Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Battle of the Holzberg

Last weekend my good friend DF, aka the Baron von Driberg (from whom he descends), came round to duff up my Frenchmen. I decided to try out a new venue on this occasion, which was what we quaintly refer to as the "Games Room" but which is actually a rather dark, basementy affair at the back of the house that has become a general dumping ground for tatty old bits of furniture, obsolete electronics and ancient toys.

It's still used by the lads for gigantic Xbox tournaments and the occasional Warhammer stoush with their mates, but if it is to become the wargames room of my dreams it's going to need much better lighting and some heating. It's absolutely freezing in the winter.

The situation

It is the spring of 1813, and following the French victory at Dappol the Grande Armée has debouched onto the North German Plain. Only a single defensible position, the Holzberg (or La Montenbois, if you're a Frenchman), stands between the Emperor and Berlin. At this critical moment, Marshal Blücher is stricken by psychosis and has to be replaced by an obscure Hanoverian, the Baron von Driberg. The Baron, however, has an uncanny resemblance to the Marshal and it is the fervent prayer of the Prussian royal court that the troops won't notice the difference.

With his focus clearly on the Holzberg, the Baron massed his army on the right facing the hill

Driberg: I vant no nonsense zis time - it's straight onto ze hill und
bash up anybody who tries to knock us off it!
To protect his flank, however, the Baron cunningly positioned his elite cavalry behind the woods on the left. There's no point in having them shot up prematurely, he thought.

Troopers (outraged): Ve're going to be left behind by the ze footplodders!!!!
Two divisions were placed in the centre, consisting of three regiments of landwehr and resevists, bolstered by the Russisch-Deutsche Legion, the 1st Silesians and the Foot Guards.

Driberg: Foot Guards, shoot anyvun trying to run for it!!!
On the right marched Wallmoden's redcoats and the sinister black mass of the Lützowsches Freikorps. Wallmoden himself, however, hadn't bothered to turn up and Driberg was far from certain he could rely on these freebooters and foreigners.

Driberg: Ze less said about zat lot, ze better!
Meanwhile,  the Emperor had arrayed his forces facing the southern slopes of the Holzberg. With his Guard beside him he was confident of sweeping all before him.

Napoleon: Just look at that miserable Prussian rabble. We'll be in Berlin by teatime.
The advance would be led by the Franco-Swiss-Bavarian division on the right, generously supplied with artillery.


On the left was arrayed the 1st Division with the crack 13e Légère holding the place of honour on the flank. Would they try to envelop the enemy, or march straight for the Holzberg?


In the second line in the centre stood the infantry of the Guard. Driberg eyed them nervously through his telescope. What was that Corsican devil planning?






The Battle is Joined

With his famously blood-curdling battle cry, Driberg signalled the Prussian Army to advance.

Driberg: Up ze Guts, Prussians!
 The Emperor shot a glance at his marshals, who also started to move.

Napoleon: It's time for buns in Berlin, Lads!
All Europe trembled......

To be continued
WM

23 comments :

  1. Looks great, impressive units...

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    1. Cheers Phil. It is very pleasing when I get the chance to get them all out and line them all up.

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  2. Well that's my early morning fix of glossy nostalgic lovelyness with my coffee. What a stunning collection :)

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    1. Continental beverages are definitely required when contemplating Prussians fighting Frenchmen, 'Lee,

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  3. A great display of O.S. wonderfulness ! .

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    1. It's been a long road, Tony, but the inspiration of the endless succession of wonders on your brilliant blog have kept me soldiering on.

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  4. Fantastic to see all the troops on the table, quite a collection now!

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    1. It is almost the complete horde, Ian. Still a bit weedy in the cavalry department, I think, but I'm planning to address this in the new year.

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  5. I don't think one extra cavalry regiment for the Allies is going to offset all that Landwehr let alone the new 'super-sized' Garde. If you don't win this one you are clearly due a break in a nice sunny island somewhere - there are currently two with vacancies I can think of.

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    1. The Emperor was thinking very much along the same lines, Rob. It was house rules, however, so those pesky Landwehr sometimes have a few surprises up their sleeves.

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    2. As for exile to a remote and (occasionally) sunny isle, that happened twelve ago!

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  6. Well that's cut through the Westmorland winter. Magnificent. But that Driberg character is clearly no Hanoverian. I look forward to seeing Wallmoden's heroes sweep the field free of the grenouilles and save, well, Hanover?

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    1. Driberg commands his army like Georgy Zhukov, Archduke. Thank god he didn't have any Russians is all I've got to say.

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  7. Looks like it's shaping up to be a rousing encounter.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. My main worry was that with so many troops it'd take a week, but it was all over very quickly!

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  8. I had no idea your forces had grown so large. That is indeed quite the impressive display! I am eager to hear how the battle develops with that many units to control. Muskets and Marshals again?

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    1. It was, David, but with WM's special Prussian rules to compensate for all those dodgy Landwehr and reservists.

      There are still two battalions, two batteries and a cavalry regiment to go, plus a few other fun bits, before Phase 2 is complete, but you're right -- the armies have got a bit of heft now. With anything more I'm definitely doing to need the other half of the Ping Pong table. Fortunately there's lots of room in the "Games Room", or at least there will be once I've heaved all the rubbish from out of there.

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  9. A splendid array of figures you have collected there.

    I think that you need to have 2 Cavalry units for every 3 or 4 Infantry units.

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    1. I think you're right, Mark. I've been working to a ratio of approximately 2 cav:2 arty:5 infantry (including skirmishers), but I think it needs to be closer to 1:2, cavalry:infantry

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  10. What a splendid collection sir...
    I look forward to seeing more images of this glorious encounter...

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thank you, Aly. There's something a little over 600 of them now, which is rather more than I ever really expected when I set off down the "shining path". I'm sorting out the rest of the photos now so part two, which was short and extremely bloody, should not be too far away.

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