Von Klopp’s division are again in action, this time in a 4 brigade battle, with 3 initially deployed and 1 in reserve. Having randomly generated the terrain and rolled or the ‘Tactical Advantage’ (a slight one to the Austrians today), I chose to be on the defensive, occupying the village of Hassalbach and digging-in with another brigade.
My force and deployment consisted of the Light ‘Advanced Guard’ brigade (made up of a Feldjaeger battalion, Grenzer and a light gun battery) holding the village on my right. The left was an infantry brigade, behind their earth walls. The centre was a harder choice, another infantry brigade or the light cavalry? The cavalry was weak, after previous battles, and likely to be faster to arrive from reserve, but with no cavalry on the table I would be too vulnerable to his cavalry. So, in the end, I placed the light cavalry brigade in the centre and rolled for the turn in which my strongest infantry brigade would arrive, turn 4 - deploying to the centre.
The French, meanwhile, had also chosen a defensive deployment. An infantry brigade was dug-in opposite Hassalbach. The centre was his strongest infantry brigade, set to attack over the hill, where he had cannons placed. His right, opposite my ‘redoubt’, was a light cavalry brigade of line lancers, hussars and chasseurs-a-cheval, with a horse battery in support. His reserve brigade was his Dragoons, arriving in the centre on turn 2. So, we were set to battle. My plan was to sit back, hold the line, and await the infantry brigade which would counter attack up the centre, towards the hill. The French didn’t wait though…
Having spied the weakness of my centre, he immediately launched into the attack, sending his own cavalry racing forwards and deploying their light guns, round the hill and towards my centre. I had hoped to keep my light cavalry out of trouble, deploying in woods to avoid cannon fire from the hill… but they were now forced to react to his swift early move. Behind, his first infantry columns set-off in the centre as the first cannonades were exchanged. The French had more guns though…
At Hassalbach, we fired off some guns, to small effect, but the French made no move to attack the village It would be a stand-off here for the rest of the game. The action was in the centre and on my left. A quiet day for the advanced guard.
It was going to be hard to stop the French cavalry, but my skirmishers were soon out and sniping away from the cornfields. My guns added damage as they could, but my horse battery (a single gun) had to limber up and pullback to avoid being quickly overrun. One chevau-leger regiment saw a chance to charge his horse battery as it deployed and did so, only for his line lancers to respond in a counter-charge… they won that fight easily but my light cavalry had drawn his lancer’s sting (lances only work in the first charge of the game) and after the melee, even winning it, the lancers were in disorder, so not as effective as in good order (this is represented on the table by how neatly your bases line up). He’d need to rally and regroup. It also allowed my infantry line to volley fire on his lancers and that caused a lot of damage. They pulled back to regroup, and lost 3 stands (from 6) as casualties doing so. My poor chevau-leger were broken and fled the field.
His dangerous lancers checked, next came his Hussars, Chasseurs just behind. His Hussar refused the order to charge as they entered a cornfield, only for my own to also refuse… we both used commander re-rolls here (commanders have a few for the battle), but both wasted them with repeat failures. When, later, his Hussars did respond to the charge! order, they rolled double 1 for the distance covered and didn’t make it across the field! Very half-hearted. My own Hussars, usually stalwarts of my army, again refused to charge and the two units were just not responding as needed! Vagaries of war…
His reserve Dragoon brigade arrived in column of march in the centre as his infantry columns slowly moved up, behind the cavalry action, my skirmishers still harassing them, but not stopping them. He claimed his ‘Hold the Line’ objective (no enemy units in your deployment zone when your reserves arrive), I could not claim mine (reserve infantry not here yet). Finally, his Hussars charged, and mine responded with a counter-charge, aided by my supporting chevau-leger. This turned out to be the crucial melee of the battle. It was very close, an even fight on the dice, but he rolled well and won it - drat!. My Hussars broke and the chevau-leger broke with them… my light cavalry brigade was gone and the centre was wide open.
So, with nothing in their way, the French light cavalry pressed on for my table edge, taking skirmisher fire and some cannon fire, but they were able to move off my table edge. This allowed him to claim a ‘Break through Enemy Lines’ objective (2 units moved off the enemy table edge). The victory points earned for this broke the Austrians. The centre was gone, the French cavalry was through and his infantry were moving in behind. My reserves had been too slow and could not fill the breach, so Hassalbach must be abandoned. My army withdrew.
A decisive French victory… won by his light cavalry’s swift move and aggression and due to my weak centre. My mistake in deployment, I should have placed my infantry there and left the cavalry in reserve instead. 20-20 hindsight. The French are now ahead on campaign VPs, but after resolving the campaign events, losses, unit experience etc. the Austrians did not sued for peace –so the war goes on. Game 4 will be another large battle, 5 brigades aside again. Von Klopp needs to put that setback behind him and do something about countering that French cavalry that is running a-mock. A new plan, fight fire with fire, and paint up my Uhlan regiment (quick)…
A heavy loss, but good fun… damn that little French-man… but this isn’t over yet!
|French deployment, left, opposite the village, and centre, pushed forwards to attack the cornfields from the hill. |
|French right, his light cavalry in swift columns of march, with limbered light guns. |
|Opposite, my entrenched infantry line, they would stand firm. |
|Austrian light a cavalry in the centre, deployed into woods, to hide... |
|Austrian right holds Hassalbach village, the feldjaeger battalion is led by a 'commander of note'... although little action for them today beyond some French incoming...|
|Single Austrian horse battery gun, soon to withdraw, given the force coming straight at them. |
|French light cavalry on the attack through the centre's cornfields, scene of the decisive melee of the game. My Hussars have already taken cannon fire from the hill (dice shows disruption on the unit).|
|Line lancers are flailed by musket fire from skirmishers and the line, and must withdraw in Disorder (not a neat line anymore).|
|Hussar vs Hussar... and his won it... mine fled and turned the battle. Even if they'd won, they still had the Chasseurs behind to stop. The spirit of Lasalle lives on with these Frenchmen...|