Jackson Gamers' Napoleonic Game
The Battle of Luneburg
Report by Jim Pitts, Game-master of the battle
The Height of the Battle
The height of the action between the British and French. In the foreground, the British light dragoons and KGL heavy dragoons prepare to engage a French dragoon regiment, In the center, a British infantry battalion (the Fusiliers, I think), supported by another light dragoon regiment, the RM/RN battalion, and some artillery engage the rest of the French cavalry.
In the background the British and French infantry finally come to grips, with the British line coming out of top versus the French attack columns (what else is new?!). In the far background, the third British light dragoon regiment is attacked by a French chasseur regiment (or maybe it was lancers, I can't recall) and, in a fiercely fought melee, beat them off.
Initial French Deployment against the British
On the far hill are two French line battalions and two batteries supported by a grenadier battalion. In the center are the four French cavalry regiments (actually three French and one Wurttembourg). While on the near hill are two French line battalions. Bill Estes commanded the French cavalry and Phil Young commanded both French infantry brigades. Luneburg is to the rear of the French line and is garrisoned by one infantry battalion. The British would enter from off the left side of the photo. (NOTE: The road running out of Luneburg is not the one the Prussians used. It actually runs due south toward Hannover. The Prussians were across the river, just barely visible beyond the town.)
This scenario was created late Friday night after Jay Stribling called me and “persuaded” me to run the game since the scheduled game master had to work and couldn’t make it. Jay also was conveniently unavailable!
The general situation is northern Germany in the summer of 1813. The main armies are still in southwestern Germany. A French force under Marshal Davout occupies the major city of Hamburg. Prussian forces are attempting to sever his lines of communications to the south and back to France. Davout sends an adhoc French division south to Luneburg on the Ilmenau River to secure the lines of communications. The Prussians hear of this a march to seize Luneburg before the French can get there. Hearing also that a British expeditionary force has occupied Bremen to the west, the Prussians request the help of their British allies. Thus the battle opens. The battle was fought using Larry Brom’s Standard War Game Rules with the Napoleonic charts and tables.
The French High Command.
Left to right, Marshals of the Empire Phil Young, Ed Sansing, Bill Estes. Phil is a confirmed EMPIRE rules man. Every time he plays Napoleonics with us, using our Brom Rules, he requires time and medication to recuperate!
FRENCH SPECIAL SITUATION: Marshal Davout, commander of the Hamburg garrison, has ordered you to defend the town of Luneburg, the southern approaches to Hamburg. You have a hastily assembled force which has never fought or even maneuvered together. [NOTE: This meant that the French had to add 1 to all their command and control die rolls.]
From information developed by spies and sympathetic Germans, you know that a small British expeditionary force of 6 to 8 infantry battalions, 4 cavalry regiments, and two artillery batteries is advancing from Bremen (west of Luneburg). A Prussian corps of undetermined strength is upriver at Uelzen. You expect them to advance downriver to link up with the British at Luneburg.
French Forces: 2 converged grenadier battalions, 2 leger battalions, 6 line battalions, the Wurttembourg Garde du Korps heavy cavalry regiment, 1 hussar regiment, 1 chasseur a cheval regiment, 1 lancer regiment, 1 12-lbr battery, 2 8-lbr foot batteries, and 1 6-lbr horse battery. Besides you, you have one general de division and 5 generals de brigade to help you control your force. NOTE: French players were Bill Estes, force commander, Phil Young, and Ed Sansing.
The British leaders
Lieutenant-General John Switzer Jr. on the left, and Field-Marshal Josh Switzer on the right. The strain of the "central position" is already telling!
BRITISH SPECIAL SITUATION: After hastily assembling a polyglot force to capture Bremen, you have suddenly been given instructions to advance east and assist a Prussian force to capture Luneburg, cutting the French line of communications into Hamburg from the south. Gathering your best troops, you are advancing on Luneburg. Sympathetic Germans have told you that there is only a small garrison in Luneburg, no more than 3 or 4 infantry battalions and some artillery. You don’t know how far the Prussians are from you or from Luneburg. But honor dictates that you reach Luneburg before the Prussians. And also it will help British interests in Hannover after Boney is beaten.
Your forces are: 1 fusilier battalion, 5 line battalions, 1 Royal Marine/Royal Navy composite battalion, the 1st KGL Dragoons (heavy cavalry), 3 British light dragoon regiments, 2 Royal Artillery companies, and 1 howitzer section. You have 4 brigade commanders to assist you.
NOTE: British commanders were Josh Switzer and John Switzer, Jr.
The Prussian High Command.
General der Infanterie Robert Whitfield in background. General der Kavalrie Sean Pitts in forground. The Prussians chewed up the French blocking force with very light casualties, and were descending on the French rear with murder in their hearts, when the game ended.
PRUSSIAN SPECIAL SITUATION: You have been instructed to advance from Uelzen down the right bank of the Ilmenau River and capture Luneburg, thereby cutting the French lines of communications into Hamburg from the south. You have received word that a British expeditionary force is advancing east from Bremen towards Luneburg, but you aren’t certain how far away they are. In any case, you don’t really trust the British, even though their gold is financing the Prussian was effort. For Prussian honor, you must reach Luneburg first.
From your spies, you know that the French force in Luneburg has 10 infantry battalions, 4 cavalry regiments, and 4 artillery batteries.
Your corps consists of: the Silesian Schutzan battalion, a freiwilliger jager battalion, 1 infantry regiment (2 line and 1 reserve battalions), 1 infantry regiment (1 line, 1 reserve, and 1 landwehr battalions), 3 line dragoon regiments, 1 12-lbr heavy artillery battery, 2 6-lbr foot artillery batteries, and 1 6-lbr horse artillery battery. You have 4 brigade generals to assist you.
NOTE: Prussian commanders were Robert Whitfield and Sean Pitts.
The French "blocking force" deployed against the Prussians.
French blocking brigade commanded by Ed Sansing. One line battalion is to left of river guarding that side of the "hidden" ford. The other line battalions and an artillery battery are deployed in the first line, supported by a grenadier battalion in the second line.
Masses of Prussians move forward!
The Prussian Brigade consisted of 8 infantry regiments and 4 cavalry regiements, supported by two batteries.
TERRAIN NOTES: Luneburg is located in the North German Plain, a region of gently rolling heath and flat marshy meadows and fields. The rivers, for the most part, are fairly shallow, but their banks are marshy, making them difficult to cross. For this scenario, the Ilmenau River was only crossable with ease at the bridge leading out of Luneburg.
Known to the French, but not the Prussians, was the location of the only ford. The Prussians could discover it by having a unit within 3” and rolling a 1, 2, or 3 on a D6 (which they did). The hills were gentle with no movement penalty, but with a combat advantage.
British and French forces engaged!
In the foreground a British light dragoon regiment, supported by the 1st KGL Heavy Dragoons, prepares to engage a French line battalion, which they rout. On the hill in the right foreground is the other French line battalion from their left flank brigade, which formed square on the next turn.
In the center, three French and one Wurttembourg cavalry regiments launch their charges against the center of the British line, causing heavy casualties and routing several British battalions. But they over extend themselves and are repulsed in turn. In the distance, the British and French infantry haven't come to grips yet.
Game-Master's Battle Report
The French decided to use a small infantry brigade to delay the Prussian advance, while using the rest of their force, especially the cavalry, to engage and destroy the British. Their plan worked very well, but was eventually doomed because the Prussian force was too powerful for the delaying brigade. In addition, the Prussians discovered a ford across the Ilmenau River and began crossing their cavalry brigade which quickly defeated the one French battalion on that side of the river.
The French were also hampered by the fact that their units had never fought together before and commanders weren’t known to units and vice versa. For command control die rolls, the French had to add 1 to each roll, making it a little harder to get units to move. This resulted in several instances of French units not being able to take advantage of open British flanks.
The Prussians were initially hampered by traffic control as they tried to deploy their army. Once deployed however, they quickly forced the French troops back, routing several French battalions by game’s end.
The British had the same traffic control problem, compounded by the French being deployed right on top of them as soon as they entered the board. The battle was fierce with charge and countercharge by both side’s cavalry and infantry. The British weight was finally being to be brought to bear by the time the game ended.
Although it appeared at game’s end that the French were holding their own, they had lost sufficient casualties against the British that they probably could not have prevented the Prussians from capturing Luneburg. Both the British and the French had suffered considerable casualties, while the Prussians had hardly lost any one at all.
If I ran this scenario again, I would reduce the forces by 20 to 25%. There were too many troops for the size of the table (6 x 8 feet). The French would be forced to start in their encampments with just cavalry pickets deployed. Warnings from these pickets would be needed before the various French brigades could be activated and began their deployment. This scenario could also be done in 15mm with no reduction in force.
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