Author Topic: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout  (Read 15596 times)

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Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #180 on: July 04, 2018, 01:41:15 PM »
Dispatch - Lannes to Davout

From: Lannes
To: Davout, copies to Emperor Napoleon. Marshals Augereau, Bernadotte
Time: 0000 20 October

M. Davout,

General Foucher's cavalry has reached the road north from Weissenfels. I have directed him to prepare for action along the road, and to advance patrols to the river bridges to determine if they are held in strength by the Prussians. If not, I intend to destroy them, trapping the enemy against the river. If they are, I will take them under artillery fire as soon as there is enough light.

General D'Hautpol's curassiers are also across the river, and moving to reinforce Foucher. The infantry divisions are beginning to cross now. Corps engineers anticipate having a second bridge available by 0100.

Do you have any word on Ney's corps or the Guard?

Lannes


To: Lannes
Time: 0030 20 Oct
From: Davout

[I understand we are no longer co-located.]

I am pleased to hear of your progress!

I do not know of Ney's corps, though some discussions suggest it gave away both its infantry divisions; Gardanne's division is just south of Weissenfels.

I believe the emperor intends to attack on the morrow; Bernadotte shattered a division and the intent is to push in and follow up, rolling up Brunswick's line.  Your bombardment can only add to the enemy's impending rout.

- Davout


Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #181 on: July 04, 2018, 01:42:37 PM »
Message form Davout, 0030 20 Oct

To: Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Lannes, Augereau, Bernadotte, Murat
Time: 0030 20 Oct
From: Davout

Gentlemen!

My officers and I spent some effort on puzzling out who was in front of us and their current state:

=====
On the left, it was Division Scharnhorst.  They were struck, but held their ground and seemed ready to defend in the morning if need be.

In the center you confronted the large divisions of Arnim and Blucher.  They continue to possess the advantage of holding the town as they chose not to advance during the last "battle turn".

And, on the right, you have convincing reports that Division Saxe was shattered with significant losses to these troops.
=====

That's roughly half of Brunswick's corps in front of me; and Bernadotte appears to have put Ruchel's largest division to flight.

My own forces are dwindling.  My first division, facing Scharnhorst, is still steady; but my divisions facing Arnim and Blucher are not up to offensive tasks tomorrow, and my cavalry now numbers only 300 demoralized sabers and its commander, Vialannes, is dead.  The cavalry has provided excellent service so far in the campaign, but yesterday's events make it a spent force.

My intention for tomorrow is to line one division up in front of each enemy division, dig in, and hit them with artillery fire.  My 2nd and 3rd divisions very nearly crumbled yesterday and I do not want the next iteration to go worse.  I will pull my shattered cavalry into reserve and see if a day of rest can get them into something approximating a fighting force again.

I believe Lannes will be sealing off the Prussians from the north.

I am not certain of Bernadotte's intentions but hope that he has met with success across the board similar to that of his fight against Saxe.

Saxe's presence in Weissenfels makes me wonder about how much force is present in Naumbourg.  Could it be taken, and Augereau's forces brought to bear on Weissenfels?

- Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #182 on: July 04, 2018, 01:44:03 PM »
Orders for 3rd Corps, 0030 20 Oct

Copy to:  Emperor Napoleon, Marshals Lannes, Augereau, Berndotte, Murat

Soldiers!

We have pinned half of the enemy's largest corps in Wiessenfels.  Marshal Lannes is sealing their escape to the north, moving across a bridge built by our corps; and Marshal Bernadotte has put one of Ruchel's divisions, weakened by our prior efforts, to flight. 

We will defend our frontage tomorrow, lining up one of our divisions against each of the enemy divisions facing us - I believe this to be our current disposition. 

Dig in.  We are now the anvil while Marshals Bernadotte and Lannes are the hammer; as the anvil, we must hold the line.

Artillery is to maintain fire on the enemy.

If the enemy begins to crumble in front of us due to events elsewhere, we will attack and pursue to ensure his rout. 

Cavalry: form in reserve and rest.

Vialannes' cavalry division deserves special mention for its bravery and sacrifice; of its 2,000 men, only 300 remain, and Vialannes himself numbers among the slain.  At dawn, the cavalry, the corps officers, and I will hold a brief service of memorial for the fallen and thanks for their sacrifice for France.

- Davout


Bernadotte sends:

Empereur and Marshal Davout- I will place Gen DuPont (1000 casualties ) into reserve and continue to press the attack with 3 infantry divisions (one of which is Gen Gardannes fresh division) at 1000 after the completion of a two hour bombardment starting at 0800. I expect my 1st Corps light cavalry brigades detached from Gen Tilly to return from patrol tomorrow sometime. One cavalry brigade is returning from Leipzig and I will discover from them the strength of the Prussians along the route from Leipzig to Weissenfels. If Kleins div of heavy cavalry can support the assault that would add gravitas. And any reserve artillery that can be employed as a grand battery with 1st Corps artillery for the morning bombardment would be welcomed.
Regards
Marshal Bernadotte

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #183 on: July 04, 2018, 01:46:38 PM »
Evening conference continues 0030+ 20th October Weissenfels

From Napoleon:
Marshals,

Based on the information I have digested since midnight, I perceive that Davout and Bernadotte have been effectively combining forces on a three-sector front against the Prussians -- which I have aided a little by my support in the central section, and by committing Klein to the assault on right sector along with my reserve artillery.

In order to ensure that the Prussians are not allowed to refill the shattered right sector, we must advance into it before dawn -- currently this is the assignment of Bessier's rested cavalry who, aside from some remaining fatigue, should be in both high moral and (so far as I recall) at full strength. Has a recommendation been made to send someone in with his division before dawn?... or perhaps after dawn, once he has secured the position?

This is a case, speaking OOC for the nonce, that I don't quite have a grasp on the mechanics of the battle board and relative positions of the enemy. If Bessier can advance into the Prussian left sector (facing our right sector), we have no need to line up infantry on our right sector anymore, do we? Or, do we? -- must we secure our right sector and/or the abandoned Prussian left sector from Prussian encroachment into those sectors from outside the 3x2 board? Obviously we can feed our troops in! -- I presume the Prussians can at least feed troops into their two remaining sectors and, conversely, they must be capable of withdrawing from those sectors, which our estimable Lannes is in the process of sealing off. By the same token again, can Lannes assault their two remaining sectors from the rear while we're doing our things 'in front' and on the side?

Much remains unclear to me. But it seems to me that if our left sector can hold its ground for now, in preparation for a shift in our concentration of force, then we should 'load up' our central sector with the best and freshest troops remaining to us. 2/3 of our artillery including my army reserve shall, as suggested, start a preparatory bombardment for a couple of hours on the central Prussian sector, which I expect to be reinforced for various reasons (if they don't try to withdraw to escape the trap, and if reinforcements can even still enter from the Prussian side at this point). Should this bombardment not start at 6am however? Is there some need to wait two more hours to 8am? (Or am I misremembering the suggestion as 8 to 10 bombardment?) Perhaps this is to give Bernadotte's cavalry time to return from their mission to Leipzig?

At the designated hour of the end of the bombardment, Bessier (at least, perhaps another division if one advances into the Prussian abandoned sector with him) shall start the flank attack on the Prussian center, and that shall be the trigger for our own central attack by the infantry (presumably with continued snipe-salting on local positions by our artillery). Our right-sector infantry will defend in place until whenever we crack the central position and can all converge on the Prussian right sector (in front of our left).

I am a little loath to bring Klein back in without rest, as I am concerned his fatigue may cause him problems. But we hold him as reserve on-call, instead of resting, then perhaps he can tip the balance in an emergency or (preferably) help in hounding pursuit duties. I would not want to depend upon him crucially -- no disrespect to him or his forces, just a prudent respect for the situation until he can rest. Ideally however I would prefer for him to rest for the day as Bessier did and be prepared for action on the 22nd. I am not convinced we actually NEED him,and surely his gravitas would weigh more heavily upon the enemy after proper food and rest?

Much good rumination so far. I must say I am extremely pleased to hear about Gardenne's presence, although I can barely claim credit for it. (And I remain worried that his absence from East Wing has helped precipitate disaster far off to our right.)

Napoleon



From Bernadotte:

Sire, here is my detailed Corps status:

Division Dupont has sustained some 1,000 casualties.  Its morale is good but its fatigue is high.

Division Klein has good morale and fatigue.

Division Rivaud has good morale but high fatigue.

Division Tilly, still awaiting the return of the brigade sent out for reconnaissance, has good morale but above normal fatigue.

Division Drouet has good morale but above average fatigue

Division Gardanne at full strength, high morale, and very low fatigue

 

Marshals Lannes attacking across the river may be hampered by the terrain and with Davout spent the Prussians may be able to concentrate on their defense against the 1st corps.  The Prussians are also just as fatigued albeit in better terrain so might be worth pressing until someone breaks first.  There are approximately 3 Prussian Corps in the vicinity of Weissenfels and likely all on the defensive tomorrow am.  I am not sure of the time of local sunrise in Oct hence the 0800 start.  I will check with my ADC and commence the bombardment 30 minutes after sunrise.  Gen Klein has relatively good morale and fatigue – sorry for this tardy report.

 

Vive L’empereur!

 

 
From Napoleon:

1.) Do you mean only Dupont's division has suffered serious casualties in your corps so far?

2.) Do you mean Klein's fatigue is good (=low?), or that he has average fatigue? It sounds as though he might be useful for aiding the fight after all. (I mean actively aiding, not just aid-by-position.)

My impression is that our artillery will prove the decisive advantage tomorrow, considering that relative fatigues on each side will be high. And perhaps Gardanne's division, for much the same reason (a fresh strong punching to exhausted troops).

Napoleon



From Bernadotte:

Sire, here is my detailed Corps status:
Division Dupont has sustained some 1,000 casualties.  Its morale is good but its fatigue is high.
Division Klein has good morale and fatigue.
Division Rivaud has good morale but high fatigue.
Division Tilly, still awaiting the return of the brigade sent out for reconnaissance, has good morale but above normal fatigue.
Division Drouet has good morale but above average fatigue
Division Gardanne at full strength, high morale, and very low fatigue
 
Marshals Lannes attacking across the river may be hampered by the terrain and with Davout spent the Prussians may be able to concentrate on their defense against the 1st corps.  The Prussians are also just as fatigued albeit in better terrain so might be worth pressing until someone breaks first.  There are approximately 3 Prussian Corps in the vicinity of Weissenfels and likely all on the defensive tomorrow am.  I am not sure of the time of local sunrise in Oct hence the 0800 start.  I will check with my ADC and commence the bombardment 30 minutes after sunrise.  Gen Klein has relatively good morale and fatigue – sorry for this tardy report.
 
Vive L’empereur!



From Davout:

I shall prepare my corps to support the attack, beginning with artillery bombardment to commence when Bernadotte's does (currently 0800) and ready to jump off when the troops in front of each of my divisions gets hit in the flank.

OOC, I am not sure how the combat system is being run, so I am largely ignoring that angle and simply laying it out in my head.  Might be accurate, might not, but so far so good.  :)


From Umpire:

The combat system runs L-C-R and it's most useful to me (in fact necessary) to know who is in each sector and who, if anyone, is in the reserve.

As the result of yesterday's action, you have cut the RIGHT (from your perspective) which means that the Prussians cannot flee that way.

Each unit contributes a certain number of combat dice.  Various modifiers contribute a number of combat dice.  Various units contribute a certain amount of combat modification (DRMs).  I then roll two sets of dice and compare the results.

It's deliberately simple, but I like the results so far.

NOTE:  In-character arguments (think Matrix games) can influence the battle.  In one instance -- literally a year ago -- a general told me he was making an inspiring speech to his men and provided the full text.  This does NOT, NOT, NOT always work, but it can provide a small benefit as well.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #184 on: July 04, 2018, 01:47:25 PM »
Orders for III Corps - REVISED -- 0100 20 Oct

From: Davout
To: III Corps, Emperor Napoleon, Marshalls Lannes, Murat, Augereau, Bernadotte
Time: 0100 20 Oct

NEW ORDERS

Marshal Bernadotte has been reinforced and will attack tomorrow at 1000, with an artillery bombardment commencing at 0800.

III Corps will support this attack with artillery and its own attack.

All artillery will commence fire on the Prussians at 0800.

All divisions will be prepared to attack by 1000.  Divisions will attack when the flank of the Prussian division they face comes under threat.  We expect to roll the Prussians up from the right.

- Davout


From Bernadotte:

1st Corps Orders:

1st Corps Artillery to be in place to commence bombardment at 0800

Division Gardanne and Division Drouet to Attack at 1000 with support from Division Tilly and Division Rivaud

Division Dupont to be placed in Reserve

Division Klein to support attack at 1000 unless Napoleon directs Klein otherwise.

 

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #185 on: July 04, 2018, 01:47:52 PM »
Evening conference concludes 0400+ 20th October Weissenfels

Marshals,

With dawn approaching I am returning to take position on the far right of the battle sector, where I can lend support to the flanking attack of the Imperial Guard, as I think is most appropriate. I have looked over the orders set previously by both of you and I have no alterations or questions.

I have received no couriers at all this evening, which is odd, and most especially troubling from a lack of contact with the East Wing. At 4am, some lower officers traveling on night duties informed me that local trade rumor among the locals is that bloody fighting continues somewhere this evening after midnight, even down to this late hour. Where, I have not been able to ascertain -- is it down at Nurembourg? Or are Ney and Soult fighting to survive or perhaps to escape? Has our rear been compromised? Supply does not seem diminished yet; I trust I would hear about our lines of communication being breached.

At this point all we can do is crush the enemy faster, we hope, than they are mauling us. To the work, then!

Napoleon

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #186 on: July 04, 2018, 01:48:40 PM »
DISPATCH -- FROM CONTROL -- 0900, 20th October

Marshals,

On schedule at 0800, the sound of cannon fire is heard from the South of Weissenfels.

S!

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #187 on: July 04, 2018, 01:51:03 PM »
DISPATCH -- LANNES to DAVOUT -- 1030, 20th October

From: Lannes
To: V Corps, copies to Emperor Napoleon, Marshal Davout, Marshal Bernadotte, Marshal Augereau
Sent: 0500

Generals,

We are now in a position to hold the Saale river crossings above Weissenfels. Our cavalry is in position and the infantry is on the way. Marshal Bernadotte will begin an attack against the Prussians in Weissenfels at 1000, supported by Marshal Davout. The attack will be proceeded by an artillery bombardment beginning at 0800.

As the crossings are lightly held, General Foucher is ordered to move to immediately seize the river crossings. General D'Hautpol's heavy cavalry will support Foucher's cavalry. Artillery is to be positioned to command the crossings and their approaches from the Weissenfels side.

When 1st Division arrives, it will relieve General Foucher's cavalry in holding the bridges. The cavalry will retire into support. On arrival, 2nd Division will position itself across the road north from Weissenfels and in support of 1st Division. Foucher's cavalry will screen the corps to the north along the road from Weissenfels. D'Hautpol will act as the corps reserve. All artillery is to be massed to the front of the 2nd Division, commanding the bridges and approaches.

We are the cork in the bottle, gentlemen. We will hold here, pinning the Prussians in Weissenfels to be destroyed by Bernadotte and Davout.

I am moving my headquarters now to General Hautpol's position.

Allons Y!

Lannes

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #188 on: July 04, 2018, 01:51:31 PM »
Davout to Davout, 1100 20 October

If I'm not currently there, I'd like to move up to see how things are going with 2nd and 3rd division and any sign of Bernadotte's attack on the flank of the forces facing them.

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #189 on: July 04, 2018, 01:52:01 PM »
DISPATCH -- LANNES to DAVOUT -- 1100, 20th October

From: Lannes
To: Marshal Davout, copies to Emperor Napoleon, Marshal Bernadotte, Marshal Augereau
Sent: 0700

My brother Marshal,

My cavalry is in place cutting the road out of Weissenfels. I have seized the bridges over the Saale, and await the arrival of my infantry. At this point the Prussians are either unaware of the presence of my forces or have elected to ignore it.

I will remain in place until the battle develops south of the Saale. I will either act to stop a Prussian withdrawal from Weissenfels or, if the situation seems favorable, advance across the bridges and attack them from behind once they are engaged with your forces.

Lannes



From: Davout:
To: Marshal Lannes, copies to Emperor Napoleon, Marshal Bernadotte, Marshal Augereau
Sent: 1100

Marshal Lannes,

Excellent news!

Our artillery is currently pounding away and all is apparently covered in smoke, as I know nothing else save your message.

Perhaps, by the time this reaches you, we shall have met in the middle of Weissenfels....

- Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #190 on: July 04, 2018, 01:52:37 PM »
DISPATCH -- AUGEREAU to FIRST MARSHAL MET -- 1130, 20th October

A hussar on a winded mount rides up to your mobile command post bearing the briefest of messages from Marshal Augereau, viz.:

"To whichever commander this missive may find.  I remain before Naumbourg.  I have heard the sounding of the guns in the direction of Weissenfels.  What transpires and what action ought I take?  And has anyone had word of His Majesty? -- A."

The hussar awaits your patience.



To: Marshal Augereau
From: Davout
Time: 1200, 30 October

His majesty the Emperor is with us at the Battle of Weissenfels; currently a hot action in which we appear to be gaining the upper hand elsewhere, though I am pounding away at Blucher and Scharnhorst.

If you have dealt with the Prussians in Naumbourg, then your assistance here would be welcomed; but I would be reluctant to leave them unattended in our rear.

- Davout

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #191 on: July 04, 2018, 01:53:07 PM »
DISPATCH -- MURAT to DAVOUT -- 1200, 20th October

From: Marshal Murat - at crossroads, between Nordhausen and Eisleben
To: Marshals Davout, Lannes, and Bernadotte
Time: 2000 hrs, 19 October

Gentlemen -
I am encamped with my corps at the "T" crossroads, approximately 20 kilometers west of the town of Eisleben. My troops have spent the day resting and should be in fine fettle for action tomorrow. Scouts have reported the presence of an enemy division of both cavalry and infantry, estimates at 12,000 to 16,000 men. Based on the uniforms and banners we have seen, I believe this force to be General Wurtemberg's Reserve corps.

My intention tomorrow is to advance on Eisleben, occupy the town, and then continue east in the direction of Halle. However, if Eisleben is (as I expect) strongly defended,  I do not believe I have the strength to take Eisleben on my own. Instead, I shall merely block the northern and western roads leading out of that town. My goal in this eventuality will be to force any Prussians in Eisleben to either stand their ground (thus keeping them from reinforcing any Prussian forces along your anticipated axis of advance) or get them to retire eastwards, under close pressure by me, in the direction of Halle, where together with your stronger forces should be able to catch them in a vise and defeat them in detail.

Your comrade-in-arms,
Murat





From: Marshal Davout
To: Marshal Murat, Lannes, Bernadotte, Augereau, and Emperor Napoleon
Time: 1200 30 October

Marshal Murat!  This is excellent news.  (Your message of 2000 19 October repeated below for the benefit of those who may not have seen it yet.)  We are

We are currently engaged in a stiff fight for Weissenfels and appear to have trapped Brunswick's corps there. 

- Davout

=======
Gentlemen -
I am encamped with my corps at the "T" crossroads, approximately 20 kilometers west of the town of Eisleben. My troops have spent the day resting and should be in fine fettle for action tomorrow. Scouts have reported the presence of an enemy division of both cavalry and infantry, estimates at 12,000 to 16,000 men. Based on the uniforms and banners we have seen, I believe this force to be General Wurtemberg's Reserve corps.

My intention tomorrow is to advance on Eisleben, occupy the town, and then continue east in the direction of Halle. However, if Eisleben is (as I expect) strongly defended,  I do not believe I have the strength to take Eisleben on my own. Instead, I shall merely block the northern and western roads leading out of that town. My goal in this eventuality will be to force any Prussians in Eisleben to either stand their ground (thus keeping them from reinforcing any Prussian forces along your anticipated axis of advance) or get them to retire eastwards, under close pressure by me, in the direction of Halle, where together with your stronger forces should be able to catch them in a vise and defeat them in detail.

Your comrade-in-arms,
Murat
===========

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #192 on: July 04, 2018, 01:54:41 PM »
The Battle of Weissenfels -- 20th October -- 1000-1200

Marshal Davout,

The attack on Weissenfels and its environs began as planned.

In your sector (the left) your men went forward bravely and met the single division of General Schanhorst.  These are stout defenders and seemed to have had the best of the fight, but numbers are beginning to tell against the Prussians.

In the center, the story is much the same with General Blucher inflicting a slight defeat on those forces that advanced against him.  Neither side, however, achieved anything approaching a real advantage.

Matters on the right are confused.  You could distinctly see in the distance Prussian infantry and cavalry fleeing pell-mell for the bridge over the Saale and being repulsed by the men of Marshal Lannes' corps.  IG Cavalry is in pursuit of these same troops.  This cannot bode well for the King of Prussia.

S!



To Umpire:

So, ever since I read this, I have been pondering...  it this the moment I should commit myself into the front lines, rally the troops, and try to crack the enemy line?

It might work.  (I have my copy of Le Vol back from the student who has been borrowing it all year, but I have not looked to see if there's anything in the system to back that up.  Doesn't matter.)

But if it fails - and the corps commander dies - then the corps may shatter, which would be Really Bad for the French battleplan.

So...  I am not doing it.

Yet.

Because we need to hold and pin Blucher & Scharnhorst more than we need to crush them in a frontal assault.

Thought you might enjoy the peek into my internal debate.  :)


From Umpire:

Most courteous to invite me inside your mind.  I promise to leave this as I found them, as best I may.

Here's the thing:  were this face-to-face, Boney would be the Supreme Commander of this battle and he'd be sitting opposite the lead Prussian Commander.  He and the Prussian would then alternate deploying divisions face down, with the French allowed one last fiddle.  Then, all division cards are turned face up and the dice are totted.

In that scenario, Davout has got to be on the field, if for no other reason than the French are really, really, going to want the Boney bonus and he cannot command without Davout being committed elsewhere.

I rather like how this has evolved, although certainly different from stock "Flight". but I HAVE been committing you to the fray.  To be in the hazard, your side would have to lose by more than 20.  Your results have never been close to that...



To Umpire:

Well fair enough then, I shall picture myself as encouraging the troops from the front lines, then.  :)

Have at the Hun, men!  :)

Offline James Sterrett

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #193 on: July 04, 2018, 01:55:21 PM »
...  and that's where the reports stopped!

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Six Days in October: The Collected Correspondence of Marshal Davout
« Reply #194 on: July 05, 2018, 11:01:35 AM »
The most recent reports (since yesterday), illustrate how courier lag time can bite us. As Bern and I (Nappy) were making our grand counter-clockwise loop to approach Weis' from the east/south, naturally we were out of contact, and even once we arrived we created a frontage so large that combatants on the left could make adjustments a lot more quickly than they could communicate and discern matters where we were (and vice versa).

Also, since I had tried to set things up for the marshals to operate in a decentralized way, precisely because of anticipated courier lag, I hadn't very well anticipated that the marshal/players would be wanting instructions or even opinions from me on literally anything! Otherwise I wouldn't have force-marched around (largely at night) to steal a march on the Prussians. But my faith in y'all being more competent than I am, paid off.  ;D  O0
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