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Friday, 20 January 2017

The Battle of Windy Pass - Part 2


Satisfied by the artillery preparation, and the unaccountably feeble Prussian response, the Emperor ordered the resumption of the advance. Two massed infantry columns immediately marched to the assault, while to the south the Swiss also formed column and advanced towards the woods. With drums beating the infantry let out a mighty cheer: "Vive L'Empereur!".

Napoleon: Right lads, now go in there and sweep away that Prussian rubbish!
The crisis of the battle was fast approaching. Blucher remained confident, however, that if any of the French broke through his first line they would be swiftly ejected by his carefully husbanded reserves.

Blucher: Here zey come boys! Ve vill haf zem for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
General Quiestil led the crack 13th Légère against the Prussian right flank, closely supported by the Bavarian 4th Line Infantry.....

while Ney led the 45th against the Prussians regulars lining the heights.

Ney: Forward the 45th!
Behind them marched Cambronne, leading his beloved Chasseurs à Pied.

Cambronne: Courage, mes enfants. La victoire est à nous!

Meanwhile, the 3rd Swiss advanced almost unnoticed towards against the southern flank of the Prussian line.


Decimated by the relentless pounding of the French guns, the Prussian 21st fell back in confusion, leaving the gunners either side of them unsupported. Seeing his chance, Quiestil led a sudden charge which overran one of the Prussian batteries.

The 13th demonstrate the art of "Assault and Battery".
Blucher watched in dismay as his right flank began to collapse.

Blucher: Ooops, zat vasn't supposed to happen. Gneisenau, send in ze Guards!
The crisis was fast approaching, but the Prussians still refused to give way without a fight. The Silesian regulars fired a devastating volley into the 45th, who were also hit by canister shot from the few remaining Prussian guns. The 45th wavered and then stopped, their ranks in hopeless disarray.

Ney: It's nothing lads, barely a scratch. Charge, Goddammit!
Meanwhile the 3rd Swiss, having chased off the Prussian riflemen out the woods, prepared to assault the Landwehr, who wheeled in line to face them.



The Emperor watched intently. Everything seemed to be going more or less according to plan.

Napoleon: You'll see Marbot, it'll be 1806 all over again!
For a moment Prussian hopes were lifted as the 45th, after receiving another devastating volley from the Silesians, turned and fled. These hopes were dashed almost immediately, however, as the Neumark Landwehr broke in turn before the Swiss onslaught.

Soult: Splendid work, men! Shame about poor old Ney though, eh? Ahem.
Blucher's situation continued to deteriorate as the 4th launched an unstoppable charge against the disordered ranks of the 21st, who also broke and ran.


Only the Silesian regulars continued to hold the first line, but were now faced by the French Imperial Guard. A desultory volley failed to stop them and the Silesians braced for impact.

Cambronne: er.....I think it's this way, Chasseurs!
Blucher knew that it was time to throw in his reserves. Surely the cavalry and the Guard could stop the French? The Lieb Hussars led by General Bulow, were the first to charge, hitting the Swiss before they had time to form square. The Silesians, however, were pushed back in disorder by Cambronne's guardsmen.


On the right the Prussian 1st Foot Guards were barely able to fire a few shots before the Bavarians were on top of them. Despite  losing the first round of the melee, however, the guardsmen held their ground.


Sensing that the climax of the battle had arrived, the Prussian Garde du Corps now charged the 13th Légère, who failed in their attempt to form square. Amazingly, however, the 13th not only survived the impact but won the first round of the melee, forcing the Prussian horsemen back in disorder. Quiestil couldn't believe his luck.

Quiestil: Er....we'll just pretend that didn't happen, shall we?
The battle was not going all the way of the French, however. As the Swiss, broken by the Prussian hussars, fled towards the rear, Murat led a counter attack with the 7th Lancers. Having lost a quarter of their strength in the earlier fighting, however, the lancers were too weak for the task and were immediately put to rout, with the hussars in hot pursuit.

Murat: I've received terrible news from Naples and must return immediately!

But it was all to no avail. Although he was able to rally his Landwehr, Blucher watched helplessly as the Prussian Foot Guards were finally driven back in disorder by the Bavarians. The 10th Silesians, after a desperate hand-to-hand struggle with the Chasseurs, broke and ran.


Any prospect of restoring the situation with the much reduced Garde du Corps also began to fade as the 13th formed square and Ornano's Guard Dragoons appeared within charging range on their right flank.


Blucher: I hate to say zis, Gneisenau, but we're going to have to run for it!
And so the battle ended. As his army streamed away from the battlefield, Blucher could at least take comfort from the fact that the French were too disorganised to mount a pursuit.

Blucher: I am 72 and a proud soldier. We'll beat them yet, Gneisenau!

The following morning, the Emperor resumed his march towards Berlin. The events of the previous day troubled him.

Napoleon: The only ones who were any good were the Bavarians!

JC accepted his defeat with gallantry and grace. It could and indeed should have been otherwise but for those accursed Bavarians and his atrocious luck with the dice. 

My sincere thanks to Don, Ian, Steve, Roy, John, Chuck, Nigel, Tony H, Tony F, Rob, Richard and Tom, without whom I could never have got this far, and to all those whose kind words and encouragement kept me going.

Cheers,

WM

18 comments :

  1. A wonderful spectacle and excellent battle write up - I feel as if I was there! What did you think of the rules?

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  2. You were in spirit, Ian. The rules worked splendidly and we had the most uproarious entertainment. JC was absolutely furious about the failure of the Prussian guards!

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  3. Wow! Incredible looking miniatures and table. Just fantastic.

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  4. A spectacular battle, wonderful minis...and congrats to the Bavarians!

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  5. They are only very small armies, Phil, but they filled the table top. It was great fun to get them all out.

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  6. General Quiestil? I reckon il est le type a l'arriere..The most fun I've had on a Saturday morning since Part 1. Well done WM.

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    1. Quiestil is a man of mystery, Archduke.

      I'll try to make sure that Empress Dragoons get a little more of the action next time.

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  7. Brilliant write up Matt, a real page turner, with the battle swaying back and forwards and both sides having a chance of wiinning. A good feature of Muskets and Marshals is that there is no great morale effect from a rout so losing a unit does not so distress its neighbours that the battle becomes a foregone conclusion. Nice to see such beautiful units on the table.
    On the matter of size I reckon that about 14 units, excluding guns, is the most that can be conveniently handled by one player and I recall Ian has found much the same. That gives say 240 foot and 48 cavalry, maybe up to 300 ft max (12 regts.) as a comfortable number to manoeuvre....
    Nice to see the Bavarians with a starring role!

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    1. That is an excellent summary of the strengths of M&M, Roy. It makes for a hugely varied and entertaining game with lots of incident, and is ideal for small armies. JC and I found the 15 units on the table quite a handful.

      The outstanding performance of the Bavarians has been noted and will no doubt bear fruit in Phase Two!

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  8. Great looking figures and excellent photography

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    1. Cheers, Alan. I was just able to squeeze the table into the sun room, which has windows on three sides. I've found that very bright conditions are needed in order to get any sort of photograph.

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  9. Excellent account of an exciting battle with beautiful figures. I just love those Prussian hussars.

    Bob

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    1. Cheers, Bob! There's no doubt about it, the hussars performed magnificently! It was galling to see two of my gaudiest regiments fleeing before them.

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  10. Kudos, watching your armies building on the blog has been a feast for the eyes but the battle and narrative are truly classic - who ever said nostalgia's not what it used to be.

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    1. Thank you Rob. It's something I've wanted to do since about 1974. I can't count it as nostalgia as I never had them back then!

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