Monday, August 30, 2010

Division de la Romana in Hamburg 1807-1808

One of my favorite Napoleonic games is Capitán, a large skirmish style game ('but not' as they would say), I will be coming back to  Capitán in much more detail in a couple of weeks, when they have released their 1813-1814 expansion, with some hopefully interesting scenarios.

However while looking over the site I came across a link to the Ars Tactica blog which had an interesting post about the 1807/08 Spanish expedition to Denmark. If you recall it was the remnants of this expedition left behind in Denmark that went on to form the Joesph Napoleon Regiment that I covered in an earlier post. I thought the sketches were worthy of note and might help if you are interested in the expedition or the background of the JNR.

If you have played Capitán before you will recognise some of the graphic's which are used on the site and in the game, as noted below these were painted from sketches by the Suhr Brothers as the expedition marched north through Hamburg. I think the original source is probably the book "Abbildung der Uniformen aller in Hamburg seit den Jahren 1806 bis 1815 einquartirt gewesener Truppen" of which only four copies are known to exist of which more below and at Napoleon-Series.

King Charles IV of Spain, bullied and pressured by Napoleon, agreed in 1807 to provide a division to bolster the French army in Germany. La Romana was made commander of this "Division del Norte" and spent 1807 and 1808 performing garrison duties in Hamburg and later Denmark under Marshal Bernadotte where it was sent after the British attacked Copenhagen with the goal of protecting the country, another ally of Napoleon and also hopefully to be part of a planned invasion of Sweden. When the Peninsular War broke out, La Romana made plans to repatriate his men to Spain with the help of the British. That 9,000 men of the 14,000-strong division were able to board British ships on August 27th and escape to Spain despite Bernadotte having been warned by Napoleon of such a possibility, was chiefly due to La Romana's subterfuge and organizational skills. Back in Spain La Romana and the Division del Norte disembarked in Santander, the division fought under Blake in the Battles of Valmaseda and Espinosa in November when it was effectively destroyed though La Romana subsequently drove the French from Asturias. In 1809, he was appointed to the Central Junta and served until 1810. He then returned to military operations under Wellington but died suddenly on January 23, 1811 without again seeing major action

"In a procession of carts and mules, loaded with their household appliances, dark-haired wives and semi-naked children, the sons of Tajo and Manzanares made their boisterous entry into the Hanseatic City on the Alster. What a grotesque scene! -- these small, vivacious Southerners, with swarthy complexions and coal-black hair, noisy, restless and emotional, resembling a giant horde of wandering gipsies, suddenly broke into the subdued, correct and cultured atmosphere created by the serious, tall, fair-haired North Germans. The memory of these strange guests, who in the northern fogs often wished themselves back under the hot southern sun, and amidst the picturesque disorder of their native land, has been preserved in numerous etchings by Peter Suhr. These strangers from the South, in the streets of Hamburg, or busily at work erecting fortifications, were an unceasing source of amusement to old and young alike, and had to tolerate a good deal of good-natured chaff from the tall Burgergardisten, who appeared like giants beside Gulliver's dwarfs."

"A detachment of infantry and thirty dragoons from the Princesa, Zamora and El Rey regiments furnished the guard outside the quarters of the Prince of Pontecorvo, who in his native Basque dialect had no difficulty in making himself understood among the Spaniards."

From Friedrich Wencker-Wildberg's Bernadotte: a Biography. London: Jarrolds, 1936. P. 191-192

From Ars Tactcia:
Fifteen thousand of Spains  finest troops, commanded by Teniente General Marquis de la Romana were lent to Napoleon in 1807 and stationed in Denmark to support the French, after they mutinied in Denmark, they were rescued by the British, and fought in the Peninsular War.

As they marched North through Hamburg in 1807 on their way to Denmark, they were illustrated by the Suhr brothers, and it is quite clear from their drawings that there were a mixture of the older blue and current white uniforms.

The plates are from a private collection and painted by José María Bueno, they are first published since 1978, when they were painted.

The Catalonian light troops have the new uniform, equipped at french service.

Cataluña Officer (Captain) - Oficial (Capitán)

Cataluña Private - Tropa

Cataluña Drummer - Tambor

Cazador a caballo Officer (Captain) - Oficial (Capitán)

Cazador a Caballo private - tropa

Cazador a Caballo Trumpeter - Trompeta

Horse Artillery Captain - Capitán Artillería a caballo

Horse Artillery private - Tropa Artillería a Caballo

Minner Officer Major - Minadores Mayor

Minner private - Minadores tropa

La Romana (Teniente General uniform)

As I mentioned the Suhr Brothers sketches were published in a book printed in the 1820's, there are 32 plates from the book shown on the Napoleon-Series

There are also a number of Richard Knoetel plates covering the Romana Division in Hamburg:
Infantry and the Infantry Sapper R. Princesa. Officers and enlisted men from the regiment of light Catalonia. 

Although I can't find them on line the following Knoetel prints also cover the division:
Volume VII
07 - Inf Regiment Zamora. Grenadiers.
08 - Inf Regiment Zamora. Hautboist, drummers, drum major, Sapper, Grenadier.
53 - Inf Regiment Princesa.
54 - Inf Regiment Guadalaxara.
58 - Sappers and Miners.

Volume VIII
17 - Regiment Almansa Chasseurs a Cheval
18 - Regiment Barcelona. Regiment Asturias.
40 - Artillery.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Plastic Prussians - The morning after

So it's Sunday I have woken up, taken a couple of Panadol and put my shades on, so where are we after yesterday's party for WG and Perry.

Perry and WG or Perry vs WG?
Same question, will it be cooperation or competition? If you have bought or read 'Black Powder' you know there is a connection there, they are at least 'mates' and as has been said Nottingham is a small place. You feel there must be some sort of an agreement in place, lets be honest if the Perry's were to release a box of Plastic Landwehr tomorrow WG wouldn't ever sell a single box of their own, so WG would have to be crazy to make the sort of investment that is required to produce a sprue right in the centre of Perry's turf without some sort of an agreement.

It is easy to see the benefit for WG, green light to make Napoleonic's without fear of competition, the 'buzz' of this announcement and the hint of the Perry 'mystique' will do wonders for WG's sales but what is in it for the Perry's? PR wise they don't need anyone else's 'buzz' to boost sales thank you very much. You can only imagine that maybe the Perry's felt they had enough fish to fry in producing a whole new Prussian range, who knows, maybe they will do "Metal Landwehr" which would keep people like me happy. If it is cooperation where will it go, exactly who will produce what, or more importantly what will WG produce and can they do it at Perry quality and Perry price because if they can't then what is the point of this?

Quality and Accuracy
It's really not fair to compare '3up greens' to plastic finished product but as that is all we have for the moment and giving as much allowance as possible for the problems in going from 'green' to plastic it does seem that the WG figures are not sculpted to the same high standards of the Perry's. It might be a bit harsh but they look closer to HAT than Perry quality, with lower detail definition and larger hands. Is this due to the single piece rather than three piece choice?

I think in particular focus will be put initially on the size of the hands which are almost HAT ring hand size, not that Perry are dainty little things but WG are more like boxing gloves.

So far it looks like we have seen three different WG poses, whether there are more or not is unknown at this stage but by comparison Calpe have 70+ Landwehr Infantry poses alone and Perry never do less than 6 variants even on a single metal code!! Three alone would be disappointing

The musket, two figures are shown with the barrel vertical and facing front in what I would describe as the 'classic' march attack pose with the arm across the chest, but one has the barrel facing the rear, the stock is in the palm of his hand with the musket facing fwd/aft, with barrel to the rear and the underside and sling facing forwards, he is definitely not holding the musket side on or barrel first like you will find with most of the Calpe figures, is this accurate?

The roll, one has has a roll over the shoulder and none on the backpack as you would expect, one has neither a roll over the shoulder nor a roll on the backpack and one has both a roll over the shoulder and one on the backpack. Can they all be right and common? I know Landwehr is a bit 'anything goes' and I might just buy the 'none' figure but the double roll?

Facial hair, one is clean shaven, one has a moustache and one has both a beard and a moustache. Again I would 'buy' the clean shaven and the mousatache but beard and moustache on a quick browse of plates I can't see one like that.

WG have been slightly notorious for being 'small' I assume since they are making the noise about Perry cooperation we can assume that there sculptor was told to match the Perry size and not come up with this own idea of what 28mm should be?

Perry + WG + Calpe or Perry + WG vs Calpe
This will probably be the most asked question over the next six months, compatible or not? Tough one to answer till you have them in your hands, and in any case its always so subjective, I am very very picky when it comes to matching up different brands, personally if I can't mix them in the same unit I don't like them on the same table but I know some profess to have no problem fielding Calpe, Front Rank and Foundry which would just leave me in tears. I don't have any Calpe, (my own Prussians are all Foundry), but I will have to buy some of each to see if they are a true match or not. At the moment I don't see this announcement affecting Calpe in the slightest either way but lets see, they still remain the benchmark for Prussian but aren't 'Perry style', six weeks isn't a long time to wait.

WG have to date been the most expensive of the hard plastic 28's and by quite a large margin, will this set be any different? Certainly this set is 'dumbed down' compared to anything else they have done to date will the pricing follow suit, if they don't it will make a hard comparison to Perry once their set is released.

Let's be clear I prefer metal, in fact I would be happy with only metal, YMMV, these, both the WG and Perry Prussians, being plastic doesn't excite me as such, what does excite me about them is having what we could call 'Perry style' Prussian's available in 28mm.

I have no doubt I will buy all these sets and you should to, I think that as 'wargame' figures (i.e viewed on the table from 4') the WG plastics look just fine to me, see the pics below it's hard to argue the WG figures look anything but perfect there, but we all tend to pick them up and study them in detail so whether they get a 'pass' grade or 'can do better' or 'must improve' remains to be seen and on that hinges whether its one box or dozens. The Perry is an easier one to grade, the sculpts are excellent, we have a good idea how they can translate to plastic, yes they won't be equal of their metal, but for bulking out an army they are more than good enough.


More Plastic Prussians

A stunning new announcement from Warlord Games

You’ve waited patiently for us to unveil our new plastic period – well, not all that patiently at all but it does show how excited you all are! We’re very pleased to be able to show off the fruits of our labours – Napoleonic Prussian Landwehr!

As you probably can’t tell from the photos these are one piece models! Many of you have expressed a concern over the number of parts some sets contain (although a lot of you love the variety and modelling opportunities) and the length of time it takes build them let alone get them painted and onto the tabletop. We’ve heard your pleas and these are ready to paint straight from the box!

Our old mates, the Perry twins are taking care of the Prussian Line regiments so you’ll soon be able to amass quite a force of Blücher’s children between us!

The facings and trim on the caps and longcoats of the Landwehr denoted the region of Prussia they were raised in as you can see from the 3 examples shown here. The box contains many different full-colour flags from a variety of regions giving you plenty of flexibility for your Prussian army.

The Landwehr were Militia formed from teenagers through to men in their 40s. They were plucked from their fields, shops and offices and enrolled into the Prussian military machine to enlarge the forces that could finally depose Napoleon, the tyrant of Europe. Prussia was a small State but her armies were well trained and burning to avenge their past defeats. The Landwehr consisted of over 60 battalions and were equipped and trained as time and money allowed. A cheap but warm coat, comfortable cap and a musket was considered uniform enough to get enough troops out into the field for the restricted Prussian army of the time.

The Landwehr fought bravely in the latter wars of the period, fighting hard in the 1813 campaigns and ultimately at the crescendo that was Ligny and Waterloo. Ill-equipped and half-trained they may have been, but after a few months had sorted out the wheat from the chaff they went on to fight with determination alongside their brothers in the Prussian Line regiments, their very innocence at war sometimes spurring them on to great things with patriotism being what it is!

The boxed set comes with a metal command group of officer, standard bearer and drummer. We will, of course, have even more command options for those who wants more variety as well as more supporting metal models and also more plastics…

We expect these lovely miniatures to be available at the beginning of October. We’ll be bringing you pre-order and special offer details in the next week or two so stay tuned to the weekly Warlord newsletter!

WOW!!! Now that was unexpected to say the very least!!!
The Perry's in their own announcement a couple of days ago did talk about another manufacturer releasing 28mm Plastic Prussian and everyone assumed that meant HAT and so we all ignored the comment (because HAT don't count*) but no one would have imagined WG, that was a really well kept secret.

I did say that more infantry were needed and two days later here we are with the Landwehr, great news!

Now picking up on the most interesting points:
"Our old mates, the Perry twins are taking care of the Prussian Line regiments", so can we take from this that WG and Perry will be cooperating on the whole of this line? I really hope that is the case, I did mention I had doubts on the viability of having two plastic manufacturers in 28mm Napoleonic's but if they cooperate like this then that is a whole different ball game, plus it should mean we will get new sets released quicker.

"As you probably can’t tell from the photos these are one piece models!" Another point I discussed the other day in relation to Victrix having too many pieces and Perry with their 3 piece figures being much better, so now we are down to 1 piece. This is great news for the gamer, though maybe not so good for the modeller or someone doing diorama's or vignettes, reay to paint out of the box, no fiddling around! Is 1 piece or 3 piece the best number? I am not sure I really know, I do like the ability to have heads in different positions to make a marching unit look less like a bunch of robot's so I do actually quite like the Perry's 3 piece figure, but we haven't seen the WG sprue, it could be that they can provide enough variant on the sprue to give us 1 piece but with variety. Of course a benefit of the multipart mold is that it gives you more flexibility when placing the pieces into the mold to ensure the best level of detail, it will be interesting to see how the 1 piece mold fairs in this respect.

"The boxed set comes with a metal command group of officer, standard bearer and drummer" This makes a lot of sense, command are low volume figures, why waste a lot of money on a command sprue when you can make them in metal. It will be interesting if we see other manufacturers moving in this direction for their plastic sets in future.

They also mention more plastics and more metals to come so we clearly have a lot to look forward to and more news to come in the next few weeks with the release date in October. Now how will this timing fit in with the Perry line?

Exciting times, think of all those battles from the War of Liberation or the invasion of France that we can now game! This is going to make for a very Prussian flavoured xmas this year!

'HAT don't count' - well thats because even though HAT are 28mm the proportions are very different from any other 28mm manufacturer with the exception of Alban Miniatures, so HAT are only of interest if you are already a committed 'HAT fan' or you love Alban.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Perry Prussian and Renegade British Napoleonic's

Yes I know, hardly news at this point, Perry have finally gotten round to those Prussians!

Alan Perry:
The most common question we've been asked over the last two years is, quite rightly, 'when are you going to make Prussians!' At last, they're here! Well, the three-up's for the plastics are, anyway. These are in the tooling process at the moment, so we have no release date.

The set will comprise 40 Line Musketeers/Grenadiers, plus a detachment of six Volunteer Jaegers which were often attached to regiments. The 40 infantry will give you a full-strength battalion at 20:1 (for man-sized games), although we will be making the command frame available to buy separately too (direct from us) for those who use a different ratio. This is something we'll be doing for the other Napoleonic sets.

I've gone for the traditional march-attack pose for the line infantry and, as they're advancing at speed, I've made the Jaegers 'at trial', firearms in one hand and their Hirschlangers in the other (!). There will be a metal conversion pack to make the musketeers/grenadiers into fusiliers, too. A metal range will accompany this plastic set, and will possibly be available prior to this set.

There will be enough heads with covered shakos for all the figures in the box. In addition, there will be heads with the Line Feldmutze and peaked Schirmutze for the Jaegers, as some units had them. Likewise, the Jaeger belly pouch is separate, as some Volunteer Jaeger units had them. With all the faces, I've tried to give them a Germanic look.

Most figures are in three pieces, as we realize people like to build up units quickly, so you'll get head, equipment (knapsack, haversack, cartridge box, short sword and half the greatcoat are in one piece) and body to put together.

The command frame comprises one officer, one standard bearer, one drummer and an NCO.

As soon as we have finished sprues, I'll put them up on our website and TMP.

First, this is a really big undertaking, you can't just do one box of plastics, you need cavalry, guns, limbers, caissons, more infantry, command, personalities etc. and they do promise a 'metal range' to go along with this set, so this is going to keep the boys very busy for a few years to come at least!

Then this set is marked as "1813-1815" which is really goods news if they stick to this as this nicely opens up the whole 1813 'War of Liberation' and the 1814 'Invasion of France' rather than being locked into a couple of pointless battles in 1815, that is what makes this announcement so 'big'. So maybe we can then hope for late-period Austrians at some point?

These sculpts are as ever beautifully executed, the right poses for plastic and to 'bulk out' an army. The Prussians were always in a hurry where ever they were going, weren't they, and these look like they are too. They seem to have captured the shako perfectly and I love the Jaeger's, simply perfect, though I would like to see a metal selection to go along side these to add variety. Personally I hope we don't see cavalry in plastic, metal is superior and especially for lower volume items it must make more sense.

It's also good news that this is from Perry and not Victrix, "Most figures are in three pieces, as we realize people like to build up units quickly", Perry do so "get it". As I have said before I really worry for Victrix, especially as their problem is not the quality, they are excellent sculpts, it is just they don't seem to quite get what is needed and Perry are killers, that is why I think Victrix should go all metal, there is room for more metal manufacturers, but I am not sure about there being room for any other (profitable) plastic manufacturer than Perry in Napoleonics, and whilst we are talking of Victrix... guys, where are the horses for those limbers!!!!

Now no date as to 'when' but since they stated "Zouaves in February" it must mean later than that and as they usually take 6-9 months to go from green to in your hand then we should probably expect April/May next year. They also mention metals might be released earlier, maybe a nice xmas gift I wonder?

So what of Calpe, the company that is synonymous with "Prussian Napoleonics", well it depends on whether you see Calpe and Perry as being compatible in the first place, personally I never have, I believe Calpe are beautiful 'big' 28's, and fit perfectly with Front Rank, but Perry are thinner, smaller and as such I don't see these two will be eating each others markets.

Just a little bit of news here, more on this in the next week or two, but the 5-4-4 deal is back on (like you ever thought it wouldn't return) and after some revamping of other lines (I don't know which ones yet), the 28mm Household Cavalry are back on the table and hopefully will be available to order next week, so look out for some pics very soon. If you didn't know Renegade's 28mm metal Napoleonic's are designed specifically to match Perry plastics so they are there to add further variety and are really, really cheap. The site is not updated yet but I guess it will be soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Uwe Ehmke Releases 28mm Württemberg Chevauxleger

Well, congratulations are due to Uwe, his 28mm Württemberg Chevauxleger are now complete and on sale!

You can download the pdf catalog by clicking here.

Order's are placed with Uwe via email, the address is in the attached catalog. Now Uwe cautions that because he often has to travel for his regular 'day job' delivery can take a while, expect 3-6 weeks for him to process an order, and outside of Europe shipping fees can be very high, please note these points well, I wouldn't want to see anyone running off to TMP to complain the weekend after having placed an order!

All prices are in Euro's, he does have a PayPal account so that is probably your best bet for making a payment to him. The horse/rider combinations shown in the catalog can be changed if you so wish, just some combinations may require a little bit of extra work to fit together. There is currently no minimum order size, so there is no problem with placing sample orders if you wish to just 'test the waters' and see for yourself what the figures look like.

As Uwe has previously mentioned this is just the start of a whole new line and he has plans for
Württemberg Jäger zu Pferd (Chasseurs a Cheval), Line-Infantry 1812 and Baden Hussars 1812 in the near future.

You can see all the previous posts here

Finally some more pictures of this wonderful set of figures:

I would just like to add I have no commercial connection with Uwe, I am just a fan of his great work, however I am more than willing to help out if you have any questions or problems, feel free to post comments here on this blog should you wish.
Price List

Monday, August 23, 2010

Retreat from Toulouse 12th April 1814

The Battle for Toulose in April 1814 marked the last act of a war that had raged for almost seven years between the French and British, first in the Peninsula and finally in France itself, with the rearguard action at Baziege being it's final curtain call.

In 1813 the demoralized and defeated French army was forced out of Spain by Wellington, with Marshal Soult driven across the Basque countryside to enter France reaching Toulouse, whilst Marshal Suchet withdrew from Barcelona and Catalonia falling back on Narbonne.

Toulouse lies on the Garonne, which runs into the city from the southwest, then turns and exits to the northwest. Just east of the Garonne, the smaller l'Ers River runs past the city from the southeast to the northeast. The Languedoc Canal extending from the Garonne covers the city to the north before turning south forming a narrow corridor between the Garonne and l'Ers.

Attacking the city from the north, Wellington's main force crossed to the east bank of the Garonne, then drove southeast down the corridor between the two rivers with Beresford on the extreme left thrown forward to take the heights of Calvinet and turn the French right flank, leaving Hill on the west bank to attack the suburb of St Cyprien as a diversion.

When Marshal Soult decided to make a stand against Wellington at Toulouse he was well aware of the weakness of his army and knew he was no longer strong enough to beat Wellington alone but he could give him a bloody nose whilst making him work hard for the prize of Toulouse before withdrawing to join up with Suchet at Narbonne, with Wellington's army weakened by losses and the need to garrison Toulose and conversely Soult strengthened by the forces of Suchet it was possible that Wellington could then be defeated and driven out of France. For Soult's plan to work though he needed to make sure that he didn't get shut up in Toulouse by Wellington and he had expressed his concern about finding himself needing to fight his way out of Toulouse particularly if the British managed to seize Baziège which sat astride his line of retreat.

A hard fought battle on the 10th saw Beresford capture the heights of Calvinet and pushed Soult back into the city, though he still managed to hold on during the 11th. However by that evening with only the road to Carcassonee still open, enemy cavalry were discovered pushing southeast towards Baziège intent on cutting his line of retreat, it was apparent now that he couldn't afford a moments delay if he was to avoid being trapped in Toulouse and he decided to start his withdrawal immediately to effect a junction with Suchet who was still at Narbonne.

It was however no easy task to disengage his force in the face of an aggressive enemy like Wellington. Soult would need to somehow extricate himself from his positions in Toulose without alerting Wellington, move via the Carcassonee road with his flanks protected by the river on the one hand and the canal on the other then crossing both the Languedoc Canal and l'Ers River at Baziège destroying all the bridges across the river and the canal south of Toulouse before the British cavalry moved down from the heights around Baziège.

If he was to complete this task successfully and without further loss he would need to carefully organise the withdrawal and so Soult issued very extensive and meticulous orders to his troops for the night of the 11th/12th. Although quite long these orders as given make a fascinating study and reveal a remarkable flexibility in the command structure of the Napoleonic French army.

The order for withdrawal
The army was to commence it's withdrawal at 9:00pm on the 11th and head along the main road to Castelnaudary via Villefranche, which it was to occupy, and where new orders would be given it.

General Soult's cavalry were to assemble at nightfall and move to Baziège, where it would immediately place outposts on the town walls, the right bank of the l'Ers, and between that river and canal to watch for enemy forces and to cover the various routes that lead to Baziège. It was ordered to wait, at Baziège, until the army had passed, or until it was given new orders to continue it's movement.

Soult left a cavalry regiment between Rangueil and Castanet to guard the course of the canal, particularly the bridges that were destroyed or barricaded. This regiment was to join the rear guard as it passed and take the orders of Generale Comte Reille.

Comte d'Erlon was ordered to start the 2e Division at 9:00pm on the dot, and he was to give orders to his division to take up a position at Baziège, guarding the route of town walls and all the crossings that were on the l'Ers and the canal, until the whole army has passed, then his division would be joined by the 1e division under Comte Reille, and Comte d'Erlon was then to take charge of the rear guard on leaving Baziège, the cavalry necessary for this purpose would be made available to him.

General Clausel was instructed to order the 4e division to leave immediately after the 2e division, and to follow it's movement and form a second line to the 2e division, behind Baziège, until the arrival of the 5e division, when Comte Reille would give them orders and they would resume their march, but in the meantime, the 4e division would comply with the any orders it receives, if necessary, from Comte d'Erlon.

The army artillery park was to leave as soon as the 4e Division had marched, and follow it's movement; when it reached the highway, it was to march as far as possible, in two files, in order to reduce it's depth. General Tirlet was to ensure that his officers and noncommissioned officers of artillery and the train were distributed along the column to ensure it ran in order and to prevent any gaps from forming.

The Train was to follow immediately after the Artillery, they would also move in two files and observe the highest order. The Gendarmerie a pied, under the command of Colonel Thouvenot, were to be distributed along the column of the train and artillery park to make sure they marched in order and was to be prepared to contribute to it's defense if necessary.

After passing Baziège, the artillery and train would head the column to Villefranche, where they would receive new orders.

General Travot was to start the reserve division immediately after the park and train, and follow them to Villefranche. It would also track their progress, and if the column were to halt, it was ordered to immediately find the reason for it and make sure it resumed the march as quickly as possible.

General Clausel was occupy all the positions along the line, from Porte-Neuve and Saint-Etienne to Pont des Demoiselles inclusive, until the 1e and 5e Divisions had passed and were formed wholly on the main road and then he was to start the 6e and 8e divisions, they were to follow the movement of the reserve division, and head to Villefranche, where they would receive further orders.

Generale Comte Reille was to evacuate the brigade of 5e Division and all the artillery that was currently occupying the suburb of Saint-Cyprien, when he judged that the movement of the army was well advanced, so that it would not need to wait too long on the grande esplanade. At the same time he was instructed to send orders to General Darricau to join him on the promenade, with the 1e division. When the junction was made, and all the army had passed, Comte Reille was to start his two divisions and form the rearguard. To this end, he was to have at his disposal the cavalry regiment that General Soult had left between Rangueil and Castanet. He would also have the squadron of Gendarmerie a cheval that General Buquct was to leave under his command, after leaving the suburb of Saint-Michel. Finally, he would be joined on the heights of Saint-Aigne by the brigade of General Rouget, whom he was to send orders to to proceed overnight to this destination.

The posts General Clause had occupied along the Garonne in Toulouse were to be recalled.

The running order for the army, after Baziège, and up to Castelnaudary was to be as follows:
The Artillery park;
The Train;
The reserve division, under General Travot;
The divisions of the left wing, commanded by General Clausel;
The divisions of the right wing, under command of Generale Comte Reille ;
The divisions of the center, forming the rearguard, commanded by Generale Comte d'Erlon;

The cavalry was to be part of the rearguard or would be used at points where required, according to the orders it receives.

After Baziège each General was to resume control of the divisions that formed part of his command.

All divisions, even the reserve, were instructed to take with them their artillery batteries, which must be completed to 8 guns each, and the rest of the field artillery, which would not be used by the divisions, would form a reserve battery and march with the park.

General Tirlet was instructed to take everything that belonged to the artillery at the place and the school.

Colonel Michaux, commander of the engineers, was to take a company of sapeurs and a company of miners with the tools of engineers and leave with the 2e division for Baziège and at the canal, complete the destruction of the bridges and open up new communications as necessary. He was to leave at the disposal of the Comte Reille another pioneer company for the destruction of bridges and the establishment of barriers that could stop the movement of the enemy. This company was to follow the orders of Comte Erlon, when he took over the command of the rearguard after Baziege.

General Travot was instructed to order the Garde-Nationale of Toulose to take over control of all gates and canal bridges, and the suburb of Saint-Cyprien during the night. He was also to instruct the Chefs de Legion and cohorts, on their honor and responsibility, to stand firm in these positions, during the following the day, until the enemy were present in such superior numbers that they were compelled to surrender. In this regard, the lieutenants were to each send a staff officer to General Travot to act as couriers carrying any orders that they were given to their destinations, taking care to ensure that there would be no interruption at all to this service. General Travot could if he wished, to increase the apparent strength of his posts, employ individuals of the city guard who were not armed, because in such cases their appearance alone might be suffecient to impress the enemy.

The l'Ordonnateur en Chef (chief officer of the department) was instructed to use the evening to load as much supplies as possible on to the canal to then be taken back to Castelnaudary and Carcassonne, but if, against all odds, they were unable to make it they should be dumped into the canal.

Soult advised the lieutenants that they should personally take in hand these movements to ensure that they occur in the strictest order and complete silence, and that no one was to be left behind, even wounded, and during the night nothing was to happen in the batteries.

As can be seen when necessary to ensure the movements of the army were coordinated the commander would give very specific and detailed orders, normal command structures were bypassed and a more ad hoc structure was used more like battle-groups as Soult endeavored to ensure that the army managed to slip away under the nose of Wellington. Once they were at a safe distant then the normal structure would resume.

The withdrawal
Soult reported on the night of the 12th from Villefranche:
Yesterday evening the enemy had pushed the head of a column of cavalry up as far as Bastide de Beauvoir (LaBastide-Beauvoir) and St. Martin des Champs (St. Martin-Boulogne), with his outposts occupying the heights at Baziège.

His plan was obviously to cut my communication with Castelnaudary, and shut me in Toulouse. Therefore at 9:00pm, I set the army on the march, the movement took place in the greatest order and by 8:00am in the morning it had entirely crossed the bridges over the l'Ers and the Languedoc canal near Baziège.

The ten squadrons of enemy cavalry hadn't yet appeared, but in the afternoon the heads of several columns of infantry and a large number of cavalry with supporting guns, moved down from Bastide, Mont-Laur and also by the highway, and along the right bank of the canal.

A small engagement took place, which cost us 25 chasseurs of the 10e Regiment.

The enemy has established it's advanced guard in front of our positions at Ville-Nouvelle. He holds Montesquieu, and we have seen large movements of cavalry. My advance guard is at Mount-Gaillard and Saint-Rome, and the rest of the army is between Villefranche and Avignonet. Tomorrow, I'll occupy positions in front of Castelnaudary, and it is likely the rearguard will be involved in several actions.

I had to leave 900 sick or injured troops in Toulouse that couldnt be moved. The amputees and those whose recovery is uncertain are in the hospital, others were divided among the inhabitants, and I have no doubt they will take the utmost care of them. I can not praise too highly the conduct of the inhabitants of Toulouse and the city guard and the dedication that I witnessed, and the attentions that they gave to our wounded, give the highest honor to this important city.

I had to leave behind in Toulouse three pieces of 24, one piece 16, two mortars and two 8-inch howitzers, belonging to the school that we did not have time to evacuate, those guns are now unusable. Besides the weapons, ammunition, and all that was capable of transport has been released.

A group of 300 to 400 enemy cavalry appeared yesterday between Caraman and Auriac, they pushed up as far as Cabanial on the road to Revel, a detachment of 25 Gendarmes, commanded by an officer who were in search of deserters and also looking for supplies, has unfortunately been caught and have lost part of the unit. I do not know yet exactly how many Gendarmes have returned, but to date we only know of four or five. This detachment of cavalry has not yet appeared in Revel by 8:00am today, but it was expected there, as they had requested that supplies be prepared for them. I can only regret being unable to prevent these incursions.

The reports I have received from Montauban are from 10:00pm, General Loverdo tells me that the bridgehead is in a state of defense, and that he has blocked the entrances to the city. The enemy detachments of cavalry have not yet appeared on the left bank of the Tarn.

An enemy column was reported to be marching through Arriege, I do not think it is strong, but the means of resistance are low in this area, General Laffitte will rejoin tomorrow in Mirepoix.

I have not heard any news of Suchet, or a response to the proposals that I have made to him.

The British troops entered Toulouse at around 8:00am on the 12th. Despite the strong words of defiance from the city during the battle the British were greeted now with shouts of joy and cheers, enthusiasm for Napoleon was clearly waning, and everywhere the insignia of the old bourbon monarchy appeared.

Two roads lead southeast out of Toulouse across the plains of Bas-Languedoc. One, by Saint-Agne, Castanet and Mount-Giscard, follows the left side of the valley Lauraguais, the other by Montaudran and Labège along the right side of the same valley. Both meet at Baziège. Taking the first of these directions, Soult had taken care to cut all the connecting roads and communications, blowing up all bridges crossing the canal at Madron, Castanet, Pompertuzat, Se Donneville and Mont-Giscard around 4:00am as they departed.

At dawn the cavalry of Stappleton-Cotton had been observed at Labege on the opposite bank of the canal and 10:00pm almost all the cavalry under the orders of Major Edward Somerset were seen moving down the valley towards Baziege. At about the same time on the main highway infantry appeared, primarily that of Rowland Hill.

Sir Rowland Hill, after having crossed the Pont de Neuf that connects the suburb of Sainte Cyprine with the town, hastily chased after the French at the head of almost 20,000 men down the rues des Couteliers, de la Dalbade and de la Fonderie leaving via the gate of Saint Michel and marching in the direction of Villefranche slowing only when they reached the rearguard of the French army which had retired in the best order.

Between Rangueil and Ramonville the main highway southeast to Carcassonee is squeezed between the heights and the waterways. In this space between the road and the canal Soult had placed his light cavalry under his brother Pierre Soult to block the advance. General Reille moved to a position on the heights above overlooking the road with two divisions, alarming Hill who was unable to deploy on such a narrow front nor could move by any other route, and threatening to attack his flank from behind the ridge line that extends to his right as he advanced.

Hill suddenly seeing the French rearguard halted with artillery deployed in their front, slowed. Although he wasn't facing more than 6,000 French troops he didn't know if the Marshal was there, ready to punish those who would boldly pursue him. Hill immediately called for reinforcements from his commander-in-chief, who dispatched two divisions to support him.

Only when the reinforcements finally reached him, did Sir Rowland Hill manage to turn the position. For it's demonstration, through his skillful maneuvers, Reille had contained the British for a few hours, and that was all that the Marshal had hoped for. The six thousand men Reille commanded then resumed their march, they reached Baziège around 4:00pm, and found it occupied by the two divisions of the center commanded by Darricau and Darmagnac. The left wing had already marched to the small town of Avignonet, where Soult had established his headquarters.

Action at Baziège
Wellington gave the order for Beresford to move on Bastide and forward to Baziège and for General Stappleton Cotton to cut the road to Villefranche there. The cavalry brigade of Colonel Arentschild advanced on Baziège whilst the 5th Dragoon Guards, commanded by Brigadier Ponsonby, moved on to the heights above Baziège in support, they were joined by Sir Stappleton Cotton with one troop of the 1st KGL Hussars.

About 4km north east of Baziege, the plain between the Chateau de Lamothe and the Chapelle de Sainte Colombe slopes gently to a stream of Visenc it is ideal ground for cavalry. The rest of the 1st KGL Hussars led by Captain Poten were on the LaBastide road that descends into the plain of Sainte Colombe. The French 10e Chasseurs a Cheval of Colonel Houssin de Saint-Laurent who had been supporting Darmagnac's 2e division part of the rearguard under Comte Erlon were marching in column of division as they withdrew in the afternoon.

Captain Poten, having first ascertained that he had only cavalry to deal with, ventured to charge the column with his single half squadron. The two leading divisions were overthrown, and crowding back upon the rear in confusion, the whole hurried on in retreat; Poten followed to the village of Ville Nouvelle, about two miles distant, where some infantry appearing in support of the enemy, he withdrew; but twenty-seven captured men and twenty-five horses, bore testimony to his daring attack. In this short but fierce action Britsh losses at Baziege were around a couple of dozen men.

In the late afternoon the British cavalry pushed on from Bastide to Toutens and Caraman.

In the gentle countryside of Sainte Colombe there is a small cemetery, a somewhat overgrown rectangle divided by an avenue of cypress trees, this is the last resting place of the dozens of British soldiers who fell on April 12th, 1814.

The Armistice
That evening, Wellington received news from Frederick Ponsonby of Napoleon's abdication. A few hours later, this was confirmed when the official couriers arrived from Paris. The next day Soult was notified and a formal armistice was signed on the 17th. The war was over at last.

Considérations militaires sur les Mémoires du maréchal Suchet et sur la bataille de Toulouse
Histoire générale de Languedoc, composée par deux religieux bénédictins de la congrégation de S. Maur
Journal des sciences militaires
Mémoire sur la campagne de l'armée française dite des Pyrénées, en 1813 et 1814
Revue des Pyrénées, Volume 16
The London Gazette
History of the King's German legion By North Ludlow Beamish

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Counter Battery Tactics at Waterloo

Another in a series of articles taking a look at the reality of the Napoleonic battlefield particularly so that we can consider whether our wargame rules are really reflecting this reality. This time we look at they way artillery were countered on the battlefield both direct artillery counter battery fire and infantry skirmisher fire.

Here is an interesting extract from the report made by Captain d'Huvele on the Hanoverian Battery of Major Braun at Waterloo, this is taken from "Waterloo Hanoverian Correspondence Volume 1" by John Franklin well worth reading:

Towards 2 o'clock we were ordered to deploy... 

Hardly had we arrived on the height when the howitzer's ammunition cases were set alight by one of them enemy shells, and exploded into the air. The howitzer was destroyed, while 1 serjeant, 1 gunner, and 4 horses were killed and 1 serjeant, 2 gunners, 1 driver and 2 horses were wounded

Towards 3:30pm an English 9-pound battery reinforced the left wing of our Hanoverian Battery. But two cannon from this battery were destroyed within a very short period of time and several ammunition wagons, which stood immediately to the rear, exploded; two other ammunition wagons were damaged in such a way that they could no longer be used. The English Battery moved from this position shortly thereafter and a considerable amount of ammunition was left behind.

So within the space of an hour and a half 3 guns are knocked out, no doubt this is a hot part of the battlefield but thats pretty effective French counter battery fire.

He continues:
We were the subject of incessant fire from the enemy's Tirailleurs, who pushed forward to within a short distance from the battery and maintained themselves without being repelled by our infantry, and we were also cannonaded heavily by the enemy's artillery which was positioned on the heights opposite. The fire from the enemy Tirraileurs was most harmful to the battery, because it was not protected. The loss the battery sustained in wounded increased, and it should be noted that this was mainly due to the fire from the enemy Tirailleurs. The rocket battery remained for about an hour on its position and it also suffered considerable losses during this time.

Towards 6 o'clock in the evening the battery had been reduced to such an extent, due to the number killed, wounded and those who had carried their wounded comrades to the rear etc., that only 3 cannons were manned and could be operated. However this small group of brave men diminished every moment, so that towards 6:30pm I had to ask some of the Scotsmen to help serve the cannon.

Note the effectiveness here of skirmish fire, they have effectively lost another 4 guns in the space of 2 to 3 hours due to it. Maybe this was during the phase of cavalry attacks and their own skirmish line was withdrawn leaving the artillery more exposed than it would otherwise have been.

At this time three cannon belonging to the enemy horse artillery moved up which fired at the battery with canister. But after a few shots from our Hanoverian Battery one of these cannon was destroyed and the others withdrew. After several of the Scots had been injured or killed, only one cannon remained active (it was manned by 2 serjeants, 2 corporals, and 5 gunners). They fired the last of the ammunition, despite the fact that a serjeant had been sent to obtain more at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, but he had not returned.

Again counter battery fire was pretty effective here in quickly knocking out one of the French guns but equally skirmish fire then wore down the battery and they have been effectively put out of action. How often in your won games do you see a battery put out of action from skirmish fire alone.

It was towards 7:30pm when the last cannon finally exhausted the last of the ammunition and was ordered by Major-General Sir James Kempt to withdraw. The brave Scots helped limber the guns, as the artillerymen had insufficient strength left to do this. The cannon on the right wing had to be left, because there were not enough horses and because one of the wheels was broken.

So the battery is withdrawn but half of it remains stuck on the field because of no limbers, if the withdrawal had been part of a general retreat then these piece would have been effectively lost.

Now lets look at another account, Marbot in his memoirs talks of a counter battery tactic that he first came up with at Leipzig in 1813, but used "with great effect two years later at Waterloo" here he recounts its use in 1813:

Then I tried a new plan, namely, to send troopers, well apart, to fire at the enemy's gunners with their carbines. This made the enemy also send out skirmishers, and when skirmishing was thus going on between the lines the enemy's guns could not fire on us for fear of hitting their own people. Ours were of course similarly hampered; but to get the artillery silenced on even a small part of the line was all in our favour, as the enemy was far superior in that arm. Moreover, our infantry was just then at close quarters with that of the enemy in the villages, and the cavalry on both sides had nothing to do but await the issue; so it was of no use for either side to be smashing up the other with cannon-balls. A skirmishing engagement, in which for the most part more powder is burnt than damage done, was a much better way of spending the time. Accordingly, all the colonels followed my example, and much bloodshed was saved. All the cavalry colonels of the 2nd corps approved so highly this plan of economising human life that we all agreed to employ it on the 17th.

Although Marbot is not always the most reliable of witness's this was a tactic used at Leipzig, none the less its an interesting use of skirmishers, it again underlines there importance on the Napoleonic battlefield and it does show how artillery, powerful though it was, could be countered.

So enemy skirmirmish fire seems to be very effective indeed but it can be neutralised by your own skirmish line. You need to get your skirmish line out and push them up and then they can do significant damage unless of course your opponent neutralises your line with his own, maybe you can drive him off with your cavalry but do you want to fritter away your cavalry against skirmishers. You start to get the feeling that there is a whole series of interconnected options here and a price to pay for each giving a much more varied structure to the deployment.

Also artillery counter battery fire seems very effective when used, though artillery is more often given other targets in support of infantry or cavalry attacks.

The Duke Of Wellington allocated these positions to the batteries personally, along with the strict orders not to engage the enemy artillery  except in the case of emergency, but only to let the troops  moving against  our position feel  our potency, and to be economical with our ammunition.
Captain Cleeves 4th KGL Foot Artillery Battery.

The Duke Of Wellington, who visited us on a number of occasions, personally ordered me not to exchange fire with the enemy artillery.
At this time a strong enemy artillery battery of the highest calibre fired at us from a position 1,200 paces away, but because of the order I received from the Duke of Wellington, I did not return fire.
Major Kuhlmann  2nd KGL Horse Artillery Battery

Many rules make counter battery fire at the level of  "don't waste your time" it seems more the case they generally had more important things to do with the ammunition available.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

General Bertrand - The Austrian Campaign 1805

General Bertand is probably best remembered as that most loyal and devoted officer that accompanied Napoleon during his exiles on Elba and St. Helena, however Bertrand was a talented engineer and it was probably with his engineering skills that his most important and vital contributions to the sucesses of Napoleon were made when serving as an ADC during the heyday of the Empire.
Commissioned into the French army as an engineer officer in 1793, Bertrand served in the Egyptian Campaign and was frequently in contact with Napoleon on engineering matters. At the Battle of Abukir in 1799, Bertrand was struck on the head and was treated by Dr. Larrey who reported to General Bonaparte about Bertrand's courage and distinction in the fighting earning him his second battlefield promotion of the campaign.

Between 1802-04 carried out a review of entire the French coastal fortifications before being tasked with constructing ports and defences for the army at the camp de Boulogne in preparation for the invasion of England, a project of immense proportions. He was so successful Napoleon remarked that Bertrand had "conquered the ocean" and the British were to label the area as the "Iron Coast". Bertrand was rewarded with the Legion of Honor and appointed as an ADC to Napoleon in March 1805.

In 1805 Napoleon sent him undercover into Bavaria and Austria to gain intelligence on roads and bridges. Later when the Grande Armee returned to Austria during the Danube campaign of 1809, Bertrand was the chief engineer and oversaw the building and repair of the bridges the French army put across the Danube for both Aspern-Essling and Wagram.

In 1811, the Emperor appointed him to serve as the Governor General of the Illyrian Provinces where he remained until being recalled to the army in 1813. He served in the ensuing 1813 Campaign as the commander of the 4th Corps, leading his corps in the battles of Lützen, Bautzen, Gross Beeren, Dennewitz, Wartemburg, Leipzig, and Hanau. At the end of that campaign, Napoleon elevated Bertrand to the position of Grand Marshal of the Palace. Bertrand retained that position during the 1814 and 1815 Campaigns and throughout the Emperor’s exiles to Elba and St. Helena. He remained with Napoleon on St. Helena until the Emperor’s death in 1821.

Prelude to War
Unable to ignore the increasing threat to France’s eastern frontier presented by Austria’s continuing mobilizations and preparations, the Emperor in September 1805 set his army in motion toward the heart of Europe.

In advance of his army, Napoleon dispatched three of his most trusted and capable officers – Bertrand, Joachim Murat, and Jean Savary – to Bavaria to collect intelligence and prepare for the arrival of the French army.

Napoleon’s selection of Bertrand, in March 1805, to serve as his aide, reflected the growing diversity of his aides-de-camp. Bertrand was the first engineer that Napoleon chose to serve as an aide. Napoleon was already well-acquainted with the young engineer’s qualifications and could easily envision a variety of ways in which he could employ Bertrand’s knowledge of fortifications, his eye for terrain, and his perseverance and steadfastness when confronted with obstacles. Undoubtedly he already had a clear vision of how he might make use of Bertrand’s skills as an aide.

Reconnaissance Mission in Bavaria
Bertrand received two pages of detailed instructions from the Emperor before he left. He was ordered to proceed to Munich, initially to deliver an important letter to the Elector of Bavaria. From there he was to conduct a reconnaissance of a number of routes and cities in the area. Napoleon instructed Bertrand to report on virtually every aspect of the routes leading through Bavaria. In addition to detailed information on the cities, roads, and rivers of the region, Bertrand was ordered to "make known all the rumors concerning war and peace and the movements of the Austrians." The Emperor’s instructions also contained guidance on how Bertrand was to conduct himself during the reconnaissance. Napoleon instructed his young aide to "show no inquietude, even to our own agents; to make no mention of our preparations for war with Austria . . . [and to] speak of the expedition against England as imminent – the troops already embarked."

Receiving his orders on the 25th of August, Bertrand wasted little time in beginning this important mission. By the 2nd September, Bertrand now in Munich had penned his first letter to Napoleon reporting on the progress of his trip and describing the generally warm reception that the Elector had afforded him upon his arrival. Bertrand’s report also contained intelligence he had received on Austrian army movements from the Elector and the disturbing effect that his presence had made on the Austrian envoy. While the latter seemed to sense the true purpose of Bertrand’s mission in Munich, Bertrand reported that others believed he was there to ask the Elector for the hand of Princess Auguste for Napoleon’s stepson, Prince Eugene de Beauharnais. In closing, Bertrand noted that he would be leaving that evening for Passau to begin the reconnaissance mission of that area that Napoleon had entrusted to him. Bertrand assured the Emperor that he could "count on my limitless zeal and devotion" in carrying out this assigned task.

Reconnaissance Sketch of Passau, 1805
Bertrand was delayed in reaching Passau by his discovery that the Austrians had crossed the frontier, Bertrand finally arrived in Passau on 5th September. He rendered his report on that city’s defenses to Napoleon the following day. Bertrand had seen enough to conclude that the city would be "extremely difficult to fortify". The primary shortcoming, as he later explained in an attachment to the letter, were the dominating heights that surrounded the city. Bertrand indicated that the placement of a few well-positioned Austrian artillery batteries on these heights would make the city’s defenses indefensible. Thus, despite the city’s important position at the confluence of three major rivers, Bertrand argued against wasting forces trying to defend it. Bertrand’s report also noted that the city’s inhabitants were primarily pro-Austrian in their sentiments which he attributed to the regions ecclesiastical ties to Austria. The fact that the city was garrisoned by a Bavarian regiment, France’s nominal ally, did not seem to make Bertrand’s reconnaissance task in Passau any easier. The presence of a French officer in the city had apparently caused a great deal of anxiety among the residents and Bertrand had been allowed to enter the city’s citadel only after insisting that he be allowed to do so. The city’s proximity to Austria and the presence of Austrian troops who had already begun to gather on the banks of the Inn River no doubt made the city very leery of aiding a French emissary. Bertrand had been warned that Passau was teeming with Austrian spies. He later witnessed the arrival of an Austrian officer whom he learned was conducting his own reconnaissance of the area.

Leaving Passau, Bertrand hurried westward to Ulm. Having received word that Ulm was to be evacuated, Bertrand was eager to reconnoiter the city before it fell into enemy hands. The report that he submitted on 11 September was characteristically elaborate. The accompanying sketch and notes of the city’s citadel went into great detail on the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s fortifications. Unlike Passau, Bertrand considered Ulm to be a "great place". During the last war, Bertrand noted that the Austrians had "constructed a great fort, which occupies a good position". Bertrand was also impressed with the commander of the Ulm garrison, describing him as "a young man who has fought with distinction in previous campaigns and who is generally esteemed and a man of much energy". While he admitted some weaknesses in the placement and construction of some of the city’s outer-works, Bertrand believed that it would take "much money, many works . . . and a considerable garrison" to reduce the city’s defenses.

While Bertrand had been busy conducting his invaluable reconnaissance of the very region that would become the center of the coming campaign, Napoleon was massing his army on the French frontier and making his final preparations to cross the Rhine River. The information that Bertrand had collected would be of incalculable value during the coming campaign. On 15th September, the Emperor sent additional instructions to his young aide, ordering him to establish communications with Marshal Bernadotte and General Marmont and to keep them informed of all enemy movements on both banks of the Danube. Napoleon also instructed Bertrand to send information regarding the bread-making capabilities of the area and to make the acquaintance of "one or two Bavarian engineers who know the land well" and to send them to Strasbourg by the 25th or 26th of September.

Reconnaissance Sketch of Rednitz River, 1805

On the same day that the Emperor sent these instructions, Bertrand submitted another report that he postmarked from Wurzburg. In this dispatch, Bertrand provided sketches and information on the Lech and Rednitz rivers. Bertrand’s maps included notes on distances between villages located along the rivers and also precisely pinpointed the location of bridges, fords, and other potential crossing points. Bertrand also reported that the Bavarian general in command of the Ulm garrison, Karl Wrede, had begun the evacuation of that city thirty-six hours after Bertrand’s own departure. Bertrand concluded his report by stating that he would be returning to Ratisbonne and following the Danube from there to Ulm so that he could gather information on the routes along the left bank of the Danube that he had thus far been unable to collect. Bertrand continued his whirlwind intelligence gathering mission. On 20th September he reported from Geislingen that he was expecting to complete his reconnaissance of the route from Ulm to Rastadt by the evening of 22nd September. Bertrand’s dispatch from Geislingen contained a wealth of information on enemy troop movements as well. Reporting that the Bavarians had evacuated Ulm on 16th or 17th September, Bertrand noted that the city had subsequently been occupied by Austrian troops from the division of General Johann Klénau. Bertrand also provided Napoleon with information regarding the overall troop strength of Austrian forces in Bavaria. Bertrand gave this number as five divisions consisting of fourteen infantry and six cavalry regiments. Finally, Bertrand informed Napoleon that he had viewed letters in Ratisbonne on 17th September indicating that as many as 100,000 Russians were fast approaching from the east and had already reached Bohemia.

The war begins - Ulm
After completing his assigned reconnaissance mission, Bertrand rejoined Napoleon at Strasbourg at the end of September. During the ensuing campaign, his knowledge of the Bavarian terrain proved useful to the grande armée as it followed many of the very routes that he had so recently surveyed. The information he had gathered regarding the location of the Russian army also proved useful to Napoleon because it allowed him to maneuver freely, without concern for his rear or his lines of communication as he encircled the Austrian army from the east.

The Emperor rewarded his aide singling him out by name, the 12th Army Bulletin published on 27th October 1805 noted that "His Majesty is extremely satisfied with the zeal and activity of the General de Brigade Bertrand, his aide-de-camp, whom he frequently employed on reconnaissance missions". Bertrand continued his efforts on behalf ofFrance and Napoleon during the second half of the 1805 Campaign.

The greatest victory - Vienna and Austerlitz
With a large portion of the Austrian defeated at Ulm, the Emperor turned his attention and his army eastward. The Austrians who had not capitulated at Ulm retreated toward their Russian allies who had stopped their westward advance after learning of Napoleon’s victory over Mack. As the French began the relentless pursuit of their adversaries, Bertrand was frequently dispatched forward of the main army to conduct reconnaissance missions.

On 13th November, the Emperor afforded his eager young aide another opportunity to distinguish himself. On that day, Bertrand was ordered to proceed to Vienna to help secure the bridges over the Danube River.

The Austrian and Russian armies had abandoned the Austrian capital, retreating to the north bank of the Danube to escape the advancing French army. In order to continue the pursuit in a timely fashion, it was absolutely essential that the French gain control of the bridges of Vienna before they were destroyed. Failing to do so would prevent the French from completing the campaign before the onset of winter, thus leaving them stranded far from France and with hundreds of miles of precarious lines of communication stretching out behind them. A delay at the Danube would also give both Russia and Austria much needed time to rally their demoralized armies and to unite approaching elements of their armies.

Bertrand’s mission was thus vitally important for the overall success of the French campaign. The importance of the mission was apparent in the manner of reckless abandonment with which he undertook to accomplish it. On 13th November, Bertrand led an advance guard company of hussars and sappers forward from Schonbrünn. He was followed in turn by the two corps commanded by Marshals Lannes and Murat. Bertrand later provided the following account of his actions during this mission:

Following the right bank of the river, [I] arrived at the head of a bridge, the entry to which was blocked by a strongly established barrier. Viennese militiamen had been positioned on the right bank to guard the barrier. [I] gave the order to the captain of the sappers to take down the barrier and to inform the Austrian officer [in charge of the guard] that the Prince of Lichtenstein was at Schonbrunn negotiating an armistice. The barrier was very solid and difficult to tear down. [I knew that] there was not a moment to lose; with soldiers, anything can happen. It would only take an instant – once the alarm was given – for the bridge to be consumed in flames. We counted the minutes and tried to prolong the discussions as long as we could. Finally the barrier was broken and the passage opened. Immediately the Austrian guard fired a pistol to sound the alarm after which he galloped quickly across the bridge. Accompanied by chefs de bataillon Dode and Garbé, I followed the hussars closely [to the far side of the bridge].

[Making our way to the end of this bridge] we soon ran into another, more hazardous obstacle. Here we came upon another branch of the Danube across which stretched another bridge. Cannons and troops positioned on the far side guarded this bridge. Continuing forward at a gallop, we moved toward the artillery pieces. In the middle of the bridge, however, we soon discovered that the bridge planks had been removed. A bed of fascines and other flammable material had been laid down across the entire width of the bridge in place of the planks. A cannoneer stood at the far end of the fascines, his match lit, ready to set the bridge on fire. If we continued to gallop forward, we knew that our horses would undoubtedly fall through the fascines and that we would subsequently be thrown into the Danube where we would probably all perish. If we hesitated, if we lost a moment, however, the fascines would be set on fire, the bridge would be destroyed, and the passage of the French army would become impossible.

Without slowing the pace of our horses, we spurred them onto the fascines. Amazingly, the fascines held and we continued to move forward toward the far bank. (We later examined the bridge and found that a row of beams had been left under the fascines which explained why we had not fallen through them). After getting over the fascines, Dode seized the cannoneer charged with setting the bridge on fire and dragged him away from the fascines. Finally reaching the far side of the bridge, I and the two officers who had accompanied me were quickly surrounded and taken to the Austrian headquarters. It was announced to us there that an armistice was in the process of being concluded. At this point, Lannes and Murat, having arrived with their soldiers behind us, entered into discussions with the Austrian officers. During these discussions, Lannes and Murat’s soldiers advanced and gained complete control of the bridge. The French army was now able to continue its pursuit of the Russian army.

Bertrand’s efforts in this vital mission allowed the French army to continue its pursuit of the Austrian and Russian armies. His bold actions at the Tabor Bridge along with Lannes and Murat essentially cleared the way for Napoleon’s astounding victory at Austerlitz. Bertrand’s contributions to France’s success on this campaign did not end at Vienna. With the passage over the Danube now secure, the French army poured across. They quickly caught up with the combined Russian and Austrian armies northeast of Vienna near the town of Brünn. Having overextended himself and facing the onset of winter, Napoleon was desperate for a battle to conclude the campaign. Settling on a plan of action, the Emperor sent Bertrand and Colonel Louis Bacler d’Albe, (Napoleon’s personal geographer and mapmaker) forward to survey the area between the French and Austrian-Russian positions.

After accompanying Napoleon on this celebrated review of the grande armee at Austerlitz, Bertrand returned with the Emperor to his quarters. He spent the night on some straw at the entrance to Napoleon’s sleeping chambers. He arose with the Emperor at 4:00 a.m. on 2nd December 1805, mounted his horse, and rode with his commander to a vantage point where he could watch the fast-approaching battle unfold. Bertrand remained with Napoleon throughout the day, leaving the Emperor’s side only at the close of battle when Napoleon instructed him to lead a squadron of the Imperial Guard forward in pursuit of the retreating Russian and Austrian armies. Although an engineer by trade, Bertrand distinguished himself on this undertaking in the same valorous manner that he had on all other missions that he had performed throughout the campaign. His actions won him another citation in the Army Bulletin which praised him for "taking a great number of prisoners, nineteen pieces of cannon, and many wagons full of supply" during his pursuit.

Peace but for how long?
Napoleon met with the defeated Austrian Emperor at a small mill near the village of Spaleny on the 4th Decemeber and finally at Pressberg on 26th December 1805 a formal treaty was signed. While waiting for the peace negotiations to be concluded, Bertrand kept himself occupied by conducting a reconnaissance of the fortifications of Vienna and the nearby bridges over the Danube. The resulting report that he submitted on 16th December 1805 contained much valuable information. After carefully considering the city’s twelve major bastions, its seven gates, and the communications between these points, he concluded that the best "point of attack [of Vienna] appears to me to be to the front, by the upper Danube." Bertrand’s report also contained a discussion of the terrain, distances, and lines of communications to Vienna’s suburbs as well as a synopsis of what he considered to be the strengths and weaknesses of the bridge across the Danube located at Nussdorf.

All of this information would prove to be extremely valuable during the 1809 Campaign.

This was extracted from "Witness To Glory" by Steven Laurence Delvaux.
Witness To Glory - General Bertrand 1791-1815 by Steven Laurence Delvaux

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More News on Uwe Ehmke's Württemberger Chevauxlegers

Some pics of the latest 28mm Württemberger Chevauxlegers figures from Uwe Ehmke.

These are the last 3 of the Chevauxleger figures - Officer2, Trumpeter2, NCO2.

So the full set comprises 12 Chevauxleger figures split into two variants with 8 different horses based on the EBOB licensed horses.

As Uwe says:
"Now all I have to do is create the packaging and then produce some figures for stock - that will probably take me about another two weeks...."

As ever these are really nice poses, I particularly like the Officer, the "second" variant are the less active, non-charging pose, the "first" variant is the full blooded charge.

So we are almost there, and in a few weeks these should be available, I can't wait, especially as I have been recently reading Württemberger Heinrich Vossler's "With Napoleon in Russia 1812" (a must read along with Faber Du Faur's illustrated memoirs of the 1812 campaign).

See Previous

Colonel Saint-Chamans - Liepzig 1813

Comte De Saint-Chamans was the Colonel of the 7e Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval when he was wounded on the 17th of October 1813 in the vicinity of Wachau during the Battle of Leipzig. The 7e Regiment was ultimately to be destroyed in this battle losing some 17 officers and barely 100 men remained of the 3 squadrons by the the time the French retreated on the 19th.

The morning of the 17th began well enough, at 8:00am his good friend Generale Boyer, who's brigade was posted in a nearby village, came to tell him he had some paté and a few bottles of white wine which he proposed to share with him.

Saint-Chamans, who had been sulking for several days over a decoration that he thought he richly deserved but didn't receive, was over the moon as it had been months since he had had such fine food, unfortunately hardly had they sat down to eat than a cannonade commenced and "as all to often happens in the French Army" they had to rush off "to fight on an empty stomach".

The Regiment found itself in front of some Austrian cavalry but were not strong enough in this sector of the field to launch an attack and so engaged only in some light skirmishing. Marbot's mentions this as a deliberate plan of all the regiments of 2e Cavalry Corps and in typical Marbot style claims responsibility for it.

Then I tried a new plan, namely, to send troopers, well apart, to fire at the enemy's gunners with their carbines. This made the enemy also send out skirmishers, and when skirmishing was thus going on between the lines the enemy's guns could not fire on us for fear of hitting their own people. Ours were of course similarly hampered; but to get the artillery silenced on even a small part of the line was all in our favour, as the enemy was far superior in that arm. Moreover, our infantry was just then at close quarters with that of the enemy in the villages, and the cavalry on both sides had nothing to do but await the issue; so it was of no use for either side to be smashing up the other with cannon-balls. A skirmishing engagement, in which for the most part more powder is burnt than damage done, was a much better way of spending the time. Accordingly, all the colonels followed my example, and much bloodshed was saved. All the cavalry colonels of the 2nd corps approved so highly this plan of economising human life that we all agreed to employ it on the 17th.

The divisional commander Exelmans however did not approve of this idea but as Marbout continues;

... as he was always rushing from one wing to another, as soon as he was a little way from a regiment the colonel would send out his skirmishers and the artillery would cease to speak.

However in front of Saint-Chamans the Austrian's ordered up a battalion of infantry and a horse battery to try to dislodge the chasseurs.

Around 10:00am as they came under direct fire from the battery they began to take heavy casualties, men were being wounded and others were leaving to help them to the rear and as they could do little to respond the Chassuers started to become a little unsettled, Saint-Chamans was just about to say some encouraging words when he himself was thrown from his horse, landing unconscious on the ground.

He appears to have been in some respects extremely lucky, in that the roundshot that knocked him from his horse seems not to have directly struck but instead had hit his giberne, however the blow was strong enough to throw him from his horse, leaving him with concussion, broken ribs and coughing up blood, he remarks he was to have chest pains for many years as a result of this incident.

Saint-Chamans was carried back to the village where he had breakfasted with Boyer, he was attended by his surgeon and another Doctor from the 23e Chasseurs (Marbot's Regiment), they decided he needed bleeding which they proceeded to do immediately.

The village came under attack and looked like it would fall, it was proposed to move Saint-Chamans back to Liepzig, two leagues away, on a stretcher. They made there way slowly along the road but a mile from Liepzig at a larger village they had to stop as they were told the road had been cut by Cossacks, so they found a nearby house to rest in. About 8:00pm they heard the roads had been cleared and they continued in to Leipzig.

On the 19th came the news that the French were to retreat, the house where Saint-Shamans lay was then occupied by some of Marshal Augereau's Grenadiers who prepared to defend it forcing the group to move on. Saint-Chamans was eventually carried to the Hotel de Bavière, occupying the same room that Marshal Ney had previously been using, Saint-Chamans was accompanied by a Doctor, his Surgeon and his brother who also served in the 7e Regiment. Saint-Chamans was too ill to be moved further and the hotel passed into allied hands as the French retreated.

The hotel was first occupied by some passing Prussians who relieved the Saint-Chamans' party of all their money and watches, then later in the day it was occupied by several Russian staff officers who refused to believe the group had been robbed as strict orders had been given that anyone found looting would be shot. They were told to stay in their room and be quiet which they nervously did. Around 10:00pm there was a pounding on the door and they opened it to find a very drunk Cossack Officer and the following conversation then took place:

Cossack - Give me money, I want money.
Doctor - We have nothing, the Prussians took everything from us this morning.
Cossack - The Prussians! Oh, the thieves! Give me your watches, I want your watches.
Doctor - The Prussians have taken them also this morning, they have left us with nothing.
Cossack - The Prussians! ... Those robbers ... You have nothing for us?
Doctor - Alas! No, and here in this bed sir is my Colonel badly wounded, and who has been deprived of everything.
Cossack - Those beggars, what thieves, the Prussians! ... But yet you still have something for me?
Doctor - Look, look for yourself around the room, we have only our clothes.
Cossack - Thieving Prussians! ... but what is this ? (Looking at the strap of Saint-Shamans sword)
Doctor - This is the Colonel's sword.
Cossack - The Colonel is a prisoner ... he no longer needs a sword ... (Looking again at the strap) It's a very nice sword ... I need one... I think I will take this sword for myself ... You don't have anything else?
Doctor - Nothing.
Cossack (opening the door to leave) - Oh, those stealing Prussians! Thieves, I will find them, they must pay me my share!

The night passed without further disturbance, but to prevent a repeat occurrence of the days events they decided they needed to seek protection, they knew enough of the Prussians to want to avoid becoming their prisoner and the idea of being taken by the Russians horrified them, so for several days Saint-Chamans tried to have himself made a prisoner of the Austrians, first through the Austrian staff officers now billeted in the hotel and then later through someone on Bernadotte's staff who knew Metternich but all to no avail.

Ultimately he became a prisoner of the Swede's under Bernadotte and it was some 21 days later that he, along with 40 other officers, left Leipzig heading north to Straslund and then on to Rostock. Eventually he was to be paroled and returned to France, after many trials and tribulations, in 1814. It has to be said that despite the parole this only happened through the repeated intervention of Bernadotte, though Saint-Chamans believed that some of Bernadotte's motivation lay with his aspirations for the French throne after the inevitable removal of Napoleon.

He arrived in Paris on the 23rd March a few days ahead of the Allies but bound by the terms of his parole he felt he could not take part in the final actions of the Empire though one has to imagine that his health at that point would probably have prevented him from being of any useful service anyway. In 1815 he didn't support Napoleon and was made non-active during the hundred days.