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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Assault on Vionville 1870

Bismarck’s Wars, Fire & Fury, 10mm

We opted for a 10mm game set in the Franco-Prussian War this week, in glorious 10mm. there were only three of us playing this evening – others had other commitments (it being a lovely summer’s evening in Orkney). So, Sean 1 took charge of the French, while Sean 2 and I commanded the attacking Prussians. We based the game on a segment of the Mars-le-Tour battle of 16 August 1870.The French of Gen. Frossard’s 2nd Corps were defending the village of Vionville, to the south-west of Metz, trying to keep open their line of communications from the fortress city. The Prussians  – Gen. Alvensleben’s III Corps were attacking, trying to push the French out of Vionville, and the nearby hamlet of Flavigny.In this one, Sean 2 had the  Gen. Stulpnagel’s 5th Division, facing Flavigny, while I had Gen. Buddenbrock’s 6th Division (above), opposite Vionville and the neighbouring Bois de Tronville. Sean actually began advancing Gen. Battaille’s 2nd Division onto the high ground in front of the woods on Turn 1, so I did the same thing. In our games a French regiment has 6 stands (ea. of 5 figs.), while the larger Prussian ones have 9 stands, so the attackers had an advantage in numbers. The French though, were in a strong position. In fact it was Sean’s 5th Division which went into action first, massing against Gen. Verge’s 1st Division around Flavigny. This though, didn’t go so well. Artillery and Chassepot rifle fire stopped Sean’s leading brigade in its tracks as it approached the French line. That’s Flavigny on the right of the picture above, and Sean’s 9th Brigade getting shot up as it left the high ground to the south of Vionville.For my part though, everything worked nicely. In our centre,  long-range fire from the Prussian guns caused casualties on the French troops in front of Vionville. Meanwhile the bulk of my Division swept onto the high ground in front of the Bois de Tronville,, to the south-west of the village. I also had a small brigade of cavalry (above), which supported the left flank of the Prussian advance. Sean 2 really wasn’t having a good day. With the two regiments of his leading brigade pinned down in open ground outside Flavigny, he tried deploying his 10th Brigade to support them. They though, got pinned down as well. the only bright spot was his Jaeger battalion, which with the help of the Divisional guns successfully shot up a French regiment deployed outside the hamlet. By now though, Sean 1 had brought up his own cavalry brigade, and charged into the battered Prussian 48th Regiment near Flavigny. The cavalry got bounced back, but it was a tough fight, and the Prussians were left “worn” – effectively out of the fight. On my side of the battlefield though, things were going more smoothly. My leading brigade had mixed fortunes, with one regiment stopped outside Flavigny by the   defenders, but the others drove back the Chasseurs on the hill (above), and were now poised to charge down it. In the charge that followed the Chasseurs were pushed back to the rear, and then caught by a flank charge from Prussian hussars. Meanwhile the French 8th Line was hit by the Prussian 64th Infantry, and in the flank by Prussian dragoons. Both French units were quickly driven back deep into the Bois de Tronville behind them, leaving the road clear for an assault on Vionville itself. Over by Flavigny the fight now involved long-range fire by both sides, with the French Chassepot rifle causing more casualties, but the Prussian guns hitting their mark too. On the far side those Prussian 3rd Jaegers finally drove back their French opponents of the 77th Line, who were driven out of the hamlet. Both sides though, were now trying to rally, to get themselves back into the fight. Over by the Bois de Tronville though, the French were collapsing. With their right flank shattered there was a real chance the French would be driven out of Vionville, just off the left side of the picture above. Sean 1 decided to pull back and regroup around the village, to make a last ditch stand. My Prussian division though, was still in action outside the village, where the French were still holding out. In the end that’s roughly where we ended the game. The French had fought a good defensive battle, and on their left near Flavigny Sean’s CHasseurs d’Afrique made another charge, and drove back their Prussian opponents. Elsewhere on the 1st Divisions front their line was holding its own. It was only the Vionville part of the battlefield where things were unravelling. In another turn – if we’d continued – the two sides would be fighting in the village streets. Instead, we finished the game at that point, and called it a draw.







2 Responses “The Assault on Vionville 1870”

  1. sean m page
    12th June 2023 at 10:58 am

    I liked the ruleset. Fast and furious. Initially I thought I would pile over the hill and drive away the enemy, but was I in for a shock when the firepower of their line halted me in my tracks. The scale is big enough to see the detail, but small enough to allow wide ranging flank moves. Excellent game.

    • 12th June 2023 at 11:03 am

      Those bloody Chassepot rifles are quite deadly. Fortunately the Prussian breech-loading artillery is pretty good to, and you can usually shell your way out of trouble!

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