FOGN - Battle Reports & Scenarios

FOGN Rule of Thum

1204141326fogn04sAt the start of October 1813, the Prussians and Russians were trying to evict the French from Saxony. The Prussian corps of Bülow was aware that a French corps under Bertrand was operating in the area south of Chemnitz, in Saxony. By early afternoon, the Prussian advanced guard had passed the village of Ehrenfriedersdorf. They did not get much further north after encountering the light cavalry screen from Bertrand's corps around the village of Thum.

Click on the "read more" below to see who gained the rule of Thum.


Careful probing established that Bertrand occupied a defensive position and appeared ready to offer battle. The Prussian's were keen to oblige, so by late evening, the rest of the brigades from Bülow's corps had bivouacked around Ehrenfriedersdorf.

1204141326fogn04

The river guarded the right flank of the French and an area of rocky outcrops (difficult terrain) would make it almost impossible for a general attack on the French right wing. A small wooded area helped anchor the far left flank of the French. Key to the centre of the French position was the village of Thum itself; with its well-constructed stone buildings and garden walls. Originally a mining area, this had become unprofitable after the destruction of the 30 Years War and so the inhabitants of Thum had first turned to wooden toy making and then textiles for their work.

1204141326fogn02

PRUSSIAN AND FRENCH ARMIES

 
1204141327fogn06 1204141327fogn09

ADVANCE OF THE PRUSSIANS

 

Both armies were up early – well before dawn – getting ready for the forthcoming battle. Also, both commanders were a little concerned how their new troops would perform. The Prussians had some Landwehr units that had never fought in a major battle. Likewise, the French had 3 provisional regiments freshly arrived from Paris.

1204141327fogn10

To reduce the risk, Bertrand had deployed one of his provisional regiments in Thum itself. They were a large regiment, having had an influx of new recruits during the recent armistice. Being in the village would stiffen their resolve, and allow his more experienced units to cover the open fields.

Bülow planned to attack, initially concentrating on Thum. He felt that if he took the village, he would sunder the French in two. This would likely cause a rapid withdrawal of the French right wing. Otherwise they would be caught with their backs to the surging river and should surrender, as they had no way of safely crossing the river. And if the French right wing withdrew, the left wing would then have to fall back quickly to maintain corps cohesion.

Bülow deployed some of the more experienced Prussian units opposite the village, including a pair of artillery batteries. Cavalry was placed on each wing. Bortel's two cavalry units were set as the leftmost Prussian units. They were tasked with sweeping around the right wing of the French. If the French responded, they would have to stretch their right wing, effectively pinning them and reducing the number of units that could be used to counterattack the Prussian's concentrating on the village. If the French did not do this, then they might be able to sneak around the flank of the French and behind their lines to create havoc – or as at least tie up any French reserves.

The Prussian commander was more concerned about his right wing. He was outnumbered in cavalry, having only his Prussian Dragoons to oppose both the French Dragoons and French Chasseurs á Cheval. He hoped his other brigade commander, Theumen, would handle this wing carefully. He urged Theumen to demonstrate aggressively against the cavalry, but not overcommit on this wing until the village was taken.

Note that in the Prussian army of this time, a brigade was the equivalent of what other nations called a mixed division. Prussian brigades nearly always consisted of infantry, cavalry and artillery – like a mini corps.

Turns 1 & 2

 
1204141400fogn14

The sun was already rising in the sky by the time the Prussians rolled forward. The formations took on the appearance of a shallow arrowhead, with the centre moving forward quickly against the village and the two wings moving forward at a slower pace. Bertrand was comfortable with the disposition of his troops and did not wish to change anything at this early stage. He was happy for his artillery to blast away while he waited to see how the Prussian attack developed.

The early exchanges of fire had little impact. The opposing commanders were both pleased to see their new conscripts steady under this initial fire. The main problem for the Prussians was that the 3rd East Prussian Landwehr were caught in the crossfire from the village and a well sighted French battery which allowed enfilade fire on enemy approaching the east side of the village. The Landwehr became disordered and forced back out of close range. This made their return fire ineffective. The French 122nd Provisional Ligne occupying Thum became disordered, but felt safe within the walls of the buildings and quickly recovered their cohesion.

FOGN uses cohesion to track a combination of casualties, fatigue and battle weariness. Units start out Steady, then go down in effectiveness through Disordered (fire and fight at 2/3rds effectiveness, need to pass a test to go close to enemy), then next to Wavering (fire and fight at only ½ effectiveness, cannot close with the enemy) and then Broken (running away with only 1 chance to rally them. If they fail this rally attempt then the unit is removed from the table).

As the Prussian cavalry began to skirt the rocky outcrop, the 11th Légère forming the end of the French right wing spotted them in the distance. Before they came too close, they were ordered to move back to block the gap between the rocky outcrop and the river. They formed square to provide better protection against the cavalry.

By voluntarily forming square a turn or two before the cavalry had a chance to assault them, the infantry did not need to perform a test. Such a test could cause them to drop a cohesion level.

1204141414fogn15
1204141427fogn16units

Turn 3

Prussian turn

 

The French caused only single hits on many Prussian units, which did not affect their cohesion, but did mean that many Prussian units needed to use Command Points and pass a test in order to advance.

1204141444fogn22

The Prussian Horse Artillery unit, consisting of batteries #11 and #12, unlimbered but did not have time to move further forward (they failed their test to perform a 2nd move).

The 4th Reserve Infantry moved up and into the golden wheat field, to help support the right flank of their compatriots attacking the village. Unfortunately this meant that they would become the focus of the French artillery in front of them. They tensed as they bravely stood – waiting for the cannon balls bouncing at them through the wheat.

The 1st Leib Hussars continued their flanking move towards the French right wing. The Prussian Landwehr cavalry followed some distance behind them. If the Hussars looked like they could outflank the French, then the Landwehr cavalry would continue around to exploit the success. But if some of the French right wing moved forward, they would double back to threaten this advance.

The officers of the 3rd East Prussian Infantry were struggling to reorganise their inexperienced troops (they failed their Cohesion test and stayed Disordered).

French turn

 

Musket fire continued from Thum village, supported by the French artillery battery. This combined fire was too much for the 3rd East Prussian Infanry, who dropped a further cohesion level (to Wavering). One more cohesion loss and the regiment would be broken.

But despite the murderous fire, the Prussian Infantry were doing their best. They helped to disorder the village defenders (they caused 2 hits from 2 dice) with additional hits coming from the veteran 3rd East Prussian Infantry regiment alongside them. Bülow was disappointed a short time later when the French officers managed to reorganise the village occupants yet again. It was going to be tough to winkle them out of the village.

Now that Bertrand had seen the Prussian attack develop, he ordered the 22nd Ligne infantry to move up on the west side of the village to support the defenders and look for an opportunity of counter-attacking the Prussians.

Note. In Field of Glory Napoleonic, the defenders are not allowed to move forward of their deployment zone in the first 2 turns of the game. Now it is turn 3, the French (who are the defenders in this game) can move units forward of their deployment zone. The French commander was keen to do this so as to put pressure back on the Prussians.

1204141457fogn24

Turn 4

Prussian turn 

 
1204141542fogn31

The Prussian artillery battery that had been firing on the village, wheeled left to pour fire into the 22nd Ligne, which was not only a bigger threat to them, but also a very tempting target at that range. The canister exploded from the barrels, tearing into the French ranks.

French turn

 

2 assaults were declared. The Prussian Landwehr successfully formed square as the French Dragoons came at them, but did not put out enough volume of fire to stop the French Dragoons charging them. The Prussian cavalry could only look on, since they were too far away to intercept the French Dragoons. But the Prussian horse readied themselves in case the French Dragoons became disorganised after tangling with the square.

 

Firing: 22nd Ligne was pounded further by artillery fire and broke. As they fled down the side of the village, this worried both the conscripts in the village and the Légère unit to their right, causing both of them to become disordered.

The commander of the Dragoons was in the thick of the fighting. He was lucky that a musket shot from nearly point blank range misfired. So he retired with his spent unit to reorganise them.

2nd Brandenburg became disordered in the fighting, but made the French Provisional wavering. The French conscripts retired and their officers were able to partly reorganise them (recovered them from wavering to disordered). Other French units failed to recover any cohesion.

 1204141631fogn41

Turn 5

Prussian turn

 

 With the French Chasseurs looking disorganised, Bortel led his Prussian Dragoons forward to assault them. The French Chasseurs saw the Prussian heavies heading their way and bravely counter-charged them, trusting to their experience to aid them in the coming clash. 

 1204141712fogn54

 

2nd Landwehr moved forward to begin an assault on the 123rd Ligne. Because the French unit was already wavering, it had to test to see whether it would stand against the oncoming Prussian formation. It failed its cohesion test and dropped to broken, causing them to run for safety, away from the oncoming Prussians. The nearby French artillery were not disheartened at seeing this. The biggest problem for the French was that the conscripts in the building were affected by this flight (dropping their cohesion to Wavering).

With the battle reaching a critical stage, Bülow now joined the 4th East Prussian veterans. He led them and the 5th Reserve Infantry forward against the village. Defensive fire hit both units, causing them to falter, but their officers spurred them on and both units assaulted the village.

With the battlefield becoming shrouded in musket smoke, and a number of units having retreated, there were not many units able to trade fire – causing little impact along the line from either side.

 

With the threat from the French cavalry gone for the moment, the 3rd East Prussian Infantry changed out of square and back into tactical formation.

In the cavalry clash, the Prussian Dragoons became disordered, but gained the upper hand in the fighting against the lighter Chasseurs. The French light cavalry fled (dropped from disordered to broken). Both cavalry units were fatigued from the fighting and so become spent (this meant they would not fight as steady again that day).

Bülow was wounded and nearly killed in the village fighting. He bravely stayed to direct his troops. He sensed a Prussian victory if he could maintain control of his men. As the veteran Prussian infantry surged forward into the village, the French conscripts finally gave way and fled through the streets and into the fields beyond.

With many units in retreat and some fresh Prussian cavalry ready to press home the victory, the French commander conceded that his day was done. Ordering a general retreat before his corps was smashed; the French commander left the Prussians to rule the village of Thum.

 1204141738fogn57