Saturday, 25 March 2017

Mars-La-Tour, 16 August 1870

A couple of die-hard Franco-Prussophilians opted for a weekend game using amended Fire&Fury rules and a swath of 10mm figures to recreate one of the famous encounter along the road to Verdun in the middle of August 1870 that decided the campaign for Napoleon III.

Angus had organised the game, and presided as an umpire over the French played by Jack, Bart, Gerry, Bill, Michael (MDF) and Neil, while the Prussian were represented by Jim, Campbell, Donald, Peter and myself. The figures involved were gracefully painted and owned by myself, Angus, Sandy who could sadly not make it, Gerry, and Jack.

Now the scenario set up is a cracker for the French as they are already late and are stricken with various command issues, while the Prussians have their Krupp guns and their better commanders and a special v. Bredow Death ride attack (one Cavalry squadron can hide in terrain and "leap" out of it and basically gets a free successful attack. Its a tough nut to crack for the French, but on their side, they outnumber the Germans by 1:5!

From the start it all went after plan - Jim was in command of the 5th cavalry division and did out-perform the French counter parts on many occasions. Vionville, Mars-La-Tour and Flavigny were in Prussian hands almost at midday with less fighting than expected. The holding on to it turned out to be the more difficult thing!

The French rose slowly from their camps and tents and marched in the shadow of the hills on an old Roman road with their Imperial Guards to Vionville, a strategically clever move as Vionville was the only village between the French and a draw - meanwhile the fighting got more and more intense!!

It was then when Campbell, after a continuously maneouvre failure, left 2 regiments in march column before said main objective, when the Imperial Guard attacked! For telling seconds the smiles of the Prussians command lost their countenance  -  something had to be done, "Koste es, was es wolle"!
Sure the ride took out one of the last guns the French had, but it didn't turned the tide in Vionville.
Even the a last blast of the Krupp battery on top of the hills overlooking the road to Verdun, or a last all-out attack at Rezonville, didn't changed the fact that the French had ripped the victory right out of the Prussian claws at the very last minute - a thriller!

For more details about the dashing Prussian cavalry see:

For more fabulous images see:

The 5th Cavalry Division v. Rheinbaben appears at the hill before Vionville 
Most of the French Army of the Rhine is still unaware in their camps along the road to Verdun
Still at their petit dejeuner on a hill around Rezonville 
Rheinbaben unleashes the Cuirassiers
the French cavalry still in their tents, mostly taken by surprise!
The French Heavy cavalry comes to attack
Meanwhile Rheinbaben himself moves swiftly to bring his corps into position! 
Mars-La-Tour overrun by swarming Prussians 
The III corps takes Vionville
More Prussians pouring past the Bois the Vionville
The French suffer badly from inertia, while the Prussians have time to build up their lines between the key objective villages 
Flavigny in the hand of the 8th, the Leib-Greandiers of Brandenburg in parade uniform
The French are coming over the hill 
And turning Rezonville into a bristling fortress of chassepots
Fights start around Rezonville and Vionville along the road
Slowly the Imperial guard moves behind the roman road in mysterious ways ...
Vionville firmly occupied by Prussians
The morale of the French Generals seems dented, the Prussians achieve to occupy all their objectives at 12 noon ...
While a regiment got around the Bois the Vionville and got into position ...
On Rezonville the French gallantly withstand all German attacks!
Lapasetts heavily beaten corps, but still fighting!
Would the battle end now the prussians would be declared the winner, but its still not evening!
The Krupp batteries south of Vionville are in position!
Even Flavigny turns into a castle!
But then the French poor over the hills south of the Roman road!! 
The last joker  - the Death Ride attack!
This time we choose the Black Brunswickers with the Skull caps for the Deathride attack!
... but behind the hills along the Roman road the Imperial Guard is moving in!!! 
and clash right into the flank of two Prussian regiments in March column - ouch!
While Rezonville is still fighting! - still standing!
the combat around Vionville gets more and more fiercer
The Guard in front of the Brunswickers loading their chassepots!!!
Now the only hope for the Prussians is the Krupp battery on the hill 
... but, as we all know... the Guard dies, but never surrenders!
A last all out attack on Rezonville! Including some Prussian Grenadiers in parade out fit.
Half of Rezonville is finally in Prussian hands, but to no avail ...


  1. When I left the game there was no way the French could ever win!

    1. Well, true, but Jerry did the only thing and diverted the best troops to Vionville - and snatched away the victory for the Prussians!

  2. What a stunning report Michael! Wonderful figures, terrain, villages and pictures...This courageous "Guard in front of the Brunswickers" is my favourite...Courageous, but...

    1. Thank you Phil! It was a wonderful day indeed. And no worries no Imperial Guard was hurt in the Brunswicker attack, in fact the Guards Chassepot finished them off - not an age for dashing Cavalry attacks, even with "Death ride extra" scenario rules. :)

    2. Agree with you for these poor horses, a page is turned...

  3. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
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