Turn 10: Morning Sep 6th (Morale: French 8, Allies 7)
Frustrated by the sandstorms of the previous day, Ney was determined to bring the battle to the Prussians knowing that he would have to rout significant portions of the Allied army in order to win the battle. Sensing that the Allied right flank was their weakest and wanting to secure his own communications, Ney force marched his army into the assault. The XII and VII Corps swung around to the south and combined strike the weak H Corps. Ney posted the IV Corps to their right to neutralize the XII Corps by frontally assaulting their position on the hill top. The IIIc cavalry moved to Kaltenborn to screen the right flank and slow any Allied advance down the abandoned northern road to Dennewitz.
The assault began with the IV Corps pushing the XII Corps off the hill. Although dangerously exposed, IV Corps advanced to cut off the retreat of H Corps being assaulted to the South. With overwhelming strength, the XII and VII Corps moved forward to destroy the H Corps. Understanding it was critical to hold, the Prussians desperately committed their final reserves. The Saxons and Bavarians did not share the same zeal as the French and went to ground in face of the determined Prussian resistance and the two sides settled down to exchange fire.
Seeing the determined resistance of the Prussian H Corps, Bernadotte realized it was now the French that were dangerously exposed. He had the CZ cavalry swing around to pin the French IIIc cavalry in Kaltenborn while he committed the Swedish Corps to destroy them. The III Corps and XII Corps would combine to crush the overextended IV Corps and clear the way for a retreat by the outgunned H Corps.
The attack began at Kaltenborn. Although outgunned the veteran French Cavalry performed an orderly withdrawal towards Seehausen. The Swedish Corps occupied Kaltenborn in their wake.
The main attack went forward to crush the French IV Corps. Realizing the importance of the situation, the French committed their reserves. The veterans of the IV Corps withdrew in good order back down the hill. Despite harassing fire from the H Corps on their flank the IV Corps did not break.
Meanwhile, the Prussian H Corps was engaged in the continued fight for its life against the XII and VII Corps. Even with the exhortations of “for King and Fatherland!”, the French strength was too much and the H Corps routed back through Schonefeld to the outskirts of Marzahna with an additional hit to Allied morale.
Although both sides started the morning with their morale high the intense combat, commitment of reserves, and final routing of the Prussian H Corps took a heavy toll on the morale of both sides. Initially Ney’s plan appeared to be working but the unexpected resistance of H Corps placed his army in serious trouble. Bernadotte responded furiously throwing his entire army into the fray. The French withdrew where outnumbered in good order while the left wing finally broke the exhausted H Corps. Ney could be satisfied that his troops acquitted themselves well and eventually achieved the goal of routing the Allied right flank. However, half of his army was still entangled with the most powerful units of the Allied army in defensible terrain. The situation was very much still in doubt.
Turn 11: Mid-Day Sep 6th (Morale: French 5, Allied 3)
After routing the Prussian H Corps, Ney moved up the XII and VII Corps to assist the beleaguered remainder of his army. The VII Corps moved through Seehausen to the outskirts of Kaltenborn to assist the cavalry against the Swedes. The XII Corps advanced to the left of the French IV Corps to join the battle against Bulow’s Prussian III Corps.
The attack on Kaltenborn started the mid-day fighting. Although the VII Corps initially wavered, they rose to the occasion and with the assistance of the French Cavalry pushed the Swedes out of Kaltenborn and retook the village. Meanwhile the IV and XII Corps stormed the hill recently seized by Bulow’s III Corps with cries of “Vive l’Empereur!” However, Bulow’s veterans stood firm and both sides settled down to exchange fire.
Bernadotte moved the XII Corps up to the right of the of the Bulow’s III Corps to support the battle raging around the hill. H Corps recovered from rout and moved back towards the battlefield advancing to Schonefeld.
Disaster struck immediately for the Allies on their left while attempting to retake Kaltenborn. The Russian cavalry got tangled in the streets of the village and were routed by the heavy fire of the VII Corps and routed by Berlin. Seeing their cavalry support retiring in disarray, the Swedish Corps faltered. The VII Corps counterattacked and routed the Swedes back down the road past Eckmansdorf. The VII Corps pursued along the road until just outside of Kaltenborn before halting to regroup.
With the success on the right, Ney hoped to hold off the punishing attack of Bulow’s III Corps against the IV Corps and committed his reserves. The French XII Corps was busy against the corresponding Russian XII Corps and could not assist. Even with the reserves, the push of III Corps was just too much for the exhausted IV Corps and they routed back to the east of Naundorf. Seeing the advance of the VII Corps to their left and rear, Bulow restrained his III Corps from pursuing.
It was a good thing that the Prussians did not advance as the Russians and Swedes were proving to be very unreliable allies. The Russian XII Corps routed attempting to attack the French XII Corps which stood firm. While running away the encountered the similarly routing Swedes. They ran around them to the north and headed west, not halting until on the outskirts of Marzanna.
Bernadotte’s plans were in ruins. Only the III Corps remained steady with 3 other units routing. Although the French IV Corps also routed, The III Corps was now dangerously exposed and isolated on the hill outside Eckmansdorf. Allied morale was dangerously low. Bernadotte had to assume that Ney would promptly press his advantage.
Turn 12: Afternoon Sep 6th (Morale: French 3, Allies 1)
Indeed, Ney did seize the advantage given to him by the routing of the Prussian allies. He enveloped the powerful III Corps on the left with his XII Corps and on the right with the VII Corps. Meanwhile, the IIIc Cavalry would charge up the middle when the III Corps faltered. The tired VII Corps wavered on the attack. Bulow, understanding how desperate his situation was, began to withdraw in good order. However, that is when his troops were struck in flank by the enveloping XII Corps to the south. This was too much for the Prussians who finally broke.
With nearly his entire army routed, Bernadotte called for a general retreat to the Northwest. The way to Berlin lay opened and was subsequently captured by Ney. A decisive victory for the French!
This was my first full play through of Dennewitz and it was exciting with a lot of decisions to make, fluidity early on, and tense see-saw fighting on the last day. My biggest mistake as the Prussians was not having the IV Corps escape north during the 3rd turn when it had the chance. This allowed the French to converge and break the unit (which was eventually eliminated on rally). With that one extra unit, things would have been much harder for the French.
My next mistake as the French was to fall for the siren song of having the IV Corps head to Juterborg to secure the objective and reduce Allied morale by 1 during the night turn (I also misread the rules and thought the French would get a morale point the second night for occupying one LOC hex when you need two). IV Corps could have made it to Dennewitz and then the outskirts of Kaltenborn to be able to put pressure on the III Corps after the destruction of IV Corps. Instead, it was too far east which allowed the Allies to consolidate their forces unmolested and take advantage of the lulls to repair the damage to lost morale. The remainder of the second day was ineffective with neither side able to gain an advantage and hindered by the sandstorms.
September 6th was the critical day, much like the actual battle (although fought further west). The French committed to an audacious attack as they had to get positive combat results to win. Although eventually achieving the objective of routing the Prussian H Corps, they were left terribly exposed and were very lucky to extract IV Corps and the cavalry without serious damage. Then the Allies were hit with some very bad combat rolls which both unhinged their position and left their morale dangerously low which the French immediately capitalized on to win the game.
Overall the game was a lot of fun with a lot of opportunity for maneuver and chances for both sides to win. I am looking forward to playing it again.
French pulled it out nicely after only being up by 1 MP at the end of Day 2
Wonderful session report