During the summer of 1813, Vandamme was attempting to connect with Marmont’s Corps d’armée somewhere in Saxony. Sacken’s Russian Corps was marching as quickly as possible to strike Vandamme before the French had concentrated. Yorck’s plan was to draw as much of Marmont’s Force upon himself as possible in order to keep the French separated.
In our first game at The Emperor’s Birthday began with the arrival of Yorck’s Prussian ArmeeKorps with Mutius’s Light Cavalry Brigade leading the way. Marmont’s attention was immediately drawn to the Prussian threat and after a sharp cavalry action both sides moved to concentrate their Forces. Meanwhile, Vandamme made the mistake of moving to confront Sacken, underestimating the Russian aggression. Seeing Sacken’s corps surge forward, Vandamme realized he needed to attempt to screen the Russians and run left to join Marmont, but it was too late – the Russians were too close and disengaging would prove difficult.
The French dragoons were committed against the Russian cuirassiers to bide time for the infantry to move east towards Marmont. The opposing cavalry bounced, tired and disorganized. Unfortunately, Pajol’s light cavalry brigade didn’t fair as well against the Russian hussars which drove them from the field. Vandamme’s 1st Division was quickly penned in by the Russian light horse, which swung across the French front and with the cuirassiers, together dispatched the French dragoons.
Yorck was very satisfied, having held Marmont’s attention with an ongoing skirmish across most of the opposing line. Marmont, on the other hand, was now realizing that instead of bringing Ricard’s veteran division against the Prussian left and crushing it, he may have to turn it west to cover Vandamme’s disaster, his 1st Division in retreat.
But luck struck. Vandamme committed a single 6-pdr battery to halt the charge of the Russian heavy cavalry into the tail of his 2nd Division, and amazingly, the battery managed to drive back the first squadrons to contact them, and get off another close range volley before pulling out with their guns. After nearly an hour of fighting against the dragoons earlier, this was enough to put the cuirassiers to bed. This was the break Vandamme needed. The Russian infantry made a strong push, supported by the exhausted hussars, but Vandamme’s 2nd Division held strong. Marmont sent forward a brigade of his own 2nd Division to break the skirmish and was able to drive Mecklenburg’s Brigade back. This freed Ricard to support Vandamme. Though the Russians made one more concentrated attack, it wasn’t enough and the French pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.