Sunday 6 February 2022

Wrestle on the Weser

The Situation

It is the spring of 1813, and following his defeat at the Holzberg, Napoleon has withdrawn his army to recruit and reorganise behind the River Weser. To this end a rearguard under Marshal Ney has been ordered to destroy the last remaining bridge over the river. The work has barely commenced when the first enemy scouts begin to appear.

Ney: Courage, mes braves! They shall not pass!

Ney (sotto voce), to the Engineers: Hurry up, for goodness sake!

The Battle

Things did indeed get off to a roaring start for the Prussians with the appearance of two strong brigades of infantry and an artillery battery west of Der Dunklewald at the beginning of Turn 1.

The Baron von Driberg (for it is he): Ha ha hah! Ve haf zem cornered meine Kinder!

But in a sign of things to come, the Prussian infantry immediately started to suffer heavy casualties as the Combined Voltgeurs swarmed out of the woods.

While Driberg's regular infantry (the 1st Silesians and the Russo-German Legion) were able to absorb the losses and advance, this was not the case for the Landwehr, who rapidy became disordered.

On Turn 3, however, the arrival of  heavy Prussian reinforcements from the north threatened to turn the tide.

Nevertheless, Driberg's deadly Silesian Schutzen were ill-placed to counter the Voltigeurs.

Meanwhile, the Prussian infantry continued to suffer appalling losses as they advanced.

This situation looked grim as Ney's reserves of infantry and artillery took up their positions north of the Weser.

In Turn 4, Driberg's final infantry brigade and cavalry arrived, but the Leib Hussars were immediately thrown into confusion as they passed the landwehr, who were still clogging up the approaches.

By this time both the Russo-Germans and the 1st Silesians had suffered horrific casualties. The French, on the other hand, had hardly lost a man.

Driberg decided that there was nothing for it but to commit the cavalry.

The 6th (Lützower) Ulans bravely charged the 8th Cuirassiers, but as the cuirassiers had had exactly the same idea things were not looking very good for the Prussians.

In the subsequent rout, a whole company of the Silesian Schutzen were ridden down by the pursuing cuirassiers.

In the meantime, the 1st Silesians had been virtually annihilated, and the Russo-Germans were about to go the same way. Prussian officer casualties were particulary severe.

But it was not all plain sailing for the French. Raked by cannister from the RGL artillery, the 8th Curiassiers were thrown into disorder. Nansouty was killed.

RGL: Kaboom!
8th: Aaaaarrgh!
The Silesian Schutzen were also able to take out an entire French artillery battery with a single volley.

Driberg: Good Lord, I've hit somezing!

Nevertheless, Driberg was fast running out of infantry. An attempt by the Leib Hussars to rush the Neuchâtel Battalion was also thwarted when the Canaries saw them coming and formed square.

Ney. Not so yellow after all!

The overthrow of the Empress Dragoons (not one of my luckiest regiments) by the Garde du Corps did little to improve matters.

By the beginning of Turn 9, it was obvious that there was no way the Prussians would be able to reach the bridge in time to prevent its demolition.

His Dastardliness looks on in disbelief.

Only a single C-class battalion (the Lützowers) retained good morale, and it would take at least two turns to get the Prussian guns into action, assuming they weren't mown down by the voltigeurs. With his cavalry also gravely depleted, Driberg decided it was time to throw in the towel.

Driberg (sensing imminent dismissal by the Prussians) :
Hmmmm, I vonder if ze Kaiser might be looking for a new general? 

And so the battle ended in a manner not dissimilar to 1978, when Red's light infantry had played a similarly decisive role. It was also clear, however, that Mr Stryker's subtle tweaks to Muskets & Marshals have had some remarkable effects. It is simply suicidal, it seems, to attempt advances in column against unsupressed infantry and artillery fire. C-class infantry in particular haven't a ghost of chance. The congested approaches also made it virtually impossible for the Prussians to get their artillery into action.
The casualties: nearly all Prussians.

Wellington Cat, however, was not particulary impressed.

Driberg promises to return with a horde or Austrians.

I'd better get painting some then.


Edit 09/02/22: DF has sent me scans of the entire 1978 article, whch I post here for those who might be interested. He also included a scan of the back cover of the February issue as a special treat! I've no permissions to do this, so will take them down again if there are any objections.


  1. If you don’t have skirmishers to screen an attack then your columns will always get in a pickle in M&M. However the real answer (as always) is more Landwehr! A wonderful game Matthew and especially well done to the Garde du Corps.

    1. They always seem to win, those jammy Garde du Corps. I think your casualty tweaks had an influence on the battle though. Unit morale starts to degrade just a little bit more quickly!

  2. This is EXCELLENT! It really brings back memories. I own some HH figs but more Red Kriegspielers as they were located in a nearby town when I was growing up.I always enjoy reading your posts!

    Thank you


    1. There are quite a few Kriegspielers amongst this lot too, John! I'm very pleased you like them.

  3. Nice old school battle - terrain looks good and fits well. Don't need to praise the figure painting - you already know how good they are.

    1. Cheers Rob. The terrain ended up looking exactly as I imagined it would, which doesn't usually happen when I make things!

  4. A delightful looking…and sounding game Matthew…
    Your terrain additions work really well… and the Canaries didn’t show themselves up on their first outing… hurrah!

    All the best. Aly

    1. I was rather worried that they wouldn't even get a shot in towards the end, but then the Leib Hussars kindly obliged. We were using written orders this time, which added a lot of spice and tension to the game as it was forbidden to rescind them once they were issued!

  5. Nice game, but did the French win? As I understood it the charges laid on the bridges had to be diced for to see if they were effective...

    1. That is indeed so, Rob, but we never found out as the Prussians all marched away before we got to that bit! I think the worst that could happen was a three-turn delay in the detonation, so we counted it as a win for the French.

  6. Oh my goodness - where to start?

    The troops are just stunning and the beautiful and traditional light blue of your Bavarians is making me doubt my choice for the colour of their coats.

    The canaries made it onto the battle field and kicked butt - how wonderful!

    The scenery is wonderful with your bridge and Dapol English cottage as standouts, and of course the stunning river. It just all fits together so well in style.

    Lastly of course is a fantastic game with a real live opponent. Can we actually still do that? I think I had forgotten it was possible. Those voltigeur certainly upheld the tradition of the French legere. Better get those shutzen out front (or do like I do and have them shoot at half strength. :) ).

    Thanks for a wonderful report and an evening's entertainment pouring over the photos (Wellington cat is adorable by the way).

    1. The town was Dapol am Weser, naturally. I actually googled the Weser and quite coincidentally much of the countryside around and about does seem to look rather like that. The green hill was "Lone Pine", by way of a juvenile little ANZAC joke.

      DF played the part of His Dastardliness in splendid style, which had me falling about. I don't think we would have dared to do this in a week or two from now though.

      Atilla sends his compliments!

  7. It looks like you had a fun game and the scenario worked well. I may to try it out myself using Charge rules.

    The skirmishers to do seem to be rather effective but uis this because you had a full unit rather than individual companies spread about. Perhaps the Silesian Schutzen should have be part of the Prussian force that arrived on turn one and then you could have had a ding dong battle in the woods.

    Fantastic game and report.

    1. That would have made all the difference, but DF's dice said they had to come from the north on Turn 3 unfortunately.

      It's tempting to think that M&M makes skirmishers a bit too formidable, but I suspect the way that I've based them is the main problem - they always seem to end up in a dense but effectively invulnerable mob which will murder anything that comes close to them! I try to ride them down with the cavalry whenever possible.

  8. Fab game and shows that TTTs are still worth having a go at. I’m collecting Battles now because I only managed to buy the summer issues when I were a lad so I have gaps in some of the series. It’s wonderful to get a new old wargaming magazine!

    1. I've been keen to have a go at one for ages, but it took me the longest time to amass enough troops to play any of them.

      Judging from the bits and peices of other articles in the above, Battle magazine definitely seems worth a closer look. I never even became aware of it until long after it was incorporated into Military Modelling. Have you any idea how long it ran for?

  9. Yep! 1975 to 1978. The first one I bought was the August 77 issue, hence the name of my blog. My mum worked in Radio Rentals in Staines and during the summer holidays she would take me into work with her every now and again so I could mooch around the shops for a couple of hours. That’s why all my original copies are dated July, August or September!

    1. *Laughter*. My Military Modelling purchases were similarly few and far between. I've still got most of them though!

  10. Fantastic photos of a great battle!

    1. Thank you CN. The smaller battles tend to be the most fun.