Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Monday, December 7, 2015

Clash at Sippitz Bridge, 1812 - Part 3 (Blucher BatRep)

Here is part 3, the final part, to the Clash at Sippitz Bridge AAR for Blucher. Take note this battle was played SOLO. If you haven't read the previous parts, here are the links below.

Part 1
Part 2

As the fighting had lulled over near the bridge, drums were beating on the Saxon part of the field. Knowing full well their orders to "...defend the gap at all cost" was about to be put to the test, the Saxon commander made a bold choice. Upon seeing the Russian columns of infantry pause their advance upon them, and taking on the example of the French dragoons, the orders were issued to advance on the enemy before them! Defensive posture abandoned, the white columns began their advance. Cannon let loose the final volley, and the drums beat a quick pace. The Russians would be caught flat-footed with such surprise.

The Saxon counter-attack!

The Bridge is Taken!

The battle at Sippitz bridge was getting pretty desperate at this point - at least from the French perspective. Having been pounded heavy by the Russians, the French units close to the fighting at the bridge were worn. SO sudden was the attack there by the Russians that the French command could not react quick enough to support the immediate defenses. There was little standing in the way of the green-coats as they sent fresh troops to seize the bridge itself. The time had arrived for the Russians to take advantage of the French withdrawal from the bridge.

However, not all was lost. Just as the Russians began crossing the river, the arrival of a brigade of dragoons rushing on from the right bolstered the French defense at the river line. As the French infantry along the river began shifting to their left towards the bridge itself, the fresh dragoons were falling in place in preparation of a valiant charge on the approaching columns of green-coats - still wading through the rough waters.

Almost like a well orchestrated symphony, the French infantry and dragoons separate but effective attacks on the approaching Russians. Although the infantry assault against the grenadiers at the bridge was repulsed, the dragoons were most effective, routing many of the Russians in mid-stream. Bugles sounded countless charges on the green clad infantry laboring to cross the waters and get a foothold.

Though the bridge had been taken and held by the Russian grenadiers, those crossing the river made no success on the enemy. The French dragoons had held them back, preventing a total rout from the field. But all was not lost. If the bridge could be held and the Saxons broken, the path would be clear to the enemy supply lines; a rout would ensue.

The Russian grenadiers moves up and captures the bridge. The Russians begin shifting their artillery towards
the Saxon position.
The French make one final push to retake the bridge. To the far right can be seen the Dragoons charging headlong in to
the Russians as they are caught midstream.
Although the French infantry were repulsed, the dragoons soundly defeated the Russians crossing, driving them
from the field.

The Saxon Counter-Attack...

The French dragoons launched hard in to the enemy cavalry which had up till now been re-grouping in front of the field. However, the sudden shock and surprise of the dragoons had left their line in shambles. Many had withdrawn in to the field itself seeking better positioning. Unfortunately this exposed the Russian infantry columns to a vicious flank attack! by both the dragoons and Saxon infantry. This was a mistake the Russians would not recover from. Even with a brigade of grenadiers sent from reserve to support them, it was too late. All along the front the Saxons pushed forward with great success. The Russian columns were falling back!

As the left flank of the Russian battle-line began to crumble, French dragoons began piercing deep through the gap, making their way to the enemy supply lines. The Russians had no way to counter this sudden assault. It was only then, with the failing of the river crossing near the Sippitz bridge, and the sudden counter attack launched by the Saxons, that the Russians began to call a withdrawal of their forces. Reserves meant to bolster the attack, were instead given the task of rear-guard! The battle was all but lost. The assault of the Sippitz bridge had failed, even with the bridge being captured. The field could not be held.

The French dragoons defeat the enemy cavalry, pursuing them through the fields. The Russian advance begins to falter
and fall back from the oncoming Saxons.
As the Russians commit a brigade of grenadiers to stiffen the defense, the Saxons launch an attack, supported by the
dragoons hitting the flank!
Thr Russians line begins to collapse as the Saxons and dragoons turn the flank of the Russian line.
With the Russian infantry pinned, the dragoons break through! In the distance a brigade rides deep towards the enemy
supply lines - the objective.

The Rear Guard Fights On...

With all of the Russian reserve committed, there was only one alternative at this point: slow the Saxon advance! The late arrival of the grenadiers meant they themselves would fill that role quite nicely. Although not their original intent, a slow reacting Russian high command fit them in that role.

The combined French dragoons and Saxon infantry took advantage of their ideal positioning to launch headlong into the grenadiers, flanking them. However, the resolute grenadiers held their ground, as unprepared as they were for the assault. Time was bought, the Saxons were repulsed, and the army would indeed escape. The battle was indeed over. Sippitz Bridge would once again fall to the control of the French.

As the Russians battle-line falls apart, only the grenadiers remain to slow the advance of the Saxons.

A final assault on the Russian grenadiers is launched...

... but to no avail! The Russians would escape as the rear guard of grenadiers holds off the attack.

Post-Battle Thoughts...

After 27 turns, the battle had come to an end. Although the Russians had managed to capture the bridge, they could not secure the open ground to the right of the forest and river. The Saxon's counter-attack, combined with confusion in the ranks of the Russian high command, could not muster the effort needed to secure the open ground. The bridge itself was a hard fought reward for the Russians, but it was to no avail in the end. Casualties were very high in the end, high enough to cause much concern among the Russian generals. No, the bloodshed would end, and battle would be fought under more favorable conditions - not here.

A look at the at the battlefield as the Russians count their losses and begin to withdraw, having been defeated by the
combined French-Saxon force. The Russians would abandon the bridge by day's end.
What an exciting battle this was! As you can see, there were a few very memorable moments, full of drama. The fight at the bridge was dramatic, and was followed as dramatically by the final capture and crossing of the Russians. I imagined the Russian columns beating drum as they marched with banners brought forward over the river. Only the grenadiers attacking the small hill to the left of the bridge was a let down for the Russians. In hindsight, that one weakened unit of cavalry managed to keep that French infantry pinned on that hill, thus effectively taken out of the fight once the grenadiers were routed.

It goes without saying that the fight on the French right was as exciting as it gets. The French had little hope of regaining the Sippitz bridge at this point, but had a chance to cause some great casualties among the Russians with a bold counter-attack. A bold counter-attack is just what they did, supported by the French dragoons of course. In fact, if it wasn't for the French defeating the Russian cavalry in this flank, I don't think the Saxons would have been as successful.

Tactics-wise, I really made poor use of the Russian artillery. They were really needed to support the attack early on, but me forgetting to reserve move them was definitely a mistake.

Something must be said of the Russian MO rolls - or card-draws in my case, as a couple times they ran out of MO on the third draw of the cards (equal to rolling "snake-eyes"). They really couldn't get a break regarding limited MO in the second half of the battle. Such is fate. In such cases it is best to be effeciant in choice of orders to carry out. Lesson learned!

Honour Games
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