Monday, 6 July 2015

Kopperberg Woods, Muhlenau 1809

Bouyant after their victory over the Hapsburgers at Zellerode, the French have pursued the Austrians and have brought them to battle on favourable terms near the small village of Muhlenau.

In this second installment of the Play By Email 1809 Blucher campaign, a new opponent Paul kindly agreed to take up the reins and lead an Austrian Army.

The PBEM Scharnhorst phase took place over a week resulting in the French isolating a single Austrian Corps and bringing them to battle in a most vulnerable position.

Opposing Forces

I Corps {led by Beauharnais - Vigorous}
1x Elite Ligne Brigade
3x Ligne Brigades

II Corps {Drouot - Artillery Commander}
1x Elite Ligne Brigade
3x Ligne Brigades
1x massed Heavy Artillery Unit

III Corps {Poniatowski - Hero}
2x Polish Ligne Brigades
2x Ligne Brigades

IV Corps
4x Allied Infantry Brigades (Italian)

V Corps
5x Conscript Ligne Brigades

VI Corps
4x Light Cavalry Brigades

I Corps
1x Avant Garde Brigade
1x Veteran Grenz Regiment
2x Veteran Infantry Regiments (1 with attached artillery)
1x Conscript Infantry Regiment
1x Landwehr Regiment
1x Hussar Regiment
1x Massed Medium Artillery Unit

II Corps
1x Avant Garde Brigade
1x Veteran Grenz Regiment
2x Veteran Infantry Regiments (1 with attached artillery)
1x Conscript Infantry Regiment
1x Landwehr Regiment
1x 'Other Cavalry' Regiment
1x Massed Medium Artillery Unit

III Corps
1x Avant Garde Brigade
1x Veteran Grenz Regiment
2x Veteran Infantry Regiments (1 with attached artillery)
1x 'Other Cavalry' Regiment
1x Massed Medium Artillery Unit

Reserve Corps
1x Grenadier Regiment
1x Cuirassier Regiment
1x Insurrection Cavalry Regiment
1x Massed Heavy Artillery Regiment

Initial deployments looking from West to East from Stadtsden along the
Muhlenau Road to the Neiderheim Road and Kopperberg Woods
The French had isolated the Austrian III Corps bringing them to battle at 3:1 odds pinned along the Neiderheim- Muhlenau Road. The road is dominated at its junction by the Kopperberg Woods and other than Muhlenau and another small village (Stadtsden) to the east, the battlefield chosen by the French was relatively open and sweeping terrain, ideal for sweeping reserve moves.

The Austrians deployed within Kopperberg Woods hoping to delay the French advance to allow their Reserve Corps to arrive from the West and with a bit of luck I Corps was hoped to arrive from the South to threaten Muhlenau and the left flank of the French forces.

Austrian II Corps was isolated in its garrison at Karlseck and even with a full days march was still unlikely to put in appearance during the battle.
Turn 1 and decent Momentum gained by the French allows the Light Cavalry Corps
to use the open flank to good effect bringing them into striking distance of the
Neiderheim Road. French I Corps and elements of V Corps close on Kopperberg Woods
whilst two Polish Brigades from III Corps make good progress towards and through Muhlenau.
The French were deployed in strength with I Corps pinning the Austrians in Kopperberg Wood. IV Corps and the Poles of V Corps were between Muhlenau in support of I Corps and the Light Cavalry Corps were north of the Stadtsden - Muhlenau Road poised to make a sweeping reserve move to threaten the rear of the Austrian forces and the Neiderheim-Muhlenau road.

II Corps supported by the remainder of III Corps were garrisoned in Neiderheim within easy march distance of the battlefield and threatening the right flank of the Austrian position.

III Corps Austrian Cavalry having hoped to stall the French Column moving North of the stream
decide to withdraw in good order to protect the Neiderheim Road and the rear of their forces in Kopperberg Woods.
The French opened the battle advancing swiftly towards Kopperberg Wood. Deployed in depth, the French had the potential to both support the assualt by I Corps on the woods whilst still securing the open ground at Muhlenau where Austrian reserves were expected.

The Cavalry Brigade continued to press towards the exposed flanks of the Austrians and the Polish Brigades of III Corps pressed on along the Muhlenau road completing the movements to pin the Austrians within a small deployment area.

French IV Corps uses a Reserve Move to move to the South of Muhlenau to greet
any early Austrian Reinforcement column arriving on the French flank. The Poles
in Muhlenau push through the village to give support to the attack on Kopperberg Wood.
The Austrian Reserve Corps arrived early in the battle boosting Austrian numbers and securing the open flank which was being threatened by the French Cavalry Corps.

The fighting develops as the first exchanges of skirmish fire are witnessed all along the fringes of Kopperberg Wood.
The Austrian Reserve Column arrives as reinforcements from East of Neiderheim.
They take up supporting positions behind III Corps.
The Austrian Cavalry shake out in chequer-board fashion along the Neiderheim road. Still outnumbered, the Cuirassier and Insurrection Regiments feel confident of holding their own against the French Lights.
The Austrian Reserve Columns arrival prompts a French response.
The French Cavalry Corps halts its advance to widen its frontage.

French i Corps and supporting elements of V Corps begin the assault on Kopperberg Wood.
Polish Troops press forward along the Muhlenau Road.
As the assault on Kopperberg Wood develops casualties mount on both sides but French numbers soon begin to count as the Austrian line begins to waver.

Austrian artillery proves a tough nut, decimating a French Conscript Brigade and rebuffing an infantry assault with relative ease.
After receiving some desultory skirmish fire from the Kopperberg Woods,
I Corps show the Hapsburgs how skirmishing should be conducted. 

The Austrian Insurrection Hussars impetuously charge the French Lights and the
Cuirassiers lend their weight hoping to blunt the French Cavalry Corps impetus.
III Corps cavalry pounce on an isolated Polish Infantry Brigade but are repulsed
even though they caused significant casualties.
Unable to control the impetuos nature of the Insurrection Hussars the Austrian commander is obliged to throw his Cuirassier Regiment into the fray. A Polish Ligne Brigade not in square also proves to be too tempting a target and Austrian Cavalry crashes into hand combat inflicting heavy casualties on the Poles. Having not broken the Brigade, the Austrian cavalry retires in good order back up the Muhlenau road to rally before a second bite at the cherry.

Having lost their combat and half of their men, the Insurrectio retire pursued by French Lights
who charge the exposed artillery. The Cuirassiers fare better pushing back the French Lights.
Unsurprisingly the Insurrection Hussars prove brittle even against Light Cavalry, however the Cuirassier more than muscles-out the French Light Cavalry. A swirling mass of cavalry engage in combat, the engagement swinging back and forth along the Neiderheim road.

Austrian artillery once again rebuffs a close assault as French lights crash into a Heavy Artillery unit.

The battle for the woods continues and casualties mount on both sides. Cavalry clashes
continue East of the woods between the Reserve Cavalry and the French Lights. Meanwhile the
French IV Corps moves to support the assault on Kopperberg as the remainder of
V Corps arrive with  the CinC to bolster the Garrison at Muhlenau.

The Austrian III Corps defence of Kopperberg Woods begin to falter as
French weight of numbers begin to take a toll.
The Austrians in Kopperberg Wood begin to buckle under intense pressure whilst French reserves are ploughed into the swirling melee.

The III Corps Avant Garde and Veteran Infantry rout from Koppoerberg woods under intense French pressure.
Having already lost the Insurrectio cavalry following their rash assault, things are not looking healthy for the Austrians.

French I Corps and supporting elements of III and V Corps pile on the pressure

Austrian Cavalry from III Corps see off a unit of French Lights but leave themselves
desperately exposed. It was that or suffer the ignomy of being charged in the rear by infantry!
The French Light Cavalry Corps, supported by the Polish Infantry of III Corps (pressing along the Muhlenau road) finally crack the Austrians defending the Neiderheim Road leaving the rear of the Austrian Forces in Kopperberg Wood dangerously exposed.

French Lights run down the exposed Austrian Cavalry and another Veteran
Austrian Infantry unit in Kopperberg Woods routs under building French Pressure.

End game. As Austrian reinforcements failed to arrive and as III Corps defence of
Kopperberg Woods crumbles, the French pursue.
As units break in the woods, the French press forward securing a victory. The Austrians fought hard and outnumbered 3:1 held on until midday in the hope of reinforcement from I Corps which dd not materialise.
The scattered remnants of a dogged Austrian defence make for the Neiderheim Road.
The French Cavalry Corps is all but spent - too weak to follow up as the Austrians leave the field.