Friday, 19 February 2016

The Battle of St Privat - A Bloody Big Battles AAR

As planned Dave and I met up this week for our first eagerly anticipated game of the Franco-Prussian War, using his re-based 6mm H&R miniatures. We chose the Battle of St Privat as although it was part of a much larger battle, the action at St Privat was pretty much a battle in its own right. In terms of OOB etc, we plumped for the information from the Volley & Bayonet scenario, but also referenced those in Bloody Big Battles as well as Bruce Weigle's Grand Tactical Rules 1870.

Broadly speaking the German Guard Corps would lead the attack towards St Privat, which was defended by the French 6th Corps. On Turn 3 the 12th (Saxon) Corps would arrive on the German left flank, with both German Corps requiring to clear the French from St Privat and its enirons by the end of Turn 7. A tough ask given that they would be advancing across open countryside and would need to close quickly with the French to allow them to use their needleguns. However the ace in the German pack was their Krupp artillery guns, that could shoot further and more effectively than the French ones.

So onto the battle!

Both sides deployed for battle. For the French deployment, I used the information contained in the 1870 rules.
The German Guard Corps looking towards St Privat and Roncourt.
A soldiers eye view, which is pretty daunting, with not an ounce of cover to be seen.
The German Guards advance swiftly, trying to cross the open fields as quickly as they possibly can. The Krupp guns deploy in St Marie-aux-Chenes to support the infantry.
The French 4th Division in reserve by Jerusalem (left village) with the French 1st Division in St Privat (centre), which has been fortified and are supported by Corps artillery. On the far right the French 3rd Division are in Roncourt.
The German Guards on the right flank close quicker than either of us expected.
A firefight develops around Jerusalem as fire from the French disrupts the rest of the German Guards as they try and close on St Privat.
The 12th (Saxon) Corps arrive, to support the push towards Roncourt and the weak French right flank.
The massed ranks fo Krupp guns force much of the French artillery back off the ridge, severely hampering the French ability to disrupt the German advance.
The Prussian commander in confident mood as he texts Moltke that things are going according to plan...
The German Guard Corps are held in front of Jerusalem and St Privat, but the danger is definitely from the 12th (Saxon) Corps around Roncourt.
The French 3rd Division feel somewhat out numbered.
As the 12th (Saxon) Corps surge forward, the Krupp artillery re-deploy to bring their guns to bear towards St Privat.
Hand-to-hand fighting erupts in Roncourt...
...whilst the German Guards try to gain control of Jerusalem.
The French 3rd Division in Roncourt are now under severe pressure from the 12th (Saxon) Corps.
Both French flanks are under attack whilst the centre is bombarded by the Krupp artillery. Can the French hold out long enough to gain a draw?
After vicious fighting in the streets of Roncourt, the French 3rd Division cease to exist and the 12th (Saxon) Corps exploit forward, threatening the flank of the French 1st Division in St Privat. Despite a gun line to protect the French 1st division, things are not looking good.
Jerusalem is still safe in the hands of the French 4th Division.

Despite the French left flank at Jerusalem safe for the moment, the rest of the French position has become untenable and they decide to make a tactical withdrawl.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was a hard fought game that hung in the balance until the end of Turn 6, when the destruction of the French 3rd Division and the loss of Roncourt effectively ended the game. Although we could have played for one more turn and theoretically the French might have gained a draw, their postion was hopeless, hence us calling it a day.

So once again another good game of Bloody Big Battles and nice to be playing the Franco-Prussian War. As always a few thoughts on the game in general:

  • Dave had played this scenario before and knew that it was imperative for the German troops to close as quickly as possible with the French. They could not afford to stand off and indulge in a shooting match, as they were out ranged and in the open.
  • The Krupp guns are really devastating and Dave postioned them very well, so that they could support the attacks on both Roncourt and St Privat. They effectively silenced the French artillery early on, whick limited the French ability to hamper the German advances.
  • This is a nice little scenario that requires minimal terrain but gives a very good game. I'm sure other battle from both the 1866 and 1870-71 campaigns can be broken down in a similar manner for an evenings gaming.   
  • Although not in the BBB scenario for Gravelotte - St Privat, we used Army and Corps commanders to help get things moving. Without them I think that it would have made the Germans task to hard. The only to tell though would be to replay the scenario without them. 

So what next? The plan is for some more Franco-Prussian War goodness, but we have yet to decide on a battle or part thereof. Whatever we choose I hope it is as closely fought as this one.


  1. Nice - are you counting the Brigade bases as 2 BBB bases?

  2. As an example in our game the French 1st Division consisted of the following:
    5S Trained LB
    4 Trained LB

    In the BBB Gravelotte scenario OOB, they only have the first unit. Hope this helps?

  3. How did the Chassepot fire do? You mentioned the Krupps performed historically.

    1. Well the Chassepot managed to hold the Guards up for a lot of the game. However sheer weight of numbers and the speed of the German/Saxon advance meant that they didn't have chance to use their greater range to its best effect.

  4. Great post Steve - FPW was one of my first projects, 6mm really gives you a chance to play out those sweeping moves...
    Great post.