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Subject: Kulm – nights on a bare mountain. rss

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Andrew Hobley
United Kingdom
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After Grossbeeren and Katzbach Kulm is the third of the FLB games, as usual played solo. After their defeat at Dresden the Allied forces are falling back towards Bohemia. I Corps under Vandamme leads the French pursuit and when the game starts, at 5pm on 29 August, he crossed the mountain pass from Peterswalde, occupied the town of Kulm and is pushing south west to cut off the Allied lines of retreat. Behind him he hopes are the Young and Old Guard, XIV Corps, I Cavalry, and Napoleon. But across his path are the Russian rearguard, the Russian II and V Corps and II Cavalry Corps under Galitzen, along with General Barclay. To the west are retreating Austrian Corps and somewhere to the north is Kleist and the Prussian II Corps. An inducement for the French to press on are the victory point locations, Kulm itself is already in their possession, Priesten and Sobochleben lie further down the road to Bohemia.

All the possible French reinforcements (apart from two advanced units of XIV Corps, are Alternative Reinforcements, whose entry depends on what cards the French can play. For the Coalition the Prussians are a normal reinforcement – although as we will see even that is not guaranteed.

So to battle. Vandamme had allowed his Corps to be scattered in its advance [play of Mode card at start] so only advanced cautiously as he reorganised. First blood went to the Russian Duka heavy cavalry as they rode down French light cavalry on the flanks before nightfall.

Kulm 5pm – settling in for the night.

Next morning Barclay heard Kleist had been driven further west and would not be arriving [French card cancelling next Allied reinforcement]. He sent orders for the Austrian I Corps to cease retreat and reinforce the Allied line. Vandamme also had news, the Guard was en route. He attacked, inflicting some casualties, before becoming isolated with a brigade south-west of Priestien and killed as they were routed. Russian cavalry on the Allied right broke through to the Kulm road and news arrived that the Young Guard had been delayed for three hours.

Kulm 10am – I Corps in trouble.

At 11am Napoleon himself arrived on the battlefield. But there was little he could do to stop the Allied advance, eventually having to flee into the hills to avoid capture. The Young Guard arrived, but halted at Nidendorf to provide a rallying point for the fugitives from I Corps. The Allies did not press their advance too far, both of the Russian Corps had suffered heavy casualties.

The French lost 56 SP, the Allies 24, and with the all the important points in Allied control it was a Coalition Strategic Victory.

As with the other games I set this up again, partly to see what happened when the Prussians arrived. This time the first day saw very little action, but at night the Young Guard arrived and Kleist was delayed for three hours.

The next day Vandamme attacked and a hard struggle ensued for possession of Priestien, the town changing hands eight times. The Russian cavalry tried to infiltrate round the French left flank, but were driven back. The Russian infantry were reinforced by the Austrian I and 2 Reserve Corps and the pressure gradually told on the French, with a sudden collapse around 3pm leading to Vandamme pulling his men back north of Kulm.

Meanwhile what of the Guard and the Prussians? Mortier directed the Young Guard to march to Ebersdorf to come in to the Allied rear. But Kliest’s Prussians arrived to block their progress and not only did this, but inflicted such casualties in fighting around Streckenwald and Hinter Tellnitz that the Guard was demoralised.

Kulm 2 pm. The French about to crumble at Kulm, the Young Guard held

Suddenly cries of ‘Cavalry’ ring out, as the French 1 Cavalry Corps debouched by the same road and crashed into the Prussian rear. In two hours it was all over and the French were rounding up their prisoners.

Kulm 3 pm. The doom of the Prussians arrives

Both sides then consolidated their positions before night fell. Counting the bodies the French had lost 63 SP, the Coalition 43. The Coalition held all the objectives, so another Coalition Strategic Victory.

In retrospect the French start out on a limb, and rather than attacking perhaps should make the Allies come to them, while they hold Kulm (15 VP) and hope for early reinforcement – or a General Retreat card. Next time, next time ..... Meanwhile ‘On to Berlin- again’; Dennewitz awaits.
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