Author Topic: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout  (Read 27411 times)

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Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #45 on: May 16, 2018, 08:17:55 PM »
[In this instance, Umpire Jim gave me an opportunity to make a decision about a battle, even though I was not directly present.]

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So, you did it.

Lasalle and Sahuc have caught a mixed Prussian division (actually, they're all mixed on that side)  of roughly equal numbers near that fork in the Gotha-Erfurt Road.

Here's the thing:

In the game, combats are resolved (typically) on a three-sector board -- left/center/right, think Columbia's Napoleon.  Because there are so few units in this one, it will be a two sector fight.  Combats, which I will adjudicate, last two hours.  I am preparing to ref the first round.  You have a decision:

Attack with both Sahuc and Lasalle in the main area (the one where the Prussian division is) or allow your smaller division to work it's way around to the flank.  The latter choice obviously, give a sizeable bonus to subsequent combats in the center, but only after the first round.

I came up with a million reasons (OK, fewer than that, but you take my point) for either side, but decided that, ultimately, I needed to let the commander make the call.

The dice await you.

Thanks,

Jim

------

My reply:  Outflank please.



Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #46 on: May 16, 2018, 08:18:15 PM »
DISPATCH -- From Control, 1200, 13th October

Marshal Davout,

Beg leave to report that you can hear the rumble of battle -- the "sound of the guns" -- to your North.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #47 on: May 16, 2018, 08:18:55 PM »
Reply to the Umpire: 

Encourage the troops to step out....  the more Prussians we kill, the
more Prussian widows they will have to console; and the faster we kill
them, the sooner we can commence the consolation.

 (  I'm not sure I have an infantry-step-out speed available... and I
suspect that the timing is such that the Prussians will slip away
before the infantry catches up regardless - unless my cavalry division
east of Erfurt is causing great confusion and convinces Ruchel to make
a stand.  So it's down to that cavalry flanking maneuver...  if it
works out spectacularly, Ruchel gets a division smashed.  Otherwise he
slips away again. Overtaking a delay is a pain in the ass.)

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #48 on: May 16, 2018, 08:19:17 PM »
DISPATCH -- LANNES to DAVOUT, 1130, 13th October

SENT 0600, 13th October

To: Marshals Murat and Davout, and all V Corps Divisions, General D'Hautpol

Marshals!

This morning my orderly brought me something called "beer soup" to break my fast. Germany is truely a barbarous land, fit only for these swamp-dwelling Prussians.

My forces moved last night  toward the Ohrdruf-Gotha crossroads in pursuit of Prussians, and are strung out between there and the stream just north of ORANGE. I am going to consolidate V Corps and attachments in the vicinity of Gotha before moving further east toward the river line and crossroads.

I have received the reports from Marshal Davout and my cavalry that Gotha is empty of enemy troops, and General Ruchel is running away eastwards as fast as his carriage can carry him. With Marshal Davout in contact and holding Arnstadt and Gotha, I think it prudent to reassemble my corps. I will then move east from Gotha, collecting the trrops left by Marshal Davout, and make to join him along the road to Erfurt.

Orders for 13 October
V Corps and attachments will move from present positions along the Orhdruf-Gotha road to Gotha, there to meet up with the two divisions currently in possession of the town. Once the entirety of V Corp is assembled in the vicinity of Gotha, along with general D'Hautpol's division, we will proceed according to the following plan.

D"Hautpol, V Corps 2nd Division (Gazan) and III Corps 1st Division and LaSalle: Advance east along the Gotha-Erfurt road to the juncture with the road to Arnstadt, making contact with III Corp advancing from the south. If the Prussians are encountered here and attempt to hold this position, join with III Corps in attacking them. Otherwise, tactical control of III Corps 1st Division and LaSalle's division return to Marshal Davout. 2nd Division and D"Hautpol's division are then to move north of the road juncture and take up a position between the road and the ridgeline to the north, facing east.

V Corps 1st Division and Cavalry Division: After the concentration at Gotha, move northeast from Gotha to seize the high ground of the ridge line the the north of the Gotha-Erfurt-Arnstadt road junction and northwest of Erfurt. If 2nd Division and Marshal Davout appear to be engaged at the road junction. based on the sound of the guns, move southeast toward the Gotha-Erfurt road to cut the road to the rear of the Prussian position, trapping them against Davout. If there is no engagement, 2nd Division is to hold the ridge line and establish contact with 1st Division as it move north of the road junction. Foucher's cavalry division will advance to the road leading north from Erfurt, scouting to determine the location of Prussian forces.

I will move my HQ first to Gotha, and then with 2nd Division to the Gotha-Erfurt-Arnstadt road junction, and finally with 2nd Division north of the road junction.

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #49 on: May 16, 2018, 08:19:32 PM »
Sent 1200 13 October
From: Marshal Davout
To: Marshals Lannes and Murat

Marshals!

Thank you for your note, Marshal Lannes.  My condolences on the "beer
soup".  I have been "treated" to hard nubbins of bread that taste as
if they were shat out of the ass of a thrice donkey-raped devil.

Hopefully Generals Sahuc and Lasalle will pin the Prussian division
they have brought to heel for long enough that we can whip it.

- Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #50 on: May 16, 2018, 08:19:54 PM »
DISPATCH -- LANNES to DAVOUT, 1400, 13th October

SENT 1200, 13th October

Gentlemen,

It sounds as if M. Davout has discovered the Prussians. Rather than waiting at Gotha, proceed with all haste to march to the sound of the guns, deploying as per the following:

D"Hautpol, V Corps 2nd Division (Gazan) and III Corps 1st Division and LaSalle: Advance east along the Gotha-Erfurt road to the juncture with the road to Arnstadt, making contact with III Corp advancing from the south. If the Prussians are encountered here and attempt to hold this position, join with III Corps in attacking them. Otherwise, tactical control of III Corps 1st Division and LaSalle's division return to Marshal Davout. 2nd Division and D"Hautpol's division are then to move north of the road juncture and take up a position between the road and the ridgeline to the north, facing east.

V Corps 1st Division and Cavalry Division: Move northeast from Gotha to seize the high ground of the ridge line the the north of the Gotha-Erfurt-Arnstadt road junction and northwest of Erfurt. If 2nd Division and Marshal Davout appear to be engaged at the road junction. based on the sound of the guns, move southeast toward the Gotha-Erfurt road to cut the road to the rear of the Prussian position, trapping them against Davout. If there is no engagement, 2nd Division is to hold the ridge line and establish contact with 1st Division as it move north of the road junction. Foucher's cavalry division will advance to the road leading north from Erfurt, scouting to determine the location of Prussian forces.

I will move my HQ first to Gotha, and then with 2nd Division to the Gotha-Erfurt-Arnstadt road junction, and finally with 2nd Division north of the road junction.

If you and your troops make contact with Marshal Davout and III Corps before I arrive, place your unit under Davout's tactical control until my arrival.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #51 on: May 16, 2018, 08:20:14 PM »
DISPATCH -- SAHUC to DAVOUT, 1400, 13th October

SENT 1000, 13th October

My Lord Marshal,

We have found the men of Lasalle's division.

I believe the forces of Weimar's Prussian division lie between us and them guarding the East bank of the river along the Gotha-Erfurt Road.  I am preparing to attack.

Vive L'Empereur!!

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #52 on: May 16, 2018, 08:21:02 PM »
Sahuc to Davout

SENT 0800, 13th October
ARRIVED 1400, 13th October

My Lord Marshal,

Very pleased to report that we have seized the bridges Northwest of Arnstadt.  We have seen two divisions of Prussians marching East, just West of Erfurt, along the Gotha - Erfurt Road.  I am keeping them in sight.

S!

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #53 on: May 16, 2018, 08:21:19 PM »
DISPATCH, VIALLANES to DAVOUT -- 1700, 13th October

SENT 1500, 13th October

My Lord Marshal,

Beg leave to report that we have arrived at Arnstadt  None of the foe is in evidence.

I await your patience.

GdB JBT Viallanes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #54 on: May 16, 2018, 08:23:07 PM »
[I asked where I was as of 1700 13 October.  Umpire Jim's reply is here....]

I have only rarely "cheated" by leaving the game map and checking other sources.  This is one of those times.  The route I have you following to Arnstadt the village is a valley that shoots at a pretty near 45 from where you would have had to leave the road.  The route to the bridges would have slowed you significantly as you crossed the intervening forested ridgeline.

Ergo, you find yourself <10 KM SW of Arnstadt with one hour left to go until nightfall.

Your orders had been to camp, but I was going to put the question to you whether you wanted to push through one hour of night to bring the tip of your proverbial spear to Arnstadt.
------------

My reply to the question of pressing on:  Do push on to Arnstadt, please.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #55 on: May 16, 2018, 08:26:06 PM »
[The whole chain of attempted outflanking movements, trying to break Ruchel's escape, caused me a lot of pondering, and a lot of nerves on the value of cross-country marches vs the congestion of roads and the probable greater speed of the Prussians on their roads.  Also, I have to wonder how things might have turned out had Brunswick decided to get involved in the fight that eventually destroyed Ruchel.]


Dispatch: Davout to Lannes and Murat


SENT: 1700 13 October
ARRIVED:   eventually, I hope
TO: Marshals Lannes, Murat, and Bernadotte
From: Marshal Davout

Marshals!

I am approaching Arnstadt along with my 2nd and 3rd infantry divisions
- not my original intent, but the uncouth terrain of this German
wilderness rerouted me.  My cavalry division is already in Arnstadt
and we hope they have not consumed all of the available wine before we
arrive.

I have not heard from Generals Sahuc and Lasalle since a message from
General Lasalle at 1000 this morning, when he most commendably
intended to engage the Prussians between Erfurt and Gotha.  I presume
that the silence indicates that they, along with my 1st division, have
come under Marshal Lannes' distinguished guidance in accordance with
their instructions.

However, a decision now awaits me, to be made before we begin to march
tomorrow morning:

Should I....

a) Go north & west to reinforce the battle already underway (and quite
possibly concluded) west of Erfurt;

or

b) Go north and east to the east of the river and Erfurt, in order to
attempt to outflank and catch General Ruchel's forces?

Option a is certain to reunite my corps, but offers no hope of
catching General Ruchel unless he chooses to come back to aid his
hopefully-beleaguered or -destroyed division.

Option b would commit my force to another wildreness march, but with
some hope of catching Ruchel, especially if he has reacted to the
battle west of Erfurt by moving to reinforce it.  Option b would see
my current force at Arnstadt arriving to the road east of Erfurt
sometime later tomorrow afternoon - possibly just in time to cut
Ruchel off, or to assist in outflanking his position guarding the
river.

Option b also commits my force into the dark, uncertain of where the
rest of the Prussian Army is.

My instinct is to commit for option b, on the assumption that our
forces have overwhelmed Ruchel's lone division, and the rest of his
forces are either withdrawing or holding the river line at Erfurt.
While I would incur a measure of risk by plunging into the unknown,
with your forces bearing down from the west there is a good chance
that would wound find ourselves acting in mutual support; and if not,
then my corps can sell its lives to draw enemy forces from your battle
west of the river at Erfurt and thus move us towards eventual victory.

In the event that I become too heavily engaged to stand my ground east
of Erfurt, I will withdraw in the direction of Arnstadt.  If I have
gained access to the bridge at Erfurt, I will use it instead, but in
that circumstance I suspect we will have linked up directly.

If you prefer that I commit in a different direction or manner, please
let me know.

Marshal Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #56 on: May 16, 2018, 08:26:25 PM »
DISPATCH -- SAHUC to DAVOUT, 1830, 13th October

SENT 1600, 13th October

My Lord Marshal,

Weimar's men are in retreat pell-mell to the East.

We are in pursuit, but night draws on!

S!

GdD LMA Sahuc

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #57 on: May 16, 2018, 08:26:36 PM »
SENT 1900 13 October

TO: Marshals Lannes & Murat; copy to Marshal Bernadotte

I have just read a note from General Sahuc, sent at 1600, that
Weimar's division of Ruchel's corps has been broken and is fleeing
eastward!  Vive la France!  Vive l'empereur!

In the absence of orders to the contrary, I will take their direction
of retreat as evidence that the bulk of Ruchel's corps lies east of
Erfurt, and will maneuver up the east bank of the river with my
cavalry division and 2 infantry divisions tomorrow, expecting to
either meet your forces there, or to outflank Ruchel's forces
defending the river.

- Marshal Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #58 on: May 16, 2018, 08:27:02 PM »
Dispatch to Marshals Lannes & Murat

SENT 1930 13 October
TO: Marshalls Lannes & Murat; copy to Marshal Bernadotte
From: Marshal Davout

Marshals, after further consideration as I move through the gathering
dust to the potentially wineless (and worthless - but I repeat myself)
hamlet of Arnstadt, a few thoughts:

Weimar's division comprised the majority of Ruchel's quality combat
power.  His advance guard is half the size and Saxe demoralizes his
men though methods better left unstated lest we dishonor his animals.

Tomorrow morning, my forces could move up the east side of the Gera
River directly towards Erfurt.

My forces could also strike to the northeast with the objective of
threatening Weimar.  It would be a 1.5 to 2 day march overland to
Weimar; but this offers a better opportunity to decisively cut off
Ruchel's corps if he continues to retreat and does not make a stand at
Erfurt.  This does present the greater risk of running into the rest
of the Prussian forces piecemeal.

The deeper strike does not precisely conform to our Emperor's wishes
for us to hold and defend the line in the vicinity of Erfurt in order
to retain the ROY passes.

I believe we are also offered an opportunity to destroy Ruchel's
corps, which would bring our forces significant advantage in the
campaign as a whole, which we have been given the latitude to do, but
I do not believe it wise to embark on the march to Weimar without
first coordinating the move with your forces.

In the absence of orders to the contrary, tomorrow morning I will
maneuver up the east bank of the Gera, expecting to either meet your
forces there, or to outflank Ruchel's forces defending the river.

- Marshal Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #59 on: May 16, 2018, 08:27:47 PM »
DISPATCH -- BERNADOTTE to DAVOUT, 2000, 13th October

SENT 1000, 13th October

To Napoleon, Marshal Murat, Marshal Davout, Marshal Ney, Marshal Lefebvre /Bessieres: General Klein's cavalry division dispatched from Murat's cavalry corps has joined my 1st corps at Saalfeld.  There is still no sign of the Prussians here.  Marshals Soult and Bessieres have encountered small Prussian detachments at Hof and Schleiz but was unable to engage them before the Prussians retired north/north east in haste. Marshals Murat and Davout are in pursuit of Rachel's Corp near Erfurt and retiring towards Weimar.
The whole 1st corps will march north overland to the T junction on the road leaving from Weimar directly south.