Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Action on the Ammerbach

A return to Napoleonics this week, with a fictional scenario set along the Danube valley in 1809.  Napoleon is faced by the main Austrian army under Archduke Karl and orders Vandamme to make a flank march with his corps to seize a vital bridge over the Ammerbach at Garbershof and cut the Austrian lines of communication.   Vandamme has 20 battalions organised into 3 divisions, plus a light cavalry brigade of 4 regiments and four batteries of artillery (three field and one horse).
Rosenberg's corps is in the vicinity of Garbershof en route to join the main Austrian army.  He has 10 line battalions, 5 grenz battalions (3 of which are operating as skirmishers) and two battalions of grenadiers.  The corps cavalry consists of three regiments of Uhlans and one of Hussars.  Rosenberg has 4 batteries of field artillery and one of horse.

The Austrians are deployed as follows.  GM Frimont with the Grenz battalions and one regiment of Uhlans is in the woods on the lower slopes of the Ullersberg.  From the Ullersberg, the Ullerwasser runs across the valley to join the Ammerbach at the village of Allmansfeld.  GM Meyer's division (5 line battalions with one field battery are garrisoning Allmansfeld and deployed along the line of the Ullerwasser.  GM Weiss' division (5 line battalions and a field battery) are deployed in and around the village of Garbershof.  The Austrian reserves (Hessen-Homburg's grenadiers and Frolich's light cavalry) are  deployed close to the road along the southern bank of the Danube.

Vandamme advanced with his two Wurttemburg divisions (Neubronn and Stockmayer) followed by Jett's light cavalry and then Ochs' Westphalian division.  His plan was for Neubronn to pin the Austrians along the Ullerwasser whilst Stockmayer outflanked them and headed for Garbershof.  Jett would take on the Austrian cavalry and Ochs support Stockmayer's attack.

Stockmayer supporting Neubronn's advance
 As Neubronn's men moved to their left and advanced on the Ullerwasser they came under artillery fire.  The Jager battalion Neuffer suffered particularly heavy casualties, but at least this allowed the other battalions to approach the stream with little difficulty.  Both battalions of the Kronprinz regiment attacked the 3rd battalion of the Weidenfeleid regiment, but were thrown back by accurate Austrian volleys.  To the right of Neubronn, Stockmayer was advancing along the valley road towards the ford over the Ullerwasser.  As they neared the
 woods on the lower slopes of the Ullersberg they came under fire from the Grenz.  Stockmayer deployed his skirmishers to meet this threat,but they were too few in number to prevent the Grenz from picking off officers from the marching line battalions.  Vandamme ordered Ochs to send forward his skirmishers to assist and this balanced the contest for a time.

GM Meyer's men hold the line of the Ullerwasser

By the ford over the Ullerwasser Stockmayer's leading battalions were now in position to attack 2nd battalion Weidenfeld.  Led by the Konig Jager regiment. the Wurttemburgers charged over the stream ignoring the rather scattered volley fired by the Austrians.  Outnumbered by 2: 1 the Austrians tried to hold their ground but were forced to fall back, leaving behind many casualties and the battered remnants took no further part in the battle.  However, the gallant stand by Weidenfeld had allowed time for GM Weiss to bring up his division and this was now deployed in line barring further Wurttemburg progress.

Pressure builds on the Austrian line
Rosenberg had seen the threat to his left and not only GM Weiss had received new orders.  The cavalry were also ordered to support GM Meyer, whilst Hessen-Homburg was to garrison Garbershof.  On the slopes of the Ullersberg the light infantry fight continued with GM Frimont feeding in another battalion of Grenz.  This increased pressure on Stockmayer's left and Vandamme sent forward another one of Ochs battalions to try and disperse the Austrians.  It was a necessary move as the Grenz had now started targeting the artillery crews, causing increasing casualties amongst the gunners.  Both Stockmayer and Ochs ordered their artillery to concentrate against the Grenz.  Canister was fired but with little effect.  Rosenberg was satisfied that his plan to deploy Frimont was in the woods was working, drawing off resources from the main attack.
 Weiss and Meyer needed all the help they could get, Neubronn and Stockmayer were attacking once again and although Neubronn's men were suffering heavy casualties and needed to pause to regroup, Stockmayer was now ready to attack the second Austrian line. With Konig Jager leading the way again the Wurttemburgers swept forward.  A volley from IR Lindenau stopped 1st battalion Prince Paul, but the remaining attackers closed to melee.  Perhaps unnerved by the resolute advance of their foes, the Austrians broke and ran, sweeping past the jeering Deutschmeister.

IR Lindenau break
However, 3rd battalion Deutschmeister would soon feel the full weight of the Wurttemburg attack.  Launching themselves forward Stockmayer's men charged the Austrians. Again a volley proved insufficient to stop the Wurttemburgers and in a short melee the Austrians were defeated, joining the fleeing Linedenau in a race towards Garbershof.  The Austrian line was now in danger of being wrapped up, but Frolich's cavalry now entered the fray.  The Carl Ludwig Uhlans charged forward and caught 1st battalion Fusiliers Von Neubronn before they could form square.  In a trice the battalion was destroyed, the survivors seeking shelter behind their supporting battalions.  Showing admirable command, the Uhlans fell back to reform, rather than plunging on with the possibility of being cut off.

This Austrian riposte emphasised the need for Jett to get his men forward, but with Frimonts men interfering with Ochs advance and the Austrian line stubbornly refusing to give way there was little room to deploy.  Neubronn's men bought that room by attacking once again towards Allmansfeld.  Ravaged by canister they struggled across the Ullerwasser and charged 3rd Weidenfeld, forcing them back.  This created just enough room for the Leib Cheveauleger to cross the Ullerwasser and form up.  This forced Weidenfeld to form square against the cavalry threat and in such a formation they were vulnerable to a further infantry attack.  Their formation broken by the infantry, the Austrians were quickly destroyed by the Wurttemburg cavalry, who followed up and cut down the gunners of the battery which had done such execution amongst Neubronn's men.

Now enjoying cavalry support, Stockmayer resumed his advance, pushing forward against 1st battalion Deutschmeister.  These proved a much tougher proposition and their volley stalled the Wurttemburg attack.  After trading volleys the Wurttemburgers charged again, this time forcing the Austrians to fall back.  Once again, the  Carl Ludwig Uhlans charged in support of their comrades and this time bested the Jager zu Pferde Konig.  Having relieved the pressure on the line the cavalry fell back to reform.

A combined attack proves too much for 2nd Deutschmeister
Having reformed, the Leib Cheveauleger now attacked the Austrian line again.  Moving round the left flank of Stockmayer's advance they caught 2nd battalion Deutschmeister in the midst of forming square, driving them from the field. Both Wurttemburg infantry divisions werenow being drawn towards Gerbarshof and they came under fire from the Austrian reserve artillery.  Hessen-Homburg's grenadiers were keen to get involved, resenting their garrison duties.  Grenadier Battalion Reuber advanced and fired a volley at 2nd battalion Fusilers Von Neubronn, whilst the Wurttemburgers were trying to restore their line, the Austrians charged and drove them from the field.

Ochs Westphalians were now embroiled in a desperate struggle with Frimont's Grenz and their supporting artillery.  The leading battalion of the 4th infantry regiment was  destroyed by successive volleys of canister and their comrades suffered heavy casualties before capturing the guns.  However, their success was short-lived as Grenz Warasdiner St Georg fired a volley which drove them back in disorder.  The Walisch Illyrian Grenz also defeated an attack by one of Stockmayer's battalions which had strayed into the woods.

The Austrian grenadiers advance
Despite some local successes, Rosenberg saw that the day was going against him.  He had inflicted heavy casualties on two of the enemy divisions, but his two line divisions were worn out.  Frolich and Frimont could delay an enemy pursuit, but it seemed the best course of action would be to cross the Ammerbach by the Garbershof bridge and join the main Austrian army.  As his aide was compiling the necessary orders, a rider appeared from Garbershof.  He had been sent by FML Hiller to say that III and V  Corps would be arriving over the next few hours and he (Rosenberg) should hold his position.

What Rosenberg could not see from the plain by the Danube, was revealed in full to Vandamme and his staff from the higher ground of the Ullersberg.  Long lines of white-coated infantry, with cavalry and artillery support, all converging on Garbershof.  There was now no way he could take the town or it's bridge.Victory had been snatched from him once again.  When would he win his Marshals baton?   

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