Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Battle of Raussnitz 1805 - A Polemos General de Division AAR

Battle of Raussnitz: The latest in this series of refights of the battles of the 1805 campaign from the Rise of Eagles 1805 scenario book by Michael Hopper concerns the Battle of Raussnitz, a large cavalry clash taking place on 20th November 1805.  The real battle appears to have been a close-run thing, with the Russians capturing an Eagle but ultimately withdrawing from the battlefield.  I do not know of any good online summary of the battle.

For reasons which will become apparent, I played out this battle twice...

The Forces:

Imperial French:

C-in-C: Murat (Decisive)

2nd Dragoon Division: Walther (Capable)
2 bases of Trained Dragoons

V Corps' Cavalry Division: Fauconnet (Capable)
3 bases of Trained Light Cavalry

2nd Heavy Cavalry Division: D'Hautpoul (Decisive) arrive at the end of Turn 6
4 bases of Trained Cuirassiers

Imperial Guard Cavalry Division: Bessieres (Decisive) arrive at the end of Turn 12
2 bases of Trained/Elite Heavy Cavalry*
1 base of Trained/Elite Light Cavalry

*I think I was in a harsh mood here - I think Veteran/Elite would be fairer for December 1805.

Imperial Russia:

C-in-C: Tsar Alexander (Capable)

4th Cavalry Bde: 5 bases of Trained Light Cavalry

5th Cavalry Bde: 2 bases of Trained Cuirassiers, 3 bases of Trained Dragoons

Cossack Bde: 2 bases of Trained Irregular Cavalry

1st Cavalry Bde: 3 bases of Trained Lancers

2nd Cavalry Bde: 3 bases of Trained Light Cavalry, 3 bases of Trained Dragoons

The battlefield of Raussnitz.  The French force is at the bottom, the Russians at the top.  The villages of Kralovpol (bottom-left), Raussnitz (bottom-centre) and Rausojovec (bottom-right) mark the French position, the village of Tuczan (top-centre) divides that of the Russians.  A stream lies paralled along the French right and there is a range of hills above Kralovopol on the left.

Russian cavalry: Hussars (left and top-right), Dragoons (top-left) and Cuirassiers (right)

Russian Dragoons to the fore, with Uhlans behind them and Cossacks to the flank (right)

French Dragoons to the left

And French light cavalry to the right

View of Kralovopol and the high ground on the French left
The Battle:
Russian Dragoons successfully charge the French light cavalry, scouting the French Chasseurs a Cheval and Hussars...

Murat and Walther hope that their presence will equalize the 2:5 odds they are facing...

A closer look...

The French light cavalry division has been thoroughly beaten by the French Dragoons...

The last remaining regiment of French Chasseurs is fighting it out still, but is under very severe pressure...

The French Dragoons fare no better on the left!  Walther, Murat and the French troopers begin their mad dash for safety...

And the last French light cavalrymen join the rout too...

Game Notes: That was short and sweet!  The cavalry vs cavalry rules are quite ferocious in Polemos General de Division.  Although it can be indecisive, with both sides fighting then withdrawing (which does seem to have happened quite often in reality), when one side has a 'weight' advantage then they really do have a good chance of crushing their opponents under their horses' hooves.  Thus the obviously most effective strategy in this scenario is for Alexander to advance his Horse as quickly as possible and crush the French before their reinforcements arrive.  Given some favourable tempo rolls, he was able to achieve this quite easily, although it is obviously a very 'wargame-y' artifact: in reality Murat's troopers would have just withdrawn on their supports and fought the affair a mile back down the road. 
To be honest, I will admit my lack of certainty about all of this.  No matter how much I read on the subject, I cannot decide what level of advantage Cuirassiers should have over Dragoons over Light Cavalry (based purely on 'weight', not 'training'; although I don't have much idea of how much morale and expertise would or could compensated for this).

Anyway, given the shortness of this replay, I re-loaded the game and started again...but this time with the French reinforcements assumed to have arrived already.

The Battle of Raussnitz II:

The Set-Up:
As before but with D'Hautpoul's Cuirassiers also on the French Left

...and with Bessieres' Imperial Guardsmen added to the forces on the French Right

The new set-up in its entirety
The Battle:
With the increased forces, Murat fights this battle much more confidently.  En avant!

The Russians, not confident enough in their superiority to merely attack, organize themselves into a strong formation..

Murat also advances on his Right

A closer look.

Russian Dragoons and Uhlans await the French light cavalry troopers and Imperial Guardsmen

Masses of Russian cavalry face D'Hautpoul's outnumbered, but heavier, cuirassiers...

As the French right advances, the Russians organize themselves (centre-top)

Bessieres and Fauconnet manouvre as on a Versailles parade ground...

...and adopt their positions

The masses of cavalry meet on the French left!

A closer view.  Murat, Walther and D'Hautpoul all enter the fray with gusto...

As ever in massed cavalry melees, fortunes are mixed: one regiment of Cuirassiers is in rout (bottom) but another regiment has pierced the Russian line (top)

Murat, fighting with a regiment of cuirassiers (right) defeats another regiment of Russian cuirassiers (top-right)...depsite the disparity in numbers, the fact that only the French still have unbroken Cuirassiers will give them a great advantage...

Meanwhile, the clash on the opposite flank begins...

A closer look.  Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval are always distinctive in any scale!

The meles on the French left becomes more disorganized and dispersed...honours are still relatively even so far

On the right, similarly mixed fortunes: The Horse Grenadiers have seen off their opponents (top-left) but the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval have suffered the fate of all pretty troops on a wargames table: seen off in short-order by some scruffy line dragoons! (bottom)

However, the Russian Right is in deep trouble...seeing some of their fellows defeated, one brigade of light cavalry joins them in rout!

After a few more minutes, the French triumph on the Left becomes total...

And is mirrored on the Right!  The French light cavalry was under severe pressure but held on, whilst the Russians could endure no more and rode hard for the rear!

The ennd of the battle: the French more or less maintain some semblance of order, whilst the surviving Russians are scattered and riding hard for the rear: only the Uhlans and Cossacks are still under control (top-right) and they will not be able to resist for long...
Game Notes: A bit harder work for the French than the first game one was for the Russians, but in the end, just as decisive a victory.  The rules...worked fine in every particular, really.  I have mentioned my slight suspicions about the calibration and the decisiveness of the cavalry combats but they are no more than that.  As for the scenario, perhaps a compromise would be best: either half the turns before the reinforcements arrive for the French, or allow D'Hautpoul to start on the table but not Bessieres.  The French are maybe a little too strong in the second scenario since they outnumber the Russians so much in what counts the most: heavy cavalry.

Figures by Baccus 6mm, buildings by Leven, rules were the Polemos General de Division set.

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