Battle of La Rothière

Hi Chums

Myself, Andy and Tim with the aid of some child labour put on a demo game at Chillcon

The event itself was great and more like a bunch of mates getting together for a laugh than a typical games show. There were vendors, bring and buy, demo, participation, BA and a KOW tourney, food and even chilled beer. Not bad for a school.

Well done to all who set it up and I hope it continues to be a success

We put on a Black Powder game which was French, including guard infantry and cavalry, and some Swiss holding the area of La Rothiere and keeping the line of retreat open to Paris. The allied coalition of Russia, Prussia and Austria. As we play BP in 28mm scale we tried to give more of a feel for the battle rather than an accurate 100% accurate presentation. As it came to pass the game was actually very close to reality.

We were given loads of room and five tables to use so game was about an 8′ x 6′ set up.

We used my cheap green cloth, ok ok it is all I have right, which gave the look of a sunny summers day rather than the wet snow storm of February 1814 but it would not be last of the historic accuracies ridden over I am sure.

Here is the table and set up. French hold the center and back quarter of the table with Prussians attacking down one long length and the Russians and Austrians attacking from the short edge, basically and L shaped attack with the French holding everything else. French were outnumbered but had a leadership rating of 8+ and 9+ for the guard and allies were all on 7+ the young, old and mounted guard also had elite 3+ meaning they could recover from disorder easily.

My Russians on each side of the field on the right flank infantry and some hussars, they were supported by some grenadiers and cossacks loaned by Tim, massed artillery in the middle, on the left of the field more infantry and the Russian cavalry which was cossacks, curassiers and dragoons. At the top of the picture on the Russians left flank were the Austrians in large formations mostly infantry with some artillery support. The thin blue line looked on but the young guard showed no sign of concern.


This picture shows the Prussian infantry stretched across the field of battle holding he French in place until the hammer arrived from the other end of the field. Guard infantry, cavalry and artillery holding the center and to the top left more line infantry held the woods.


More French and Swiss holding La Rothiere, in here there were four units of cavalry that were waiting to see where they were needed the most.


First blood to the French as the Austrians and Russian right advanced but the Middle Russian division sat still for the next five turns. This was bad as it allowed the French to form up and hold a good defensive line from the field to the small farm cottage and on to the hill and house with the walled garden. The Prussians did best moving to cut off the French retreat straight away. The French had not to destroy us to win but hold the line of retreat, we also left firing ranges as per the rules but dropped all movement by half which worked well, so well in fact that we are sticking with it.


We had been thinking the game may be over a bit quick and how could we make it last all day but the low leadership ratings and half movement coupled with us going off for regular mooches about and chats gave us a good day of gaming from set up at 09:00 through to pack up at 16:00. The Russian cossacks were the first from their division to move and only then to counter charge some French hussars, mighty Russian lances and saving five out of six hits on 5+ saw us crush the french cavalry. Austrian skirmish troops had made it into the house and were merrily blasting into the oncoming French lines. The complete inability of the Russians to advance meant that the French had come to us to buy time with a defense in depth strategy.


As Russians advanced on the right cavalry forcing the French into squares the Austrians form line and blast at the enemy, the house had been retaken by French line troops. Russians in the middle still stationary and the cossacks now gone as they had been hit by some Currasiers who proved much more able troops than the earlier lights they had faced. French young guard square in the center with Guard Grenadier on the hill also in square due to the Prussian cavalry.


A fight was also on for the walled Garden house, Prussians got there first to be forced out by Swiss and French and then the Prussian gained it again. The diversionary Prussian attack had turned into full scale destruction. French Cavalry wait it out seeing which flank needed them the most. I now realised that the Russian reluctance to move was because of a loaned mounted commander. As soon as I replaced him with one of my own figures he got the job started.


For me one of the best pics of the game, Prussian line facing French line in the Woods. A large unit of Prussian cavalry waited for a break through and also kept an eye on the French cavalry who did not want to move to Face the Austrians with the threat of Prussian horse coming through the gap to make a mess of the pretty French lines.


The French had found a gap in the allies lines and had decided the best way to buy time for Napoleon to run back to Paris was to go and slap the enemy around. It was not looking good for the allies as the Prussian infantry attack had been given a very bloody nose by French attack columns.


Now just as the French thought they had it the tide started to turn

First the French held position in the center house was decimated by the Russian grand battery that literally blasted the French out of their positions.


Then miraculously without the French imposter holding them back the Russian Curassiers and Dragoons charged a shattered and disordered young guard square. The Shattered and disordered young guard laughed as they drew the combat but had to test because of all the Russian support. Needless to say they held but the French defence was just starting to look a little under pressure.


In a stroke of true tactical genius our gallant Russian commander allowed his Hussars to be routed by French fire, allowing his line clear lanes of attack to the French squares. Again the Young guard held.


A tide of allied infantry press on the French, even the Russian center had started to move. To the left of the young guard square was a clash of charging French curassiers and Russian dragoons. Unbeknownst to us all this was to prove a pivotal moment. The Russians won forcing back the French. Austrians again recapture the house and a Russian and Prussian firing line starts up meaning the French could not exploit the gap next to the walled garden. Prussian troops had decided this was the best place to be and shot at anything that came too close.


The Russian dragoons routed their breastplated opponents and went crashing into the side of a French infantry line in a sweeping advance. This moment opened the door and meant the writing was on the wall for the French. The writing became larger as the Young guard finally routed. These lads alone had meant half the french force could escape.


Andy looks on as the French who had smashed a division of infantry now moved back again as the order to retreat was given by French command, the pressure the Prussians put up on this side was immense. The Guard cavalry had also now disappeared in a hail of allied musketry and blooming big cannon balls plugging the gap. Only the Guard grenadier square on the hill held and it was getting hit on three sides now. The Austrians started down the Paris road as French cavalry blocked the way to slow them down.


French attack column on the hill with the routed Prussians on the top left of the picture. French line making their way back through the woods on their way to escape. There were plenty of French left to try to crush the rest of the Prussians but they would simply have allowed the rest of the allies to  cut of their retreat.


Austrian and Russian advance from the French view of the table


Russian Pavlov grenadiers get round the side of the French now the cavalry has protected their flank and let rip on their French counterparts.


The Guard grenadiers who had taken and held up to a terrible pounding formed line to retreat but got a bad roll so just formed line and were hit terribly from all sides. Prussian cavalry holding off any hope of reinforcements from their own side.


French roll for moral and with -4 they are gone.


In a puff of smoke


French in full retreat


As the allies get in each others way. A certain Colonel Cain may have been responsible for the Russians very slow march forward, just behind most of the fighting.


Even the once proud advance of the French attack column reverses.


Absolutely fantastic game which ended up going as historically planned as we could have managed, the dice gods were watching.

Thanks to everyone who came over for a chat and the lads that put on such a great show, def going again next year, if they have us.

Also of course big thanks to Andy for sorting and to Tim for an amazing defence under very difficult conditions.

Author: thebigfatone

I enjoy getting beaten at a surprisingly large amount of wargames My mission in life is to die happily for others pleasure

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