Franco-Prussian War Campaign

The Franco-Prussian War began today, with some initial map moves and a couple of frontier battles fought in 6mm. Simon is playing the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, commander of German III Army tasked with crossing the border into Alsace and defeating the French defenders under Marshal MacMahon (me).


Campaign Account
Opening Clashes
1st August
: III Army crossed the border and attacked the French 2nd
Division (of 1st Corps) stationed at Wissembourg. The lead divisions
of Prussian V Korps and Bavarian II Korps pushed forward, the former taking much
heavier casualties than the latter during the battle. The French were
reinforced by 1st Division from the south and by a brigade from 5th
Corps stationed to the west. These arrivals helped to stabilise the collapsing
position of the beleaguered 2nd Division, but only long enough to
allow the inevitable retreat to be conducted with some degree of order. The
German artillery, massed in large batteries, dominated the battlefield and
successive French formations were pulverized on coming into action. The
French withdrew south to Soultz, retreating further when Prussian XI Korps
followed up after the battle.
The Battle of Wissembourg:
The initial French positions, somewhat scattered and with the Bavarians already marching into Wissembourg:
Reinforcements arrive to prop up the French left flank:
On the opposite side of the field, Prussian dragoons form up in the woods to threaten the French right flank..
While massed Prussian battalions storm over the railway line:
French cavalry charge into the flank of the Bavarians as they debouch from Wissembourg, and in a relatively bloodless fight tumble them back again, relieving pressure on the defenders for a few precious minutes:
2nd August:
V Korps remained at Wissembourg for two days to recover, while the much less
molested Bavarian II Korps moved west to Lembach to protect the right flank of
the advancing German army. The Baden Division followed XI Korps, although its
Wurttemberg allies were slow in rousing themselves to cross the border, as was
Bavarian I Korps which was held in reserve due to its relative lack of campaign
readiness at the outset of the war. IV Cavalry Division moved up through
Wissembourg and Soultz to be in place to support the rest of the army’s advance
3rd August:
Other French formations were beginning to converge on the forces retreating from
Wissembourg, the remaining 2 divisions of 1st Corps concentrating at
Hagenau, and elements of 5th Corps coming down from the eastern
slopes of the Vosges towards Sturzelbronn and Reichshoffen. 7th Corps
was beginning to entrain further south nearer Belfort, ordered by Marshal
MacMahon to come north to reinforce the worsening situation. The Baden Division
probed as far as Walburg, with an unidentified French screen withdrawing in
front of them.
4th August:
Taking the lead towards the south west, XI Korps approached Worth, where to the
north of the town they encountered a French force assembled  from 1st Corps’ 3rd
Division and, eventually,  three brigades
from 5th Corps that had moved forward overnight on orders from the
Marshal. In a bend of the river Sauer the close terrain forced the two armies
together into a hard-fought battle. Repeated French spoiling attacks and counter-attacks
delayed and, in places, even pushed back the Prussians whose left flank could
make little headway until events unfolded on the right. Here, the 4th
Cavalry Division came up in the afternoon and pushed past the open French left,
threatening the road west to Reichshoffen.  In the centre a very powerful central
artillery line was established, comprising no less than a dozen batteries which
systematically destroyed the French centre and reserves. With their flank and
rear threatened and the Prussians preparing to renew their assault along the
line, the French used their remaining intact units to cover their retreat and
break off the battle.
The Battle of Worth:
The Prussian XI Korps deployed aggressively and attacked in a well-organised manner. From the outset the French were hard put to protect their lines of communication.
Once again, French cavalry bravely deny the enemy space and time to deploy. Although this was an early sacrifice of much of the cavalry division, by the end of the battle it had brought dividends in terms of the delay it had caused the enemy’s central attack:
The dastardly German commander plots his attack. I can apologise for the sunny, washed out appearance of the photos, but not for the sartorial elegance:
French infantry make a final counter-attack to hold back the enemy, it was just enough to buy time for the retreat:
The Prussian IV Cavalry Division pins down the French left wing and the defenders know it’s time to fall back before they’re cut off:


5th August:
With their stout defence at Worth just sufficient to protect both of their
possible lines of retreat, the French chose to fall back to the west, in the
direction of the main army and to maintain communications with the rest of
France. This had the potential of splitting the Army of Alsace, with the rest
still to the south east and the Germans in a position to exploit their central
position between them.
Positions as of the end of the 5th August, with the rotated counters donating the units which fought the battle near Worth:

Hopefully there’ll be a chance to progress the campaign soon.

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