Tuesday 18 June 2024


Scenario 2 sees the Austrians launch their supporting advance on the left flank, towards Dienville, along the Aube river. This was largely an infantry fight, with the Austrians on the attack, but with some light cavalry turning up later (not particular strong units though). So, I would be attacking, but my battalions looked a bit stronger (in unit strength), even if the army Morale Value total was equal at 17 each.

We include a scenario rule for the heavy mud and possible snow flurries which might blow in, and set too. Two Austrian infantry brigades (left and right) against two French ones. The drums beat and my columns heads off towards the thin blue thin across open fields.

It started slow, with cannon fire, of course, and skirmishing, and there wasn’t much danger any units were going to break early. Some good early shooting from the French gunners was alarming, but their voltiguers were having a rough time, miss, miss, miss, and this pretty much continued throughout, skirmish fire was terrible, and my own deployed skirmishers helped out defensively. Over the first 2 turns, the Austrian lines closed in, and I waited to see where the French weakness might appear, to press hardest there. Muskets crackled and cannons boomed and it seemed, the French right (my left) was wobbling first. Only 2 battalions and 1 battery, faced my 4 attacking battalions, and the French soon regretted sending their light infantry off into the dense trees along the river… they were out of the fight (except rubbish skirmish fire from the tree-line) and would play no real part… a waste of good battalion, much needed as it all heated up.

The Austrians pressed forwards on their left, taking fire but made their bayonet charges. Winning one melee and driving the French line back. It seemed, after rallying, they were in trouble, until the battery opened fire with canister and broke an Austrian column on a bloody mess… another charged the guns, and somehow conspired to lose the melee and be driven off by the gunners (1 hit from 7 4+ dice - dice gods!). Somehow the French hung on, as the Austrians rallied to try again.

On the left, it had been skirmishing, and cannon fire traded, but when I sent forward a line to give his veterans a volley, their ragged volley did little and the French return fire crashed home, shattering another battalion. This line seemed solid, I would fence and just make a demonstration attack here, and press hard on the left. On VPs, the French were ahead, but on the tabletop, they were hanging on by their fingernails, I just couldn’t quiet stamp on those fingers yet… time for lunch.

After lunch, and back at it. The French reserve light cavalry arrived promptly and raced up to protect those guns, just as another Austrian charge threaten to overrun them. The hussars counter-charged to get in the way and drove the Austrians back again. Heroic stuff, and just in the nick of time. Another Austrian column beat his infantry line again and pushed them to the table edge, but then got canister fire again from the guns I just couldn’t silence. His hussars rallied, to regroup, and cover the guns from along the central road, but Austrian skirmishers were picking away at them too.

Behind, the Austrian reserve Ferdinand Hussars were called up, to counter his cavalry, and they thundered on in column at speed along the road. At full gallop, then a ‘well drilled’ special event saw them deploy into line, ready to go into the storm.

I had decided my demonstration attack was doing nothing, not forcing the French to use some cards over there, thus allowing them to use them all were I was attacking (to rally and have enough orders etc.), I needed to force some rallies and create some problems and pressure, so I pressed up that attack, two columns taking the incoming fire to get a double charge at the French veteran line. It almost worked, but only one column actual charged (all command re-roll dice had been used by now), and the grognards saw-off my column in a close fight. Drat.

Meanwhile, Austrian musketry was hurting on the left, French rallying again and losing the annoying (and brave) battery to a solid volley… one more push would see me through, and able to claim the ‘Advance through Enemy Lines’ objective I was holding, and trying to complete. But the cost was high, both my mine main attacking columns were in bad shape, with lost men and in disorder. To aid them, my hussars flew forwards and used a ‘fierce cavalry charge’ to plunge into his infantry. His waiting chasseurs, which had been behind to counter charge, had moved off and so the sudden rush of Austrian hussars saw they cut down French infantry, breaking them, but only to get canister fire in return and have to fall back and rally as well, losing stands, they were done for this fight. It was a heroic action by the Ferdinand Hussars, but costly. On VPs, was it enough? Yes… and no. The Austrian VP total had reached 17, breaking the French. The French VP total had reached 18, breaking the Austrians by just 1 more. So, a very marginal French win in the heroic, desperate, hang-on by the fingernails, stand. It is one marginal win each so far… on to La Rothiere game 3 next time. All to fight for.

This was only a small(ish) game, but very closely fought. The French looked in big trouble until their hussars saved the day, then my attack looked to have stalled until my cavalry arrived like a lightning bolt. So close, very tense… great fun. SoN rules shining as ever.  

Deployment. Two Austrian infantry brigades, left and right, vs two French ones, left and right, simple game.

The Austrian right, lines in front of columns.

Facing the veteran French line, covering weak battalions behind, but sending out their voltiguers.

The left and right clash, a lot French skirmishers about, but mostly, missing.

Austrian left smashed into the French right, to become a desperate brawl.

Austrian column driven back by the gunners, then the hussars.... tough day. 

The valiant dash of the Ferdinand Hussars, sabreing down French infantry, but taking heavy losses in return. It almost turned the day...