Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Death ride of the Prussian cavalry

To General Stonewoltz death was inevitable. He had long been an acolyte of Antoine Charles Louis de Lasalle, that famous French Hussar who had reputedly said "Any hussar who is not dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard." He felt the pain of every one of his 43 years. Perhaps today was to be his day, as the Prussian forces edged through the forests of eastern France, the Bavarian division of the army in the lead.

Antoine Lasalle.JPG

The Prussian army had edged forward through the difficult country of eastern France, the thickly wooded ridge lines offering no hope it seemed for any decisive cavalry action for Stonewoltz.

This was yet another of our smaller Franco Prussia encounters, played using Keith's French and my Prussians, all Heroics and Ros figures. The scenario was developed using the scenario cards from the Volley and Bayonet Road to Glory system, and the VnB rules.

The Prussian advanced guard moved forward along the road and heavily wooded ridge, while the French were advancing along the main road to meet the Prussian attack that everyone expected.

The battlefield from the Prussian perspective. The Bavarian division, strengthened with a Prussian Brigade, and the Corps artillery, can be seen taking up position in the middle of the photo, at the edge of the forest central to the main ridge line. French troops advance from the west (top) of the photo. The bulk of the Prussian army was yet to arrive.

Prussian artillery deploys on the left flank in support of the Bavarians seen top right of the photo

The Bavarians

The French right flank advances towards the Bavarians

The French centre having pushed forward, the Prussian centre command arrives, seen in the lower half of the photo, Stonewoltz' cavalry out on the right

The Prussian artillery deployed on the extreme left

The Prussian centre is supported by three artillery batteries of Krupp field guns of the centre command. The remainder of the centre division are deploying, Stonewoltz' cavalry pushing out to the right

General Stonewoltz' cavalry division

Seeing the opportunity presented by two French brigades advancing in the open, and dazzled with visions of glory, Stonewoltz throws his cuirassiers, and Uhlans, against the vulnerable French infantry. The entire cavalry division is sent reeling, destroyed as an effective unit of the battlefield. Stonewoltz slinks back to the main Prussian lines, devastated at his spectacular failure.

The Prussian centre is deployed, and stationary, waiting for the French attack, and the Krupp guns to do their wicked work 

Prussian batteries pour fire into the flank of the French centre

The French commander pushes forward against the Bavarians, attacking a brigade in the woods. The attack is repulsed, and he tries to force the position with firepower

The Prussian right flank arrives. The cavalry division commander pushes his two brigades of cavalry towards the flank to threaten the French infantry

The position after manoeuvre on the Prussian right

The centre and left, with the French continuing to try to pressure the bavarians. However the artillery fire continues mercilessly, causing significant French casualties

The Prussian cavalry coordinate an attack on the French left, the lancers eliminating a supporting artillery battery. They are seen having pivoted onto the rear of the French infantry. The cuirassier were however repulsed, and the supporting infantry brigade eliminated... the telling event was the supporting close range fire from the deadly chassepot rifles of the supporting French infantry stand (four hits in the melee!!!)

The cumulative casualties on the French centre have been telling, and the division tests for exhaustion, going in to morale collapse. The French commander decides that it is time to retire.
This was a fascinating and enjoyable game. Keith modelled the terrain loosely on that for the battle of Thann, 1809. It was unlike anything we had fought over before, and provided a totally new set of challenges. The Bavarians were interesting, and ended up being well placed. They are armed with the Podewils rifled BL musket. The performance of the weapon was well below that of either the Dreyse or the Chassepot, so we opted to use the rifled carbine stats to reflect this. This meant that the Bavarians were firing at shorter ranges. As it turned out, they were well suited to the fight in the forests.

The death ride of the Prussian cavalry was interesting. We are both averse to using cavalry in this way, but I thought I'd give it a try to see how effective they might be. It was actually a lot closer to succeeding than either of us would have predicted. However I may not try that again in a hurry.


  1. Very nice batrep! Got to love a bit of cavalry action

    French Wargame Holidays


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