Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Battle of Wingen, 6th August 1870

I played my first game of the year today, spending a very enjoyable day with Goat Major, as he's known on a few forums. GM requested 6mm Franco-Prussian War and I was happy to oblige.

I decided on a hypothetical early war setting, on the same day as the Battle of Worth, involving the French V Corps and the advancing Prussian 3rd Corps. As we would be determining sides randomly I wrote briefings for each and drew up a battlefield map based on a selection of terrain boards for a 4x3 foot table, with appropriate towns, woods and other scenery to represent terrain typical of north eastern France.

Initial terrain plan, using small card tile versions of my terrain boards to define the basic setup

Towns and woods added, and placed within a larger map for pre-game manoeuvring using brigade-level counters and the odd dummy for fog of war, and to help replicate the poor scouting that beset both armies in this conflict.

. which translated into this scene of pre-carnage tranquility


The Goat drew the French of General Failly, so I was General Alvensleben. The French 1st division was already in position on high ground covering the key town of Wingen, which was both side's objective. All other units were marching towards the scene, demonstrating a combination of brilliant generalship (probably), deployment blunder (me mainly) and a mutual firm determination to get stuck in.

Suffice it to say we had a lot of fun once the blinds were replaced by the real formations (with a few surprises on both sides, especially when the respective cavalry brigades were revealed - and used fairly aggressively in the true spirit of wargaming!) The fighting was fierce and the battle raged across the entire field, with both commanders toughing it out and pulling reserves in where they could to try to gain the initiative. The fighting for the town of Wingen was particularly bloody, with the French tenaciously holding on in the face of repeated Prussian assaults.

As the day wore on though, the devastating firepower of the Chassepot was put to better use by the French than the superior Krupp guns were by the Prussians, and the latter began to struggle to keep their attack going. As the sun set (ie. when the game clock ran down) the Prussians were finally forced to admit defeat and withdraw from the field, giving up their toehold in Wingen and leaving the field to the victorious French - well done GM!

The rules were from the Realtime Wargames series, the figures Heroics & Ros and the terrain and scenery a right old mix of bought and scratch built.

Although I didn't take as many as I wanted to, here are some pictures of the battle:

The Prussians mass for the charge up the road to Wingen (in the distance, top right). The Prussian blind following them turned out to be the reserve cavalry, which launched a number of charges in an attempt to create havoc in the French lines. Some even succeeded!

For example..

Wingen under sustained assault

 A remote corner of the field, demonstrating that bad things happen to isolated units

Prussian battalions grit their teeth and march towards the enemy held treeline on the western flank

Prussian cavalry sacrifice themselves to drive the French batteries off a hill overlooking the town, but in the end it's to no avail and the day is lost

So, a very enjoyable game in good company as always, and with plenty of dramatic moments. The rules were straight forward and left the players to focus on fighting the battle, which I think is always a good thing. It was great to bring these armies out for a game, and it reminded me that I need to make a start on my 1859 Austrians at some point!

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