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The Battle of Hohenwart

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The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  MJP on Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:41 pm

Yesterday we had another battle and a close run thing if ever there was.   I had the role of Russian C-in-C with three divisions under my command.  Our objective was to intercept a French attacking force to prevent them from reaching ULM at the point of the sleepy hamlet of Hohenwart.  The villagers were very concerned about the numbers of Russian troops occupying their town and began a steady stream to east the evening before the battle sure after 20 years of war what was to come on the morning.   Two of our divisions were deployed along the the Eichstadt Strasse while we had somehow lost contact with the third division of our corps, knowing only it was somewhere to our south.  

I divided our command up as follows.  Digby, our most experienced battlefield commander, was assigned the unenviable role of taking the northern  division on his own at the point of contention in and around Hohenwarts.   I took personal command of the division off his left flank with EJ taking an infantry brigade of my division.   NY Cav/Harmon had control of the "lost division" with Ben Milam taking a brigade under his command.   Our position along the eichstadt was a strong one i felt as it was a low ridge with a small knoll rising off my left flank so we could build a continuous and solid line from Hohenwart to the Eichstadt Knoll.

 

At the outset from my position i could see no French and I immediately fired off a series of couriers trying to ascertain the location of missing 3rd Division.   Knowing i would have to wait a bit for a response, i inspected our deployment and began siting my batteries, both around the Eichstadt Knoll.   I ordered EJ up to hold the knoll with his Brigade and support the guns.    I was worried about a direct assault on Hohenwarts so i kept a weary eye to the north while making up my dispositions.    It wasn't long before the first courier from Digby came in announcing that light contact had been made and french cavalry were advancing towards his position.   These couriers kept coming regularly, each time with a bit more information and the slightest bit more urgency until after a few they became outright cries for immediate assistance.  With still not a word from third division i determined that i would take my infantry brigade and a few regiments of my cavalry brigade north to see what was about up there and to at least provide some immediate support to Digby.  

The Eichstadt Strasse was a wonderful road for shifting troops north and south along our line so it was a simple matter to find Digby's left flank by simply marching northwest up the road.   I could see in the distance that his reserve cavalry was still in columns of waiting so I judged that the situation was still in hand.   As i was moving north hoowever, breaking from the trees in the west were columns of blue and white marching directly east right at me.   With a direct threat to my left flank, Digby would need to continue to hold as i was forced to deploy here until i could be sure if this new enemy was the same troops attacking Digby or had the French been wiley enough to dry to draw us north and then break through our center between Hohenwarts and the Eichstadt Knoll.    Another courier, this time with less polite words, sent off to Harmon/Third division asking him to report immediately and to come north by way of the Eichsstadt Strasse to take up position on the Knoll.  

I deployed my brigade along the road facing west and brought up a few cavalry regiments as the French attack columns lumbered up towards my line of battle.  There was a small farm here in which i deployed my lead regiment and built my line off the left and right.   French guns were already unlimbered further back shelling my line.    As the French drew closer i could see they meant business but at the same time i was surprised that it appeared they were coming forward in brigade strength only.   What were they up to?  I received yet another courier that our northern flank was under serious pressure and my guess was that this brigade was being sacrificed to cut the road and stop the flow of troops north.   Sacrificed they were as their lines were severely wrapped and without cavalry support, my cavalry forced them into square while my infantry decimated them.  



With this threat beaten back and with ever more serious requests for help, including confirmation that a second French division was involved, coming from Digby in the north and without any definitive news coming from our "lost division" i determined that my full division needed to press north to Digby's immediate aid.   I ordered EJ to come down off the Knoll and advance north on my left so that we could attack the flank of the French pressing into Digby.   So we began to move in force up the Eichstadt Strasse to shift to Hohenwart.  

We drove up the road and began to attack the right flank of the troops pressing Digby.  What I didn't know at this time however was that i was pressing into the right flank of the southern french division attacking Hohenwart and that the more serious pressure was coming from a French division further north which i hadn't even seen yet.   Further, and much to my absolute horror, i could see yet another French division pressing directly towards the ground i had just quit to come up this direction and the orders i had given EJ's brigade just a few minutes prior were going to terribly expose his flank.   So here we are at just shy of four o'clock, our north is under terrible assault and our counterattack to relieve the pressure is now itself under extreme pressure with a massive hole open in our center and a full French division driving to exploit the gap.   This now dates as my most stressful situation in KS Nappy Hits.   We were in dire straights and were facing complete destruction in the truest Napoleonic sense of the word, lured it would seem into one of those famously ill conceived counterattacks that broke the continuity of our line only to find the main assault from a hidden reserve about to break our center.  

The die had been cast and i determined that we simply had to ignore this new threat and continue to press north.    We were successfully engaging the French Division attacking Digby and there simply wasn't anything we could do about the Palmer's French Division driving directly across the Eichstadt Strasse.   It was at this moment, when off in the distanct to my south, i could see Russian flags atop the Eichstadt Knoll.   After determining that these were not elements of my division, it must be the arrival of third division!!!




With third division finally engaged, I was able to really shift my attention to the north and try to assist Digby who by this point was hor's de combat for the most part and had been driven out of Hohenwarts.   My division was able to drive in the southern division attacking the north and they promptly fell back and began to build what an intercepted courier told me was a "hedghog" around Howenwarts.   Of particular importance at this point however was that 3rd Division had driven back the French to my south and had recaptured the Eichstadt Strasse.  The importance of their success here, which i was not even aware of at the time, cannot be overstated because it reunited our army and reestablished communications.   Unfortanately the success in the south was somewhat tempered by what appears to be an overzealous Ben Milam who continued to press the French division with his brigade as the remainder of harmon's division pulled closer to us in the north and occupied the hill which overlooks Hohenwarts (which sits in a valley of sorts).   So Ben's Brigade in the end was destroyed and the French division in the south was able to slip east again.

   

At this point i gathered up the remainder of my infantry/cav/artillery with Ej's remants on my left and Digby's remnants on my right and formed up for the assault to retake Hohenwarts.   Our artillery was raining down shell and shot on Hohenvarts but the French guns on the rise just North of Village were pouring down cannister on our exposed troops.   Digby advocated at this time waiting for 3rd Division before assaulting but the artillery fire was so telling and i had no reason to believe that 3rd Division was actually capable of supporting the assault and i ordered the attack immediately.  Time and again the lines went forward and back with a patch of woods just southeast of the village, since dubbed the bloody copse, being a scene of terrible close in fighting.   French and  Russians crossed bayonets at several points in the line and fought each other out.   The French line seemed to be melting away, but in the end they held.  I knew if we could just get a few more regiments, we could take the cursed village, but i could see nothing left from 1st or 2nd Division save for a few squares which were advancing but falling quickly such was the effect of the cannister from the french guns.  

At this point i rode back to the south to check on the positions and status of 3rd Division.  They were holding the high ground south of Hohenwarts with Palmers French division further to their south.   Neither seemed particularly eager to renew the fight.   I spotted Harmon and road up to him to speak with him directly.   I informed him that there was nothing left of the French except a few batteries holding Hohenwart and I ordered him to take his full division north, retake the town, and then turn his line south where he could have the same stand off he was having now only with us in possession of the key objective.   He did so immediately and without argument, went north, and promptly drove the French from the village who at this point withdrew from the battle conceding victory to the Russians.  

This was an extremely hard fought game by both sides.   It was a bloody game with 5 divisions engaged from early on in the battle and i believe with both sides experiencing a level of consternation about where and when the third russian division would show up.  So from a scenario design perspective i believe MTG hit the mark with a scenario that made rapid timing critical for the French and made holding out long enough for a counterattack critical for the Russians.  I'm quite sure it produced the consternation he had in mind when setting it up!   Both sides had the opportunity to attack and defend and to me this was the best designed scenario we've played thus far because it had elements of the unknown for us that really kept me at least on the edge of my seat.   For the Russians, I'm not sure what we could have done differently as there were relatively few command decisions to make.   For the French, with the hindsight of the replay viewer, I believe that if Palmers division had attacked in conjunction with the Brigade that attacked my division we would have been utterly destroyed.   The delay in this assault gave time for 3rd Division to come up and save the day.   Of course, none of us could have known this at the time and i applaud MTG for going forward with this lone brigade assault despite having created the scenario and knowing full well what he was marching into!    Had that assault had the full weight of Palmer behind it, I believe the Russian 3rd division would have been rendered useless and would have simply withdrawn from the field with 2 Russian divisions completely destroyed.   Alas, this is the wonder of the KS Nappy Hits games.  You just never know until after the battle!  

Best,

Matt
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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:03 pm

Good report. So... we won? I wasn't sure. I think both corps pretty much destroyed each other.

For me personally I shall draw a veil over this terrible battle and try to forget it as quickly as I can. I made some very dubious deployments early on one of which was placing a battery on a knoll which had a line-of-sight block below it by way of a tree-lined stream so it hardly fired at all; my second error was to place my infantry too far in rear of my guns so that when the French attacked (and heck did they move fast!) my guns were unsupported. Third error was that instead of trying to draw my line back and establish a defence further up the hill I committed my cavalry forwards into the already messy fight for my gun line. I threw away several squadrons uselessly in this desperate fight and because I had no room to move or think I didn't even see Pepe and his division smashing into my right flank until far too late. The battery and grenadier brigade there vanished as though they were paper and all was lost. I think my division was effectively destroyed in about 15 to 20 minutes, if that.

I played the rest of the 2-hour fight with just 3 battalions, 3 battered squadrons and 3 guns (that refused to unlimber and shoot!).

There was a very curious and quite demanding episode towards the end where my division's remnants held the "bloody copse" on the east side of Hohenwart Hogwarts and although I had almost no punch left in any of my units I tried my best to weaken the French defending the Hedgehog and succeeded in driving most of the infantry and chasseurs away and destroying a couple of guns. I think most of the French guns were lacking ammo by this point.

Finally Harmon's division came up from the south to commit the coup de grace and capture the French guns.

Not my finest hour. I do hate sending bleating requests for help. Most un-Russian!

I agree with Matt that it was a very good scenario - perhaps a little too good as far as my blood pressure is concerned.

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"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  MJP on Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:14 pm

So... we won? I wasn't sure. I think both corps pretty much destroyed each other.

I think as you so aptly put it a few battle reports ago, our opponent blinked first and ordered a retreat with the key village of Hohenvarts in Russian hands.   Casualties were horrific and even for both sides with each corps having 2 completely destroyed divisions.  

The fighting in and around Hohenwarts and the "bloody copse" was terrible as each side threw more and more men into a tiny area which was the key to the village.  

The requests for help you sent were most certainly appropriate and i must apologize as C-in-C for being unable to meet them in a timely manner.  We simply had other things to worry about further south and despite you pointing out some tactical errors you feel you made, you clearly wore down the French up in the north enough that we were able to retake the town in the end.
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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  Iberalc on Mon Dec 29, 2014 8:33 pm

Very good AAR Matt, as usually. cheers

I will copy here briefly "my side" of the battle:

We are getting used to finish our battles with just a couple of battalions per side, with whole commands gone away and divisional generals reduced to the role of artillery commanders.  Twisted Evil

Yesterday and saturday I was not aware of events happening farther away than the range of my guns.

The most important lesson for me was the handling of cavalry, sometimes learned the hard way charging a infantry square in woods (the AI) and reinforcing failure (myself) with another squadron.

I was waiting the order to attack and saw Mark/Soldier's center division getting fully engaged, so decided to get into the fight hitting the Russian right, we took the hill and the objective. I decided to keep the pressure on the remnants of the division to my front, but realized that other Russian troops were getting the upper hand in their struggle with Mark to my right.

Reported my position and saw Mark's troops coming to join my division.

We organized a defense there, and that was all we did till the end of the battle. The Russians immediately put an attack to our position on 3 sides, we repulsed the troops coming in the open, as we had many guns 5 batteries I believe. They tried again from the woods to the northeast, we lost some guns but after some clashes we repulsed them too.

Then all was quiet, we were on the hill sorrounded by a sea of bodies, and no enemies in sight apart from Russian batteries to our front. I had 1 battalion, 3 squadrons and a mess of guns pointing in all directions with batteries and recaptured guns mixed.

I saw what seemed a Russian infantry brigade and 2  or 3 squadrons coming from the southeast, and I knew we were not going to repulse their attack.  No  

I was so busy since I started my attack, I remembered we had another division on the field, but didn't have time to ask. I assumed we were the only survivors and the troops coming over the ridge had destroyed Kevin's command.

I have loaded the autosave and Ron's troops were really in sight from my position when the battle ended, but yesterday didn't realize until I watched the replay.

I enjoy immensely playing with you guys.  I love you

Compans/Pepe of Villaflor.   Laughing
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Hell at Hohenwart

Post  kg little mac on Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:04 pm

Another simple plan: Move east until we made contact.  The plan was to take Hohenwart quickly and play defense.

Pepe with the northern division had orders to move east to Hohenwart and form a defensive position in the woods east of the village.  

I had the center division and moved east until Pepe informed me of the Russian presence at Hohenwart.  There went playing defense.  Great. . . another assault.  I then moved northeast until I came upon the left flank of the Russian division (Martin) at Hohenwart.

Kevin with the southern division was to move east and stay on my right. 

I could see another Russian division (Matt) to the east, but it was a good ways from Martin's division, so I called for an all-out attack on the objective.  

I worried about the whereabouts of the 3rd Russian division.

Then I made the mistake that cost us a quick victory.  Instead of calling on Kevin to come with all he had, I ordered him to send one brigade with me and screen our right with his other.  My intention was for him to bring the brigade he sent into Matt to help Pepe and I quickly defeat Martin's division at Hohenwart and for him to use the other brigade to screen Matt.  Kevin, unfortunately, does not read minds and will not use his prescience.  This serves as a reminder to me that being C-N-C and commanding a division is very difficult.  I was so embroiled in trying to destroy the division in front of me that I didn't follow up on what Kevin was doing.  

The Russian guns were angled away from my division and I was able to move forward quickly and capture a couple and send the rest of one line of guns scurrying away.  I lost a couple of battalions there, but I had to drive away those big Russian guns.

Pepe of Villaflor came forward.

Very hard fighting ensued.  Martin put up a valiant defense, and then Matt's division pressed me all the way to the knoll where we formed a hedgehog.

I had received a courier from Kevin about 15 minutes into my attack stating his brigade had been destroyed.  I was shocked!  I thought for sure the 3rd Russian division had shown up on Kevin's right and ambushed him.

Tremendous and horrible slaughter at the knoll and the woods east of Hohenwart.  Murderous guns.  Late in the battle, the big line of Russian guns to the east wore my infantry out. My three batteries inflicted mass casualties on the poor Russian boys in the open.

We're going to run out of pixeltroopen if I keep commanding.

Thanks to all for the fine battle.


Last edited by kg little mac on Tue Dec 30, 2014 2:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  Uncle Billy on Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:27 pm


The picture says it all.  This was Custer's last stand.  The only difference was that the Indians were in no better shape.  Mark, the French CinC, threw in the towel after only a little more than 2 hours of battle.  I guess he didn't want his hat feathers ruffled.  I was shocked when the game was called as I thought we were well on our way to a victory.  Again this demonstrates how the limited HITS view on one part of the field in no way reflects the battle as a whole.

For my part, commanding the French 3rd division was a different experience.  Ron was in command of one of my brigades, a really large one composed of 9 battalions,  Steve controlled the heavy cavalry attached to the division.  I had only a brigade and three batteries to tend to.  Mark felt that even so I must be overburdened.  Within 20 minutes of the game start, he ordered one of my brigades to march to the enemy lines and help him "crush them."  Thirty minutes into the game, I sent him a message saying the entire brigade had been routed off the field and I was requesting new orders.  It seems I was facing an entire division, drawn up on good ground and fully deployed.  Although my battalions did manage to drive off a couple of dragoon squadrons, overall it made for a pitiful display.

With my command responsibilities now of manageable size, I ordered Ron and Steve to advance and strike the southern flank of the 2nd French division.  Most of the Russian units that I had engaged were moving north to confront Mark's attack.  So at best there might be one enemy brigade and a battery trying to hold the line.  Their advance couldn't have been at a more opportune time.  They interdicted the 3rd French division just as it was reaching the field.  This stopped them in their tracks.  As it would take some time for it to unspool and deploy, I was hopeful that Mark and Pepe could finish off the other 2 enemy divisions and set up a good defensive position.

Both Ron and Steve did fine work, but it was growing apparent that they would be soon overwhelmed, so I called for their withdrawal.  Of course this allowed the French to continue their march north after a time, but the delay should have helped the rest of the army.

As soon as the bulk of this last enemy division past our position, I again ordered Ron and Steve to harass the rear of their column and not allow that last brigade in line any opportunity to reach Hohenwarts.  This they managed to accomplish.  At the same time I began to aggressively deploy the artillery to do as much damage to the Russian's remaining brigade and abundant artillery.

So we began the long arduous task of utilizing a local superiority to defeat the larger Russian force piecemeal.  This was made possible by the tenacious fighting done by Mark and Pepe.  They made it so we never had to face more than one brigade at a time.  Added to that, we had two batteries of guard horse artillery which could be rapidly deployed and rarely missed.  We slowly fought our way to the top of a low rise where we could glimpse the carnage at Hohenwarts.  I was just about to order up my guns and begin sending canister into the backs of the few remaining Russian forces when our CinC showed the white feather.

This was a true bloodbath.  Of the nearly 40,000 troops on the field that day, only 5,000 were left in any condition to fight.  I think Ulm will remain invested.

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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  ej1 on Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:28 pm

thanks for the summary. very well done.

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Re: The Battle of Hohenwart

Post  WJPalmer on Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:36 am

The only points I would add to Kevin's report relate to the deadly efficiency of the guns -- on both sides. In my initial assault against Eichstadt Strasse, though made uphill, I felt there was an excellent chance of success. Between recovering from Kevin's and Mark's initial attacks and obviously responding to new orders to move north, the enemy appeared to be in quite a disorganized state. My brigade met with good initial success -- out of pure luck running dead into the limbered guns of the Russian "Lost Division"  moving north in column along the Strasse. After some success with them, my battalions pressed across the road into still more guns which were likewise limbered and in the early stages of moving. Feeling like McClusky at Midway when the decks of the Akagi and Kaga were discovered to be full of refueling planes, I went all in. And all went smoothly -- that is, until the Russian brigades remaining in the area rallied and and new ones began appearing from the south. These were able to effectively screen still more Russian guns overlooking us from elevated deployments, which proceeded to tear ruthlessly into our ranks with the ubiquitous canister. My casualties mounted quickly as it become clear that staying any longer would result in the complete destruction of my brigade. Without those guns positioned where they were, I'm convinced my first attack would have met with success.

Our second assault (actually, now the third by the French over this same bloody ground) was made in a more deliberate fashion. We worked our way up to the road and swung north against the Russian rear guard. Most of the Russian guns had, by this point either been neutralized or pulled toward the objective. Steve, was operating his cavalry even further to the east providing critical flank protection, and even more importantly, harassment against the reeling Russian flank. Each time the enemy battalions backed up, we would fill the space, though I was reluctant to press too hard as most of my battalions were teetering on the brink after their first assault. But progress was made, mostly as a result of Kevin's superior gun play against the remaining Russians on the hill. These were pounded relentlessly. Sometime into our attack, Kevin sent a prophetic courier noting that he thought our 3rd Division guns, given protection and sufficient time, would drive the enemy from the hill. This indeed happened, but came just as the game was called. My officer crested the hill and I managed a glance down at the utter carnage that lay about the objective, literally moments before the battle ended. That view was worth it -- a truly impressive sight!
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