Wednesday 22 April 2020

FRW Campaign: battle continues Turns 5 to 12

Over the past few days (more like four I recollect) I’ve been playing more turns of the campaign battle first recorded here between a strong Revolutionary French Division of Gen. Pichegru against the Emigre corps of Conde, who had been caught on the back foot by the sudden advance of Pichegru, as well as the overextended nature of the Coalition forces under Colberg, allowing Conde to perhaps be picked off before the Austrians could come to his support. By turn 5 things were going badly for the Emigres but they were hanging on, grimly awaiting the completion of the Austrian pontoon bridges and the arrival of reinforcements under Clerfeyt from the North.

The Uhlans Britannique charge a French column. 
Emigre and Republican cavalry clash
Over the course of the next few turns Conde’s cavalry over on his right wing had been driven from the field by superior numbers of enemy cavalry supported by plenty of horse artillery. A full-blooded assault by Pichegru’s two infantry brigades succeeded in breaking into the town, but not for long as they were forced out again a turn or two later, with one battalion of ‘les blanks’ actually breaking after taking a devastating volley from the Mirabeau Legion grenadiers. The brigade survived a faltering brigade test but was too badly knocked about to do much more with the exception of the skirmishers and a battery of artillery that was firing at the Austrians as they built their bridge.
Mirabeau Grenadiers charge 'les blancs'. In a shock result the grenadiers would break them shortly afterwards.
KundK IR 4 Deutschmeister crosses the bridge under fire.
Regulars fleeing in the face of the Emigres. 
Another French assault from the second brigade overran a battery of Emigre cannon and routed a battalion of Emigre infantry, but not without loosing a battalion in the process when it was charged and ridden down by the Uhlans Britaniique before it could form square. This brigade too shrugged off the faltering test and continued.
French cavalry swing into the centre.

The battered brigade of former soldiers of the former king rallies after faltering.
The Republicans about to launch what was to be a failed assault on the town.. Conde and his entourage and band look on.

The ‘spare’ cavalry from the French left close in on the Emigre line, crossing the road from Courtrai to Menin.
While this was going on more French cavalry were approaching the road. Several charges and counter charges by Emigre cavalry slowed the enemy cavalry down but eventually weight of numbers forced the survivors of the brigade to retreat off the table.
A birds eye view of the Emigre right. One regiment is in square , under fire from skirmishers and artillery. Another unit is lurking bottom left, supported by a company of artillery.
Disaster for the Austrians as their troops crossing the bridge go hesitant.
The artillery seen here are lobbing shot and shell in the direction of the bridges and the hesitating Austrians, causing a great deal of damage. The Austrians deployed their artillery on the other bank to try and silence the French cannon.
The Austrian battalion seen here has just been charged by French cavalry while in column of march having become hesitant. They failed their discipline test miserably and retreated, many of them drowning in the river, as that’s where the move took them. The unit in black are actually in the town.
The Austrians meanwhile had confirmed their intentions with me and started crossing the river, but it was a couple turns before they were across onto the western bank in any strength thanks to becoming hesitant half way across. One battalion was charged by French cavalry while it was still in march column. The Austrians failed their discipline test and were forced to retreat. This took them into the impassable river so they were out of the game. The entire brigade then failed a faltering test and retreated back over the river where they failed a second test and retreated further! Of their commander Kinsky nothing was to be seen throughout the entire engagement.

Pichegru had left a brigade watching Ypres but they marched to the sound of the guns, arriving just as it was all over.
Clerfeyt had ordered his leading brigade to advance unsupported against enemy cavalry and artillery!
The empty space is where a battalion of Hungarians had stood until  they were shattered by artillery fire and dispersed.
These Austrians manage to form square and the French bounce.
The Uhlans Anachronistic charged the Austrian artillery. I gave them a chance to evade , which they managed successfully.
By now the only Emigre troops still in the fight were the Mirabeau Legion who were in the town. All the other troops had broken or retreated off the table, abandoning all their cannon. At this point Clerfeyt was due to arrive so I emailed the person playing Clerfeyt and asked of really wanted to advance onto the table with no cavalry support when facing six regiments of French cavalry and by now three companies of artillery. Clerfeyt’s cavalry had been sent off by Colberg to cover the army’s flank and rear as it moved through Courtrai so wouldn’t be available for some hours by the time a messenger found them and got them to return. Had they not been diverted they would have arrived perhaps two or three turns earlier in time to offer some support to the infantry trailing behind them. Nevertheless, Clerfeyt ordered his leading brigade of five battalions plus a battalion of Freikorps and a company of 6pdrs to advance a l’outrance. This they did at least try. Unsupported they were quickly dealt with by a combination of cavalry and artillery that destroyed three battalions caught in line and forced the rest to flee having failed a Sauve Qui Piet test!
emigres grimly holding on in the town.
Conde (in blue on foot next to the lady on the horse) and his staff sheltering in the town which is under  an assault from two sides by the French.
Chaos on the bridges! The brigade had to take a faltering test when one of its battalions had to retreat into the impassable river and thus disperse. Separately the Hungarian battalion had previously  failed a discipline test after being hammered by the French artillery and was forced to retreat. Meanwhile the brigade failed the faltering test and was forced to retreat, remaining faltering.

Two French ADCs had been giving the ‘bridge’ artillery company artillery assault orders before the guns were forced to retire following a bad discipline test result.
In campaign time it was by now 5.30pm. The village was stormed and taken in a bloody combat with the last remaining emigre battalions. Conde had been sheltering in the village and only just escaped death or capture (then death), spirited away by his staff while his men fought to the last to ensure his escape. Emigre resistance crumbled and with both the Austrian reinforcement attempts unceremoniously bundled back the way they came the battle ended on turn 12.
Vast open spaces on the battlefield as the fighting had polarised around the town and the  Austrians arriving from the North.
Grun Lauden Friekorps on their first outing break after being charged by the French cavalry. They failed to form square then were ridden down and scattered to the four winds.
The unformed and badly shot up and hesitant Hungarian battalion was then also ridden down by the French.

The French Republican troops break into the town.
The last defenders, the remains of the Mirabeau Legion, are broken as they reached their dispersal point.
The French will stop anyone getting away from the village if they can swing round to the North in time.
Pichegru had pulled off a decisive victory, effectively defeating forces on paper four times greater than his own. Auerstadt 13 years early perhaps? Very luckily for Pichegru the Coalition forces had been the victims of simple bad luck and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as Pichegru leapt perhaps rashly at the chance of attacking the greatly outnumbered Emigres not knowing they were unsupported and would remain so for a good half a dozen turns. As it was the Emigre troops fought well, especially the Mirabeau Legion and the Uhlans Britannique.

The ignominy of hundreds of fleeing Austrians and Emigres.
French cavalry reforming on the road.
French horse artillery, including this company, had played havoc with Clerfeyts command
.......and like this
......and this 8pdr company.
The end of the game. A complete French victory.
Losses in the battle were high for both armies. In GdA casualties represent losses both physical and moral, so in this campaign I’ve allowed a potentially quite generous level of recovery, dependent on a number of factors such as, who retained possession of the battlefield, how were losses actually inflicted (eg fatigue casualties, losses during retreats, or being on the wrong end of a few good volleys) and the quality and type of each unit. With me doing all the bookkeeping it’s no big deal keeping track, especially under the current Great Confinement. As usual some really dreadful dice scores contributed to the Coalition’s defeat, but I have to say I quite enjoyed playing out this game solo’ish making use of email to update the players each turn or so.

In other news the Duke of Cambridge, a prisoner since his capture at Hondschoote, drank his hosts under the table on the night of the 5th  and escaped. A great example of the non-curriculum based learning achieved at Eton! 😜 Gen Houchard has only just sent a messenger to Carnot at the Directory telling him of the Duke’s capture. Oh well, perhaps the messenger will be delayed or even caught up with by another messenger with an edited version of the despatch?  It seems now that most of the commands involved in this command have taken a bit of a pasting in battle and may need time to recover their losses (if they have any sense they will).


  1. Outstanding campaign and beautiful looking armies and table.

  2. It seems the Die Gods did not favour the Emigres! A great campaign and lovely looking game as always.

  3. Great looking game and absorbing campaign just what is needed during lockdown 👍

  4. Another splendid looking game as is only to be expected. I've enjoyed these offerings as I cannot manage much motivation for solo games myself.

  5. As always, a most entertaining AAR and a feast for the eyes too! Vive le Republic!

  6. The Uhlans Britannique are lovely Colin. The period was wonderful for unusual units and 'different' uniforms and it looks great on the table, well done.

  7. Splendid stuff Colin...
    It’s nice to se the Republic showing its teeth...

    All the best. Aly