Friday, May 17, 2019

1814 Campaign in a Day: Combined Commander AAR's


Written by the players themselves, although edited by me (Russ Lockwood).

by Mark

As Napoleon, I re-organized the command structure of the army from the start. I formed a right wing grand division under Ney (Chris) at Troyes in the SE, and a left wing under Oudinot (James) at Rheims in the NE. I sent them each a second corps under another player to act as their subordinate. I sent La Marque (Mark) forward to find and most importantly fix the allies in the center. I kept command of the other corps.

Reports came in almost immediately of enemy contact, including of a pair of Allied corps at Chalons on the road to Paris, pretty much behind our starting lines. I raced the Guard there, but was on the south side of the river...whereas they were on the side that could march on Paris. I knew I could not get at them, but had to buy time.

I called for the three reserve corps to come there. The intent was not to destroy those two enemy corps but to prevent them from marching on Paris. That meant getting a corps to Paris and then move it East to Chalons. When the reserves arrived, I left that one poor corps to be the roadblock on the road to Paris between two rivers, a nice narrow position that could not be outflanked (unless the Allies brought a pontoon bridge -- RL).

I pulled the Guard back to a reserve position and sent other corps to yet another Allied thrust coming up from Fontainbleu (South). I redirected two corps that had marched to Chalons to turn around and meet that threat.

So at that point, major battles raged for Oudinot and Ney, and for Macdonald and another corps at Fontainbleau, a holding action at Chalons on the road to Paris, and La Marque's holding action in the East. That's five, count'em, five major battles all at once!

Then I learned that an enemy corps was marching on Paris from yet another route. I sent the last corps that was not engaged back to hold Paris, and then put the Imperial Guard back in motion to head to the capital.
Due to the road network, I had to swing down to where Ney was engaged in order to get back up to Paris. Ney and Fontenelli were engaged with two big enemy corps. I detached Mortier from the guard, gave him the Guard light cavalry and horse artillery and put them under Ney's command to help keep the enemy at bay so I could march through to get to Paris.

The defender of Paris awaits Wittgenstein's approach with sang-froid!

Map of Paris and environs

When I arrived at Paris, I saw that one corps was stretched out holding the river line....and holding it well, but that its units were deployed over a wide front. Part of another corps was also there, but between them, all they could do was contain the powerful enemy corps.
As the Guard arrived, so did the first of two corps I called back in to form on Paris. The enemy came on right behind one of them, which we were able to hold back -- and catch their cavalry in a perfect sandwich with Guard heavy horse to their front and Empress dragoons in their backside....delicious!
Unfortunately, the defense of the river line outside Paris began to falter from the pounding of the enemy. Their repeated charges across the bridge forced him to fall back to the fortress. Even as the Old Guard and others raced to the rescue, the enemy stormed the fort. Our defense held and held again, but the third Allied attack took the fortress.
At 4:45pm, the enemy had three tough infantry in the Paris fortress and we had one battered unit in the city itself that would have had to hold for two more turns before the Guard could have deployed. By then, almost every corps from all of the armies seemed to be on or marching for the Paris area.
We tried. We fought well. We held them at bay and then fell back on Paris, but it was not enough.
Well played, well fought all.

by Greg

As the C-in-C Blucher, I learned how little you know outside your own table.
The morning started with the Prussians/Russians following Plan B orders, moving various directions to engage equal forces and bypass larger, which was the theme of the day for Blucher. Various Corps headed for Vervines and onto Laon, to Mezieres/Rethel on to Reims, and to St. Menhould and onto Chalons.

Map for Table S, Battle of St Menhoud

Table S - St Menhoud is in the right lower corner. 

I commanded the reserve, Jellacic, and eventually replaced Tuchov's battered corps at the Battle of St. Menhould. That allowed what was left of Tuchkov to head west and ultimately reach the Paris area. Olssuliev was given the pontton bridge train and he bypassed LaMarque.
The grand strategy for Northern command turned into a twin axis of advance -- one through Laon and on to Paris and the second through Chalons, with the center around Reims bypassed after multiple reports of three French Corps holding the town.

Feldmarschal Blucher, troubled by a recurrent gouty foot, supervises the Allied Northern Wing from his Camp Chair. 

Jellacic pushed LaMarque back to Chalons and found Olssuliev engaged around Chalons against a pair of French corps. As Jellacic arrived at Chalons, another Austrian force moved onwards, with command shifting to Olssuliev, who'd held Chalons for so long.
As C-in-C, I'm not really sure which of my Corps made it to Paris. Once they leave your sight, your knowledge gets reduced to messages that become fewer and fewer as the day lingers.

by Charles

From Musey, I went to Troyes and raced to Paris. I eventually won the back and forth battle for the bridge over the Marne River and then went up and over the wall to capture the fortress.

Wittgenstein and Scwarzenberg marching along the highway towards Table P and Paris. 

by Daniel

My X corps consisted of three brigades of good quality infantry, four brigades of inexperienced light cavalry, and two stands of light artillery (one of foot and one of horse) and deployed at Clarmont as the speartip of the Allied central command.
My goal was to head to Chalons as fast as possible to help clear the three corps logjam between Clarmont, Verdun, and St. Mihiel. I sent one of my divisions forward to scout ahead, but the dastardly French decided to push forward first. I met LeMarque's corps at the crossing of the Aisne River at St. Menhould. LeMarque fought a great defensive battle holding up the three corps Allied corps (X, XI, and VI).
I battered multiple brigades of French but was unable to inflict a decisive blow, with the elite French 6th Hussars deserving praise for their perseverance. I eventually lost all my infantry, half my artillery, and even got my general killed before being reinforced by Jellacic's VI Corps. In retrospect, I should have retreated to Clarmont, and held off LeMarque's corps there, as the combination of a narrow bridge and woods on his side rendered my light artillery fire ineffective and made it easy for him to support his defending units when I tried to cross.

 Battle of St Menhoud

We discussed using the pontoon bridge, but figured Olssuliev could really use it and that things would thin out by the time Jellacic arrived.
After being relieved by Jellacic, I disengaged with my leftover three brigades of light cavalry, left a garrison at St. Menhould of my foot artillery, and went on a tour of the French countryside. I passed through Stenay, Mezieres, and finally caught the end of the Battle of Reims, where I saw two French corps being crushed.
I passed the two allied corps (I believe the 1st and 2nd) and pursued a beaten French corps to Paris, where I proceeded to crush a division of Westphalians, and rout (but not destroy) Napoleon's Guard Dragoon/Carabinier brigade before finally being surrounded and sent to a glorious death by French Dragoons/Carabiniers looking to reclaim their lost honor. My soldiers did survive long enough to see Wittengstein at the gates of Paris, so they died knowing that victory would be ours.

by Mark

The day began as a crisp winter morning, with light snow falling on Chalons where my VI Corps bivouacked. Orders the night before from the Emperor were to march at first light toward Verdun, find the enemy, and prevent them from easy egress into the heart of France.
The cavalry and artillery led the corps east toward Sainte Menhould and immediately encountered a Russian Corp (10th) under Tuchkov just west of the bridge to the village. Seeing that the terrain provided ample defense with a dense wood terrain to the north and south, our forces spread out to engage the oncoming Russians along the road. The river outside of St. Menhould funneled the Russians into the killing fields as they had to cross a bridge to get to our forces.
The Initial deployments revealed three enemy corps were on the field with us, but our position prevented them from getting to us all at once. Behind Tuchkov, was Olssuliev (9th Russian Corp) and Jellacic (6th Russian Corp). As fate would have it, Blucher was here too, and it was now my responsibility to prevent him from crossing the river and entering the French countryside.

Battle of St. Menhould

The battle here was ferocious, with both sides deploying their artillery. Waves of Russian cavalry and infantry tried to cross the bridge to engage our corps, and time and again we repulsed them. After nearly three hours into the engagement, the forces of Olssuliev managed to erect a pontoon bridge over the river far to our east. As we were outnumbered three to one, I could not commit my forces to stopping him, and the Russian 9th Corp skirted my defenses in route to Bar-le-Duc and escaped.
By this time, I had reduced Tuchkov’s forces by six brigades. Using my own pontoon bridge, I would have flanked his forces north of St. Menhould, if not for the timely reinforcement by Blucher, Jellacic, and the 6th Corps. Instead, we stayed on the west side of the river to avoid annihilation.
At this point, we received orders from the Emperor to hold as long as we could as no reinforcements were coming. Two French corps were engaged behind us at Chalons and it would take time for them to break through. I was also given the options to return to Chalons if the battle went against me at St. Menhould.
Blucher then deployed in front of me with additional guns and set about the destruction of our corps. He too attempted to cross the river and the French Hussars, aided by the flanking 5th Legne, destroyed another Russian unit. This allowed our troops to cross the river and take St. Menhould, routing another unit that had taken up defenses in the village.
The Russians countered our assault with intense fire, but the Hussars held their ground on the east side of the river. It was NOW that I thought that the battle would be won, only to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory with an inopportune initiative roll. Our Hussars were promptly charged by a cavalry regiment and two infantry brigades. The melee was intense, and LaMarque was wounded as the Hussars fled back across the river leaving St. Menhould again in Russian hands.
With LaMarque fallen, corps morale also fell, as time and again the troops failed morale tests. I ordered the retreat and escaped the clutches of Blucher, Jellacic, and the 6th Corp, and returned to the Chalons area. Unfortunately, we arrived in time to see the one remaining French Corp in Chalons nearly destroyed by three corps of Austrians, Prussians, and Russians.
With our escape route filled with the enemy, we ordered our troops to Vitry, and would have easily made our escape except that Blucher pursued us with the cunning of a panther. With Blucher’s arrival, the enemy had four corps in our vicinity.

Battle of Chalons

Map for table C - Chalons

Table C before the start of the game

First encounters at Chalons

Both sides deploy

Battle of Chalons 1

Battle of Chalons 2

Battle of Chalons 3

Battle of Chalons 4 

 Battle of Chalons 5

Later stages of the Battle of Chalons

To prevent destruction, two of our rearguard battalions had to hastily form square at the bridge into Vitry or be overrun by Blucher’s cavalry. As luck would have it we destroyed another cavalry unit, capturing its colors, and sent a second unit in disruption to the rear.
We quickly secured the bridge into Vitry as the Austrian and Prussian cavalry approached, we were too tired by now to recognize their uniforms. The combined fire of our artillery and quick sabre work of our Hussars saved us from being overwhelmed. Additionally, our infantry destroyed an Austrian brigade in close order fighting, capturing their colors and taking many prisoners.
Blucher then ordered up the artillery and we were outgunned four to one. We could have escaped on the road headed south from Vitry, but Blucher was not going to let us go so easily. Seeing that French troops were now coming up the road from the west toward Chalons, we decided to use our pontoon bridge to cross the river to the west of Vitry and escape Blucher’s clutches as his bridging equipment was with Olssuliev.
My retreat was successful and our men arrived on the west side of the river without pursuit of Blucher’s cavalry. Unfortunately, the overwhelming number of enemy guns caused such smoke across the field that we lost contact with the rearguard 5th Legere, and fear they were destroyed or captured.
Upon turning north to Chalons, our scouts reported another Austrian Corp massing from our west near Chalons. The new force was nearly twice our size, and it would be impossible to relieve the French corps near Chalons in time to save them.
Surrounded on three sides, with no road for escape, LaMarque rose from his hospital wagon and with the pains of his wounds on his face, ordered his men to abandon the position and flee into the surrounding countryside to the south and west of Chalons. I ordered, "Find your homes, protect your families, and Viva La France."

Le mort de LaMarque (well, eh bein, just a serious wound). 

A courier was sent to find General Blucher in order to end hostilities. He transferred his sword as a sign of surrender to the enemy general. With the colors of nine enemy battalions surrounding the hospital wagon, Blucher accepted his surrender.

by Bruce

Durette, at Arcis Aube, advanced with orders not to engage a superior Austrian Force. I quickly saw two to three Austrian corps, turned around, and headed for Chalons.
Meanwhile, Ney arrived at Arcis and requested my return to Arcis. So I turned II Corps around and arrived at Summersous to engage the Allies.

Durrutte arrives at Somersous (right side of picture)

As Ney slowly lost troops, Napoleon sent orders for me to head to Chalons to help there, where superior Russian cavalry and artillery devastated the lower morale units. In this system, I found a two quality level difference in morale statistically means the lower-rated units should not fight the higher-rated units.
Meanwhile, Rusca advanced, but had to retreat in theface of superior Allied forces and retreated all the way back to Paris, although he pinned half the force advancing on Paris.


by Brian

As Olsulliev in command of the Russian IX Corps, my orders were to first move from St. Mihiel to Bar-le-Duc. However, while the map we received showed a road between the two towns, the road was not on the table. [This was an error on my part -- RL]. So, I had to make a much more circuitous route and was slowed down in real time by the presence of a French corps (LaMarque) at St. Menhould.

Olsulliev's frustrations...

Mine was an experience in frustration, even though I used a pontoon bridge to bypass St. Menhould. I had to wait to move and time crawled by before I could exit towards Bar-le-Duc.
Down a unit in the battle, I lost a unit due to a string of low morale die rolls. After that, though, I was able to destroy one of the excellent French infantry units and used my cavalry to block the retreat of an Austrian corps.

by Frank

I pushed toward Laon by way of Meziers and Vervines. After leaving Meziers, I met an approaching French force from Laon, but they backed away. I captured Vervines and headed toward Laon with orders to push toward Paris if I did not encounter a superior force.

Map of Table R

Prussians advancing on Table R

Fighting on Table R

Map of Table L

Table L before the start of the game

As I approached Laon, I encountered a French force spread out on hills on both sides of Laon and in Laon with their back to the river. I made a decision to pin his right flank with a smaller force and concentrate against his left. Our superior artillery destroyed his cavalry charge and my infantry moved upon his right flank, breaking it to pieces.

 Fighting around Laon... with the obligatory cameo of smiling GM and rules author, Russ Lockwood.

As he tried to retreat across the river, my cavalry ran down his rear guard and then a final charge destroyed his small delaying force across the bridge. As he retreated, Russians came up on my left flank and Prussians approached on the far left to seal the victory. After the battle was won, the three corps moved toward Paris with no resistance until we were in the Paris area. At this time Austrian forces fought their way into Paris to win the war.

by James

A heck of a challenge for the French, but given the tremendous advantage in defensive terrain, I think entirely fair. The problem I saw to my left and right flanks (I was at Reims-Rethel with Laon-Vervines to my left and Chalons to my right) was that those positions were defended by new players who were up against experienced players. C'est la guerre.

Reims on Table F

MarechallOudinot and freind at Reims

by Karl

As Prussian II Corps, I started at Stenay and marched west to Mezieres. Two French cavalry and one Artillery from French VII Corps arrived in the area at the same times and entered village of Rethal with their whole Corp. I watched the Prussian I Corps bypass me and march west towards Vervines as the Russian XI Corp entered and headed to Stenay.

Map for Table V

Table V being used top sort out the troops pre-game!

I attacked the French in the village from the west and the Russians attacked from the north and east. While we were maneuvering, the French left a blocking force of two infantry brigades and the artillery at Rethel and fell back with the rest of his troops. We eventually forced the French out. I formed a defensive screen at Rethel as the Russian XI Corps followed the Prussian I Corp westward.
I probed Reims, but the French formed up in a good defensive position. Then I noticed another road and took it to find the Prussian I Corps supported by the Russian XI Corps attacking the IX French Corps. I also saw the Paris reserves on the road to Villers. I moved to engage, but could only watch them escape back to Paris.

In action near Laon

I turned and attacked what was left of IX Corp while Prussian I Corps finished the French off and then reorganized. I headed for Paris. At this point, another Russian Corp of only cavalry (Tuchkov) showed up behind me. I let them go ahead of me and raced after them on the way to Paris.
Soon, I saw Paris in the distance it was under attack by an unknown Austrian Corp (Wittgenstein). I faced Napoleon and his Guard as well as the Paris reserves. We attacked and traded off losses as the lone Austrian Corps took Paris.
It’s too bad the armistice stopped the French people of Paris from sharpening the guillotine for Napoleon and his marshals.


The following three reports are condensed version of those already published:

by Dan

I took the road west from Musey to Troyes, where I spotted the tail-end of a road-column of French north of Troyes (Ney’s corps). The sudden appearance of Colleredo’s command prompted the French to halt and recall the head of the column. If I could win the initiative, there was room enough to enter and take Troyes and offer battle, but alas, the French won and crowded the entry point. I looked long and hard, but decided against fighting and reluctantly returned to Musey area.
Ney, indeed, followed up and also looked long and hard, itching for the battle (and taking in the enemy dispositions to report to Napoleon), but he also, reluctantly, concluded that the enemy position was too strong and left, going back to Troyes.

Colloredo and Ney play cat and mouse...

C-in-C Schwarzenberg could see this pattern repeating all day, so he ordered Wittgenstein to replace Colleredo, while Colleredo placed his men in reserve and in road-column to prepare to go north. As the cavalry probes continued between Ney and Wittgenstein, Schwarzenberg received a report from Gyulai’s III Armeekorps at Arcis Aube asking for reinforcements. Schwarzenberg turned to Colleredo and assigned him a new mission to support Gyulai. Fortunately, he gave me the pontoon bridge train.
I exited in road column and arrived in the Arcis Aube area to find Gyulai and Uvarov hotly engaged with Ney. Upon my entry, another French force, Durette, appeared at Summersous. Gyulai needed help fast.

The Battle of Arcis sur Aube

Ney was still driving off Austrians and Russians, causing havoc as the fleeing units burst through new formations trying to cross the bridge, causing additional Morale Checks. I looked over the battlefield very carefully, wondering if it might be wiser to pull back. Gyulai still attacked, despite the losses, emboldened now that another Austrian command was present.
Durette deployed his entire command in line, advancing slowly, and his artillery was still behind the woods. I estimated Durrette would need time at that pace before he became a real threat -- plenty of time to reach Arcis Aube and deploy, block the road, pass between the woods, and use my cavalry to counter the French cavalry and threaten each flank. The fight must be fought here. Ney could be checked and beaten in time before Durette could mount any serious pressure.
As I assembled the pontton bridge, more French appeared: Napoleon’s Imperial Guard! This could turn out to be a really big battle. Napoleon’s troops were near a corner of a table that had no road connection to Arcis Aube, so it would take quite some time before the Imperial Guard could get engaged, unless it risked committed the cavalry first, alone. Even if we can’t defeat them, we can tie them up for quite a while and keep them off of other battlefields.
Durette continued his slow advance. Napoleon stayed in his corner, simply moving the Imperial Guard along the road – simply passing by. That’s a surprise: Napoleon apparently isn’t going to join this battle. We should be able to win this battle if the Imperial Guard stays out of it.
The battle definitely shifted in favor of the Austrians. Despite the early losses that Gyulai and Uvarov suffered, it became clear that the Austrians gained a local advantage in numbers and position. Now Ney took losses and must disengage, but Gyulai and Uvarov pressed hard and Ney lost about half of his command with the remainder in various stages of disintegration.
Durette attacked with his cavalry, but lost both encounters. These reverses, plus witnessing what’s happening to Ney, prompted Durette to suspend his advance.
We agreed to take a risk and moved the Austrian cavalry within charge reach of the Imperial Guard units, hoping to win initiative and run down the horse artillery before it unlimbered. The ploy failed and the artillery unlimbered at point blank range while the Hussars move to pistol range to shoot instead of charge. The Austrian cavalry charged, but the Guard artillery scored a hit and the Ott Hussars #5 failed morale checks to halt their charge before contact. The Prinz Ludwig Uhlans #3 closed and narrowly beat the French Guard Hussars, which responded badly to this unexpected reversal, failed morale check after morale check, and fled the battlefield. The Austrian cavalry soon run down the French horse artillery, killing Imperial Guard commander Mortier in the process.
I pursued Durette to Chalons, where another battle (The Battle of Chalons) has been ongoing for some time between another French command and Feldmarschall Blucher’s forces. I entered on the only road left available to the French out of Chalons, trapping both French commands. Both French generals asked for a truce, which Blucher accepts. Soon after, news that Paris has fallen reached Blucher. The war was over! The Allied armies won.


by Dan

After discovering a road not on his map, Schwarzenberg altered his orders to take a more southerly approach with his forces. Austrian I Armeekorps Colloredo moved from Musey west to Troyes while Austrian III Armeekorps Gyulai and Russian Grenadier corps Uvarov moved to Arcis Aube. Austro-Russian VI Armeekorps Wittgenstein becomes the new Reserve and advanced to Musey.
French and Allied Cavalry probes clashed between Musey and Troyes until Ney was ordered to move away from Troyes towards Arcis Aube. A call for reinforcements from a battered Gyulai and Uvarov at Arcis Aube prompted Colloredo to switch places with Wittgenstein and head for Arcis Aube.
When Wittgenstein’s Cossacks reported Ney's move to Wittgenstein and Schwarzenberg, Wittgenstein was ordered to go to Troyes with his command with Schwarzenberg coming along. The southern approach to Paris was unexpectedly open, and Schwarzenberg wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to take it.
Schwarzenberg took Wittgenstein on a long U-shaped pathway through Fontainbleu and back up to Montetreu. Wittgenstein was inclined to head east, but Schwarzenberg insisted on turning west, leading the long column down one of two long parallel roads. His suspicions were reinforced when a small French force under Rusca entered at the other parallel road, heading in the same direction. Schwarzenberg said to Wittgenstein “We’re in a race now. The French know we’re making a run at Paris.”
Rusca’s column inexplicably turned around, but soon resumed its westward march, but that provided a comfortable lead.
The reports Schwarzenberg received from Gyulai at Arcis Aube indicated that the battle still raged (and Napoleon was now present as well), but Schwarzenberg had no new reserves to commit to the battle, so Gyulai & Colloredo were going to have to keep the French occupied while he led Wittgenstein to Paris.

At Paris

A French command under Fontanelli held the river line separating Wittgenstein’s command from the way to Paris, but he had to split his forces to cover the two bridges that were a significant distance apart. There was only a single 6 pdr. artillery unit present, but it helped guard the southernmost bridge with some infantry in line formations. Wittgenstein had a 6 pdr and a 12 pdr, but both were inferior in quality. Rusca’s command had not arrived, yet, but it was certain to arrive in a short while.
Surprisingly, no further French forces appeared, which allowed Wittgenstein to leisurely pound away at the enemy artillery. Finally it suffered too much damage that Fontanelli could not reverse and it was driven off the battlefield.
Wittgenstein’s lead infantry unit made a go for the bridge: The Brunko Musketeers charged it, but took a hit from the French, failed the first two morale rolls before passing and so the charge was checked before it hit the French line.
The French hit the Brunko Musketeers to no effect and Wittgenstein replaced the unit with the Graf Paul Radivovitch infantry unit. The Allied infantry returned fire and the Austrian infantry drove the French off and cleared the bridge of enemy. The road to Paris was open!
During the time it took to accomplish this, more French appeared in the north, but stopped near the town of Villars and turned around to deploy. A second French command appeared at Meaux from the east. This was Napoleon with part of his Imperial Guard. The Empereur had arrived to try to save Paris from falling – but the new French forces were still a good distance away.
The revitalized Brunko Musketeers with Schwarzenberg attached charged the French that had fallen back from the bridge, battered them anew, and forced their retreat into the fortress guarding Paris.
The Austrian and Russian columns assaulted the walls and captured the fortress, giving Schwarzenberg a fine view of the capital and the surrounding battlefield. The war-weary population gave a half-hearted cheer to the 'liberators,' grateful that the war was finally over.
The word would reach the French laboring hard to hold back Yorck and Tuchkov’s commands. The “sounds of the guns” soon fell silent. Even Napoleon had conceded that it was over.
Blucher heard about the capture of Paris after accepting the surrender of two French commands at Chalons, when Colloredo’s Austrians from Arcis Aube cut off the last road the French could have taken out of Chalons.

Armistice is decklared at Chalons!

Schwarzenberg’s bold plan was executed successfully, elevating his military reputation to rival that of Napoleon.

Gyulai and Uvarov
by Peter

I advanced down the LaRothiere-Brienne road and proceeded onwards towards Arcis Aube, seeking a road to the west with the goal of Paris. I marched through Bar sur Aube, La Rotheire, and Brienne, and encountered a French rearguard at Lesmont covering the withdrawal of a French Corps that exit towards Chalons. I also spotted a small French command on the road to Planey.
My troops moved through Arcis Aube towards Planey, following Rusca, who is heavily outnumbered by my combined forces, when yet ANOTHER French Corps entered on yet ANOTHER road, this time heading from Troyes Arcis sur Aube. At their head is the redoubtable Michel Ney, his graying red hair flowing behind him, and the Young Guard.
Given French actions to date, I suspected the French would most likely pull back yet again, seeing that they are outnumbered 2:1 by my combined forces and that I have three artillery batteries to his one. Also, Colleredo's Corps has now entered the battlefield, although still distant, further lengthening the odds against the Bravest of the Brave.

Battle of Arcis sur Aube

This proves to be a serious error, as a combination of French initiative, tactical skill, and audace, coupled with some of the worst die rolling I have managed in years, resulted in my troops routing every time they suffer a single hit – five die rolls, five failures, and poof! The White Menace became the Flight Penance! The French troops, even the conscripts that filled out the numbers in Ney's commands, were inspired by his leadership and seemed unable to fail even a single morale roll for their part.

Gyulai and Ney at Arcis sur Aube

Colleredo, fortunately with the Austrian pontoon bridge train in tow, arrived within earshot, shaking his head at the carnage. He proceeded to build a pontoon bridge over the Aube River. Things looked even grimmer as a new French corps, Durette, arrived in Summersous, threatening to make a chopped Allied sandwich. To add panic to misery, Bonaparte himself advanced along the Highway to Somewhere. Visibly annoyed at being detained in his maneuvers, he tosseed more grief our way by detaching an officer with a guard horse battery and some Guard cavalry!
I launched my superb cavalry in charges across the Arcis bridge, hoping to catch some French in line. I once again managed to fail my morale rolls spectacularly, resulting in both units fleeing in Panic back across the river, disrupting my remaining troops. However, Ney's luck began to fade. He launched a long distance charge on the Austrian infantry at the new bridgehead. Made of sterner stuff than my boys, Colleredo's men coolly formed square and the French charge disintegrated against the wall of white.
Our artillery fire battered another French cavalry unit, drove back an infantry brigade, and destroy his lone battery. The situation west of the Aube suddenly looked less grim. On our right, the newcomer's French Dragoons charged some Austrian Cuirassiers and came out the worst of it in a prolonged exchange of pistol shots and sword thrusts. Finally, we sent off several cavalry regiments to the North to threaten his other flank, and attempted to deal with the unwelcome visitors of the Garde a Cheval.
With his cavalry spent, his artillery gone, and his infantry suffering from Austrian gunnery, Ney made a controlled withdrawal back towards Troyes. It was none too soon for the Allied cause, as the new French Corps reached the woods line near Arcis sur Aube.
Ney managed to retreat about half of his original force as my pursuing troops finished off a few crippled units, but never getting the initiative at the key moments to make a decisive thrust at his derriere. Colleredo's cavalry defeated a number of the French horse and ultimately dispersed them.
The French Guard battery and cavalry unit were the real threats. With one cavalry brigade each, Colleredo and I decided to try and defeat the French cavalry, flowed by an outflanking of the Guard battery. While my Hussars faltered, his Uhlans charged home and their lances caused havoc among the French cavalry. Beaten, they left the battery isolated. Once again failing of the initiative, the cavalry had to do it the hard way, charging into a hail of canister. Evidently the timing of the Guardsmen was off, as the brave Austrians shrugged off their losses and trampled the battery over in two successive charges. With the Northern threat eliminated, Ney withdrawing, and his cavalry gone, our French visitor began an advance to the rear.
With Colleredo headed towards Chalons, I rallied my command and pondered how to proceed. I had not heard a word from Schwarzenberg since the early phase of the Campaign. I decided that, when in doubt, follow your orders. Rumors spread that Paris was under attack by our forces. Thus, I resolved to follow the original Southern Route towards Paris, knowing that I might or might not arrive in time to be of assistance.
My men and I marched through Planey, Troyes, and Sens. We reached Fontainbleu when we heard about the fall of Paris and the armistice.

Some Added AAR Sentiments From Participants

* From my perspective, the efforts were worth it. We look forward to the event. The spirit of co-operation in the set-up and take-down, as well as the camaraderie in sharing a common hobby, are significant aspects of the appeal that draws us back.

* Thanks for a great gaming experience.

* Unlike previous Snappy Nappy games, I didn't enjoy this one. I spent too much time crawling across a table. I can't blame anyone for this -- it was just the way things worked out, but the overall map showed a road between St. Mihiel and Bar-le-Duc and there wasn't one on the table. Having said that, I do appreciate the work done to organize this event. It is an awesome effort, and it plays smoothly.

* Once again, thanks for staging the game. I had a great time.

* The campaign design and balance seemed quite OK to me. But really, an outstanding job for what had to be a very challenging campaign design. I really did not have a clue how you were going to pull it off, but I thought it really well done. I certainly learned some lessons myself in retrospect for better operational handling of my own forces.


  1. Replies
    1. I had by FAR the least idea of what was going on anywhere than Arcis sur Aube in this event than any previous one,, because here I was just a Corps commander (albeit with 2 Corps that desercved somewhat better generalship than they got!)

  2. Great to read the varied perspectives.

    1. Yes, the panorama of view points brings the overall picture into better focus. Yet to come is the GM's report, which should be up in a few days

  3. Really interesting seeing the game from all the different perspectives and fair play for publishing even the critical views,a game of this size with this many players is lets face it never going to please everyone equally,but it sounds like a great day and an impressive bit of organisation!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks, Iain. The commentator in question is a veteran of at least 4 prior events, and in unpublished clarification, for personal reasons he also had to leave for about 2 hours in the middle of the event for personal reasons, so he was being clear that it wasn't really a criticism of the event overall. Obviously with 20 players, the experience is going to vary a lot from player to player... some will be engaged in almost non stop combat from the early moments, some will wage war "with their feet", by doing a lot of maneuvering and not much fighting, and most will have a mix of the two.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Interesting accounts, and it really does form quite a tapestry of perspectives. It also explains what Napoleon was doing with the Guard!

    1. Yes, with all of the French reports and others, a clearer picture of the widespread fighting emerges.

  6. Napoleon being outflanked to the North, then southwest to Paris was surely the way for the enemy to proceed.

    1. It certainly depends in part on where the French commit their forces.

  7. Wow! That’s was a fascinating read!

    Particularly enjoyed going through the messages. Interesting to note that the further away units got from their C-in-C, the sparser and scantier the messages got. Sounds very realistic to me!

    1. Thanks, Mike. The messages definitely slack off after the first hour or two, but sometimes the ones in the later hours are the key ones!