The Battle of Mars-La-Tour / Vionville: 16th August 1870

Following the battle of Borny-Colombey on the 14th of August things were looking increasingly bad for the French. The Prussians had assumed that following this indecisive action the French would withdraw West towards safety. Therefore they issued orders for their units to pursue the French. Meanwhile the French had not in fact withdrawn to safety, instead they had fallen back on to their fortress at Metz. This position provided an illusion of safety but was to prove too easy for the Prussians and their German allies to encircle. So it was that von Rheinbaben and his 5th Prussian Cavalry Division found itself confronting not the rear guard of the retreating French army it had expected, but the whole French army. As the situation developed reinforcements were to arrive for the Prussians and they set themselves the task of closing the road west, to safety.

The purpose of this page is to provide scenario details for the Battle of Mars-La-Tour / Vionville (16th August 1870). The scenario is for use with the adaptation to the excellent Fire and Fury rules for the mid Nineteenth century European wars at Fire and Furia Francese. In addition the Franco Prussian War Rules may be needed.

Two versions of the scenario are playable. Firstly the historical battle, which features some severe restrictions on the activities of the French player to reflect that armies performance at this battle. Secondly a 'What if?' version of the battle which assumes that Bazaine, the French commander, had been more decisive and attempted to force open his passage to the West.

Scale and Notes:

The game is set in 1:300 scale. The French player is the first player of each turn. The game starts with the Prussian 09:00 turn and finishes with the French 21:00 turn. There is no French 09:00 turn or Prussian 21:00 turn. 

Two versions of this battle are playable. Firstly the historical battle and also a 'What if' version. In the first the French do not receive some of the troops listed in their order of battle and receive some severe restrictions on what they may do. In the 'What if' battle more troops are available to them and they do not suffer the restrictions. In this version of the battle though the will have to achieve a lot more. The 'What if' battle assumes that the French higher commanders, or the commander in chief himself, showed more resolve in the situation they found themselves. So rather than fight a defensive battle, as they did in reality, they will attempt to fight there way through the Prussian army to join MacMahon's army to the west. 

Orders of Battle (1:300 scale)

The French Army:

Most formations have 1 in 3 'E' unit commanders. Some of the formations are not allowed any 'E' commanders, while Lapasset's Division get 1 in 2. You may dice for them or allocate them.

II Corps: General Frossard - 1 P.Ldr (dice for 'E' unit commanders)

Corps Artillery: 2 Foot Batteries, 1 Horse Battery

1st Division: General Verge- 1 P Ldr 2nd Division: General Bataille - 1 P.Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 32nd Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 55th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 76th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 77th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 3rd / 12th Chasseurs: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 8th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 23rd Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 66th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 67th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3

Attached Division: General Lapasset - 1 Ldr
(all units need 4,5 or 6 for an 'E' commander)

2nd Cavalry Division: General Valabreque - 1 P.Ldr (no 'E' unit commanders)
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery
  • 14th Chasseurs: 2 / - / - L
  • 84th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 97th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 1st Brigade (4th & 5th Chasseurs): 4 / - / 3
  • 2nd Brigade (5th & 8th Dragoons): 3 / - / 2
3rd Reserve Cavalry Division: General Forton - 1 P.Ldr
(no 'E' unit commanders)
 
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery
  • 1st Brigade (1st & 9th Dragoons): 3 / - / 2
  • 2nd Brigade (7th & 10th Cuirassiers): 3 / 2 / -
 

Imperial Guard Corps: General Bourbaki - 1 Ldr (dice for 'E' unit commanders)

Corps Artillery: 2 Horse Batteries

1st Guard Division: General Deligny - 1 P Ldr 2nd Guard Division: General Picard - 1 Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • Guard Chasseurs: 3  / 2  / - L
  • 1st Garde Voltiguers:  5 / 3 / - I
  • 2nd Garde Voltiguers: 4 / 2 / - I
  • 3rd Garde Voltiguers: 4 / 2 / - I
  • 4th Garde Voltiguers: 4 / 2 / - I
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • Guard Zouave: 3  / 2  / - I
  • 1st Garde Grenadiers:  5 / 3 / - I
  • 2nd Garde Grenadiers: 4 / 2 / - I
  • 3rd Garde Grenadiers: 4 / 2 / - I
Guard Cavalry Division: General Desvaux - 1 P.Ldr  
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Horse Battery
  • 1st Brigade (Guides & Guard Chasseurs): 3 / 2 / -
  • 2nd Brigade (Guard Lancers, Guard Dragoon & 2nd Chasseurs d'Afrique): 5 / 3 / -
  • 3rd Brigade (Guard Cuirassier & Carabiniers): 3 / 2 / -
 

III Corps: Marshal Le Boeuf - 1 P.Ldr (dice for 'E' unit commanders)

 

2nd Division: General Nayral - 1 P.Ldr 4th Division: General Aymard - 1 Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 15th Chasseurs: 2 / - / - L
  • 19th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 41st Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 69th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 90th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 11th Chasseurs: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 44th Ligne Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 60th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 80th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 85th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
3rd Cavalry Division: General de Clerambault - 1 P.Ldr  
  • 1st Brigade(2nd, 3rd & 10th Chasseurs a Cheval): 5 / 4 / 3
  • 2nd Brigade (2nd & 4th Dragoons): 3 / - / 2
  • 3rd Brigade (5th & 8th Dragoons): 3 / - / 2
 

IV Corps: General de Ladmirault - 1 P Ldr (dice for 'E' unit commanders)

Corps Artillery: 2 Foot Batteries, 1 Horse Battery

1st Division: General de Cissey - 1 P Ldr 2nd Division: General Grenier - 1 P Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 20th Chasseurs: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 1st Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 6th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 57th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 73rd Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot Battery, 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 5th Chasseurs: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 13th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 43rd Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 64th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 98th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
4th Cavalry Division: General Legrand - 1 P.Ldr   
  • 1st Brigade (2nd & 7th Hussars): 4 / - / 3
  • 2nd Brigade (3rd & 11th Dragoons): 3 / - / 2
 

VI Corps: Marshal Canrobert - 1 P Ldr (dice for 'E' unit commanders)

Corps Artillery (the collected artillery of all the Corps): 4 Foot Batteries, 1 Horse Battery

Infantry attached to the Corps: 9th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2

1st Division: General Tixier - 1 P Ldr 3rd Division: General Lafont - 1 P Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Mitrailleuse Battery *
  • 9th Chasseurs: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 4th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 10th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 12th Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 100th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 75th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2
  • 91st Ligne Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 93rd Ligne Regt: 3 / - / 2
  • 94th Ligne Regt: 4 / 3 / 2

Notes: All Mitrailleuse batteries noted with a * start the game damaged.

1st Division, VI Corps, 2nd Division and the 3rd Cavalry Division, III Corps are not used in the basic game. They are only used if you are playing the alternative, 'What if', version.

The Prussian Army:

1 in 3 'E' unit commanders, dice for it or allocate them. III Corps has 1 in 2 'E' commanders.

5th Cavalry Division: General von Rheinbaben - 1 P.Ldr

  • 2 Horse Batteries
  • 11th Cavalry Brigade (4th Cuirassier, 19th Dragoon & 13th Uhlans): 4  / 3  / 2
  • 12th Cavalry Brigade (7th Cuirassier & 16th Uhlans): 3 / 2 / - E (see 'Special Rules' below)
  • 13th Cavalry Brigade (11th & 17th Hussars): 3 / - / 2
  • Attached Cavalry Brigade (13th & 16th Dragoons, 10th Hussars): 5 / 4 / 3

 

6th Cavalry Division: Wilhelm of Mecklenburg - Schwerin - 1 Ldr

  • 1 Horse Battery
  • 14th Cavalry Brigade (6th Cuirassier, 3rd & 15th Uhlans): 5  / 4  / 3
  • 15th Cavalry Brigade (3rd & 16th Hussars): 3 / - / 2

 

III Corps: General von Alvensleben - 1 E.Ldr (roll for 'E' unit commanders)

  • Corps Artillery: 2 Foot Batteries, 1 Horse Battery
  • 1 Staff Officer - 1 P.Ldr
5th Division: General von Stulpnagel - 1 Ldr 6th Division: General von Buddenbrock- 1 E.Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 3 Foot batteries
  • 3rd Jager Btn: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 8th Grenadier Regt: 6 / 4 / 2
  • 12th Grenadier Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 48th Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 52nd Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 78th Infantry Regt (2 Btns from X Corps): 4 / 3 / 2
  • Divisional Artillery: 2 Foot batteries.
  • 20th Infantry Regt (2 Btns): 4 / 3 / 2
  • 24th Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 35th Fusilier Regt (plus 1 Btn from 20th Inf. Regt): 9 / 7 / 5
  • 64th Infantry Regt: 7 / 5 / 4

X Corps: General von Voights - 1 Ldr (roll for 'E' unit commanders)

  • Corps Artillery: 2 Foot Batteries, 1 Horse Battery.
  • Colonel Caprivi (Staff Officer) - 1 Ldr (see 'Special Rules' below)
19th Division: General von der Osten-Sacken - 1 Ldr 20th Division: General von Kraatz-Koschlau - 1 E.Ldr
  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot battery
  • 3rd Guard Cavalry Brigade (1st & 2nd Guard Dragoon): 3 / 2 / -
  • 16th Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 57th Infantry Regt: 7 / 5 / 4 
  • 91st Infantry Regt (2 Btns): 5 / 4 / 3
  • Lehman's Infantry (1 Btn from 78th Regt & 1 from 91st): 4 / 3 / 2 E
  • Divisional Artillery: 2 Foot batteries.
  • 10th Jager Btn: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 17th Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 56th Infantry Regt: 7 / 5 / 4
  • 79th Infantry Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 92nd Infantry Regt: 7 / 5 / 4

VII Corps: No commander present

16th Division: General von Barnekow - 1 Ldr

  • Divisional Artillery: 1 Foot battery
  • 40th Fusilier Regt: 6 / 5 / 3
  • 72nd Infantry Regt: 7 / 5 / 4

IX Corps: General von Manstein- 1 Ldr (roll for 'E' unit commanders)

25th (Hesse) Division: Prince Louis of Hesse - 1 Ldr

  • Divisional Artillery: 2 Foot batteries.
  • 1st Hessian Jager Btn: 3 / 2 / - L
  • 1st Hessian Leib Gardes: 5 / 3 / 2
  • 2nd Hessian Infantry Regt: 5 / 4 / 3
  • 11th Grenadier Regt (from 18th Division): 6 / 4 / 2

 

Deployment and Reinforcements:

The French:

Deployed at the start: The French deploy first.

3rd Reserve Cavalry Division: All units must be within 1" of Vionville. Cavalry are outside the town, others may be inside. All units are 'encamped' this counts as March Column / Limbered but with an additional +1 dice roll modifier for fire combat.

II Corps: All units are 'encamped', as above. The 2nd Cavalry Division is deployed to the south west of Rezonville. It must be within 6" of Rezonville and within 1" of the Vionville - Rezonville road. All other components of II Corps maybe deployed anywhere within 6" of Rezonville.

3rd Division, VI Corps: All units are 'encamped', as above, they are deployed in the square G1.

 

Reinforcements (Historical): The following formations arrive during the French phase of a turn.

11:30 2nd Guard Division, Imperial Guard Corps: Arrive at Gravelotte in any desired formation.

12:00 VI Corps Assets, i.e. Corps Commander, Corps Artillery and the 9th Infantry Regt: Arrive along the road at F1

15:00     2nd Division, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

              4th Division, III Corps: Enter the table from the edge of square E1 in any desired formation.

The remainder of the Imperial Guard Corps, minus 2nd Cavalry Brigade & 1 Horse battery: Enter the table from the north edge of square H1 and Gravelotte in March Column / Limbered.

15:30   1st Division, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

16:00  Corps Commander and Corps Artillery, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

18:00 4th Cavalry Division, 2nd Guard Cavalry Brigade & 1 Horse battery: Within 6" of the road in square B1 in any desired formation.

1st Division, VI Corps, 2nd Division and the 3rd Cavalry Division, III Corps are not used in the historical game.

 

Reinforcements (What if): The following formations arrive during the French phase of a turn.

11:30 2nd Guard Division, Imperial Guard Corps: Arrive at Gravelotte in any desired formation.

12:00 VI Corps Assets, i.e. Corps Commander, Corps Artillery and the 9th Infantry Regt: Arrive along the road at F1

12:30 1st Division, VI Corps: From this turn the French player may roll a D10 for the arrival of this Division. A 10 is needed this turn, a 9 or 10 during the 13:00 turn, a 8, 9 or 10 in 13:30, etc. The Prussian player will gain victory points if this option is taken. This Division will arrive along the road at F1 in March Column / Limbered.

15:00     2nd Division, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

              4th Division, III Corps: Enter the table from the edge of square E1 in any desired formation.

             The remainder of the Imperial Guard Corps, minus 2nd Cavalry Brigade & 1 Horse battery: Enter the table from the north edge of square H1 and Gravelotte in March Column / Limbered.

2nd Division, III Corps: From this turn the French player may roll a D10 for the arrival of this Division. A 10 is needed this turn, a 9 or 10 during the 15:30 turn, a 8, 9 or 10 in 16:00, etc. The Prussian player will gain victory points if this option is taken. This Division will enter the table from the edge of square E1 in March Column / Limbered.

15:30   1st Division, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

3rd Cavalry Division, III Corps:  From this turn the French player may roll a D6 for the arrival of this Division. A 6 is needed this turn, a 5 or 6 during the 16:00 turn, a 4, 5 or 6 in 16:30, etc. The Prussian player will gain victory points if this option is taken. This Division will enter the table within 6" of the road in square C1in March Column / Limbered.

16:00  Corps Commander and Corps Artillery, IV Corps: Within 6" of the road in square C1 in any desired formation.

18:00 4th Cavalry Division, 2nd Guard Cavalry Brigade & 1 Horse battery: Within 6" of the road in square B1 in any desired formation.

 

The Prussians:

Deployed at the start: Deploy after the French have deployed.

5th Cavalry Division, minus 12th Cavalry Brigade, and Colonel Caprivi: All units must be within 12" of Tronville. Artillery is deployed unlimbered and may not be any closer than 12" to any French units. Cavalry is deployed in any desired formation and may not be any closer than 19" to any French unit.

Reinforcements:

09:30  6th Cavalry Division: Arrive within 6" of the western road in square G5. One of the units is in any desired formation, all other units are in March Column / Limbered.

10:00  5th Division, III Corps: 

The 12th Grenadiers, 52nd IR, 3rd Jagers and 2 guns arrive within 2" of the western road in square G5. The Jagers are in skirmish formation, one of the infantry units is in any desired formation and the other is in March column.

The 8th grenadiers, 48th IR, 78th IR and 1 gun arrive within 2" of the eastern road in square G5. One of the units is in any desired formation, the others are in March Column.

Von Stulpnagel may enter with either of the two groups.

III Corps Command, III Corps Artillery and 6th Division: Arrive within 3" of the road in square D5, Corps Artillery first. All units are in March Column or Limbered.

10:30  Lehman's Infantry & 91st IR, 19th Division, X Corps: Arrive within 3" of the road in square D5, all units are in March Column.

14:00  X Corps Command, X Corps Artillery and 20th Division: Arrive within 3" of the road in square D5, Corps Artillery first. All units are in March Column or Limbered.

16:00  3rd Guard Cavalry Brigade: Arrive within 3" of the road in A3 in any desired formation.

16:30  The remainder of 19th Division, X Corps: Arrive within 3" of the road in A3 in any desired formation.

16th Division, VII Corps: Arrive within 3" of the western road in square G5 in any desired formation.

17:00  XII Corps: Arrive within 3" of the western road in square G5 in any desired formation.

Terrain:

Each square on the map is 12" by 12"

All towns, villages and woods give a -1 defensive and fire modifier.

All other streams are 1" wide and are fordable by infantry and cavalry units. Artillery may only cross at bridges and where roads cross the stream.

Where a stream and a hill are within 1" of each other, i.e. B1 - D1 and G2 - H5, then a defender receives a -2 close combat modifier. In addition it counts as a 2" wide terrain feature.

The Roman road - the dotted road may not be used for road movement. Its only effect on the game is described in 'Active and Inactive units' below.

Special Rules:

Encamped: All on table French units start the game encamped. This counts as March Column / Limbered but with an additional +1 dice roll modifier for fire combat. Any cavalry units that are fired at are automatically disordered if fired on if 'encamped'. If a 'Lively fire' or better result is obtained on a cavalry unit then that unit must make a full move towards square F1 in its next movement phase. The move must be the maximum possible distance towards the board edge, it may use road movement and is performed by the Prussian player. Any other French cavalry units which are within 6" of this retreat path will also have to make a similar move in this phased. Units do not though have to exit off the table they may stop when they reach the table edge. 

During the first French movement phase all French encamped units that are not effected by the above rule are initially placed into March Column and movement dice roll permitting may change formation or move as normal.

12th Cavalry Brigade: The Prussian 12th Cavalry Brigade is under the command of von Bredow and during this battle it performed its famous 'death ride'. To simulate this the Prussian player may choose not to deploy this unit at the start of the game. Instead it may be deployed anywhere on the table at any time from the 13:00 Prussian phase and in any formation. It must be placed at the start of the Prussian phase and must be within 18" of at least 1 French unit, but may not be closer than 9". It must be deployed on the edge of some cover or at the bottom of a hill, i.e. in a position that it could have 'sneaked' to without being seen.

The turn that it is placed it automatically has a full move and must move into contact with at least 1 French unit. If the units attacked include at least 1 gun or machine gun stand then for that turn only the following rules apply to this brigade and the units attacked. The 12th Cavalry Brigade will count as 'Impetuous' in the initial close combat phase, but not in any breakthrough phase that might follow. All French units contacted in the initial close combat phase will automatically be 'Disordered', if they are not so already. This happens before the defensive fire phase & close combat phase. All fire at the 12th Cavalry Brigade will suffer a -2 dice roll modifier, in addition to any other modifiers that might apply and only the units charged may fire. During the breakthrough phase any French units contacted may fire on the 12th Cavalry Brigade, but at half effect.

The 12th Cavalry Brigade can instead be deployed at any time by the Prussian player. They can be placed in any desired formation in any location that is at least 24" away from any French unit. They must be deployed behind the Prussian lines, i.e. behind the positions of other Prussian units. Deployment in this case would count as their movement for that turn and they would move normally on subsequent turns. This would be used if the Prussian player decides to not deploy this brigade at the beginning of the game, but subsequently decides not to use the above special rules.

Colonel Caprivi: This officer was a staff officer in the Prussian X Corps and was destined to be the German high commander in the future. During the battle he exercised wide powers and particularly in the early stages commanded many units. To simulate this he has been rated as a 'Leader' rather than, as would be normal for staff officer, as a 'Poor Leader'. He may command any artillery from any German formation. In addition he can count as a 'Leader' for any German unit. He has a commander radius of 3" for this purpose and as normal for commanding artillery. He can be used instead of one of the normal commanders in infantry formations and in addition to normal commanders in cavalry formations. This means that no more that two leaders may be counted by any German unit at any one time.

Active and Inactive units (historical battle only): This rule is an attempt to simulate the behaviour of the French army during this battle. In particular the total lack of aggression or coordination of there superior forces. In the historical battle formation are therefore classified as either Active, Semi active or In active and may suffer minuses on the Movement table. Formations may at different times and under different circumstances change from one status to another. Active units function in all ways as normal units. Semi active units suffer a -1 on the movement table and Inactive units suffer a -2 on the movement table. The table below list the status of formations over the battle

 
1st & 2nd Div 2nd Corps
Attach. Div 2nd Corps
2nd Cav Div 2nd Corps
3rd Res Cav Div

6th Corps

2nd Gd Div Imp. Gd. C
Rest of Imp. Gd Corps
4th Div  3rd Corps
1st & 2nd Div 4th Corps
4th Cav Div & 2nd Gd Cav B
09:30 Active Active Inactive Inactive Inactive - - - - -
10:00 Active Active Inactive Inactive Inactive - - - - -
10:30 Active Active Inactive Inactive Inactive - - - - -
11:00 Active Active Inactive Inactive Inactive - - - - -
11:30 Active Active Inactive Inactive Inactive Active - - - -
12:00 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
12:30 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
13:00 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
13:30 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
14:00 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
14:30 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active - - - -
15:00 Semi active Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Active Active -
15:30 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Active Active -
16:00 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active -
16:30 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active -
17:00 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active -
17:30 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active -
18:00 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active Active
18:30 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active Active
19:00 Inactive Active Inactive Inactive Semi active Active Inactive Semi active Semi active Active
19:30 + Inactive Semi active Inactive Inactive Inactive Semi active Inactive Inactive Inactive Semi active
20:30 + Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive Inactive

In addition to the above a number of units may have their activation level changed by circumstances, as detailed below.

6th Corps: If any units of this Corps suffer a defeat in a close combat, 'Hard pressed' or worse, then the whole Corps switches to Inactive for the remainder of the game.

Imperial Guard Corps, except 2nd Guard Division and 2nd Cav Brig: If any Prussian units are within 18" of Gravelotte these units switch to Semi active. If no Prussian units are within 18" of Gravelotte they will switch back to Inactive.

3rd Corps: If any of this formations units are on or south of the Roman road (the dotted road on the map) the entire formation goes to one activation step worse than in the table. i.e. Active to Semi active, Semi active to Inactive

4th Corps: If any of this formations units are west or south of the stream that runs from square B1 trough to D1 the entire formation goes to one activation step worse than in the table. i.e. Active to Semi active, Semi active to Inactive

 

Victory Points:

Historical Battle:

The normal 'Fire and Fury' victory points schedule is used, as modified under the European and 1870 modifications. In addition the following scenario specific victory conditions apply.

For either side:

15 v.p's each for control of Mars la Tour and Gravelotte at the end of the game.

10 v.p's each for control of Vionville and Rezonville at the end of the game.

5 v.p's for control of Flavigny at the end of the game.

+10 v.p's if the player controls Mars la Tour, Vionville and Rezonville at the end of the game

French only:

-10 v.p's if there are any unspent Prussian units within 12" of Gravelotte at the end of the game.

-30 v.p's if there are any unspent Prussian units within Gravelotte at the end of the game.

-1 v.p per turn that any unspent Prussian infantry units are within 12" of Gravelotte.

1 v.p per unit that is exited of the western or southern table edges between squares A3 to G5.

Prussians only:

10 v.p's if there are no unspent French units within 15" of Mars la Tour at the end of the battle.

What if Battle:

The normal 'Fire and Fury' victory points schedule is used, as modified under the European and 1870 modifications. Then the total that the French have scored is halved and the Prussian total is multiplied by 1.5.

In addition the following scenario specific victory conditions apply.

French only:

1 v.p for each unspent, non skirmishing, infantry unit or undamaged artillery that exits the western edge of the table between squares A3 to A5.

1/2 v.p for each other French unit that exits the table between A3 and A5.

20 v.p's if there are no Prussian units within 18" of the road that runs A3 to H1, and passes through Mars la Tour, Vionville, Rezonville and Gravelotte, at the end of the game.

Prussians only:

10 v.p's each for control of Mars la Tour, Vionville, Rezonville and Gravelotte at the end of the game.

+10 v.p's for control of any two of the above at the end of the game.

+20 v.p's for control of any two of the above at the end of the game.

1 v.p for each unspent, non skirmishing, infantry unit or undamaged artillery within 12" of the road that runs A3 to H1, and passes through Mars la Tour, Vionville, Rezonville and Gravelotte, at the end of the game.

5 v.p's per Division if the French player brings on to the table the 1st Division, VI Corps or the 2nd Division, III Corps.

2 v.p's if the French player  brings on to the table the 3rd Cavalry Division, III Corps.

The Historical Battle:

The battle opened with the guns of the Prussian 5th Cavalry Division pouring shells into the unsuspecting troops of the French 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division. It had nearly not happened at all, for Von Rheinbaben was not at all convinced he should attack the entire French army with just his unsupported cavalry division. Yet Colonel Caprivi was on hand and he could see the immense potential that the situation held for the Prussian army. So it was at his insistence that the guns opened fire. The effect was immediate, the surprised French cavalry fled in rout and carried the men of the 2nd French Cavalry Division with them. These two units were to rally in the rear but took little other part in the ensuing battle.

This action had though stirred the hornet's nest and the French infantry swarmed out of their camps towards their opponents. The French II Corps occupied positions around Vionville, Flavigny and eastwards towards Rezonville. It was now that the first of the 'in the nick of time' reinforcements for the Prussians arrived; namely the Prussian 3rd Corps and the 6th Cavalry Division. The 5th Division and the 6th Cavalry Division emerged from the woods south of Flavigny and Rezonville, while the 6th Division and the Corps artillery appeared over the ridge in the area of Tronville. Von Alvensleben, the 3rd corps commander, quickly appreciated the position and could see the opportunity that he had. He resolved to press the French as much as possible. Firstly this would keep them off balance and perhaps to convince them that the Prussians were strong than they were in reality. Secondly although control of Mars la Tour cut the French escape route to the west this was not very secure, therefore he decided to secure and hold Vionville in addition. This set the tone for the whole engagement as the Prussians fought to retain and strength their grip on the vital road to the west for the rest of the day.

Von Alvensleben quickly formed a gun line on the ridge above Vionville and ordered his troops to the attack. In the east the 5th Division met a solid wall of French fire and were unable to make much progress. While 6th Division, covered by the massed Corps artillery, had more luck. In a series of daring attacks they swept the still disorganised French units from Vionville and Flavigny and settled down to try and defend their newly won prizes. The units of the 3rd Corps were now in a thin arc from Vionville through Flavigny and along the ridge south of Rezonville. While the French were deployed in a similar arc around Rezonville facing the Prussians. Both sides were to attempt advances, during the remainder of the day, and different formations came and went but basically this is where the troops stayed as an uneasy stalemate ensued.

Meanwhile ominous dust clouds had been growing on Von Alvensleben's exposed left flank so more timely arriving fresh troops from the 19th Division were dispatched into the woods north of Tronville to provide some sort of flank guard. By this time the French 2nd Guard Division had arrived to reinforce the French at Rezonvllle and elements of the VI Corps had taken station north of Rezonville to bring extra pressure onto the Prussians. If this was not bad enough at about 3 pm fresh French formations arrived. The remainder of the Imperial Guard stationed itself at Gravelotte but played little part in the battle as it contented itself with securing this area. More threateningly parts of the French III and IV Corps advanced from the north and VI Corps finally started to play a more active roll in the battle. The situation looked grim for the Prussians as large numbers of French troops looked poised to smash his weak flank guard and roll the Prussian position up. It was though at this point that the most famous incident of this battle occurred, Von Bredow's 'death ride'.

Von Bredow's brigade had been in reserve during all of the previous events and he was now called on to do what he could with his units in this desperate situation. So having carefully reconnoitred a covered way into position he launched his brigade at the mass of French troops along the old Roman road. Catching the artillery of the French VI Corps completely by surprise he managed to throw the entire French position into confusion. The first line was over thrown but the by now tired troops now faced the wrath of the French supporting troops. They took a  heavy toll and repulsed the Prussian cavalry but the real damage had already been done. These events were enough to shake the advancing French and VI Corps from now on was virtually a spectator at the battle. While the troops of the III and IV Corps pulled back into defensive positions and lapsed into inactivity.

The battle then settled down into a general stalemate as both sides licked their wounds and engaged in long range sniping. The arrival of the Prussian X Corps and other formations was to break this pattern though. For with these extra forces available the Prussians once again moved to the attack. First of all the Prussian 20th Division, later supported by other arriving formations, tried to press on to Rezonville. Each arrival of fresh forces produced a fresh attempt although hey just added to the casualty lists and produced a flurry of activity before the two sides settled back into their positions again. Meanwhile in the northwest the arrival of the bulk of the 19th Division prompted a Prussian attempt to clear the French from their positions guarding the road north from Mars la Tour. The French though were on the high ground behind the bend in the stream. It was a very strong position and the small number of Prussian troop committed to action stood little change.

With darkness approaching it looked like the battle was going to just die out. Skirmishing continued between the various forces and there was a late attempt by the Prussians to advance on Gravelotte but the action was definitely slackening. There was though to be one other, and for this war unusual, action - a cavalry melee. The first Prussian troops on the battlefield had been the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions yet apart from Von Bredow's death ride it had played little part in the fighting so far and had spent the battle in reserve or guarding the Prussian extreme left flank. The arrival of a mixed group of French cavalry in support of III Corps was though to give them a chance to cross sabres with the enemy. The French cavalry were the 4th Cavalry Division and the 2nd Guard Cavalry Brigade. They had like there German counterparts spent most of the day in inactivity and now their advance would be contested by the 11th and attached cavalry brigades of Von Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division. Details of the action are confused but certainly the Prussians seem to have at least held their own. The French cavalry pulled back to their infantry and III Corps, which had been organising for another advance, once again fell into inertia.

So the last major action of the battle died out. Skirmishing continued all along the front but both sides were now to tired to achieve anything. So darkness brought an end to the days fighting. The Prussians had, at great cost, closed the road to the west and safety. Over the next hours more and more Prussian troops would arrive to pin the French army in the Metz region. For the French it had been a day of missed opportunities. They had vastly superior numbers of troops in the area but contrived to totally miss handle them and place themselves in an unenviable position. They seemed content to just remain in position all day and not accept the invitation to destroy the Prussian forces facing them and march west to safety. The day after the battle the French army pulled back to positions nearer Metz and were to fight the battle of Gravelotte / St Privat on the 18th. It was to be many months before the French army was to surrender to the surrounding Prussian forces but perhaps this battle sealed their fate.