Monday, January 14, 2019

Auerstadt 6x4

After the preparation comes the real thing.  Last Saturday at the NWS club's games day I umpired Auerstadt, using the scenario from the booklet that came with the first edition of Napoleon's Battles, but cut down to fit on a 6x4 table. 

The area in the red box represents the area I went with as it included all the villages and effectively just delayed entry by one turn for each side (assuming they were moving at the speed of the slowest unit in the formation).  I left the morale changes as per the scenario and thought everything would be fine...

Mark B took command of the French command, Stephen N took on the role of Brunswick with direct command of the Prussian Third Division and Blucher's cavalry Reserve.  Mark of the ANF took control of the remaining Prussian forces as they arrived.

I left the order of battle as is, although my research showed that for the Prussians it could be updated or at least an option provided.  Part of the problem with depicting Prussian army organisation of this period (1806) within Napoleon's Battles is that they were still using an 18th Century system of Lines and free attachments of regiments to commanders, including on the very day of battle.  This means that available Prussian OOB information is a bit confusing.

The stream was fordable with no additional penalties, however given the NB movement penalty modifier requiring the depth of the unit to be considered, it would mean crossing in march column, particularly for artillery, would be particularly slow.  Given march columns include wagons etc this is possibly reasonable and that troops, not able to cross at a bridge, should come out of march column, but then they might have command problems (given that being in march column has the benefit of putting them in command).  Such are the problems affecting the Prussians.

For this game I took the photos after each sides' movement phase, but before combat.

 08:30 and the Prussians have moved first.

 The French sit tight in Hassenhausen.

As they were out of command, and even though Gudin passed, this meant only a half move. That is not enough to allow French line infantry a formation change, but I have a house rule that says it can be undertaken, but results in disorder (hence the far right unit being in disordered square).

 09:00 and the Prussian Second Division arrives.
Meanwhile Blucher pushes forward against the French right.

 Davout arrives along with his Corps' cavalry.

 09:30 and more Prussians arrive.

 Blucher just can't quite get into contact, yet...

 Friant's Division had been held off table and could therefore come on deployed during the 9:30 turn.
I was not too happy about the edge of the table challenge.
What would the dice gods think?

In checking the rules I now find I had made a mistake and for the French to come of deployed and spread out takes two moves, not one as I mistakenly ruled.  Bum!

As it was the French failed to score any hits on the Prussian cavalry which promptly charged

 In goes Blucher, should be a walk over.

 Meanwhile 10:00 sees the Prussians deploying ready to attack Hassenhausen.

 In a skilful use of a free roll chit, the French snatch victory from the Prussians.
Blucher fallsback, but has plenty more cavalry to attack with.

 Friant's Division surges forward.

 10:30 and Blucher attacks again, 
buying time for the remaining Prussians to surround Hassenhausen.

 Friant beats of Blucher, but is now stuck in square.
Gudin finds a unit to throw at the Prussians .

 11:00 and what was looking like the start of a successful Prussian envelopment 
has now been pushed back, however they are still able to mount an attack on Hassenhausen.

 The French hold Hassenhausen and try and exploit their advantage on their left flank.
Morand's Division has now arrived (and again I made the deployment error).

 11:30 and Blucher waits for  opportunities while another attack goes in against Hassenhausen.

 Morand's Division is now in action, perhaps a turn before it should be.  So it goes.

 12:00 and the French still hold Hassenhaussen 
(and therefore have avoid any negative morale impacts, not that it would have mattered).

 The French attack, but are surprised by Prussian hussars.

 12:30 Prussian Grenadiers now assault Hassenhausen.
Blucher has retired severely bloodied.
The rest of the Prussians are finding the battlefield congested,
and know this will only get worse.

 The French counterattack the Prussian grenadiers who have been able to get into Hassenhausen
(And yes I know they are not actually in Prussian grenadier uniforms, best I could do).

Note:Brunswick is in the thick of the fighting, but despite of his age penalty (increased risk of becoming a casualty 50% rather than standard 30%) he defies history and remains unhurt and mostly in command.  Not once, but twice!

 13:00 and the Prussians keep arriving.
(Here we see a unit of Old Glory SYW cavalry painted up as Napoleonic Spanish cavalry in their bright yellow uniforms representing some 1806 Prussian heavy cavalry.  It works for me.)

With Hassenhausen secure the French press on.
The Prussians are feeling fatigued.  Will their artillery save the day? 

 13:30 and the Prussians look stuck.
At this stage they have permanently lost three units 
with more routed on table that they hope to recover.
(I use the optional 4th Edition self rally/command rules - it helps).

 The French attack to the left of Hassenhausen has carried them well into the Prussian lines.

 14:00 and the Prussians start another offensive, just as bad news starts to arrive from Jena.
(This has the effect of lowering the Prussian morale).

 Prussian losses are mounting (now standing at four permanent).

 14:30 and the news from Jena gets worse.
The news from Auertadt is no better.

The attacks by the Prussian guards are driven off (the Guard being represented by some Russian grenadiers), but worse the French have started mopping up Prussian routed units and those close to dispersing, taking the permanent losses to six.  Come 15:00 this is fatal and the Prussian morale is irretrievably broken.

  Was für ein Horror!    

(All the more so as I have wasted time trying to get that last statement centred.  Grrr)

Perhaps not perfect, but a remarkably close historical result.  I was very pleased.  I had always thought this would be a real test to recreate using Napoleon's Battles and even though I had the scenario from the beginning, never thought to give it a try.  It probably would have stayed that way if I had not participated in the ANF's refight of the battle using their preferred (and modified) Shako rules.

Clearly I will have to arrange another game and make sure the French take two turns if they wish to deploy before marching on.  Perhaps I could also use the force march rule for the Prussians (as it was they had still not all arrived).  A bit more research on the terrain and the Prussian OOB wouldn't go astray either.

I have the F. Loraine Petre book on the 1806 campaign as well as the beautiful F.-G. Hourtoulle book and the amazing Pascal Bessonnet's Tactical Studies 1806, plus a pdf of a Thesis covering the battle by James Hallmark and some other sundry material.


  1. Great post Mark and very well photographed to boot. A very interesting scenario that I would love to see the OOB for when you get a chance. Perhaps we can discuss at the club dinner on Friday night? A red wine would be a perfect accompaniment!

  2. Excellent battle report! Blucher and the Prussians seemed to face their share of tough luck in this one but perhaps they did as well on the historical day of battle. History repeats itself!

    1. Thanks Jonathan. If Blucher had won the first cavalry battle (it was +2 to +5 in Prussia's favour) things would have been hard for the French. They did win, but on the reroll it was just a tie and so no result (from memory the first die rolls were a French 3 to a Prussian 8, but on reroll they both threw 8s which produced a tie with two casualties each and the units retiring) . Other attacks launched against French infantry failed as they always managed to formed square (70% chance).

  3. Prussian Divisions are fairly easy to control if you dont Pee about with them. You deploy them 2 x 2 with their Grenadiers as the reserve and their 12pdr batteries in the front centre. The 6pdr guns in the brigades were formed as Brigade batteries depending on the number of battalions and companies in the brigades. They can be deployed almost anywhere in the line or even between two brigades to create 20 gun battery lines.

    1. With Napoleon's Battles this can be done as you say, but it has to be kept tight with the limited command span of the Prussian generals (mostly just 3"). It takes time to get into such a formation from march column, but it is in combat that things start to become challenging, matching terrain, enemy action and decisions about whether to rally or press on an attack with reduced forces.

  4. Excellent report, nicely done thanks!

  5. Wonderful report and pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great report Mark. It sounds like a great game and a real tussle, especially early on. The Prussians really need to get some early wins if they are going to reverse history.
    Morand arriving around 11 am seems about right. Accounts seem to indicate at the same time as Orange deployed, stating around 11 am or before 12:00?
    The 'news from Jena' rule is a interesting one. I did not think that they found out about what happened at either battle until after the event? Is it perhaps a mechanism to mimic the drop in Prussian morale as things went from bad to worse at Auerstadt? Perhaps to offset the superior Prussian numbers?
    Definitely worth a re-fight at some stage. I want to do it again in the future, with a different set of rules.
    So much for the waffle, top stuff!

    1. Thanks James.

      I just took timings as given, adjusting only to compensate for distance moved on the table that I had truncated. As mentioned an error probably gave the French an advantage in having them come on deployed a turn sooner. The Prussians were haplessly stuck in march column.

      In revising the Prussian OOB I think I also short changed them on mrale. They should have been a few points higher. This would have meant the game going on a bit longer (one or two turns max). As it was our time at the club was fast ending and there was packing up to do, so it all was for the best.

      The bad news from Jena means the Prussians can't take their time until everyone has arrived and successfully deployed. It is just a scenario artifact and I don't know how true it was, but it seemed to work and also perhaps meant there was less need to have a rule for the death of Brunswick and lack of replacement (although I did have one, it just never happened).