanded the French with Rick as my second. As always, our 19th century rules are Bloody Big Battles. The battle was fought December 1 and 2, in the snow.

Ken decided to defend forward with his I Bavarian Corps
My 16 Corps marched onto the table and traded fire with the Bavarians. I deployed a battery on my left with no supports. Bavarian fire silenced the battery and the supporting Prussian cavalry charged, riding down the gunners. This was the start of an amazing death ride.

Both French infantry and guns failed to see the flank threat (low movement rolls). The cavalry turned and routed the infantry, exploiting on into the guns who managed to limber and escape. Then the third turn reinforcements came on and blew the cavalry away with point-blank rifle fire. And from here on any shots taken during the game didn’t come out.

I continued to push towards Loigny, concentrating fire on the Bavarians. Losses were extremely high on both sides. When we first started playing BBB, we wondered how any losses would be caused at all. By now we use concentrated fire attacks that routinely cause heavy losses.

My cavalry headed off to the right to cover the arrival of Rick’s 15 Corps and menace any Prussians arriving in road column. It turned out all of the Prussian reinforcements chose to march onto the table deployed, so Rick’s French were able to get into the objective town of Poupry without a shot fired. He deployed the French Foreign Legion (our best unit) in the town and the Germans never tried to recapture it. This gave us a tie. All of the other fighting was our attempt to grab another of the three objective towns to secure a victory.

The carnage continued on our left between French 16 Corps and Bavarian I Corps. Prussians marched into the central town of Lumeau and their accompanying artillery helped rout a French brigade that was firing into Loigny.

I managed to get a brigade of rear echelon regulars (the only kind I had) around the Bavarian right and they started shooting up the gun line, forcing artillery to limber and retire. This was not done without loss. By the end of the game they had got entirely behind Loigny but fire from displaced artillery and infantry in the town took them front, flank and center. High dice saw them routed at game end. But their pressure had induced Ken to send an infantry brigade out to charge the French. The charge was stopped cold by rifle fire but hot Bavarian return fire saw the last whole French unit become spent. Then the French in the area combined fire on the Bavarian unit. Flanking mitrailleuse, rifles from the front and overhead artillery from 2 battalions of guns fired a hail of shot. A low roll saw the Bavarians just survive but it wouldn’t last.

Not to be outdone in the insane heroics department, I sent the Papal Zouaves charging down the road in column to assault the center objective town, Lumeau. After doing this I started adding up the likely modifiers and realized the charge was hopeless. It was moot: the Krupp guns in the town and the Prussian infantry stopped the assault with a withering blast of fire that cut down half of the Zouaves. Lesson learned: no frontal charges on Krupp guns unless they have been silenced. The final French fire phase saw a couple high dice rolls that emptied the cartridge boxes and limber chests of much of the French line. Mid-game we began using .32 shells to indicate this. I plan on replacing them with .22 shells since they are a tad smaller. Running low on ammo usually means the enemy drop like flies and this was the case.

I may stick with the old camera since I’m used to it. But this is the second time I’ve been surprised to see how few photos were taken.

All this bloodshed produced a tie. That result had been obvious from the 6th turn. We could have had that result with far fewer casualties. But I had the bit between my teeth and was channeling my inner Douglas Haig, my inner Mangin (the butcher). Well, this is a dress rehearsal for the Great War, no?

The French 16 Corps and the Bavarian I Corps were both below 50% effectives. French losses were 18 infantry (and 3 ran away) of 61, 1 artillery gone (of 6). Our 5 cavalry and 2 mitrailleuses were intact. The Germans lost 10 infantry (of 36), 1 artillery (of 7) and 5 cavalry with the remaining one run away. We played 10 turns (and 1 night turn) in little under 4 hours, 30 minutes. Some of that time was wasted taking photos that didn’t come out. One big plus: dinner was paella followed by a fig cake courtesy of my wife. Several Fencibles have birthdays coming in the next few weeks and she thought they should be celebrated. And so they were.

Our campaign so far has 3 ties, 1 French win and 5 German wins. We have 3 or 4 battles to go. If I can pull out one more French win I’ll be happy since that’s one better than they actually managed. Once that’s done I’ll go on to show the Prussians to fear Austrian stoss tactic. You bet. Hey, the Austrians are painted, a mix of white coats and grey overcoats.

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