Saturday 6 July 2024

The Battle of Donner-Blitzen

For the game this Thursday I decided to leave the British on the bench and give the other allied troops the chance to take on the French. What followed was the second landslide victory of the day, read on...

I setup my full 8' x 4' table and populated it with the entire French army (on the right) and the Prusso/Austro/Russo/Swedes (on the left). There were a total of 1,247 Hinton Hunt figures on the table (note to self - that's enough). The battle centred on the little known German villages of Donner (distance left) and Blitzen (foreground right) which both sides considered vital to possess.
The dice decided that Nigel would command the Prussians (allied left) and Goya the Austro/Russo/Swedes (allied right).
Tony had the French right whilst I commanded the French left.
For this game there were no general officers but instead each infantry unit had an attached 'personality' figure acting as colonel. Here we can see that the ADC assigned to command of the East Prussian Fusiliers has become an early casualty - 1VP to the French.
The French left-centre - The Guard Lancers have deployed just a bit too close to the Russian battery in their front becoming disordered as a result.
Tony and I decided to order the Young Guard to occupy the central hill (Wellington's Tree was worth 6VPs). This was a good plan except that Goya had ordered the Austrians to do the same.
On the extreme French left flank my lancers were ordered to tangle with the Pavlograd Hussars but sadly got the worst of it, they started running and kept going until they left the table.
Allied centre-right - a sight we don't often see, the field is full of Swedes (I know, but I like that joke). Goya pushes forward a mass of infantry with the Toskana Dragoons to the fore.
The view from Nigel's side of the table - the dreaded Landwehr are in reserve (more on them later).
Nigel's Uhlans clash with Tony's Chasseurs whom he neatly routs (the Uhlans were all painted by WM some years ago - nice work Matthew).
A general view about halfway through the game - there were a lot of units to command, possibly too many as it turned out. You will note that there are no skirmishers on table which I hoped might speed up play.
I get my FN5's rolling forward - 6 battalions of Fusiliers.
Hurrah! The Young Guard are on the hill  but their supporting artillery has taken a bit of a hammering.
On Goya's right flank the Moscow infantry have taken a hit from my French artillery and become disordered. Rather unusually they are commanded by Sir John Moore!
This is where things started to get a bit tricky for me - I had a rule that allowed each side to swap any front row units with their reserve Guard units. The idea was to add an element of tactical surprise but also to make sure that the Guard actually got to fight in the game. Goya threw his Guard infantry onto the hill and the Scots Grey's against my advancing infantry columns (the Grey's were there as I have no allied Guard cavalry - note to self I need some Guard cavalry).
The same scene from behind the allied line. The allies have secured the hill while their cavalry smash into my infantry.
Tony and I decided to commit our own Guard against the Prussians. The 1st and 2nd Grenadiers advance but sufffer heavy casualties from Nigel's musketeers and artillery.
The Prussian Uhlans pursue Tony's Chasseurs off table while the 9th Light infantry sensibly form square. At one stage there were 9 infantry squares across the table.
As the Old Guard advance Tony is struggling to bring up enough support. These cuirassiers were never able to get into the action.
This was a strange event - in the smoke and confusion of battle somehow La Bedoyere managed to detach himself from the Guard Marines and take command of the Prussian Guard. The Prussian Guard's actual commander The Prince of Orange can be seen lurking behind Wellington's Tree. Eventually La Bedoyere returned to his own unit unscathed.
This was not good, Goya's cavalry are making mincemeat out of my lovely FN5's. Definitley NOT in the plan.
As the Young Guard fall back our last remaining reserve are the Guard Chasseurs and the Empress' Dragoons.
Finally Nigel's rampaging Uhlans come to grief on the solid square of the 24th infantry.
The view along the allied left flank near the close of play - the village of Donner is in the foreground.
Marshal Vorwarts leads the Austrians up towards Wellington's Tree.
The Sommariva Cuirassiers ride up to support the Swedes.
As I said NOT in the plan! To add insult to injury the eagles of the 5th, 33rd and 45th regiments were captured by the Toskana's and Grey's. The French centre-left was completely broken.
The emperor leads the 1st Grenadiers in a desperate charge against the 1st Silesian Landwehr -  you guessed it, the Silesians WON the melee (note to self - I need more Old Guard)...

At the end of turn 5 we had to wrap up the game but there was no doubt who had won, final VP score was 36 to the allies and 15 to the French. It was a great game with lots of action and it was good to get so many figures out of their storage boxes and on the table. In retrospect the game was a bit too big for just four of us to handle which is the main reason we manged so few turns.

My thanks to the attending generals for coming along and making it such a fun day and to Mrs S for running such a superb field-kitchen.


Rob said...

So to summarise the notes from this one:
- 1,247 Hinton Hunt figures on the table - that's enough!
- I have no allied Guard cavalry - I need some Guard cavalry.
- I need more Old Guard.
That has to be the shortest lived resolution ever!

What a great game - that Allied cavalry charge was obviously inspired by those attention seeking Greys and the result was almost a forgone conclusion - your FN5s did a wonderful impersonation of D'Erlon's Corps. I also agree you need to get some Russian Guard cuirassiers.

I was surprised to see that field of Swedes marching into combat instead of lurking at the back - I did wonder if that Hungarian unit behind them was there to encourage them.

Pleased to say I have a vintage Nap game coming up this week, albeit a mere affair of the outposts compared to your gigantic slug-fest.

Stryker said...

Thanks Rob, an affair of outposts can be just as much fun!

Anonymous said...

It was an excellent day. Giant table, superb figures and Mrs S’s field kitchen did us proud throughout the day.


Stryker said...

Thanks Goya, and thanks also for destroying my painstakingly painted fusiliers - I will have my revenge!

Matt said...

A splendid looking game!

Stryker said...

Thanks Matt, it did look good even if I do say so myself!

Donnie McGibbon said...

An awesome sight!! The table looks quite superb with all those figures on it and a good report as well, cracking good read and loads of lovely pictures to pore over.

Duke of Baylen said...

What a spectacle. I love all the personality figures getting a command [or in one case two - one from each side].
Like Rob I noticed that "I need no more" soon turned to I need more of this and this. I think that seals your credentials as a proper wargamer, doesn't it? Plans, dreams and growing collections are part of the joy.
Once again I enjoyed your report.

Stryker said...

Thanks Donnie, it was quite impressive even to me!

Stryker said...

Stephen, I told Mrs S if you ever see me getting more figures please stop me - however, she may not see me!

the Archduke said...

If ever there was "an honour and a privilege" this was it. It was, of course, the Toscana dragoons who led that glorious charge. Had I been readier to forego the pleasures of Mrs S's field kitchen, there might have been more then five turns.....

Stryker said...

Nigel, in that case it’s just as well as I doubt the French could have taken another turn!

Tiberian general said...

Fantastic Napoleonic eye candy, thanks for sharing.


Stryker said...

Thanks, glad you liked it!

MSFoy said...

It was a wonderful day out - thanks for everything. I am pretty fatalistic about luck - especially dice-rolls - but there were times during the battle when there was a definite sound of deep laughter echoing from somewhere in the mountains.

A most welcome treat for me - I enjoyed myself very much, and am now back to mackerel-on-toast for a day or two.

Stryker said...

Thanks Tony, I would say that Mademoiselle Luck was definitely not with us!

Wellington Man said...

A lot of us would be very sad if you stopped painting new regiments, Ian. Magnificent and entertaining spectacles such as this are not the least of the reasons. More power to your brush, I say!

Best regards


Stryker said...

Thanks Matthew hopefully there will be a few new units to come!

Aly Morrison said...

What an absolutely spectacular looking game Ian…
Seeing things like this gets my wargames butterfly all a flutter… you never know where it’s going to land 😁

All the best. Aly

Stryker said...

Thanks Aly glad you liked it!

Bob Spruster said...

Outstanding! What a beautiful collection, great report and common sense cuts to the rules to hurry things along. It took me a minute to figure out where the two land side victories came from but it slowly dawned on me. Great post, thanks very much!

Stryker said...

Thanks Bob and yes it was a reference to UK politics!