Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Summary of Halle Campaign

11 July 1813 - end of campaign

This campaign is part of the larger 1813 Campaign. It covers the period 17 June to 11 July 1813 and the fighting in central Germany between First French Army and the Russians. It has been done as a separate blog in order to keep all of the relevant reports together and to avoid making the main campaign blog too long and complicated.

We started the campaign on 24 August 2009 and finished on 14 October 2009

Summary of the Campaign
The allied success in northern Germany has left Blucher in a very exposed position. Although he has captured Magdeburg, his left flank is open to an attack by Napoleon’s First French Army. He demands that Kutuzov bring the Russian Army forward from Dresden to Halle to protect his flank.

Kutuzov is less than eager to march forward against Napoleon in person. He has learned during the previous year just how dangerous that could be. However his Army has been allowed to rest for two weeks, while Blucher has borne the brunt of the fighting. His corps have been reinforced and there is no excuse not to move forward to support Blucher.

For two weeks Napoleon has been expecting a Russian advance in support of Blucher.
He has been unable to join the army due to political and administrative problems in Paris. On 10 june he diverts reinforcements from the Imperial Guard to 3rd Corps which is short of a full division of infantry. By 16 June 3rd corps is ready to take the field, and is in reserve at Erfurt. The Imperial Guard will remain at Fulda to await reinforcements.

On 17 June the Russian army start their march from Dresden to the river Saale, and Napoleon departs from Paris to join the Imperial Garde at Fulda. The Halle campaign has started.

On 22 June Kutuzov enters Leipzig and his army take up position to cover the river Saale bridges from Halle to Neustadt. The western bank is only lightly held by the French as they await the arrival of Napoleon with reinforcements.

The first battle of the campaign is at Neustadt on 23 June when the French and Russians both race to take Neustadt. Russians reach it first, but are attacked before they can take possession. In a lengthy fight for the town the French fail to evict the Russians and have to retreat during the night

The following day filled with confidence after their victory at Neustadt, Kutuzov orders an attack on Gera, to deny the French their only bridgehead on west bank of the river Saale. It is a success and the following day the Russians cross to the west bank.

On 25 June Napoleon arrives at the Saale and immediately commits the Imperial Garde to retake Weimar and force the Russians back across the river Saale. In a close fought battle the 4th Russian corps held Weimar right to the end. The garde cavalry were beaten by the Russian cuirassiers, and three of the four garde infantry brigades were shaken. As night fell the sole garde infantry brigade finally pushed the Russians out of Weimar. A relieved Napoleon had halted the Russian advance and regained control of the west bank of the river Saale.

On 28 June Napoleon orders the Westphalians to cross river Saale and attack Lutzen, but there are unable to defeat Russians. After a fierce battle the Westphalians retire to Halle.

Unwilling to admit defeat Napoleon shifts his army south to outflank the Russian line along the east bank of the river Saale. They cross the river and occupy Neustadt, which causes Kutuzov to abandon the Leipzig road and move south to secure the road to Dresden. The result is a battle at Rohenburg on 1 June. Once more the French are beaten and forced to retire to the west bank.

Kutuzov is convinced that the French will now retreat west, and orders his entire army to cross the Saale on the Leipzig road. The French garrison of Halle retreat and the Russians garrison the town. However Napoleon has been reorganizing his army for one final throw of the dice, and on 7 June he attacks Halle.

The final battle of the campaign is a complete victory for the French. The Russian army fall back east and rally around Leipzig. However Napoleon’s army has taken a severe pounding during the campaign, and is in no condition to resume hostilities. He contents himself with holding the river Saale bridges, and both armies settle down to await resupply and reinforcements.

The campaign has been a limited success for the French. They have held the Russians on the line of the river Saale. They have also extended the line of the Second Army to the north on the river Elbe. But in doing so they have suffered heavy casualties and are in need of a considerable rest before Napoleon can hope to continue the struggle.

The Russian army is also in line with the Prussians to the north. The great advance has been brought to a complete standstill. But they have both achieved a number of victories against the French, and require only a good rest, reorganization and resupply to be ready to resist any further French advance.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Battle of Halle


Tactical Map 7 July 1813

Halle is a strategic town where the Leipzig and Magdeburg roads both cross the river Saale.

Overconfident after a string of victories, Kutuzov orders his whole army to occupy Halle in preparation for an advance on Kassel.

Given the recent defeats most generals would have retired to KasselFulda to regroup, but Napoleon was not most generals. He worked night and day to rally his weary troops and raise their morale sufficient for one last attempt.


Russians deployed along Naumburg road, French enter left

Top of the table is north to Magdeburg

Left road to Alstadt

Right road to Lutzen

Bottom road to Naumburg

Map squares

D1, E1, F1

D2, E2, F2

D3, F3, F3

Game objective is to capture Halle

French Army (Paul) enters along left edge of table

Russian Army (Jan) deployed in Halle and along Naumburg-Magdebug road


French left advance towards Halle

Both sides started the game on blinds, and the French were quickly spotted and had to deploy. It took longer to spot the stationary Russians, not least the blind (containing no figures) to the left of Halle. This meant that the Russians had the advantage of putting their figures on the table after the French.

French right and the gap in the Russian line left by the “blind “

The French have created a cavalry division from the guard chasseurs and horse grenadiers and they have advanced to recce the enemy position. On the right the garde is approaching Halle, on the left 3rd corps are deploying having crossed the hill.

The Russians are now fully deployed, and the gap in the centre where the “blind” had been is clearly visible. Unfortunately there is no French infantry available to support the cavalry and exploit the gap. The cavalry division alone are too weak to take on two Russian corps.

The Russian Left

4th Russian corps are in position on the left, but 3rd corps are still approaching between them and Halle. Each corps has a brigade of cavalry, which are sufficient to keep the French division from advancing.

Loss of Russian guns

2nd Russian corps hold Halle. As the French approach they move their artillery and cavalry to threaten the enemy flank. Their artillery advance too far, and come within charge range of the French cavalry, who make their morale and Opportunity Charge. The gunners fail their morale, are unable to seek shelter in the town and are wiped out. Their supporting cavalry are well placed to punish the French cavalry, but they also fail their morale, are Shaken and unable to charge the French.

French assault Halle

1st and 2nd French corps are fighting for Halle. On the right the Russian garrison has been pushed back into the centre of the town section, the buildings have been removed until the house fighting has been decided. On the left the French artillery are moving forward. Napoleon is riding to the left flank to issue new orders to the Westphalians.

Russian left flank falling apart

Part of the Russian left flank has broken and is in rout. The French corps opposite them were on "hold" orders, but have just received new orders to "engage" so next move they will attempt to exploit the Russian loss of morale.

French right

3rd French corps (nearest camera) now have orders to engage enemy, and are moving forward into the gap left by routing Russian infantry.

On their left the reserve cavalry have charged the Russian guns near Halle, the Russian cavalry will hold them at bay to cover the retreat.

On their left 3rd French corps have taken the nearest town section and are engaging the supporting Russian infantry.

French Left

The Russians, nearest the camera, have withdrawn behind the hill crest, and the Westphalians are moving forward to engage them.

On their right the Garde are attacking the nearest section of Halle, and the garrison are shaken. Their supports have already broken and ran away.


At last a convincing victory for Napoleon. The Russians have suffered heavy casualties, and will withdraw back over the river Saale at nightfall.

However in earlier battles the French have also suffered heavy casualties, and are in not condition to risk another assault over the river.

Both sides will settle for holding their side of the river. Napoleon has managed to secure the flank of Second French Army at Magdeburg, but has failed to beat the Russians and move north to attack the Prussians.


Game played September 2009.
Paul commanded the French.
Jan commanded the Spanish.

As a result of this game the fighting abilities of all the armies have been rewritten.

Class A for class, firing and skirmish have been greatly reduced.

Most infantry are now about three quarters B class and one quarter C class. Only rare exceptions, such as the Imperial Garde, are class A.

Combat will in future be much more dependent on the luck of the dice, and skirmish fire much less likely to be as effective.