MD23 - Laon - "La Grande Battle" (9–10 March 1814)

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MD23 - Laon - "La Grande Battle" 9–10 March 1814

Historical Background
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?


Set-Up Order

Forest 9
Hill 26
Hill Rugged 6
Town 8


Battle Notes

Prussian Army
• Commander: Blücher
• 5 Command Cards & 8 Iron Will Counters
• Move First *
*Each player rolls 4 dice. The player rolling the most sabers will move first.

Prussian Corps Commanders
Right Center Left
Command 2 1 2
Tactician 2 2 2

Line Infantry Light Infantry Reserve Infantry Militia Infantry Grenadier Infantry Light Cavalry Light Lancer Cavalry Light Lancer Cavalry Heavy Cavalry Cuirassier Cavalry Horse Artillery Foot Artillery Leader
15 2 5 5 2 2 1 3 3 2 1 5 8

French Army
• Commander: Napoleon; Marmont
• 5 Command Cards
• Move First *
*Each player rolls 4 dice. The player rolling the most sabers will move first.

French Corps Commanders
Left Center Right
Command 2 3 2
Tactician 2 3 2

Line Infantry Light Infantry Young Guard Infantry Old Guard Infantry Light Cavalry Light Lancer Cavalry Heavy Cavalry Cuirassier Cavalry Guard Light Cavalry Foot Artillery Horse Artillery Guard Foot Artillery Leader
12 6 2 3 1 1 1 2 1 3 2 1 7

17 Banners

Special Rules
• The town hexes form a Temporary Majority Victory Banner Objective worth 4 Victory Banners for the side that occupies
the absolute majority of these hexes at the start of the turn.
• The Festieux Defile hills are rugged hills.


Tags: Banners: 17, Army: French, Army: Prussian, Special Rule: Iron Will, Special Rule: Temporary Majority VB (Turn Start), Unofficial, Special Rule: Random Start Player, Special Rule: "La Grande Battle"

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Even in offensive warfare in the open field the great secret consists in defensive combats, and in obliging the enemy to attack.~Maxims XIV