Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1806 Campaign Day Three -- Hesitation?

On the left, Murat finds Ruchel, while on the right Soult and Berndotte lose contact with Hohenlohe at dawn.
The third day of the campaign saw most soldiers in both armies more or less idle.

In the French Army, bemused soldiers looked up from their cooking fires from time to time to see yet another earnest young man in a fine uniform gallop past on a well-lathered horse. There were so many that at least one corps commander was prompted to wonder if one of his colleagues has broken up a cavalry regiment for messenger services.

While the movements were small on Oct. 12, they were significant.

On the French right flank, Hoehnlohe had fallen back during the night, and Soult began a cautious move forward. I'm not sure why the Prussians fell back, but in my opinion this was one of the turning points in the campaign. Instead of aggressively fighting against Bernadotte and Soult, and calling in Brunswick for support, this surrendered the initiative and enough ground on the far side of the passes for the entire French army to deploy.

Looking at the map, I can also see that I had left Bernadotte and Soult somewhat exposed. The main body of the French army was really too far away to be in real supporting distance, so it's possible that the Prussians missed an opportunity to achieve a decisive battlefield superiority over a portion of the French army. This was unintentional on my part and unrecognized at the time. As will become apparent, I did my best to keep the elements of the army within supporting distance as a rule and this window of vulnerablity soon closed.

Meanwhile, over on the left, Murat made contact with elements of Ruchel's command near Gotha. Murat and Lannes, needed no more encouragement and were swiftly drawn like moths to a flame to confront the enemy.

By nightfall Soult has regained contact with at least part of Hohenlohe's forces while Murat starts to bring his troopers forward. Note that most other units in both armies have spent the day in place.
Tomorrow -- The Battle of Gotha, 13 Oct. 1806

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