Friday, March 24, 2017
St. Quentin, January 18-19, 1871
Yesterday evening the Corlears Hook Fencibles played the final game of our Franco-Prussian War campaign using the Bloody Big Battle rules. I conceded the previous
of the Lisaine after a good look at the situation, so the Prussians came into
this game with a free re-roll of any movement, firing or assault dice. As
usual, it wasn’t used. Bill commanded his Prussians aided by Rick and Jay. I
led my tattered French seconded by Ken.
We could get a tie by holding St. Quentin and Gricourt. If we could also have a supply train poised on the road to
Paris we could gain a victory, though just in
game terms. Paris
would still submit a week later. This French offensive was made on the orders of
the desperate government in Paris.
It had very little chance of raising the siege of that city.
I led the 22 Corps with the aim of holding open the
Paris road and maybe even exiting troops and trains
southward towards Paris,
giving Moltke some rough moments before the lights go out. Ken had the 23 Corps
which was tasked with holding the two towns.
I traded some fire with the Prussians on the west edge of the table. I should have started withdrawing right away because Prussian reinforcements from the north soon had me in a bind.
The French infantry north of the river was driven back, though the 22 Corps artillery north of the river was silencing enemy artillery, rolling high without going low on ammo (the .22 shells are low ammo markers).
We played a night turn. The sun came up and revealed numerous Prussians who had arrived overnight.
North of the river, a shot-up brigade of raw troops decided their war was over and they hit the road.
South of the canal/river, my line was giving way. It didn’t look like I’d be able to keep 22 Corps supply train in the current location.
A successful assault would see each Prussian unit lose a base since they could not exit the table, and one hit would remove the cavalry unit.
But the brigadier must have tripped over his scabbard as he ordered the attack (how low can he roll?). It failed and the counterattack was deadly.
Things went pear-shaped north of the river too.
We’d been playing slowly. The Prussians thought they could not prevent a tie. We decided to start the last turn of the game. A series of decent movement rolls saw the French infantry garrison St. Quentin and Gricourt, supported by the remaining artillery. The Prussians decided they couldn't take one in a turn and gave us the tie. And so the campaign ended, with 6 German wins, 3 French wins and 4 ties. We started in January 2016. Our campaign was longer than the actual war but then the actual combatants didn’t only fight on Thursdays.
We played slowly, with a lot of joking. It took about 5 hours to play 9 turns and one night interval. The French lost 12 infantry stands (8 more ran away) of 34, 1 artillery and 3 wagon stands (the other 3 ran away). The Prussians lost 2 infantry stands (of 30) and 3 cavalry (2 more ran away) . The French Army of the North was wrecked, even though they held two objectives at nightfall. It would certainly be time to decamp before the sun came up again.
All agreed that this was a good scenario. It’s proof that you don’t need a table crammed with figures to have a good time. Some days from now I’ll post a final summary of the campaign. Any of the participants are welcome to add their take on the campaign as a whole or the individual battles.
In 1914 we’ll get
back. Just wait.