Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Campaign Diary 4 April 1813

The battle of Colbitz

There are five corps involved in this battle, two French and three Prussian. Not all of these corps would be able to participate in the way ordered by their respective CinC.

Prince Blucher was determined to destroy the French corps holding Colbitz, before it could be reinforced by the remainder of the French Army.

4th corps was ordered to hold Parey. This would pin the French commander at Colbitz, and force him to deploy part of his corps to hold the bridge on the river Elbe.

1st and 2nd corps were ordered to attack Colbitz.

Marshal Davout had ordered IV corps to hold Colbitz. They had been there for some days and were in contact with Prussian cavalry at the river Elbe bridge. They were also aware of Prussian movements to their north, but so far these had not attempted to move south.

Davout was also aware that the enemy had crossed the river Elbe and were pushing westwards. VI corps was approaching Colbitz from the west and were in contact with enemy cavalry at Kalbe. This indicated that the enemy were moving west towards Celle. He ordered VI to strike north at Kalbe and strike the enemy in the flank.

Both CinC had devised good plans, but neither would work out as planned.

General Yorck ordered 1st corps, screened by the cavalry brigade, to move south and attack Colbitz. However his cavalry were at Kalbe and unable to disengage from the enemy cavalry they were in contact with. His corps would have to march without their cavalry screen.

General Kleist ordered 2nd corps, again screened by his cavalry brigade, to attack Colbitz. However the line of march did not make allowance for delay due to off road movement. His cavalry would arrive in time to join the battle, but not the remainder of his corps.

General Tauentzien ordered one of his infantry brigades to join the cavalry west of the river Elbe and carry out a recce in strength towards Colbitz. However the corps is on Hold orders and this type of manoeuvre is not allowed. His corps would remain in defence throughout the battle. If his cavalry were attacked they could defend themselves, but no other troops were allowed to cross to the west bank.

General Reynier had ordered IV corps to prepare Colbitz for defence. He also ordered earthworks but these are not allowed in our wargame rules. His cavalry were ordered to recce towards Parey, but to fall back if threatened by superior odds.

Marshal Marmont ordered VI corps to move to Kalbe, screened by the cavalry brigade. The corps was on Engage status, and would attempt to engage the enemy cavalry they were in contact with. This status and these orders would prevent them “marching to the sound of the guns” at Colbitz. Had they been on Normal status this might have been possible.

So the battle would be fought by 1st Prussian corps, minus their cavalry, plus the cavalry brigade of 2nd Prussian corps. 2nd corps would march towards Colbitz by the fastest route available, as they would be “marching to the sound of the guns”. But they would arrive late in the day, if at all.

The scene was set for the battle of Colbitz.


  1. Will there be a simultaneous (game-time) action at Kalbe?

  2. No.

    Throughout 4 April the two cavalry brigades will skirmish, but the Prussians will fall back on Bismark.

    At nightfall VI corps will enter Kalbe.

    Once the decision was made not to allow VI corps to "march to the sound of the guns" (due to their explicit campaign orders) they can not play any part in the battle of Colbitz.

    This could well work to the advantage of the French Army.


  3. Hi Paul
    Looks like another interesting battle about to take place. That the battle has effects beyond the tabletop (campaign) just adds to the interest.

  4. Hi Dave

    Being part of the PBEM campaign makes it much more interesting for us too. The games are much more challenging as the battlefield is chosen by someone else.

    This one is particularly interesting, as it is a very uneven battle. Not one that I would have chosen as part of my previous solo campaign.

    Lets hope it makes a good wargame.