Friday 15 March 2019

The Battle of d'Artenay-Pas-Vraiment - 1870

On Sunday I braved high winds and terrible traffic to join the Rejects for a game in Posties Shed-o-War. However, for a change, our leader wasn't running the game, the honour instead falling to Reject Richard. He had brought his excellent figure collection along for a Seven Years War* Franco-Prussian War game using the They Died for Glory rules. This is the second time I have played these rules and both times we have had an excellent game, even if the result wasn't what I had hoped for. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I have bought a copy for myself.

The Setup
This is a hypothetical scenario based on the military situation at the time. August and September of 1870 have seen the irresistible onslaught of the Prussian War Machine against an ill-prepared and poorly lead French Army. The Prussians and their allies under the direction on Moltke have swept the Imperial French forces from the North and have commenced the siege of Paris. However, the Teutonic hoard has failed to destroy the armies of Napoleon III, allowing them to retreat in a disordered fashion to Orleans to try and regroup. 

In order to counter the threat of a French counter-attack to lift the siege of Paris, Moltke has ordered a probe in strength towards Orleans with the intention of pushing Napoleon away south and perhaps capturing Orleans in order to stop its use as a base and rallying point for the French. 

Both sides were given a briefing, each of which contained detailed objectives and advice.

The German Briefing
French forces of unknown strength have fallen back on Artenay-Pas-Vraiment during the previous day.  Your task is to capture the town and the railway station and to clear the main Paris-Orleans road of hostile forces preparatory to an attack on Orleans.  
The enemy may be reinforced from the South. However, it is unclear whether the French Troops are in full retreat, falling back on their supports, or covering a new offensive from Orleans. Some caution may be required. However, if this is only a rearguard then speed is of the essence and the attack should be progressed vigorously in order to prevent the enemy from escaping off the field.  
You must take: Assas; Villechat; Artenay-Pas-Vraiment; The Train Station; Autroche; Control the Paris-Orleans road by deploying troops across it south of Artenay-Pas-Vraiment.  

The French Briefing
German forces have advanced south during the previous day, and your rearguard have camped overnight around and south of Artenay-Pas-Vraiment. Your task is to hold the town and station for as long as possible, delaying the German advance on Orleans, and keeping open a route to withdraw your own troops south.
You are unlikely to receive reinforcements of any significance as the mina body of the army is withdrawing through Orleans rather than stopping to fight the enemy. It is essential to delay them for as long as possible.
You must hold: Artenay-Pas-Vraiment; The Station; Assas; Villechat; Autroche; and not allow German troops to deploy across the Paris-Orleans road south of Artenay-Pas-Vraiment. 

With the orders given the game began. Surjit and Stuart's commands were already on the battlefield and they were able to commence play immediately. My troops came on in turn three so I had time to observe and take a few photos before play commenced. 

The Order of Battle
French Army
18th Line (8)* (in Assas), 18th Line (8) (in Villerhay), 96th Line (16) (in Autroche), 45th Line (16) (in Artenay), and 50th Line (16) (in the Station)
*Number of figures in the unit

Deployed by towns with Divisions
2 x 4pdr & 1 x Mitrailleuse

Deployed across Orleans road and railway south of Artenay.
48th Line (16), 36th line (16), 74th Line (16), 78th Line (16), 1st Zouaves (16), 1st Turcos (16), 2nd Turcos (16), and 3rd Turcos (16)

Arriving at Point F in turn of players choosing
8th Cuirassier (12), 9th Cuirassier (12), 3rd Dragoons (12), and 10th dragoons (12)

Arriving Turn 3 at Point E at Umpires Discretion (Never deployed)
1st Grenadiers (Line) (16), 2nd Grenadiers (Line) (16), 3rd Grenadiers (Line) (16), 1st Voltigeurs (16), and 1x 12 Pdr

Prussian/Bavarian Army
Bavarians deployed in deep column between Dambon and Railway line, north of La Boule D’or farm.
Lieb Regiment (20), 1st regiment (20), 3rd Line (20), 4th Line (20), 8th Line (20), 10th Line (20), 13th line (20), Jagers (20), and 2 x 4pdr

Prussians deployed on road between point C and Poupry
IR 2 1st Pomeranian Gren (20), IR42 (20), IR15 (20), IR54 (20), IR9 Colberg gren (20), IR21 (20)
IR61 (20), and 2 x 4pdr

Prussians arriving on road at point D,
IR 8 Leib Grenadier (20), IR48 (20), IR12 (20), IR52 (20), IR20 (20), IR35 (20), IR24 (20), IR64 (20), and 2 x 4pdr

Prussians arriving turn three at entry point B north of Assas and Villerhay
7th Magdeberg Cuirassier (12), 6th Brendenberg Cuirassier (12), 16th Altmark Uhlans (12), 3rd Brandenberg Uhlans (12), and 1 x 4pdr Horse Artillery

Prussians arriving at point B from East on road to Artenay
1st Leib Garde Hene-Dormstadt (20), 2nd Grosse Herzog Regt Hene-Darmstadt (20), 3rd Regt Hene-Darmstadt (20), 4th Regt Hene-Darmstadt (20), and 1 x 4 pdr

The Action
The initial setup with the Prussians and Bavarians poised to attack Artenay

Another view of the initial setup. The French can be seen south (to the right) of the town of Artenay

French south of Artenay. Some troops are already in the town and associated Railway Station

Prussians on the road to Artenay with one unit in skirmish at the front

The game commences. I'm sat in the corner waiting for my troops to turn up.

The Bavarians advance with a coupleof units in skirmish formation to provide cover

The french move more units into and around the town

The Bavarian advance continues

Players deep in the action

Both the Bavarians and Prussians are moving rapidly towards the French towns. They are coming under sustained fire but not enought to stop the advance. 

The Prussians now have two units providing a skirmish screen but the following units are still tryin to get down the road.

Meanwhile, French cavalry appears on the battlefield and thunder down the road towards the main area of the battle.

Cuirassiers and Dragoon move around the farm

Players and umpire deep in thought

My first troops arrive on the Table! Courassiers and Uhlans and a Horse Artillery battery

More troops for me... Prussian Line regiments

Surjit and Stuart seems to have stopped in front of the French towns. More units are in skimish formation and bith sides are exchanging fire. 

Meanwhile I coax some extra movement out of my front regiments by changing to Skirmish formation. This brings me just inside the range of the Ffrench Cavalry and I am able to fire upon them. 

In these rules firing on Cavalry in a column is devastating and I reduce two cavalry units to half strength in one volley.

The follwing turn my Cavalry charges the french cavalry who counter charge. Now I'm normally s**t with cavalry but this time I win three out of four of the melee. 

Meanwhile I'm not seeing a lot of movement over in the main attack against our objective, the town of Artenay. 

I've managed to move one of my line regiments into charge range and storm into the town on Villerhay. My remaining cavalry charge into the remaining French Cavalry... I cross my fingers...

Prussians stand before the town echanging fire. The French are being reduced in number, but they still hold the towns and thus far the Prussians haven't tried to assult the town. 

Neither have the Bavarians who have lost a couple of units (they retreated) with the remainder standing almost stationary and swapping fire with the French. Prussian reinforcements are arriving but it will take several turns to get them into position. 

Meanwhile my troops take Villechat and prepare to move on to the next town. My Cavalry have pretty much decimated the French cavalry (I was in shock) and are preparing to chase the rest away. 

Prussian reinfircements streem up the road. 

My Cavalry form up and prepare to hit the remaining French. 

Meanwhile my line regimants are advancing towards the Railway station. 

The battle in front of Artenay looks like it is about to reach a climax as our reinfircements reach the front. 

Our Objective, the town of Artenay still looks a long way away!

Another objective, the village of Autroche. 

However, with time short and the French already accruing victory points for holding the towns beyond the 7th turn, there was now little chance the Prussians and Bavarians could turn the situation around and win. Richard called the game to a close and declared it a French Victory.

This batrep was unashamedly focused on my end of the table as it felt very much like I was having a separate game from the other guys. I'll be honest I'm not entirely sure what 'went wrong' in their sector of the battlefield. They had overwhelming superiority in numbers, space to manoeuvre and some very clear objectives as laid out in our briefing. For reasons unclear to me, they became bogged down in a firefight within spitting distance of their objectives instead of pressing home an assault to oust the enemy from the villages. True, such an assault would have been very bloody, but it was necessary if we were to gain any of our tactical objectives. 

For my part I felt my infantry came on a turn too late, and given time restraints were physically unable to reach the enemy in the time allotted. That was partly due to starting late (I was stuck in traffic and arrived an hour late). My troops were the only ones to take an objective and I had spectacular success against the French Cavalry (amazing, I know!) but ultimately we had to succeed across our whole front, not just on one flank, if we were to win this game. In retrospect, I think our Commanding Officer became too focused on beating the enemy troops and in the process forgot the objectives laid out in our mission briefing. By the end of the game, despite grinding down the French forces in front of us, we had failed to thwart the French tactical objective to delay the Prussian advance and it was therefore only fair to call this a French Victory.

Despite my side loosing the game I think we all had a great time. The rules are easy to understand and each turn skipped along quite quickly. In fact I enjyed the game so much I decided to nuy the rules in the vain hope that I'll be better prepared when we play this period again! 


  1. Apologies for the lack of an annotated battlefield picture this time around...I should have taken more notes during the game. Hopefully Reject Ray will be able to elaborate when his own batrep and photo's on his blog.

    1. Great write up Lee. I'm just finishing mine as we speak!!!

  2. Cracking...

    PS. "a Seven Years War game using the They Died for Glory"?? :o)

    1. Come on Lee, it was a Franco-Prussian War game!!!!!

    2. Lol. That's what happens when you sit up till 1am writing a Batrep!!

  3. It looks real good, very good indeed.

  4. Another day in paradise, obviously. Forward Ho!

  5. Intense and beautiful looking game, congrats!!

  6. Thoroughly enjoyable game to umpire, and well played Lee. The rules are straight forward enough to make things skip along nicely, which is always helped by amiable players and gentlemanly conduct. Glad you've bought the rules. You'll see that I don't enforce the movement rule about wheeling otherwise you and Surjit might never have been able to do those first cavalry charges. Shame we had to start late because I'm sure you would have had time to assault across the railway lines. Great report Lee.

    1. Great game mate, I think we all enjoyed it, even those of us on the loosing side.


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