Franco-Prussian War Battle 9

My thanks to Tom for the detailed account of this Principles of War encounter which took place in early May 2023

In today’s game the French 1st Corps with Goze’s division from the 5th Corps come up against the Prussian 5th and 6th Corps. The five available objectives for this game are fixed, the two crossroads, the two major hills and the central village. For the game the Prussians allocate 20 points each to objectives 1 and 5, 10 points to objective 3 and 50 points to objective 2. The 5th Division is entering the table on the right hand line of communication with the Corps Commander, corps artillery and 2st Division on the road at the beginning of the game and the 2nd Division following them on to the table on move 1 with dummy bases deploying on table in the following two moves. The orders are for the 1st Division with the Corps Commander to use their superior command control to rush along the road through the woods to take objective 2 before the French. The 2nd Division had orders to advance and take the village (objective 3) then move on to the hill (Objective 4). One dummy blind has orders to move round the French left flank the second blind had orders to move to occupy the hill (objective 1).

The 6th Corps were to deploy on the left hand line of communication with the Corps Commander, Artillery and 11th Division on table with the 12th Division arriving on turn 1 and a dummy blind on turn two. The 11th Corps had orders to advance beyond the road junction (objective 5) and to occupy the woods to protect the left flank. The 12th Division was to follow and deploy to the right of the 11th Division and to demonstrate towards the hill (objective 4). The dummy blind had orders to move round the French right flank to threaten their line of communication. 

The French allocate 30 points each to the hill (objective 4) and road junction (objective 2). The French cavalry division was deployed on table on the left hand line of communication followed by the 3rd and 4th Divisions. The cavalry had orders to move to objective two and then move to the right and hold the position between the two woods. The 3rd Division had orders to move to and hold objective two . The 4th Division had orders to move to the right of the cavalry through to woods to threaten the village (objective 3).

The 1st Division, corps artillery and Corps Commander were deployed on table on the right hand line of communication with the 2nd Division arriving on turn 1 and Goze’s division from 5th Corps arriving on turn two. The 1st Division and corps troops had orders to move to the hill (objective 4 and hold the position) The 2nd Division were to move behind hill 4 and 1st Division were to threaten the village (Objective 3). Goze’s division were to advance through the wood and threaten the road Junction (objective 5).

The Prussians use their Corps Commanders and superior command control to move the 1st Division up the right hand road and into the wood in a race to threaten the crossroads (Objective 2) before the French can get there (but forget to scout the woods first) and the 2nd Division enters the table behind them. On the left hand road the 6th Corps Commander leads to 11th Division up to the half way line and deploys on the edge of the woods protecting the crossroads (objective 5). The 12th Division enters the table behind, moving much slower.

The French Cavalry division move up their left hand road and deploy a brigade of cavalry on the crossroads (objective 2) to hold the Prussians at bay until the 1st Infantry Division, following behind, can deploy. On the right hand road the French 4th Division with Corps Commander and Artillery move towards the hill (Objective 4). The 3rd Division follows them onto the table and moves directly up the road.

In the following moves on the Prussian right the 1st Division tries to deploy in the woods only to discover the woods are impassable and rather than getting caught in road column by the French as they deploy out of the woods they choose to retire back out of the woods to deploy and to then move round the left hand side of the woods to reach their objective. The 2nd Division moved up the road crossing the stream on the road then advance to the village (Objective 3). Over the next few moves the dummy bases arrive on table, one moving to the hill (Objective 1) and the second making a demonstration to move round the woods to threaten the French left flank. Opposing them the French Cavalry move to the right of the wood to hold the position between the two woods to cover while the 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions move up and deploy - the 1st Division to hold the crossroads (Objective 2) while the 2nd Division move to the right of the cavalry to threaten the village (Objective 3).

On the Prussian left the 11th Division’s infantry form assault columns and move into the wood in front of them to cover the crossroads (objective 5) while the Corps Artillery deploys on the right of the wood and engage the French 4th Division as they move over the hill (objective 4). The 12th Division is delayed due to a sequence of poor initiative rolls, the Corps Commander having to move back to use his initiative to bring the division forward and to get the infantry to deploy to the right of the corps Artillery between them and the village (Objective 3). The dummy blind deploys on the far left, threatening to move round the French right to cut their line of communication. On the opposite side the French Corps Artillery slowly deploys on the top of the hill (objective 4) and engage in an artillery duel with the Prussian 6th Corps Artillery until forced to withdraw back behind the crest of the hill. The infantry of the 4th Division move over the crest of the hill and deploy with the 3rd Zouaves and a  Mitrailleuse  battery facing the village (Objective 3) while two other regiments form up facing the Prussian Corps Artillery and the Prussian 12th Division. The 3rd Division follows the 4th moving round the rear of the hill to advance and make demonstrations against the village (objective 3). Goze’s Division on the far right continue to advance towards the woods in front of the crossroads (objective 5). Leaving one regiment behind to counter the threat of the Prussian dummy blind moving round their flank thinking this is Prussian Cavalry. 

As the Game develops the Prussian 1st Division forms a divisional column with artillery support to try and move round the wood to take the crossroads (objective 2) but the French cavalry division hold them up long enough for the 1st French Infantry Division to deploy on the objective and the 2nd Division to form up lining the woods on the right to enfilade the Prussian 1st Division as it advances. This attack is delayed when the commander of the 1st Division is hit. The Prussian dummy blind moves round the right of the woods, is spotted, and the French are happy their left flank is secured. The Prussian 2nd Division form a divisional column and storm out of the village (Objective 3) to attack the 3rd Zuarves and Mitrailleuse battery in front of the hill (objective 4). However, by this time the 3rd French Division had moved round the hill and had formed two regiments along the wood edge flanking the Prussian 2nd Division. The Prussians storm forward and charge the Zouaves and MG’s but are cut to pieces be the fire from the front and flank (taking up to 10 hits per turn). They make several attempts to charge and manage to force the Zouaves back before they themselves were forced to retire back to the village (objective 3).

On the Prussian left the 12 Divisions demonstration to hill (objective 4) is stalled when the French infantry of the 4th Division deploy and the French Artillery is able to move forward again to give supporting fire. Goze’s French Division moves through the woods and reaches the Prussian infantry of the 11th who make an immediate charge in assault columns, suffering heavy casualties on the way in. The game ends as a close range confused melee takes place in the woods.

At the end of the game the Prussians hold Objectives 1, 3 and 5 but fail to take objective 2 so end up with zero objective points and have 80% of their strength remaining giving them 80 points. The French hold both of their objectives (2 & 4) so get 60 objective points. The French had 85% of their strength remaining so have a total of 145 points so a decisive victory for the French.