Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Battle of Jemappes refought

As I mentioned earlier, today's game was the Battle of Jemappes, originally fought on 6 November 1792.  Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jemappes for a good account of the background to the battle and the battle itself. I used the orders of battle from one of my excellent Via Victis magazines for the game which as it turned out worked rather well.

John the Red and Steve took command of the French, John being Doumouriez and Steve was General Egalité (The Duc de Chartres, the King's cousin). Conrad was the Austrian commander, FML Albert von Saxen-Tecshen supported by Paul as FML Beaulieu). The Austrians were strung out thinly along the whole length of the table not knowing exactly when and where the larger French army would strike. I think Conrad and Paul thought they'd been suckered into playing an unwinnable battle (judging by their faces anyway) but manfully stuck to it and did an amazing job in the end, but more of that later.

As usual, the photos and their captions will hopefully take readers through the course of the battle. We used BP2, and again changed the sequence of play by swapping moving and shooting around, i.e. troops could shoot then move.

The Austrians strung out from west in the foreground to the east and the city of Mons (roughly just in the garden). The French have yet to appear. When they do the Austrians will be in for a surprise.
Austrian defenders of one of the earthworks on the hill in the centre of the table.

A redoubt outside Jemappes garrisoned by a battalion of infantry.
O'Donnell Freikorps deployed on the extreme Austrian right. They were to prove annoying to the French under Steve. 
In turn 1 Doumouriez's troops swarmed onto the table in the south east corner and quickly advanced on the Austrian left flank.
The French were led by two battalions of white-coated regulars.
French cavalry advance menacingly (hahahah!)
Meanwhile Steve's troops arrived on the western table edge, a nasty surprise for the Austrians. The Austrian hussars tried a charge at the French but they formed square, forcing the hussars to recoil.
Then the main French division arrived in the centre, under General Égalité
The Austrians had two units of light infantry hidden in the woods, one of Grenzers, the other Freikorps.
The action seen from the French left/Austrian right.
The regulars begin a fire-fight with the Austrians to their front.
John's artillery deployed but didn't seem to have much effect.
Meanwhile Steve launched three battalions of eager volunteers towards the central redoubt, garrisoned by a battalion of combined grenadiers. Not surprisingly the central battalion of volunteers was repulsed shaken.
Steve's two artillery batteries advanced and were perhaps a little too exposed.
Yep! The artillery was too exposed but thankfully, being Artillerie Volante they were permitted to evade,  which they managed to do, even if one did end up three moves away! Either way a cunning move by Conrad as it put Steve's artillery out of action for most of the game.
A battalion of volunteers escorting the mobile guillotine onto the battlefield. Motivational techniques at their best!
Over on the French left, John had turned the Austrian flank, driving off one battalion and surrounding another!  
The French regulars taking the brunt of the fighting as they swung round behind Paul's troops.
This regular chasseur battalion's most dramatic move was a blunder off the table at the start of the game. 
As the French regulars approached the Austrian earthwork the hussars tried again. Their target was already disordered so even though it formed square it lost the melee and was ridden over. The hussars wisely withdrew as they too were shaken.
Steve's tactic of reconnaissance by cannon! His artillery deployed in front of the redoubt and let loose. Sadly  they weren't very effective and Conrad managed to push a battalion up onto the flank of the artillery. 
Steve's surviving regular battalion charged the earthworks outside Jemappes and after a fierce fight drove the Austrians off.
Meanwhile, the French under Steve had been trying to get rid of the O'Donnel Freikorps that were still being a nuisance in their rear. Eventually, after several turns of shooting at each other over the hedges, a charge by the French drove off the Austrians.
The centre of the battlefield was going to be where the game was won or lost. The Austrians were very unwilling to let loose their cavalry in the centre, allowing the French regulars to get up close to their troops behind the earthworks. The redoubt was also under intense pressure as one of Steve's batteries had unlimbered within canister range and was slowly wearing the defenders down.
Back on the French right the surrounded Austrian battalion was still holding on, as Paul kept throwing ridiculously high break tests.
The French were poised to take Jemappes by this time. The volunteer battalion charged the Austrian infantry to their front but could not break them.  They in turn were broken and the French left wing was forced to retreat, a shattered brigade.
Sadly their artillery battery previously seen in front of the redoubt was destroyed. Game changer!

In the centre still the Austrian cavalry remained immobile while Steve organised his men for an assault.
Finally the surrounded Austrians on the French right were forced to surrender. About blooming time if you ask me. 
John then allowed them to march off the field with the honours of war! Treason cried the Representative of the Committee for Public Safety!
The French right began to regroup having destroyed the Austrians to their front. The latter were broken and forced to retreat.

A wild charge by the French dragoons in the centre hit their Austrian counterparts and beat them! 
The French followed up but in the next round of melee were soundly beaten. The Austrians breathed a huge sigh of relief.


The fighting in the centre hots up.
Then the grenadiers charged the Grenzers holding the earthwork and drove them back. The grenadiers followed up but were hit by Austrian cuirassiers in the rear and with nowhere to run to were captured.
But not before the central Austrian redoubt was finally captured by the French.
The Austrian left and centre had been broken so with half of their brigades out of action the army was forced to withdraw.
A hard fought game but a French victory in the end. The Austrian left and French left had both been broken so the scrum had definitely been turned. French reinforcements had started to arrive so the best the Austrians could hope for was to hold Jemappes in order to withdraw their army. It was a historical result but closer than in the real battle.

My French regulars got their first outing onto the table and didn't do too badly. The volunteers did pretty well despite being launched in suicidal attacks against dug in Austrians, but it all worked. It was actually a very close game and I think the Austrians thought they were on to a no hoper at the start of the game.

We experienced some confusion over the changes between BP1 and BP2 but not to the detriment of the game. An enjoyable day and a great start to the year.

6 comments:

  1. Wow great looking game and sounds like it was great to play as well. Good old Doumouriez.

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  2. Looks great and bloody, beautiful armies...and congrats to the French!

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  3. Great looking game and I thought the Austrians might just hold out for a draw.

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  4. Lovely looking game and seems to have played well for you. Maybe you could combine the mobile guillotine with those nuisance flocks of sheep and also feed the troops?

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  5. Great looking game, Vive la Republique! (Yeah, my French is probably wrong)

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  6. Fine looking game! You chaps make me tired just following the game though!

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