Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Battle of Sanderhausen Part 2

I have based the scenario on that presented by Charles Grant in Wargaming in history vol1.

In essence the allied General Isenburg had been told by Ferdinand a few days earlier to do the best he could in delaying the French, therefore he resolved tostand and fight at Sanderhausen.
His right flank rested on a wooded escarpment which ran alongside the banks of the Fulda river and his left resting on the high ground that led to the Ellenbach wood and the village of Ellenbach.

Outnumbered 3:2 in infantry, 2:1 in guns and cavalry this was very much a delaying action. The French under Duc de Broglie whilst outnumbering his enemy had his own problems. All of his infantry were under strength and short on ammunition

The battle commenced at 1pm game time and was due to finish as dusk fell - around 7pm - 18 bounds.

The French objective was simple prevent Isenburg from withdrawing and destroy his army

John Rich took command of the French and Simon Millar the allies

I don't intend to go through all the photos however the opening moves were interesting as Johns brigade on his right commenced the steep climb towards Ellenbach and his light infantry moved into the woods on both flanks to engage the enemy Jaegers it was to see the whole Allied army commence an advance down the valley towards the French! All except the grenadiers who despite protestations were ordered to advance into the woods and support the Jaegers.

I was initially surprised and then I realised what Simon was doing - until the French took Ellenbach and passed the village they were in the narrowest part of the valley and he intended to hem them in for as long as possible preventing them fro bringing their numbers to bear.

 The action in the woods on both flanks was fiercely contested - on the French right the troops were even in numbers and traded casualties as the Jaegers slowly fell back on the French left the French were shocked as the Jaegers outnumbered 2:1 proceeded to decimate the French first one company and then the second company of Chasseurs were driven back and broken ( it was their first battle!)

 The French infantry left and centre proceeded to creep ahead of their colleagues who were climbing towards Ellenbach - the allied artillery pieces had deployed and commenced firing causing casualties on the lead French units whilst in the French guns deployed and seemed to have a bad habit of overshooting!

 The allied heavy cavalry advanced and deployed behind the village both John and I waited for the inevitable attack on the lead French columns who were slowly taking casualties from the allied artillery ( the attack never came!)
 The allied militia holding Ellenbach had the best of the early exchanges with the two French regiments advancing towards them then disaster loomed a French battery fired onto the village, killing an Officer and some troops the Militia wavered

It was about this time that the allied Jaegers on their left flank lost the exchange with their French counterparts and fell back - the allied commander had however ordered his 1 squadron of light cavalry to enter the woods and eject the French light troops. Which they did in style riding down a company without loss in the melee.
 Two more rounds of fire saw the milita retreat out of Ellenbach and the lead French regiment occupy it.
The allied heavy cavalry who had been sat behind the village threatening the French lines now found themselves flanked and the musketry from the village saw the Officer of the lead squadron killed together with two troopers and effectively put out of action yet the cavalry still sat there.
 Unable to deploy into line the lead French regiments sought to attack the allied line, unfortunately they did so in a piecemeal fashion and first one, then two, then three regiments were sent reeling from the allied firepower as they all fell below 50%

The French then tried pushing their cavalry forward and again the lead two squadrons were hit hard

 However the third squadron succeeded in charging home on the allied artillery wiping out its crew and then following up into the nearest infantry who they also broke! So what of the allied heavy cavalry? after losing their lead squadron the remainder had turned around and began to fall back to redeploy behind the allied line.

 As dusk began to close in the French began to push out of Ellenbach and broke another allied regiment sent to delay them, Isenburg had galloped off to recall the Grenadiers who were no longer needed to support the victorious Jaegers
 As the victorious French cavalry fell back ( having fought two rounds of melee) The French 3rd Brigade of infantry began their assault, the early exchanges were clearly in favour of the allies with one French regiment faltering then suddenly the allies lost their composure Simon fired cannister into two French units - 16 hits needing a 5 or a 6, 5 hits needing a 6- not one hit. Likewise 4 volleys from infantry needing 4+ - nothing. The French breathed a sigh of relief as they sought to regain composure.

At this point and with failing light the Duc de Broglie called off the attack - he had lost over 30% of his army and whilst he had clearly broken the allied left his infantry on that flank had no cavalry or artillery support and were being threatened by the Allied heavies.

Isenburg was allowed to withdraw his battered force.

A most enjoyable game and one which had many options, I am surprised the French didn't push some infantry through the woods behind the lights and there was always an option of marching some of the infantry across filed to allow the cavalry through early.

Why the allied heavies never took the opportunity to charge I don't know but the joy of written orders are the restraints it places on players when opportunites appear and they are unable to exploit.

Thank you gentlemen for a most enjoyable day


Colin Ashton said...

Tremendous looking game and really full of action and colour.

Der Alte Fritz said...

A great game report that makes me want to give it a try.

marinergrim said...

Now that looks like a fun game. Excellent figures and a great looking table.

Chris Gregg said...

Wonderful looking table and great report. Yes, as I was reading I was willing John to bring his cavalry forward earlier, maybe he could have caught Simon's infantry off guard. Never got on with the written order system so good to see you can make it work with your gentlemanly players.

Mark Nichipor said...

Brilliant looking game. Great write up. This is why we game with toy soldiers rather then play with cardboard counters.

Simon Millar said...

Hi Graham, First thank you for being a great host and for giving John and me an interesting game. Second - You are absolutely right about my reason for advancing towards the French. I wanted to restrict the French ability to deploy; forming a line between Ellenbach and the escarpment enabled this. This meant that it was not as easy for Broglie to make use of his superiority in numbers. Third - As for the Scots Greys; my plan was to use them offensively if a suitable opportunity arose, unfortunately the French infantry were outside charge distance, assessed with the ‘mark one eyeball’. If I had moved forward they would have taken two moves to contact the French infantry, and would have therefore presented a target for one of the French batteries and would have taken casualties from musketry too. I could not afford to lose them in a vain glorious charge as I was anticipating what might be required of them in the future. I therefore issued orders for them to retire and form up behind the 13th Foot ready to act as a counter-penetration force should my main defensive line be pierced (which is what I was expecting). I was hoping the Cambridge militia would hold Ellenbach for a touch longer than they did, as it was once the French were in the village the Scots Greys lost a squadron from musketry and morale, so their reassignment and my orders for the 27th Foot to replace them to deal with the threat from Ellenbach proved to be timely. In retrospect I should have given orders for them to take up a position behind the 27th Foot, ready to charge the French as they debouched from the village, as my main line held far longer than I anticipated. Orders should have gone to the Grenadiers more quickly, but that’s a lesson learnt – stop at the beginning of each move and think ‘do I need to issue any orders?’ and quickly run an eye over each unit – yes, no, no, yes etc. As for having to write orders, I felt it makes the game (war game): a player has to think and therefore plan future options, in order that he achieves his high commander’s intent. Yes opportunities are missed which is realistic and it also stops ‘gaming.’ In the end as Isenburg I was able to fight Broglie to almost a standstill by inflicting 30%+ casualties, but dusk did come at just the right time for me to slip away. It was a bloody battle, I took high casualties, but I am content that I delayed Broglie enough and enabled Ferdinand to gain and extra days march on him. I’m sure future historians will put it down as a score draw! It was a great day, game and company.

Graham C said...

Thanks for all the comments and Simon for your review.
As to written orders they add an extra element without being onerous if played in the right spirit. Limiting the ADC's makes you think ahead and prevents the instant reaction so often seen in many games.

Jiminho said...

A stunning game, Graham, and clever work by the Allied side. Bravo to all, especially the game and table layout designer for laying out a game that makes that kind of thinking work. And that looks the part. Jim

Graham C said...

Thanks. I'm a firm believer in spending time on scenario design, I know it's easier just to line armies up and have at it but like with this and the previous battle report give the players a challenge, balance can be achieved through table design, scenario, command and army structure - to me it's all worth the effort to create good game.

Aly Morrison said...

A great sounding and excellent looking game Graham...

All the best. Aly