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The Battle of Wissemweiller, 1870


The Franco-Prussian War, Fire & Fury, 10mm
This is a new departure for me. I’m pretty much a dyed-in-the-wool 28mm wargamer, and it takes a lot to get me even sniffing at other scales. Still, I have some 10mm Western Desert kit somewhere, and I’ve seen people play 6mm and 10mm games and survive the experience.  In fact I’ve even played them myself – a handful of games set in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, with other people’s figures. However, this was billed as the club “winter project”, and several of us set about raising contingent. My part was a French Corps, a Prussian Corps and a Bavarian Division. So far I’m painted a division for each side, plus a few Corps assets, so there’s still quite a lot to do. My French and Prussian troops are the ones closest to the camera in the picture below. Jack provided the rest of the French, and Sandy the Prussians, while Michael brought in his Division of Prussian cavalry.  As the French were outnumbered they were on the defensive. The onus was on the Prussian players (Sandy, Jim, Michael and I) to oust the French (Jim and Peter) from the table.
This new 10mm dawn began with a Prussian advance. I know we should have played to our strengths and spent four of five turns blowing the heck out of the opposition, but wargamers aren’t wired that way. Its all about attacking from the Get Go. Still, our Corps guns weren’t masked until we reached the halfway point on the table, so we did what we could. Over on our right, Sandy’s division faced a forward position of a small wood, occupied by a battalion of Chasseurs.That should have been a pretty easy victory, but Sandy’s first assault with a regiment of Prussian line was repulsed. He pounded the defenders a bit more, then tried again. The Prussians were bounced back a second time. That’s the wood in the photo above, midway across the 6×4 table, beyond the road.
On my side of the table I ceded by division to Jim, who led it forward. Instead of a wood, on our left flank was a chateau. Once again it was held by a chasseur battalion, but Jim assaulted the place, and drove the French out almost without pausing for breath. to the left of the château our cavalry appeared on the table, and its attached battery of guns – and those of Jim’s division – pounded a French line regiment standing in the cavalry’s path. In two turns it was shot away, and the survivors fled the field. That’s the regiment in the picture down below. the French by the way, had six stand regiments, while the Prussian ones had nine stands. Anyway, so far so good on that flank.Things weren’t going so well in the centre though, where the rest of Jim’s troops were facing the serried ranks of the French line. Their Chassepot rifles proved deadly, and the Prussians had now advanced too far to allow effective artillery support from the Corps guns on the hill behind them. However, by then they’d dealt with most of the French centre’s artillery batteries and machine guns. Effectively the attack faltered and stopped, as both sides – now at close range – exchanged rifle fire, and the fight there degenerated into a battle of attrition. The main thing though was that the Prussian advance had stalled.
Michael’s Prussian cavalry division swept forward, charging through the gap blown in the French right flank. Behind it was a gun battery – actually two of them – and a regiment of line, which had pulled back a little to refuse the flank by holding the hill behind the French flank. By now though the Prussian left hook was well under way. Fire from the château – now in Prussian hands – silenced one of the gun batteries, while another was ridden down by the Prussian hussars. With two other cavalry brigades behind them this looked pretty serious for the French. However, once again the Chassepots came to the rescue, forcing the hussars to withdraw after suffering fire from the flank. This bought enough time to prop up the refused flank, and the French line held – for the moment. By then though, it was almost time to pack up.We weren’t going to get a result that evening, and after all that wasn’t the aim of the game. We were trying out the rules. We’d all played Fire & Fury before, but this was slightly different, as we were using the Fire & Fury Francese adaption which covered European Wars of the mid 19th century. Google it and you’ll find them on-line. Anyway, the game rolled along very smoothly indeed, and we’ll certainly play a game again soon, just as soon as we’ve painted up more lead. Frankly we have too much for a club night game anyway, but being megalomaniacs we want to refight Gravelotte-St. Privat, so we need more troops. Anyway, for this first game the French were duly declared the victors, as they were still on the table, and hadn’t been bundled off it. Next time will be different… we’ll use our guns properly!

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