Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Salzwedel Campaign – Day 10

Campaign Map on 31 September 1813
With the loss of Salzwedel, Blucher orders his army to retreat
2nd corps and the reserve are already in rout
1st corps retreats from Dahre, abandoning the depot there
3rd corps retreats from Kalden, abandoning the depot there

Napoleon orders 1st corps to occupy Salzwedel
The Reserve moves with them, even though they are out of supplies
13th corps is ordered to occupy Kladen
3rd corps is ordered to rally and regroup at Gifhorn

The French army have lost 8800 infantry and 500 cavalry but no guns
The Prussian army have lost 12800 infantry, 1100 cavalry and 12 guns

Napoleon has won the Salzwedel campaign

Campaign Notes
Blucher has suffered a crushing defeat at Salzwedel, and has no alternative but to order a general retreat.

2nd corps and the reserve are in rout and he has no control over them

1st corps has won a convincing victory at Dahre and his left flank is secure.   But with the loss of his centre they must also retreat to avoid being cut off.

3rd corps could hold its own at Kladen, but is not strong enough to attack to raise the siege.   Again they must retreat to avoid being cut off.

Napoleon occupies Salzwedel with 1st corps, and by doing so has won the campaign.   

The French reserve are out of supply, and will suffer attrition casualties.  But despite this he orders them to advance with 1st corps.  This is just in case Blucher attempts to retake the city with 1st and 3rd corps.

3rd French corps are battered and will need a few days to recover from their defeat a Dahre.   They are ordered to rally and resupply at Gifhorn.

Although 1st and 3rd Prussian corps are still operational, they are unable to concentrate and offer any further resistance.   But the two weak French corps at Salzwedel are still vulnerable until he can concentrate all of his army

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Salzwedel Campaign – Day 9

Campaign Map on 30 September 1813 

Both armies are battered and weary after seven battles in eight days
Both have suffered heavy battle casualties, but the French less than the Prussians
The Prussian victory at Dahre has given Blucher some hope

But Napoleon is determined to increase the pressure and finish the campaign
On his left 3rd corps is in retreat after their defeat at Dahre
On his right 13th corps has laid siege to Kalden, but in not strong enough to attack

That leaves his Old Guard and Reserve.
They have already suffered heavy casualties trying to take Salzwedel

The city is held by 2nd Prussian corps and parts of 4th corps
They have suffered more casualties than the French
Most brigades have at least 10% casualties, and many 20% or even 30%
They urgently need a couple of days to rest, resupply and reinforce
But they do have sufficient troops to fully garrison the fortified city

Napoleon is aware that an attack on the walls of Salzwedel means risking his guard
Despite this he orders them to attack
Battle of Salzwedel – Move 5

To supply the city Blucher must also hold the adjoining map squares
To do so he must deploy most of his army outside the city walls
He creates three commands
On the left one infantry brigade, and 1st corps artillery
In the city three infantry brigades
On the right one infantry brigade, one cavalry and 4th corps artillery

Napoleon also creates three commands
On the left guard cavalry, artillery and one infantry brigade
In the centre three guard infantry brigades
On the right 4th corps cavalry and artillery

The French artillery have less casualties than the Prussian
Despite this they fail to inflict any casualties during the early part of the battle

Napoleon orders 4th corps to attack on the right
Their cuirassier brigade win the cavalry melee, but fail to rally
They charge the nearby artillery and are routed in their turn

Napoleon orders his three reserve infantry brigades to support the right
As they move past the town they come under musket fire from the garrison
One brigade received 10% casualties and has to be replaced by the reserve brigade

Napoleon did not want to commit his left flank
This consists of his guard cavalry and 1st grenadier brigade
However his artillery has failed to weaken the defenders
So he orders his cavalry to charge the weak gunners (20% casualties)
The gunners run to the nearby square
1st grenadier brigade charge and break the square and gunners

By nightfall 6 of the 8 Prussian brigades are in rout
Two brigades still hold the city, but this is insufficient to withstand an attack
Blucher orders them to abandon the city and join the retreat

Campaign Notes
Napoleon has managed to take the walled city of Salzwedel
By attacking the enemy outside the city, but not the city itself
It has cost him 500 casualties and one brigade in rout
Blucher has lost 2300 casualties and six brigades in rout

This was achieved by a weakened Old Guard and even weaker Reserve

The Prussians started with more battle casualties than the French
But worse still they included heavy cavalry and artillery casualties
One brigade has 40% casualties, the other 20% casualties
2nd corps artillery had 20% casualties, reserve artillery was full strength

This meant that they could not hold their own against the French cavalry
Nor could they hope to inflict many artillery casualties on the French infantry

However Napoleon was very lucky to win with such light casualties