Bismarck’s Wars, Blood and Iron, 28mm
A few years ago local wargamer Dave O’Brian developed Blood and Iron, a variant of Warhammer for the late 19th century in Europe. He uses them them to refight the battles of the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Despite their dubious pedigree his rules work really well, and seem to capture the flavour of the period. I’m still not convinced that his chosen figure ration of 1:100 is really the way to go, as what he calls regiments I see more as battalions. However, I suppose the aim is to avoid the games getting so big that they couldn’t easily be fought to a conclusion. Well, Dave brought along his figures and the rules again, and laid on a superb little game, with about a division a side.This engagement was a refight of the Battle of Bad Kissingen, fought between the Prussians and the Bavarians, who were allied to the Austrians at the time. I thought I knew my military history, but I have to confess I’d never heard of the battle until today. As the Prussians our objective was to cross the River Salle to our front, and to engage the enemy. Well, there were three crossings over the river, and on inspecting two of them our troops discovered the bridges had been blown. Actually, there was another bridge – a railway span – but Bavarian engineers blew it up as the Prussians approached. While we could span the wreckage, that would take a fairly long time, so we opted for a more direct approach.Yes, we launched a frontal assault over the one remaining bridge! The Bavarians had a brigade or so of troops dug into the town behind it (Bad Kissingen itself), and while guns were dug in which could sweep the bridge with canister, others covered the long, open approach road. Well, bravery is pretty easy when the only casualties are toy soldiers, so we decided to charge. Our leading regiment was badly cut up, and was driven back with heavy casualties.Fortunately a small battalion of Prussian jaegers took up the challenge, stormed the bridge, and captured the guns at the far end. That bought the attackers a breathing space, allowing another Prussian regiment to charge across, while artillery, skirmishers and riflemen poured fire into the buildings dominating the far bank. Success hung in the balance for a while, but eventually the superior training of the Prussians won through, and the Bavarians fled. With Bad Kissingen in Prussians hands the outcome was no longer in any doubt. While the Bavarian gunners were distracted a plucky horse artillery battery unlimbered and opened fire on the enemy batteries, taking them by surprise. By that time the remnants of the Prussian jaegers were firing on the guns from their flank, and the Bavarian commander had little choice but to order a general withdrawal. Dave proved to be a surprisingly impartial Bavarian player come umpire, and the game flowed beautifully. As a result it was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.