French Briefing. The Battle of Großbeeren 23rd August, 1813

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1 French Briefing The Battle of Großbeeren 23rd August, 1813

2 It is truly difficult to have fewer brains than the Duke of Reggio! - Napoléon Bonaparte (upon hearing of Marechal Oudinot s retreat after Großbeeren)

3 Intelligence Briefing Historical Background: Following the Battle of Bautzen, in May 1813, during the War of the Sixth Coalition, both sides agreed to a seven week truce to plan and better prepare. When the campaign resumed, in August, Napoleon ordered an offensive drive to take the Prussian capital of Berlin. With its capture, he hoped to knock the Prussians out of the war. Meanwhile he kept the bulk of his army on the strategic defensive, to deal with any potential moves by the large Austrian army, which had now gathered in southeastern Germany. For this task, he chose one of his bravest and best commanders, Marshal Nicolas Oudinot, to lead the offensive. Oudinot tried to turn down this honor due to his poor health. He had been wounded on several occasions during the previous year's disastrous campaign in Russia, and had not yet fully recovered. But the emperor insisted, so Oudinot with three corps of about 60,000 men advanced on Berlin. Unknown to both Napoleon and Oudinot at the time, this strategy played right into the Coalition's hands. In accordance with their Trachenberg Plan (formulated during the truce) they would avoid any large, main engagement with Napoleon himself until after they had gathered overwhelming strength and weakened the emperor by defeating his marshals in separate, smaller battles.

4 Intelligence Briefing Oudinot s Advance on Berlin: From its start the offensive was plagued by misfortune. On the same day as the advance began, 19th August, heavy rain storms broke out turning the roads into muddy quagmires and making it nearly impossible to move the artillery. Further hindering the advance, the area south of Berlin was crisscrossed with small lakes and swamps. In the best of weather there were only a couple of roads by which to approach the city from the south and rain turned many of the Prussian defensive positions into fortified islands. As a result Oudinot was forced to advance his Army along three separate roads, with little communication between them. The 13,000 men of General Bertrand's 4th Corps to the right, General Guilleminot's 12th Corps 20,000 inexperienced recent recruits on the left and in the center was the 27,000 strong main column of General Reynier's 7th Corps largely made-up of French allied Saxon troops. On the 23rd August Oudinot did not expect any serious opposition but a lack of cavalry kept him unaware of the position of the enemy. The road to Berlin itself was defended by the Army of the North, commanded by Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden, formerly French Marshal Bernadotte. This force consisted of 110,000 Prussians, Russians and Swedes.

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6 Commander-in-Chief: Maréchal Nicolas Charles Oudinot, 1st Duc de Reggio (absent from the main area of battle) Order of Battle

7 Order of Battle IV Corps: GdD Henri-Gatien, Comte Bertrand 12th Division: GdD Morand 1st Brigade - Belair 2nd Brigade - Hult 15th (Italian) Division: GdD Fontanelli 1st (Italian) Brigade - Martel 2nd (Italian) Brigade - St. Andrea 3rd (Italian) Brigade - Moroni 38th (Wür ttemburg) Division: GdD Franquemont 1st (Württemburg) Brigade - Spitzenberg 2nd (Württemburg) Brigade - Doring

8 Order of Battle VII Corps: GdD Jean Louis Ebénézer Reynier 24th (Saxon) Division: GdD Le Coq 1st (Saxon) Brigade - von Brause 2nd (Saxon) Brigade - Mellentin 25th (Saxon) Division: GdD Sahr 1st (Saxon)Brigade - von Bose 2nd (Saxon) Brigade - von Ryssel 32nd Division: GdD Durutte 1st Brigade - Jarry 2nd Brigade - de Vaux

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10 Scenario Notes Scenario Map (8ft x 5ft): Großbeeren, Didersdorf, Blankenfeld & Juhnsdorf are small towns (each is 2 x 1BW in size and can be garrisoned). Neu Beeren & Klein Beeren are villages (each is 1BW in size and can be garrisoned). The Nuthegraben stream river cannot be crossed South of the Großbeeren - Didersdorf road. North of this it can be crossed by Infantry & Cavalry only (difficult movement). French Dispositions: No. 1: IV Corps - Bertrand Setup as indicated on the map. The Corps is in march column along the Juhnsdorf - Blankenfeld road with the head of the column is on the Northern edge of woods North of Juhnsdorf. No. 2: VII Corps - Reynier These arrive as reinforcements at 11:00 (Turn 7). The Corps is in march column on the road heading towards Großbeeren.

11 Scenario Notes French Special Rules: No. 1: Units cannot be activated by command as the C-in-C is absent from the battle. No. 2: No sub-commanders are available (neither Corps commander displayed any special traits etc. during the battle) No. 3: All French units can use the rally rule (pg. 87) No. 4: Before the battle the French player may choose to strip the attached artillery from any units of VII Corps and create either 1 or 2 foot artillery batteries - per the rules (pg ) Once the decision has been taken it cannot be reversed later. To represent this the attached artillery trait on the unit cards should be crossed out. Victory Conditions: Prussian: The Prussians win by taking Großbeeren and the Windmill Heights - Map Red 1 - (being the last to occupy them with an infantry brigade) by dusk or by breaking the French morale before the end of the game. French: The French win by occupying both Gross Beeren and the Windmill Heights - Map Red 1 - with an infantry brigade on the last turn or by breaking the Prussian morale before the end of the game. Other Info: Weather: At 15:00 (Turn 19) the weather conditions deteriorate and heavy rain begins to fall across the battlefield. To replicate the effect on the infantry all firing is treated as skirmish fire for the remainder of the game. Melee attacks and artillery are unaffected. Momentum : 2 dice per side. Game turns : The game lasts 31 turns. The game starts at 09:00 (turn 1) and ends at 19:00 (turn 31). One turn is about 20mins.

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