Laon - 9&10 March 1814
After Napoleon’s catastrophic defeat at Leipzig, the Allies surged forward to overrun Germany, and continued the campaign into France during the winter of 1813-14. They still followed the strategy of engaging Napoleon’s subordinates, but not Napoleon himself, for the Corsican Ogre was still dangerous and won several brilliant victories. Overall this strategy was working as several Allied armies pushed ever deeper into France. In February, Blücher’s army had advanced on Paris, but Napoleon had turned on him, forcing a precipitate withdrawal to avoid battle on unfavorable terms. Blücher chose to fall back to Laon and concentrate there because it was a strong natural defensive position and an important road junction. Blücher deployed his 87,000 man army and waited, finally willing to risk battle with Napoleon.
Whether due to sheer audacity or woeful intelligence because of lack of cavalry, Napoleon split his much smaller army, sending Marmont with 10,000 men to block Blücher’s retreat route while keeping the remaining 37,000 to assault Blücher. Marmont successfully probed the Prussian left on March 9th, capturing the village of Athies. As evening approached, Marmont detached Col. Fabvier with 1,000 men to link up with Napoleon’s forces and allowed his men to forage. Prussian cavalry, however, alerted Blücher to Marmont’s isolated position, and he lost no time in ordering the Prussian corps of Yorck and Kleist to attack.
The attack came very close to destroying Marmont’s force. Not only did the Prussians push back Marmont’s surprised and disorganized troops, they also cut the Rheims road in the French rear and were closing on the Festieux Defile, the only remaining escape route. Col Fabvier countermarched to the sound of the guns and arrived in time to re-open the Rheims Road, and 125 Old Guardsmen held the Prussians at bay at the defile. Marmont’s survivors were able to escape and reform later, but losses were heavy—over 3,500 troops and 45 cannon.
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
• Move First
• Commander: Marmont
• 4 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
• 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)
• The Festieux Defile hills are rugged hills.