219 Montmirail (11 February 1814)
Montmirail - 11 February 1814
After his victory at Champaubert, Napoleon found himself in the midst of Blucher’s forces. In Napoleon’s mind it was the central position again, a tactical position from which he achieved much success in the past. Blucher ordered both Sacken and Yorck to concentrate on Montmirail. Yorck, however, was hesitant to move too far from the bridge crossing the Marne and did not move quickly. This separation of enemy forces was just what Napoleon was looking for and he took the initiative to move against Sacken’s Russians.
Sacken turned his Russians to meet the French, believing Yorck’s Prussian Corps was just to the north. He saw only conscripts between his corps and Montmirail, and attacked. Ricard’s division of conscripts fought valiantly against superior Russian numbers. Finally the Old Guard arrived to save the day, shortly before Yorck’s advance guard appeared. Napoleon, knowing the Prussians could join the battle at any time, decided to commit his Old Guard units. Ney led the Old Guard assault that rolled up the Russian left flank. The Young Guard and Ricard’s reformed division now advanced and broke the Russian line. The Guard Cavalry exploited the gap and swept the battlefield.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Sacken
• 5 Command Cards
• 3 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• Commander: Napoleon
• 6 Command Cards
• 6 Tactician Cards
• French line infantry are conscripts and do not receive one additional die in melee when attacking an enemy infantry unit.
• The Petit Morin stream is fordable.
• Pre-Battle Mother Russia Roll rule is in effect. Saber and cavalry rolls have no effect.
mantra (Russians): 0 victory banners
Stanislav27 (French): 6 victory banners
The battle started off with great tension. Chris, the Russian commander, sought to clear lines of fire for his artillery, which was ordered to bombard immediately afterwards. The French Guard Foot Artillery was shaken by this opening salvo, but Ney rallied the shocked gunners back to full fighting strength. Ney then brought his Young Guard forward and opened what would turn out to be a lengthy shooting duel in the centre of the battlefield with various Russian units being cycled forward as their comrades suffered losses.
The first devastating blow of the battle occurred on the French right, however. After some initial maneuvering into place, Nansouty unleashed a Cavalry Charge with his Guard Heavy Cavalry as well as the nearby French Cuirassiers. Not without suffering some losses, the French troopers managed to destroy the Russian Horse Artillery and to severely weaken the Russian Heavy Cavalry unit in the sector. The Russians attempted a bold counter-charge on the subsequent turn, but Napoleon inspired his cavalrymen to strike first, weakening the impact of the Russian hussars. Immediately afterwards, the French cavalry routed all remaining Russian horsemen. Brave Wassilitchikow was not spared the slaughter. 0-4.
The intensity of the battle dropped slightly after the tumultuous action on the French right. Both commanders maneuvered and fired in the centre. The French contested the area around Marchais after Russian advances in that sector. Meanwhile, the Russians checked the further advance of Ney's Young Guard. Accurate Russian musket and artillery fire, while holding, forced the Guardsmen into an ignoble retreat.
Napoleon, unable to relay the orders for a coup de grace on the Russian left (where one unit was forced into a square for many turns), sought to decide the battle in the French left and the centre-left. After many maneuvers and cycling of units, the final clash indeed to place in that sector of the battlefield. Ricard took personal command of first a unit of Light Infantry, which was ordered to charge into melee, and then a unit of Line Infantry, which received the same order. The untested French conscripts did not falter. Liewen's depleted regiment could not maintain cohesion in the face of French bayonets and broke. 0-6