Game 8, and this time a supporting attack by Oudinot's Corps to pin the Austrians in place in their left-centre and stop them reinforcing the beset left flank. A tricky scenario to write, as the French must attack but with far weaker infantry force and the Austrians stronger forces are only defending and trying to (when requested) send some spare battalions off the table to their left. It took some tweaking after the scenario to get this right and feel balanced and stop a French commander from simple sitting back, shelling the Austrians a bit and not actually trying to get across the Russbach stream, which is roughly across the centre of the table. Anyhow, playing the game is part of writing the scenario, to iron them out and, historical scenarios can always have extra, special or exceptional rules added over the usual. This one has a fair few now, but feels a bit different to the all out attacks of earlier.
In our game, played over the same battlefield as scenario 1, the village of Baumersdorf on my far right and stream across the front, with the Austrians still on the high ground, played out with the French seeking to attack at Baumersdorf and in the centre, whilst holding back their weakest (their right) brigade. Behind them, they do have Colbert’s light cavalry in resrve, but only for emergencies or in certain situations can they deploy (it didn’t occur in our game). I’ll keep this quick, but the attempt to capture Baumersdorf (again) was thwarted because with dire dice rolls, so most of the village was already on fire, making occupying it with our large battalions impossible. Te village was flaming ruin. Only a few skirmishers would operate here, and the fight for the village itself was a complete non-starter. However, the fight just outside it and across the stream was the crux of the battle. French columns came up, under some (pretty rubbish) Austrian artillery fire (little changes, except for a single howitzer that just couldn’t miss, first 4 dice all hits!, I am a howitzer convert).
I moved up to block the line of the stream and try and hold it, but early French artillery fire and a solid volley from two columns set one battalion fleeing early, leaving a hole in the lines. I had to send down another battalion to try and block it. Meanwhile, there was musket fire all along the Russbach, all even-stevens, as both sides took some damage but rallied it off. I was waiting until Turn 6 when I could start to move battalions off left and gain VPs for them, and had my landwehr ready to be sent left (sorry, all we can spare!). The French were not waiting though, they sent a first charge across the Russbach and beat my infantry back, then followed up with a withering volley (thankfully only with columns) than broke another Austrian line battalion. Ouch! They pushed hard to exploit the hole in my lines on the Russbach, with skirmish fire (some at my gunners, who had to duck for cover). I was forced to rally again and the French had, after breaking 2 battalions, jumped out to a lead on VPs.
Out on the left (French right) there was a skirmish fire exchanged a few volleys that didn’t do much and the fight here was desultory. The real melee was in the centre and the French charged again and drove another of my battalions back, showing greater grit. I counter-charged and, by some miracle of terrible dice, lost the fight. In the meantime, I also lost the ‘How Goes the Day’ roll badly, my boys were windy and news from the left flank was bad… the Wagram might fall… and the French were now close to winning. In turn 6 I got to march 2 landwehr battalions away and gain the VPs, and the French made a Rally or two to gain me a few more, but the pressure in the centre was too much. Somehow outnumbered here now, I lost a third battalion trying to hold the stream line, skirmish fire, volley and a last gasp bayonet charge saw them run, and that was that… the French had won.
It was a solid victory, a poor showing from my boys and making it 11-2 on campaign VPs to the Grand Army. General Oudinot had done his job with his pinning attack, helping doom the Austrian left flank. We move on game 9 of the campaign, back to the far left flank as the two side’s cavalry brigades clash (an all cavalry fight, something a bit different). But it seems, the Wagram position is doomed and Napoleon will win the day… Archduke Charles is already thinking that retreat might be best course of action (and it is only lunchtime). Two games to go, let’s see if the Austrians can salvage some martial pride.
|Full array of Austrian deployment. We ran out of stream so improvised with a line of small ponds/marshes (note, buy 2 ft more stream). |
|Austrians deployed along the Wagram, overlooking the Russbach. |
|March up to the stream, under heavy fire, and suddenly, they break... an early set back. |
|Forget Baumersdorf, its on fire. Our 5-6 stand battalions could not deploy into the remaining buildings to occupy them. The French make a detour around it. |
|French are across the stream, reserves move up at the quick to drive them back. It didn't go well. |
|Vive 'L'Empereur! Columns across the Russbach in the centre, Voltiguers already out and making a pain of themselves. |
|The hieght of the battle, as the French oush over the stream under fire. We mark a battery with smoke when it is low on ammo... in the rear, smoking Baumersdorf. |
|A last ditch counter-attack by one of my columns. |
|They charge... they lose! No stopping these Frenchmen with their dander up. |
|Austrian MVP, a single howitzer with a dead-eye crew... it lob shoots, it hits. |