Thursday, April 11, 2013

Battle for Berlin

A grand battle for Berlin is shaping up now, with Marshal Ney advancing in force on the city.

Berlin c. 1800

In 1813 the city and region of Berlin had a population of around 1.5 million, given that the allied armies had failed in May of 1813, there were efforts made to shore up the defenses of the city, notably written by Bulow.  However, in the rush to enable recruitment and finding the cupboard empty of arms, many of the Landwher regiments were only partly armed with muskets, the rest having not much more than pikes or farm implements.  The Freewilliger corps were even more hastily armed.

Certainly there would have been the manpower to improve the city defenses, similar to that found in advance of the Borodino battle, where massive earthworks were prepared.

What of the situation for our fictional Berlin in August 1813?

How many defenses were actually prepared to the south of the city?

What sort of civil defense measures might have been possible?  Conscription? More wild partisan-like units?

What would happen to the million plus inhabitants of the city once Ney's advance cavalry guard arrived on the 18th August?  Would there have been an evacuation already?  Would there be a panic, that might interfere with military operations?

Please do comment on your thoughts about this situation.


  1. Considering the lack of firearms available any sane defensive commander would balk at actually trying to organize any willing citizenry into military units. Where a commander would use the citizenry is to aid and improve his internal logistics.

    Messengers who know the city would be able to move messages faster. Ammunition and supplies can be moved faster with more hands to make light the work. Masons would know weak points of the walls that needed reinforcement. Laundries, messes, bivouacs and all the thousand and one little logistic details that an army needs could all handed off to the civilians.

    What this would do is to cause an overall improvement in the effectiveness of the defending troops. There wouldn't be more of them, but they would be better supplied, better rested and have their logistics taken care of.

    Game-wise I think this should be reflected in an improvement to the quality of the defending troops.

  2. As 'Ney' I am just a smidgey bit biased, so take this with as much salt as necessary!

    Have the defenders expressly raised any levies for the defence of the city? If not, then perhaps it is up to the umpire to decide how many militia are to be added to the ranks of the defenders. It would seem to make sense to me to include such troops rather than somehow increase the quality or efficiency of the defenders.

    As Bernadotte is there it seems reasonable that he could activate some militia and organise the defence—although, being Bernadotte, it seems more likely that he'd merely retreat post-haste (ha, ha!!!).

    Since Ney is on the spot, I reckon that there remains the option to bombard the city, besiege it or assault it. Of course, being Ney...!!

  3. The better option would be to make Berlin an open city