A Bridge Too Far?

  • Finishing off our 3 match series between my Spanish and his Prussians, Mitch chose the Widow Creek Ridge scenario. Capitano Jose Fernando de Sagras y San Miguel was the attacker, with 24 points, racing to take and cross the bridge to the Eastern bank. Prussian Lt. Luchs had 18 points (with 4-6 of them set up in hard cover breastworks covering the Western side of the bridge) to thwart the Spanish.

    Capitano Fernando deployed 4 units of his trusty Line Infantry in column, those on the Western flank Good Shooters, and a Medium Gun to reduce the Prussian breastworks before the infantry got within firing range.

    Lt Luchs outmanoeuvred his Spanish counterpart once again deploying a large unit and a small unit of Line Infantry to harass the Spanish advance with fire across the river, the larger unit nearer the bank shielding the smaller unit from return fire. Further East he deployed a regular Line Infantry and unit of Aggressive Light Horse, led by Luchs himself. Defending the bridge were a small and a regular unit of Timid Line Infantry - dangerous at range, but half dice when it comes to fighting.

    Seeing the threat from the two Prussian units almost within touching distance across the river, Jose Fernando wished that he had the foresight to deploy his best shots to the bank as it was sure to be a bloody affair.

    The Spanish screening forces opened fire on the large body of Prussians, killing 3 thanks to their first fire bonus. The Prussians wavered, gaining a disorder and only killed one Spaniard in return while the smaller Prussian unit dithered and did not fire. The respite would not last long and, although the Spanish took down another 2 Prussians, preventing the larger unit from returning fire, the apparent dithering of the smaller Prussian unit was revealed to simply be them taking careful aim. When they did fire it was a devastating volley, felling 4 Spaniards. Fearing a disaster, Jose Fernando ordered the screening forces to fall back and keep the larger Prussian force between them and the deadly smaller Prussian unit.

    Elsewhere things were going better for the Spanish. The Medium Gun killed two of the Prussian Line in the breastworks by the bridge, causing disorder, while the infantry advanced.

    They would have to cover the crucial, final yards without artillery support, however, as the advancing troops blocked the gun's line of sight.

    Luchs continued to struggle to control his infantry but his one salvation was his cavalry, who had already made it to the Eastern side of the bridge before the Spaniards had even engaged the breastworks.

    Being unable to provide support to the assaulting units the Spanish gun lent its firepower to cover the fall back of the unit screening the river, felling more Prussians.

    Clearly this new threat proved to be too much for the large unit of Prussians for when they tried to activate Mitch rolled a double 1 then a 3, meaning the unit retreated a double move, causing them to exit the battlefield.

    More bad luck followed for the Prussians when the unit defending the nearest breastworks failed to fire at point blank range into the advancing Spaniards, while the farther breastworks were still out of range.

    They say, "Fortune is ally to the brave!" and so it was for the Spanish. Their screening forces had faced down twice their number and lived to tell the tale and now their march on the breastworks had, miraculously, seen them close to charge range without taking any fire. Jose Fernando intended to take full advantage of this good fortune and ordered an immediate assault on the breastworks.

    Thanks to the breastworks the Spanish needed 3 successes for a kill versus 2 required by the defenders, however the Timid Prussians would only roll 6 dice versus the Spanish 12. Both sides still had their First Fire so the Spanish needed 4 or more (charge bonus) versus the Prussian 5 or more.

    More poor rolling by Mitch ensured the Spanish prevailed, seizing the breastworks from the Prussians who, although forced to retreat, did so in good order.

    With a route across the bridge blocked by his own dislodged defenders Luchs ordered his cavalry to fire on the Spanish, but to no effect, while his remaining small unit by the river exacted another heavy toll on the battered Spanish screening forces, causing them to retreat off the battlefield.

    Jose Fernando pressed his advantage with his lead unit engaging the retreating Prussian Timid Line, forcing them halfway back across the bridge. Meanwhile his second Line Infantry charged the second breastworks (I committed my hard won major plot point card "Double Six" to be able to charge 12"). While the small unit of Prussians were forced back they, again, held their nerve - Luchs might have been struggling to motivate his men to attack but they showed time and again that they would defend to the last man for him.

    With the bridge now clear Lt Luchs prepared to sweep across the bridge and smash the leading Spanish infantry but before he could call the charge two of his men fell to accurate sniper fire from the woods at their rear (I rolled a double six for the activation of the Medium Gun followed by a 3 for "Independent Fire - enemy unit shot by off table marksmen).

    Ignoring the disorder in his forces Lt Luchs bravely charged in, smashing the Spanish infantry off the bridge with two kills from just six dice although, in another stroke of luck they retreated back into the breastworks in good order. Discretion prevailed and Luchs decided not to follow up with, what would have surely been, a suicidal assault against the breastworks.

    Unfortunately, this proved to be the high water mark for the Prussians. Withering fire from the Spanish Line killed horseman after horseman until Luchs was the last horseman on the bridge. Understanding his value to the future of the Prussian cause Luchs departed the field and, with the loss of their officer and dropping to below 50% strength in the same turn the remaining infantry on the bridge also fled.

    The Spanish Medium Gun finished off the remaining Prussian forces by the river and the final defenders at the breastworks fled to safety after holding their ground long after anyone had any right to expect of them.

    As the Spanish column marched across the bridge the remaining unit of Prussian Line, who still had not fired a shot in anger, and were still out of range of the enemy , headed back to friendly lines.

    Capitano Jose Fernando secured 6 more honour to Lt Luchs 0 and, upon hearing of his promotion, even found time to demonstrate to his troops some of his ballroom dancing skills - his dandy fashion of dress suddenly making all the more sense to his men.

    Another enjoyable game that looks much more one sided than it played. Almost every critical timing activation that Mitch rolled was failed (including the double 1 that routed his biggest unit), whereas every critical roll of mine succeeded (including the double 6 that shot up Mitch's aggressive cavalry just before they charged my infantry).

  • Thanks for the game Andy, definitely seems like the Spanish have got the measure of the Prussians, and dealt them a well deserved bloody nose with a well co-ordinated infantry attack against the bridge.

    Seems Luchs was sent to this minor theatre of war for the Prussians to keep him away from more critical fronts.

    His speciality in storming defences may be required soon if his superiors find out about his disastrous showing and decide he should lead the Prusaian equivalent of the "forlorn hope" perhaps his trait was a sign of things to come:/