Monday, December 7, 2009

Muttenz-Nyon Battle Report

On Saturday we completed the epic Muttenz-Nyon battle in my ongoing Napoleonic 1813 campaign. Eight players and two game masters braved the first snow storm of the year to attend the game. The battle of Nyon was fought for two turns (two hours time in game terms) and then the fog of the morning lifted and the two battles became one giant battle. All totaled there were twenty-two (22) large corps of troops at the battle, eleven (11) on each side. The Nyon battlefield was situated north of Muttenz, as shown in the map in my previous blog update. The photo to the left shows how the troops were situated at the start of the battle with the Russians defending the city of Nyon in the foreground. Entering at the extreme north of the battlefield in the background was four corps of Mark Decouteau's wing of the French army. Mark was assisted by French ADC Andrew Simpson. Blocking him was the Russo-Swedish army commanded by Phil Hammond who was aided by allied ADC Mike Coppinger. Mike was spelled from his duties in the Prussian army by the return of the Prussian commander Ed Mueller, who missed the first battle as he was out of town at the time.  In addition to this staring photo, I also made a very large panoramic image of the entire battlefield.

During the opening turns of the Nyon battle, the French agressively advanced towards and threatened the Russian's western flank, and advanced a strong cavalry force to meet the Russian cavalry on the eastern flank. In the middle the French also advanced through the woods to prepare to assault the hinge point in the Russian line. In response to the French threat, Phil, the Russian commander raced forward with the Swedish cavalry and a reserve division of Swedish infantry to shut the door on the French flanking movement. Where the Russians had already prepared a stationary line, the French responded in like kind and settled in for a prolonged firefight, first with just battalion guns and artillery, but later they re-deployed their lines within musketry range of the Russians and slugged it out in a firefight that lasted several turns. In this photo you can see how the battle lines are shaking out as the French are deploying at artillery range.

After the two battles synchronized and became one, Napoleon shifted the guard cavalry north and feigned a threat to the Russian cavalry's rear. In response to that Mike Coppinger, who was commanding the Russian cavalry, advanced further north charging the French cavalry there.  The French guard cavalry withdrew, but the feint worked, and committed the Russian cavalry into a prolonged slug fest which they eventually lost (see photo left). Unfortunately for the French, this was to be one of the few bright spots of the day for them.  As they were succeeding here, their attacks and the prolonged firefight against the Russian deployed defensive positions was causing severe casualties among the ranks of the Poles, Swiss and Bavarians.

Also at this time, Ed Mueller's Prussians back on the Muttenz portion of the battlefield continued to press their advantage. Ed's opponent Dave, had the unenviable task of holding off the Prussians as long as he could while the French tried to exploit the Russians on the northern end of the battle. Dave's self-proclaimed strategy to achieve this goal: create as much chaos as possible. As seen from this photo, he was successful in that goal, although eventually Ed was able to push him back while destroying a sizable portion of several divisions, including completely annihilating one division.

In the center both commanders maintained their lines. Both deployed massed batteries, which fired for a turn each, then were withdrawn and dispersed after each commander thought better of allowing his artillery to be destroyed in a prolonged firefight. Charlie Galemmo, who is Napoleon in the campaign, can be seen here executing one of the few charges that happened in the center of the battle. There were a few places on the center table where the placement of the table made it hard to reach the troops. Lucky for us, my primary table is robust enough to climb up on! In the background is my lovely wife Lori, who stopped down to watch the battle for a little while.

As things on the "Prussian Front" looked grim for the French, they were hoping for success up north to sway the battle in their favor. Unfortunately for them the gods of musketry, saber and cannonade (i.e. the dice) were not with them, and the attrition of the battle started to wither division after division of General Decouteau's wing. The Russians were winning through sheer effectiveness of fire. Here you can see that a reserve division of heavy cavalry has had to be pressed into service to plug the large hole in the French line where their assaulting force used to be. The final saving grace on this wing for the French was that the Russian guard was caught trying to press their advantage, and ended up having one brigade destroyed by a French cavalry counter charge.  Otherwise this flank was a very successful defense by Phil and his Russians and Swedes.

Where does that leave us? After the battle, the three French wings have withdrawn back down their lines of approach, each pursued by an allied wing. I haven't done the final casualty totals for the battle yet, but when I do, I expect that the allied casualties will be a few brigades damaged, and possibly a few cavalry brigades eliminated. The French will most definitely lose a couple divisions, and several brigades from other divisions will have to be consolidated. We'll see after the casualty numbers are finalized. After the battle Charlie, playing Napoleon, was heard saying, "I might just have to spend a year in Elba after this."

There's a lot more photos (almost 50) available to view over in the Northern Conspiracy Events gallery. I'd like to thank all of the players who stayed to fight the battle to completion as I'm sure we would have had a tough time scheduling another time to complete it before the holidays. It was GREAT fun hosting such a huge battle.

No comments: