Unterphalen Campaign – Part 6

After the French push towards Stammberg Prussian General-Feldmarshall Von Ahrenfeld leads a relief force towards the capital. As Prussian columns approach, General-Oberst Tzauren leads the troops out of the city to attack the French from another angle. It is 19th of April 1813 as thunder roars above the hills and fields of Stammberg and the battle for nothing less than the entire province commences.

Prior Posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Fair warning: No miniatures in this battle report. See here why.

Battle of Stammberg

On paper the Prussians are favored. They have 3 Provisional Armeekorps and reserve attacking 2 Corps and reserve in a pincer movement. But both pincers are not in communication with each other and the Prussians bled far more troops from their army. French units are missing 12 stamina points or 0.7 on average per unit. The Prussians are missing 27 or 1.22 on average.

Lumiere’s IX Corps arrayed for attack on the left with Sivet’s Cuirassiers in support. To the left hothead Marshal Le Contre earned a defensive job due to his ill handled attack at the battle of Wahnberg.

Lumiere lashes his men into action. The sheer weight of the attack breaks 2 Prussian regiments after an hour of fighting.

Meanwhile Le Contre watches the Prussians advance from his good defensive position at Witteln. Though the enemy seems very slow.

Some of Gifferd’s men arrive in the tight space between the city walls and French attack columns. The French attack is beaten back in some parts but it only stems the bleeding. Lumiere rides to Essault.
“Give me the reserve and I give you victory”, he states.
Nothing more has to be said. Essault immediately sends a messenger to Marshal Sivet with the order to deliver the finishing right hook.

The Cuirassiers work like a finely tuned machine, maneuvering with speed and precision around marshy ground and smashing into the flank. The Prussians try to defend in square but Essault brought up a battery and metal death is poured into the squares until collapse. Within 2 hours the Prussians attacking from Stammberg are utterly defeated and return to the city. Tzauren, the replacement for General-Oberst Naurenberg captured at Wahnberg, is wounded and captured as well. Gifferd also receives a light wound but manages to get behind the walls with his fleeing troops.

Pivoting to the right from our position we can see that the other Prussian pincer is far from their target still. Atrocious command rolls are not the only reason. Le Contre, determined to redeem himself relentlessly harasses the tip of the column with his Legeré and Hussars.

While the Prussians inching forward Essault organises a blocking force against Stammberg and sends Lumiere to form left of Witteln. Sivet is ordered on a wide flanking move to further hamper Prussian efforts to form up. His riders smash into Hussars from Irl disordered by cannonfire and sweep them away. A Prussian infantry regiment is caught in column but luckily the Cuirassier’s horses are too tired to cause significant damage.

About 5 hours after the first shots fell at Stammberg, the 46th Grenadier regiment breaks an enemy square and Prussian morale breaks with it. The retreat is abrupt and chaotic with many prisoners being taken.

Battle Aftermath

The French literally punched their way to victory. With shock and awe they defeated two Prussian groups in detail. Their losses are therefore light with only 500 wounded and 750 killed for total of 1,250 casualties.

Prussian losses are again staggering. 3,000 wounded and 2,750 killed. A total of 5,750 casualties, among them 1,750 men and General-Oberst Tzauren captured by the French.

Strategical Aftermath

From the point of view of General-Oberst Gifferd he has seen his army beaten, has seen Von Ahrenfeld retreat in disorder and knows nothing of the broader situation. Instead he received two crushing defeats in the space of 1 week. The sorry remains of the 2. Korps holding Stammberg cannot withstand another French attack. Even the two fresh garrison regiments of the city have been virtually annihilated during the battle. After brief negotiations with Marshal Essault, the city changes hands for a guarantee his wounded are treated well and no looting occurs.

With the French in possession of Unterphalen’s capital and the Prussians in retreat the invasion is effectively over. A week after the battle of Stammberg Von Ahrenfeld signs the peace of Laichs, adding the province of Unterphalen to French holdings and disarming the remaining Prussian formations.

The emperor himself later commends Essault for their swiftness and decisiveness. Even Le Contre earns praise for his skillful and restrained delaying action at Witteln.

French casualties: 6,500
Prussian casualties: 14,250

Review of the Campaign

Overall the campaign was a full success. I only hope my words can convey the many interesting situations experienced and exciting decisions the characters took. Early on the tried and tested method of developing several plans and act on one of them at random had a huge impact on the campaign. Later on the decisions became less diverse as the course of action lead to mostly one path. Of course I could have written foolish plans but a desire to bring the campaign to a close within a reasonable time frame also steered my hand.

Not overstaying the welcome is always true with rules that are meant to first and foremost lead to interesting tabletop battles. Doubly so when they are vague and the bookkeeping not well organized, which was true for this campaign. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment, though, as I knew all of it beforehand.

While incomplete rules are often a recipe for disaster with several players involved, they can work quite well in solo mode, even enhance the experience. Not for me though, as I learned with this campaign. I either need a tight framework to run the campaign with minimal bookkeeping or a even more rules free strategic approach. The latter could be an interesting exercise where decisions are made and freeform arrows on maps are drawn without much measuring until they meet. Battles could then be played by points instead of keeping track of forces involved.

Otherwise I will need more formalized maps (grid/hex/node) and bookkeeping files to keep the campaign overhead to a minimum.

Review of the Battles

Unsurprisingly the modified Black Powder rules and stats worked well. Only the constant Prussian command issues impacted the battles a tad too much. This was in part by their (randomly) chosen traits and their low command rating but bad rolls did their part.

The less rigid casualty structure and flowing scale of Black Powder makes it a bit difficult to fit into a campaign framework, though. Big Bloody Battles as well as Volley and Bayonet performed well in this regard in my past Napoleonic campaigns. 2×2 Napoleonics is another good option because of the speed of play and simple on the field / off the field casualty structure.

Using blocks instead of miniatures was a full success for me. I’m much more interested in strategy and tactics rather than the spectacle. The images taken won’t hold up in composition against miniature games but they will more than hold up in clarity. It is very easy to discern where everyone is, almost like reading a map. That’s an added bonus as solo wargamer as I have to play both sides.

4 thoughts on “Unterphalen Campaign – Part 6”

  1. Superb! What a culmination to this swift and decisive campaign. I dunno about ‘The images taken won’t hold up in composition against miniature games’. Sure, figures look beautiful, but the visual effect of your photos is excellent. That one of the French cuirassiers charging to what really became the decisive moment of this two-part battle is wonderful. I wondered whether the Prussians could ‘steal’ the victory in part two, but the French were not to be denied on this day. Beaut stuff.
    Regards, James

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    1. Thank you James for your comments. Blocks are quite interesing in terms of clean visuals and give the ability to “follow the action”. It takes some narrarive to bring them to live, however. Glad you liked it.

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