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Bill101

1870 Franco-Prussian War AAR

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"It turned out that two of our new divisions ( one infantry and one cavalry ) couldn’t be deployed in the town of Reichshoffen because the location was already captured by the enemy"

Is that like what happens in the WW1 scenario when German units taking some Russian cities prevent the deployment of some Corps? If that is the case I think it should be corrected somehow because it leads to some gamey play.

Otherwise the scenario looks to be very playable and enjoyable. I think that maybe the Napoleonic campaign of 1813 in Central Europe, with the huge ammount of troops involved, could also be a playable scenario.

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The enemy's thrust on Saarlouis has been repulsed!!

French units couldn't retreat quick enough when we launched our counterattack. Even our cavalry were unable to keep pace with the speed at which some of the French retreated! But many were too slow to get away, and French casualties have risen considerably over the last few days. :)

1870-08-08_zpsa8abeec1.gif

So, what will Napoleon III do now, maintain his forces near the border, or retire on Metz and await developments?

In the meantime, the Crown Prince's 3rd Army have captured the fortress of Bitche, and are now advancing south towards Strasbourg.

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On 9th of August the French HQ gave an order to conduct a series of retreats from the border area, towards more defensible position in the vicinity of Metz. The German reserves in the area have proved to be quite considerable, so holding the forward positions could mean an early defeat and unnecessary loses among our forces. Two more enemy divisions were destroyed and a cavalry division was forced to retreat.

1t9i.png

All in all, so far the combat results are quite encouraging because the invaders have suffered much higher loses than we did.

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Thousands of Frenchmen are retreating westwards, with our infantry and cavalry in hot pursuit!

So hot in fact that our 2nd Cavalry division sacrificed itself in a "Death Ride", destroying a French infantry division but being itself annihilated in the process. Such is the price of glory, cost what it will.

jkjdk4.png

Rather than push the French centre back on Metz, our forces are advancing north and south of the fortress. The northern spearhead has surrounded the fortress of Thionville, and the southern spearhead has secured Morhange.

1870-08-10_zps3724ff17.gif

Meanwhile, our scouts have spotted a large French force near Phalsbourg. They'd better get away from there soon unless they want a one way ticket to a Prussian P.O.W. camp!

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French army continues its gradual retreat west. with We hope to establishing some more solid defence along the line of river Seille and the fortress of Metz. Unfortunately the Germans are advancing concentrated along 2-3 main axes and our forces are much more dispersed. The enemy is also much stronger in terms of the artillery and can replace his loses faster than we do, so any prolonged confrontation could end up in a total annihilation of the entire French army…

Another interesting event:

2zwh.png

Privately we believe that the days of the Emperor are numbered and much prefer to increase the morale of the army. So we politely thank His Majesty for his assistance and wait impatiently for future developments in the capital…

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Hello Bill,

you made me a happy man. Just have playd a few rounds this great mod.

Thank you very much for this game.

I have been surching so many years for a game about this war.

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It's the 12th August and events are developing in Alsace as we make a move to surround and then lay siege to Strasbourg!

1870-08-12_zpsf1fc0bb4.gif

The situation further near Metz is full of activity, though with very little combat this turn. The only attack we launch is to storm the fortress of Thionville which guards Metz's north flank.

To the south of Metz we are advancing at top speed. How will the French react, will they continue their withdrawal or be bold and counterattack?

Now is their chance, perhaps their sole opportunity to achieve a glorious victory before our lead elements link up to the west of Metz and trap the cream of the French army!

Here's the updated strategic situation. Note how things have changed since my last update:

1870-08-12warmap_zps4c37402d.gif

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Just as an aside, when playing this be sure to check out the 1870 Franco-Prussian War Player's Guide which will be in the Manuals folder once you've installed patch 1.03.

It includes information on the unit types, guidance on some features specific to this campaign, and a list of all the Decision Events and their implications.

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It becomes clear to the French High Command, that the treacherous enemy is trying to bypass our fortified position in Mezt. One German Army is marching to the north of the fortress, towards the mines of Briey and another has already reached Pont A Mousson on Moselle, south of Metz.

Our commanders don’t waste any opportunity to counterattack and the Prussian spearhead of the northern pincer has been annihilated:

vuo.png

We were unable to counterattack in the south and for the moment frantic efforts are underway in order to prevent the enemy from crossing of the Moselle line:

xrwy.png

The speed of the German advance here is an unpleasant surprise to us and now we need to act accordingly.

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Our cavalry reconnaissance reports that the main French force is retiring from Metz!

We switch to the defensive around Thionville and instead probe towards Metz from the north, while also switching to the defensive south of Metz. Apart from hammering some Garde Mobile at Pont-a-Mousson who made an easy target. :)

Further to the south east, our 21st Infantry Division has run into a surprise enemy formation at Sarrebourg, and in attempting to bring up support to the division, we discover an opportunity to cut off an enemy Headquarters to the west of the town. Reports indicate that it is General Faidherbe.

1870-08-14_zps0eafd533.gif

Our troops have never forced march as much as they have in the last few days, and we hope that the sweat expended will contribute greatly to our victory, for if we can batter this HQ then victory will be all that much closer.

The situation is very fluid and we are not following any specific plan of campaign, but instead seeking opportunities and trying to keep our opponents on the horns of a dilemma as to where we will strike next!

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We are in the mid August now and the overall situation which has developed around the fortress of Metz is quite encouraging from the point of view of the French HQ. In the area of Briey a series of counterattacks has been undertaken and few enemy divisions have been forced to retreat with heavy loses. South of Metz the German southern pincer stopped it’s march westwards and no attempt has been made to cross Mossele at Pont-A-Mousson. Unfortunately the casualties we have suffered in the recent fighting are high and difficult to replace. Due to that no serious, operational scale French counterattack can be put together…

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Further south, the rapid movement of the Germans has surprised our General Faidherbe. Fortunately the forced march and poor supply affected the enemy units and our reserves were in place and gave the enemy spearhead a bloody nose.

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Note that the fortress of Phalsburg remains French! The strong garrison has been left there intentionally in order to slow down the German advance. It will require few enemy divisions and the artillery support in order to capture the town. More importantly the position is perfectly located in order to interdict the supply routes on the main axis of the enemy advance!

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Pont-a-Mousson is occupied by the 24th (Royal Saxon) Division, and the Garde Mobile nearby are now isolated so they will probably have to withdraw, giving us the opportunity to occupy more of the Moselle's west bank.

1870-08-16_zpsfb9162ec.gif

The French fortress of Phalsbourg has been taken by storm! Despite the casualties, securing it clears up any doubt about who is boss in this region.

The bombardment of Strasbourg continues, and reinforcements are on their way to join our armies so as to replenish our losses ready for the next stage of this campaign.

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The evil Germans took the bait entering Pont-a-Mousson at Moselle. Our reseves were hidden in some distance behnid the river ( out of spotting range of the excellent Prussian cavalry ) and a counterattack followed, resulting in two infantry divisions being removed from the enemy Order of Battle:

j33o.png

Note that most of our units are understrength – we are simply unable to reinforce all of our divisions and have to prioritize, which of them are going to receive the replacements first.

There has been no combat in other sectors. It looks like the enemy is ready to conduct the assault against Strasburg and there is nothing we can do in order to prevent it. We decided to leave the city to it’s own fate in order to shorten our frontline. We are sure that France will be victorious at the end and Strasburg will return to our great motherland!

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The French are continuing their retreat, and given the fiery nature of their counterattack at Pont-A-Mousson, it is time for the Crown Prince to come to the aid of Friedrich Karl. Our forces are on the move!

1870-08-18_zpsfa271672.gif

In the meantime, we destroyed the French 5th Cavalry Division that had attacked our artillery, and further to the south east, Strasbourg is now fully surrounded by von Werder's army. We may even launch an attack on the city shortly.

So far we've been able to replace most of our losses and bring our units back up to strength, so despite the stiff actions we've been fighting, our armies are in better shape than the enemy's.

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There has been no major combat on 19th of August. Only our excellent 24th DivisioN battered an enemy unit that has approached Metz. Right now, we have to watch closely the moves of German army led by the Crown Prince. It is a large, mostly intact formation and it’s commitment may swing the course of the battle. Will Crown prince move against Metz from the south eastern direction? Or will he choose a shorter route to attack Nancy? He can also try to cross Moselle – this time with an overwhelming force. We have to be ready for each of those eventualities…

***

OUR TROOPS IN METZ LOOK A LITTLE BORED. SO FAR THEY HAVEN'T HAD MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO FIRE THEIR GUNS IN ANGER

8b80.jpg

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First thing to do this turn is to replace the mediocre von Steinmetz with a much better commander: August von Goeben!

Goeben's name should be familiar from WWI, where the Cruiser named after him played a pivotal role in bringing the Ottoman Empire into the war.

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Von Goeben takes over command of our forces near Metz, and his appointment comes at a time when we are intending to increase our pressure on the enemy here.

In the meantime, things are hotting up to the south of Metz as Friedrich Karl batters the Garde Mobile defending Dieulouard, while the Crown Prince continues to advance in support.

The French line seems very weak in between Metz and Nancy, so will we go for Nancy or shall we reinforce our crossing of the Moselle and outflank Metz from the west?

1870-08-20_zps9e85670b.gif

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Still no serious fighting to report ( except for one German cavalry division forced to retreat by our brave Garde Mobiles on the approaches to Nancy ). It looks like the Crown Prince Army will be striking towards Nancy and part of it will try to cross Moselle again. Let’s wait and see if this assessment will proves to be correct.

Another interesting decision event and we are going to say “yes”. We need our troops to be in a good shape, however 150MPP is a lot given our limited resources.

7q8.png

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Your AARs are effective: I am drawn to the game each time you do one.

A scenario designer question: Did the French make any horrible mistakes in this campaign, historically? And if they did, how does one model that, or one does not even try? There must be some judgment issues here. Theoretically, anything other than a crushing German victory would, historically, be a great French victory. But it is like the "Sedan" factor in the initial WW2 invasion of France, you can't unwrite a surprise--no French WW2 player is going to march the bulk of his forces into the low countries. How does on account for this?

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Thanks Rankorian, and yes, the French handling of the campaign at the start was really bad. Their leadership in the shape of Bazaine, the Emperor and MacMahon, wasn't any good at the time. It was quite ineffectual, with Bazaine dithering, and MacMahon managed to get his army almost totally destroyed at the battle of Sedan.

It is very hard to fully replicate this first stage of the war due to the benefit of hindsight. However, the French face tough choices which mean they have a certain inferiority right from the start, and if they take too many risks then a catastrophic defeat can be experienced.

Their commanders are poor quality, and useless without reinforcing which is quite expensive to do. It's also much harder for the French to replace their casualties, which is why I am able to take more risks in this campaign. Most units Ivanov has battered have been reinforced or will soon be replaced. The French don't have this luxury.

But France has a certain amount of staying power, and new forces will be raised with time, though none of them will ever be of the same quality as her starting units.

I used books by four authors in researching this campaign, all of which were very useful, and in case you're tempted to study this war, here are the details:

  • Michael Howard - The Franco-Prussian War
  • Geoffrey Wawro - The Franco-Prussian War
  • Douglas Fermer - Sedan 1870: The Eclipse of France
  • Douglas Fermer - France at Bay 1870-1871
  • Quintin Barry - The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71: Volume 1: The Campaign Of Sedan. Helmuth Von Moltke And The Overthrow Of The Second Empire
  • Quintin Barry - The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71: Volume 2: After Sedan. Helmuth Von Moltke And The Defeat Of The Government Of National Defence

I enjoyed them all, and they are all somewhat different from each other.

Barry's second volume covers in great detail the attempts by the new French Republic to raise new armies from scratch to break the siege of Paris. This aspect of the war has come to interest me more and more than the initial phase, as some of them did better than expected. Plus by this time lots of International volunteers were arriving in France to help them, the most notable being Garibaldi.

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Ok, it's time to start dealing with the enemy, so the first thing we do this turn is to hammer the French forces guarding the Moselle crossings.

Two Garde Mobile units, and one regular Cavalry Division are destroyed in the operation. Take that Napoleon!

A Garde Mobile unit at Marieulles just south of Metz proves more resilient, with the survivors still clinging to the village at the end of the day. The image will certainly make a nice painting after the war.

Meanwhile, it's time for another grand move, as von Werder launches his forces in all out attack on Strasbourg! It is more successful than we could have hoped for, and now we can exploit our success here to move toward our next objective.

Strasbourg_zpsd48d3b57.gif

Could our next objective be Belfort, an advance through the Vosges, or even a thrust north west to secure Nancy?

1870-08-23_zpsb6f06226.gif

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It seems like the enemy is trying to overcome Moselle with the brute force and heavy, inconclusive fighting still takes place in the vicinity of Pont-A-Mousson.

Our brave Garde Mobiles indeed withstood the German assault at Marieulles:

g877.png

And here’s the painting depicting the heroic stand ;) The zeal of our Garde Mobiles represents the spirit of the new France, which we believe will come to life after this war is over…

oe93.jpg

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Nice painting! ;)

Von Werder is following up his victory at Strasbourg by marching on Belfort. Lead elements including a cavalry division capture Mulhouse this turn, so Napoleon had better get some forces into Alsace soon if he doesn't want to lose another important fortress.

Further north, we have now well and truly crossed the Moselle!

Only some French cavalry put up any resistance this turn, and as one would expect, they didn't stand up well to our Needle guns. :D

We've also decided to liven things up a little at Metz, where the French garrison have been taunting us from the ramparts. So it's time to attack, and before the day is out we have driven one French division from the defences of Metz!

1870-08-24_zpsbac93cb3.gif

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