Sunday 31 March 2024

Wismar Campaign – Day 5

Campaign Map                                                 

1st Prussian Army – retreat to Wismar
2nd Prussian Army – regroup and resupply at Schwerin
3rd Prussian Army – second battle of Ludwigslust

3rd French Army – advance to Boltenhagen
1st French Army – regroup and resupply Gadesbusch
2nd French Army – second battle of Ludwigslust

Battle of Ludwigslust – Day Two

Each army started day two in the same positions they ended day one
However they were allowed to regroup and redeploy
This left the French stronger than the Prussians

French Army – 11 infantry brigades, 3 cavalry brigade, 3 corps artillery
Prussian Army – 9 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigade, 2 corps artillery

French artillery opened the game, and proved more effective than usual
They had more guns than the Prussians, and concentrated on the infantry
The Prussian gunners were less effective as they opened on the French artillery

On the left the French advanced to take the bridge
Their cavalry were routed, and the infantry unable to reach the bridge
The Prussians only retreated when the rest of their army did so

The Prussians fought hard to hold the town and both brigades received casualties
The French artillery fired at long range, and their infantry skirmished
Only when the garrison was weakened did the infantry storm and take the town

On the right the Prussians also fought well, though they had to abandon the woods
Their cavalry were routed and the infantry had to retreat when the town was lost

The French won, but it was a hard fought battle


Reorganisation means adjusting the casualties to allow the corps to fight again
Previously all casualties were removed, except for one per brigade
However this results in very weak brigades, which often fail morale tests
This in turn means that an army fighting a second battle will be very unpredictable
That in itself is not a bad thing, but it does often result in very annoying results
For example a brigade with one casualty will often rout when it received one more
This in turn will often spread any brigades within 4”, who must then test their morale
It is not unusual to have a knock on effect resulting in a whole corps running away
And all because the first brigade rolled a low dice for their morale test

So in this game I did it slightly different.

Infantry casualties could be concentrated in one brigade in each corps
This would always be the one which had received the most casualties
If there were more than two casualties, the brigade would be removed
However all other brigade would start the game full strength

Cavalry and artillery casualties would be concentrated in one brigade for the whole army. Again this would be the brigade which had received the most casualties.

It worked well in this game. The French lost one infantry brigade, the Prussians lost three. However it did not make a lot of difference in this particular game.

The Prussians also lost one cavalry brigade and one corps artillery. The French has just one casualty in one cavalry brigade and one corps artillery. The cavalry did not make much difference, as they were concentrated in 8th corps, which held the town. The artillery did make a difference. On the flanks the Prussians had artillery, which kept the French guns at bay. But they had none in the centre, and the French infantry and artillery were able to approach the town without fear of long range casualties from enemy artillery.

This is the first time that we had fought a second day of a battle. It proved more even than I had expected, though the stronger French did win in the end. But they suffered equal casualties, and it could easily have gone the other way.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Wismar Campaign – Day 4

                                    Campaign Map                                                 

Prussians retreat to Schwerin
Battle of Ludwigslust

1st Prussian Army – resupply at Boltenhagen
2nd Prussian Army – retreat to Schwerin
3rd Prussian Army – battle of Ludwigslust

3rd French Army – rally and regroup at Ratzeburg
1st French Army – occupy Gadebusch
2nd French Army – attack Ludwigslust

Battle of Ludwigslust

The French deploy their infantry and cavalry out of artillery range, but place their artillery within range of the Prussian infantry.   They protect their gunners by placing their cavalry just out of range of the Prussian guns, but within counter charge move of any attempt to charge their gunners.   This tactic worked extremely well, as can be seen by the high number of Prussian infantry casualties 

They then attacked on both flanks.   On the left bank of the river Elbe, 6th corps advanced to take the bridge.   They won the cavalry melee, and forced the defending infantry to retreat in square.   The French cavalry then crossed the bridge to threaten the Prussian artillery on the right bank of the river.

On the opposite flank 4th corps artillery opened fire on the garrison of the farm, who retreated with 30% casualties.   The French infantry could then occupy the farm out of range of the Prussian artillery.

Before the French could advance in the centre the Prussian army started to withdraw towards Ludwigslust.    This started at move 8, when it was too late for the French to pursue and still have time to attack before nightfall at move 12.

Once more the Prussians had won a technical victory.   They had delayed the French attack for most of the game, and then withdrew rather than try to defeat the main French attack.

The Prussians lost 6 infantry, 1 cavalry and 2 gunners.

The French lost 1 gunner



The Prussian tactic of holding their ground for 6 to 8 moves and then withdrawing before the French attack has proved very effective, and very difficult to counter.  


The French must soften up the Prussians before launching their main attack.   Otherwise they risk taking very heavy infantry casualties as they advance into artillery short range and face the skirmish and musket fire of the defending brigades.  

There are only two ways this can be done.   The artillery can try to inflict casualties on the defending artillery, cavalry or infantry (in that priority).   However time is very limited.   The attackers take about four moves to advance and deploy just out of artillery range.   They then manhandle their guns into range and hope to win the artillery battle.   But they have a maximum of four moves to do so, because it will take at least four moves to reach the game objective (usually the town).   

If the attackers fail to achieve this will artillery fire, they must send forward their cavalry to either charge the enemy gunners or cavalry.   If they then lose their cavalry without weakening the enemy more the attackers have lost the game.   Infantry alone cannot hope to win against stronger artillery, cavalry and infantry.

However the most notable aspect of this game has been the huge difference in casualties between the attacking French and the defending Prussians.   But despite this the French were unable to prevent the Prussians retreating before they could reach them.  

For once I am going to fight a second day.   This will pit the now stronger French against the Prussian held town.   It will be interesting to see how it works out, given the unpredictable effect of the dice on morale and combat effects.

Sunday 17 March 2024

Campaign Supply System

Spanish Campaign Map with depots and garrisons 

I have always considered lines of supply to be an important part of the campaign.   In a historical campaign is would be all important.   However my campaign is designed to provide interesting battles to wargame, so it has always been abstract.   I have used it to restrict movement and weaken field armies by detaching brigades to guard the lines of supply.

Each army has nine corps, and each town provides sufficient supplies for one corps each day.   At the start of the campaign each army controls six towns, and the balance of three days supplies is delivered to the main supply depot, which is also the regional capitol, in this case Toledo for the French.

Each corps starts the campaign with four days supplies.   To resupply it must be within one days march (three squares) of a friendly town, and of course that town must have sufficient supplies.

So far so good and pretty simple.   But it requires a lot of administration to ensure that there is sufficient supplies at the right town at the right time.    As the attacking army advances it becomes increasingly difficult.   This is fine in an historical campaign, where the supply system should be a major concern for each army commander.  But I want to keep administration to a minimum, and to concentrate on the actual battles

Current Campaign Map    

Most Napoleonic campaigns, apart from Russia and Spain, did not have significant supply problems.   The aim was to overpower and defeat the enemy field army and thus end the campaign.   This was normally achieved within a short period, and the winning army would then live off the conquered territory.   Lines of supply would have to be secured, but this was done by second line troops and did not usually cause problems for the main field army.

For many years I have struggled to create a simple, but effective, supply system for the campaign.  This has involved moving supplies on the campaign map.   It takes a lot of work, and has very little effect on the campaign itself.   I used to detach brigades from each corps, but this proved too much of a burden on the attacking army.   Eventually I allowed them an extra reserve corps with sufficient brigades to man all the depots.

I have now decided to abandon this cumbersome, and time consuming system.   In future providing that a corps meets the requirement to be stationary during the whole day, not in contact with the enemy and within one day’s march of a friendly town they will be able to resupply.

In Spain I will have a different system.   Depots and lines of supply will still be open to attack by the guerrilla bands.   As now I will roll a dice to determine the outcome of these attacks.   If supplies are lost the corps concerned will not be able to resupply until new supplies arrive.  This will result in attrition casualties if the corps runs out of supply as a result.  

This will greatly reduce the amount of administration, and I hope will not have too great an effect on the campaign itself. 

Sunday 10 March 2024

Wismar Campaign – Day 3

Campaign Map                                                 

French retreat to Ratzeburg
Battle of Gadebusch

1st Prussian Army – regroup at Boltenhagen
2nd Prussian Army – battle of Gadebusch
3rd Prussian Army – regroup at Ludwigslust

3rd French Army – retreat to Ratzeburg
1st French Army – attack Gadebusch
2nd French Army – regroup at Hagenow

Battle of Gadebusch

Second Prussian army occupied a very strong defensive position, with a hill on the right and a walled farm on the left. One corps occupied each of these, with a third in the centre in front of Gadebusch.

To reach them The French would have to cross a line of hills, with one road in the centre and two small valleys on either side. The majority would have to cross the mountain range, which would take four moves as they had to move at half speed on the hills.

The main French attack would be on the walled farm on the left, with a secondary attack on the hill on the right. Once one of these objectives was taken 2nd corps in the centre would advance towards Gadebusch.

Despite heavy casualties the Prussians put up a determined defence, and managed to hold both the farm and the hill throughout the day. The decisive attack in the centre was never delivered.

Out of three battles the Prussians had now won two. However given their casualties it might well prove to be a pyrrhic victory.

Prussians lost 7 infantry, 2 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties (3600 men)
French lost 1 infantry casualty (400 men)


On paper this should have been a French victory. First French Army is commanded by Napoleon himself, and the first of his three corps are the Old Guard.

However to reach the Prussians they have to cross over a large mountain range. On the wargames table this is three large hills, with a road running through the centre one. All movement on these hills is at half normal speed, which meant they would take 4 of the maximum 12 moves to clear the high ground

The Prussians held a very strong defensive position, and their guns and artillery would be able to engage the French as they struggled down the mountain slope to reach the plain.

There was also the “wargames problem” of equal armies. Although the French had a lot of elite troops in 1st corps, this was balanced by more conscripts in 2nd and 3rd corps. Overall the Prussians had as many elite troops as the French, but they were spread between all three corps. The French would have gain an advantage in either cavalry or artillery before they could commit their main attack in the centre. They would also have to support the corps making the main attack, which would mean weakening either their left or right attack.

The slow approach march meant that there was not much time to gain the required advantage. They lost two of the three opening cavalry melee, and their artillery failed to cause any damage to the Prussian gunners. To their infantry would have to attack without any advantage.

Napoleon did not want to risk his Old Guard in the centre. They were given the take of taking the hill on his left. However to avoid casualties they did so without their usual aggressive flair. The result was a stalemate.

The attack on the farm was more successful, but it took too long. Two Prussian brigades were routed, but the remainder still held the farm at nightfall.

The attack in the centre was delayed by this lack of success on the flanks. They moved forward on move 9, but the Prussians immediately withdrew closer to the town. This required the French artillery to redeploy to support the attack. This took two game moves, and it was too late for the attack to succeed before nightfall.

A well fought, and quite clever, wargame for the Prussian player (Jan). Less so, and quite disappointing for the French player (me)

However things are not quite how they seem.

The Prussian held hill on the right is under attack by the Old Guard. The Prussians have already lost their cavalry and one infantry brigade. Their gunners have abandoned their guns and are inside an infantry square. The French infantry are not well placed to attack the hill, but will be by morning.

The farm on the Prussian left is under attack. The garrison is holding its own, but the rest of the corps has suffered casualties, ran away, rallied and been brought back to support the farm. However they are all placed behind the farm to shelter them from the French artillery. Their gunners and one infantry brigade is in rout. Once more the French corps is disorganised and most of their brigades in the wrong place to attack the farm. But by morning they will be redeployed.

The Prussian centre is strong and has not suffered any casualties

Blucher would like to attack the retreating 3rd French corps in the north, and attempt to hold Gadesbusch in the centre. But to do so he would risk the destruction of 2nd corps at Gadesbusch. This would allow 1st French corps to move north and join forces with 3rd French corps to defeat 1st Prussian corps between Ratzeburg and Boltenhagen.

His nerve breaks and he orders 2nd corps to retreat to Schwerin.

Sunday 3 March 2024

Wismar Campaign – Day 2

Campaign Map

Prussians advance to border
Battle of Boltenhagen

1st Prussian Army – battle of Boltenhagen
2nd Prussian Army – advance to border
3rd Prussian Army – retreat to Ludwigslust

3rd French Army – attack Boltenhagen
1st French Army – hold Wittingen
2nd French Army – occupy Hagenow

Battle of Boltenwagen

The battle opened with the Prussian army dispersed. 2nd corps was deployed on the border, with 1st and 3rd corps three hours behind them either side of the town.

The French were concentrated, and would arrive on the table at the start of move one. It appeared that they had a distinct advantage.

On move one both armies advanced, the Prussians eager to occupy the hill on their left and the woods on their right. The French wanted to get their guns into position before the Prussians would deploy.

The Prussians took first casualties, when a landwehr brigade in the centre was hit by artillery fire. They passed their morale test and held their ground. On the right French cuirassiers charged Prussian hussars, the hussars won.

On the left Polish lancers charged Prussian hussars on the hill. Again the Prussians won, again the French retreated shaken. Meanwhile both 7th and 8th corps artillery received casualties. 7th passed their morale, 8th retreated shaken

On the right 7th cuirassier rallied and charged the Prussian hussars again. There was a prolonged melee, which ended with both brigades retreating shaken with 30% casualties

The Prussians withdrew closer to the town, and out of artillery range. The French had lost too many cavalry and gunners to continue the attack. They allowed the Prussians to redeploy and accepted defeat.


By the end of move 6, just half way through the game, it was clear that the Prussians had won the battle. The French had lost 4 cavalry and 2 gunners (600 casualties) to the Prussian 3 cavalry and 2 infantry (1100 casualties)

Each army has lost 30% cavalry casualties in melee, leaving both brigades completely broken. However the French has also lost 10% in a second cavalry brigade and the same in two of their three corps artillery.

First Prussian Army now had considerable advantage in both cavalry and artillery, and would continue to do so for the remainder of the campaign. They were allowed to retire out of artillery range, but still in front of the town. The French could not continue to attack when outnumbered in cavalry and gunners, even if there was still time left to do so.

An interesting start to the campaign, with one battle won to each side. But the one sided cavalry and artillery losses to the French would be very difficult to overcome for the duration of the campaign.