Gross Beeren - 23rd August 1813

This scenario has been developed by Martin Soilleux-Cardwell.

Historical Outline

The main French army was around Dresden. Oudinot was sent to attack Berlin with an army of four corps and a cavalry corps, the intent being to destroy the Prussian magazines and to so disrupt their administration that they could not supply any more Landwehr to the field army this year.

The French were advancing on Berlin via three routes, one through Trebbin (Oudinot - off map to the west), the others through Gross Beeren and Blankenfeld (Reynier and Bertrand), at the point where these roads exit the forests. Oudinot was overall army commander. He did not expect to meet the enemy and had placed his three lead corps out of mutual supporting distance, as was his fourth, reserve corps. Gross Beeren thus became, to all intents and purposes, two separate battles, side by side.

Bertrand’s corps attacked towards Blankenfeld at 9:00am. He pushed Fontanelli’s Italians down the road and into the woods with all skirmishers out in front. On the Prussian side Dobschutz was deployed south of the village with his troops close to the woods. He had the corps artillery under command which was deployed right in the front line. It was this short range artillery fire which caused Fontanelli’s Italians a great deal of trouble (in V&B terms they had to check morale and sometimes failed, the skirmishers thus went disordered and it took them time to reorganise to renew the firefight). Lindenau’s brigade was deployed in reserve behind Dobschutz either side of the village. Blankenfeld itself was not occupied as it was considered that the Landwehr were not well enough trained or disciplined for fighting within villages. The Italians reached the far edge of the woods with Moroni’s brigade to the left of the road, Martel’s axis being along it and St Andrea to the right. Fontanelli, however, only harassed the Prussians and made no serious attack. Bertrand had seemingly interpreted his orders to ‘occupy’ Blankenfeld as meaning to occupy or distract the enemy there. His other two divisions were not seriously engaged. At 2:00pm he actually withdrew Fontanelli considering that Reynier’s advance on Gross Beeren would outflank Tauentzien and oblige him to withdraw.

Bertrand now merely kept contact with the Prussians around Blankenfeld preventing them from wheeling right to threaten Reynier’s right flank at Gross Beeren. Thus by early afternoon the battle in the east had degenerated into minor skirmishing and was not resumed.

At 11:00am Reynier’s corps pushed into the thick belt of woods in front of Gross Beeren and finding only a single battalion of jagers in the town, occupied it between 2:00-3:00pm. Reynier settled down to hold his gains, actually disposing his troops to bivouac for the night, 28th Saxons to the west of the village, 32nd to their left and 24th Saxons on the far left. Von Gablenz’s cavalry was posted at Neu Beeren. He was not long left in idleness and Prussian III Corps advanced from the direction of Heimersdorf some time around 3:00pm. At the same time heavy rain began to fall.

As Bulow’s troops advanced, Reynier saw that his weakest point was his left and he deployed Lecoq’s division in a huge seven-battalion square with the corps reserve artillery in support. Bulow then directed 62 guns of his artillery to bombard the square. Reynier responded by planting his entire corps artillery, some 52 guns, on Windmill Height and a counterbattery duel began about 5:00pm and lasted for an hour and a half with little effect.

As the artillery action began, Borstall’s 3rd brigade swung wide to the east, took Klein Beeren and attacked the wood north of Gross Beeren, driving out a Saxon battalion of Sahr’s division. Meanwhile Krafft’s brigade assaulted the village from the north and Hesse-Homberg attacked towards Durutte and VII Corps’ artillery on the Windmill Height (this rise was only some 25 feet above the surrounding terrain but it gave a commanding view north and allowed the French to keep reserves out of fire south of it). Several savage assaults were put in against Gross Beeren and Sahr’s Saxons eventually thrown out, the pressure causing the Saxon line on the east end of the Height to fall back too. Soon pretty much the whole of Sahr’s men were in headlong flight. Ryssel attempted a counterattack to regain the Height but was decisively thrown back.

Durutte’s division which had been posted as a reserve south of the Heights now attempted to recapture them but his right hand brigade (de Vaux’s) was swept away by the retreating Saxons (in V&B terms it failed it’s morale check for the Prussian guns at short range on the heights and was routed through and carried away) and Jarry’s brigade followed soon after without firing a shot. The woods south of Gross Beeren were now getting full of men intent on puting as much distance as they could between themselves and the advancing Prussians.

It was now Lecoq’s turn to attempt to save the day and his men too attempted a counterattack on the Heights but by now the Prussians were too firmly established upon it and rather than expend his division in a pointless assault that could not be reinforced, he chose to fall back, covering the retreat and giving time for some units to rally. Soon both Sahr’s and Durutte’s formations recovered their order although a number of men were ‘lost’ in the woods and did not return to the colours until after dark, sheepishly skulking into their camps during the night.

Bulow had been roughly handled, particularly by the Saxon’s initial tough defence. There was only a half-hearted pursuit by a few Hussar squadrons. By 10:00pm Reynier was back south of the woods where he had camped the previous night. That night Reynier reported to Oudinot that his corps was seriously demoralised following the collapse and could not fight the following day. Despite relatively light losses (3,000 French and Saxons and 13 guns to 1,000 Prussians and 5 guns), the road to Berlin had been closed to Oudinot. Napoleon was furious and replaced him with Ney, but the French did not get a second chance to take the Prussian capital.

Order of Battle:

French-Allied Army. 38,500 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 132 guns plus 4 btn guns. No army commander.

VII Corps, General Reynier CC

Corps Troops

  • Von Gablenz Cavalry Brigade               M5 [s][s]lt lncr
  • Saxon Heavy Artillery Battalion           M5 [ ][ ]hv
  • Saxon Horse Artillery Battalion           M5 [ ][ ]fld

24th (Saxon) Division, General LeCoq DC, Ex = 6

  • Saxon Brigade von Brause                  M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Saxon Brigade von Mellenthin              M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Saxon Field Artillery Battalion von Roth  M5 [ ][ ]fld

28th (Saxon) Division, General von Sahr DC, Ex = 6

  • Saxon Brigade von Bose                    M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Saxon Brigade von Ryssel                  M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Saxon Field Artillery Battalion Gau       M5 [ ][ ]fld

32nd Division, General Durette DC, Ex = 5 (40% exhaustion)

  • 36eme Regt Legere                         M5 [ ][ ][s][s]g
  • Brigade Jarry                             M4 [ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Brigade de Vaux                           M4 [ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Field Artillery Battalion Simonin         M5 [ ][ ]fld

IV Corps, General de Division Count Bertrand CC

Corps Troops

  • Cavalry Brigade Briche                    M5 [s][s]lt
  • Heavy Artillery Battalion                 M6 [ ][ ]hv
  • Field Artillery Battalion                 M6 [ ][ ]fld
  • Horse Artillery Battalion                 M6 [ ][ ]fld

15th (Italian) Division, General Fontanelli DC, Ex = 6 (40% exhaustion)

  • Italian Brigade Martel                    M5 [ ][ ][s][s][s]g
  • Italian Brigade St Andrea                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Italian Brigade Moroni                    M5 [ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Italian Field Artillery Battalion         M5 [ ][ ]fld

12th Division, General Morand DC, Ex = 6 (40% exhaustion)

  • 8eme Regt Legere                          M5 [ ][s][s]g
  • Brigade Belair                            M4 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g b-g
  • Brigade Hulot                             M4 [ ][ ][ ][ ][s]g b-g
  • Field Artillery Battalion                 M5 [ ][ ]fld

18th (Wurttemberg) Division, General Franquemont DC, Ex = 5 (40% exhaustion)

  • Wurttemberg Brigade Spitzemberg           M5 [ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Wurttemberg Brigade Doring                M5 [ ][ ][ ][s]g
  • Wurttemberg Brigade Stockmeyer            M5 [ ][s][s]g
  • Wurttemberg Jagers                        M5 [ ]ss
  • Wurttemberg Field Artillery Battalion     M5 [ ][ ]fld

Notes to the Allied Army:

1) Arrival points and times:

  • Bertrand’s Corps advances north through Juhnsdorf at 09:00. May deploy up to 6" either side of the road.
  • Reynier’s Corps marches in road column north down both roads to Gross Beeren at 11:00. Sahr division on the right road, Durutte division leading Lecoq on the left. Corps troops may deploy with either or both columns.

2) b-g = battalion guns attached, fld = field artillery, g = grenadiers present, hv = heavy artillery, lncr = lance armed cavalry, lt = light cavalry, [s] = may detach one skirmisher for each such symbol, ss = sharpshooter.

 

Prussian Army. 39,500 infantry, 7,500 cavalry and 120 guns. No army commander.

IV Corps, General Tauentzien CC

Corps Troops

  • I/IV Field Artillery Battalion            M5 [ ][ ]fld
  • II/IV Field Artillery Battalion           M5 [ ][ ]fld
  • III/IV Field Artillery Battalion          M5 [ ][ ]fld

1st Brigade, Generallmajor Dobschutz DC, Ex = 4

  • 3rd Reserve Infantry Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 1st Brandenburg Landwehr Regt             M5 [ ][ ][ ]mil
  • I/IV Landwehr Cavalry                     M5 [s]

2nd Brigade, Generallmajor Lindenau DC, Ex = 8

  • 5th Brandenburg Landwehr Regt             M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]mil
  • 2nd Neumark Landwehr Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ]mil
  • 1st Silesian Landwehr Regt                M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]pt
  • Combined Landwehr Cavalry Brigade         M5 [s][s]lt, pt

III Corps, Generalleutenant von Bulow CC

Corps Troops

  • Reserve Heavy Artillery Battalion         M5 [ ][ ]hv
  • Reserve Russian Position Battery          M5 [ ][ ]hv
  • III Corps Converged Grenadiers            M6 [ ][ ][ ][ ]g*

3rd Brigade, Generallmajor Borstall DC, Ex = 7

  • 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regt           M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 4th Reserve Infantry Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 3rd East Prussian Landwehr regt           M5 [ ][ ][ ]mil
  • 1st Leib Hussar Regt                      M6 [s]lt
  • Field Artillery Battalion Borstall        M5 [ ][ ]fld

4th Brigade, Generallmajor Theumen DC, Ex= 9

  • 4th East Prussian Infantry Regt           M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 5th Reserve Infantry Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • Elbe Infantry Regt                        M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • East Prussian Jagers                      M6 [ ]ss
  • Pomeranian National Cavalry               M5 [s]lt
  • Field Artillery Battalion Theuman         M5 [ ][ ]fld

5th Brigade, Generallmajor Hessen-Homberg DC, Ex= 6

  • 1st Pomeranian Infantry Regt              M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 2nd Reserve Infantry Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 2nd Kurmark Landwehr Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ]mil
  • Pomeranian Hussar Regt                    M5 [s]lt
  • Field Artillery Battalion Hessen-Homberg  M5 [ ][ ]fld

6th Brigade, Generallmajor Kraft DC, Ex= 8

  • Colberg Infantry Regt                     M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 9th Reserve Infantry Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ]
  • 1st Neumark Landwehr Regt                 M5 [ ][ ][ ][ ][ ][ ]mil
  • 1st Pomeranian Landwehr Cavalry           M5 [s]lt
  • Field Artillery Battalion Kraft           M5 [ ][ ]fld

Reserve Cavalry Division, Generallmajor von Oppen DC, Ex= 4

  • Dragoon Brigade von Treskow, Right Wing   M5 [ ][ ]md
  • Dragoon Brigade von Treskow, Left Wing    M5 [ ][ ]md
  • Uhlan Brigade von Hobe                    M5 [s][s]lt, lncr
  • Landwehr Brigade von Malzahn              M5 [s][s]lt, pt
  • Horse Artillery Battalion von Oppen       M5 [ ][ ]fld

Notes to the Prussian Army:

1) Deployment/arrival points and times:

  • IV Corps begins the game deployed anywhere within 12" of Blankenfeld.
  • The East Prussian Jagers (from 4th Brigade, III Corps) begin the battle in Gross Beeren. They are always in command until the turn after their parent command stand enters the table after which they must obey normal command rules.
  • III Corp’s 3rd and 4th Brigades enter on the north map edge between Teltow and Heinersdorf at 13:00.
  • Balance of III Corps enters at the same place turn 14:00.
  • III Corps corps troops may enter with either part of III Corps, or be split.

2) fld = field artillery, g = grenadiers present, hv = heavy artillery, lncr = lance armed cavalry, lt = light cavalry, M = militia, md = medium cavalry, PT = poorly trained regulars, ss = sharpshooter, * = shock troops, sk = skirmisher, [s] = may detach one skirmisher for each such symbol, ss = sharpshooter.

Scenario Notes

1) Turn 1 is 9:00am. The battle ends at the end of the 7:00pm turn (dusk). The French-Allies are the attackers.

2) To win the French must occupy both Gross Beeren and the Windmill Heights with an infantry brigade on the last turn and have one division of each corps unexhausted at dusk. To win the Prussians must take Gross Beeren and the Windmill Heights (occupy both with a non-exhausted infantry brigade) by dusk and have two commands of III Corps unexhausted. Any other combination is a draw.

3) All the woods near the south map edge are ‘woods’, as is that astride the stream where it exits the north map edge. All others are ‘open woods’. The stream is marshy banked (in fact it ran in a steep sided ditch up to six feet deep. Classifying it as ‘marshy’ has the appropriate effect in the rules). The two roads cross it by fords.

4) From the 3:00pm turn heavy rain begins to fall. Reduce all moves by a quarter and deduct one dice from all fire attacks except skirmishers and from infantry in villages and towns. Melee attacks are unaffected.

5) It is strongly recommended that Prussian IV corps deploys hidden (units marked on a map, only being placed on the table when Bertrand’s troops first have a LoS to them). For our refights we have a two foot square board with Blankenfeld at the centre with the woods and roads painted on. Prussian IV Corps player deploys his troops on this out of sight of the main table. We find this quicker and more accurate than sketching out a map for each game.

6) The Swedish troops are not represented since they took no part in the action, sitting on the fence as usual. However they were positioned just off map to the west, their picquets actually in the woods near Spitendorf. These troops effectively faced off Oudinot’s Corps.

7) The French command is best represented by two players who should not be permitted to form a joint plan beforehand, nor to communicate during the battle. Prussian IV Corps requires a player but III Corps is probably best run by two. Again, overall command control was lacking so a CinC player is not necessary.

The Map

 


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