Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1806 Campaign: battle of Bittefeld

After the storming of Leipzig, the Prussians continued their move north over the Saale breaking bridges behind them.  Not being able to catch the Prussians south of the Saale, the French seemed to spread out south of the river looking for ways to cross.

The Prussians, knowing they couldn't cover all the crossings and would soon be outflanked one way or another, headed north.  Their intention now is to get to the Elbe as far east as possible with their army still intact to meet up with their Russian allies and claim some kind of we-did-a-lot-better-than-they-did-in-1806 victory.

Having reached Bittefeld with no sign of the enemy other than in the west, and reports from a strong cavalry recon force that all was quiet at Leipzig, the Prussians decided to make for Torgau, the easternmost Elbe fortress, and the one closest to the Russians, to maximise their claims to some kind of victory.  However, Bonapart had indeed gone towards Leipzig as the Prussians had originally expected, but his army had been delayed by an admin error.  As a result, the French marched out of Leipzig to attack the Prussians as they marched from Bittefeld to Eilenburg.

Map showing approximate manoeuvres to the battlefield at Bittenfeld.

Bittefeld is in the far RH corner.  Eilenburg is in the near RH corner.  Leipzig is off table to the left.  The battle started with turn 5 of a 16 turn day.  This pic is after the first move.

The Prussian column is spread along the road on the far side and continues for some distance off table to the left of Bittefeld.  3 Prussian divisions are going cross county past the village & wood of Delitzch.  Two French cavalry divs have deployed on the Bittefeld road with Davout coming up behind.  Bernadotte is on the road to Eilenburg.  Soult has emerged from Leipzig between the two roads. 

Prussian cuirassiers have persuaded the head of Bernadotte's columns to form square.  Likewise French cavalry have slowed the advance of the Prussian 2nd div near Delitzch. Soult is advancing fast in the centre.  The head of the Prussian column has reached Eilenburg.

In the foreground Bernadatte pushed some infantry & guns too far forward & they have been ridden down by Prussian cuirassiers.  Bernadotte's corps has come to a halt.

The Prussians are being pushed back near Delitsch.  The French heavy cavalry took out 2 infantry brigades that took them on in line, but a cavalry counterattack has that French cavalry division verging on breaking. Davout's infantry has now taken over the attack there & is doing well.  The other French heavy cavalry division has attacked in support of Bernadotte with some success, but it too is on the verge of breaking.

At the end of turn 9 we decided we weren't going to get near finishing tonight and agreed to continue next Tuesday.   

The battle is still very much in the balance.  The Prussians actually have more troops on the battlefield at this point, but poor command makes it hard for them use their numbers and very likely more French are on the way.

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