Another Blast From The Past: The Battle of Auerstädt 1806 at the AB Figures Wargames Weekend 2000

While having a rummage through an old campaign chest filled with mouldy old rule-books and the like, I recently came across two old copies of Wargames Illustrated (November & December 2000).  These two magazines contain my article on the AB Figures Wargames Weekend 2000, where we played the Battle of Auerstädt 1806 at 1:20 ratio, using General de Brigade rules, on a massive 16×16-foot playing area (consisting of three parallel 16-foot tables), in a barn at Mike Hickling’s place in Carmarthenshire (Mike was then the UK manufacturer and distributor for AB Figures).

This was the second of three such Wargames Weekends; the first in 1999 was the Battle of Eggmühl 1809 and the third and final weekend was the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro 1811.  The game itself was played 6-7 May 2000, though we’d put on the central section (the opening clash at Hassenhausen) on a much smaller table as a demo-game at the Wargames Association of Reading’s ‘Warfare 99’ show the previous November.  

The players were Colonel Simon Millar (Davout), Dave Brown (Gudin), Martin Gane (Friant), Colin Allen (King Frederick-William III), Dave Balfour (Schmettau), Julian Travis (Wartensleben) and John Rich (Blucher), with me as the ‘Holy Roman Umpire’ (‘Neither Holy, nor Roman and least of all an Umpire’) and Mike Hickling providing the venue, scenery and inordinate quantity of troops (most of which were based and flagged by me and I painted roughly one-quarter of the Prussian army).

Clearly it was all down to the quality of the scenario-writing 😉 , but it remains one of the best, most finely-balanced games I’ve ever been involved in.  Sadly I’ve lost all my photos of the three AB Figures Wargames Weekends, so all these photos are ones I set up at one of Duncan McFarlane’s Wargames Illustrated photo-shoot days in Newark.  The photos here show the historical situation at two stages of the battle around the village of Hassenhausen, rather than a recreation of our game.  I used the smaller ‘Hassenhausen’ scenario table I’d used for the ‘Warfare’ show, as the full 16×16 foot terrain would have taken a truck to get to Newark and a full week to set it all up and take it all down again:

Above: The village of Hassenhausen at 0930hrs.  As the morning mist lifts, Davout and his staff, escorted by a squadron of the 1st Chasseurs, ride forward to assess the situation of Gudin’s Division, just as Blücher launches a huge, yet foolhardy and unsupported cavalry assault on the squares of Petit’s Brigade (12e & 21e de Ligne).  In the distance, the Prussian infantry of Schemttau’s Division (Schimonsky’s and Alvensleben’s Brigades) starts to deploy around the village of Taugwitz.

Above: As Petit’s squares hold back the Prussian horsemen, the first battalions of Friant’s Division arrive to stabilise the situation.  However, yet more Prussian infantry are beginning to appear from the misty valley of the Lissbach; this is Wartensleben’s Division (Renouard’s and Wedell’s Brigades).

Above: The view from Spielberg, behind Blücher.  The Queen’s Dragoons, having already mounted two failed attacks, reform their lines as the ‘Heising’ Cuirassiers have a crack at the squares.  In the distance, the Prussian advance guard infantry (the massed Schützen of Schmettau’s Division, the ‘Schack’ Grenadier Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 33rd ‘Alvensleben’ Regiment) skirmish with Gudin’s Voltigeurs in the copse below Hassenhausen.

Above: The scene at 1100hrs.  With Blücher’s cavalry assault beaten off, Friant extends the French line to Gudin’s right, as far as Spielberg (in the left foreground).  Schmettau’s Division is now fully engaged with Friant and Gudin and the bodies are beginning to pile up.  Reinforcements arrive in the form of Prince Henry’s Brigade of the Prince of Orange’s Division.

Above: The view from behind Prince Henry’s Brigade as Schmettau’s Division assaults the French line between Hassenhausen and Spielberg.  On the right, King Frederick-William III and his staff, escorted by the Gardes du Corps, move forward for a closer look.  In the distance, Friant moves a regiment to extend his line further out to the right and Vialannes’ cavalry also move to envelop the Prussian left flank.

Above: On the Prussian right flank, Wartensleben’s Division is now fully engaged with Gudin around Hassenhausen as Prince William gather’s all remaining cavalry regiments in an attempt to envelop Davout’s left flank.  However, Davout has moved Morand’s freshly-arrived division to that sector and the Prussian cavalry once again runs into a mass of squares.  In the foreground, Renouard’s Brigade from the Prince of Orange’s Division moves up in support, but to little effect…

Sorry, but those are the only photos I’ve got 🙁 I’m sure the photos for the three AB Figures games must be here somewhere (it’s such a long time ago that they were PROPER photos, printed on paper and living in a packet!), so I might one day be able to post the actual game photos here.

If you’re interested, the full game report and scenario is in Wargames Illustrated #158 (November 2000) and you can also find a slightly truncated scenario (minus the Prussian Reserve Korps) in the General de Brigade Scenario Book #3 ‘The Glory Years’.  That book also contains my full Battle of Eggmühl 1809 scenario from the 1999 AB Figures Wargames Weekend (which Wargames Illustrated also printed earlier in 2000, but accidentally deleted a chunk of the Austrian orbat).

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Games, Napoleonic Wars, Warfare (Show). Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Another Blast From The Past: The Battle of Auerstädt 1806 at the AB Figures Wargames Weekend 2000

  1. Rhys says:

    Interesting read Mark, hadn’t learnt much about the battle myself. I have just finished a book you may like as well ‘ Memoirs of a French Napoleonic Officer: Jean-Baptiste Barres, Chasseur of the Imperial Guard’ some great excerpts in it. Anyhow I’ll catch you down the club in Carmarthen soon I’m sure.

    Best, Rhys

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Cheers Rhys! Auerstadt certainly is a very interesting battle fought at incredible odds. Of course, Napoleon made damn sure that he ‘incorporated’ the battle into his victory of ‘Jena-Auerstadt’ so that Davout wouldn’t steal his glory, also managing to stick the boot into Bernadotte (a potential political rival) while he was at it.

      Interesting, I’ve not read Barres’ memoir. Yeah, looking forward to it… Not long now… 🙂

  2. Steve J says:

    Sahme you can’t find your photos as I’m sure they would really show of the superb AB figures in all their glory. As it is the pics shown are very impressive, even though they are from 21 years ago, which is a scary thought in itself!

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Hi Steve,

      Sadly my photography was absolutely rubbish in those days, but the photos did show the situation overall on the mahoosive table.

  3. Christian J says:

    Mark

    A great report and beautiful pictures the use of back screens make the pictures even more spectacular.

    Thank you for sharing, did none of the other payers take pictures? Although sharing print pictures is always so much harder scanning them in etc

    Best wishes

    Christian

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Christian,

      The two backdrops belonged to Duncan McFarlane and I think one was painted by Alan Perry. You’ll see them in LOTS of Wargames Illustrated photos from the McFarlane era.

      I will have to ask around. I’m still in touch with Dave Brown and Martin Gane.

  4. James Fisher says:

    That’s a marvellous looking version of Auerstädt. Well worth a redux posting!
    Regards, James

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