Monday, February 20, 2017

Battle of Spicheren, August 6, 1870

Start of our Franco-Prussian War campaign. These reports were posted on The Miniatures Page (TMP). some have suggested that the reports be posted to this blog so the reports can be all in one place. So here goes,over a year after the campaign started. The following game was played on January 28, 2016.

Last night the Corlears Hook Fencibles kicked off our Franco-Prussian War campaign, using Bloody Big Battles. There is no map movement and no strategic maneuver. This means almost no paperwork, to my delight. We will fight up to 15 scenarios of the actual battles. The scenarios are designed by BBB designer Chris Pringle and are a fine complement to the rules. We will allow the winner of a game to have one free re-roll in the next. At the end we will tally wins, losses and ties. As the French CO I’ll be happy to win more battles than the French did. The war itself is going to be a Prussian victory. I can’t imagine any other result given the chaotic French mobilization and the continuing effects of this on the August 1870 supply situation. Bill’s Prussians should win the lion’s share of the games. Enough of that, let’s get on to the battle.

The field sees Frossard’s 2nd Corps (3 infantry divisions) in a “position magnifique”, if rather too extensive for the number of troops he has. Of course, no neighboring French corps will come to his assistance. The ball will start with the Prussian 14th Division coming on and every Prussian unit within earshot will march to the sound of the guns.

The French infantry is armed with the superior Chassepot rifle while the Prussian artillery has the dreaded breech loading Krupp guns.

I played Frossard, more or less and our newest member Paul commanded the French 3rd division on our right flank. Bill was overall Prussian commander with Ken playing General von Kameke, CO of the 14th Division.


Ken immediately moved towards our right flank while the guns traded fire. Needless to say, the Krupp guns began silencing the French guns in short order.


The 3rd Division managed to face north

The lead Prussian brigade came on like demons (Ken’s dice were smoking). They stormed through anemic French rifle fire, poured blistering fire into the French (went low on ammo and scored 2 hits) and then destroyed the French brigade in close combat. I presume a lot of prisoners went to the rear. They exploited forward, sending the limbered French artillery and mitrailleuses fleeing ahead of them. They assaulted the remaining brigade of the 3rd Division and were finally repulsed.

The 3rd Division brigade rallied and emptied their rifles into the Prussians, scoring a hit.

2nd Division troops deployed and added their fire, dropping more Prussians. The lead Prussian brigade was now in bad shape, but disruption and rough terrain kept the French from mounting an assault.
Another Prussian division arrived but was slowed by artillery fire from the 1st Division to the south.
About this time I realized that too many cooks spoil the soup. I turned over the 2nd Division and Corps CO Frossard to Paul, leaving the northern flank to him. I looked to the 1st Division on the southern flank. As mentioned above, 1st Division artillery fire briefly delayed troops moving against the Rotherberg.
A few turns later this drew the unwelcome attention of some 48 Krupp guns.

On Paul’s flank, the beat up Prussian brigade rose and streamed to the rear, shedding stragglers as it went. A 5th Division brigade charged a French brigade but was decimated by heavy rifle fire (hot dice again).

The Prussians rallied and came on again, just managed to claw their way up the steep slope but not quite getting into Spicheren village, one of the 5 objectives.
On my flank, a Prussian brigade arrived from the west, threatening my supply dump in Stirling Wendel. I foolishly moved a brigade out to stop the advance of the 40th Prussian regiment. This brigade would serve as target practice for the Krupp guns on the Folsterberg.


The remaining brigade of 3rd Division charged the newly arrived Prussian brigade that replaced the shot up one. Needle gun fire disrupted the French as they closed. A larger brigade in the woods and behind a stream, with fine morale (they rolled high) saw the French defeated with losses and thrown back. Else where fire fights raged.

On the last turn Paul threw an assault against a fairly fresh Prussian brigade on the off chance that they could beat the Prussians enough to exploit and recapture the Rotherberg. The attack got in close and then failed with heavy losses. Since we had been the last through the village of Spicheren, we managed to get a tie.


We played 8 turns in 3 hours and 20 minutes, averaging 25 minutes a turn. French losses were astounding, some 10,000 infantry and 24 guns. The Prussians lost about 5,000 infantry. While we could claim a tie, I’m pretty sure Frossard would pull up stakes and fall back during the night.  Next week we head on to the next battle of Worth with no one having a victor’s re-roll.

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