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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Battle of Leipzig, 1813

The Napoleonic Wars, Waiting for Bonaparte, 28mm

At the weekend I boarded the overnight ferry to Aberdeen, then drove down to Kirriemuir, to take part in the latest League of Gentlemen Wargamers game. A couple of times a year the town’s Girl Guide hut is taken over by a group of ageing me, playing with toy soldiers. This one was a refight of the Battle of Leipzig (October 1813). It was billed as the biggest battle of the Napoleonic Wars,  so even with a few thousand figures on several tables, this was only going to be a loose approximation of the real thing! My contribution was several hundred Russians and French, most of which were divided up between Charles Grant and I. We then landed up playing against each other all weekend, with Charles commanding the French while I fought using my Russians. The immense battle was divided into a number of game-sized chunks – each a little patch of the bigger battlefield.I spent the weeekend fighting for the little village of Wachau, somewhere to the south of Leipzig, facing off against Charles and Kieron Potts, with the Allied assistance of Donald Adamson,  who commanded the Prussians in my sector of the battlefield. One weird thing is that in the real battle the Allies outnumbered the French quite considerably. In our refight it was the other way round.The refight was organised by Steve Rimmer, who’d tinkered heavily with Kevin Calder’s simple rules, and made them a fair bit more comprehensive. Steve’s organisation even went as far as providing dice for us  – and my decimal dice worked superbly all weekend, much to Charles’ annoyance. What I wasn’t so keen on though were all the unit markers cluttering the table. I’m not a fan. Still, Donald and I managed to capture Wachau on Saturday lunchtime, after three hours of play. We then faced a string of French counter-attacks. The thing about Charles and Kieron is that they’re both retired military men – a brigadier and a colonel no less. Their keen military minds were laser-focused on kicking us out of the village, but thanks largely to my dice we held on, despite all they could throw at us. Over on the other tables things weren’t going well. Around Markkleeburg Dale’s French cavalry were riding roughshod over their Allied opponents, while at Liebertwolkwitz the Austrians and Russians were having trouble shifting the French from their strong defensive positions. Still, by the end of play on Saturday the allies were making progress, largely thanks to their cavalry attacks.After a night of carousing in the Airlie Arms  we kicked off again on Sunday morning. Essentially there were four tables, and ours was the only one where the Allies were making any headway. As the umpire, Steve assured us that elsewhere on the battlefield the Allies were doing well, and I’m not surprised – they must have had all the troops! Still, the game was fun, and the rules were fairly speedy.Then, in mid-morning, my dice failed me. A unit of Russian jaegers were pushed out of Wachau by Charles’ French, and this was enough of a lever for Kieron’s troops to throw Donald’s Prussians out too. So, they’d recaptured the village, and we didn’t have the time left to retake it. So, to secure a win we had to establish ourselves on their heights near the village. So, my Russians attacked there. That turned out to be the most enjoyable part of the weekend’s gaming – a large scale Russian assault that almost did the job. In the end we needed another turn to plant our flag on the top of the ridge, damn it! Elsewhere the battle of Liebertwolkwitz ended in a French victory, thanks to a heap of cavalry reinforcements, which turned the tide. That was where we had to stop the refight.So, as umpire, Steve went through it all, table by table, to say who’d won. In the end it turned out to be a solid French defensive victory. They’d pretty much held their positions on all the tables at Markkleeburg, Wachau, Liebertwolkwitz and Holzhausen, thereby foiling the Allied assault on that whole southern front. Essentially, we didn’t have enough troops and guns to punch though. Still, it was all great fun, it was a spectacular-looking game, and like any oversized Napoleonic refights, it was a thoroughly memorable experience!





2 Responses “The Battle of Leipzig, 1813”

  1. sean m page
    3rd August 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Looks impressive.

    • 3rd August 2023 at 5:17 pm

      It was, but they sort of spoil the eye candy effect by slitting it over several tables. Also, between us we probably had roughly half of our collective stash of Napoleonic toys on the table.
      So. it could have been much more “oomphy” – and of course taken much longer to play!

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