At Any Cost: Metz 1870 – Session 2, Part IV – Gorze Road/Rezonville/Flavigny

Other May 5, 2019 0
At Any Cost: Metz 1870 – Session 2, Part IV – Gorze Road/Rezonville/Flavigny

By Josef Tham: 

Gorze Road/Rezonville/Flavigny
The OOC Imperial Guard cavalry outside Rezonville both drew a Cautious OOC chit and edged to the side before the oncoming Prussians, the Cuirassiers to screen Flavigny, the Chassuers to screen Gravelotte, leaving the field of fire for Ladmirault’s IV Corps (green) unobstructed.

Goeben’s men (dark brown) splashed into the stream next to the road, preparing to ascend the hill separating them from Flavigny.

Ladmirault began setting his IV Corps (green) upon the heights above Rezonville, sending his cavalry to help Frossard’s cavalrymen (khaki) screen Flavigny against Goeben (which would make the cavalry OOC next turn). His 1st brigade from Cissey’s division was halted on the road by harassing fire from a Prussian Cloud of Skirmishers chit.

Heavy IV Corps fire almost did serious damage to the lead Prussian IX Corps brigade on the Gorze Road, but an Inspirational Leadership chit got the brigade rallied again.

Manstein’s IX Corps (orange) was among the last formations to activate, forced to do so under Defensive Posture by a French Command Initiative chit. Probably Manstein was hesitating seeing all the French infantry and guns forming up before him. Hemmed in by the valley and nearby French cavalry he couldn’t advance anywhere, although his fire put a couple of Morale Hits on the Imperial Guard cuirassiers and Ladmirault’s Corps Artillery.

Image 6 pm Gorze

Goeben (dark brown) is eyeing Flavigny, wondering if his weak VIII Corps units are enough to push off the French cavalry defending the town. Meanwhile, Manstein is feeling doubts (actually feeling the effects of a Command Initiative chit), his IX Corps (orange) hemmed in by terrain and French foes alike.

Most of the Prussian Event chits turned up from the cup at the very end, including a Panic Test chit that never saw any use. The French had been busy handing out Command Initiative chits and other goodies, and thus had no chits on the French Offensive Spirit track during the End Turn Phase, so no French CIC chit next turn.

Again, Bazaine’s Malaise and Prussian Aggressive Tactics were the Planned Event chits chosen for the coming turn.

Image 6 pm End

This has really turned into a battle of maneuver! Both sides try to outflank the other! The prizes are the Mandatory Hexes of Jarny, Mars-la-Tour, and Puxiex, each capable of garnering a victory for whoever manages to take them!

Infantry vs Cavalry! (7 pm)
Last turn saw the heaviest fighting yet as three French corps (II, VI, and IG) bored into Alvensleben’s positions around Tronville, clearing some of his outlying works and threatening to outflank him on both sides.

Further north the Prussians lost the race to Jarny, getting no help at all from the Bazaine’s Malaise chit, which has failed to have any effect lately. Nevertheless, Voigts-Rhetz (X Corps, green) and Rheinbaben (5th Cav, white) push on, even leaving Mars-la-Tour in desperate straits against a very aggressive Canrobert (VI Corps, yellow).

On the Gorze Road, Manstein and Goeben (IX and VIII Corps, dark brown and orange) are being annoying, but unless the French cavalry around Flavigny or Ladmirault (IV Corps, green) in Rezonville manages to do something amazingly wrong I don’t see them turning the battle.

I’d say it looks like the Prussians are on the ropes here… taking any one of Rezonville, Flavigny, Bruville or Jarny is unlikely, while they’d still have to hold both Mars-la-Tour and Puxieux. Even exchanging Mandatory Hexes (taking Jarny or Rezonville while losing Mars-la-Tour or Puxieux) will only get them a Draw.

I think it’s worth mentioning casualties… the first time I played this scenario the losses, especially for French artillery, were absolutely massive! This time losses on both sides have been remarkably small; the battle so far has been one of maneuver rather than firepower.

Jarny
LeBoeuf’s activation chit was the very first chit to be drawn, to the misfortune of the Prussians as his III Corps (red) settled into Jarny, emplacing its Corps Artillery inside the town and putting infantry and further guns on both flanks. The cavalry stayed as a screen between Jarny and the oncoming enemy. The OOC horse artillery on the hill to the south did nothing (Frozen OOC chit), probably conserving ammunition, although the men on the ridge reduced and disrupted the nearby Prussian Guard cavalry. (Metman’s division to the east also stayed put, due to a Withdraw! OOC chit.)

Du Barail’s 1st Reserve Cavalry Division (light green) also stayed in place, its depleted horse artillery firing off some more canister to little effect, its cavalry unit screening.

Forton’s 3rd Reserve Cavalry Division (light blue) also deployed on the town’s outskirts.

X Corps (green) then activated, Voigts-Rhetz snarling with rage and frustration as he led his men further into the mass of French cavalry in front of him! Both III Corps (red) cavalry units were Broken and the 1st Cav horse artillery sent retreating. The Imperial Guard cavalry, a mix of Lancers and Dragoons (SP 4 medium cav unit) fought tenaciously despite being flanked by the 39th brigade and X Corps cavalry, putting a Morale Hit on the 39th brigade (now Disrupted) before retreating into the forest (rolled a A1(D1) result), their place in the line taken by the victorious Prussian cavalrymen (who did not have any Morale Hits on them).

Rheinbaben’s 5th Cavalry Division brought up its horse artillery to fire into the masses of Frenchmen west of Jarny, then assaulted Du Barail’s depleted horse artillery, the Hussars and Uhlans (SP 3 light cav unit) meeting unexpectedly tough resistance (rolled another A1(D1) result), taking a Morale Hit before forcing them back.

The Prussian Guard cavalry and horse artillery did little (Frozen and Cautious, the latter sending some long-range shots at a French brigade but failing to connect).

The battle of Jarny was not yet decided, however! The Prussian CIC chit activated Kraatz-Koschlau’s division, sending the 39th and 40th brigades once more into the mass of French cavalry! First, the disrupted 39th brigade rallied (Inspirational Leadership chit), then a salvo from the Dreyse needle-guns dropped many horses and men, disrupting Forton’s remaining Dragoons and reducing Du Barail’s Chasseurs. Then a bayonet charge by 40th brigade sent the Dragoons retreating (retreated voluntarily as they would have been murdered otherwise), opening a path to Jarny, where panic spread as the Dragoons fled through the streets, Shaking both Nayral’s 2nd brigade and the Corps Artillery (Panic Test chit used on the Jarny town hex). The newly rallied 39th brigade weathered Defensive Fire from both Du Barail’s horse artillery and Nayral’s 1st brigade, comprehensively beating the latter in the ensuing assault (D2* result, casualty reducing and Shaking the 1st).

Suddenly, an X Corps brigade was adjacent to Jarny and the town’s flank protection had been badly weakened! Surely the glorious exploits of Voigts-Rhetz’s and Kraatz-Koschlau’s men would live forever in the annals of Prussian military history, wading through the debris of France’s finest cavalry to reach the very gates of Jarny!

Image 7 pm Jarny Close-Up

Kraatz-Koschlau’s 39th and 40th brigades from Voigts-Rhetz’s X Corps (green) are battering their way through the thick French cavalry screen to reach their goal of Jarny, which is heavily defended by Nayral’s 2nd brigade and Corps Artillery from LeBoeuf’s III Corps (red). Rheinbaben’s 5th Cav horse artillery is trying to keep their battered French counterparts from 1st and 3rd Reserve Cavalry Divisions (light green and light blue) from interfering.

Mars-la-Tour
The Bazaine’s Malaise chit was drawn early and placed on Canrobert’s HQ (yellow)… now to see if the VI Corps Activation Chit would be drawn early or late (there were already two chits on the Bazaine’s Leadership track).

Schwartzkoppen’s men and the Corps Artillery in Mars-la-Tour stayed put, putting an extra Morale Hit on the horse artillery on the hill but missed Canrobert’s brigades on the road (Cautious OOC chit).

When Canrobert activated it was much later and (no surprise) the Bazaine’s Leadership track was fully loaded, so he easily passed the roll against Bazaine’s Malaise. Understanding that he was unlikely to be able to suppress the defenders of Tronville and Mars-la-Tour sufficiently for an assault, he chose to use Defensive Posture. French fire was, as expected, ineffective against the fortified town hexes. VI Corps then used the turn to bring its artillery stack closer to Tronville, bring up more infantry brigades within effective Chassepot range of both Tronville and Mars-la-Tour and do some rallying. The men of the brigade adjacent to Tronville, living charmed lives, didn’t need to rally (and would have been unable to without withdrawing first) as it didn’t have any hits at all; clearly they had managed to find some sheltered hollow just beneath the crest of the Tronville heights!

Tronville/Puxieux
Alvensleben’s III Corps (yellow) seemed to be suffering The Curse Of The Krupp Guns again, earning two new Low Ammo markers for little effect apart from seeing off the already disrupted and reduced 1st brigade from Verge’s division outside the forward Hasty Works. Failing to dispose of the Frenchmen at canister range right under their very noses, the Tronville garrison wasn’t even able to replenish its spent ammunition. At least the Prussian horse artillery was able to rally, as was the lonely 12th brigade behind the ridge.

Frossard put his II Corps (khaki) in Aggressive Posture but then failed to do any damage to the Prussian position (occupied by the already Shaken 10th brigade) in front of him, even with his mighty SP 12 artillery stack. Having seen what happened to Verge’s brigade he then decided not to press an assault. One brigade was now at Rationed Ammo. The French line was extended slightly to the right to allow even more rifle and artillery fire to be put on the stubborn 10th brigade next turn.

Canu’s Army Reserve Artillery (white) bombarded Tronville but failed to do any real damage.

Image 7 pm Tronville

Alvensleben’s III Corps (yellow) is now boxed in on three sides. The brave Bourbaki has fallen but his second-in-command has taken control of the Guard Grenadiers and Voltigeurs (purple) in a head-long assault toward Puxieux, pushing 12th brigade back, but leaving the Guard artillery behind, OOC. Canrobert is hedging his bets, sending his infantry against both Mars-la-Tour and Tronville.

Bourbaki’s replacement, commanding the Imperial Guard, sent the guardsmen forward, their rifle fire disrupting the much bombarded 10th brigade in front of Tronville (Moulin a Café chit), although their artillery stack failed to add to the damage. Leaving the 10th for Frossard to deal with next turn, the Imperial Guard infantry brigades instead charged forward over the ridge on the Prussian right flank, slamming into the 12th brigade, clearly taking Buddenbrock’s men by surprise as their Defensive Fire failed to have any effect.

The ensuing assault was an even match, the small Guard Grenadier, and Voltigeur brigades only managing to push the larger Prussian 12th brigade back by flanking it. The Imperial Guard infantry had left their artillery far behind and now OOC, but now Puxieux was visible in the distance! Taking that town would threaten to cut a large part of the Prussian army off and almost guarantee a French win. The guardsmen were eager to claim the credit and the glory of such a victory! But would they have enough time before darkness descended?

Wilhelm’s 6th Cavalry Division (dark green), seeing the threat, pulled in close around Puxieux, trying to screen against both the Imperial Guard and Canrobert’s VI Corps.

Image 7 pm Puxieux Close-Up

Four fresh elite Imperial Guard brigades against a single Prussian brigade and some cavalry… will Puxieux fall and Alvensleben finally become completely surrounded?

Rezonville/Flavigny
The first unit to activate on this flank was, unfortunately for Manstein, Ladmirault’s IV Corps (green). With a multitude of artillery pieces all lined up to fire up and down the Gorze Road (where Manstein’s formation was hemmed in and neatly lined up due to its not being Engage last turn), the French proceeded to hammer and Break the leading brigade, leaving only the weak divisional artillery and equally weak Hessian brigade. The 2nd brigade of Grenier’s division then advanced down the road to send Manstein’s HQ running (HQ Overrun, as moving next to a non-combat Unit doesn’t count as Engaging, which IV Corps couldn’t do in Defensive Posture), making sure the survivors would not be getting any proper orders this turn (all IX Corps units would be OOC when activated this turn).
The OOC IV Corps cavalry stayed where it was, screening Flavigny (Frozen and Cautious OOC chits).

When IX Corps activated they pulled a Cautious OOC chit, choosing to stay and fire. The already disrupted Imperial Guard cuirassiers were reduced by cannon fire but the Dreyse needle-guns failed to hit the French brigade that had just chased off Manstein’s HQ.

Goeben’s brigade (dark brown) moved onto the ridge, getting Opportunity Charged by the IV Corps Dragoons but sent them retreating with well-aimed rifle fire (A1 result). The Prussian guns splashed into the forested stream, preparing to ascend the ridge next.

The OOC Imperial Guard Chasseurs (light cav unit) decided to assault the Hessians on the road, riding through the shattered remains of the lead Prussian brigade, but Defensive Fire so devastated the impetuous cavalrymen they were unable to press the attack home (reduced to cadre strength and Shaken, so SP 0 and unable to assault).

Image 7 pm Gorze

Manstein’s lead brigade (orange) is destroyed by heavy French fire and his staff then scattered to the four winds by French cavalry, the Gorze Road littered with Prussian dead. Behind this debacle, Goeben (dark brown) is ascending the slopes, about to have a go at the French cavalrymen screening Flavigny. If he takes the town this could conceivably turn into a Minor Victory for the Prussian side…

When the Prussian Aggressive Tactics chit reared its ugly head, quite late in the turn, the Prussians had (again) not drawn many Event chits to invest on the Prussian Aggressiveness track, but this time they succeeded on their roll, so no head-strong Prussian brigadier sent his men on a suicide mission this turn!

Of course, both Prussian Aggressive Tactics and Bazaine’s Malaise were chosen as Planned Events for next turn. And the French CIC chit would appear again, just to make things extra interesting.

Image 7 pm End

A battle of maneuver indeed! The Prussian Tronville Line is stretched so thin! At Jarny X Corps (green) is putting the marching boots away and bringing out the hammer! And will the OOC Prussian garrison at Mars-la-Tour hold against the pressure? In the east/left the Prussians ran into a wall but are still trying to find a weakly guarded flank to chew on.

Image 7 pm Casualties

Considering all the action, I’m amazed at how light the casualty list is! In the previous session, these boxes were packed with human debris and misery!

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Game Resources:

At Any Cost: Metz 1870 – GMT Home Page 

At Any Cost: Metz 1870 – BGG Page

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