Thursday 30 March 2023

Dawn Attack at Grosshofen @ Wagram – scenario 3 with Soldiers of Napoleon

At dawn on July 6th Rosenburg’s Corps of the Austrian Hauptarmee launched an attack (it was supposed to be part of a general offensive). In command confusion and due to late orders, the others Austrian Corps failed to get going, so Rosenberg’s columns attacked alone. This scenario is for one of those columns attacking at the French held village of Grosshofen, near Marksgrafneusiedl, held by men of Davout’s Corps – Puthod’s division. The Austrian objective is the capture the village and drive the French lines back, the French are just holding the line here, but (scenario special rule) the Austrians will be recalled from the attack after a random number of turns, so to win it, there is time pressure on the attacker otherwise, it peters out into a draw as the Austrians withdraw… (as happened on the day).

My force was the advanced guard and a large (huge and unwieldy) infantry brigade following on. The French had two ‘medium’-sized infantry brigades, one on the left and one on the right, holding the village itself. With the Austrians holding the initiative, we dealt our first hand of action cards and got stuck-in.

Grosshofen. Austrians attacking from the top, where the Russbach stream just curves onto the tabletop. The rest is flat farm fields.

Austrian deployment zones, Advanced Guard at the front (obvs), infantry brigade behind.

First up, my divisional commander, General Radetsky on the day, must have had a bad bratwurst for breakfast, as he was taken ill and left the field on a ‘Commander Wounded’ event. Damn, that left me an action card down, but I sent an instant message to fetch General Rosenberg to the field to replace him with a ‘Senior Officer Arrives’ event, and unfortunate rolled badly and he didn’t show either (maybe he had the bratwurst for breakfast too!). Drat! Bad start, but my infantry moved up, as did the Ferdinand Hussars of the advanced guard on my far right. The French had no cavalry to match them so formed square and targeted them with accurate cannon fire. Still, they rode on through the smoke and shell across the cornfield towards the enemy lines. The French deployed a lot, mostly all, their voltiguers to form a thick skirmish screen ahead of their lines, across the entire board. That forced my infantry to do likewise, although the advanced guard had the 4th Moravian Volunteer Jaegers to do that work, and they closed in on the village first, infantry assault columns behind to follow-up in a push to clear the houses of Grosshofen, which were thick with blue-coated infantry.

Cannons roared and the disruption mounted, especially in Grosshofen, until a handy ‘Stand Fast’ event saw the reserve infantry inside rally. The first turn ended with a draw in VPs.

Next turn, by good luck, I held a ‘Fierce Cavalry Charge’ card, allowing my hussars to have a crack at a French square. In true hussar spirit they launched themselves at the square and won the melee, driving the French back and almost taking their banner (almost!). They rallied, but then a ‘Wavering’ event saw them break, the officer's efforts to regroup the now mob failing. In return, the French artillery gave the hussars a whiff of grapeshot, twice, and they wheeled away to rally and regroup, leaving dead men and horses behind. Bloodied, but they’d be back!

The battle around Grosshofen was full of skirmishers, my jaegers with their rifles doing excellent work and the French largely missing! I knew I couldn’t hang around, but had to pause to rally as the artillery fire was hurting my infantry, and I had to drag my out-ranged 6 pdr guns forwards. This all took cards, and I was still low on them. It was not the swift strike I hoped for. Oh, and Napoleon arrived to have a look over General Puthod’s lines… and all seemed well enough to the Emperor, and he rode off.

Turn 3, and still the withdraw order hadn’t reached the Austrians (quite who they’d tell I have no idea as Radetsky was still up-chucking in a bush). The French rushed a reinforcing reserve battalion into the village, as my jaegers continued a galling rifle fire on the defenders, and my assault column was ordered it, which they refused. Argh! On well, I was at least winning the skirmish fight. My hussars turned about and came back for those guns, charging them and taking revenge for the earlier canister fire, the gunners were cut down or running for their lives, but more skirmish fire again meant I needed to rally them, and lose another stand, leaving just 3 stands of my excellent cavalry left (from 7 to start with). Their fight was done and they withdrew, horses blown, but it had been good work from the Ferdinand hussars on the far right flank. In Grosshofen, one defending French battalion broke and ran after, saving their last rally card, they lost it to a 'command confusion' event… wait too long at your peril! Accurate return artillery fire did break one of my infantry battalion columns. The French scored well in VPs, but the Austrians were still just ahead, thanks to the hussars heroic efforts. Could I get into the village and claim my ‘Take a Strongpoint’ objective. Time was running out. The expected order to withdraw received, I had 1 more turn to break the French or call it a day and take the draw.

So, it was all in at Grosshofen, but my infantry column again refuse to charge, so my jaegers went in and claimed the empty first building – now to fight off the counter-attack as the French reservist piled through the streets and unleashed a ragged volley, to no effect! Phew! My return fire was again good, skirmishing jaegers are excellent at this work! Over on the right, there had been an exchange of skirmish fire and artillery and I now tried to close for the charge. But twice my columns refused to charge and volley fired instead – 4 failed attempts on the trot, argh, no aggressive spirit in these troops! The French then tried to counter charge and also failed, but the resulting volley did break one of my columns. We were down to the last card play each, I used ‘wavering’ again on his disordered column, but rolled a 1, the column did not break this time. He played ‘artillery bombards’ and suddenly shells hammered my poor retreating hussars, scoring enough hits to break them. That was it. Game over.

We added up the VPs. The Austrians had taken a 'strongpoint' and gained the maximum 6 VPs, which left the French 2 from breaking. In return, the Austrians were broken though, the costly loss of the hussars had cost us 5 VPs and so the French VP total was 22, over the Austrian Break Point of 20… time to give up on Grosshofen. Another marginal French win then, and again 0 Campaign VPs for that, so after three scenario it is still, remarkably 0-0. Maybe in scenario 4 (which will be the French’s first assault on Aderklaa, a mighty scrap in the centre), someone will actually gain some VPs towards winning this day's battle.

Quick game this one. Only 2 brigades aside, 4 turns and 2.5 hours of playing. Fun 2.5 hours though… if only my hussars had survived… damn those French gunners (they are usually alarmingly accurate). My own artillery was utter rubbish this game, barely hit a thing… on to Aderklaa in a few weeks.

Austrians deployed in attack columns, ready to begin...

The French lines deployed to hold Grosshofen. Gunners are ready, with their usual horrible accuracy.

A lot of voltiguers deployed to harass the Austria advance.

The Ferdinand Hussars after their fierce charge, and shattering a square!

Reserve French battalion marching into Grosshofen.

Bonjour L'Empereur... the biggest boss came to check-up that the line was holding, no need to send in the Imperial Guard here...

Austrian columns come on, in a very French sort of way...

Moravian Jaegers skirmish and volley into Grosshofen, before dash for the first cottages. Infantry column behind, the refuseniks... leave it to the jaegers then boys!...

Thursday 23 March 2023

Dupas' Division Attacks @ Wagram, scenario 2 with Soldiers of Napoleon

Game 2, and still the evening of July 5th, this time General Dupas’ division (Bernadotte’s Corps) launches itself across the Russbach stream and up the Wagram, mainly at the defending (and large) Argenteau Regiment of Austrian regulars, with some aid from von Stutterheim’s brigade of jaegers, landwehr and the some attached chevau-leger. The French/Saxon objective was to force the Austrians back and secure a foothold on the high ground, using the ‘Grand Assault’ and ‘Take the High Ground’ battlefield objectives, whilst my Austrians just had to ‘Hold the Line’.

After deployment, the battle began with the French/Saxon brigade on their left crossing the Russbach and shelling the crest of the Wagram slope, as my guns returned fire down onto the French. The crest would become a hot-spot killing-zone, but I had a plan to minimize French artillery by pulling back from it (after doing some damage) and inviting the French up the slope to fight me there, out of cannon support. I’d pull back my guns and so hopefully get the upper hand in that firefight. This worked, sort of too well, as a handy withering volleys special event sent the first French and Saxon grenadier battalion, coming up the slope, tumbling back down in utter chaos. They stalled to rally and regroup, and I pulled back, leaving his cannons (unable to cross the Russbach stream) with no targets.

On the French right, the 19th Line’s three battalions didn’t make much progress. Harassed by accurate jaeger skirmish fire and then the Austrian chevau-leger coming forwards, two battalions formed square and thus, any attack here just halted. French guns did take their toll though, and after a lucky (unlucky for me) bombardment my jaegers broke and ran… grr! Still, I had my revenge when the Saxon grenadiers on the opposite flank also broke. It was even in VPs so far.

Thus far it had been an all infantry fight, and the Austrians were doing just fine against some good French infantry. Skirmish fire harassed me, but the Argenteau were standing strong, muskets primed for when the French/Saxons next appeared on the crest. This they did, and another good volley saw the Saxons retreating as well, leaving their dead behind.

After four turns the game changed. Reserved arrived. My light cavalry rode in, the Hessen-Homberg Hussars and some more chevau-leger. Seeing this, Bernadotte (as he did on the day) released Sahuc’s light cavalry brigade to meet them. True to the day, the two light cavalry brigades would meet in a swirling melee. The French first made good use of a ‘well-drilled’ special event to gallop forwards at top speed and deploy into line on my side of the stream - slick. My hussars spurred in, sabres out, and charged, to be counter-charged, and the following melee was close, but a narrow Austrian win (hussar! literally). The cavalry would reengage next turn, after a swift rally each, both using command points to re-roll and form back into good orderly lines. So far, I had nudged ahead in VPs and the French were looking worried. They had 1 turn to complete the ‘Grand Assault’ objective or give me the extra VPs, which might be enough to win it. Nothing for it but to attack, despite the odds. His battered cavalry charged again, all 3 chasseurs regiments, but he needed a fourth charge as well. His light infantry, bloodied after their first attempt, tried up the Wagram again, took another scything volley, but charged. They need a 6 to cover the distance, chances where they would fall short… no, a 6! “Vive L’Empereur!’ They French came in, bayonets lowered, but lost the melee anyway. As did his light cavalry, as my hussar counter-charged and drove them back again (heroics from usually useless hussars), breaking one regiment. It was very close as we added up VPs. I had won 2 melees, and routed his chasseurs. But he had completed the Grand Assault objectives (at a cost) and rolled a 6 for VPs, gaining 6. Ouch! That just broke the Austrians as the Argenteau and the cavalry pulled back. The French had 1 morale point left before breaking themselves, so close, so close. The French had saved the day, by sheer desperation (and rolling 2 6s).

Another marginal French win in the campaign then. Again, given the scheme of the battle, it would avail the French nought for tomorrow’s fighting, so was worth 0 VPs for the campaign – just a waste of men and horses really.

That concludes the fighting on the evening of July 5th, after 2 games it is still 0-0 on VPs. All t play for on July 6th. In game 3, the Austrians launch their own dawn attack at Grosshofen on July 6th. We play that next week.

French light infantry and two Saxon battalions cross the Russbach

The 19th Ligne also cross the stream.

von Stutterheim's small brigade, the landwehr hanging back as the jaegers do the early fighting, and pay for it after an 'artillery bombards' event.

The mighty Argenteau regiment's lines await the French arrival.
and here they are, skirmishers out!

Pulling back the gun battery (and ammo caisson) from the crest, to present no target.

French form square, wary after the beating they took in game 1 from the chevau-leger.

Guns unlimber as the regiment's 3rd battalion arrive.

Chevau-leger chase off a few French skirmishers in the stalemate on the French right.

The Hessen-Homburg hussars gallop in. Go the Hussar!

Chasseurs deploy into line, swift and disciplined, as the light cavalry close in on each other in the centre.


More cavalry action in the swirling melee, chevau-leger meet chasseurs.

The Austrian line spread out across the Wagram, but starting to look shakey.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Baumersdorf @ Wagram, scenario 1 with Soldiers of Napoleon

We’ve trialed this style of re-fight game before, with some Waterloo scenarios, but its time for a different battle, one that better suits our forces. Wagram seems the obvious choice for lots of Austrians to fight lots of French (and German allies). So, this will be a series of games to recreate that battle in SoN-sized actions. The first would be on the evening of July 5th as the French make their probing attacks towards the Wagram high ground. One such was conducted by Oudinot’s Corps, in the French centre, using part of Grandjean’s division to try and take the village of Baumersdorf, which sat on the Russbach stream at the base of the Wagram slope.

The game would see two French infantry brigades (actually regiments), the 57th Line and 10th Light on their left and right respectively, face an screening brigade of Austrian jaegers and the 2nd battalion of the 'Erherzog Karl Legion' holding the village itself, under General Hardegg, and more Austrian infantry and guns up on the crest of the high ground (Weid-Runkel's brigade). Behind them, the only reserve committed to his fight, was a single light cavalry regiment, the Vincent chevau-leger.

The French mission was to take Baumserdorf and get over the Russbach and up that slope. 

Baumersdorf, Russbach stream and Wagram slope, from the French side.
Austrian side

The game started with the French attack moving up on the village, all three battalions with their supporting cannon fire. As the 57th Line advanced, the 10th Light would wait, skirmishers going forwards to target the jaegers which lined the stream’s ditch, but hoping for Baumersdorf to fall before they pressed on to cross it. With a cry of ‘Vive L’Empereur!’ the 2nd battalion the 57th charged the houses and, with great elan, drove the Karl Legion out, who fell back over the stream bridges (or waded it, it was only about 2’ deep) to take up new positions in buildings on the opposite bank. The French had achieved an early objective though, taken a strong point, as their other battalions moved up and sent more skirmishers into the village streets and gardens. They grabbed an early lead in VPs.

That is where the 57th Line’s swift advance halted. The Karl legion found some better determination (and useful rally special event cards) and their attached jaegers laid down accurate fire at the voltiguers on the opposite back, sniping back and forth, with occasional ineffective volleys, the French halted and just couldn’t get across the stream. (This is exactly as it happened on the evening of 5th July, 1809).

Meanwhile, the jaegers in the Russbach were delivering more accurate rifle shooting and had the 10th Light concerned. This was the jaeger's kind of fight, a stand-off attritional skirmish with them in good cover. French artillery firing at them did nothing.

Up on the Wagram, Weid-Runkel’s brigade had little to do, except wait for an attack that wasn’t coming. They sent out a few skirmishers, and marched a battalion of the Frelich infantry towards Baumersdorf, in case reinforcements were needed. It would be costly in Orders, being so far from their command stand, but it’s not like the brigade were using any Orders at the moment anyway. Behind them, the light cavalry arrived and galloped in marching column, for speed, through their lines and down the Wagram slope, heading for the stream. If the French wouldn’t come to us, we'll go to them.

A few fallow turns followed, stalemate of skirmish fire in the village, both sides happy to hold the buildings they had. Ineffective cannon fire, and more skirmishing along the Russbach forced a French rally. The cavalry moved up, formed a line and waded through the stream with menace.

Then, suddenly, the deadlock broke. First, at Baumersdorf, 1st battalion of the 57th Line moved out and tried to get across the stream, charging and taking a single Austrian 6 pdr gun which had been harassing them all game. This pushed the Austrians closer to their (already low) break point. They, in-turn, took a lot of fire from the jaegers to the left and right and were now in disorder. This meant that when the reinforcing Frelich battalion column came rushing down the Wagram and used a consecutive order to charge, the veteran French infantry lost the melee badly and where thrown back over the stream in complete chaos. They would rout. On the other flank the Vincent chevauleger now charged as well, the French forming line (not square), but my cavalry needed a good roll to cover the distance, or face a big volley. It was a risk, but hey, no point in waiting to be ‘skirmish fired’ to death, just go!. The charge, by good dice rolls (and a handy command point re-roll), made it and rode into the French line, winning the melee and driving the French light infantry back to the table edge in disorder. It was costly to rally them and avoid them routing too. More VPs for the Austrians, closing the earlier gap.

After an eventful turn and a few rallies, the Austrians were now just 1 VP from breaking, the French 4. Another tense last turn then, as both sort to maximize their MV return. More skirmish firing in the village saw the Disruption build, but not enough to break the others unit, whilst the Austrian chevauleger charged again, winning the melee again (they were very keen) and driving the forlorn French battalion off the table. Was it enough to sneak a win?

No. The French had broken the Austrians by 2 morale points. The French were on their Breakpoint now. So a marginal, very marginal, French win, by just 2 VPs. We decided that with such a close game neither side should gain any VPs for the wider campaign-battle (winning games gains Battle VPs, over the course of 9,10,11 games we’ll see who wins the day). So, exactly as on July 5th, the fighting at Baumersdorf throughout the evening gained neither side anything for the next day’s fighting.

Scenario 2 will be Dupas' division (of Bernadotte’s Corps) attacking up the Wagram on the same evening (to the west of this battlefield). I’ll have another French assault to repulse, slight larger that this one, which was on the small end of a SoN game.

Weid-Runkel's brigade atop the slope. 6 pdr cannons currently (and mostly) out of range.

57th Line advance!

Storming the first houses and taking them.

Erherzog Karl legion and jaegers hold the other side of the stream, much skirmish fire back and forth. Some terrible French shooting here. Miss, miss, miss...

The Frelich infantry manouevre into place. One battalion makes for the village, just in case. 

The 57th Line stalled at Baumersdorf, before 1st battalion (furthest) tried to go round

Vincent chevauleger gallop on.

Melee over the Russbach, the French are defeated and thrown back, as jaegers continue take their toll too... 1st battalion breaks and runs.

The Vincent chevauleger close in for a second charge, to finish off the French light infantry. Heroics, but not quite enough to win the day.