Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Action on the Danube, April 1809. A Shako scenario troops added.

For our final game of the year we returned to the Napoleonic period.  The scenario was based on the action around Regensburg at the beginning of the 1809 campaign.  Historically, the French garrison of Regensburg (3 battalions, just over 2,000 men) surrendered when confronted by an overwhelming force of tens of thousands of Austrians.  For the purposes of our scenario the attacking force was scaled back and a relief columns of French and Wurttemburg troops added.
Sketch map of the battlefield - south is at the top
The Austrian force was divided into 3 divisions, Frolich with 2 grenzer battalions and two light cavalry regiments, Koblos with 8 infantry battalions and Hessen-Homburg with 8 infantry battalions. Koblos and Hessen-Homburg also had artillery batteries.  Frolich started the game at point A (see map above) and would be followed by Koblos a few moves later (dependent on a dice roll).  Hessen-Homburg arrived at X, Y or Z (again dependent on a die roll), 10 moves later.

For the French, Colonel Marquis garrisoned Regensburg with the 4 battalions of the 2nd regiment of the line.  Teste's division (8 battalions and a regiment of light cavalry), would arrive at point C in three moves and Marchand's division (6 battalions), together with a division of light cavalry at point B some time after move 10 (dependent on a die roll).  The Austrians knew that French reinforcements were on their way, but not which road they would take. For both sides the objective was to take and hold the town and its vital bridge.

Frolich's advance guard enter from the east (point A)
A roll of the dice decided that Steve would take command of the Austrians and the action commenced.  Frolich's command advanced at its best speed towards Regensburg, the infantry screening the town whilst the cavalry took up position watching both possible routes which the French could take.  Marquis had two battalions in each part of the town and attempted to hold the line of the gardens.  The Austrian advance guard did a good job occupying the defenders whilst Koblos marched his battalions forward.  An unlucky die roll meant that Koblos' division arrived on move 4, one move later than Teste.  However the narrow avenue of advance taken by the French meant that the Austrians reached Regensburg first and although their first attack was stalled a second attempt, led by the Deutschmeister regiment, overwhelmed one of the defending French battalions.

Teste's division advance towards Regensburg
Teste's advance was being observed by the Merveldt Uhlans and Stipsicz Hussars and their presence inhibited the French infantry from advancing boldly towards the town.  Teste ordered the 2nd Hussars to charge the Austrians.  Although outnumbered the French cavalry obeyed with glee. Charging forward they drove back the Stipsicz Hussars and then carried on into the uhlans.  After a fierce struggle they forced this unit back as well, clearing the way for the infantry.

The first Austrian attack on Regensburg
Back in Regensburg a second French battalion had been lost trying to hold back the Austrian tide. Assailed to front and flank the 3rd battalion of the 2nd had suffered so many losses it took no further part in the battle.  Marquis had moved one of his reserve units from the northern part of Regensburg to bolster the defence and these men now awaited a renewed attack.  They didn't have to wait long. Two Austrian battalions charged the town.  One was halted by a volley, but the second pressed home the attack and was only repulsed after a fierce fight.  Seeing the fighting around and in the town, Davout ordered Teste to divert two battalions to aid the town's defence, whilst the remainder were to move round to the south and engage the Austrian supporting units.  Two battalions of the 54th of the line moved towards Regensburg, the leading battalion deploying into line and  firing volleys into the flank of the Austrian attackers.  Koblos ordered the Chasteler (1st battalion) and Lindenau regiments to push back the French.  Chasteler charged forward, only to be halted by a short range volley.  Lindenau moved through the stalled battalion and charged.  They ignored the losses from the French volley, but were bested in the vicious bayonet fight that followed and forced to fall back.  For all their valour, the French failed in their purpose; whilst the 54th were doing all they could for their comrades a further Austrian attack on Regensburg broke through the defences and pushed the surviving defenders back over the bridge.

Deutschmeister press home the attack
Marquis rallied what men he could.  As he prepared a last ditch defence of the northern end of the bridge he received news that further Austrian forces were approaching, on the northern bank! Hessen-Homburg's division had arrived, right on schedule.  Although not on the ideal line of approach, it would take three moves to reach the town, these fresh Austrians meant that the town could not be held.  Marquis took the decision to head north and try and meet the troops being assembled further to the north by Augereau and leave the town to the Austrians.

Davout saw the line of stragglers head north.  Although the day seemed to have been won by the Austrians, he could still salvage something by recapturing the southern part of the town.  Holding that would deny the Austrians north of the river access to the decisive area of operations south of the river.  Another courier was sent to Teste with orders to attack the southern side of the town at once, before the defence could be organised.

Teste begins his attack
Once again the 2nd Hussars covered themselves with glory.  Reformed after their earlier charge, they now attacked again.  Catching the Stipsicz Hussars off guard, they drove them from the field.  Once again they reformed, but before they could move against the Merveldt Uhlans the Wurttemburg light cavalry arrived.  The uhlans were still shaken from their earlier fight and were totally unprepared to oppose the charge of the new horsemen.  In no time at all they were driven from the field, leaving the Austrian infantry without any cavalry support.  Koblos' battalions which had advanced to take on Teste's men now found they had cavalry to their flank and formed square.  The French and German cavalry pinned them in position whilst Marchand's battalions advanced and then deployed to fire volleys into the immobile masses.  Skirmishers picked off the officers and when gaps started to appear the infantry charged forward.  One by one the squares were destroyed.  An attempt by the Austrian artillery to offer fire support was snuffed out by a charge by the Prinz Adam Cheveauleger, which overran the battery cutting down the crews.

Marchand's attack develops
Rosenberg decided to bolster the defence of the southern part of the town and ordered Hessen-Homburg, who had now garrisoned the northern part, to feed units over the bridge.  This steadied Koblos' men and now the French faced the same problems the Austrians had had in the initial attack, but against a more numerous foe.  Hessen-Homburg's artillery now joined the fray, silencing Teste's battery and then cutting bloody swathes through the infantry waiting to attack the town.  Amongst the first to suffer were the gallant battalions of the 54th regiment.  Both suffered heavy casualties and had to fall back out of range of the guns to reform.  Led by the 9th legere the blue clad infantry swept forward.  The first attack failed, but a second cut its way into the town.  The remaining battalions of Teste's command, together with Marchand's men now began to clear the remaining defenders from the gardens around the town.  Losses were heavy on both sides and Teste could sense that his men were nearing the end of their strength.  He ordered an attack across the bridge in a last attempt to seize back control.  Stepping forward the 2nd battalion of the 9th legere formed up and then made a dash across the bridge.  Opposing them were the 3rd battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment.  Entering the streets of the northern bank the French struggled forward trying to establish a foothold.  It was almost achieved, but a desperate last charge by the defenders drove them back.

Gallant stand by the Salzburg militia (yes, two of the militia stands are facing the wrong way !)
Reforming across the river, they tried again, but this time a telling volley stopped them in their tracks and they had to fall back.  Both sides were exhausted.  Hessen-Homburg had lost the three battalions he had sent across the river and was determined to hold on to what he had.  Teste's men  had reached the limits of their strength and although Marchand's troops were relatively fresh, by the time they had rounded up the remaining Austrians south of the river, night was falling.  Special mention must be made of the Salzburg militia unit which twice beat off attacks by the Fusliers Von Neubronn before being surrounded and forced to lay down their arms

A fairly close run thing, but in the final analysis perhaps I gave the French too much cavalry, though Steve achieved a 100% record in losing every cavalry melee, even though initially he had the advantage of numbers.  This severely hampered Koblos' attempt to oppose Teste's advance.  Also Steve's luck deserted him in the die rolls for the arrival of his reinforcements.  There was only a 1 in 6 chance that Koblos would arrive later than Teste and that is what happened.  Also Hessen-Homburg arrived on time, but a long way from the town, (again when the odds favoured an entry close to Regensburg.  This deprived Koblos of support for a vital couple of moves.

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