Battle Report: 30th September 2001
Later French ~vs~ Prussian
(Robert Avery & Carlo Anziano ~vs~ Steve Austin & Dave Hathaway)
One complete Corps: comprising a Division of Legion Etrangere; two Algerian Divisions; one Cavalry Division; and the Corps Artillery.
One complete Corps: comprising one Barvarian, one Prussian, and one Hessian Infantry Divisions; a Cavalry Division; and the Corps artillery.
An encounter battle fought as a Prussian Corps marched towards a ridge overlooking a town that a French Corps were investing.
The French 1st Brigade of the 1st Division advanced rapidly through the town and managed to gain a foothold on one end of the ridge that the Prussians were flooding with their entire 1st Division.
Unfortunately, French reinforcements were then held up and, for a time, the French fielded only one brigade against a division and a half of Prussians, the latter having managed to deploy half of the 2nd (Prussian) Division. Initially successful, the French were gradually pushed backwards off the ridge.
As French reinforcements finally arrived, a “devil’s cauldron” developed at the bottom (French) side of the ridge: as an area of ground overlooked on all sides became the focus of both French and Prussian attacks. Brigade after brigade was thrown into this melting pot, which rapidly became a confused and crowded situation. The Prussian 2nd (Prussian) Division was taking the brunt of the French attacks, and began to soften but, before the French could deliver a hammer blow to finish it, was reinforced by Barvarian troops, freed up by the retreat of the French initial attack.
Up until now, the French had managed to keep the Prussians from properly deploying their artillery but, as the French in the “devil’s cauldron” consolidated, the ridge top was lined with Prussian guns! Not only this, but French 3rd Division reinforcements were forced to delay their advance towards their 1st Division comrades as large numbers of Prussian cavalry appeared on their flank.
Meanwhile, the French 2nd Division had arrived on the left of the battlefield, opposed to the now arriving Hessian Division of the Prussians. Both sides formed rough lines, with the Hessians advancing towards the waiting French, who made good use of their time by deploying their Corps and 2nd Division Artillery.
A firefight developed to the advantage of the French: longer ranged Chassepots stationary verses advancing Needle Guns, supported by large amounts of artillery. It looked as though, in this sector of the field, the French could hold the Prussians…maybe even turn them back.
It was not, however, to be. Earlier in the battle, the French lancers had charged Prussian Chevaux Legeres off their position in the centre of the ridge. For a time, the Lancers roamed around in the centre of the Prussian position: causing the Prussians to further delay their deployment forwards but not really doing much damage. As the Prussians brought up their overwhelming numbers, the French lancers were gradually forced backwards until they had a choice of either retreating or charging newly advancing Prussians.
Naturally, the French charged. One regiment almost made contact with a Prussian infantry battalion, but ended up routing back down the ridge: causing some consternation amongst the French 2nd Division infantry. The other regiment attempted to mix it with the Prussian Hussars: but was likewise routed, and further shook the 2nd Division infantry.
The defeat of the French Lancers had opened a slight gap in the centre of the French line, between the 1st and 2nd Divisions, into which some more Prussian cavalry began to stream. The French Cuirassiers were thrown against them, but to no avail.
With their battered 1st Division threatened by two regiments of Prussian artillery; their 2nd Division compromised on a flank by Prussian cavalry; and their 3rd Division still some way from playing a significant role, the French had no option but to retreat.
A victory for the Prussians.
The French plan was to hit the Prussians hard and fast in an attempt to stop them gaining the ridge commanding the battlefield and to stop them properly deploying their superior numbers and, especially, their superior artillery.
Although initially meeting with some success, the French could never concentrate enough men to crack the Prussian line and, as the battle went on and more Prussian troops kept appearing, both French commanders felt much as their historical counterparts must have: a Canute-like feeling of trying to hold back a tide of Prussians with only a paper army to do it with.
An excellent battle.