Historically the Battle of Ravine-à-Couleuvres also known as the Battle of Snake Gully, was a major battle of the Haitian Revolution on 23 February 1802.
A French division under General Donatien de Rochambeau was advancing down a ravine (the Ravine-à-Couleuvres), towards Lacroix, Artibonite, where they attacked the army of Toussaint Louverture. Louverture’s forces consisted of 1,500 elite grenadiers, 1,000 grenadiers in different Demi-brigades, 400 dragoons. Louverture’s forces resisted the attack strongly, but had to retreat across the Petite-Rivière after suffering 800 deaths.
Prior to the battle on 22 February 1802, the French occupied the heights of Morne Barade and were attacked by rebel troops; the battle raged throughout the night and the French forces successfully resisted the attack. The following morning, the Haitian forces advanced out of the Ravine-à-Couleuvres as the French were travelling down it towards Lacroix, while Louverture rallied his cavalry. According to Bell, the losses of Louverture’s army were minor.
This would be my first game in Kreigsspiel and as such I was learning the ropes from the other players when I was able to communicate with them during the battle. That said it was an awful lot of fun and made me think of Kreigsspiel as more of an RPG wargame rather than the table top precisely measured game you imagine it to be.
This game took place with six players on each side, an overall General and then five Generals of Brigades. I was placed on the French side and in command of the third Brigade.
Unfortunately there were no accurate maps of the area available and so the game was to be played on a similar landscape using the Fredericksburg map from the Amercian Civil War.
Our mission was simple, we were to enter from the north and take and hold the river side city as quickly as possible, while the rebels were out to stop us.
Our General issued his orders to us, which involved the Cavalry Brigade scouting the main route down to the city and assessing where the rebel locations were while avoiding combat if possible. My brigade was to follow the route taken by the cavalry as quickly as possible to try and take and hold the southern most part of the city ensuring that we held those bridges. The remaining brigades were to move to the northern part of the city to secure the crossing points there.
And with that the game was over. While myself and my fellow gamer who was in charge of the Cavalry had managed to smash aside the Haitians, capture their guns and even wounded their commanders (I think)in our little corner of the battlefield. It just wasn’t enough with the 1st and 2nd French Brigades getting badly mauled to the north there was no hope of our little force crossing the river and securing the town.
A victory for the Haitians but a costly victory.
This was a fantastic introduction to Krieggspiel and I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout.
It wasn’t anything like I expected, and in the end felt more like a Role-playing game where you’re in charge of a specific General. I highly recommend anyone to take a look at this game and perhaps join the International Krieggspiel Society and dip your own toes in!