417 Laon - French Left (9&10 March 1814)
Laon - 9&10 March 1814
Lack of a bridging train had cost Napoleon the opportunity to attack and cripple Blücher’s isolated force as it retreated away from Paris, and a poorly executed attack against the Prussian rearguard at Craonne had cost the French more casualties than they could afford. Napoleon only became more obsessed with bringing Blücher to battle. When he caught up with Blücher’s reinforced 87,000 man army dug in at Laon, Napoleon rashly split his own 47,000 man army, detaching Marmont and the 10,000 man VI Corps to block Blücher’s retreat route.
Napoleon ordered Ney and Mortier to attack the towns of Ardon and Semilly on March 9th. Blücher choose to hold back his reserves when he saw the relatively small number of French troops marching to the attack, believing that Napoleon was trying to turn his flank. Napoleon, however, had actually committed almost his entire force in the series of frontal assaults, but such was his reputation that his foes always fought fearing disaster from an unknown quarter. The fighting on this front this day would end in a stalemate. On the French right, Marmont and his VI Corps had better success and had captured Athies, but then disaster struck as Blücher’s Prussians routed and nearly destroyed Marmont’s force that evening.
During the night, Blücher’s reconnaissance also revealed the true strength of Napoleon’s army and he planned to crush Napoleon the next day. Napoleon had learned of Marmont’s disaster, and determined to engage the Prussians on the 10th to give Marmont time to move away and reform his command. Providentially for Napoleon, Blücher took ill during the night and command passed on to the conservative Chief of Staff, General Gneisenau. Worried that French demonstrations on the 10th still meant that Napoleon had something up his sleeve, Gneisenau called off an attack that almost surely would have destroyed the French army. This gave Napoleon’s army the opportunity to slowly withdraw and live to fight another day.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Blücher
• 5 Command Cards & 4 Iron Will Counters
• Optional 5 Tactician Cards
• Commander: Napoleon
• 6 Command Cards
• Optional 6 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• The town hexes form a Temporary Majority Victory Banner Objective worth 2 Victory Banners for the side that occupies the absolute majority of these hexes at the start of the turn (Temporary Majority Victory Banner Turn Start)