Winter 1807 “Campaign in a Day”: Deadly Dance at Danzig
Daniel Burkley (General Golitsyn, Russian 4th Division)
“The Plan” - Figure 1 describes the mapboard, “known” positions of friendly and enemy forces, and blown bridges. Green arrows represented entry options for the Russians. After describing our situation to the best of his abilities, our newly appointed C-in-C, Count Bennigsen, openly solicited opinions as to what “the Plan” should be.
After careful consideration, I recommended a northern strategy to draw the French north, forcing them to least garrisons and flank guards, such that their forces would be weaker when it came to an engagement.
The line of woods along the A3-D3 column of tables looked like a great place for the Allies to establish a defensive line for the French to flail themselves against, while two Russian divisions swept north to establish contact with Konigsberg, find L’Estocq’s Prussian Corps, relieve the siege of Danzig, and form the western anchor of the defensive battleline.
The Count was thinking along the same lines, and the final proposed plan looked like this:
I found it to be an impressive strategic plan… for now.
As with implementing most plans, things are not always what they seem. Our forces were not as large as we were planning to go to war with. The Russian 14th Division apparently “withdrew”, as did the Russian 7th Division and Cossacks. This prompted the Count to improvise “the Plan”:
I was now given the “critical” flank march assignment. So we dutifully received our marching orders and off to war we went.
“Objects may appear larger…” – I expected to start on a table all by myself. I found myself on Table K with General Osten-Sacken (Russ), and L’Estocq’s Prussian Corps (Mark) directly in front of me, occupying the very road I was ordered to march upon. After acquainting ourselves with the reality of how much of the map was actually represented on the table, a French light cavalry brigade showed up on the southern deployment zone. “Maybe it’s the snow…” I said to myself, as all of us never expected to see French on Table K.
Osten-Sacken quickly responded to the French presence, as he was closest. The French disappeared into the southern snows, and Osten-Sacken took off on the road to Table E. The Prussians split their forces and left on two western roads. I followed the larger Prussian column, but all of them led to Table M.
On Table M, I took the northern road to the west, while the Prussians recombined their two columns into one again and took the southern road to the west. Both led to Table D, where we found Osten-Sacken (Russ) starting to advance on Bernadotte’s (John) 1st Corps. [editor's note - although his name tag said John, this was actually Mike!]
L’Estocq (Mark) and Golitsyn (Daniel) deployed on our deployment zones while Russ finished his turn, and we waited as John took his turn as the French. I brought a French/Russian turn marker to
help us keep track of the turns.
The French were deployed in a tight arc, but it was apparent that with three forces advancing from three roads, the French line could be flanked from north and south. Russ used half his cavalry to
outflank John’s force from the south (followed by some infantry and a battery), and I used a cavalry brigade, followed by two infantry brigades, to flank the French from the north. The Prussians (Mark) initially started to deploy, but turned around and withdrew, explaining that there was sufficient forces to defeat the French, while he attempted to slip past French forces to relieve the Prussian garrison at Graudenz.
Mark’s assessment was correct, if surprising to us, as Russ and I set our minds to defeating the outnumbered French. John was relatively new to the game, and we offered tactical pointers as well as explained the rules. John’s defense was competent, and his heavy cavalry did good service, but the French light cavalry were abused by Osten-Sacken’s heavy cavalry. As John’s flanks were turned at both ends and John responded as best he could, the southern Russian flanking force saw the snows part to reveal Soult’s IV Corps at the southern deployment zone, anxious to relieve Bernadotte.
At this point a significant event took place: John finally won an Initiative Roll, but this turned out to be bad timing, as Soult arrived at the deployment zone during the Russian turn, and could not enter until the next full Russian turn. Had the Russians won Initiative, Soult would have entered during John’s half of the turn – but now he couldn’t move until after the next Initiative Roll.
Russ wasted no time responding to the new French threat – but had plenty left to pressure Bernadotte, but as Soult waited, more French forces entered the deployment zone.
Golitsyn’s (Daniel) force was now fully deployed and took over most of the attack. The French heavy cavalry ran down a battery and succeeded in returning to their own lines, but the infantry were worn down by the Russian infantry (while the Russian artillery tended to overshoot the French positions). The French infantry collapsed in two places, exposing the rest of their compromised line. Golitsyn rushed in with everything he had, gaining flank and rear attacks, eventually surrounding Bernadotte. Golitsyn sent a brigade over to contact the Danzig garrison and formally relieve the siege.
While Bernadotte’s line contracted, Soult advanced on the blocking force Osten-Sacken assembled to stop his advance. The French light cavalry attacked first, but were held to a standstill, and then repulsed. The Russian heavy cavalry counter-attacked, driving off the first French force encountered and diving into the French ranks. Fresh French cavalry attacked, but were checked. As the French cavalry withdrew, French artillery did by fire what could not be done by melee, and the Russian spoiling attack was finally smashed.
But the outnumbered Russian “roadblock” accomplished its mission. Bernadotte’s command was disintegrating with no hope of remaining intact by the time any help could reach Marienberg.
Lannes’ cavalry attacked with reckless abandon, but were successful in defeating some of Osten-Sacken’s artillery. They were less successful against L’Estocq’s Prussians, who returned from their mission to assist the Russians and threaten Lannes’ northern flank.
Murat’s cavalry attacked Osten-Sacken’s remaining cavalry with mixed results, but the Russians that held firm were now outflanked, as Soult’s leading columns of infantry were finally advancing north, having driven off the Russian spoiling attack. Sacken tried to rally his valiant, but abused troops.
Golitsyn’s 4th Russian Division completed the elimination of the French I Corps, capturing Bernadotte (who muttered that he never liked his employer, anyway, as he shared a plate of cold Swedish meatballs with his host). Golitsyn collected 11 trophies in the victory, and now started to reinforce Osten-Sacken’s new battleline against their new foes, for Lannes V Corps and the French Reserve Cavalry now advanced to the outskirts of Marianberg.
Golitsyn’s Division now moved to fill in the gaps in Osten-Sacken’s line that faced Lannes’ V Corps, rallying what was left of Sacken’s artillery. A solid line of Russians was established from Marianberg to the woods held by the Prussians. The town was secured and three regiments of Russian infantry were west of Marianberg, but three other damaged Russian units were still exposed to the advancing French.
Just as L’Estocq (Mark), Osten-Sacken (Russ), and Golitsyn (Daniel) were assessing their
positions against Lannes, Murat, Soult, and now the Imperial Guard, another command was starting to emerge through the snows – but this time it was the Russian 7th Division [ed note - this was actually Osterman-Tolstoi's 2nd Division, played by Karl] , assembling in the deployment zone south of Lannes’ V Corps. Plenty of French were available to turn and face this threat, but it brought a balance to the total forces engaged.
20 turns had passed since the start of the game, and now the skies had darkened. Another
turn or two of combat would not alter the conflict significantly. Besides the new Russian command entering the table, L’Estocq and Golitsyn’s commands were at or near full strength and in top shape. Osten-Sacken’s command was battered with three units in trouble, but about half the command was in good shape. Lannes command, Murat’s cavalry, and the Imperial Guard were in great shape, as was most of Soult’s Corp.
So “the Plan” worked – maybe not exactly as scripted, but it worked more than it didn’t. Bennigsen would have the rare pleasure of reporting to the Tsar of his strategic victory over the Corsican Ogre, and please his highness with many tales of valor and display wagons of Trophies to lay before him. There was at least an even chance of having a meal named after him – maybe “Beef Bennigsen”… [more likely "Borscht Bennigsen" - ed].
Winter 1807 “Campaign in a Day”: The Hammer of Heilsberg
Karl (General Osterman-Tolstoi, Russian 2nd Division)
I received my orders from Count Bennigsen, and despite the fact that he is a Hanoverian by birth rather than a true Russian, did as I was directed and marched Westward on Table R to Shippenbiel, From there my orders required me to continue marching West with my Division, which had an exceptionally strong artillery contingent. Count Bennigsen himself along with his Guard troops were following mine down the same road. I entered the West North road/ Deployment Zone(DZ) of table and noticed French Cavalry in the South west road/DZ. While we were surprised by this development, the Court seemed unperturbed, and advised that we continue with the plan of operations as set forth in my orders.
French Light Cavalry, which we would later learn were part of Ney's command, appeared suddenly at the road exit that General Tuchkov's Division was approaching. After seeing at least three Russians Divisions swarming over the roads of Table R, they hastily withdrew!
I then moved to the new table (Table H) and entered the North east road/DZ. There I spotted Ney’s Corp at Heilsberg deployed for battle. This was a lot further north than our intelligence had suggested would be the case. Lazy Cossacks! . At the same time that my own 2nd Division arrived, our 5th Division under General Tuchkov (Brian) also arrived, in his case via the East road/DZ. Despite facing two of our Divisions, Marechal Ney decided to stay put, and contest Heilsberg vigorously.
Both of our Russian Divisions deployed for battle.
The Guard and CiC arrived behind my Division and also deployed. The French cavalry performed a series of largely successful; charges, crippling my own mounted troops. I attacked Ney and did some damage but his luck was good to start with and rolled off a lot of morale checks.
The Guard and CiC arrived behind my Division and also deployed. The French cavalry performed a series of largely successful; charges, crippling my own mounted troops. I attacked Ney and did some damage but his luck was good to start with and rolled off a lot of morale checks.
But in time his luck changed, and the weight of our numbers, especially the eight batteries we mustered between us, began to tell. His units started to be destroyed. He did finally break off the fight, but only escaped with 2 cavalry units and 1 infantry unit. All his artillery were lost, strewn across the hillside East of Heilsberg.
As the French resistance crumbled at last, I received new orders from Count Bennigsen, who was still there in person, and marched onward to join our forces at Marienberg, stopping briefly to rally and reorganize my brave soldiers.
The DIvision marched through Elditten (Table E) unopposed, and from thence proceeded onward towards Marienburg, near Danzig (Table D), via the D2 DZ. Before I could actively join in the great battle there, the dusk of the short February days began to fall.
Osterman-Tolstoi's 2nd Division can be seen entering in the Deployment Zone in the upper left corner of the picture.
At this point, the Gaming was over. Overall I had a good time. I hope this kind of event happens more often.
Winter 1807 “Campaign in a Day”: Good Hill Hunting
Brian (General Tuchkov, Russian 5th Division)
My orders were to proceed through Raspensburg and Heilsberg to the area between Bischofsburg and Bischofstein, there to defend against French forces which would be marching from the west.
General Osterman-Tolstoi's 2nd Division has already exited to Heilsberg (Table H); Bennigsen and the Guard, which were taking the same route, are seen here on Table R awaiting their turn (alongside ruler). Tuchkov's 5th Division (lower right) is also in the process of deploying onto Table H (lower right). Finally, Sedmoratsky' 6th Division is seen in the upper right; hos cavalry have already made the turn-of towards Bischofstein, and his infantry will soon follow.
The transit through Raspensburg was uneventful, but upon arriving in the vicinity of Heilsberg, we found that Ney was already there. This was disconcerting, because if Ney was there, how many French corps might have already passed on the way to Danzig? This called for an immediate attack!
Tuchkov deploys his 5th Division; the 2nd Division is already on the move as well.
I deployed my troops as quickly as possible and prepared to attack the French strongpoint, a hill just north of Heilsberg. Another Russian division, the 2nd, arrived from the North East and also engaged the enemy.
Osterman-Tolstoi's troops are to the right, with Bennigsen and the Russian Imperial Guard behind him, Tuchkov's 5th Division is maneuvering in the left center, whilst Ney's men are on and around the hill in the middle of the picture.
I sent 4 Brigades towards the hill, and two Brigades plus my cavalry sweeping east and then south, along with the foot artillery. The horse artillery was positioned on another hill just north of the main French position, and began shelling the French, causing them some casualties. Then my first corps advanced up the hill.
Ney ponders his defense, facing 2 Russian Divisions, plus their Guard!
The French had two infantry divisions on the hill, plus two artillery batteries. The withering fire from my advancing infantry totally shattered the enemy division in the center, and they fled in terror. Then my soldiers advanced on the remaining division and, from the enemy’s flank, on their artillery. The enemy withdrew in disorder, and their artillery fell before my troops. All of their cannon were captured.
With the loss of this hill, the enemy could not hope to stand against us, and fled the field. Unfortunately, I could not adequately pursue them, due to the very poor performance of my cavalry. They were engaged by the enemy cavalry, and fell apart in the most disgraceful manner. Believing as I do that there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers, I subsequently apprehended the commanders of these two cavalry divisions and had them shot.
Then, in accordance with my commander’s new instructions, I tried to pursue the enemy across table A through Allenstein, and came upon them near Jankovo on Table J, but nightfall prevented any meaningful combat.
A-hunting we will go, across the Polish snow! Tuchkov following behind Ney across Table A and through Allenstein.
-Tuchkov, General, Russian Army.
A great big “Thank you” to James and Peter. The event was very well organized, and my son and I are looking forward to the next time.
Winter 1807 “Campaign in a Day”: Preussische Gloria
Mark T (General L'Estocq, Prussian Corps)
End of January into February, 1807 ...
General L’Estocq stood with his Chief of Staff, Von Scharnhorst, along side the dining room table of a Prussian mansion outside of Friedland as the mid winter weather was bringing a bit of fresh snow and cold temperatures to the Prussian countryside.
“General L’Estocq, Bennigsen has been on the move with the Russian army, apparently for the last 2 or 3 weeks, and coming North to help us relieve our garrisons at Danzig and Gandsk. Two Divisions of his army are poised to our east, and there are additional Divisions moving westward and to the south of our position. Some of Ney’s cavalry has chased our light cavalry from Scippenbeil, and I am hoping the Russians can catch him off guard before any additional French forces can reinforce his overly advanced position in Heilsberg. Meanwhile, another French corp led by Bernadotte is somewhere just south of Danzig, and our garrison there seems to still be holding out, as is the garrison at Gandsk.”
General L’Estocq didn’t take much time to ponder, “Well then, we must move into action! Accompany these Russian Divisions towards Danzig, and see if our actions can eventually reach towards Gandsk as well. Let’s get the light cavalry, Plotz’s brigade, and the medium artillery headed through Zinlen, and screen the rest of our army that will travel along this road here”, the General’s finger traced the planned line of march across the map of the Prussian territory.
“General, I’ll see to it immediately”
Mark (General L'Estocq) making his starting deployment near Friedland. The church tower at the lower right belongs to Pr. Eylau.
A couple of days later and near Mehlsack, east of Danzig…
General L’Estocq and Von Scharnhorst sat side by side on their horses, the breaths’ from their mounts nostril’s trailing off into the icy chill of another winter’s day.
“It appears, General, that Bernadotte is putting up a fight versus both of the Russian Divisions who are leading the attack on Marienburg, and it looks like twice as many Russians versus the French. However, over there on the horizon, there are quite a bit of French cavalry. Perhaps all of Murat’s Corps may be making their appearance as well.
“Yes, it does seem that what you say is the case. Perhaps there is a way to get our forces heading into Guttstadt, and then outflank them.”
“Or perhaps protect these two Russian Divisions flank if we encounter any additional French forces out that way as well.”
“True, a move as intended might serve either of two purposes. And if we are fotunate, perhaps, as the King has commanded, put ourselves in a spot where we might bring relief to Gandsk. Let’s get the army turned around and moving in that direction.”
Later that day and north of Guttstadt …
“General L’Estocq, as you can see, it would seem there is another French Corps. Their unfurled flags seen through this lightly falling snow seem to indicate that they are aligned across the front of Guttstadt, and prepared to give us a fight, if we want one. Yet I doubt Von Kall’s cavalry along with Von Rembrow’s and Von Diericke’s brigades can overcome what seems to be a superior force. We would need Plosk and the light cavalry as well, yet even that probably won’t be enough to dislodge them. Even if we were some how successful, I suspect that we’d take too many casualties to relieve Gandsk. Meanwhile, a loss now would not only weaken us significantly, it could give these French a spot to threaten the Russian divisions at Marienburg as well.”
“I agree Von Scharnhorst. It is time for us to set a defensive line further back at Melhsack, which seems to be a good spot. And if the Russians are to succeed at Danzig, for now we must cover their line of communication and supply, while waiting to see what develops, and then make our next move.”
Towards the evening …
“General L’Estocq, the battle at Marienburg will be moving into another day. More French troops are appearing, and by morning the Russian Divisions could be in trouble if we don’t reinforce their easterly flank with our main cavalry and infantry brigades. There are rumors that Napoleon with the Guard is also coming on to the field of battle as well. It seems the French from Guttstadt have moved towards Marienburg instead of us, which means perhaps we can sneak our vanguard towards Jankovo, and see if such a probe can relieve Gadansk after all, while still helping out the Russians at Marienburg with our main force.”
“Very true. Let’s send Von Diericke, Von Rembrow, and Kall’s Dragoons and Cuirassiers with the horse artillery to aid the Russians, and once they are in position, then we’ll see if we can sneak the others through the countryside to Jankovo.”
One day later at Jankovo …
“General L’Estocq, with what little seems to remains of Ney’s cavalry, the French have taken out Towarczys’ cavalry regiment, but with those Russians coming on behind them, and despite the arrival of the French reserve corp under General Rapp, we might be able to hold our position here at Jankovo.”
“Yes Von Scharnhorst, we will make a stand here. It is also time to send a message to the King. His Majesty will be glad to learn that our forces are still mostly intact, and yet we have reinforced the Russians at Marienburg, and with their help Danzig has been relieved. I’ll also tell him of the news that upon word reaching the French around Gandsk that we have taken Jankovo, the enemy troops there have evacuated that area. And I inform him that the Prussian army is doing it’s duty as he has ordered.”
Из России с любовью (From Russia With Love)
By Russ Lockwood (General Osten-Sacken, 4th Division)
Icy winds rattled the shutters of the makeshift headquarters of Russian General Fabian Vilgelmovich von der Osten-Sacken Buxhowden. A map of Europe spread out on a table, he traced the course of the war.
So far, the war against the French had gone badly. Osten-Sacken's gaze landed on a little town called Austerlitz. He shivered and thanked his lucky star that he had not been at that 1805 disaster. That forced an Austrian peace and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine.
Russian withdrawal and reinforcement the next year also gave Tsar Alexander a hope for a better outcome at war and he vetoed a peace proposal with France. The Tsar received that hope when Prussia declared war on France.
At the time, Osten-Sacken thought it premature. The French were still nearby and the Russians were not. The unsupported Prussians promptly lost just about every battle, including the disaster at Jena-Auerstadt, in the latter half of the year.
The Tsar remained strong and sent his revitalized army on a course to rescue the Prussians and smash the French. Osten-Sacken switched maps to a more localized version of Prussia and Poland. He wished it was more detailed, but such are the maps at his disposal. His finger scanned along until he found Drengfurth and his position just east of the town.
Osten-Sacken commanded the 3rd division, a better than average organization for the Russian Army. A pair of elite Grenadier regiments, a quartet of veteran musketeer regiments, a trio of elite heavy cavalry regiments, a single veteran heavy cavalry regiment, and a trio of average artillery units: one heavy, one medium, and one horse.
The plan hammered out by the Russian commander in chief Count Levin August Gottlieb Theophil von Bennigsen envisioned a broad wheel from marching east to marching south, pivoting on Bischofsburg. The right sleeve of the right-most soldier would brush the Baltic Sea as the army marched to relieve the siege of Danzig and then, if possible, would brush the Vistula River on the way to relieve the siege of Graudenz.
Somewhere in the Baltic Sea wheel, the Russians would combine with the last Prussian force left in the east under Major General Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq, last thought to be around Koenigsberg.
The 3rd Division's part in this grand wheel was just inside the coast: Drengfurth to Friedland to Eylau to Zinlen to Mehlsack to Pr. Holland to Liebmuhl and landing in the Osterode area.
Osten-Sacken traced each force's route along tighter and tighter arcs. If all went according to plan, as slim a hope as ever, the plan would find the Russian-Prussian army on a line facing south, about halfway between Koenigsberg and Warsaw, with two relieved fortresses and the French army in disarray.
Snappy Nappy: Campaign in a Day
James set up a magnificent 1807 Eylau Campaign in a Day using the Snappy Nappy rules at Time Machine Hobby in Manchester, CT, on Sunday, May 1. In fact, this event was titled SnapCon 2 (SnapCon 1 being the Snappy Nappy Waterloo Campaign in a Day in 2015).
We had 14 or 15 players, I believe, battle across 13 4x6-foot tables from 11:00am to 4:00pm using 15mm figures provided by Phil (he has quite the collection!). Being a winter battle, the tabletops used base white with winterized (white-highlighted) roads. Nice touch, that. Green felt patches of forest, houses, and more dotted the tables.
James laid out the OOB, coordinated the troops and terrain, and pulled off a game of maneuver and battle. Give him and others credit for making it a wonderful day. You'll find this all on Peter's BlundersontheDanube blog.
Those wanting to learn more about Snappy Nappy can also head over the Yahoo group run by another Peter. It contains a plethora of messages covering all facets of the rules, errata, OBs, variants, and so on. Well worth joining.
Finally, a big thanks to Ken at Time Machine Hobby, a huge hobby shop located in Manchester, CT (a few miles outside of Hartford). Snappy Nappy took place in The Portal (across the street), a new, well-lit space with not only the room SN was in, but additional tables in the main part of the building, which also has shelves to see products. In addition to gaming, TMH carries a full line of hobby products, including RC, RR, dolls, tools, parts, and so on. With three floors of a huge converted industrial plant, it's huge, well-stocked, and well-tended.
Deployment Zones and Wrinkles
As usual with multi-table Snappy Nappy campaign games, heading off one table usually, but not always, means arriving on another table on the other side of the room. The idea is to minimize the helicopter view of players and incite a little uncertainty -- or even outright anxiety -- at what lies beyond the table edge.
Last year, James came up with a brilliant idea: Deployment Zone. Essentially, when you exited a table and arrived on another table, you arrived in a Deployment Zone. If no enemy was on the table, you kept moving. If enemy was on the table, you deployed in the DZ. For one turn, you cannot attack out nor be attacked. On the next turn AFTER the other player gets to move, you decide whether to stay and emerge from the DZ to join whatever battle is in progress, or leave and go back to your previous table.
Original SN meant you took your chances in blindly heading off tables. James' DZ implies a scouting mechanism. I wish I had thought of that originally.
In another example of James' organizational skills, all DZs had an ID, so you knew where to place your troops once you arrived on a new table. Each table had a map of the table with DZ IDs. You may not have liked where you showed up, but you know where you arrived.
Wrinkle One for this game was that the tables were not part of one contiguous battlefield, but represented even larger areas of transit terrain in between each table. In essence, the table represented the valuable terrain worth fighting for instead of non-critical terrain to be marched over.
Wrinkle Two was that James' maps included towns that were in these non-table transit areas. This just added to the delicious confusion about how one table connects to another. Sure, the map says X to Y, but the town of Y is not to be found on the table. Nice touch.
A Few More Wrinkles
This 1807 campaign did not use orders. Players were free to move units as they wished. It's simpler, although perhaps grants more operational freedom to commanders than historical.
James had created a new Supply/Line of Communication depot and wagon system to duplicate the harsh conditions of 1807, but was not used. Once explained and digested (in the debrief), it's far more elegant than my original be within 12" of a road that links back to your starting edge.
All command radii were 18 inches. In SN, the Russian radii is only 9 inches for 1807. This helped the Russians quite a bit, allowing them greater maneuvering than usual.
All infantry units were three stands instead of two because the stands were more square than rectangular. It added a little firepower to each unit.
The Campaign of Osten-Sacken
My first surprise was seeing the Prussian L'Estocq start on the same table as Golitsyn and me. Golitsyn I can somewhat understand, but the Prussians? We started at Koenigsberg? I'm supposed to march through Drengfurth and I'm already west of the town. I knew there was a last-minute switch going on here as commands got juggled, but what the heck are the Prussians doing glomming up my line of march?
With roads clogged by my troops, I sent some of the cavalry cross country to relieve the traffic. Golitsyn started eastward of the Prussians and was completely dependent on them clearing, but they seemed to be heading down the same road.
As the old Russian proverb goes: The east end of a west-facing ox looks better when drinking vodka.
The second surprise was a cavalry brigade from Ney showing up in a Deployment Zone (DZ) on the south of the table. Aren't the French supposed to be in Warsaw -- 175 miles to the south? They just popped out of nowhere. This is turn one! Cursed multi-table confusion!
Fortunately, the DZ kept me safe as I turned some of my cross-country cavalry in Ney's direction to screen my road march through Eylau. If this was the lead unit of many, I would have time to pull other units into battle. If just a scouting force, I would not be delayed.
As the old Russian proverb goes: When swallowing a frog, be careful of the warts.
Ney's cavalry bolted back from whence it came, but you can bet a full report of two Russian and one Prussian forces was speeding its way back to Napoleon.
Off Table and Off Course
A couple turns later, I exited my starting table and headed, so I thought, down the road to Zinlan.
I exited off the wrong road. Oh, I thought it was the right road, but I had failed to account for the telescoping that occurred by starting on the Koenigsberg table, and, being in complete ignorance that James had put in this clever "maskirovka" (see above, Wrinkles one and two) where the tables did not abut and some towns that existed on the player map were not on any table, but "between" them.
As the old Russian proverb goes: Man who cut butter with scythe may find his bread spread over the table.
Ty che blyad? I ended up not west, but southwest on the Guttstadt/Eiditten table. Great, just great, now I'm on the wrong Rollbahn.
So, I can either keep heading south and then west to get to Osterode, or, head west back to my original route and then head south. I certainly don't want to cause a traffic jam like I experienced on the starting table. For all I know, the Russian force is about to enter the table. Then again, who knows how many French corps were marching along my route into Russian lines of communications? Cursed multi-table confusion!
Then again, I'm the only one on the table, so I roll the die for initiative and complete "turns" one after another. (In the grand scheme of things, I count this cross-table movement as one turn in the game).
I take the western road out of Eiditten to try and get back on track.
Again, Off Table/Off Course
About this time, I heard other players trying to find towns that do not exist on the tabletops. I realized something was up. I didn't know what, but something was going on. I admit to a bout of devilish enthusiasm that multi-table Snappy Nappy was again shaking up wargamer perceptions about operational isolations and concentrations.
Sideshow: My main theme in wargaming is maneuver. To me, the more the maneuver element in a game, the better. Many good games result from standing still and the sides pounding each other, but the ol' gittin' thar first-est with the most-est makes for an more appealing game...to me. End sideshow. Back to the campaign.
Battle of Marienburg
Next thing I know, I'm at Danzig (Marienburg being the town in the middle of the board), arriving on the eastern edge of the table simultaneously with Golitsyn -- he in the north and me on the south.
Wait a second... Marienburg is on the Rollbahn for Golitsyn.
As the old Russian proverb goes: If you step on a rake, toes and nose will suffer.
There was no turnoff to the south so I could get back on the road to Osterode. Now something is really going on here! My Rollbahn is between Eiditten and Marienburg. Cursed multi-table confusion!
Dan (Golitsyn, 4th Division) advances on Bernadotte and Danzig. Osten-Sacken's 3rd Russian Division is in the near ground.
One thing for certain: French I Corp (Bernadotte) is sieging Danzig and one of the goals is to raise the siege. My theory is that if I can't head south to Osterode, the French can't head north, so, Marienburg it is. The two of us will crush the French, raise the siege, and then both head south.
That's when the Prussians crashed the party. Now it's three to one. Had Bernadotte fled south immediately, he might have gotten away, but instead, he turned to face us and fight.
I sent my cavalry in straight away. I outnumbered him 2:1, so the result, barring a grievous die roll, would be in my favor. Bernadotte's cavalry, battered, withdrew from the initial attack. I moved up most infantry and artillery to follow up, but made the precaution of looping a couple infantry units, a cavalry unit, and an artillery to the south to cut off Bernadotte's retreat.
Golitsyn and L'Estocq pushed and battered the French, although a couple sharp French counterattacks caused mild concern. I took the town, but just as we were congratulating ourselves, French IV Corp showed up in the south in the DZ.
French to the Left of Me, French to the Right
Uh-oh. My little cut-off force was still in road column doing the grand loop and about to be cut off as it circled a woods.
Fortunately, Bernadotte won the next initiative and we Russians won the next initiative, which meant I got two moves to get the force out of there before IV Corp could move out of the DZ. Alas, infantry do not outrun cavalry, so one infantry unit formed a rear guard and was battered by the cavalry. I brought up a heavy cavalry unit and battered the light cavalry, which allowed another infantry unit and one artillery unit time to retreat towards Marienburg and set up with the flank against the woods. Not optimal, but best that could be done.
As the old Russian proverb goes: When a bear poops in the woods, your foot is sure to find it.
Bernadotte's I Corp was down to its bare essentials and the Russians and Prussians were feeling good.
About this time, Turn 16, the French IV Cavalry Corp arrived from the south. Fortunately for the Russians, French IV Corp bottled them up for at least a turn until they advanced far enough for the IV Cavalry to slip to the east.
Hmmm. Now it was 3:2, although with the battering I took, it was more like 2.5:2.1.
Bernadotte's forces succumbed to being surrounded. Bernadotte had put up a nifty little fight while outnumbered 3:1, but in the end, he surrendered and was taken into Danzig. The Prussians, seeing the job done, slipped away eastward to try and loop around to the south.
On Turn 17, the French V Corp showed up in the east from the roads I had come on. Uh-oh, that meant no Allied force had secured the Rollbahn I had unintentionally trespassed on.
Worse, that meant L'Estocq's Prussian force was somewhere else other than where I thought it would be.
On Turn 18, the French VII Corp showed up in the south. Fortunately, L'Estocq and the Prussians reappeared after their world tour of wherever they went.
On Turn 19, Napoleon and the French Imperial Guard showed up in the south! The IV Cavalry Corp pressed their attack against a makeshift cavalry and artillery line between the woods and Marienburg. My artillery and one of the two cavalry units were blown away.
French players looking happy at Marienburg - left to right Andrew (Lannes, V Corps), Scott (Murat, I Cavalry Corps), Greg (Augereau, VII Corps), Rich (Soult, IV Corps).
On Turn 20, a Russian force showed up behind the French VII Corp [ed. - this was Osterman-Tolstoi's 2nd Division, newly arrived from the battle of Heilsberg], which turned to meet them.
End of Game
It was now 4:00 and by my count, 20 turns had been played. There was still a lot of fight left on the Marienburg table. The French had four Corps plus the Imperial Guard versus two relatively intact Russian forces, one half Russian force (mine), and a full Prussian force. Call it 4.5 to 3.5.
From what I can gather, way to the east, the French (Davout) had battled all day against a Russian force at Bischofsburg -- each side securing the eastern flank.
In the middle, Ney battled to almost the last unit at Heilsberg, until fleeing south with a Russian Division [ed. - Tuckov's 5th Divisiin] in hot pursuit.
I'll leave it to James for the full description of the full game, but from his debrief, the French lost about twice as many units as Russians/Prussians. The Allies lifted the siege of Danzig, but got nowhere near Warsaw, Thorn, or Graudenz [ed. - the Prussians reached Jnkovo with at least 2 infantry units, which relieved the siege there per the game conditions] . I'm not sure about reaching Jankovo, but it's possible the Allies were at least on the table after chasing Ney to the south [ed. - yes, Tuchkov was on the Jankovo table].
Once again, I enjoyed a Snappy Nappy Campaign in a Day game up at Time Machine Hobby in CT. It's a long drive, four hours one way, but worth it to get to SnapCon. Granted, I designed Snappy Nappy, so I am biased about the system, but we gamers laughed (and groaned) as the dice bounced. The new folks picked up the rules quickly while the veterans learned another thing or two thanks for James' scenario tweaks. A big thank you to all involved!
As the old Russian proverb goes: A big heart overcomes little die rolls.
We're talking about an 1809 Campaign for 2017. I'm already looking forward to it.
To: Alexander I, Tsar of all the Russians
From: Count Levin August Gottlieb Theophil von Bennigsen, General of Cavalry
Commander, Russian Army of the West and Imperial Guard
Commander, Russian Army of the West and Imperial Guard
Date: February 23, 1807
Your Excellency has requested that I pen a brief account of the recent Campaign in Poland for your edification, and this will serve as my poor attempt at such. First let me thank your Excellency again for having the confidence in me, not even a Russian but a Hanoverian by birth, to appoint me to head your Excellency’s army on the Polish frontier. As you are aware, there are those who complained about such a position being given to one, such as my humble self, who was not even Russian. I can only hope that my performance in the recent campaign has been sufficient to justify that trust.
Our many Cossack patrols, as well as spies with\in Poland, gave every indication that the combination of our recent bloody confrontation with the French at Pultusk, the poor nature of the roads and poverty of the Polish countryside, and the deepening bitterness of the Polish winter (which we would of course consider rather mild ourselves) had lead the French army to show serious signs of unraveling. Straggling and a lack of the characteristic elan of the French were reaching alarming proportions, along with a shocking loss of horses in the French Cavalry and Artillery. persuaded Bonaparte that his army had to settle into Winter Quarters to rest and recover. If the rumors from Warsaw are true, it seems the Corsican also longed to settle into the arms of a certain Polish noblewoman. Under such circumstances, it appeared that an aggressive attack on the part of your Excellency’s arms might have the opportunity to achieve substantial surprise, increasing the chances of success, so vital is Europe is ever to halt the cancerous expansion of French power.
Keeping in consideration your Excellency’s desire to assist your very good friend, King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, I prepared a preliminary analysis of our options for such a campaign, and shared it most of with the generals assigned to the General's under my command… Osterman Tolstoi of the 2nd Division, Osten-Sacken of the 3rd Division, Golitsyn of the 4th Division, and Dokhturov of the 7th Division. Generals Tuchkov and Sedmoratsky were too far away from HQ to participate in this process, and General Dokhturov would later be transferred out of my command for duty elsewhere prior to the commencement of active operations. I considered the possibility of a concentric attack upon the French forces settling down into quarters in the area of Warsaw, where it might be possible to defeat that portion of the army before the rest of the French Corps could mobilize and respond. I advised against this option as it seemed unlikely to yield decisive results. Also, the Minister of War had informed me that the Prussians in the besieged fortresses of Danzig and Gaudenz were in dire straights, and required immediate supplies and relief. Finally, we had lost contact with General L’Estoq, commanding the final remains of the once proud Prussian army. It was presumed that he was somewhere in the vicinity of Koenigsburg, the last remaining seat of operations and Government in East Prussia, but this was not certain. We could reasonably expect his full cooperation in the defense of the residual territories left to the Prussian King.
Thus it was that I proposed the so-called “Northern Strategy”, whereby our forces would take advantage of the expected surprise of our Winter offensive, and sweep North as rapidly as possible, with an eye to relieving at least Danzig if not Graudenz, and engaging the French on favorable terms as they responded piecemeal to our actions. All concurred that this seemed the superior course of action, with General Golitsyn providing additional input, as well as the services of a skilled cartographer on his staff. I believe this process helped smooth over some of the ethnic tensions that sometimes plague high command in your Excellency's army. Detailed copies of my orders are available in the Archives of the Ministry of War, but I will provide the following map to assist your Excellency in following the events of the Campaign.
The campaign opened after a heavy snowstorm. I myself marched beyond General Osterman Tolstoi, who was said to make War by Pieces. I had your Excellency’s Guards with me, as I felt this would be the best position for the Reserve, and I also expected this General’s Division to see heavy fighting that might require the assistance of your Guards. Our initial movements went smoothly as planned, although Generals Osterman-Tolstoi and Tuchkov were somewhat dismayed by the early appearance of some French cavalry belonging to Marshal Ney’s VI Corps. I reassured them that this was anticipated. [ed. Note: “Arnold, you magnificent bastard, I read your book”... and so did the GM!] Privately I will confess to your Excellency that even I was indeed somewhat taken aback by such early contact with French forces.
As Osterman-Tolstoi’s 2nd Division [Karl] and and Tuchkov’s 5th Division [Brian] continued their advance, they found Marshal Ney’s entire Corps deployed on and around a ridge before the town of Heilsberg. Displaying excellent initiative, both of these officers cooperated and promptly deployed to attack and overwhelm Ney’s [Mark M] seemingly isolated Corps. When I arrived on the scene a while later, that attack was making slow progress. It seems that the “Bravest of the Brave” had placed himself at the head of the cavalry attached to his Corps ,and launched a series of quite successful spoiling attacks, delaying the advance. The Marshal’s example inspired his troops and they displayed an obstinacy on the defense that would make even a Russian proud, shaking off their losses with grim determination.
At this juncture, your Excellency, I received updates from General’s Golitsyn’s 4th Division [Dan] and Osten-Sacken’s 3rd Division [Russ]. They had encountered General L’Estoq [Mark T] and his Prussians outside Koenigsberg, and apprised him of the plan. He evidently concurred, without writing to me to place himself formally under my command. Nevertheless, his cooperation and performance throughout the campaign was most praiseworthy. All three officers were engaged with Marshal Bernadotte’s I Corps [Mike] near Danzig, and thus it seemed that we could be confident of the relief of that Fortress. From General Sedmoratsky, there was as yet no word, but gunfire from that direction suggested that he too, was engaged in combat with the French. I had some anxiety in that regard, your Excellency, as his position guarded our communications back to our bases in Russia.
As the battle of Heilsberg continued, it became evident that the pressing weight of our numbers, especially our superior Artillery, would inevitably lead to Ney’s destruction despite his boldness and tactical skill, unless he received reinforcements. In the event, these were not forthcoming. The deep snow made our advance appear slower than desired, and the victories of the French cavalry contributed significantly to that slowness as well. Therefore, your Excellency, I resolved to commit the fine soldiers of your Guard to support the action and hasten Ney’s defeat. It gives me considerable pleasure to report that your Excellency’s own Cuirassier regiment and its supporting regiment alone accounted for the destruction of a Brigade each of Infantry and cavalry, and that the Artillery of your Guard accounted for two more enemy units. The infantry of the Guard, the magnificent soldiers of the Preobrazhensky and Semyonovsky Regiments hastened forwards towards the Ridge in attack columns, but wept with frustration when the hated French were dispersed by the men of Tuchkov’s command before they could come to grips with them.
By this time, I had received additional reports indicating that while Bernadotte’s I Corps had been crushed, and indeed the Marshal himself captured outside of Danzig, Osten Sacken’s 3rd Division was being hard pressed and suffering heavy losses fighting Lannes V Corps and then Soult’s IV Corps, and it was reported that L’Estoq was also fighting with Murat and possibly other French troops. I had finally heard from General Sedmoratsky [Jim] as well, who stated that he was in an ongoing conflict with Marshal Davout’s III Corps, but claimed that he was gradually defeating the famed “Iron Marshal”. Staff officers at my headquarters questioned the veracity of these reports, but I knew that although some were at times put off by his blunt Russian peasant manner and notorious drinking binges, a common fault of Russian officers if the truth be told, your Excellency, he was none the less a veteran of two prior campaigns, and had performed solidly in each of them. I therefore directed Osterman-Tolstoi to set his 2nd Division on the March once again, pausing briefly to rally and reorganize his command, whilst I ordered Tuchkov and his 5th Division to pursue the shattered remnants of Ney’s Corps. I also had Osterman Tolstoi leave an Infantry Brigade behind in Heilsberg to provide some coverage against an unexpected advance by the French, there whereabouts of Augereau’s 7th Corps still being uncertain.
With Tuchkov pursuing Ney and having orders to approach Jankovo and then Danzig from the South if feasible, I sent Osterman-Tolstoi matching towards Marienburg and Danzig via Elditten, in order to succour your Excellency’s hard pressed troops outside Danzig. I directed him to take a route that would allow him to threaten the right flank of the French positions. With new intelligence that Bonaparte and his Guard had arrived at Danzig, I initially followed behind the 2nd Division. However, when Osterman-Tolstoi reported back to me that there was little room to deploy, I resolved that your Guard could be better employed elsewhere. I therefore had them reverse their march, passing back through Elditten, to Heilsberg, and then proceeded on to Allenstein. This placed the Guard and I in position to descend upon the rear of Marshal Davout’s position, marching via Passenheim. Despite their loud grumbles at the very fatiguing forced march, I am pleased to report to your Excellency that your Guard performed superbly, losing hardly a man as stragglers.
I arrived near Uertelsberg, and found that General Sedmoratsky remained in possession of Bischofsburg, and indeed was slowly defeating Davout. As I had planned, your Guard found itself behind Davout’s positions. The Guard deployed and was advancing on what was left of the rear of 3rd Corps when the short hours of February daylight faded, and necessitated a halt to the fighting.
The great battle of Marienburg near Danzig ultimately proved indecisive. Davout’s corps slipped away towards Warsaw under cover of Darkness. With at least two completely unengaged French Corps remaining (Augereau, and now Rapp, newly arrived from ? Thorn), it was my judgment that our positions might become seriously exposed, and Ordered all of your Excellency’s forces to withdraw towards Koenigsburg and our Frontier. If our men were exhausted by the rigors of the campaign, the condition of the French must have been still worse. Bonaparte seemed to have little appetite for further fighting, and it is said that he was greatly relieved when he found that our troops had pulled back from Marienburg overnight. Indeed, the Corsican reportedly lamented to Marshal Soult that the forces of your Excellency had done him great harm, and that he was pondering withdrawal himself. Soult replied “And we them, your Majesty; our bullets were not made of cotton!”, and this seemed to steel Bonaparte’s resolve.
So ended the Winter campaign of 1807 in Poland, your Excellency. Your troops are now enjoying a very well earned rest. We are in need of ammunition, horses, replacements for the many men we have lost in combat, sickness and especially the many stragglers from the main line Divisions. I pray that it might be your pleasure to encourage to Commissary to give our needs their highest priority. We are especially in need of fresh supplies of Vodka for the remaining long cold months of winter.
In summation, your Excellency’s arms have achieved a notable success. They have relieved the siege of Danzig, and re-supplied the fortress, as ordered. They have relieved the siege of Graudenz as well, as ordered. They have re-united with our Prussian allies, and allowed them to restore some of the tarnished luster of their past military glory in honorable combat. They have bearded the Corsican Ogre, and demonstrated that he can be defeated. In so doing, they have completely destroyed the I Corps and captured its Marshal, who is said to be studying the Swedish language. They have inflicted a severe drubbing upon both Ney’s VI Corps, and Davout’s III Corps. In so doing, they have inflicted almost twice as many casualties on the enemy as those suffered by the forces of your Excellency.
If I might further presume upon your Excellency’s indulgence, I recommend to you for further recognition the fine commanders of my Divisions - brave Osterman-Tolstoi, audacious Osten-Sacken, gifted tactician Golitsyn, crafty Tuchkov, and tenacious Sedmoratsky. All of them performed magnificently, displaying sound judgment, professional skill, personal bravery, and a dedication to keeping their commander informed. If it please your Excellency, kindly consider as well recommending General L’Estoq to your very good friend, the King of Prussia. This officer displayed outstanding initiative and insight into the overall plan, despite not participating in its formulation. In the meantime I have established my headquarters for the winter at Friedland, a pretty little town on the banks of the Alle river, there to await with eagerness the commencement of the Spring campaign, which must surely see the arms of your Excellency triumphant.
Levin August Gottlieb Theophil von Bennigsen, Count
General of Cavalry
Commander, Army of the West
Russian Infantry Brigade left to garrison Heilsberg and act as a Trip Wire against possible French penetration of our lines.
Bennigsen and the Guard marching on the Elditten table, ready to enter the conflict around Danzig.
Bennigsen and the Guard counter-marching back onto the Heilsberg table, ready to exit to the Allenstein table.
Bennigsen and the Guard *(sort of like "Benny and the Jets!") on the Allenstein table A (at left), about to exit onto the Uertelsburg table U. The troops to the right are stragglers from Tuchkov's 5th Division.
The Russian Guards arrive on Table U. Davout is on the nearside of Bischofsberg, with Sedmoratsky beyond.
Sedmoratsky handles his troops with skill, while Bennigsen and the Guard advance on Davout's rear