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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

vendredi 24 août 2012

Chinese vs. Multinational (1900)

Tien Tsin
July 13th 1900

This is a refight of the scenario presented in the relevant section of this blog.

General Fukuyama decided to send his Japanese brigade through the marshes, supported on their left flank by the Americans, who were to advance along the causeway. The French occupied the School of Medicine in force, with Hold orders, ready for the inevitable Chinese attack at this location.

General Ma deployed two infantry brigades in the built-up zone, along with the Chinese artillery. The cavalry brigade was deployed in the centre, and the third infantry brigade dispatched down the road leading to the School of Medicine. Ma, with three battalions of Imperial Guard (FF,nbl) under his command, set up HQ at the base of the inner city wall.

The Japanese advanced with vigour, picking a bold and undeviating path across the flooded zone.

The Americans unhesitatingly moved, at double-time, down the causeway, in column. Meanwhile, the French settled into the School of Medicine, getting the better of an exchange of fire with the Chinese troops among the salt-heaps.
When the Chinese artillery opened fire from its concealed position in the built-up zone [movement base], Colonel Liscum seemed most surprised. Caught in column, his casualties were fairly heavy. Ma sent a militia-heavy brigade to "finish" the Americans. Unfortunately for them, they advanced head-on, rather than attempting to capture the cemetery and then fire upon the enemy's flank. The casualties resulting from this error were to be horrendous. Worse yet, the militia cut across the artillery's field of fire, leaving them unable to support the attack.

Proof enough that fortune favours the brave, the Japanese advance began to go astray...but brought one battalion bang onto the left flank of the Chinese militia, whilst still being protected from artillery fire by intervening units. Things began to look shaky for General Ma on this flank.

Fortunately, as soon as Ma had seen that half the allied army was defending the School of Medicine, rendering its capture by assault impossible, he had given new instructions to the infantry brigade on the river-bound flank. It was ordered to advance and then suddenly swing around to threaten the Japanese flank. The cavalry brigade was to advance closer to the School of Medicine to skirmish, and slow down all attempts by the French to come to the aid of the Rising Sun.

This movement caught the Allies completely by surprise, and would cost them many lives. The attempts by the Japanese to redeploy exposed them to cannon fire on their flank, and to the breech-loading rifles of Chinese troops already installed among the ruins. One Japanese battalion was shot to pieces, its last survivors charged by none other than Mandchou horse archers and saved only by its flight into the marshes.
Meanwhile, the French had assembled comfy armchairs in the courtyard of the School of Medicine, and settled in for a pleasant nap, disturbed only by the bark of cannon and occasional cries of pain in Japanese and American which floated across to them on the warm summer air.

Despite having managed to throw back the Americans, by 19h30 the militia brigade had been annihilated (as, it seems, is their wont...).

The causeway was momentarily free of troops, held only by the two Chinese artillery batteries, and by a battalion of infantry. The Japanese were in pretty bad shape - the Chinese were by now beginning to infiltrate the marshes - but the Americans, as Ma discovered to his dismay when he politely asked what strength they were at, were hardly scratched after all. The initial artillery burst had caused them losses, as had the push-back, but that was actually all they had suffered.

This was the moment that Ma chose to commit the Imperial Guard and his personal banner. It was a bold decision that actually sent a shiver down the spine of his enemies, but only because they are Napoleonic Wars players, where "Guard" means "decent troops" of course !

Seriously, though, this could have swung the battle, as the French were still tarting about and had only just received the order to advance (it had taken that long for de Pelacot to come and meet Fukuyama in the marshes, receive his orders and transmit them to his men).
Tragically, the Chinese guardsmen were dogged by a) bad luck and b) a stoic refusal to actually use their rifles, preferring their nice shiny bayonets instead. Japanese shooting soon threw into disarray their attempts to close, which in turn distracted Ma's attention and prevented him from changing the orders of his left flank brigade to something more appropriate for the situation.

By 20h30, the Chinese Imperial Guard had been shattered. The Japanese could now redeploy and, at long last, protect their exposed flank. With the French advancing, General Ma decided to withdraw his troops back to safety.

We played 6 turns and decided to end the battle there. The Allies were awarded a marginal victory. They would not have been able to take the built-up zone without French help, which was more than 2 turns away.
The Japanese lost 75% of their strength and the Americans 30%, for a total loss of 53 strength out of 127. The French, of course, suffered virtually no casualties at all. The Chinese lost just over 50% of their 262 strength, which is par for the course...
If the Chinese came close to victory, it must be remembered that the Allies had committed only half of their's, due to the error of over-garrisoning the School of Medicine. Chinese orders had been inspired, but their casualties in executing them too high, due to an excessive use of the bayonet throughout the battle (my fault !)

By shooting rather than charging, they would have had a far more decisive effect.
Ignoring the cemetery was a mistake for both sides, as its control would have been a far more effective protection or menace to the Japanese flank than the positions taken up during the refight.
The non-committal of the French forces makes the balance of the scenario hard to evaluate : our general feeling was that one less battalion in the Allied OOB would be appropriate.
Other than that, a most enjoyable battle !

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