The battle was a big 'un, no disputing that fact, the scenario lifted from the commandsandcolors.net website. Here is the scenario diagram - we used my Ramekin variant of C&CN - 8 Victory Points for the win.
We each contributed some of the troops. Stryker lost the toss of a coin and thus had to partner me in command of the French. A quick squint at the situation, along with the events of actual history, suggested that we were about to receive a thrashing.
Some of the Russian troops in action were very scary indeed - the Guard Grenadiers are very powerful, and the most formidable of the lot were their Guard Heavy Cavalry, who are 6 blocks strong, get a bonus of +1 die in combat and may disregard 2 retreat flags. Oh, jolly good. I was very pleased to see they were well back in the rear of the Allied reserve at the start - I had visions of their casually touring the battlefield, mopping up our army. The rules also bestow upon the Russian infantry a most unsporting reluctance to run away when pressed, and the final outrage is the Mother Russia die before the battle starts - on the day, this provided an extra block of strength for two of the Russian infantry regiments, and also an extra block for both of their field batteries. This did not seem like good news - since I had no idea how an extra-large battery is allocated combat dice in C&CN, we had to agree an ad-hoc rule for the day to cover this. Whatever, the Russian artillery was a major nuisance throughout the day.
It seemed very odd that the Bavarians present were, of course, not on the French side. The French had some Guard Cavalry, and some Young Guard infantry, but it was decreed that, this being 1814, the quality of the French line infantry did not merit the usual +1 combat die for elan in melee.
We (the French) assumed that the Bavarians would be sent across the stream into our left flank, so we set up to give them a hot reception. In fact they didn't attack us at all, so that was an effective feint! The VP rules for this scenario are fairly complex, but include extra points for possession of the 4 villages of La Giberie, Petit-Mesnil, La Rothiere itself (with the church) and Dienville. We duly defended these four villages, but things did not go very well at the start, the Russians drove us out of La Rothiere and eliminated one of our two field batteries. Thereafter the theme of the day was fighting for the villages, and trying to stay clear of the big Russian batteries. There was a good deal of cavalry fighting as the day developed. We started rather poorly, but as time went on we started to wear down the Russian infantry, and we got the VP score to 7-each. At this point we only (only!) had to push one of our Young Guard units across the stream on our left flank, and attack a wood containing a much-weakened Bavarian regiment (and, preferably, take out Wrede at the same time). This was such a vivid prospect that we could actually see it happening, but it was vital that we won the initiative for the next turn.
We duly won that initiative, and in a state of some excitement we attacked tthe Bavarian-held wood, but the attack failed completely, and the response was conclusive. Around this time, the Russian Guard Grenadiers eliminated one more French unit, and during that same turn we were driven out of two more of the key villages, so that, instead of sneaking a victory 8-7 (which would have been a travesty, to be honest), we actually lost - within a single turn - by 9-4. Hmmm. From the jaws of you-know-what.
Not to worry - great game - historically correct result, and it was exciting throughout. Questions will certainly be asked about the performance of the French artillery, but we are confident that (authentically) Napoleon will just lie through his teeth about the outcome, and publish appropriate Fake News in his dispatches.
My appreciation and very best wishes to my colleagues, and especially to Count Goya for his tireless hospitality. Excellent day!
|View from behind the French right at the start, with the River Aube (unfordable) in the foreground, the key villages all defended. You can just see the Bavarian-Austrian force threatening our left flank at the far end of the table, beyond the stream.|
|Looking along the Russian line, from their left|
|Russians advancing on their left - this attack didn't develop as much as we expected, but it kept us worried throughout. You can see the pesky "Mother Russia" super-size batteries on the ridge in the background.|
|The French are quickly driven out of La Rothiere, and one of the French batteries has been overrun and eliminated. That's General Gerard (white border) attempting to convince his men that they should try to take the place back.|
|This is just a more expansive view of the same moment, I think (apologies for duff photos)|
|Over on the Allied right, you can see the Bavarians pretending that they might cross the stream and do something, but they sat it out, while we kept a very warlike eye on them|
|A general view - you can see the gap in the middle, between the armies, caused by the lack of a French answer to the artillery problem. Russians marching forward relentlessly.|
|The French are running out of infantry at this stage|
|Time for some volunteers to win the day...|
|Here we go - Stryker's Young Guard battalion, about to cross the stream and set about those Bavarians - at least they are thinking about it|
|First of all, they had to cope with an attack from an Austrian hussar unit - we did pretty well - the YG refused to form square, and convinced the hussars that they should take a Retire and Reform option. Good - not immortal yet, but working on it.|
|Meanwhile, my own Young Guard battalion took back La Rothiere - they didn't keep it for long, but we were starting to win back a few VPs at this stage|
|The Russians still have a lot of troops, and many of them are fresh. Note that the village of La Rothiere (with church) is now occupied by the Russian Guard Grenadiers - no-one was in any great hurry to take them on, so there they stayed.|