This is a map of the area from the Allied side of the table. It is not an exact representation of the terrain that was on the table, but contemporary maps were not always accurate. The two c-in-c's each received a map to help with their planning. The French, commanded by Napoleon, had four corps commanders, Ney, Oudinot, Marmont and Bertrand, with the corps commanded by Victor due to arrive after 4 or 5 moves. Three cavalry corps and the Guard arrived at the end of play on Saturday. The Allies also had four corps commanders, two Russian, Miloradovich and Gortchakov, an Austrian, Kolowrat and Blucher for the Prussians. Allied reserves were available and the elite Reserve Corps, commanded by Grand Duke Constantine was due to arrive at the start of play on the Sunday.
|Prussian and Russian troops on the Zuckerberg|
|Excelmans charges the Austrian line.|
Napoleon had issued attack orders to his corps commanders and true to his nature Ney was happy to oblige. His light cavalry, led by Excelmans and Briche were quick to cross the bridge and move at speed towards the Austrian lines. To the right, Grouchy led his dragoons across the ford and deployed ready to charge the Austrian guns on the Klosterberg. Unfortunately for Excelmans, Frimont's Uhlans were supporting the Austrian infantry and the uhlans were quick to advance through the lines and countercharge the French cavalry. The French were caught by surprise and driven back. Carried away with their success the Austrians charged on into Briche's horsemen. However, disordered from their melee they were driven back with heavy loss. Briche's men retained their control and fell back to reform. Although costly, the cavalry attacks had covered the advance of Verdier's division towards Alt Schallersdorf. Grouchy had formed up his division and now charged the guns on the Klosterberg.
|Grouchy charges up the Klosterberg|
|The Baden infantry division crosses the Thaya|
|Kochin's cavalry sweep down the slopes of the Zuckerberg|
After three moves all the French attacks had been repulsed and the Allied line was holding, but undaunted, the French resumed their attack. First, Oudinot sent in Scheeler's division against Winau, they were beaten back, but a Gazan's division was ready to take their place. The failure of Bertrand's attack on the Zuckerberg had encouraged the Russians into a limited counterattack. One of Gortchakov's infantry divisions was threatening the flank of Bertrand's line. To counter this Pino's Italians were moved to a blocking position. As they redeployed they became the target for all the Russian guns on the Zuckerberg. Vast gaps were torn in their ranks and Bertrand had to pull them back, but the division was so damaged it took no further part in the battle. Bertrand's position was now perilous. His cavalry were much weakened, his infantry battered and the enemy seemed as strong as ever. To his relief he saw fresh troops arriving. Napoleon had directed Victor's corps to strengthen the French right.
Ney had not been deterred by the failure of his first attack on the Klosterberg. Briche's light cavalry charged forward against Schaeffer's division. The Austrians tried to form square, but were caught in the manoeuvre and stood little chance against the French cavalry.
|Oudinot's advance on Winau|
Kolowrat sent a message off to the Allied headquarters requesting reinforcements; but so early in the battle his pleas fell on deaf ears. As a precautionary measure Kolowrat garrisoned Alt Schallersdorf and the Kloster Abbey with men from Splenyi's division.
On the French right, Gazan's division drove the Prussians from Winau and then defeated a counterattack. Blucher was now in serious trouble, with his left threatened and struggling to maintain contact with Gortchakov's troops to his right. He also sent off an aide to Allied headquarters requesting reinforcements. His plea was accepted and the Prussian grenadier division and the Prussian heavy cavalry were soon marching towards Winau. Reports of Victor's arrival in support of Bertrand resulted in the Russian reserves heading off towards Kukrowitz to bolster the position on the Zuckerberg. With a second plea arriving from Kolowrat, saying that his line was under extreme pressure, being accepted by the Allied command, all the Allied reserves had now been committed.
|The Russian reserves move forward|
Marmont made a second attempt to drive Miloradovich from the Klein Berg, only to see his infantry driven back down the slopes in confusion. Fortunately, help was at hand, as Ney's infantry, led by the Baden division stormed the Klosterberg and drove Abele's division from the hill, creating space for Marmont to deploy more men in future attacks. With Abele's defeat, the French now had control of the Klosterberg. With Dubreton driving Splenyi's men from the Kloster Abbey and Vial capturing Alt Schallersdorf, Ney felt confident that he had the Austrians on the run.
|The French attack on Alt Schallersdorf|
|Kolowrat forms a second line|
Blucher was struggling to contain Oudinot. Dombrowski's Polish division was making headway against Jagow's division, which contained a large number of Reserve Infantry regiments and Militia. The inexperienced troops could not stand against the veterans and fled from the field. Pirch's division tried to stem the tide but was swept away by a combination of the Poles and Oudinot's light cavalry. A yawning gap opened in the Prussian lines, which the arriving reserves struggled to fill. Only the assistance of some Russian reserves allowed some semblance of a line to be re-established.
|The Guard arrives|
When we assembled again on the Sunday, the newly arrived Grand Duke Constantine had a brief opportunity to weigh up the best course of action and decided that he would like to move towards the likely target of the French Imperial Guard, Kukrowitz. However, the plight of the Prussians on the Allied left and the need to safeguard the road meant that two elite infantry divisions were sent in this direction.
|The Guard cavalry attack|
Marmont made a third attempt on the Klein Berg. This time he was successful, slowly but surely, pushing the Russians back. As the Russian infantry retreated the French beat off attacks from the Russian cavalry and claimed possession of the heights, renaming it the Marmont Berg.
|The French take the Klein Berg|
|Ney attacks the Austrian squares|
After two hours play the balance of the game had shifted dramatically. The Allies had lost 10 divisions, pushing their total stands lost beyond 120 (their army breakpoint was 160). Meanwhile the French had lost only a further 15 stands.
With his eyes set on Kukrowitz, Napoleon ordered his Guard to continue their advance. With Friant leading the way the infantry bypassed Zuckerhandel, leaving Marmont's troops to mop up resistance there. The Guard cavalry advanced on the flank of the infantry and the Chasseurs and Lancers charged the lights cavalry of the Russian guard. In a close melee, the French prevailed, driving the Russians back. To the right of the lancers the Guard heavies rode down a Russian infantry division which failed to form square in time. Friant's grenadiers entered Kukrowitz unopposed, the Russians sent to garrison it arriving too late. As the Russians formed up to attack the village they were caught in the flank by Houssaye's dragoon division and totally destroyed. This proved the decisive loss for the Allies as they reached their army breakpoint and their orders would then automatically be changed to withdraw.
|Dombrowski's Polish division attacks the Russian Guard|
This had been a thoroughly enjoyable game, with much of that due to the Gentlemen Pensioners who played in the right spirit. Thank you to the two Johns, the two Garys, Ian, Roman, Chris, Nick, Phil and Will for all your efforts. Not forgetting Steve, who combined the role of host with that of umpire to such good effect. My apologies to the commanders who may feel I have not mentioned some significant events, but especially on the Sunday morning things were happening so quickly it was difficult to keep track of them all.
Further photos, including some panoramic views of the battle, can be found on Will's blog together with Bertrand's take on the battle! In addition, a strategic overviewfrom the French perspective can be found on Phil's FoG blog. Both well worth visiting.