The Napoleonic Wars, In the Shadow of the Eagles, 28mm
This little scenario was looted from my trusty Scenarios for All Ages by Asquith & Grant (1996). This one, “Seizing the Initiative” involved a table crossed by two rivers – let’s call them the Black Elster and the Blue Elster. The idea was, a small Prussian garrison held two fords over the rivers, with outposts in the hamlet of Nardt and the village of Neuweisse. A French column was marching to capture both river crossings, and the Allies were out to stop them. In this game, Nick played the French, Sean (1) the Allies, while I ran the scenario, and fumbled my way through the rules, as a sort of referee. The game was played out on a 6×4 foot table, bisected by the rivers, a road leading to the two settlements, and another road and ford to the south of Neuweisse. Both sides – in theory – had fairly similar forces, but the kicker was the arrival of troops was largely a matter of chance – both in timing and composition. The game began, of course, with Nick (his French being Red force) entering the table and heading to the ford over the Blue Elster. Just beyond it though, was the hamlet of Nardt, which was held by a battalion of Silesian Jaegers, supported by some Prussian hussars. Nick deployed his skirmishers and guns to support an infantry assault on the hamlet, and kept his 7th Hussars in reserve on the western side of the ford. The rivers, by the way, were impassable, except by the three fords – one over the Blue Elster and two over the Black Elster. So far so good for Team France. Over to the east though, the small garrison of Neuweisse was marching to support their colleagues in Nardt. They were drawn by the sound of the French guns, whose fire played on the Prussian hussars. For some reason the ford presented a problem, as Nick didn’t want to get caught crossing it in march column. So, he approached cautiously, but eventually managed to throw both battalions of his 48th Regiment over the river, and deployed them into line. That though, was where things started to unravel a bit for the French. Now, until about a year ago, Sean was the most cautious Napoleonic player known to man. That changed as he discovered the potential of sudden cavalry charges. So, that’s exactly what he did, powering his hussars into the French skirmishers. They evaded back over the river in a huddle, but the stolid French line behind them quickly formed into an emergency square.It wasn’t a major setback for the French, but it showed that things weren’t going to be easy. The Prussian hussars pulled back to regroup, and the French deployed for the assault again, supported by their own hussars. Then the French 7th Hussars (Harvey Keitel’s regiment) spotted Prussian dragoons, and decided to charge into them. The Prussians counter-charged though, and thanks to some excellent dice they sent the French reeling back in disorder. Now things went from bad to worse for the French. Sean charged the disordered French hussars again, caught with their backs to the river, and routed them without suffering any loss themselves. this meant that the large French force heading along the road to the ford couldn’t cross the river – there was nowhere for them to deploy. So, it was up to the 48th Line to turn things around, with the help of the supporting French guns. Actually, both sides had reinforcements arriving on the table – a couple of Russian battalions had arrived, and were deploying in front of the northern ford over the Black Elster. The main Allied opposition though, was the fusilier battalion of the 1st Silesians, who’d formed a close order line and were harrying the French 48th in front of them. this though, wasn’t enough to stop Nick from forming up to assault the hamlet, after pounding it hard with his guns.In the end the Silesian Schutzen battalion abandoned the place. they’d been worn down by casualties, to they pulled out, leaving Nardt to the victorious French. That gave Nick the space he needed to start bringing the rest of his force over the Blue Elster ford. By now though, it was clear that to capture a second river crossing over the Black Elster, he’d have a real fight on his hands. There were now too many Allied troops in the area to make it work. That then, is pretty much where we decided to stop the game. it was packing up and going home time anyway, and to continue the fight for the second river would simply take too long. So, we decided to play a final turn. True to form, Sean launched his dragoons in another cavalry charge, hitting the flank of the 108th Line, which had just crossed the river. the French failed to form square in time, and so were driven back to the ford in disorder. That was pretty much the end of the game, bar a little bit of firing from both sides. We chatted about the scenario afterwards, and it was clear that the clue was in the name – “Seizing the Initiative”. the only way either side can win it is to act quickly and decisively. Nick felt he should have ignored the hamlet, and sent his leading troops straight to the southern ford over the Black Elster, leaving it to his reinforcements to clear Nardt. Perhaps next time.