Friday 21 April 2023

First Assault on Aderklaa @ Wagram, scenario 4 with Soldiers of Napoleon

The fourth of our Wagram scenario series, this time the French launch their first assault to take Aderklaa, a small village in the centre of the battlefield that they had held the night before, but Saxon troops withdrew and the Austrians moved in in the morning. Napoleon, furious, wanted it retaken and the task fell to St Cyr’s division (of Massena’s Corps). This game recreates that action, in the morning, of St Cyr’s first attempt.

The village is held by troops of von Stutterheim’s advanced guard, which found the village all but empty, including jaegers and the Vincent chevau-leger. Behind them, moving up are Clary’s infantry brigade, two big Austrian infantry regiments. They faced two infantry brigades of St Cyr’s division, with the 24th Light’s three battalions being given the task of the direct assault on the village. They were screened by Marulaz’ light cavalry brigade which became heavily engaged when they spied Austrian guns and boldly tried to take them. It was all chasseurs.

Our refight started similarly. The French light cavalry, including their allied German, Baden and Hesse, chevau-leger came forwards and forced the Austria light cavalry to ride out to meet them, whilst behind the Austrians formed up and the guns deployed from limber, and got busy. French artillery took its toll, with a lot of accurate fire, but the Austrians guns were, for once, a match (it seemed both sides could barely miss in the first 3 turns).

Meanwhile, the 24th Light Infantry began their advance and the 1st battalion led the charge. They came under skirmish fire and took losses, but still managed a bayonet charge into the village, to find the 4th battalion of the Karl Legion fighting hard and driving the French veterans back. At the end of the turn, Austrian jaeger fire broke that battalion, but 2nd battalion was not far behind to try again.

The battle inside Aderklaa resumed with the French forcing a charge home and driving the Karl Legion back, with more heavy skirmish firing, the French were wavering. The Austrians, after a  rally counter-charged, but found the French resolve too great and couldn’t kick them out of the buildings. They held, just, and  were close to breaking, but survived long enough to claim the ‘Take a Strongpoint’ objective, and rolled a max VP score!

The cavalry engagement had also continued, the French charging and driving back the Austrian light cavalry, which withdrew and rallied to come back for a second go, after the Austrian guns and a solid volley left the French cavalry reeling back as well, and also rallying. One chasseur regiment was reduced to a single stand. Austrian guns would continue to punish them. They had though managed four units charging in the turn and claimed their Grand Assault objective, scoring a maximum again! Ouch! In response to the French cavalry raid, the Austrians released their own cavalry to match it, as on the day, and the proud Kronprinz cuirassiers arrived and galloped on to the tabletop, turning the tables in the cavalry duel. The French light cavalry were no match for Austria’s finest! Behind them, a turn later, more cuirassiers and a chevau-leger regiment would arrive and the Austrians could launch their own cavalry counter-attack. So far, the French were ahead on VPs, even though the Austrians claimed their ‘hold the line’ objective, scoring 1 point… good grief! Oh well…

The French now saw a chance to complete their third objective, breakthrough enemy lines, and their light cavalry led by the Baden and Hesse chevau-leger galloped around the right of the Austrian lines made for the table edge. At top speed, they didn’t quiet make it though, but surely would next turn.

Back on the French table edge their second infantry brigade, Dalesne’s, was deploying, as well as a second small light cavalry brigade, in a wall of blue coats. My own infantry continued their steady (slow) advance up the centre. In the village, the Austrians did push the 24th Light’s 2nd battalion out the buildings in another close melee, and broke them. They routed, leaving only 3rd battalion facing the village, but unwilling to be their third battalion into the grinder here. Austria still held Aderklaa, and the jaegers continued their handy skirmish firing from the buildings.

With their good VP rolls for objectives, the French had the lead, but it was not insurmountable. Time for my cavalry to strike back, and they did, due to a useful ‘at the gallop’ special event. The second cuirassier arrived, swung round at the gallop and then immediately charged the Baden and Hesse light cavalry in the flank, with predictable results, the German allies were scattered and utterly routed, right on the Austrian table edge, thus saving them from the ‘breakthrough enemy lines’.

Meanwhile, the other cavalry rode on towards the French lines, which had not formed square, but line. Hoping a killing volley, I think not! My prize cuirassiers were in line and at full gallop, scenting blood. If I turned a few battalions here into bloody ruin, then I’d save the day and most likely do enough damage to win. Which would have been nice, until the ‘withering volleys’ special event was played, explaining why the French infantry had formed line not square, 2 full, impeccable battalions loosed muskets into the Kronprinz cuirassiers and it was carnage. After the required rally, only 1 stand of 6 remained… the cream of the Austrian cavalry had just been scythed down in the blink of an eye. Following that a ‘commander wounded’ card saw my commander collapse (I think a heart-attack seeing what had just happened and having to explain to the Kronprinz where his glorious regiment had gone!). That was enough for the Austrian army, broken, with a solid victory for the French. That makes it 3-0 in Battle Victory Points for the campaign so far…

A great game, to-and-fro, hard fighting, cavalry and infantry action and the most deadly withering volley I have ever seen (on my best cavalry!). The French had gained 15 VPs from completing objectives, and the difference at the end was 14 VPs, so it made a big impact. Having a big light cavalry brigade really helps complete the Grand Assault… but Marulaz’s chasseurs paid a heavy cost for it, there was not much left of that brigade by the end.

Here are some shots of the action at Aderklaa. Game 5 will be the second assault on the village, as the French and Saxons try a gain, an hour later. By then, I’ll have my grenadiers up in defence of the village.

Austrians deploy around Aderklaa, the chevau-leger already taking accurate artillery hits...

The 'road' to Aderklaa divides the sides, Marulaz's light cavalry massed in the French centre.

They start the battle with a swift advance

Into the waiting Austrian lines, which would punish their boldness...

Advance of the 24th Leger towards Aderklaa, held by skirmishers at the moment. Infantry quickly moving in behind.

A grand sight, the massed charge of the light cavalry.

House to house in Aderklaa, jaegers as ever proving their use in this close fighting.

Vincent chevau-leger in trouble, but putting up a good fight. Need to Rally, soon. Well, now really.

Jaegers see-off Voltiguers on the outskirts of the village.

2nd battalion succeed where 1st battalion failed, and get into the buildings.

Dalesme's brigade match on from reserve, a lot of Frenchmen.

The German light cavalry make an end-run for the table edge and almost make it.

But, out of nowhere come the Austrian cuirassiers, at the gallop, and rout them off the table edge.

The Austrian cavalry counter-attack moves up and forms line, ready for the charge to crush the French infantry and win the day... except....

The Austrian infantry centre is still strong, but the loss of their cavalry and their commander sees them fall back. French score the win...