Sunday, 11 April 2010

Quelle Affaire

Were our miniature warriors able to speak, this may have been the reaction of the French commander at our latest battle. The scenario was based on the battle of Sacile, April 1809. The Austrians had been pushing Eugene's Army of Italy westwards and Eugene had decided on a counter attack.

The fighting was most intense around the village of Porcia and this was the focus of the scenario. Terrain favoured the defence, with steep sided valleys dividing the attacking forces, making co-ordinated attacks difficult. We use the Shako rules for the Napoleonic period and these also aided the defence with their stipulation that built up areas could only be fired upon by artillery. Thus defenders could not be worn down by sustained volleys from multiple attackers.

Frimont's forces occupied Porcia and Palse, the latter being nearer to the French forces. The garrison was a battalion of the Reuss-Greuz regiment, supported by another line battalion and two grenzer battalions. Two regiments of light cavalry,skirmishers and a 3lb battery completed the Austrian units on the table at the beginning of the game. Reserves in the shape of a division of 8 line battalions, one of 4 grenadier battalions and two further light cavalry regiments would arrive later, depending on events.
Frimont's forces supporting the defenders of Palse (Lindenau regiment to the fore)

The attackers had two infantry divisions totalling 18 infantry battalions, but only one was available for the initial attack. A light cavalry divison of two regiments was also available.

Seras' division led the attack with 4 battalions of the 46th Line advancing on Palse. Due to the narrow front his artillery were masked and unable to support the infantry. The first assault was beaten back by volleys from the defending Reuss-Greuz regiment. On the left Frimont's cavalry were detering a flank attack by two battalions of the 10th Line, even though they had the support of the 1st Chasseurs a Cheval. Frimont's skirmishers were also making life difficult on the right flank. A second attack on Palse was more succesful with the 4th battalion of the 46th managing to charge home even though their comrades in the 3rd battalion were again beaten back by the defenders fire. In the ensuing melee the luck ran with the French as they overcame the disadvantage of carrying greater casualties and attacking defended buildings to push back the Austrians with heavy losses. No sooner had the 4th battalion gained a foothold than they were countercharged by the 1st battalion Lindenau regiment. Again they prevailed sending the Austrians back with heavy losses. The French capture of Palse triggered an opportunity for Austrian reinforcements, but unfortunately the Austrian commander's dice decreed that there would be a significant delay in their arrival.

Just when he thought things couldn't get worse the Austrian commander saw Severoli's Italian division arrive, supported by Sahuc's light cavalry. This trigered further Austrian reinforcements and their arrival was not delayed to the same extent.

Back at Palse the Austrians attacked again, but were again repulsed, the casulaties breaking the Reuss-Greuz battalion. Frimont redeployed his artillery to fire on Palse and brought forward Lindenau, supported by one of the Grenz battalions. Seras was in a bind, he couldn't relieve the 4th battalion of the 46th without the risk of the Austrians re-occupying the village. His flanking attacks were held in check and his artillery masked. The only option seemed to be to attack, so the gallant 46th moved out of the village to attack the Lindenau regiment. They survived canister from the 3lb battery and a volley from the Austrian foot and charged home. Amazingly they prevailed again! Not only that, the casulaties suffered by Lindenau were sufficient that they were broken and this necessitated a morale test for the whole of Frimont's command.

In line with his previous bad luck with the dice this morale test was failed and fromont's command had to retreat to the baseline, leaving the way to Porcia open. This was doubly unfortunate because the Austrian cavalry had just defeated the French Chasseurs and thus threatened the French left.

(Seras' Chasseurs fall back after being defeated by the Schwarzenberg Uhlans).

On the far left Severoli and Sahuc were advancing to cut the road to Porcia but were faced by the Austrian reinforcements. To cover the flank of the infantry Sahuc charged Spelyni's light cavalry. It was an even fight, the dice would decide the day; and yet again they favoured the French over the Austrians. The French Chasseurs won both melees and thus threatend the flank of the Austrian grenadiers. With this latest blow the Austrian commander decided that it was perhaps time to 'live to fight another day' and decided to quit the field.
History was reversed, but chance and perhaps the rule mechanisms, played a large part. Perhaps another blog will discuss the influence of the choice of ruleset on the nature (and outcome) of a game.

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