Tuesday 15 March 2022

The Battle of Grunbach, with Soldiers of Napoleon

The Austrians would be attacking the French positions around the stream and village of Grunbach. Here is the rough sketch map. 

Austrians will be the top, French at the bottom

The Austrian plan was in 2 simple stages. First a general advance and the grenadiers would attack and take the ‘Kloster’ (a small castle/citadel) in the right centre, whilst the centre took the hill high ground and deployed its guns. Stage 2 would see the centre press on across the fields to engage the French centre, whilst the left moved up to secure its flank. That was it, go forwards, get the Kloster and then press on to test his reservists mettle…

The French had dug-in, behind earthworks in their right centre and fortified the village on their extreme left. Rather than wait they would screen this with a spoiling light cavalry action to stall the Austrians, long enough to allow the reserve Imperial Guard brigade to arrive and deploy, to conduct a strong counter-attack, punching out from the main line. This was, at the last minute, added to by the addition of contesting the Kloster, sending 2 battalions forward in march columns (fastest) to fly forwards and try and get there first. The Kloster would see heavy fighting early on, but my best infantry had orders to secure it… go the grenadiers! 

The tabletop, Austrians will deploy on the right, French left.

We rolled for a ‘Special Circumstance’ to find that, last night, an Austrian ADC had blunder into French lines and been captured with dispatches, the French gained a bonus command point and Operations point for the lucky incite, not a great start! Next, we both deployed. Austrians with the right flank pushed forwards, grenadiers closest to the Kloster, then echelon back to the left. The French had a main line and a forward screen, his light cavalry, all out on their right (Austrian left) to swing round and counter-attack. Seeing this, its was obvious what my light cavalry reserve’s job would be, race up and engage those French hussars, fend them off, so the infantry could win it.

Turn 1 and the Austrians beat the drums and began forwards, guns limbered and dragged up the centre hill, white-coated attack columns following up to. The grenadiers closed on the Kloster in their attack column too, whilst the left infantry brigades remained in place and opened up some 12 pdr fire on the distant French cavalry, to little real effect.

The French send forwards two battalions at speed for the Kloster and fired back with their dug-in guns. The race to the Kloster was on… and the French won. One battalion broke up and occupied the little castle, harassed by a lot of jaeger skirmish fire though. My grenadiers were not be deterred and charged the Kloster. In the melee, they just won, and pushed the French back from their superior position, climbing the walls and battling through the courtyard and doorways. The French took more jaeger fire retreating and then panicked and broke, fleeing the field. The grenadiers had stormed the Kloster and would hold it for the rest of the battle, under skirmish fire from Grunbach, but secure. Objective achieved, that earned me some VPs, as did the melee win and the broken French battalion. I also claimed the hill as another objective and the Austrians suddenly had a good early lead in VPs.

The Austrians continued to do well, accurate jaeger fire harassing the French as their own cannons missed, for once, a lot. End of turn 2 and my reserve light cavalry arrived, either side of the Grunbach stream, the Uhlan and Chevau-leger. Spurred into action, literally, the French cavalry started to move, splashing across the stream and swinging left to threaten the hill. My cavalry would need to move quick and did (at the quick) galloping up to intercept. The French were also moving quickly and the light cavalry duel erupted, his hussars charging to be counter- charged by the arriving Uhlan and, for now, driven off. The other hussars overran my 12 pdr battery in a bold charge but got shot up by volleying Austrians as they retreated, still, worth the losses to remove the gun battery. My chevau-leger went after them and charged, to be met by a counter-charge and driven back. With so many cards being played on the cavalry, now all rallying, the infantry in the centre had stalled, and accurate French gunnery now hit home and broke one of Krawietz fusilier battalions. Still, 3 more to use…

The French reserve had not arrived, but the early VPs saw the Austrians lead 19 to 5! Woo-hoo, a great start. I needed 31 VPs to reach the French MV total and force them to quit the field. They needed 28. The French were under pressure, and playing a special event, the French Corps commander arrived to observe the field and offer any aid… handy chap, and his extra Action Card to the French hand would see them gain an advantage here… one I couldn’t match.

Turn 4 was an utter disaster, for the Austrians… less cards and not good ones, the attack stalled and then, due to ‘command confusion’ I loss 2 cards as well. The French comeback started, his horse battery deployed and shot up one of my 6 pdr batteries which broke and ran. His hussars rallied, charged again and this time defeated the uhlan. His other light cavalry threatened my infantry lines and so they had to form square for safety. His artillery found its range and inflicted more pain. By the end of turn 4 the French had 14 VPs and where back in it. Also, his reserve brigade was now available to deployed, directed here by the Corps commander, but held just off-table until needed.

OK, could I recover from a disastrous turn? Let’s press this attack… well no! The eager French cavalry charged again and the uhlan, now in mess and short on men were driven off again… the chevau-leger had rallied and came forwards but faced 2 French regiments alone. With disruption points building up, the Austrians rallied, and rallied again and this cost VPs, and suddenly, the French were ahead, also claiming their own objective of ‘Hold the Line’ for extra VPs… damn it, the good start had evaporated in 2 turns and the French tide was rising.

The last two turns saw his light cavalry utterly rout my light cavalry, the uhlan dying in a ‘gory massacre’ on the banks of the Grunbach stream. With no cavalry support, that was too much for von Klopp, he couldn’t press the attack here and so, in defeat the Austrians withdrew… in all the French had turned it around, scoring 40 VPs to the Austrians 25… a solid win, a big turn-around in momentum and the Imperial Guard were not required… another easy day for the favoured sons. Napoleon will be pleased.

Something obviously went terrible wrong there… mostly I blame the French cavalry attack, but I could have managed it better. I stalled when I should have pressed on with the grenadiers and in the centre, given him problems to cope with as well as trying to just firefight my own, used the cards for a fast advance against his weak infantry, maybe that would have dealt enough damage to win it, but more likely, his waiting Guardsmen would have advanced too and hit me hard back… Renard is in the Emperor’s good books. Von Klopp is in trouble with Prince Schwarzenburg… he can always claim he needed more cavalry support… where were the Cuirassiers he needed?

Good game… terrible outcome given the start I got… here are some pics of the action. Soldiers of Napoleon, the game, is well into production now and will be out, err, soon… maybe a month?

Austrian left and, beyond the Grunbach stream, the centre.

Krawietz' brigade screened by the many jaegers on the hill... the hammer of the attack! They got the hill, then stalled.

The right, the grenadiers and their artillery, with its caisson wagon.

French light cavalry in line of march, on their far right.

French infantry behind their earthworks

Occupying the village of Grunbach

The advance approaches the Kloster, jaegers are in action straight away, and doing good work with their skirmish fire.

There are Frenchmen in the Kloster!!

On the other flank, light cavalry begin to advance.

Heavy skirmish action around the Kloster, the jaegers are winning to engagement though.

Foward the uhlan! My reserves race on.

French hussars are deploying, as is their horse battery, in the cornfield.

Whilst the others ford the Grunbach.

First clash with the Austrian light horsemen.

Uhlan counter-charge the hussars and win! But not decisively, those hussars will regroup and be back. 

Chevau-leger come face to face with Chasseurs this time on the banks of the Grunbach.

The left flank formed square for protection from marauding French light cavalry. They have already had their artillery battery routed by hussars showing bold elan! Damn them... they won the day for the French.   

due soon...

1 comment:

  1. Great battle report. Looking forward to buying these rules.