Saturday, January 19, 2013

1806 Campaign Day Five -- Missing Blucher

Blucher advances to find himself nearly surrounded! Meanwhile, despite being outnumberd 2-1, Soult holds his ground in front of Gera.

There was an interesting little drama on Oct. 15 that I was completely unaware of at the time.  Oct. 15 was basically another day of marching for most of the French army. Murat was still occupying Ruchel's attention at Gotha and Soult was jousting with a considerable number of Prussians at Gera, but most other Frenchmen were slogging along dusty trails.

Apparently around this time the redoubtable Gen. Blucher decided to push forward to see what he would find and soon found himself nearly surrounded by marching columns. He was, literally, in the middle of the entire French host!

Now, I don't know if any French formations spotted Blucher -- I don't recall getting any reports if they did -- but it's quite clear that Blucher spotted the French and hightailed it out of there just before the door shut behind him. I don't suppose he would have lasted long if there had been fighting, being outnumbered a dozen to one. This was the first in a series of missed opportunities for both sides that would occur over the next few days in the vicinity of Jena. The situation there was extremely fluid. It's also a good illustration of how a limited information umpired game is a very different animal from a regular board wargame. Absent some sort of "idiot rule" it's hard to see how something similar Blucher's adventure and the mutually hanging flanks that you'll see in the next couple of days would happen in your typical board wargame.

Blucher manages to escape. Meanwhile Hohenlohe seems to miss his last best chance
By late afternoon, Blucher has managed to extricate himself from his predicament as the French continue to close up on the main front. Looking at the map, it appears to me that this afternoon was Hohenlohe's last best chance to take the offensive and defeat at least a portion of the French army. While I no longer think a decisive victory was possible, he could have at least mauled one French corps. Soult was heavily outnumbered and had a substantial force off his left flank as well. I can only assume that the Prussian commander didn't have enough accurate reports to see the opportunity or time enough to issue the necessary orders. Within a few more hours the chance had passed, however.

Tomorrow -- The Battle that didn't happen

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