Friday, 23 September 2011

Altenburg: the next Lasalle project

The habitual followers of this blog, already know my Argentinian friend Armand d'Arc which, acting like my resident Jomini, is always proposing me new and colourful Scenarios, to be played in the game table. Armand lives at Buenos Aires, and when he is not frantically painting new units for the big annual battle of his post-Napoleonic Serenghetti War, he is delighting us with his humourous wisdom pearls about history and wargaming, in the Hat or The Miniatures Page Forums.
Some time ago, Armand proposed me to re-fight the raid or combat of Altenburg, a small affaire that took place on 28 September 1813 near Leipzig, with the participation of many colorful units for both sides, Imperial and Allied. According to Wikipedia:

 "The raid at Altenburg on 28 September 1813... was carried out by the Streifkorp under the command of Saxon General Johann von Thielmann (see the above picture) commanding seven regiments of Cossacks, a squadron each of Saxon Hussars and Dragoons, and a detachment of Saxon Freikorps numbering about 1,500 cavalry. The objective of the raid was to attempt harassment of the French lines of communication 25 miles (45 km) south of Leipzig shortly before the Battle of Leipzig.
Thielmann completely surprised and routed a larger force of French cavalry, including Cavalry of the Imperial Guard and a small force of 2nd Baden Infantry Regiment (Infanterie-Regiment No.2 ‘Markgraf Wilhelm’) nominally under the command of Lefebvre-Desnouettes numbering some 6,500. The French, completely surprised, broke and fled from Altenburg losing a third of their number (2,100), in the process running over the Baden infantry which was taken prisoner despite attempting to resist. Thielmann's force lost about 200 in casualties."
The raid is also mentioned in the books of Nafziger (Napoleon at Leipzig) and Digby Smith (Napoleonic Data Book) but significant differences between the OOB's, led to me to search help in the Napoleon-Series Forum. Almost at the instant, several very interesting threads developped in the Forum about the subject (see some of the threads here and here), with the help of some of the habituals of the Forum: Steven Smith, Hans-Karl Weiss and many others, including Digby Smith himself! These gentlemen kindly provided me with very useful information, maps included, extracted from contemporary sources and/or unavailable books. A very fine example of internet comradeship!
Using all the accounts, the combat of Altenburg was a fighting retreat, fought bewteen a French force commanded by Lefebvre-Desnouettes and composed mainly from cavalry (6,000 men) and the Streifcorps of Thielmann and Platov (5,500 men), also composed almost exclusively by cavalry. The infantry contingents were very small: the 1/2 Baden and the 3/35e Legere battalions for the Imperial side, and one batallion of the Wallach Grenzer for the Allied.. The artillery was also scarce and the cavalry quality was medium-low.
All in all, and because of the small size of the involved forces and their cavalry-biased composition, this small affaire is a challenge for any Napoleonic ruleset!

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1 comment:

  1. Sounds good - I'll be very interested to see how you get on!