GdB – 1813 battle of the Katzbach
Once again the campaign maestro that is Paul Nettle organised a superb and fitting end to the Gdb Napoleonic campaign the has been running for our club.
1813 battle of the Katzbach
On June 18th 2015 a group of SAD wargamers met to refight a portion of the 1813 battle of the Katzbach, the final of our big games before the Leipzig re-fight. The 1813 battle was dominated by two things. First, it was a confused meeting engagement between two armies who both thought they were chasing a retreating enemy, and were surprised to find the enemy advancing towards them! Secondly, the weather dominated movement. It had been raining heavily for weeks, and the streams and rivers were swollen and overflowing, sweeping away bridges. Armies marched and counter-marched looking for bridges that would get them to the battlefield. Many units were halted in huge traffic jams over the few bridges.
The battle fought by SAD was the lesser known struggle south of the plateau where the main battle took place. Our struggle was between the Russian Corps commanded by Count Alexandre de Langeron and elements of the French V Corps and IX Corps.
The 2015 re-fight was indeed a confused affair as our troops struggled to get onto the table – and them to find their way over the rivers to the rest of their Division. The town of Schlaupe changed hands several times in fierce street fighting before the Russians captured it; the village of Henersdorf was the subject of numerous assaults, with both sides holding part of the village at the end. Monks Wood was largely ignored, but in the end both sides had a foothold in it. The fiercest fighting was for the high ground between Henersdorf and Hermannsdorf; the fighting was savage and confused, but in the end the French drove off the defending Russians.
It was a very close run thing, but after totting up the Victory Points it ended as a narrow Russian Victory by 6 points to 5.
Defy the Odds
A special note on that one unit in every game that always seems to defy the odds.
On my (Russian) left flank I deployed my 1st Divisions Vanguard brigade – they were spread out between the woods on the left and the small village on the river bank. They consisted of a Jaeger Battalion (2nd Line) occupying the woods in skirmish order, another Jaeger (2nd Line) deployed in the village, and two Line battalions – Alexopol 1st Bn (veteran) centre left and closet to the woods and Smolensk (2nd LIne) 1st Bn centre right nearer the village.
This vanguard faced a small French Light cavalry brigade, which had them in square initially, and a fairly large vanguard infantry brigade – commanded by Steve. Steve quickly advanced to take advantage of his numerical superiority, he threw a light skirmish screen towards the village, and advanced 4 columns and the light cavalry against Alexopol and Smolensk units in the centre which by now had deployed in line to close any gaps up in the line they had been set to hold. Smolensk was fairly quickly in retreat – but Alexopol, with the aid of supporting fire from the Jaegers in the woods, halted one light cavalry charge, and in fierce hand to hand fighting forced the other light cavalry who had managed to close to melee to retreat, not only did they manage this amazing feat they also retained their formation after the melee. Alexopol was then subjected to several assaults (we even had a combined light cav and infantry column attack – as we forgot that was not possible) but turn after turn Alexopol stood firm nothing could get past them.
The eighth turn saw a column and line attack them – which even exhausted as they were Alexopol managed to falter both attacks with their musket fire aided once again by the Jaegers in the woods, but on the very last turn a fresh French column assaulted Alexopol who were only able to bring to bare half their muskets on the charging unit due to the failed charges of the column and line from the previous turn reducing their arcs of fire, this lesser fire power did not halt the column and they came crashing in and managed to force Alexopol from their position – but all was not lost as by this time the remainder of the Divisional brigades had arrived and were there to plug the gap.
Dispatches indicate that Guard status is to be considered for Alexopol fallowing this feat of military prowess.
Thanks to Steve for being such a great sport – as he perceived turn after turn in trying to break Alexopol and never last heart, he suffered multiple bad rolls on the “to charge” home, combined with some rather good rolls on my defensive shooting, aided by the odd casualty from the Jaegers – and then combined with some great melee rolls by me saw this unit defy the odds. Every game as such a unit and it was Alexopol this game.
For reference the table is 14ft by 6ft.