Sunday 13 October 2019

Jena on Saturday, not quite on the anniversary but close enough......

Yesterday (Saturday) I hosted a refight of the Battle of Jena, 14 October 1806. A couple of the guys at the Durham Wargames Group have plans for a big 1/72nd scale refight of Leipzig next year and wanted to try out the first iteration of a set of rules. So I offered up The Burrow as a location for Jena. I would sort out the terrain while Mike and John would provide the hundreds of 1/72nd scale 1806 Prussians and Frenchies. The game gave me the opportunity to use my 'up cycled' Faller and Volmer HO/OO buildings which work well even with 28mm figures. Anyone not familiar with the annihilation of Prussia in 1806 click here.

Anyway, on to the game. Mike umpired while John the Red, Conrad and Owen were the French and Neil, Liam and myself (for once off the bench and not watching from the touchline) played the vastly outnumbered and outclassed Prussians and Saxons.

Victory for Prussians would be determined by how well or badly they did in comparison to the real battle. The French would loose victory points the more troops they deployed from their massed legions queuing up to get stuck in, e.g. the Reserve Cavalry or the Imperial Guard.

The French plan was I assume to pile on and quickly overwhelm the Prussians and Saxons by pinning attacks in the centre, a steamroller on our right and a flanking move on our left. The Prussians decided to refuse their left flank and move everything as quickly as possible (in practice not vey quickly) to the centre and right flank. A good plan I thought, especially as it was my idea. Of course you know what they say about plans not surviving first contact with the enemy.....

I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of the game, just the high and low lights, but the photos should give an idea of the game progressed.

The Prussian high command clearly not taking things too seriously! (l to r: me, Liam and Neil)
Frederick the Great looks on disapprovingly from the back wall.
The Prussian right wing, behind Viertzehelingen.
Prussian and Saxon grenadiers in reserve
The Prussian left, with the advance guard on the Dornberg holding the villages  of Closewitz and Lutzeroda at the top of the shot.
Suddenly there were thousands of French pouring onto the table in the centre!
Neil began shifting his command towards the right.
More French march onto the table behind Isserstadt, opposite our right flank!
The Prussian advance guard stopped the French and created a bottleneck preventing them from deploying effectively.  This bought us valuable time.
Feeling confident we charged his advancing columns with two regiments of Hussars, forcing the French into square.  Both cavalry regiments were forced to retreat but not before causing mayhem among the closely packed French.
One French column was hit in the flank by our hussars and, unable to form square, was broken.
The valiant defenders of Closewitz are finally ejected after a brave defence.
Another, this time pretty futile, charge by our hussars in the centre. At least the French were being held up and forced into square.
The man French attack against our right flank.
More French appeared in the centre.
French artillery and cavalry advance towards Viezehnheiligen.
A view of the battlefield from the West.
Yet more French and their allies advance in the centre.
The odds were stacked against the Prussians in the centre as they were very thinly spread until Neil could get his troops over to fill the gap.

The French columns crashed into the Prussians who were unable to halt them. The first line of Prussians was pushed back but the second held and was able to pour volleys of musketry into the heads of the French columns.

Conrad looks on as his infantry (Ney) and the Reserve Cavalry Corps join the battle. The French in the centre have finally broken out of their traffic jam and pushed the Prussians back off the Dornberg.
Marshall Ney attempting to roll up the Prussian left.

Murat and the Reserve Cavalry Corps.

A view of the centre from behind the French right.  Lots of manoeuvring going on.

Prussians still holding out on the Dornberg but in danger of being cut off by Ney's advancing corps.
Ney's VI Corps.

Ney's artillery took a back road and the long way round to the battle.
The Prussians flung two regiments of dragoons towards the French, forcing them into square. This act of sacrifice was to buy the Prussians more much needed time.

The ploy worked as one French square was broken!
More bloody French!
Yet again, in an act of yet more sacrifice more suited to the charges of the French cavalry during the opening weeks of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussians charged and forced the Bavarians into square. The cuirassiers seen above were the last survivors of three regiments holding the centre against twice their number of enemy horsemen.
The Prussian right was still holding on. The battery was about to be eliminated but the grenadiers of the reserve were just  to the rear.
The Prussians and Saxons on they left were really up against it and were about to be overwhelmed.
The Prussian reserve grenadier battalions deploy to shore up their right flank.
The table at the end of the game. Mike at the end delivers his verdict.
Based on the victory criteria the Prussians had wrestled a minor victory. None of their divisions had been broken and overall losses were heavy but not crippling. My reserve division of grenadiers had barely seen action and Ruchel had just arrived so there was a small chance the army might have escaped total destruction, although if we'd played  a few more turns the French would surely have overwhelmed the Prussian left and centre. 

Jena is actually a difficult battle to recreate due to the disparity of numbers between the two opposing armies. French command and control was also much better and this was also the French army at its (arguably) best during the entire Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Prussians had no chance of  victory in the traditional sense and it was only by artificially imposing some constraints that it was prevented from being the proverbial walkover by the French.

Anyway, it all worked out really well, and was a great game with super figures, played with the usual good humour and grace. The rules worked fine and in any case are a work in progress, so roll on the next outing in December.

Meanwhile, I have another game planned for this coming Saturday. Not sure what yet but I have several ideas......


  1. Like the look of that a lot. very effective.

  2. Fine looking table, as expected. The headgear suits you though!

  3. These are many figures. I don't like the basing of one figure deep lines, but maybe they were needed for the rules(?). Jena indeed is a difficult battle - to win for the Prussians and Saxons and to recreate, because the landscape is very rough with so many hills etc..
    When I saw the title, I first thought: Oh yes, he now plays that period with his 1806-Prussians.
    It's remarkable to see such a big number of HäT-figures on a table.

    Many thanks for your Report. It was very interesting. You and your friends did a great job winning the battle - and creating very usefull victory conditions!

    1. Thanks. The figures aren't from my collection and if they were I would go for deeper bases, 2 x 2 maybe. An amazing number of HaT figures as well as various others, Zvezda I think, and some Airfix even, and some metals.

  4. Fantastic looking game. I love seeing people get their stuff on the table.

  5. The tables a bit high for that but if I was standing on a chair I ought to be able to get my stuff out on it 😂😂😂😂😂😂

  6. Well done Colin, another tour de force in the Burrow, fantastic! Lovely terrain and armies and very clever victory conditions. When I saw the title I thought "How the Hell do you make that a fair wargame?" Congrats to all concerned and look forward to the next test

  7. Looking good! A very impressive game and some great photos. The buildings look excellent.

    I am rather concerned about the non-period helmets on display at the beginning, but hey, that's a great game.