Franco Prussian War Supercampaign - The Bridge of Blood
For those who haven't yet seen our supercampaign series, we did an American Civil War and English Civil War campaign earlier this year and had great fun. Check the supercampaign tag out for more information. I also wrote a book describing the action as it unfolded, in the style of an Osprey book.
The French were defending Nancy against the advancing Prussians, who were trying to seize as many bridges as they could to prepare the road for the army as it marched towards Metz.
Both sides had command of a single division - the French was slightly larger but had less artillery and was very poorly organised (it only mobilised a few days ago). They had to defend as many river crossings as they could, with only their reconnaisance and intelligence to guide their efforts as the Prussians speedily approached!
|The Prussians began in Moyenvic and were advancing westwards. The French had to defend the rivers from Pont-a-Mousson in the north, to Luneville in the south.|
Our ACW campaign covered two weeks, and the ECW spanned three months (of 'game time' rather than real time). This one would cover a mere 24 hours, and the focus was much more on a single great battle rather than an extended campaign. Each turn, the players fed me their orders and I passed back intelligence reports and updates.
How it Panned Out
The Prussians decided to advance about 80% of their force against one bridge in the north; Pont-a-Mousson. They also sent some infantry towards other bridges to confuse the French. Despite having their cavalry patrols badly mauled by the Prussians (who were aided by some fast-moving artillery columns), the French correctly worked out where the Prussians would attack - just in the nick of time. Troops began to arrive at the scene of action at dawn on Day 2, and a major battle ensued!
The Battle of Mousson
The Prussian artillery quickly overwhelmed the French regiment defending the eastern side of the bridge, although a stubborn defence ensured it did not fall without loss. Confident of victory the Prussians formed up in column to cross the bridge - only to be decimated by a mitraileuse battery which had arrived by train minutes before!
A Guards regiment had to fall back having taken near-50% casualties, so the wounded Prussians pulled back and let their artillery soften the French up. Another attempt an hour later was successful - but the attackers still took horrendous casualties from French rifle fire. Soon after, the French had to surrender and the bridge fell into the hands of the Prussians.
|The French (bottom of picture), despite being outgunned, have just repulsed an attack which has fallen back in disorder across the bridge. There are plenty more reinforcements, however, and the Prussians soon drive their way across.|
Of course, every good campaign needs a write up! That way we can sit back and reminisce in years to come. The next supercampaign, I hear you say? Well, Two Splendid Lines and the exploits of the Fourth Texas seem like an opportune candidate...