Monday, 8 July 2019

Black Powder: Liebertwolkwitz 1813 and a Farewell to Minifigs

The reason behind the odd title is that the main rationale behind this game was to farewell and celebrate the last of my old Minifigs. 

Storage space is needed and these are no longer really compatible in size nor quality with my 28mm collection. My childish painting attempts have been touched up from time to time, but there’s no getting away from their diminutive, true, 25mm dimensions. 

Still, they have all given years of stalwart service and hard use over the years, and they will be continuing to provide service donated to a younger wargamer who will be glad to have them. I will be retaining most of my Minifigs artillery however, since these have particular sentimental value.

But what better battle for the last hurrah of my Minifigs cavaliers than the epic cavalry battle of Liebertwolkwitz, prelude to Leipzig, in 1813? This battle has been characterised as the largest cavalry battle of the Napoleonic wars, and the open terrain leading up to the Galgenburg certainly provided space for massed charges and counter charges.

Murat was initially charged with leading the rearguard, but Napoleon allowed him to defend the ridge so long as he did not become too heavily engaged, and Palen believed he was pursuing a retreat, so the battle was something of a meeting engagement between the respective cavalry arms of France and Saxony, and the coalition allies of Russia, Prussia and Austria.

The ground was dominated by the Galgenburg, crowned by a French Grand Battery, with Liebertwolkwitz itself just off to the East.

Stats were taken from the 1812 supplement Clash of Eagles, with the French heavy cavalry stats watered down a little to reflect the parlous state of French horseflesh in 1813. Since the Guard were not present at this action, but I wanted my Minifigs Horse Grenadiers and Empress Dragoons to have their last hurrah, these were treated as Cuirassiers and Dragoons respectively. Command levels were 7 for the Russians and Austrians, and 8 for the Prussians, with Pahlen himself as CinC on 8. 

French commanders were 8. Although logistically Murat probably bore most responsibility for the wastage of French horses, his experience and brilliance once on the battlefield justify at least a 9 as the French CinC.

Since it was an encounter, the French and Coalition diced off for the first turn, with the Coalition winning.

Well aware of the firepower represented by the French Grand Battery, the Coalition were intent on closely engaging as soon as possible. 

On the flanks, the Prussians with their superior staff ratings had no difficulty in charging home, 

and similarly the Austrians arriving from Crobern lost no time in clashing steel. 

But the centre, consisting of a Russian Cuirassier brigade and a division of Dragoons, moved more ponderously, 

and so became the target of harassing long range bombardment.

The Prussian Dragoon brigade was itself counter charged by the elite Saxon Heavy Brigade, the famous Zastrow Kuirassiere and Lifeguard regiments, and, no doubt overawed, the Prussian heavies recoiled. 

Meanwhile the Prussian Uhlan brigade had more luck against the French Chasseurs and Hussars, sending the 5th Hussars packing. The Saxon heavies, somewhat weakened by their endeavours, now rallied and realigned themselves to face the triumphant Uhlans….

Pahlen, having retained the Russian Pavlovski Hussars and a Pulk of Cossacks in reserve, spotted the open flank presented by the Saxon realignment, and sent in the Pavlovs right across the battlefield with a ‘follow me’ order. At this point a real life ‘blue on blue’ confusion occurred as, getting my historical timeline blurred, I wondered why Russians would charge their Saxon allies! Chronology is so important when it comes to friends or foe!

Confusion overcome, the Saxon Lifeguards, shaken, found themselves caught at the halt by Prussian Uhlans to their front and Russian hussars on their flank. Somehow, they survived that first onslaught and then overcame both sets of charges.

On the otherside of the table to the East, the redoubtable Austrian horse was managing to coordinate all their charges, for once, and so creating real pressure on the French heavies. Their initial screen of Hussars and Chevaux-Legers managed to disorder the French Dragoons before being forced back themselves, allowing the Austrian Kuirassiere every advantage in pressing home on the French flank.

In the centre ground, the Russian Dragoon division had surrendered the initiative to the French Cuirassiers and Dragoons and their first line of regiments were being forced back in disorder…

However their second line was able to charge successfully and regain some ground. The centre was holding, and both flanks were pressing back the French and Saxons. 

Above all, the Coalition’s aggressive assaults had provided the Grand Battery with few easy targets, and it was having very little impact on the battle.

Indeed, the game was settling into a very historical refight, with most clashes ending in one side or other retiring, only to rally and return for another inconclusive clash. However, despite the lack of a clear result, it was a spectacular game and a great way to farewell my old Minifigs cavaliers!


  1. Fabulous mate,

    great to see such a splendid send off for your les grognards, I have played this scenario once, it is a grand spectacle to see such a large amount of cavalry on a table! I do hope you figures see another few outings with their new owner.

    French Wargame Holidays
    L'Hotel de Hercé
    Mayenne, Pays de La Loire
    "Walk the battlefield in the morning, Wargame it in the afternoon"©

  2. Well done and a good report.

  3. Lovely looking battle and one Ive never attempted. Well done although shame about getting rid of the Mini Figs.

    1. Thanks mate - yes I recommend it - terrain is pretty straightforward and because its just Horse and Guns it plays pretty fast...

  4. Artillery......When pew pew doesn't kill them Try BOOM BOOM or What doesn't kill you will make you stronger except artillery.Artillery will destroy you. ....or We may not be first in but in this case we are the last out. Minifigs for the win :)

  5. Lovely armies, the mass cavalry is spectacular, what a fine 'send off' and no doubt an eager 'younger' gamer will be putting them to good use. Nice post.

  6. Great game, must try it myself sometime :)

    1. Thanks mate! Yes recommend it, let us know how you get on...

  7. A late comment as is my way!

    Great to see all that cavalry on display.

    You were much kinder to your old Minifigs than I was. The less said on this the better!


    von Peter himself