Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Battle of Leipzig - October 1813 and 2013

It's the 16th October 2013, and the 200th anniversary of the start of the battle of Leipzig 
(there was some action on the 14th, but both sides really just waiting for more troops to arrive).

For a Napoleonic fan, it's good to be able to play a game of a battle on the anniversary. And this one is the biggie. Also called the battle of Nations, this saw the Allied armies of Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sweden and a few British (the rocket troop RHA) take on Napoleon's army of French, Italians, Poles, Saxons and various units from other small German states.       

Here is my big double sized map and counters of the battle. The map is expanded from the 3rd edition of the Napoleon at Leipzig boardgame, but the counters are adapted from my vintage first edition of the game. The reason I did it this way is because the 3rd edition map is really nice, but the equally nice counters do tend to get a bit lost in such a busy map. I wanted the counters to be easily seen.   

I hope to have time to run through it this week myself, and I've planned a game tomorrow, Thursday 17th with an old friend and valued opponent. Both of us have played game this before as well as its venerable predecessor, Napoleon's Last Battles.

The full map is nearly 6 foot by 5 foot. I have split it so that it can fit on two tables so we don't have to stretch to get to the middle.  This is the view looking north.      

Here is the map from the game placed on top of my double sized map.  

And here are the counters on the south side of the battle. The blue are French and red the Poles. The white are Austrians, Green the Russians and Grey the Prussians.  The Poles guard the crossings near Leipzig and the main army under Napoleon is waiting for reinforment to move against the Allies. For their part, the Allies are marching to the southern field from different directions and have to get their forces into the battle to overwhelm the French.  

The French front line of the Poles and French 2nd and 5th Corps is backed up by cavalry, the 9th Corps and at the back at the top of the picture, the Imperial Guard.  The Allies have the 4th Austrian Korps on the right, Wittgensteins Russians and Kleists Prussians in the centre, and more Austrians approaching from the far side of the river Pleisse.    

Here is a view slightly to the west, showing the French forces to the north and around Leipzig and more Austrians approaching from the south-west.  The big problem for the French is they want most or all of this northern force in the south to meet the main Allied army, but they know there are more Allies - the armies of Silesia and the North - approaching from north-west and north-east.  The question for the French is how much do they send south and still have enough to meet the northern Allied armies.  They also have to deal with the Austrians approaching from the south-west and if that force reach the bridges at Leipzig, then the French army could be trapped.      

As for reinforcements, here's what both sides can expect. The game starts on the 16th October. The French army get 1 division of 3rd corps and 7th corps (on the left in the picture) on the 16th and 17th.
The Allies get everything else pictured here. Blucher with the army of Silesia is second from the left with the Prussian Korps of York and the Russians of Langeron, Sacken and St Priest. Second from the right are Austrian reinforments which come from the south on the 17th and the army of Poland which comes from east on the 18th. On the right is the army of the North under Bernadotte which arrives on the 18th with Prussians, Russians, Swedes and British. (I realise at this point that I've forgotten to include the British rockets in this picture!).   

And here is where the nothern armies approach the field. First the French then the army of the North at that north-east corner of the map. (The two red counters at the top of the map are part of the Polish VIII corps that was in the north).   

And now the north east corner of the map where Blucher's army of Silesia arrives from turn one on the 16th. The French would really like to send the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 11th Corps south but something will have to remain to keep the northern Allies back.  If we follow history, then the 4th Corps goes to help the forces defending Leipzig while the 6th and 3rd corps fight off the army of Silesia. Only the 11th corps with the 2nd cavalry corps goes south to help the main French army.      

We'll have to see how this plays out tomorrow and over the rest of the week.

And before I finish, here is a quick picture of the army of the North, complete with British rocket troop at the bottom.