AAC AAR A Day of Battle 2
I'm at it again! For a brief background of the scenario, game system, victory conditions and forces involved I refer the reader to my previous session in this same forum.
Let's just say that this was a very different battle! This turned out to be as much a battle of maneuver as of firepower. In my previous session things had moved more or less in historical tracks, mostly because I based both sides' strategies on what had happened historically. In this new session I took both sides on a wild alternate history ride!
As always, I recorded and took pictures as the events happened, with no benefit of hindsight in my comments/analysis. I divided the descriptions by geographical location, but apart from that events were recorded in the order they happened.
2. French Plans
3. Prussian Plans
4. The Battle 8 am to 9 pm
5. Final Result
6. Comparison to Historical and Previous Session Outcomes
My first attempt at the scenario ended up a French Minor Victory when some leaderless Prussian Guard cavalry decided to skedaddle, leaving the Verdun Road exit hex Control Marker for French cavalry to take.
It was a pretty conservative game, with the French deploying pretty much as they did historically, only with more determination right up until the evening when a previously effective Bazaine succumbed to very historical defeatism.
This time I want to try out different things!
To recap, the Mandatory hexes the French need to control to avoid defeat are Rezonville to the east/right and Jarny to the north/top, with an instant defeat if the Prussians manage to put a unit in Gravelotte, even further to the east/right.
The Prussian Mandatory hexes are Mars-la-Tour (both hexes of the town) and Puxieux to the south-west/bottom left, with an instant defeat if the French take all three southern/bottom map edge road exit hexes.
If both sides control their Mandatory Hexes you count Minor Victory Hexes, meaning the Verdun Road exit hex, Bruville, Tronville, Vionville and Flavigny, all of them at or near one of the Major Roads.
All you really need to understand is that this scenario is about control of the two Major Roads going from Gravelotte on the right to their exit hexes on the left map-edge. Marshal Bazaine's French army has left Metz (off-map to the right) and plans to join up with another French army at Verdun (off-map to the left). The appearance of Prussians on his left flank means he has to gain control of the roads/escape paths, while he also has to protect his line-of-communications back to Metz where most of his supplies and trains/rear echelons have yet to even leave due to traffic jams.
French Plans - "Ordres, contre-ordres et désordres"
A couple of big questions when deciding on the order in which to activate the French formations are 1) what to do with the distant IV Corps (green), and 2) how to make sure Jarny (the French Mandatory hex in the north-west a dozen hexes north of Mars-la-Tour) doesn't fall to a surprise advance by the Prussians, probably to one of the cavalry divisions. Rezonville (the other Mandatory hex) feels pretty safe, unless the French totally abandon the place and are then out-marched by the small Prussian formations arriving by the southern Gorze road.
Last time I sent IV Corps (green) all the way to Mars-la-Tour, a ten-hour march just to get to the Fond de la Cuve ravine, and then another two to three hours to get the whole corps across the bridge and properly deployed for an attack on the town. Even starting on the 9 am turn (the earliest possible) and avoiding a potential traffic jam with III Corps (red) it wasn't ready to assault the town until Dusk (9 pm) and was then foiled by the Bazaine's Malaise chit.
If I sent IV Corps south instead, the foremost infantry brigade would reach Rezonville six hours after first activating, and would then have a good Major Road for any further marching to the west before deploying against whatever Prussian defenses still stood (Vionville would be another hour and a half by road column, Mars-la-Tour yet another couple of hours). The corps would also have the option before reaching Rezonville (about four hours after activation, when reaching the Malmaison area) to make a right-wheel and use the northern Major Road to Jarny if the situation required it (a journey of about eight hours in total).
So I'm thinking I'll first activate Frossard's II Corps (khaki) at 9 am to grab Flavigny as soon as possible, then set LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) on its way to hopefully reach Mars-la-Tour before the first Prussian X Corps (green) units do. Then at 11 pm I would activate Ladmirault's IV Corps (green), sending it south as outlined above. Next would be Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) to take Vionville, followed by the Imperial Guard (purple) and Army Reserve Artillery (white) which I would send straight into the fight, hoping to eventually push a three-corps advance (II, VI and IG) all the way to Tronville or even Puxieux, knowing IV Corps (green) would be coming up to cover Rezonville or even to add further weight to the attack. I pretty much expect at least one French corps to be incapable of further offensive operations by then (probably poor Frossard's II Corps) so it's an option to retire that corps to recover at and protect Rezonville while IV Corps pushes on. The two French cavalry divisions would be last to activate, at 3 and 4 pm.
Sending Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) toward the Mars-la-Tour/Jarny area is undoubtedly the "safe" option, but I've already done that...
I'm hoping taking Mars-la-Tour quickly will give the Prussians enough to worry about, especially with their right under heavy pressure as well, not to even think about sending a cavalry division to oust du Barail's 1st Reserve Cavalry Division from Jarny for a while. That said, I don't expect LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) to manage to hold Mars-la-Tour against a determined Prussian counter-push, probably ending up bled out and ineffective sooner or later, so Jarny will really only be protected by du Barail's measly single cavalry brigade and one horse artillery unit toward the end of the day. Sure, there is always the option of sending IV Corps there and retire one of the fought-out French corps in the Flavigny area to Rezonville in time to handle Goeben's and Manstein's arrival, but I'd like to see both what Ladmirault can do in the center and what the Prussians can do in the north-west if given an opportunity.
(A thought occurred to me... the Imperial Guard (purple) is the fastest-marching French formation on the map, apart from the pure-cavalry ones; maybe it would be possible to use it in the attack to pummel Alvensleben alongside II (khaki) and VI (yellow) Corps for the first few turns after its activation at 1 pm, then have it go north and west as soon as IV Corps (green) came up to add its weight to any further attacks at about 4 pm. I'd probably have to leave the slower artillery and any battleworn (and thus slower) guardsmen infantry brigades behind but the Imperial Guard cavalry, horse artillery and fresh brigades could go from Vionville to Jarny in three or four turns, possibly getting there in time to save Jarny before dark if there were any Prussian cavalry around. It'd require good timing and an absence of command difficulties...)
So, barring any excessive frequencies of unusual Fog of War Events (like Lull in the Battle) or Bazaine's Malaise chits taking effect I'd expect LeBoeuf's III Corps to reach the outskirts of Mars-la-Tour at about 2 pm, and Ladmirault's IV Corps forwardmost brigade to show up at Rezonville at around 4 pm, early enough to get into action (and also just before Goeben and Manstein).
Tactically I'll try to use Defensive Posture as much as possibly, getting to rally often and keeping my infantry and mitrailleuses at their optimum two-hex range. If the Prussians get dug in at some town I'll try to form stacks of either infantry or artillery for combined fire of sufficient strength to handle it. (A mitrailleuse unit is often as good as another brigade in a stack but imagine getting a couple of SP 5 or 6 infantry brigades together! And a couple of divisional artillery units with mitrailleuses stacked together could get one artillery and one rifle attack at SP about 6 and 8 respectively.)
For Planned Event chits I'll start off with Inspirational Leadership to rally any battered French units in order to slow down the first Prussian rush toward Vionville and Flavigny. I'll then switch to Command Initiative to prevent a Prussian formation from going into Aggressive Posture and overrunning any still weakly defended objectives before the French have gotten their formations properly activated and into the fight. When I need to dig any stubborn Prussians out of Hasty Works or Town hexes I'll switch to Prussian Aggressive Tactics.
Prussian Plans - "It is a delusion to imagine that a plan of campaign can be laid down far ahead and fulfilled with exactitude." (Moltke)
It's hard to make plans for the Prussians. Your units arrive piecemeal and managing to get to a vital hex first can easily decide the outcome locally. Once you get enough guns to form those wonderful Deathstar artillery stacks you can destroy the French in huge numbers, but you'll always be desperately short of infantry to take and hold those important towns. As before I'll invest heavily on the Prussian Reinforcement and Prussian Aggressiveness tracks to get units on-map and then keep them from committing suicide.
As soon as it becomes obvious only a single French corps will go for Mars-la-Tour I'll see if it's possible to spread Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) out a bit, taking advantage of the HQ's excellent Command Range and the roads extending it even further, to reinforce the Vionville area with at least part of one division. A lot depends on whether or not LeBoeuf (red) will arrive at Mars-la-Tour first and how much effort it'll take to retake the town.
As outlined above, I want to see if either the 5th or 6th Prussian Cavalry Division can get to Jarny. That said, with the French going all aggressive over in the Flavigny/Vionville area they may not get the chance, either having to substitute for absent infantry formations or taking too many casualties to be able to budge even du Barail's weak cavalry. At the very least I hope to manage to keep du Barail from taking the Verdun Road unopposed. If Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) manages to really pummel LeBoeuf (red) into oblivion in the early afternoon (less likely unless its second division shows up very early) and the French haven't advanced too far from the east it's possible units from X Corps itself can manage either job, going north rather than east.
If the French manage to get a real steamroller going from the east, at some point I may end up simply having to abandon Vionville, Flavigny and possibly even Tronville, concentrating on holding the Prussian Mandatory hexes and going for Jarny, gambling a Minor Defeat in the hope of gaining a Major Victory.
This option will look more attractive if the French quickly and strongly occupy both Vionville and Flavigny, and if it also becomes obvious that just a single corps (LeBoef's III Corps) will be going for Mars-la-Tour (or at least that any follow-on forces will be late in appearing). Then I could pull back to defend Puxieux, retake Mars-la-Tour and do my damndest to pound LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) into uselessness before making a rush for Jarny, hoping to hold it until dark against any relief forces coming up the Major Road from Doncourt.
(I'll refer to the German units as "Prussian", although if you want to get detailed about it Alvensleben's III Corps was a Brandenburg formation and Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps was a Hanover/Oldenburg/Brunswick/Westphalia formation, with Rheinbaben's 5th Cav and Wilhelm's 6th Cav equally mixed with regiments also from Magdeburg, Altmark and Schleswig-Holstein, some of those areas quite recently added to the North German Confederation. Goeben's VIII Corps was from the Rhine Provinces and Manstein's IX Corps a Schleswig-Holstein/Hesse formation.)
(Clarification: This image is from my previous session, so the displayed order in which the French formations activate is NOT the one used in this session!)
Gravelotte is where the two Major Roads meet in the center slightly to the right, occupied by the French Imperial Guard (purple) with the Army Reserve Artillery (white) nearby. Rezonville is where Frossard's II Corps (khaki/ivory) is. Jarny is to the top left with the small French cavalry divison (light green, plus a single purple counter).
Mars-la-Tour is the large two-hex town bottom left, with Puxieux the smaller one-hex town five hexes below, both unoccupied.
The Morning Battle (8 am to 12 pm)
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white) sent many shells into Vionville to little effect against Forton's horse artillery (light blue), but the latter was then reduced and shaken by an assault from the Prussian Hussars. The French cuirassiers were then assaulted by their Prussian counterparts but despite being outnumbered and outflanked stood their ground, with both sides suffering a Morale Hit.
On the next turn (9 am), activating first, the Prussian cavalrymen embarrassed themselves by totally failing to budge their French adversaries, even though some cuirassiers turned away from their cavalry-on-cavalry fight to help the Hussars against the horse artillery gunners in Vionville. The remaining cuirassiers, no longer massively outnumbering their French foes, found themselves pushed back. The French Planned Event chit then made sure the French horse artillery gunners in the town rallied. The Bazaine's Malaise chit resulted in Frossard's II Corps (khaki) failing to respond quickly, so Flavigny remained unoccupied so far. The 9 am turn ended well for the Prussians, with Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) showing up in its entirety the next turn (a single chit on the Prussian Reinforcements track, but a lucky roll).
The 10 am turn turned out to be very weird; the very first chit drawn was the FOW Chit which resulted in a Lull in the Battle. With all of Alvensleben's III Corps plus William's 6th Cavalry Division activating after that, their units ended up placed on the map edge hexes when their formation activated, were then allowed to fire, but then stayed there (the III Corps units entering at 1429 only barely fitted onto the entry and closest adjacent hexes), at least that's how I interpreted the entry rules when the arriving formation is Degraded, checking the Updated Errata & FAQ.
Image 10 am
Rheinbaben's 5th Cav (white) is attacking Vionville while the early-arriving reinforcements from Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) and Wilhelm's 6th Cav (dark green) find themselves delayed by a Lull in the Battle.
The French II and III Corps had nothing to shoot at and weren't allowed to move. Rheinbaben's horse artillery activated twice (once with the Prussian CIC chit) and reduced the French cuirassiers who had just chased off some of the Prussian cavalry. That unit was then finished off by III Corps horse artillery, firing at long range. Stulpnagel's divisional artillery (yellow) managed to Shake the better part of Bataille's division from II Corps (khaki), firing at maximum range.
This turn of events means that the race for Vionville and Flavigny was not yet decided, despite the early activation of Frossard's II Corps (khaki), and that LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) may not reach Mars-la-Tour before Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green).
I had believed the early arrival of Alvensleben's HQ meant I would be able to put even the easternmost III Corps units (yellow) in Command Range, but now half the corps would start the 11 am turn OOC.
At 11 am both Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) and Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) got into the fight, Wilhelm's horse artillery occupying Flavigny and Stulpnagel's 9th brigade not quite managing to link up with the rest of its parent formation. It would have remained OOC for another turn if the CIC chit hadn't been used to bring that strong brigade back into the fold (the rest of Stulpnagel's division managed to get into Command Range with Maneuver and Cautious OOC chits drawn). Rheinbaben took a stray bullet (Leader Casualty FOW Event), his HQ ending up with a frankly horribly low Command Rating, immediately putting half his division OOC. Again, his cavalrymen and gunners failed to budge their French foes, the Hussars even chased off by Forton's horse artillery in Vionville (A1 result and chose to retreat; the OOC cuirassiers also in contact ended up Frozen).
On the French side, Frossard's II Corps deployed to take Flavigny under fire and removed some Morale Hits. Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) got moving in a roughly southern direction. LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) HQ got saddled with the Bazaine's Malaise chit but activated as the very last chit drawn and by then the Bazaine's Leadership track was fully loaded and the roll easily passed, so that formation also got on its way toward the Fond de la Cuve and Mars-la-Tour beyond.
The End Turn Phase saw both the French CIC chit available next turn (despite only a single chit invested on the French Offensive Spirit track), and the rearguard (group F) of Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) putting on some extra speed for an earlier arrival during the afternoon (successful Prussian Reinforcements roll).
At 12 am, Rheinbaben suddenly showed up again, with a newly bandaged head and vengeance on his mind (first chit drawn was another Leader Casualty FOW Event, the next chit drawn was 5th Cav and so the marker from the previous turn was removed). His men, encouraged by their general's return, proceeded to finally clear out the few remaining French horse artillery gunners from Vionville and reduced Forton's last remaining cavalry unit with cannon fire (although they then failed spectacularly in the ensuing assault, having to retreat). Prussian cuirassiers thus rode through the streets of Vionville.
Image 12 pm
Rheinbaben's 5th Cav (white) has taken Vionville, Breaking most of Forton's 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division (light blue), causing an HQ Overrun situation.
At Flavigny, the French CIC chit saw Verge's division (khaki) bombard, assault and take the town from the broken Prussian 6th Cavalry horse artillery. Both of Verge's brigades then built Hasty Works in and around Flavigny while Bataille's division approached Vionville, its Chassepot fire Shaking the Prussian Cuirassiers in the town (Frossard passed his Bazaine's Malaise roll upon activation). William's cavalry, bereft of its horse artillery, decided to seek greener pastures further west (I saw little point in those two cavalry units sticking around). Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) activated and began moving toward the small valley north of Vionville.
Image 12 pm Flavigny
Frossard's II Corps (khaki) has taken and heavily fortified (just what you'd expect from an old engineer) the town of Flavigny. LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) and Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) are also on the move west. Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) is deploying but hasn't yet managed to relieve Vionville, currently held only by Rheinbaben's cavalry (white). Forton (light blue) has seen his entire 3rd Cav scattered and is reduced to a lonely HQ, not about to activate on his own for some time yet...
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) continued marching south. When Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) activated it was forced into a Defensive Posture by the French Planned Event Command Initiative chit. Seeing Flavigny taken and already fortified, and also that his men would probably not reach Vionville in time to meet an attack by Bataille's division, the general decided to pull back Stulpnagel's division to the west and form a line defending the Tronville area. Buddenbrock's division would continue toward Vionville and see if that situation could be salvaged, otherwise forming a defensive line just behind the town. The Corps Artillery remained in its place between the two divisions, blowing away the remains of Forton's Dragoon cavalry (the orphan HQ was then stacked with the closest friendly unit; an infantry brigade from Bataille's division).
Making that decision at this point seemed perfectly reasonable. Perhaps Vionville can be held for a while longer, but Ladmirault's march direction made the French "Schwerpunkt" clear; the French were going to push at least three, possibly four, corps along the southern Major Road.
Image 12 pm Ladmirault
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) is also on the move, to the south-west. The Imperial Guard Corps (purple) and Army Reserve Artillery (white) under Bourbaki and Canu have yet to activate. Over in the east Metman's OOC division from LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) is on the march along the Major Road.
In the west, the first division (Schwartzkoppen, minus one infantry brigade but with some cavalry) from X Corps (green) raced up the road toward Mars-la-Tour, its speed enhanced by the Prussian CIC chit (although foolishly I had placed the cavalry at the crossing of the stream, so the infantry and divisional artillery didn't get as far as they could have). The first French III Corps cavalry and horse artillery units (red) had already crossed the Fond de la Cuve ravine on the other side of the town, although the infantry and remaining artillery were still some distance away.
The 12 am End Turn Phase again saw successful rolls on both the French Offensive Spirit and Prussian Reinforcements tracks, with the X Corps rearguard overtaking and bypassing its own Corps Artillery, and the French CIC chit making another appearance next turn.
The Early Afternoon Battle (1 pm to 2 pm)
Ok... so far the fighting has taken a different turn compared to my first session with this scenario. With Flavigny taken and fortified by Frossard so early I just can't see the Prussians sacrificing men to take it away from him. If the French can then concentrate most of their strength at Vionville they'll take that town as well, sooner or later. So it seems more sensible for Alvensleben to pull back and try to build some Hasty Works on the heights behind the stream before the Imperial Guard or Ladmirault's IV Corps arrive.
Of course, losing both Vionville and Flavigny will necessitate taking Jarny or (at the very least) Bruville. With X Corps reinforcements marching so fast I can't see LeBoeuf taking Mars-la-Tour but he really only needs to act defensively from now on. I'll try pull the Prussian cavalry back to aid X Corps before Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white) gets decimated (but hopefully not before some of Buddenbrock's men can take the place of the cuirassiers in Vionville). Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) is already heading west, sans horse artillery.
Rheinbaben's cuirassiers (white) in Vionville were charged and broken by Bataille's division (khaki) which then took the town (French CIC chit). So now both Vionville and Flavigny was in the hands of Frossard's hard-charging II Corps (khaki).
Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) didn't want to be left behind and moved up next to Bataille's men, just in time to receive a charge from Buddenbrock's 12th brigade (Prussian Aggressive Tactics making its first appearance, as a Random Event chit). The Prussians weathered the Defensive Fire from both Bataille's and Canrobert's men, rallied (Inspirational Leadership chit) and put a couple of Morale Hits on the French stack outside the town.
When Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) activated, a Beaten Zone chit almost resulted in that brigade becoming Shaken and thus not able to withdraw while the rest of Buddenbrock's division pulled back to Tronville... almost but not quite, as its rifle fire devastated the French stack it had just assaulted, reducing and disrupting Bataille's divisional artillery and Tixier's 2nd brigade. The only other available French unit to use the Beaten Zone chit was on Rationed Ammo and predictably failed to put enough lead into the air to prevent the Prussians escaping.
That same hard-working brigade and its fellow brigade then built Hasty Works in and just north of Tronville, courtesy of the Prussian CIC chit.
(The 12th brigade would go on to further heroism later in the session...)
Frossard (khaki) was the victim of the Bazaine's Malaise chit at 1 am (failed the roll despite two chits on the right track, and wouldn't have been able to do much anyway, as it was a Lull in the Battle), and thus failed to further reinforce his corps' gains. The same Lull also kept Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) immobilized and unable to rebuild its horse artillery (although it managed both on the next turn), and robbed the French of any chance at getting the CIC chit during the 2 pm turn (as no chits had yet been invested on the French Offensive Spirit track). Incidentally, the Prussian Reinforcements track was loaded and Voigts-Rhetz's Corps Artillery caught up with the rest of the corps.
At 2 pm, Frossard (khaki) took up his reins again, deploying his II Corps forward on both sides of the stream in front of Flavigny, preparing to take on Alvensleben's positions, trying to leave room for the Imperial Guard and Canrobert's VI Corps to deploy on either side. The Prussians facing him hadn't quite managed to build all the Hasty Works they wanted yet and what Morale Hits their artillery inflicted on II Corps were quickly rallied. Even the Prussian CIC chit failed to improve Stulpnagel's defenses (rolled a 9 twice when trying to build Hasty Works, and failed to put anything more than a Shaken marker on the nearest of Bataille's brigades).
Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) was the last activate on the 2 pm turn, easily passing the Bazaine's Malaise roll, but couldn't rally Tixier's units due to a Command Initiative chit forcing it to go into Aggressive Mode. It pressed forward into the gap between Vionville (now abandoned by the advancing II Corps) and the forest, planning to push west along the Major Road and through the forest itself.
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white), having just taken a beating at Vionville, retired at full speed to Mars-la-Tour, rallying and setting its horse artillery batteries up in the two town hexes as a defense against LeBoeuf's advance guard cavalry. On the next turn, those pulled out and deployed to the west of the town, the division even rebuilding the broken 12th Cuirassier brigade (at cadre strength).
Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps failed to reach the town during the 1 am turn due to a late-appearing Lull in the Battle, but did so at 2 pm, with Kraatz-Koschlau's division and the Corps Artillery also moving on-map from the south.
LeBoeuf (red) saw the long columns of Prussians troops beyond Mars-la-Tour and decided he didn't much care for sending his III Corps into a potential deathtrap, instead deploying defensively on the ridge above the Fond de la Cuve ravine.
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) reached Verneville, while the late-arriving Lorencez and his division moved on-map from Metz, immediately crowding Metman's division from III Corps (red) which had been using the same road for the last couple of turns. Metman, however, picked up his pace (Maneuver OOC chit, twice in a row).
The French Imperial Guard (purple) activated and marched quickly and efficiently, its advance brigade reaching Rezonville during the 1 pm turn, then moved south to deploy on II Corps' left flank. Its OOC cavalry brigade at Jarny stood still (Frozen OOC chit), but suddenly hurried southward (Maneuver OOC chit at 2 pm).
Heavy investment on the Prussian Reinforcements track paid off again, meaning Manstein's units from IX Corps (orange) would show up early.
Image 2 pm End
Image 2 pm End Close-Up
Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) has occupied Vionville and Frossard is pushing his II Corps (khaki) aggressively toward Tronville, Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) falling back before the French onslaught. The French Imperial Guard under Bourbaki (purple) is also preparing to go into the fray, in what is turning out to be a massive French attack on a three-corps front!
Schwartzkoppen's division from Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) has reached and taken Mars-la-Tour, supported by Rheinbaben's 5th Cav (white), just pulled back from Vionville. LeBoeuf decides he doesn't want to risk his III Corps (red) against the oncoming Prussian columns, and deploys defensively on the ridge above the Fond de la Cuve ravine.
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) has reached Verneville and turns south.
Notre Glorieux Canrobert; Sans Peur Et Sans Reproche (3 pm)
Ok, LeBoeuf will soon have all of X Corps as well as two slightly understrength Prussian cavalry divisions trying to mess him up and by-pass him, while Alvensleben will have to keep II, VI and the Imperial Guard Corps away from Puxieux. In a couple more hours Manstein (orange) and Goeben (brown) will arrive from the south, probably at more or less the same time Ladmirault's IV Corps reaches Rezonville.
So far there hasn't really been any real heavy fighting. Apart from Tixier's division, the casualties have been suffered by the cavalry divisions on both sides. That's probably about to change...
The remainder of X Corps (green) reached Mars-la-Tour, but the divisional artillery already there wasn't impressing anyone, failing to hit the French guns on the hill to the north.
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white) deployed its squadrons west of the town while the horse artillery pummeled LeBoeuf's cavalry, reducing his Chasseurs and Shaking his Dragoons.
LeBoeuf's artillery replied but failed to hit anything, and his III Corps (red) sent Nayral's division and the Corps Artillery to extend the corps line to the west, planning to deploy in or near the woods nearby, while withdrawing the vulnerable and battered corps cavalry division.
Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) reached Puxieux, planning to continue west to deploy on Rheinbaben's left flank. (Which it would turn out not to do, being needed elsewhere...)
Forton (light blue) activated for the first time, his lonely HQ riding north to join LeBoeuf, managing to rebuild its cuirassier unit (at cadre strength).
Bataille's division paid the price for its aggressiveness when a Prussian brigade, courtesy of an Auftragstaktik chit, sallied down the heights and comprehensively drubbed his 1st brigade, sending it back in retreat, reduced.
Alvensleben, with Stulpnagel's division first activated by the CIC chit, proceeded to further devastate Bataille's division, leaving its artillery in reduced shambles. The Corps Artillery teamed up with Stulpnagel's divisional artillery behind some Hasty Works, forming one of those dreaded Prussian Deathstar artillery stacks, while the infantry prepared to dig even more works on the heights.
Frossard (khaki), forced into Aggressive Posture by a Prussian Command Initiative chit, couldn't rally Bataille's men and so withdrew them slightly to leave room for Canrobert (yellow) to deploy. He also prepared to build some Hasty Works next turn for a couple of artillery stacks of his own on the heights south of Flavigny, hoping to send some hurt Stulpnagel's way when the Imperial Guard showed up on II Corps' left. Reports of approaching Prussian columns from the south were duly ignored. Bourbaki shook off some last-minute doubts (passed his Bazaine's Malaise roll) and marched his guardsmen (purple) up behind Frossard's frontline.
Canrobert, throwing caution to the wind, threw his VI Corps (yellow) horse artillery out as a shield between the mass of his corps and Stulpnagel's division to the south, so that his remaining artillery would only have to deal with Buddenbrock (the French forming a strong but potentially vulnerable stack of Bisson's and d'Villier's batteries within effective range of the nearest Prussian positions). Meanwhile, the VI Corps infantry started infiltrating through the woods.
A gutsy and dangerous move; but it was either that or stay at long range and get blasted regardless.
The French Army Reserve Artillery reached Rezonville. Metman's division from III Corps (red) had reached Jerusalem Farm and decided to take a break (Frozen OOC chit).
Ladmirault's IV Corps did nothing on the 3 pm turn, the victim of a Degrade Next Chit FOW Event.
Again, the roll for Prussian Reinforcements was successful, with Manstein (orange) about to fall Frossard and Bourbaki in the flank next turn. Despite many chits invested, the French would have to manage without their CIC chit for the 4 pm turn.
As the turn ends the Prussians find themselves in the rather unusual situation of facing the afternoon with almost full strength; two entire corps, two slightly dinged cavalry divisions and about another division's worth of troops coming up from the south over the next couple of hours... that said, to win they really have to go on the offensive and can't waste any time about it.
Image 3 pm End
(Correction: Wilhelm's horse artillery (under the HQ) is actually battleworn, and Bataille's 2nd brigade is not. This is corrected in the image below.)
Image 3 pm End Close-Up
On the Prussian left, Voigts-Rhetz (X Corps, green) has arrived in strength at Mars-la-Tour. Wilhelm's 6th Cav (dark green) is pulling back to screen Puxieux while Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) is forming a solid line at Tronville. Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) and the French Imperial Guard (purple) are clearly planning to envelop his position from both flanks!
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) has been delayed by a Degrade Next Chit FOW Event. Canu's Army Reserve Artillery (white) has reached Rezonville. Forton (light blue) has managed to gather up some of his scattered 3rd Cav and his heading west.
Closing For A Clash Of Arms (4 pm)
So... the French before Tronville have put themselves in a position where they risk being pummeled by Alvensleben's artillery before they can do any good, depending on the chit draw. Manstein's small IX Corps formation (orange) will appear and probably give Bourbaki's guardsmen something to worry about. Voigts-Rhetz will probably need another turn to set up before his X Corps and the Prussian cavalry divisions can start dealing with the obstacle that is LeBoeuf.
With Alvensleben well dug in, the French were tempted to pick the Prussian Aggressive Tactics as their Planned Event chit, but as it was dependent on being very close to the enemy (something the French probably weren't quite ready for this turn) they instead chose the Inspirational Leadership chit, hoping it'd help them weather the expected storm of Prussian artillery fire.
Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) was delayed last turn when its activation was degraded so it won't reach Rezonville until 5 pm at the earliest. It may end up defending Rezonville rather than taking a more offensive role. The current situation in the west doesn't really warrant an immediate right turn to the right, although IV Corps could reach Jarny before dark if it did.
The Gorze Road
(The Gorze Road is the one entering at 2729, leading north to Rezonville.) Manstein's men from IX Corps (orange) were the first to activate, coming up the road at a run, the leading brigade from Wrangel's division coming out of the forest at the Guard cavalry stationed there, which chose to abandon position and retire back along the valley rather than face the howling Prussians. Wrangel's reduced divisional artillery and a reduced Hessian brigade followed close on the first unit's heels.
The Prussian Guard cavalry (purple; one small unit of Dragoons and one horse artillery unit) came barreling down the Verdun Road and immediately deployed on Rheinbaben's left. During the rest of the session they'd be OOC, lacking a HQ. Du Barail's equally small 1st Reserve Cavalry Division (light green) also activated for the first time and rode out of Jarny to screen the town's vulnerable western approaches. Forton (light blue) managed to gather up some scattered Dragoons of his own (successfully Rebuilding his Broken medium cavalry) and also rode west, reaching the outskirts of Bruville.
Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) fired to little effect on the hill with LeBoeuf's horse artillery (and would probably have assaulted it, but was prevented from going into Aggressive Posture by a French Command Initiative chit), then extended its line to the west, preparing to envelop the French III Corps' position (red) from the flank. Schwartzkoppen's men built some Hasty Works in the eastern part of town.
Yet another Lull in the Battle FOW Event chit then resulted in neither of the Prussian cavalry divisions on the left being moved. Rheinbaben's horse artillery at least got to shoot a little, but to no effect... unlike LeBoeuf's horse artillery which got lucky and casualty reduced Voigts-Rhetz's Corps Artillery!
Image 4 pm Mars-la-Tour
Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) is heading north, trying to outflank LeBoeuf (red) who is sending Nayral's division and the Corps Artillery from his III Corps to intercept. Both Forton (3rd Cav, light blue) and Du Barail (1st Cav, light green) are preparing to screen Jarny. Prussian cavalry is also heading north in the shape of Rheinbaben's 5th Cav (white) and some OOC Prussian Guard cavalry (purple).
The French Imperial Guard, seeing that the lazy common troopers of Frossard's II Corps had not finished the Hasty Works they had been promised, decided to push ahead and take the fight to the Prussians, two brigades and all horse artillery moving down onto the valley floor all the way to the stream to get into effective rifle and artillery range. Bourbaki decided to leave his cavalry behind, out of his Command Range but hopefully a useful speed bump against Manstein (orange) until Ladmirault (green) showed up.
That worthy was now in the vicinity of Gravelotte, but his IV Corps was getting a bit scattered due to the narrowness of the available roads.
Canu and the Army Reserve Artillery (white) got caught up in the general offensive excitement and also came rumbling down the road, the faster horse artillery reaching and joining the VI Corps gunline (yellow).
Frossard, furious at the rude Bourbaki, sent his II Corps (khaki) forward as well, emplacing two strong artillery stacks behind the advancing guardsmen, preparing to fire over their heads, pushing most of his infantry forward into the gap between the Imperial Guard and Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow). The bewildered Hessians and Prussians on the Gorze Road were left with the impression that half the French army was running away from them.
Image 4 pm Three-Corps Attack
Although Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) has managed to throw up some Hasty Works, he is now facing three entire French corps - Canrobert's VI (yellow), Frossard's II (khaki) and Bourbaki's Imperial Guard (purple), plus the French Army Reserve Artillery (white).
The Lull in the Battle chit meant Alvensleben could only fire this turn, doing so to some effect (casualty reducing and disrupting the stack with Canrobert's and Canu's horse artillery units) but unable to make an impression on either the Imperial Guard (purple) or II Corps (khaki), nor adress the Low Ammo markers this firing accumulated on his Corps Artillery and one of Stuplnagel's brigades (which was also unable to build Hasty Works and thus remained in the open, unprotected).
Neither Metman's nor Lorencez's divisions moved anywhere this turn, the victim of the Lull and a Frozen OOC chit, respectively.
Image 4 pm End
In the west (left) the race for Jarny has begun. In the center an epic clash is about to begin, with Alvensleben facing three times his own numbers. In the east (right) Manstein's IX Corps (orange) has appeared and is advancing on Rezonville, facing a screen of Imperial Guard cavalry trying to delay him while Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) is coming up from Gravelotte.
The Prussians had invested heavily against the possibility of the Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit showing up, as had the French against Bazaine's Malaise, both useless expenditures, as the Lull in the Battle negated both those chits. Both those chits were chosen as Planned Events for next turn.
The French would, yet again, have to manage next turn without their CIC chit.
"Le Bal Commence" (5 pm)
LeBoeuf's inability to move last turn (red, HQ degraded because of the Lull) means there's a chance X Corps (green) and the Prussian cavalry can outflank him before he can extend his line sufficiently through the forest hexes to the west. In that case only an OOC Imperial Guard cavalry unit and Du Barail's small 1st Reserve Cavalry Division (light green) stand in their way.
Over at Tronville the French have closed with Alvensleben's line of fortifications. This turn will probably see major bloodletting! Few of the deadly French mitrailleuses have made it into the frontline but multiple infantry brigades have moved into ideal Chassepot range.
Rezonville is currently empty after the departure of the Reserve Artillery, but Ladmirault's IV Corps is on its way (and will thus not go to LeBoeuf's aid) and some OOC Imperial Guard cavalry is standing in Manstein's way (orange).
The OOC Imperial Guard cavalry pulled back a little, not liking the look of all the Prussians approaching (Cautious OOC chit). The equally OOC Prussian Guard cavalry moved their horse artillery across the stream, hoping to find a good position for flanking fire against the French cavalry (Maneuver OOC chit), while the Guard Dragoons preferred to stay behind the infantry (Frozen OOC chit).
Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) activated, thinning out its ranks in and around Mars-la-Tour (leaving a brigade and the divisional artillery from Schwartzkoppen's division in the town) while moving north. X Corps artillery fire remained disappointingly ineffective, again failing to do any damage to the seemingly invulnerable French gunners on the small hill in front of them.
LeBoeuf's cavalry had a nasty surprise when Kraatz-Koschlau's division marched straight up to them and unleashed a rifle salvo into their ranks, dropping hundreds of Chasseurs and horses (Casualty Hit), the rapidly marching Prussian brigades and artillery reaching the edge of the forest that LeBoeuf's infantry had so far failed to occupy (the Prussian CIC chit activated Kraatz-Koschlau's division a second time). The French cavalrymen declined to Opportunity Charge, knowing they would probably have been massacred.
Image 5 pm X Corps goes North
Kraatz-Koschlau's division from Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) is clashing with LeBoeuf's cavalry (red) on the outskirts of the Bois de Greyère forest (at least I think that is the name). The Prussian Corps Artillery has lost its duel with the powerful III Corps SP 6 horse artillery on the hill north of Mars-la-Tour.
Those same cavalrymen then had a spot of luck, for once. An Upgrade Next Chit FOW Event provided the Prussians with an extra Krupp's Guns chit, but something must have been wrong with Voigts-Rhetz's guns this day, as Kraatz-Koschlau's divisional artillery, with a brigade and a half of French cavalry at point-blank range in the open just in front of them, failed to do more than Shake the already decimated Chasseurs (despite rolling on the SP 16+ column) AND suffered a Low Ammo marker as well!
A temporary respite, it turned out, as a second Krupp's Guns chit caused a Casualty Hit on the Dragoons.
Du Barail's cavalry (light green) continued screening Jarny, sending some long-range cannon shots at the lead X Corps brigade but failing to connect.
Forton's 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division (light blue) reached Doncourt on their way to Jarny, even managing to collect some of their scattered horse artillery on the way (successful Rebuild, so now the whole formation was present again, although all units were Battleworn).
LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) activated, easily passing the Bazaine's Malaise roll due to a fully loaded Bazaine's Leadership track. The glorious horse artillery unit on the hill turned out to be not only invulnerable but once more proved themselves crack shots as well, disrupting the Prussian artillery in the fortified eastern hex of Mars-la-Tour (rolled a double 10, getting a Low Ammo marker), just as French columns were appearing on the Major Road to the east (see below)! The infantrymen from one of Montaudon's brigades turned out to be marksmen as well, Shaking Kraatz-Koschlau's 39th brigade and divisional artillery with long-range Chassepot fire.
Nayral's division, the Corps Artillery and the reduced cavalry were all sent north toward Jarny, while Montaudon's and Aymard's divisions mostly stayed on the ridge above the Fond de la Cuve, edging to the west, hoping to get chances to fire on the Prussian formations marching past.
LeBoeuf rallied his cavalry but couldn't do anything about the horse artillery's ammunition problems (stacking his HQ on the hill far to the south to enable that seemed foolish, even if it could have been done).
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division limbered up their guns and rode north, his squadrons weaving in and out between columns of X Corps infantry and OOC Guard cavalry. Despite the temptation to stay in position a while to fire on the pesky French gunners on the hill, it was clear to Rheinbaben that their annoyingly accurate fire was slackening, guessing correctly that they must be low on shells and could thus be seen as a lesser problem at the moment.
Image 5 pm LeBoeuf Goes North
LeBoeuf, now well aware of the threat to his flank, is pulling his cavalry back through the forest, Nayral's division and the Corps Artillery from his III Corps (red) also making haste toward Jarny. Forton has managed to Rebuild his 3rd Cav (light blue) and is heading the same way, but all his units are SP 1 or C (cadre strength). Furher south, it looks like Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) is coming up along the Mars-la-Tour road from the east/left, about to challenge Schwartzkoppen's division for possession of the town.
The Imperial Guard (purple) unleashed a hail of bullets and shells, shaking the nearest Prussian defenders in their Hasty Works, then continued their outflanking move toward the Prussian right, also clearing the lines of fire for Frossard's artillery (khaki).
Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) sent a barrage of bullets at Alvensleben's men but the Prussian morale and fortifications stood strong. The only damage was done by the artillery stack (consisting of the divisional artillery of d'Villier and Bisson) outside Vionville, Shaking the Prussians in the northernmost position. The canny French marshal then took note of the Prussian X Corps seemingly evacuating Mars-la-Tour and immediately sent several brigades down the road; if the town turned out to be strongly defended he could just turn south and surround Alvensleben instead... or even try to rush Puxieux, currently defended by nothing but a thin screen of cavalry from Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (which would probably not reach the fight for Jarny in any case, due to the previous Lull, and so might as well stay where they were).
Canu deployed his heavy field artillery unit with the decimated horse artillery, opposite Tronville, rallying the disrupted units.
Alvensleben, when his III Corps (yellow) was activated late in the turn, was forced to operate in Aggressive Posture due to a French Command Initiative chit and thus couldn't replenish ammo or rally his Shaken men, nor build more Hasty Works. Clearly the III Corps support echelon had been disrupted by the hails of French lead.
Prussian guns managed to put a few Morale Hits on the Army Reserve Artillery (white) and VI Corps (yellow) artillery stacks, but the French infantry was mostly unscathed (Levassor-Sorval suffered a Shaken marker on one brigade and lost his already battleworn horse artillery). Yet another Prussian brigade got a Low Ammo marker. The III Corps cavalry tried to interpose itself between the advancing Imperial Guard infantry and Alvensleben's right flank.
Frossard (khaki), with two decent II Corps artillery stacks of his own, proceeded to force the southernmost Prussian brigade from its Hasty Works, reduced, disrupted and Broken (had to retreat two hexes after its Break Test). His infantry spent a lot of ammunition trying but failing to do the same to the deadly Prussian artillery stack next to it. In Defensive Posture, Frossard quickly saw to the replenishment of his men's ammo pouches. Next turn, he might consider going into Aggressive Posture... The II Corps cavalry guarding Flavigny stayed where it was, nervously eyeing the Prussian columns on the Gorze Road.
Image 5 pm Tronville
At the Tronville Line, both Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) and Frossard's II Corps (khaki) have taken losses. The French have managed to assemble several powerful stack of artillery for Combined Fire against the Prussian Hasty Works, managing to force the defenders of the southernmost position out of their rifle pits. Meanwhile, both Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) and the Imperial Guard (purple) continue their moves to envelop the Prussian line. Canrobert now also finds his attention divided, faced with the opportunity to threaten both Tronville and Mars-la-Tour.
The OOC Imperial Guard cavalry pulled back toward Rezonville, trying to use the bends in the road to stay out of LOS of the approaching Prussians (Cautious OOC chit). Manstein's formation was right on their heels. The French cuirassiers Opportunity Charged his lead brigade but were forced to retreat.
Nevertheless, the nervous guardsmen were soon relieved by the sight of Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) coming down the road, its lead brigade and some artillery entering Rezonville, its Hussars sweeping around to interpose themselves between the Prussians and Flavigny (currently occupied only by some of Frossard's cavalry).
Barnekow's weak division from Goeben's VIII Corps (brown) appeared, almost catching up to Manstein. His interest, too, had been caught by the weakly defended French rear at Flavigny. Suddenly, both Rezonville and Flavigny found themselves threatened, though neither Prussian formation was very strong.
Image 5 pm Gorze
Both Manstein's IX Corps (orange) and Goeben's VIII Corps (dark brown), small and weary but potentially deadly, find their way blocked by Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) as they race up the Gorze Road. The French columns have become somewhat strung out along the long road from Verneville, but the lead units are strong enough to defend Rezonville.
The very last use of a chit this turn was a Prussian Inspirational Leadership chit used to rally the disrupted X Corps artillery in Mars-la-Tour, a brave officer restoring the fighting spirit of his men by commenting on what excellent targets the approaching French columns from Canrobert's VI Corps made, all lined up on the road like that!
The Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit had showed up so late I decided to use it on the French Offensive Spirit track rather than roll against a fully loaded Prussian Aggressiveness track, and was rewarded with the French CIC chit making an appearance next turn after a prolonged absence!
Image 5 pm End
The race for Jarny continues, but Voigts-Rhetz (green) may soon find himself overextended, forced to leave his garrison at Mars-la-Tour OOC. Alvensleben (yellow) is growing increasingly concerned with his flanks, forced to rely on the weak 6th Cav (dark green) and his own corps cavalry to delay the French in their attempts to envelop and/or by-pass his position. At least Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) will be too busy fending off Manstein (orange) and Goeben (dark brown) to join the attack on Tronville.
Desperate Measures For Desperate Times (6 pm)
Things are really heating up! If Alvensleben's III Corps collapses (yellow) there is no way Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division can do much of anything but pray for darkness to protect Puxieux. And what's up with Canrobert!? That guy is just a super-aggressive powerhouse in my games! Will his VI Corps (yellow) now threaten Prussian possession of Mars-la-Tour as well? Will I have to send poor Wilhelm toward the road to slow Canrobert down?
I may be forced to leave Schwarzkoppen's men in the town OOC to allow X Corps (green) to continue toward Jarny, which now looks to become a very tough nut for the Prussians to crack, with Nayral's division from LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) racing them toward the town and a second French reserve cavalry division (Forton) soon available to act as a speed bump to slow the Prussians down.
Rezonville is probably safe from Manstein (orange), but Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) will now also have to protect a poorly garrisoned Flavigny as well! At the same time I can't let Manstein slip past Ladmirault to the east either, so Gravelotte will also have to be protected!
That the Prussians will be stretched thin was expected; that the French would feel the same way was not! This is such a cool scenario, and such a cool game!
The OOC Imperial Guard cavalry unit did nothing (Frozen OOC chit). The Prussian Guard cavalry, also OOC, did something much braver, interposing itself between the advancing X Corps (green) and LeBoeuf's men (red), although its horse artillery did nothing (Maneuver and Frozen OOC chits).
The French CIC chit arrived early and saw Nayral's division from III Corps (red) enter the forest which separated them from the advancing Prussians, somewhat hindered by their own cavalry which was occupying the forest road. (The Bazaine's Malaise chit had also arrived early and been put on LeBoeuf's HQ so chances were Nayral wouldn't otherwise have been allowed to move.)
Forton's cadre-strength Dragoons rode through the streets of Jarny, his depleted horse artillery only slightly slower, the equally depleted Cuirassiers some way behind them, still barely out of Doncourt.
When LeBoeuf activated, it was late and the Bazaine's Leadership track was (again!) fully loaded. The rapidly marching Nayral occupied Jarny with his 1st brigade, the 2nd on its heels, the artillery still on the forest road behind them. To the south-west of Jarny a solid wall of horsemen from four different formations (1st and 3rd Reserve Cavalry, III Corps and the Imperial Guard) screened the vital town. The troops and guns remaining on the Fond de la Cuve ridge and the small hill failed to do any significant damage (and the horse artillery on the hill would be OOC next turn) but effectively protected the road to Bruville.
With so many Frenchmen blocking the way it would now require a miracle for Voigts-Rhetz to break through to Jarny...
Voigts-Rhetz swore and ordered the advance! Shrugging off Defensive Fire from Du Barail's horse artillery, Kraatz-Koschlau's whole division ploughed into the crowd of horsemen, their path taking them deep into the French formations (helped by the Imperial Guard Dragoons' failure to Opportunity Charge despite needing only 8 or less). The French horse artillery gunners were hurled back, decimated. The remaining French cavalry chose not to Opprtunity Charge as it would not have saved the horse artillery, and a coordinated charge later would be more effective. The X Corps cavalry and Schwartzkoppen's 37th brigade was on Kraatz-Koschlau's heels, while the slow battleworn Corps Artillery was sent into the western hex of Mars-la-Tour, taking the place of the 38th brigade which moved in alongside the artillery in the Hasty Works in the eastern town hex. The Mars-la-Tour garrison would now be OOC but hopefully not do anything too stupid; all they needed to do was hold in place.
Barely had Voigts-Rhetz voiced that thought when 38th brigade stormed out of the protective works, straight into the arms (and rifle muzzles) of the French brigade before it. Shaken by Defensive Fire it was then pushed back into the western hex of the town (A2 result), leaving the important eastern hex without infantry support!
The Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit was drawn quite late, but at that time only a single (!) Prussian Event chit had been drawn (and invested) apart from the negated Bazaine's Malaise chit, so a roll of 1-2 on the Prussian Aggressiveness track was needed and promptly failed.
The French brigade that was assaulted had also just been completely missed by the Prussian guns inside Mars-la-Tour! Not only were Prussian Krupp cannon all faulty; even the chit draw was conspiring against them!
The situation at Mars-la-Tour was then thankfully remedied by the Prussian CIC chit, activating Schwartzkoppen's units in the town (meaning the errant 38th brigade and divisional artillery; the 37th brigade was way off to the north-west), putting 38th brigade back with its artillery and rallying both units. I'd rather have used it on Kraatz-Koschlau to beat a path to Jarny, but losing Mars-la-Tour would have meant an almost certain Major Prussian Defeat or at best a Draw if they managed to take Jarny despite the odds.
As an added bonus, after so much ineffective cannon fire, the divisional artillery finally lucked out and put a Casualty Hit on that lead French brigade, vengeance for running off 38th brigade earlier!
Du Barail (light green) moved his Chasseurs out of contact with X Corps, thickening the cavalry line on the approaches south-west of Jarny. His depleted horse artillery fired ineffectively at 40th brigade.
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white) activated last. For a while I hesitated... send them on a long ride north against Jarny's flank, with only two more turns of daylight? Or a shorter road east to help Schwartzkoppen's OOC division in Mars-la-Tour?
In the end I went with helping X Corps, going for broke, no matter the cost! North it was! Death or glory! It will cost what it will!
Image 6 pm Jarny
Nayral's division from LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) and the remains of Forton's 3rd Cav (light blue) reached Jarny ahead of X Corps (green). A veritable wall of French cavalry now separates Kraatz-Koschlau's division from Jarny! Voigts-Rhetz has been forced to leave his Corps Artillery and most of Schwartzkoppen's division OOC at Mars-la-Tour.
Bourbaki tumbled out of the saddle, badly wounded, courtesy of a Leader Casualty FOW Event. The Imperial Guard (purple) went into Aggressive Posture, but Bourbaki's absence meant the Command Rating was only 1 and a Guard artillery unit in the rear went OOC.
The French guardsmen lashed out with a great deal of rifle fire but failed to impress Alvensleben's men. Even the mighty Guard horse artillery stack failed to do any damage despite a prodigious expenditure of shells (gained a Low Ammo marker). With the enemy gunners unsuppressed the guardsmen declined to close with them and instead continued their movement across the Prussian right flank.
One of Picard's grenadier brigades closed with the Prussian Dragoons who chose to withdraw. The guardsmen elected not to pursue, as this would have put them OOC.
Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) stormed forward, the marshal shouting "Le bal commence, messieurs!" as his men unleashed well-aimed salvoes, breaking the already battleworn and disrupted 9th brigade from Stulpnagel's division, and suppressing the Prussians manning the Hasty Works just north of Tronville. They then assaulted, driving Buddenbrock's outflanked 12th brigade and the III Corps horse artillery out of their works at the point of the bayonet, back to hide behind the Tronville town hex. One of the assaulting French brigades had been Shaken by Defensive Fire but that was a small price to pay for getting adjacent to Tronville.
The infantry brigade closest to Mars-la-Tour Shook they Prussian gunners with well-aimed Chassepot fire, but didn't feel like facing Defensive Fire on the 10-11 CRT column and then assaulting a fortified town hex (though strictly speaking only the Hasty Works would benefit a lonely artillery unit, missing the "Infantry in Town" column shift). There would be plenty of time to soften the foe before assaulting in strength. (As it turned out, that hex was manned again later due to the Prussian CIC chit; see above.)
Canu's artillery, even battered as it was, managed to disrupt Stulpnagel's remaining brigade, still caught in the open after not getting a proper chance to build any Hasty Works during the previous few turns.
Poor Alvensleben had his work cut out for him when his III Corps (yellow) activated, beset from every direction and weighed down with Morale Hits and Low Ammo markers. To add to that, his infantry and artillery in Tronville failed to hit the French brigade next to the town, despite point-blank range and plunging fire.
Seeing that the artillery stack south-east of Tronville would soon be overrun without the covering infantry, Alvensleben withdrew it to a position behind Tronville to prevent any further outflanking with its fire. Stulpnagel's 10th brigade took its place in the Hasty Works facing the Imperial Guard while Buddenbrock's 12th brigade, just ousted from the works outside Tronville, went into a reverse-slope position on the corps extreme right flank, protected from the fire of the Imperial Guard by the ridge, with the corps' cavalry next to it. The horse artillery, though still Disrupted, would try to provide some Defensive Fire against any attempts on Tronville from the front.
New ammunition was provided for the artillery (but not the infantry), 10th brigade was rallied and 12th brigade somewhat steadied (still Shaken).
Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) formed up some distance away from the III Corps cavalry (yellow), providing a bulwark of horseflesh between Puxieux and Canrobert's leading brigades.
Frossard's II Corps activated (khaki), going into Aggressive Posture, but its fire failed to properly suppress Stulpnagel's 10th brigade in its Hasty Works, and the attempted assault by Verge's 1st brigade foundered in a hail of Dreyse needle-gun fire (despite 10th being both Shaken and Low Ammo). Even the disrupted horse artillery nearby managed to send a few loads of canister into the poor Frenchmen, leaving the brigade disrupted and reduced.
Image 6 pm Tronville n Mars-la-Tour
Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) is taking a battering, his perimeter steadily shrinking. He has been forced to divert Buddenbrock's 12th brigade to hold off the Imperial Guard (purple) outflanking movement, and pull his artillery back behind Tronville. Wilhelm's 6th Cav (dark green) is trying to screen Puxieux against any ambitious moves from Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow).
Schwartzkoppen's division from Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps, despite being OOC, is holding hard at Mars-la-Tour.
The OOC Imperial Guard cavalry outside Rezonville both drew a Cautious OOC chit and edged to the side before the oncoming Prussians, the Cuirassiers to screen Flavigny, the Chassuers to screen Gravelotte, leaving the field of fire for Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) unobstructed.
Goeben's men (dark brown) splashed into the stream next to the road, preparing to ascend the hill separating them from Flavigny.
Ladmirault began setting his IV Corps (green) up on the heights above Rezonville, sending his cavalry to help Frossard's cavalrymen (khaki) screen Flavigny against Goeben (which would make the cavalry OOC next turn). His 1st brigade from Cissey's division was halted on the road by harassing fire from a Prussian Cloud of Skirmishers chit.
Heavy IV Corps fire almost did serious damage to the lead Prussian IX Corps brigade on the Gorze Road, but an Inspirational Leadership chit got the brigade rallied again.
Manstein's IX Corps (orange) was among the last formations to activate, forced to do so under Defensive Posture by a French Command Initiative chit. Probably Manstein was hesitating seeing all the French infantry and guns forming up before him. Hemmed in by the valley and nearby French cavalry he couldn't advance anywhere, although his fire put a couple of Morale Hits on the Imperial Guard cuirassiers and Ladmirault's Corps Artillery.
Image 6 pm Gorze
Goeben (dark brown) is eyeing Flavigny, wondering if his weak VIII Corps units are enough to push off the French cavalry defending the town. Meanwhile, Manstein is feeling doubts (actually feeling the effects of a Command Initiative chit), his IX Corps (orange) hemmed in by terrain and French foes alike.
Most of the Prussian Event chits turned up from the cup at the very end, including a Panic Test chit that never saw any use. The French had been busy handing out Command Initiative chits and other goodies, and thus had no chits on the French Offensive Spirit track during the End Turn Phase, so no French CIC chit next turn.
Again, Bazaine's Malaise and Prussian Aggressive Tactics were the Planned Event chits chosen for the coming turn.
Image 6 pm End
This has really turned into a battle of maneuver! Both sides try to outflank the other! The prizes are the Mandatory Hexes of Jarny, Mars-la-Tour and Puxiex, each capable of garnering a victory for whoever manages to take them!
Infantry vs Cavalry! (7 pm)
Last turn saw the heaviest fighting yet as three French corps (II, VI and IG) bored into Alvensleben's positions around Tronville, clearing some of his outlying works and threatening to outflank him on both sides.
Further north the Prussians lost the race to Jarny, getting no help at all from the Bazaine's Malaise chit, which has failed to have any effect lately. Nevertheless, Voigts-Rhetz (X Corps, green) and Rheinbaben (5th Cav, white) pushes on, even leaving Mars-la-Tour in desperate straits against a very aggressive Canrobert (VI Corps, yellow).
On the Gorze Road, Manstein and Goeben (IX and VIII Corps, dark brown and orange) are being annoying, but unless the French cavalry around Flavigny or Ladmirault (IV Corps, green) in Rezonville manages to do something amazingly wrong I don't see them turning the battle.
I'd say it looks like the Prussians are on the ropes here... taking any one of Rezonville, Flavigny, Bruville or Jarny is unlikely, while they'd still have to hold both Mars-la-Tour and Puxieux. Even exchanging Mandatory Hexes (taking Jarny or Rezonville while losing Mars-la-Tour or Puxieux) will only get them a Draw.
I think it's worth mentioning casualties... the first time I played this scenario the losses, especially for French artillery, were absolutely massive! This time losses on both sides have been remarkably small; the battle so far has been one of maneuver rather than firepower.
LeBoeuf's activation chit was the very first chit to be drawn, to the misfortune of the Prussians as his III Corps (red) settled into Jarny, emplacing its Corps Artillery inside the town and putting infantry and further guns on both flanks. The cavalry stayed as a screen between Jarny and the oncoming enemy. The OOC horse artillery on the hill to the south did nothing (Frozen OOC chit), probably conserving ammunition, although the men on the ridge reduced and disrupted the nearby Prussian Guard cavalry. (Metman's division to the east also stayed put, due to a Withdraw! OOC chit.)
Du Barail's 1st Reserve Cavalry Division (light green) also stayed in place, its depleted horse artillery firing off some more canister to little effect, its cavalry unit screening.
Forton's 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division (light blue) also deployed on the town's outskirts.
X Corps (green) then activated, Voigts-Rhetz snarling with rage and frustration as he led his men further into the mass of French cavalry in front of him! Both III Corps (red) cavalry units were Broken and the 1st Cav horse artillery sent retreating. The Imperial Guard cavalry, a mix of Lancers and Dragoons (SP 4 medium cav unit) fought tenaciously despite being flanked by the 39th brigade and X Corps cavalry, putting a Morale Hit on the 39th brigade (now Disrupted) before retreating into the forest (rolled a A1(D1) result), their place in the line taken by the victorious Prussian cavalrymen (who did not have any Morale Hits on them).
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division brought up its horse artillery to fire into the masses of Frenchmen west of Jarny, then assaulted Du Barail's depleted horse artillery, the Hussars and Uhlans (SP 3 light cav unit) meeting unexpectedly tough resistance (rolled another A1(D1) result), taking a Morale Hit before forcing them back.
The Prussian Guard cavalry and horse artillery did little (Frozen and Cautious, the latter sending some long-range shots at a French brigade but failing to connect).
The battle of Jarny was not yet decided, however! The Prussian CIC chit activated Kraatz-Koschlau's division, sending the the 39th and 40th brigades once more into the mass of French cavalry! First the disrupted 39th brigade rallied (Inspirational Leadership chit), then a salvo from the Dreyse needle-guns dropped many horses and men, disrupting Forton's remaining Dragoons and reducing Du Barail's Chasseurs. Then a bayonet charge by 40th brigade sent the Dragoons retreating (retreated voluntarily as they would have been murdered otherwise), opening a path to Jarny, where panic spread as the Dragoons fled through the streets, Shaking both Nayral's 2nd brigade and the Corps Artillery (Panic Test chit used on the Jarny town hex). The newly rallied 39th brigade weathered Defensive Fire from both Du Barail's horse artillery and Nayral's 1st brigade, comprehensively beating the latter in the ensuing assault (D2* result, casualty reducing and Shaking the 1st).
Suddenly a X Corps brigade was adjacent to Jarny and the town's flank protection had been badly weakened! Surely the glorious exploits of Voigts-Rhetz's and Kraatz-Koschlau's men would live forever in the annals of Prussian military history, wading through the debris of France's finest cavalry to reach the very gates of Jarny!
Image 7 pm Jarny Close-Up
Kraatz-Koschlau's 39th and 40th brigades from Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) are battering their way through the thick French cavalry screen to reach their goal of Jarny, which is heavily defended by Nayral's 2nd brigade and Corps Artillery from LeBoeuf's III Corps (red). Rheinbaben's 5th Cav horse artillery is trying to keep their battered French counterparts from 1st and 3rd Reserve Cavalry Divisions (light green and light blue) from interfering.
The Bazaine's Malaise chit was drawn early and placed on Canrobert's HQ (yellow)... now to see if the VI Corps Activation Chit would be drawn early or late (there were already two chits on the Bazaine's Leadership track).
Schwartzkoppen's men and the Corps Artillery in Mars-la-Tour stayed put, putting an extra Morale Hit on the horse artillery on the hill but missed Canrobert's brigades on the road (Cautious OOC chit).
When Canrobert activated it was much later and (no surprise) the Bazaine's Leadership track was fully loaded, so he easily passed the roll against Bazaine's Malaise. Understanding that he was unlikely to be able to suppress the defenders of Tronville and Mars-la-Tour sufficiently for an assault, he chose to use Defensive Posture. French fire was, as expected, ineffective against the fortified town hexes. VI Corps then used the turn to bring its artillery stack closer to Tronville, bring up more infantry brigades within effective Chassepot range of both Tronville and Mars-la-Tour and do some rallying. The men of the brigade adjacent to Tronville, living charmed lives, didn't need to rally (and would have been unable to without withdrawing first) as it didn't have any hits at all; clearly they had managed to find some sheltered hollow just beneath the crest of the Tronville heights!
Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) seemed to be suffering The Curse Of The Krupp Guns again, earning two new Low Ammo markers for little effect apart from seeing off the already disrupted and reduced 1st brigade from Verge's division outside the forward Hasty Works. Failing to dispose of the Frenchmen at canister range right under their very noses, the Tronville garrison wasn't even able to replenish its spent ammunition. At least the Prussian horse artillery was able to rally, as was the lonely 12th brigade behind the ridge.
Frossard put his II Corps (khaki) in Aggressive Posture but then failed to do any damage to the Prussian position (occupied by the already Shaken 10th brigade) in front of him, even with his mighty SP 12 artillery stack. Having seen what happened to Verge's brigade he then decided not to press an assault. One brigade was now at Rationed Ammo. The French line was extended slightly to the right to allow even more rifle and artillery fire to be put on the stubborn 10th brigade next turn.
Canu's Army Reserve Artillery (white) bombarded Tronville but failed to do any real damage.
Image 7 pm Tronville
Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) is now boxed in on three sides. The brave Bourbaki has fallen but his second-in-command has taken control of the Guard Grenadiers and Voltigeurs (purple) in a head-long assault toward Puxieux, pushing 12th brigade back, but leaving the Guard artillery behind, OOC. Canrobert is hedging his bets, sending his infantry against both Mars-la-Tour and Tronville.
Bourbaki's replacement, commanding the Imperial Guard, sent the guardsmen forward, their rifle fire disrupting the much bombarded 10th brigade in front of Tronville (Moulin a Café chit), although their artillery stack failed to add to the damage. Leaving the 10th for Frossard to deal with next turn, the Imperial Guard infantry brigades instead charged forward over the ridge on the Prussian right flank, slamming into 12th brigade, clearly taking Buddenbrock's men by surprise as their Defensive Fire failed to have any effect.
The ensuing assault was an even match, the small Guard Grenadier and Voltigeur brigades only managing to push the larger Prussian 12th brigade back by flanking it. The Imperial Guard infantry had left their artillery far behind and now OOC, but now Puxieux was visible in the distance! Taking that town would threaten to cut a large part of the Prussian army off and almost guarantee a French win. The guardsmen were eager to claim the credit and the glory of such a victory! But would they have enough time before darkness descended?
Wilhelm's 6th Cavalry Division (dark green), seeing the threat, pulled in close around Puxieux, trying to screen against both the Imperial Guard and Canrobert's VI Corps.
Image 7 pm Puxieux Close-Up
Four fresh elite Imperial Guard brigades against a single Prussian brigade and some cavalry... will Puxieux fall and Alvensleben finally become completely surrounded?
The first unit to activate on this flank was, unfortunately for Manstein, Ladmirault's IV Corps (green). With a multitude of artillery pieces all lined up to fire up and down the Gorze Road (where Manstein's formation was hemmed in and neatly lined up due to not being to Engage last turn), the French proceeded to hammer and Break the leading brigade, leaving only the weak divisional artillery and equally weak Hessian brigade. The 2nd brigade of Grenier's division then advanced down the road to send Manstein's HQ running (HQ Overrun, as moving next to a non-Combat Unit doesn't count as Engaging, which IV Corps couldn't do in Defensive Posture), making sure the survivors would not be getting any proper orders this turn (all IX Corps units would be OOC when activated this turn).
The OOC IV Corps cavalry stayed where it was, screening Flavigny (Frozen and Cautious OOC chits).
When IX Corps activated they pulled a Cautious OOC chit, choosing to stay and fire. The already disrupted Imperial Guard cuirassiers were reduced by cannon fire but the Dreyse needle-guns failed to hit the French brigade that had just chased off Manstein's HQ.
Goeben's brigade (dark brown) moved onto the ridge, getting Opportunity Charged by the IV Corps Dragoons but sent them retreating with well-aimed rifle fire (A1 result). The Prussian guns splashed into the forested stream, preparing to ascend the ridge next.
The OOC Imperial Guard Chasseurs (light cav unit) decided to assault the Hessians on the road, riding through the shattered remains of the lead Prussian brigade, but Defensive Fire so devastated the impetuous cavalrymen they were unable to press the attack home (reduced to cadre strength and Shaken, so SP 0 and unable to assault).
Image 7 pm Gorze
Manstein's lead brigade (orange) is destroyed by heavy French fire and his staff then scattered to the four winds by French cavalry, the Gorze Road littered with Prussian dead. Behind this debacle, Goeben (dark brown) is ascending the slopes, about to have a go at the French cavalrymen screening Flavigny. If he takes the town this could conceivably turn into a Minor Victory for the Prussian side...
When the Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit reared its ugly head, quite late in the turn, the Prussians had (again) not drawn many Event chits to invest on the Prussian Aggressiveness track, but this time they succeeded on their roll, so no head-strong Prussian brigadier sent his men on a suicide mission this turn!
Of course, both Prussian Aggressive Tactics and Bazaine's Malaise were chosen as Planned Events for next turn. And the French CIC chit would appear again, just to make things extra interesting.
Image 7 pm End
A battle of maneuver indeed! The Prussian Tronville Line is stretched so thin! At Jarny X Corps (green) is putting the marching boots away and bringing out the hammer! And will the OOC Prussian garrison at Mars-la-Tour hold against the pressure? In the east/left the Prussians ran into a wall but are still trying to find a weakly guarded flank to chew on.
Image 7 pm Casualties
Considering all the action, I'm amazed at how light the casualty list is! In the previous session these boxes were packed with human debris and misery!
To Be The Quick, Or Be The Dead, That Is The Question (8 pm)
What a turn! The French are knocking on the doors of Tronville, Puxieux and Mars-la-Tour, while Kraatz-Koschlau's X Corps division has pushed through three divisions' worth of French cavalry (1C, 3C and the III Corps cavalry) to reach Jarny!
I'm not even going to try to analyze the situation! Anything can happen! Will Bazaine's Malaise and Prussian Aggressive Tactics have effect? Who will activate first and strike the first blows?
The last hour of daylight...
Forton's 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division (light blue) could contribute little, being either too weak or with its LOS blocked, and so did nothing this turn.
The French CIC chit appeared and I chose to activate Nayral's division from LeBoeuf's III Corps (red), taking the 40th brigade under fire from three directions (the Shaken 2-2 1st brigade, the Shaken 4-3 2nd brigade and the 2-3 divisional artillery with mitrailleuses), Disrupting it with some lucky low-odds rolls.
Du Barail's horse artillery (light green) managed to Shake the 39th brigade. The infantry brigades the Prussians relied on to carry Jarny were now in a sorry shape...
The nail in the Prussian coffin then seemed well and truly hammered in as LeBoeuf's III Corps (red) activated before either the X Corps (green) Activation Chit or the Prussian CIC chit were drawn, and no Bazaine's Malaise in sight...
Operating in Defensive Posture with a Feu de Batallion chit helping out, French fire was accurate and deadly. The brave but already disrupted 40th brigade was first casualty reduced, then Broken and scattered. Its brother brigade, the 39th, survived without further damage. The OOC Prussian Guard cavalry near Ville-sur-Yron was also finally Broken. (Its horse artillery did nothing, and would have withdrawn if the French had been closer due to a Withdraw! OOC chit.)
LeBoeuf ended his activation rallying his Shaken infantry and Corps Artillery in Jarny.
Rubbing salt into the Prussian wounds, the very next chit drawn from the cup was one that could have resulted in a very different outcome; the Prussian CIC chit. If Kraatz-Koschlau's division could have fired and assaulted first this disastrous turn of events might possibly have been avoided.
I could hear the screams of Prussian frustration when the next chit in turn was the Bazaine's Malaise chit! Among the next few chits were no less than two Inspirational Leadership chits, which could have save the 40th from the French fire before the brigade became Battleworn and Broken! Oh cruel fate!
Rheinbaben's 5th Cavalry Division (white) could do little but try to exact some revenge, finishing off Du Barail's stubborn horse artillery, allowing the cuirassiers to push on until they were right next to the reduced French brigade (Nayral's 1st) protecting Jarny's north-western flank.
The last word at Jarny, however, had not yet been spoken. Voigts-Rhetz's activation of X Corps (green) was in Defensive Posture due to a French Command Initiative chit, but Prussian rifle and artillery fire saw more Morale Hits piled on the French, Nayral's 1st brigade ending up Disrupted. The Prussian 39th brigade withdrew slightly to rally and the divisional artillery replenished its ammunition chests and moved to a better position from which to take Jarny under fire. The Prussian CIC chit then again saw Kraatz-Koschlau's division (now down to a single brigade with supporting artillery) activated. The divisional artillery, now rallied and with plenty of shells available, Disrupted Jarny's defenders. Rather than take the town on in a frontal attack (and exposing itself to Defensive Fire from still deadly Chassepots and Corps Artillery) the 39th instead assaulted Nayral's battered 1st brigade, easily seeing it off (retreated to behind Jarny) and then advancing to the outskirts of Jarny (Breakthrough Movement, avoiding Defensive Fire). All was set for a daring night attack during the Dusk Turn... if the Prussians got to activate before the French the chance of a successful assault against the town would be much improved!
Prussian skirmishers then decimated LeBoeuf's Corps Artillery in Jarny (Harassing Fire from a Cloud of Skirmishers chit), badly weakening the town's defense.
Image 8 pm Jarny
With the loss of the brave 40th brigade, it's now up to the 39th and 37th to show the French how close quarters combat is done! The French defenders in Jarny are looking decidedly weary, having just suffered the attention of the deadly Krupp guns and equally deadly X Corps skirmishers.
The Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit appeared early, with only a single chit on the Prussian Aggressiveness track. Schwartzkoppen's 38th brigade in Mars-la-Tour went charging out, into Defensive Fire from three French brigades (admittedly one had a Low Ammo marker), getting disrupted and reduced even before it attempted to assault. At least it survived that and retreated back into the town, a shadow of its former self.
Canrobert was caught hesitating, not wanting to throw his brigades into what seemed to risk becoming a perilous night attack on two fronts. The Bazaine's Malaise chit finally took effect! So there was to be no final VI Corps (yellow) French assault on either Mars-la-Tour or Tronville. (Even had the roll passed I had a Prussian Command Initiative chit ready to spoil Canrobert's evening.)
But the shenanigans of 38th brigade weren't over yet! An Advance! OOC chit saw to that. I still had an Inspirational Leadership chit available and quickly used it to make sure the battered (but overconfident) 38th would survive the charge. The artillery stacked with the 38th managed to Shake the target stack's two French brigades and Defensive Fire was shrugged off, but the subsequent assault was quickly beaten off by the French (A2), which saw 38th back in Mars-la-Tour again, with a Shaken marker.
Image 8 pm Mars-la-Tour Close
Give the commander of the Prussian 38th brigade a medal for his bravery and a padded cell for his sanity! Twice he stormed out of a perfectly good town hex, the second time while Battleworn and Disrupted! With brigadiers like these, who needs the French?
The French Imperial Guard (purple) activated in Aggressive Posture. Chassepot fire Disrupted the Prussian artillery stack behind Tronville and Shook 12th brigade and the III Corps cavalry (yellow). The lead brigade was Opportunity Charged by the 6th Cavalry Division's cuirassiers (dark green) and Shaken. Defensive Fire also Shook two of the other three Imperial Guard brigades.
In the following assault the 1st Voltigeur brigade got involved in a Tough Fight with the cuirassiers, decimating both units. The assault on the 12th brigade and its accompanying cavalry also turned into a Tough Fight, but this one saw the lead 1st Grenadier brigade shattered, its front ranks mowed down by Dreyse fire and the confused rear ranks disrupted by a quick countercharge by the Prussian cavalry (the French failed their TCR test while the 12th passed, the already Shaken guardsmen thus taking both a Casualty Hit and an extra Morale Hit).
The OOC Guard artillery did little (one Cautious, two Frozen), the OOC cavalry only a little more (Maneuver and Cautious, allowing the foolish Chasseurs who had charged Manstein earlier to get out of the line of fire).
The 6th Cavalry Division (dark green) subsequently suffered a Degrade Next Chit FOW Event and did nothing more this turn.
Stulpnagel's much abused 10th brigade (yellow) in front of Tronville was finally Broken and scattered by the heavy artillery and Chassepot fire from Frossard's II Corps (khaki). The French infantry then assaulted the Prussian horse artillery unit behind the now shattered Hasty Works (removed once the French entered that hex) that had sheltered the 10th for so long. The already Shaken Prussian gunners found themselves decimated and reduced (D2*) but held their ground, barely.
Canu's Army Reserve Artillery stack yet again failed to budge Tronville's garrison.
Alvensleben's III Corps activation (yellow) saw little in the way of effective fire (the Curse again!) but 12th brigade was able to pull out of the line and withdraw to Puxieux, rallying and preparing to defend the town better than the nervous 6th Cav horse artillery gunners already there. No other III Corps units were able to rally due to enemy proximity but an Inspirational Leadership chit was used to rally the disrupted and battleworn horse artillery in front of Tronville, ensuring they would remain an obstacle at least a little longer.
Image 8 pm Tronville n Puxieux Close
The Imperial Guard (purple) put down some effective rifle fire against the Prussian artillery but then found their match in the Prussian III Corps 12th infantry brigade (yellow) and 6th Cav cuirassiers (dark green), suffering crippling losses. The victorious 12th brigade then retired in good order to Puxieux, securing the town alongside some 6th Cav horse artillery already in place.
At Tronville, Alvensleben has been squeezed into a tiny perimeter, only really holding on to the town hex itself after a battering from Frossard's II Corps (khaki). Luckily Canrobert's VI Corps (yellow) was the victim of the Bazaine's Malaise chit this turn, sparing Alvensleben any further blows.
Goeben's formation (dark brown) clambered up the heights and assaulted the II Corps Dragoons (khaki) holding the Hasty Works outside Flavigny. Both IV Corps cavalry units (green) on the flanks failed their tests to Opportunity Charge and the Dragoons declined to as it would have been an uphill charge. The ensuing assault turned into yet another Tough Fights which saw both units decimated.
Manstein's artillery (orange) disrupted the French brigade on the road in front of it and the reduced Hessian infantry unit attempted an assault on the French cavalry guarding Flavigny's eastern flank but was Opportunity Charged by the IV Corps Dragoons (green), the ensuing melee seeing both units Shaken (rolled a D1(A1) result).
Fire from Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) continued to batter Manstein's IX Corps (orange), disrupting its artillery and the Hessian infantry. An OOC unit of Hussars (light cav) attempted to assault Goeben's reduced brigade (dark brown) but rode into a wall of lead (A2*) and fell back, reduced. Grenier's 1st brigade abandoned Rezonville into the hands of the divisional artillery (as it seemed now no longer threatened) and marched down the road, preparing to relieve Flavigny (ended up adjacent to the town hex but not in it).
Image 8 pm Gorze
Manstein (orange) and Goeben (dark brown) smash their heads against French cavalry, receiving as much as they dished out. Flavigny now seems out of reach, especially with Grenier's 1st brigade (green) ready to relieve the town.
A Prussian Command Initiative chit was drawn too late to be of use. The French CIC chit and Bazaine's Malaise would appear next turn again, but the French chose an Inspirational Leadership chit as their Planned Event, hoping to use it to rally the infantry brigade in Jarny. (With the Prussian CIC chit around I didn't think even a timely French Command Initiative chit would be enough in itself to prevent a Prussian assault on Jarny, and therefore chose Inspirational Leadership instead.)
Image 8 pm End
Having been a battle of maneuver, it has now turned into a slugging match. Prussian and French forces have suffered heavy casualties at Jarny, Mars-la-Tour, Puxieux and the Gorze Road, all without a decisive breakthrough anywhere.
Image 8 pm Casualties
Casualties this turn were actually much heavier than this picture shows, with many more units becoming Battleworn or surviving Break Tests.
Darkness Descends (Dusk, 9 pm)
Another amazing come-back from that Prussian stalwart, Kraatz-Koschlau! That man's division is solid heroism and determination!
Puxieux looks safe, with a fresh (although Shaken) brigade and some horse artillery in the town. Mars-la-Tour continues to be a problem due to the irresponsibility of its irrational defenders, but it should manage one more turn, barring anything too outrageous.
Rezonville and probably also Flavigny are safely in French hands, but the same cannot yet be said of Jarny! It all comes down to which chits are pulled first and then a lucky roll or two will determine the town's ownership. I can just see the victorious commander of whatever unit remains doing a Charlton Heston, battered and bloody, lifting his sword in both hands and calling out "To whom does Jarny belong?"
This session has been absolutely glorious and I'm almost sad it'll soon be over.
To summarize the Dusk Turn rules - 1) LOS is reduced to one hex, meaning fire can be only conducted at adjacent units; 2) movement costs one MP extra per hex except along roads; 3) TCRs are reduced by 1.
Goeben's battleworn brigade (dark brown) Disrupted the Chasseurs in front of it with close-range fire, then assaulted and Broke them, moving up right next to Flavigny, currently defended by nothing more than some II Corps Dragoons (khaki). A timely Auftragstaktik chit could now mean an opportunity to assault the town, though taking it against a fresh enemy unit before Grenier's 1st brigade relieved it would be another matter...
Manstein's Hessians took some shots in the dark at the French cavalry, to no effect.
Ladmirault's IV Corps activation (green) saw Flavigny secured by a French brigade and another brigade assaulting and finishing off Manstein's artillery.
Image 9 pm Gorze
Manstein's IX Corps (orange) takes another loss from Ladmirault's IV Corps (green), losing its artillery. Goeben manages to push his weary brigade (dark brown) to the very gates of Flavigny, but sees the town secured by Grenier's 1st brigade.
Dusk saw Frossard, the old engineer general commanding II Corps (khaki), suddenly clutch his chest and sink to the ground. A Prussian bullet or his heart? (Leadership Casualty FOW Event.) His men in the frontline, not even aware of what was happening behind them, continued attacking. Bataille's and Lapasset's brigades scattered the last III Corps horse artillery gunners (yellow) with bullets and bayonets, then advanced to the very walls of Tronville, but this day would not see them storm those walls...
The French Imperial Guard's activation saw an assault on Puxieux and the surrounding 6th Cav that left the proud Guard and its opponents in tatters. Deligny's 1st Voltigeurs was Broken, the remaining three brigades Battleworn (two of them also Disrupted). The defending 12th brigade was also Battleworn and the cuirassiers of the 6th Cav Broken. Puxieux remained in Prussian hands.
The closest Guard Grenadier brigade was later chased off even further by Wilhelm's horse artillery, Breaking the grenadiers (although they passed their Break Test with only a retreat result).
Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) saw the defenders of Tronville finally hitting the pesky French VI Corps brigade (yellow) that had been camping outside for so long, causing a Casualty Hit. Was the Curse broken at last?
Image 9 pm Puxieux n Tronville Close-Up
The French Imperial Guard is shattered trying to take Puxieux, taking a heavy toll on the defenders but failing to take the town.
At Tronville, Frossard's II Corps (khaki) assaulted their way to the outskirts of the town, but it would remain in Prussian hands as darkness descended.
The OOC X Corps Prussian garrison (green) in Mars-la-Tour pulled a Frozen OOC chit and stayed put. Apparently sitting still for too long was something the 38th brigade commander could not abide, and yet again he ventured out to fight some Frenchies... this time his brigade was Broken and scattered by Defensive Fire before it even got to assault. Suddenly the gunners in Mars-la-Tour looked very lonely without their covering infantry!
The French CIC chit saw one of d'Villier's fresh brigades move closer to Mars-la-Tour, waiting for Canrobert's VI Corps Activation Chit to appear...
...which alas it never really did, negated by a poor roll on the Bazaine's Leadership chart, a victim of Bazaine's Malaise. Mars-la-Tour would remain Prussian!
Image 9 pm Mars-la-Tour Close-Up
The 38th brigade commander finally pays the ultimate price, his brigade Broken in a third futile assault on Canrobert's men, the victim of the session's last Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit. Alas, Canrobert suffered his second case of Bazaine's Malaise for the evening and couldn't profit from the fool's deathwish.
X Corps (green) activated early. 37th brigade weathered Defensive Fire, taking a Morale Hit to come up next to the 39th in support. The assault on Jarny saw a bad roll and the 39th also took a Morale Hit (so now both 37th and 39th were Shaken, and unable to do any Breakthrough Movement) while the defending French infantry saw themselves Battleworn (already Disrupted and then took another hit on a D1(A1) result).
An Auftragstaktik chit saw another assault of the 39th, this time Breaking the remaining defenders (the Corps Artillery removed, Nayral's 2nd brigade retreated), emptying Jarny of living Frenchmen. But the 39th was Shaken and unable to perform Breakthrough Movement...
...enter the Prussian CIC chit! Kraatz-Koschlau's division was activated for the last and final time! The glorious 39th, worthy successors of the much-lamented 40th, entered and occupied Jarny, shrugging off French Defensive Fire from Nayral's divisional artillery in the adjacent hex to the south (two Disrupted and Battleworn French brigades behind the town had SP 0 and couldn't fire).
Jarny had been taken by X Corps, against all odds! Finally everything had come together in exactly the right way for the poor unlucky Prussians!
Rheinbaben's cuirassiers vented some fury on Forton's men (light blue), Breaking their French counterparts and driving the Dragoons back. Forton, on his own activation, failed to retaliate, his horse artillery missing. Du Barail (light green), with only a single Battleworn SP 1 cavalry brigade, did nothing.
Another Auftragstaktik chit saw the 37th put a Shaken marker on Nayral's artillery.
And for some last-minute excitement Montaudon's 1st brigade, LeBoeuf's strongest at SP 6, closed with the 39th in Jarny. Preparatory fire from Nayral's divisional artillery failed to hit anything, as did Defensive Fire from both 39th and 37th (despite even the use of a Prussian Battlefield Conditions chit and rallying the 39th first with an Inspirational Leadership chit). Montaudon proceeded to roll a Tough Fight (those were common indeed in this session!), and the poor 39th then rolled horribly and suffered the worst possible effects, ending up both Battleworn and Shaken!
The Hanoverian and Westphalian infantrymen of the 39th were young and fit, and had so far been led to unimaginable glory and success by their equally young and motivated officers who were trained to take the initiative and exploit every opportunity given... but in the end they were only conscripts, and the men they faced were mostly older professionals, seasoned veterans of Crimea and Italy, men who knew every trick in the book when it came to bayonet fighting, and filled with a fine French fighting fury!
Still, even that display of French fighting spirit was not enough... the last chit pulled was the French Planned Event, an Inspirational Leadership chit. Again the 1st assaulted, filled with the Furia Francese! Even with good odds and a column shift they rolled only a D1 result, Disrupting the already Shaken defenders. And so Jarny remained in X Corps hands!
Image 9 pm Jarny
Jarny finally falls to the hard-working Kraatz-Koschlau! Even the worst the French could throw at him (in the shape of LeBoeuf's strongest brigade, assaulting twice, the second time aided by an Inspirational Leadership chit which was used for a Furia Francese Event) failed to rob the 39th brigade of its prize!
(Comment: The 39th is shown as only Shaken when they should be Disrupted, because I hadn't yet applied the results of that final Furia Francese Event when taking the picture.)
And so the battle ended in a Major Prussian Victory, with the Prussians having not only held on to Mars-la-Tour and Puxieux (their Mandatory Hexes) but also taken Jarny (a French Mandatory Hex), thus putting a definite end to any French continued retreat to Verdun.
If the French had managed to hold on to Jarny they would have won a Minor French Victory, holding Bruville, Vionville and Flavigny, three Minor Victory Hexes compared to the Prussians' two (Verdun Road and Tronville).
Image 9 pm End
The brilliant Alvensleben, his III Corps (yellow) beaten to a pulp, holds both Tronville and Puxieux as night arrived. The even more splendid Voigts-Rhetz, the victor at Jarny, saw his men plow through hordes of French cavalry to take a well-defended vital town.
The French, despite fighting magnificently, in the end simply couldn't gain those extra few yards to finally defeat the stubborn Prussians. They can't even be said to have been defeated by the defeatism of their own commander, as Bazaine's Malaise chits were frequently negated, displaying stunning determination and aggressiveness throughout. But the path to Verdun was now closed, and nothing remained but to limp back to Metz...
(Comment: The 39th is shown as only Shaken when they should be Disrupted, because I hadn't yet applied the results of that final Furia Francese Event when taking the picture.)
Image 9 pm Casualties
Now this is a casualty pile I can recognize from my earlier session! The last few turns were a bit of a bloodbath...
Comparison to Historical and Previous Session Outcomes
In the historical battle the French had reached both Vionville and Flavigny first, just like in my session, but had then held them only weakly, allowing the Prussians to take possession of both towns. The battle on that flank was then dominated by the Prussian artillery on the heights, but even so it required some desperate use of the Prussian cavalry to delay and discourage the French until dark (the famous "von Bredow's Deathride" against Canrobert's gunline).
The Bois de Tronville (the large forest north-west of Vionville) saw heavy fighting as the French tried to outflank the Prussian defense.
In the west Ladmirault reached the outskirts of Mars-la-Tour but didn't assault it, despite the fact that the town was emptied of Prussians at the time. In game terms that would have been a lot of use of Bazaine's Malaise and/or Command Initiative chits preventing the French from closing, both there and in the east.
Prussian Aggressive Tactics would also have seen some use, at the Fond de la Cuve (where the gung-ho 38th historically met its doom) and along the Gorze Road (where Goeben and Manstein were bloodily repulsed).
A large cavalry clash took place late in the day on the Prussian far left flank but the Verdun Road was secure in Prussian hands.
So in game terms the historical battle ended in a Minor Prussian Victory, with the French holding only the Minor Victory Hex of Bruville and both sides in possession of their Mandatory Hexes. Bazaine's obsession with imagined threats to his left flank (and to his line of retreat back to Metz rather than his line of retreat on to Verdun) contributed strongly to the French defeat.
Previous Session Outcome
In my first session I activated Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) as the first French formation, in order to get it to Mars-la-Tour to help LeBoeuf (red) as quickly as possible. So far just like in real history, but that meant the very aggressive Prussian cavalry got to both Vionville and Flavigny first, holding heroically against mounting French pressure until Alvensleben arrived.
French determination was strong throughout the day, with their resolve failing only toward the end when some Bazaine's Malaise, Command Initiative and Degrade Next Chit events saw them faltering in their attempts to take Mars-la-Tour and Flavigny.
Prussian reinforcements were tardy in their arrival through most of the session, and poor Alvensleben's III Corps (yellow) and Manstein's IX Corps (orange) saw their brigades fed piecemeal into the grinder that was Flavigny. Canrobert, unlike his historical self, was a powerhouse throughout, his VI Corps (yellow) taking Vionville and bashing many Prussian units to pieces, toward the end almost managing an attack on Flavigny as well.
Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) got to Mars-la-Tour first and then held it against both LeBoeuf (red) and Ladmirault (green).
Losses were absolutely massive in my session, the French artillery suffering particularly heavy losses to the Prussian Krupp guns.
In the end it was an OOC chit (Withdraw!) and my tardiness in transferring the Prussian cavalry to the left that saw the French 1st Reserve Cavalry Division (light green) taking the Verdun Road, thus counting three Minor Victory Hexes (Verdun Road, Bruville and Vionville) to the Prussians' two, winning a Minor Victory. Apart from that, French resolve and the hideous casualties that resulted, the session was reasonably close to what happened historically, mostly because I modeled most of both sides' strategies on what had happened historically.
In this new session the whole battle took a very different turn! An early French II Corps activation (khaki) saw both Flavigny strongly occupied and fortified. Frossard then also quickly took Vionville, with Canrobert (yellow) quickly moving up in support. Alvensleben (yellow) took one look at this situation and decided not to attempt to assault his III Corps into the teeth of two French corps, instead pulling back to defend Tronville.
Rather than being sent far to the west, Ladmirault's IV Corps (green) was activated later and went south, arriving in time to meet Manstein and Goeben late in the day. This freed up three entire French corps (II Corps, VI Corps and the Imperial Guard, plus the Army Reserve Artillery) to put some serious pressure on Alvensleben (yellow) and Wilhelm (6th Cav, dark green), pushing right to the outskirts of Tronville, Puxieux and Mars-laTour from the east.
In the west, Voigts-Rhetz's X Corps (green) and Rheinbaben's 5th Cav (white) threw all caution to the wind, taking the fight to LeBoeuf (III Corps, red) and Du Barail (1st Cav, light green), pushing for Jarny in the far north-west. Despite horrible odds and unexpectedly quick responses from the French, Kraatz-Koschlau's division (with repeated help from the Prussian CIC chit) carved its way through hordes of French cavalry and then pushed the French infantry and Corps Artillery out of the town.
Unlike in my first session, Prussian Reinforcement rolls were uniformly successful, without which this outcome could not have been possible. Delays were caused more often by Lull in the Battle FOW Events than from other causes, with the same for the French.
Also unlike in both my first session and historically, the Prussian guns did not dominate the battlefield, generally rolling so poorly I began to think of it as The Curse of the Krupp guns. Casualties didn't really start piling up until late in the game, because this was very much a battle of maneuver, unlike the mostly static slaughter of my first session.
In the end, a Major Victory for the Prussians, comprehensively cutting off all roads to Verdun. In this case, no one would have blamed Bazaine for pulling back to Metz!
Hope you have enjoyed this AAR!
- Last edited Wed May 29, 2019 7:32 am (Total Number of Edits: 8)
- Posted Mon May 27, 2019 1:50 pm
Fantastic effort! That is a lot of work. Thanks very much for doing this (again!).
Attaque! Toujours attaque!!
Thanks again Josef .... amazing stuff! Truly epic writing and great pics.
"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"