On Sunday, May 4, the Portland group played another session of our long running 1805 campaign game. We picked up the pace just a little, and played the three winter months of December 1813 through February 1814.
I'll start by mentioning that my last session report was inaccurate in a couple of details. Most importantly, Naples had already been conquered by Spain at the end of last session.
WAR IN THE EAST
With the coming of winter, things really cooled off in Russia. (Sorry! Couldn't help myself!) This part of the report is very likely to contain errors, as I can't keep accurate track of what is happening in the East.
As the Turkish army stood down all but two or three feudal corps and backpedaled toward Odessa with the rest, the Tsar moved forward to Kiev. First, a corps from the southwest corner of the Pripet Marshes lunged forward to put Kiev under siege and regain the money and manpower for the December econ phase. The small French cavalry corps left in Russia rode to the southwest end of the Pripet Marshes to eat the Russian depot there. But the Tsar's commissariat was building another supply line from the direction of Vitebsk and Smolensk.
By February the mass of the Tsar's army had assembled at Kiev, and a detached corps was at or was nearing Ekaterinoslav. I don't remember the placement, the Tsar expects to be able to collect income from Crimea in the March 1814 econ phase. I believe that the Sultan's main army (2 Jannissary, 1 Imperial Cavalry, 1 Egyptian, and 2 feudal infantry corps) has moved south of the Russo-Turkish border. I think this is to keep it out of range of the large Russian army at Kiev, to reassemble with newly levied Turkish feudal corps, and to reduce the number of Cossacks that will be available to the Tsar during the March 1814 econ phase (no enemy corps inside Russia).
Looks like the Tsar has his country back. But there was an interesting incident at Novgorod in February. The 4 infantry Egyptian garrison, attacked a besieging corps of 5 Russian militia and beat them! The Russian militia corps had to retreat out of the Novgorod area. Unfortunately for the Sultan this did not take place in March, when that result would have prevented Russia from receiving the money and manpower from the province of Novgorod. And 2 of the Egyptian garrison were lost in the process, which effectively prevents a repeat performance.
The real twist in the East is that Turkish feudal corps, in 2 groups of 3 or 4 corps each, are massing on the Austrian border opposite Military Border and Transylvania. Is the Sultan about to expand the war via a DoW on Austria? I think the smart money is on the "yes" answer, due to developments in the West.
DECEMBER 1813: MANEUVERS IN THE WEST
Napoleon elected to move last in December. The Coalition responded with an attack from Munich by Blucher and 4 corps to relieve the Prussian corps under siege in Venice. Charles backed him up by moving 4 Austrian and 2 Swedish corps from Vienna to the Salzburg area. Another Austrian corps moved to Mantua to besiege and screen. (In a related move, the Prussian fleet moved to Stettin, where a depot was built.) The besieging corps of 3 Piedmont infantry was wiped out at Venice.
Other Prussian corps under Hohenlohe and Brunswick besieged Munich and Ulm respectively, while British and Swedish corps besieged Liege and Freiburg. The Coalition besieging forces did not achieve breaches, but the garrisons of Mantua and Freiburg starved out, and the garrison at Ulm lost 3 militia, resulting in removal of a French corps.
Murat, moving quickly over snowy Alpine passes, launched a daring attack on Hohenlohe's Prussian corps at Munich with 2 French corps. The French had 7 inf, 2 cav, and 4 artillery against the Prussian 13 inf & 3 cav. I think that Murat picked Probe vs. Hohenlohe's Defend, but I didn't write that down. Charles, who was just to the south, either elected not to reinforce Hohenlohe in order to stay close to Blucher, or failed to reinforce. The French artillery killed a Prussian in each of 3 rounds, and the Prussians broke in the 3rd round, losing a total of 4 inf & 1 cav while inflicting a loss of only 1 mil on the French! Not good for the prestige of Prussia and of Hohenlohe, who retreated north towards Bohemia and the nearest Prussian depot.
JANUARY 1814: THE BATTLE OF THE ALPS
There was a bit of a shocker during the naval phase. A Turkish fleet of 24 ships sailed an Egyptian corps into Genoa! The Austrian Kaiser howled about the breach of the truce between Prussia, Austria, and Turkey. Napoleon must have asked for help from his Turkish ally, help that the Sultan could not honorably refuse given the massive help that France has provided to the Turks in their long war against Russia. I speculate that the plan was to use the Egyptian corps to split a coalition stack.
But the British responded like greased lightning, moving 2 fleets of 60 ships to Barcelona. The Sultan gulped audibly!
Napoleon pulled off a very slick move in January, moving first, and concentrating an army of 6 French corps in the snowy Alpine passes just north of Milan. Murat fell back from Munich to join him. From this position he would be able to strike at Venice, Munich, Stuttgart, or Freiburg. The armies of Charles and Blucher were just too far away to be able to make it to Napoleon's position. Any attack would seem to be prohibitively expensive given winter supply costs.
That didn't stop Wellington! He attacked with 4 British, 1 Swedish, and 1 Prussian corps, assisted by Beresford and Brunswick. Charles moved his 4 Austrian and 2 Swedish corps with John and Bernadotte to the southwest area of Bavaria, while Blucher, after building a depot at Venice (sea supply from Stettin) moved Prussian corps to the mountain area of southwest Tyrol. Both leaders hoped to be able to reinforce Wellington.
Some serious thought went into the choices of tactical chits, but ultimately both Wellington and Napoleon attempted to outflank. This led to a high morale battle. Wellington had 72 factors at morale 4.0, while Napoleon had 40 factors at morale 4.2. We were surprised at the small size of the French force, which looked very imposing given the presence of 6 French corps. The British brought 2 gd, 40 inf, & 6 cav to the fight, while the Swedes and Prussians brought another 15 inf & 4 cav. The French had 11 gd, 7 inf, 2 mil, 4 art, & 16 cav. Both sides had a +1 to die rolls in the 1st round due to leadership. Neither side had cavalry superiority.
Round 1 did not go so well for the French, as only the artillery scored a kill and only -0.5 morale were deducted from the Coalition, while the French suffered 4 killed and -1.5 morale.
Before the 2nd round, Charles succeeded in reinforcing, bringing in his 4 Austrian and 2 Swedish corps. Blucher failed from the more difficult approach through the mountains. The numbers weren't that impressive, totaling only 39 factors, of which 18 were Swedes. But the number of corps dropped Wellington's tactical rating to 2. Napoleon elected to use a tactical rating of 3 (drop by 1 from 4) in order to ensure that the Coalition would get a -1 on the die roll. It didn't prevent a bad result, as the French killed only 3 and inflicted a -0.9 morale, against a loss of 6 French killed and a French morale loss of -1.3 (total of -2.8).
Blucher again failed to reinforce through the snowy Alps. But things were looking bleak for the Emperor, and he considered committing the Guard. But per the tables, committing the Guard would produce the same odds of a Coalition break, 50%, so the Guard were not committed. Luck was with the Emperor in the sense that he did roll just high enough to break the Coalition, inflicting -2.6 morale loss and killing another 4 of them. But Wellington rolled a 6! The French lost 2.4 morale and another 11 French were killed.
3 British, 2 Swedes (including 1 cav), 2 Austrians, and 1 Prussian were lost, a total of 8 factors, and the combined armies of Wellington and Charles, retreated to Freiburg, along with Brunswick, Bernadotte, Beresford, and John. The French had lost 7 inf, 2 mil, 1 cav, and 11 other factors in some combination of cavalry, artillery, and guard, a total of 21 factors. This was one of the most expensive battles that Napoleon has fought in this campaign.
Meanwhile, Hohenlohe returned to Munich, breached, and 2 French mil surrendered. An Austrian corps failed to breach at Ulm. A British corps landed at Antwerp, rolled a 1 on the breaching attempt, and the 1 French mil died in a sortie. Another British corps breached at Liege, and both sides rolled a 6 in the 1st round! The British lost 1 inf out of 10 inf while killing 2 French mil and capturing another 2 French mil.
FEBRUARY 1814: BLUCHER DRIVES ON ROMAGNA
To the Sultan's chagrin, February 1814 began with a DoW by Britain on Turkey. When Nelson and 60 British ships entered the sea zone off Genoa, the Turks briefly considered an attempt to intercept, but then declined. Nelson's fleets clamped a tight blockade on the Turkish fleet of 24 ships in Genoa.
Napoleon pulled yet another fast one on the Coalition, sending corps to Linz and the area north of Munich, while a cavalry corps rode into Vienna. I joked that Perry will probably want to play Austria in the next campaign because he likes Vienna so much that the only way his troops could spend more time there than his French have spent in this campaign would be for him to play Austria! Napoleon himself took some corps to Florence. Other French corps are at Genoa, Turin, Milan, and Rome (this last under Massena).
The Coalition responded with an attack by Charles on the corps north of Munich, which wiped out that corps of 3 French militia. This battle finally bumped Austria up out of the instability zone! A Prussian corps under Hohenlohe wiped out another corps of 1 French militia at Linz. The Prussians left Munich to be occupied by the Austrians, since the Austrians are in dire need of money and manpower to rebuild their depleted army. None of the Coalition corps could reach the French cavalry corps at Vienna in February, but they will reach Vienna in March.
A Swedish corps moved to Zurich but failed to breach. A Prussian corps under Brunswick and a Swedish corps under Bernadotte attacked and wiped out a corps of 1 French militia on a depot in the Alpine area just north of Milan, converting the depot to Prussian. These last two moves are covered by Wellington's army of 5 British and 1 Swedish corps located at Freiburg, which is in position to reinforce or counter-attack. The growing Spanish army under Blake at the toe of the boot inched northward, but is still a forced march away from Napoleon. The Spanish should see the first troops of the newly reconstituted Kingdome of the Two Sicilies in the March reinforcement phase.
The much more bold looking move was Blucher's move to Bologna. His 5 corps army breached the city, killed 1 French militia, and detached a garrison. Blucher has been almost beside himself with frustration at missing out on battles with Napoleon. He is brimming over with aggression. Given that the armies of Wellington and Charles are out of range to reinforce or even counter-attack at Bologna, Blucher may soon get his wish for a battle against the French Emperor. Since Prussia just conquered Venetia, something must be done about the Prussian presence in Italy.
LOOKING AHEAD TO SPRING...
Although more French militia, cavalry, infantry, guard, and artillery seem to be arriving each quarter, along with a few Lombards and Piedmontese, the situation appears somewhat dire for Napoleon. His goal of knocking out the Austrians and depriving the Coalition of the services of the Archduke Charles seems to have been achieved, as the Austrians have fallen back toward Vienna behind the Prussians, British, and Swedes. But the Emperor is a bit short of men, and that bloodbath in the Alps in January deprived him of precious elites.
Wellington is covering Southern Germany, while Blucher is charging into Italy. Both are, in effect, covering the crippled Austrians. The Spanish army under Blake is getting bigger, but it will take a couple of moves for it to reach Rome. The Spanish are not confident of their odds in battles against Napoleon. The Coalition is continuing to nibble and chew, but is continually frustrated by French raids on depots and capitals, and Napoleon is hard to catch. To borrow a line from Mohammed Ali, he "floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee."
My money is on a Turkish DoW on Austria in March 1814. The Sultan appears to be getting bored with the war in Russia now that the Turks have been chased out of Moscow and Kiev. Turks seem to prefer to be on the attack, and an even up battle against the large Russian army now at Kiev may not be to the Sultan's taste. The Sultan also cannot afford to allow Napoleon, his great benefactor, to slowly drown. The transport of that Egyptian corps to Genoa and the gathering of Turkish feudal corps on the Austrian border is a pretty clear indication of what is coming.
A Turkish attack on Austria while the Russians are still no closer than Kiev would turn the situation very fluid. Coalition forces would be drawn off from Germany and Italy, the Russians would have to figure out which way to go, and Napoleon would get the opportunity for yet more lightning strikes on isolated Coalition armies, depots, and capitals. There is already the Egyptian corps at Genoa, and in a few months whatever is left of the Nizami Cedid corps (which hasn't lost anything yet) will revert to Turkish control, most likely in Italy. Now seems to be the right time for the Sultan to give Napoleon one last chance.
Thanks for the writeup, it's a great description. I am surprised that the players keep fighting, even when corps strengths have gotten so weak. A real aggressive bunch.
Warren Bruhn wrote:
My money is on a Turkish DoW on Austria in March 1814. The Sultan appears to be getting bored with the war in Russia now that the Turks have been chased out of Moscow and Kiev.
Excuse me, chased?!? Hardly. After controlling half of Russia's money and manpower for almost 2 years of game time and a need to re-raise the feudal armies (after a horrible foraging episode I don't want to recount), a strategic southern rendezvous was in order.
My northern Egyptian corp at Novgorod drew away most of the Tzar's Calvary corps to pursue it thus delaying the Tzar's southernly march to the Turkish border. I cleverly bought time.
I now I have 15 corps at my disposal with one month distance of reuniting and am with the French and Piedmont corps along the border of Austria. Russia is a couple of months distant and now will have to build supply lines.
Meanwhile I hear Vienna is lovely this time of year.
And yes, the Turks do prefer to be on the attack!
Excuse me, chased?!? Hardly...
I now I have 15 corps at my disposal ... and am with the French and Piedmont corps along the border of Austria.
Meanwhile I hear Vienna is lovely this time of year.
Heh, heh! You wan like a wabbit!
7 feudal infantry
3 feudal cavalry
1 imperial cavalry
= 14 corps with up to 143 factors
(Nizami Cedid in Naples under Spanish control, other Egyptian at Genoa)
Vienna was probably really nice in 1685 too!