Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Combat at Milkel Carnage&GloryII Scenario: Part 7 De Tolly's Disaster

The Eichberg Series: Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five, Part Six

De Tolly's Disaster: Milkel
This scenario is the second counter-factual scenario for the "mini-campaign" of Barclay de Tolly just prior to Bautzen. Due to the central location of Milkel and its position along several highways it will be the setting for two scenarios.  This second scenario essentially assumes the Russo-Prussian forces act as historically and the French forces, through superior initiative/luck and out maneuver the advancing Russo-Prussian forces.

I cannot take full credit for the inspiration behind this scenario, Petre more or less spells it out in his criticisms of De Tolly and Bertrand/Napoleon.

History and Counter-factual Assumptions:
For the background see Part One.  For purposes of this scenario we assume that the Russo-Prussians act historically, e,g.  De Tolly's steps off at 1 a.m. in three columns of advance.  We further assume that Peyri's 15th Division and Lauriston's V Corps act historically... therefore the Combats at Konigswartha and Weissig/Eichberg are also assumed.

(Note: one could argue for having 15th Div. march with IV Corps instead of marching to communicate with V Corps per historical orders from Berthier. This seems a rationale arguement, but it should be remembered that such an change means the Russo-Prussians may have several hours of local superiority over V Corps and good field position to concentrate their forces and envelope V Corps.)

The great counter-factual assumption is Bertrand acts on the reports of his sentries and uses his initiative to assail the flank of the advancing Russo-Prussian forces.  I assume that as the most advanced unit observing Bautzen, Bertrand would not leave without permission from Imperial HQ. It is just over seven miles from IV Corps posts at Kleinwelka to Milkel.  The final timing, and arrival is up to the the gamemaster as discussed below, needless to say Bertrand could have covered the seven miles if he stepped off between 8-10a.m. and arrived in Milkel before the completion of the Allied contests at Konigswartha and Weissig, with daylight left to spare.

De Tolly likely left behind a garrison for Milkel, but I assume said garrison successfully skirmished briefly with the French and retreated back to the west towards the main force and warned De Tolly of the imminent danger.

The end result of this Bertrand's initiative and vigor, being the near encirclement of De Tolly's expedition.  (Note: the Allies are not actually encircled, but the three routes back to Allied lines are cut by Bertrand at Milkel; to the W/SW there are no immediate French troops, but any advance in this direction would just further envelop De Tolly's forces.) 

Orders of Battle:
Unit Ratings are based upon Bowden's Empire V, translated roughly to C&GII.  Units have been amalgamated to fit our groups basing.  The French are based on Bowden and Nafziger.  The Allies Nafziger, supplemented by Hofschorer.  Note for the allies neither source gives actual numbers for some of the Russian divisions, and were therefore estimated. Estimate Russian Regiments were assumed to have 1 battalion of 480 men.

C&GII generally recommends a ratio of 1 officer per 3 tactical units total.   The Russians are clearly over-officered, but I wanted to show the general structure of the OOB for potential use in other rulesets and have in fact combined a few brigades already. The Prussians Brigade commanders are labeled as Divisions in the OOB. The "brigade" commanders in the OOB are actually regimental commanders, which per the Prussian system of standard deployment were put in charge of one of the "lines" of troops.

As this is a counter-factual scenario, the OOBs are vague, especially the Allies.  Von Yorck is unavailable and his holding off V Corps at Weissig/Hermsdorf.  Von Yorck received reinforcements from one if not both of the Reserve Grenadier Divisions. Tschaplitz/Lageron are regrouping from route 15th Division at Konigswartha.  Of these options, the only clear wrong choice is Von Yorck.  Everything else is up for grabs to various degrees for what Barclay would throw at Bertrand to break out of this encirclement. The OOBS for the Allies have been given in full in

Note: Yorck's Corps had a half battery of 3lbers, which I have chosen to distribute as regimental guns.  If regimental guns brings back bad memories of 1806, can always run them as a battery.  This is the entire Allied force. 

Note: Morand's 12th Division is under-officered for C&G standard 3:1 ratio.  It is reasonable to consider giving Bertrand a staff officer to assist with rallying. Nafziger includes battalion guns for the 13th and 23rd Ligne which I have assigned to the I Battalion.
 Milkel is part of the "Oberlausitzer Heide- und Teichlandschaft"/Upper Lusatian Moorland which is to say there are a lot of water (ponds, streams) and wooded areas.  The German Wikipedia page for the town of Milkel indicates the population in 1890 was 358. The Schloss and church in the town were present in 1813.  The Klein Spree runs just north of the village and the village is the intersection of the roads from Wartha/Steinitz, Konigswartha, Klix, Bautzen, and Uhyst.

The Red Boxs are 12.5ft x 6ft table at 1"=25paces (28mm)

Counter-Factual Historical Scenarios:
As described above in the history section the Russo-Prussian movements and the movements of French V Corps and 15th Divisions have been held historical. Bertrand by acting on his sentries reports from the pre-dawn hours mobilizes IV Corps to flank the Russo-Prussians under De Tolly. The timing is fairly fluid, in my mind its reasonable for Bertrand to steps off between 8-10 a.m. after communications with Imperial HQ and reserves are found (likely the Imperial Guard, as rest of the infantry corps are still arriving) to observe Bautzen. Bertrand covers the 7.2 miles and arrives Milkel around 2-5 p.m.

The main scenario simply has Bertrand's 12th and 38th Divisions deployed around Milkel and prepared to hold the position until further French assets arrive (V Corps or later III Corps).

As discussed above the Russo-Prussian forces are complete speculation, other than not the Prussians. For my money, it would have been one of the Reserve Grenadier Divisions, supported by Langeron's regulars (these being the freshest troops) that would have led the breakout attempt.

Depending on start time, the Russians must breakout within approximately 5 hours (military dark).  It is assumed the Prussians can hold out that long as they did historically, but no longer.

De Tolly likely left some form of garrison, be it cavalry patrol, infantry company or even infantry battalion/brigade.

French have none.  As discussed above its up to the GM for the Russians, anything is in play except the Prussians.

As noted in the Eichberg scenario this can be customized to suit your goals for the game (more fatigue=slower game).  The Russians have been marching for most of the day and Langeron/Tschaplitz were engaged from 1pm to 4pm overrunning and routing 15th Division.  Even with rest periods 60% fatigue is arguably generous.  For Bertrand his troops have only covered seven miles and would have had time to rest in occupying Milkel, I would start them at 80%.

Start and End Times:
Start between 2:00 and 5:00 representing IV Corps march of 7.2 miles from their historical position at Kleinwelka. Sunsets at 8:15 and "military dark" is at 9:30 (per Empire Campaign System for Saxony region).

The Klein Spree is fordable, but is disruptive terrain. The woods are medium woods.  The ponds are impassable.  Lippitsch and Milkel are wooden structures.  I suggest placing additional light/medium cover lineal obstacles (fences, orchards, outbuildings) to represent the rest of Milkel and Teicha.

Table can be played either direction as seen in Part Six

15th Division Marches with IV Corps
15th Division marches with IV Corps on Milkel.  This actually creates two different scenarios.  One, here at Milkel where a larger French force of nearly 23,000 (same size as De Tolly!) has cut the line of retreat for De Tolly.  The second, is a Weissig variation where Tschaplitz/Langeron envelope the left flank of V Corps between Wartha and Weissig while Von Yorck holds Weissig. Russo-Prussians have 2-3 hours to achieve a complete victory (this second scenario at Weissig is probably only feasible in 15mm).

Meeting Engagement
De Tolly left one of Reserve Grenadier Divisions between Oppitz and Milkel to be able to support either the Prussians or Russians.  Cossacks make contact with IV Corps with sufficient time for the Russian Grenadiers to garrison Milkel and attempt to hold out until the De Tolly arrives.  Create a random system for reinforcing both sides, would suggest each French Division arrives ~45-1hr after the previous.

The possibilities and variations are numerous and for my two cents the counter-factual assumptions needed to bring them about are not terribly unreasonable or out of the realm of possibility and are more or less implied by Petre in Last Campaign in Germany as what Bertrand should have done. Bertrand's flank march would have likely turned May 19th into a disaster and potentially destroyed 25% of the Russo-Prussian army, imperiling the allied position at Bautzen.

Special thanks to Ravenfeeder for giving one of my scenarios a try and posting about it!  Gave me the nudge to get this final scenario posted.  Still have a couple of battle reports to put up on my backlog of posts.