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. |