Thursday, July 25, 2013

Battle of Kalmberg Heights

I once again brought out the troops for a Napoleonic Black Powder game Wednesday night. This game was slightly different in that most of the gamers had not played Black Powder nor even Horse and Musket era gaming. I chose the forces that were around the Kalmberg Heights during the battle of Leipzig. For the French this meant most of them came from MacDonalds XI corps and for the Allies Klenau IV Corps with some Russian support from the nearby Russian I corps. Click on Battle of Kalmberg Heights to download the scenario in pdf format. In this game Chris and Erik commanded the allies while Wade and I commanded the French.


To:          FML Mayer, 3rd Division
From:      GdK Klenau, IV Corps


 On the morrow we attack the frogs; your command shall position itself on the corps left flank. Your objective is to drive the French from the high ground to your front, known as the Kalmberg Heights. Prinz Gorchakov’s Russian I corps will be to the left of your command and he has graciously ordered GM von Helfreich Division to assist you in taking the heights.

Generall der Kavallerie Klenau, Commanding

Chris took charge of the Austrian right, with six battalions of infantry and a six pound battery. Erik took charge of the Russians composed of four battalions of infantry and a twelve gun battery of twelve pounders on the left. They had a basic plan with the Russians trying to take the hill, while the Austrian infantry, as well as any cavalry that showed up, would attack in the center or center left. Though they did detached several battalions of Austrians to move around the small woods on the right.


To:       General of Division Gerard
From:   MdE MacDonald, Commanding XI Corps


The allies have been patrolling all night, a sure indication that they will attack tomorrow. Your command has control of a key terrain feature, called the Kalmberg Heights. Maintaining the line is important and holding the heights is critical to this. The Germans of GdD Marchand division will be to your left but don’t expect much help from them as they will be fully engage in keeping the road to Leipzig open for the Corps. GdD Roguet has a sent a regiment of Young Guard to stiffen up your defense of the heights.

Marshall MacDonald, Commanding XI Corps

 Wade would command GdB Senecal’s French brigade of seven battalions of infantry and one Italian horse battery of six pounders. I would command four battalions of Baden infantry, a French twelve pounder battery and a small regiment of Italian chasseurs. The latter two not “showing” up until turn four when I realized I forgot to set them up! The original plan was to hold the line, but I as the Baden commander, GM von Stockhorn, decided he did not speak French and advanced both regiments towards the Austrians. Knowing that their enthusiasm for fighting had dimmed by this time, the French were not sure if Baden troops were attacking or defecting!

The Game
As per the norm of most of our games, things started slowly with multiple failed command rolls. However the Russian battery immediately started to take a toll on the conscripts of the 112th regiment with surprisingly accurate long range fire. To put an end to this, the 2nd/112th advanced to musketry range of the Russian battery ... and was promptly shattered by concentrated twelve pound fire! So anticipating the collapse of the 112th, Wade order the 6th Ligne Regiment to form up into a three battalion column.

By now the Austrian infantry on the right had moved into engagement range of the Baden battalions, but as all units were in column the effects of musketry was minimal. So the Austrians just kept on moving and closed with the Baden troops and it was not long before the 2nd Baden regiment broke and fled the field of battle.

After dispersing another battalion of the 112th, the four battalions of Russian infantry began moving uphill to contest the hilltop. It was also about this time that Austrian cavalry brigade arrived on the road.

The first battalion of the 1st Baden regiment tried to stem the Austrian tide, but ended breaking as well. So the remaining battalion retreated to the rear. This left a pretty big gap on the French left, and unfortunately the 6th regiment had by now engaged the Russians and Austrians advancing onto the hill.
Wade did not have to worry about moving to the left because the left came charging to him! The large regiment of Austrians Cuirassiers crashed into 6th regiment, shattering one battalion. The 2nd/6th was able to form a hasty square and barley held up the Cuirassiers and surely stopped them from destroying the entire brigade.

The Italian chasseurs tried to hold the far left but they were so few in number that the three Austrian battalions of infantry were able to easily drive them from the battlefield.

Collapse of line was imminent, so to help cover the retreat of the brigade, I ordered the twelve pound battery to move up and pour grapeshot into the reforming cuirassiers. They inflicted sever casualties on the regiment, but there was so many of the armored troopers that instead of continuing to fire the battery took this opportunity to limber up and retire.

With that the French army broken, and we called the game as an Allied Victory.

Post Game Thoughts
I tried a few new things out for this game …

Large battery for the Russians: I just had them fire as two batteries which worked, but I think it worked to well. It makes it almost impossible to charge them and I think there needs to be some degradation for inefficiency of a large battery. So I am leaning towards 4/3/2 for the whole battery and let them re-roll one miss. 

Victory/Objective conditions: The threatened LOC Victory condition I liked and will use it some more. The taking the hilltop part was really an all or nothing prospect, in that it is hard to take the objective without breaking the brigade "guarding" it before reaching it, and it would most likely be the end of the game. Instead of the Staff Rating adjustment, I think I'll try a break point adjustment, such as: One Defending Brigade with a unit with in 4" of the object can ignore shaken units for Brigade morale while they have not lost the objective.

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