We swapped side and went at it again. I requested the smaller of the three French Corps due to feeling rather drawn with Ken getting the VI Corp under Marshal Ney. The plan was to batter the British in the centre with an all out attack. On our left Mike had a fairly large force that was intended to force a passage through the area I had defended the game before. My job was to tie down the British facing me and stop them reinforcing the centre. But how did it go?
|Column Attack against the British|
Just like the first game my attention was most placed on my forces and I paid only a small amount of attention on the rest of the battle. We managed to keep the mist for a lot longer than in the first game which aided me with the dummies as I held them in reserve as a possible cavalry screen that kept Ralph from pressing too hard on my extreme right flank with his Dragoons.
The First four turns were played out on the Saturday evening. I had missed a possible opening on set up where I could have driven at the weakest part of the line leaving much of the British with nothing facing them. They would be able to reposition but before they could get the troops into place they would have been forced to commit their reserve to the battle against m. This would have been very bad news for my Corp being only 10 infantry brigades but would have reduced the force facing Ken by enough to make the central defence too weak which in turn could have forced Lee to send some of his troops to help Adi in the centre. As it was I was driving my whole force into the teeth of a much stronger force that had all the advantages of defending.
The Allied strategy was to hold this flank with a strong force of two Corp's of 12 infantry battalions but many of these are the feared light regiments including the rifles. I was matched for artillery units though Ralph only had three guns in each compared with my 4. 36 Skirmishers faced my 24 and he also had the Dragoons on hand to fight against my light cavalry which I had already had two units forced to turn and flee after a mauling.
|Light Cavalry face off British Dragoons.|
I was taking heavy casualties on the leading Column marching up the road from very accurate artillery fire but it was on my right flank the first major clash was to happen. I still had 6 squadrons of lights to face the four of British Dragoons. I had brigaded two squadrons together in two positions to give me the upper hand in the melee whilst positioning the other two squadrons behind the others so I would be able to support the melee in coming melee rounds. The first clash was actually going my way after round one but Ralph through two more squadrons into the melee. The end result after some fairly poor rolling by both of us was that the British were forced to flee whilst I was forced to return to own lines. This left just one British Dragoon squadron facing the two attached squadrons with a third ready to join the melee. I was licking my lips with anticipation and knowing it was almost impossible for me to fail I rolled the dice.
|Throw anything but three to charge home.|
So yes I stood to face the charge and was rewarded with an automatic casualty and was to fight the melee rounds at a major disadvantage.
|Dice Gods have a great sense of humour.|
I then rolled well whilst Ralph had another bout of low rolls (he only had these with his cavalry by the way). Still he only lost the one figure so he was lucky in that respect. I believe this was the first action of the Sunday. Saturday finished fairly late (later than normal from what Lee was saying) and I was quite dizzy and feeling ready to barf up. As such I stayed at the hotel whilst Lee and Adi hit the town. Well a Pizza joint, followed by a chicken place as they messed up Adi's order. I was still feeling shite when Lee got back and was worried I would not be able to play on the Sunday. Totally unlike me could not face food till breakfast the following morning by which time I was recovered and ready for the day.
I was suffering such great casualties moving up the hill that I stopped the attack on he hill and started to reposition units so that I could attack the left flank. The biggest issue I had was it I seemed to be in canister range all game which was taking a huge toll of my units. Ralph decided to come down the hill to take on the holding force and take pressure off his flank.
|Defending the village|
Finally I have the advantages. Here came the British I would have first volley from my vets, rested muskets and in a village with only open order counting in the Brits favour. The Brits also would have first volley but having moved would loose that advantage and suffer a massive minus mod for my hard cover. The dice were cast and I gave him a real thumping, my arty also coming on strong. Ralph returned fire AFTER taking the damage as he was advancing so was short by 5 or 6 figures but did a whopping 5 casualties and I think an officer in return as he rolled boxcars! However he was soon retreating the unit as he just could not afford to keep in place whilst my arty was able to join in the fun.
|The repositioning continues.|
Being the eleventh of November we paused for the two minutes silence which was even more poignaint with us standing over our toy soldiers especially as one of our group is an ex marine. I can not speak for the others but it was a strange sensation to turn back to the figures about five minutes later and pick up the game again.
The other light regiment and the rifles though were coming down the hill unhindered and I was still all over the place. At this point I did have a look see how things were going elsewhere. Our centre ws fighting on the table edge as most of Adi's troops had withdrawn to the next table drawing Ken on. It was looking like we were doing well but the vast majority of Ken's troops were not involved in the fight. Our biggest asset had been turned into a traffic jam! Worse still was our cavalry advantage was right at the back and guaranteed never to get involved but was not released to help either flank. Over night it looked like Mark would punch through Lee with some ease but a mixture of lack of experience or rule knowledge and some edge of the seat play by Lee was starting to turn the battle in his favour. The French troops were starting to fail morale tests causing problems for the following troops.
|Ooops French troops flee from the guns.|
Not that I did not have problems of my own, the column that had taken a pounding was under orders to come back down the hill but after a poor morale roll decided to flee and pinned the unit behind it. I was able to recover it but due to it's losses it was never going to be sent back into the front line again.
|One last mad dash.|
Knowing that at best I was facing a stalemate and at worst being pushed off the field I prepared to attack all along the line to the left of the village. To make this possible I would need to pin the units and to do this I was sneaking a spent cavalry unit into position to charge. Unfortunately Ralph saw him peaking out and shot at him rather than the infantry and caused enough casualties that they were done for the day. This made the whole prospect of a mass charge unappealing and I set myself up for keeping up a delaying action as casualties would continue to mount.
Meanwhile Lee was sitting on a comfortable sofa reading one of the many great books for such an occasion. Lee it seemed had turned a odd routing French column into a mob of broken men. Only two of Mark's troops were not routing and they were under retreat orders so would have routed the following turn.
|Infantry routing from the British.|
I was still overall in fair condition but I had a unit routing in my centre again pinning another unit. My troops were so shot up that they could not stand against Ralph's still fairly intact units. Our centre was not managing to break Adi or when they did Adi managed to break a battalion of Ken's so it was looking a stalemate in the centre.
I believe I could have kept Ralph busy enough that he could not help out the centre as I had a couple of fairly fresh battalions on my left flank that could have again attempted to attack the hill forcing a reaction whist Ken had the troops that could move uncontested to a point that would halt the Allied advance and indeed he should have done this earlier as he would then force Adi to defend. The problem though was Lee. He now had the troops and the position to attack Ken's flank which would have halted any momentum Ken had gained and either force him to try and break off and retreat or risk a very dangerous battle were breaking units would cause major problems and any collapse would loose the whole Corp and as such the army.
Again another defeat for our team but it was fun getting there. Ralph was great fun to play against and we just had such a great time. We talked about our own personal objectives in the game finding out that both of us had managed what we set out to do. Better knowledge of the rules would have changed a few of the things I did and better dice would have helped too. In the first game poor dice seemed to get under my skin a little but I was rolling worse in the second game but I must have been more accepting of fate, who knows. Both games were fun and the experience was great. It has not however made me want to start collecting 28mm Naps or a deep desire to paint them just for fun, though I do have two Battalions of French 25mm that I need to paint up at some point, but that's another story. Would I like to go to the WHC again? Yes definitely and whilst they do have 20mm WWII and 15mm WWII (using FoW with a few changes to allow for big battles) I would still prefer to go back and try those Naps again, next time though with more usable cavalry.
Mark has a light handed approach to running the games, whilst at the same time seeming to be there at your shoulder if you need advice or are unsure. He obviously has a vast knowledge of the rules, period and scenario chosen. He inspired confidence in the scenario being played and his light banter matched the atmosphere that prevailed over the games. If any of the three posts have wet your appetite then get in touch, please mention you read the AAR's here so Mark gets an idea how blogs can promote his business.