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.


  1. Interesting game, nice AAR. I will have to look at the rulebook more closely.