Go to ...


The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


RSS Feed

The Battle of Colombey 1870

Bismarck’s Wars, Fire & Fury, 10mm

We had a Franco-Prussian game this week, with a little under a Corps a side. It was based on the Battle of Colombey-Nouilly (or Borny-Colombey), fought outside Metz in August 1870. The French were on the defensive, and their aim was to hold off an impetuous Prussian assault, buying tome for the rest of the army to withdraw towards Metz.In this game, Sean 1 & 2 played the French of 3 Corps,  while newcomer Ross and I commanded the Prussians of VII Corps. The game was played on a 6×4 foot table, scattered with villages. The sprawl of Borny and Grigy lay behind the French 3rd Division under General Metman , deployed around the Bois de Grange, while on their left the 2nd Division (General Castagny) held their flank near the hilltop church of Belle Croix (below).At the start the Prussians only had two regiments of General Glummer’s 13th Division on the table, facing the wood. The rest were marching to the sound of the guns. So, for the first few turns the Prussians were fully occupied deploying onto the table. Ross’ half-strength Division came on to the east of Belle Croix, while the rest of my division headed towards my leading regiments, which were now advancing on the Bois de Grange. Ahead, the Prussian jaegers quickly cleared their French counterparts out of the woods. The assault went well. The two leading Prussian regiments advanced behind the jaegers, who made way for them, allowing the Prussians to clear the wood. Things weren’t going so well with the rest of my division though, as one regiment, advancing up the Colombey to Borny road to the right of the wood came under heavy fire from French guns and Mitrailleuse machine guns.Things were going well on the Prussian right too. Ross deployed his troops on the high ground near Lauvalliere, facing the French 2nd Division. He was backed up by a small Prussian cavalry division, which was facing off its French counterpart on the north end of the table – the Prussian right flank. The Prussian guns then started pounding the exposed French positions around the church.This all proved too much for Sean 2.  He advanced on the French left, and  his Zouaves then charged one of Ross’ Prussian regiments, pushing it back. The French cavalry though, got a brigade shot to pieces, before the rest followed up the Prussians onto the high ground to the east. The trouble was, both the Zouaves and the French cavalry were now dangerously exposed.Ross handled them like a pro. He turned round and revealed his waiting gun batteries, which pummeled the French cavalry with canister. The French horsemen fled from the field. That though, wasn’t the end of it. The Prussian cavalry also advanced on the table edge, and then threatened to ride around the  left flank of the French position around Belle Croix. Next it was the turn of the Zouaves, who after being disordered by Prussian fire, were charged by the much larger Prussian 12th Regiment. The Zouaves were outnumbered two to one, and the end came quickly. The French survivors broke and ran. So, all was now pretty secure on Ross’ side of the table. Now all he had to do was to keep up the pressure, and keep on advancing.Over on the right my regiment on the road, the 77th, was now “spent” thanks to French fire, and retreated back towards Colombey. On their left though, my other regiments of the 13th Division charged the French line, and drove them back into the village of Grigy. In fact, apart form one regiment on the Bony-Colombey road, the rest of Sean 1’s French 3rd division simply melted away. It was now all over bar the shouting. The leading French regiment advancing towards Colombey was now out of command, and halted, but Sean managed to form a new line in front of Borny using his Turco regiment. Still, it was clear the French flanks had gone, and so the Corps commander General Decaen ordered a retreat. So, the game ended in a  clear Prussian victory, but the butcher’s bill was still high all round. It was actually a very well-balanced game, and newcomer Ross proved himself a natural at rolling high D10s!





3 Responses “The Battle of Colombey 1870”

  1. sean 2
    11th October 2023 at 10:40 pm

    This scale certainly gives the impression of a big battle. The rules also worked and helped make a fast moving game. Love the breakthrough rule which allows a unit to carry on into a second unit.

    • 11th October 2023 at 10:50 pm

      I bet you’d love it more of Ross hadn’t been rolling those high dice either…!

      • SEAN 2
        12th October 2023 at 10:35 am

        The rules certainly demonstrated the power of the weapons in this period. The artillery and machine gun were devastating. Can’t wait to see what happens when we get our American Civil War project off the ground.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More Stories From Bismarck's Wars