Wednesday 24 September 2014

Franco-Prussian War Tabletop Teaser Rearguard Action and the last game in the Dickensian garrett!

Conrad came up a couple of weeks ago for the very last ever game in my old games room. Most of my troops were packed up ready for the move but the Franco-Prussian figures were still out following the game earlier that week with Rob. I decided we'd attempt a version of "The rearguard action" tabletop teaser. In this scenario the French had to hold up the Prussian advance until a designated time and then extricate themselves off the central 4 feet of the rear table edge without the Prussians being too close or in a position to interfere with their withdrawal.

The forces were, to the best of my memory, as follows:

French (Me), CinC, Command 8
1st Infantry bde: 1 x Turco, 3 x line, 1 bty, 1 mitrailleuse (Command 8)
2nd Infantry bde: 2 x Zouave, 2 x line, 1 bty (Command 9)
3rd infantry bde: 1 x Marine, 3 x line, 1 bty, 1 mitrailleuse (Command 7)
Reserve artillery: 2 bty (Command 6)
Light cavalry bde: 2 Chasseurs a chevel, 1 Chasseurs d'Afrique, 1 bty (Command 8)
Reserve cavalry div: 4 x Cuirassier, 1 bty (Command 8)

Prussians (Conrad), CinC, Command 9
Advance guard: 1 jager, 3 line, 1 bty (Command 9)
1st inf bde: 6 line, 2 bty (Command 8)
2nd inf bde: 6 line, 2 bty (Command 9)
1st cav bde: 2 dragoon rgts, 1bty (Command 8)
2nd cav bde: 1 hussar, 1 cuirassier, 1 bty (Command 7)
Reserve arty: 4 bty (Command 9)

The French were deployed along the line of hills as can be seen in the picture below. The Seminary in the distance was garrisoned by a battalion of Turcos and the villages in the centre were each held by battalions of Zouaves. We both agreed to try and play the game in the spirit of the actual tactics of 1870, or at least as we understood them. Conrad pushed his advance guard brigade forward between the central village and the seminary on the French right. His artillery caused some damage to the French infantry but not enough to put them out of the battle completely. In true Prussian style his next brigade followed the advance guard straight into action, while their artillery joined the gun line forming on the hills opposite the French positions. The Prussian dragoons covered their left flank while the other brigade did the same on their right, lurking behind a wood out of sight. 
(Above, the French deployed awaiting the Prussian attack. Below, not long after, the Prussian advance guard surges towards the French)

The French reserve infantry and artillery proved very difficult to get moving but the infantry facing the main Prussian thrust were holding their ground (just!) despite being user a hail of artillery fire. The leading Prussian battalions attempted to charge the French; one battalion failed but the other succeeded but was driven off after a furious melee. The battered advance guard brigade was forced back broken.
(Above and below, the Prussian attack on the French right) 
Wave after wave of Prussians assaulted the French lines but fortune wasn't on their side. The Prussian artillery was unable to inflict enough damage on the French to weaken their positioning  as although my units were for the most part disordered, I rolled some useful saves. All the while Conrad's infantry were faltering under the withering effects of close-range chassepot fire to the front and the flank as my left-hand brigade had swung round to enfilade the Prussian assault. A regiment of Cuirassiers added their weight to the combat and although the Cuirassiers were broken, the Prussian brigade was forced to retire.
(Above, the ever expanding Prussian grand battery supports Conrad's ongoing assault, below, on the French-held hilltop)
(Above and below, while the Pussian advance guard and 1st brigade dashed themselves against the French in costly frontal assaults, they did however succeed in pinning the French while the 2nd brigade and the brigade of dragoons were able to move around the French right flank).
Meanwhile, Conrad's last brigade had moved round to the French right flank. Although an assault on the seminary was beaten off they continued round it to threaten the flank of the exposed French centre. The only troops facing the Prussians were the three remaining regiments of cuirassiers. These threw themselves repeatedly against the advancing Prussians but were unable to do anything other than halt them momentarily before being driven from the field.
(Above, the French cuirassiers threw themselves time and time again against the advancing Prussians, but only succeeded slowing them down at the cost of the division being shaken and taking no further part in the battle).

On the other flank my light cavalry foolishly decided to try and drive off the Prussian cavalry facing them. They failed miserably and two fine regiments of Chasseurs a Chevel were broken (ok, by Prussian Cuirassiers), leaving the remainder of the brigade to withdraw powerless to continue.
(Above, another shot of the Prussian advance on the French left, and below, another example of the French cuirassiers vainglorious attempts to to stem the tide and give the infantry time to withdraw.)

Conrad was within a gnat's whisker of conceding but as the last move had seen the removal of the French cavalry I was the one who threw in the towel and admitted defeat. Both my cavalry brigades were broken. My infantry brigades were badly mauled and several battalions were disordered and unable to move. Conrad's surviving infantry brigade was ideally placed to roll up my line supported by his unscathed cavalry  on each flank and his grand battery facing the French centre which was about to turn its attention onto the French infantry that had earlier moved off the hills to enfilade the second Prussian assault. The French would be unable to withdraw off the field unmolested therefore the game was a Prussian victory, albeit a hard fought one.

As the title suggests this was the last game played in my old games room. Normal service will I hope be resumed by the end of October.


  1. Good looking game! Good luck with the new location for gaming!

  2. Thanks guys. My new room is almost completed but I am now concerned about where everything is going to go! There SHOULD be enough easily accessible under the table storage space.................

  3. Just found the blog - fantastic!