I left off the AAR with my Prussians just about to go onto the offensive. I would need to keep all Lee's troops on my right hand side of the table in their positions and not allow him to shift any of his divisions to support each other and the only way to do this is to engage all three divisions.
The Italians were still mostly intact so I would not be able to send in a full attack, just enough to keep him defending the bridge.
At the smaller bridge I could be more forceful as the defenders were a lot more sparse. I first sent the most forward battalion off table with some well aimed volleys.
However Blucher's brigade was forced onto the defensive as the Saxon attack heated up and looked poised to force this brigade away from the Russians.
Another angle shows the true strength of the oncoming Saxon attack. Blucher was busy trying to reform his battle worn battalions.
The two battalions in the woods are Prussian and had been giving valuable support to a Russian attack but the battalion outside the woods is Saxon and through back to back activations (over two turns) is about to charge the forward battalions flank.
The French dragoon regiments make their presence felt by forcing some of my Russian battalions into square. My Russian reserve cavalry are on the way to try and take back the advantage.
The Wuttenberg Brigade restarted it's advance in an attempt to take advantage of my squares receiving hot fire from my Russians within the woods.
Lee sent in fresh French battalions into Bautzen and carried the outer defences. From previous games we both know that such attacks are quite unpredictable and suck up a lot of your strength.Whoever holds the town after the assault may be too weak to hold it. Getting more troops into the town will be a priority if the winner wishes to keep it.
Meanwhile a far weaker attack goes in against my left flank to keep this small brigade from joining the fight for Bautzen. The attack is losing it's cohesion as my cavalry charge forcing infantry into squares and artillery sending other battalions into retreat.
Back on the Prussian flank I throw a whole brigade up to the rivers edge and start a musket dual with the French. I manage to cause reasonable damage but not enough to attempt a crossing of the river.
Amongst the Italian battalions are a few conscript quality units, these in close quarters fighting are at quite a disadvantage but at this range are almost as good as line battalions. Their main drawback is the difficulty in rallying back their strength.
Whilst this attack column may look impressive it remains just one battalion wide and is susceptible to flank attacks and gains no support from the units behind it. However I should have just forced my way across and took the higher casualties. It could be a mistake I would regret later.
Blucher struggles to get enough troops to stop retreating and is away from the front line as the Saxons start to cause major problems for me. It is looking like this brigade will be the first to break. If I could do it over again I would have dropped the brigade back a few moves to trade space for time.
I was fortunate to have the Russian Guard Cavalry arrive in this area but it would take several turns before they would be able to join the fight.
I went over to the attack against the Saxons, this was likely to speed up the demise of the Brigade but had at least some possibility of slowing down what was starting to look as a disaster unfolding in my centre.
Meanwhile on the hill mass to the right of Bautzen both French and Russian troops clashed with both sides taking a few heavy blows but never enough for one side or the other to try and break off.
The Wurttenberg Brigade continues it's march towards the top of the hill. Russian guns continue to plague the attacking troops. In the far left you can see the mass ranks of the Imperial Guard.
I feed more troops in to Bautzen though I have lost the defence at the edge of town making the fight far more even. My only advantage being the ability to ignore a retreat result with Russian troops.
At this point things were starting to look rather unpleasant for me. Whilst I had forced Lee to move his Italians away from the lower bridge I just could not follow this up with a general attack. Lee had taken advantage of my inactivity at the larger bridge and brought up an Italian Light horse regiment and a infantry battalion. True these would not be able to co-ordinate with the French battalion they would now be a real threat to any attack across that bridge.
I took the short pause also to my advantage, bringing my Prussian cavalry across the hill to give me more targets and if things went well be in a position to force the Italian cavalry away from the bridge. However I had already lost precious time. I could and should have made this move at least two turns earlier.
My Russian Guard Cavalry make their presence felt. They first force a battalion of Saxons into square then with the aid of their horse artillery break the square. With three regiments of cavalry and guns in close range what to this point had been the most successful brigade of the French army was now in serious trouble.
It really was a turn from hell for the Saxons as Blucher's brigade scored a few victories breaking a few battalions that were already mauled from previous fighting. Now it was the turn of the Saxon's to be on the point of breaking.
The French at this point had also lost their cavalry brigade with just one regiment of Dragoons left on the table. I was able to start advancing against the now disorganised Wurttemberg brigade but the supporting cavalry were being drawn away to help in another threatened sector. Indeed I was starting to feel quite stretched and needed to have a second good turn on the trot to keep the swing of advantage going my way.
I sent in a limited counter attack, not so much to retake the half of Bautzen the French held as much as to stop Lee from taking any more of it. I managed to maul a battalion and did indeed stop his further forward movement but again I lacked the troops to make further headway without risking losing the whole town.
Another angle showing the confused melee. I am presenting my flank to the French but the nearest battalion is too weak to risk the attack.
The French were strong enough though to drive me away from the church yard, we both had cavalry but neither was happy to send them against each other without support. We were quite literally fighting ourselves into exhaustion.
The view from the French Imperial Guard, typical of these fine gentlemen they did not actually join the battle but still had a major influence on the battle. Perfectly placed they were marching to the sound of the guns and my weakened centre. I was diverting the Russian Guard Infantry towards them but it did look like I was trying to put a plaster on a missing limb!
Me defence on the far left remained a patchwork of units both recovering and fresh whilst Lee just did not have the troops to do more than keep them engaged. My advantage was having two regiments of cavalry able to keep the French at a slow pace but these were wearing down from aborted charge after charge.
At this point the Saxon's managed to get the first activation succeeding in breaking poor Blucher's brigade but they themselves also broke. However the loss of Blucher's infantry was a major blow. If I had managed to break the Saxon's I would have been able to rally enough battalions to go on the offensive against the large bridge releasing another brigade. This would by default have lead to the second brigade breaking and maybe crush the Italians against the table edge.
Not that this would have won me the battle. It would have meant that the Guard would have had to divert from the Russian flank and if I was able to stabilise the rest of the line possibly have fought Lee to a standstill. Not a very high possibility due to the amount of fresh quality cavalry he would have had to attack at a point of his choosing.
However this was not the case and I decided the best policy was to withdraw whilst most of my troops were not too heavily engaged. Lee was happy to accept the field of battle and halt the majority of his troops on my defensive line and gather his troops for another battle.
So Lee gets the win but it was a close one. Each of us lost enough units and have others badly beat up that if this was a campaign we would be rather careful of our forward movements before gaining reinforcement.
Great game and a great result. The rules worked fine though we are thinking of trying the rules without the ability to rally units to see how it speeds up the result and effects the game.