The overall situation is that Marmont has been ordered to advance with his forces in Dalmatia, moving towards the Danube valley and then to join the main army near Vienna. In recent days he has checked an attack by local Austrian forces and then advanced through the Velebit Mountains and moved NW towards Gospic. Austrian forces have tried to hinder his advance along the narrow valleys but the various blocking positions have taken by the French. Among the prisoners taken by the French was GM von Stoichevich, the Austrian commander. He was succeeded by Oberst Rebrovic von Razboj, who concentrated his forces behind the Licca river and destroyed all the bridges in the area, except the one behind which his forces awaited the French. The Licca and its tributaries flowed through deep, narrow channels which meant that they could only be crossed at bridges Marmont's scouts had reported the destruction of the bridges, but suggested that the one at Barlete over the Jadova, a tributary of the Lissa may be practicable and it would outflank the Austrian forces. Recognising that attacking equal numbers across a bridge would probably result in heavy casualties, Marmont combined all the light companies and sappers and sent them ahead to try and seize a bridgehead at Barlete. He accompanied the remaining two brigades of infantry and the baggage train. The train not only contained supplies and the pontoons but also the wounded from the earlier skirmishes. News came back that the light troops had indeed managed to push back the Austrians defending Barlete and had established a bridgehead allowing the sappers to begin to build a bridge.
Early on the morning of the 21st May, Rebrovic's scouts reported that the French were crossing the plain beyond Bilaj towards Barlete. He had received news of the French success at Barlete in the early hours and realised that it would take too long to move his forces to cover the flanking manoeuvre. Rebrovic took the bold decision to cross the Licca and attack the French column, hoping to seize the wagon train and force Marmont to abandon his advance. His forces were predominantly 2nd rate reserve units and border troops, but he suspected that he had a slight numerical advantage and the French would be hampered by the wagon train. In all Rebrovic had 3 Grenz battalions. a composite unit made up of companies from various line battalions, 6 landwehr/border battalions and a light battery. Marmont's troops were all regulars, but the two brigades were separated by the wagon train and the ranking Medical officer, Surgeon Pasteur was adamant that regular troops would be needed to defend the train and the wounded. Marmont has to decide how many of his 10 battalions to detach for this task. He has to bear in mind that Austrian irregulars have been operating in the hills and the sight of undefended wagons would be too tempting for them. It is also essential that no supplies/equipment is lost.
|Marmont's force on the march|
|The Austrians advance past Bilaj|
|The 46th defend the wagon train|
On the other flank, Meyer was attempting to move around Montrichard's line. Unfortunately, the commanders of two landwehr battalions were drawn towards the conflict and came under accurate artillery fire. As they halted to recover the remaining battalions of Launay's brigade could concentrate on the leading battalions of Meyer's command and crushed them with devastating musketry volleys. They then moved around the flank of the still shaken Landwehr and overwhelmed them too.
|The end is nigh for the Salzburg Landwehr battalion|
We ran the scenario again after lunch, this time with the Austrians starting closer to the French marching columns. This resulted in a closer game, but the French just managed to hold on (again). The determining factor was the better French morale, they could be 'staggered' but they recovered more easily than the 2nd rate Austrian units.
Historically, Marmont did not wait for the Austrians, but attacked and Rebrovic took up a defensive position on the hills. He managed to hold his position and inflict significant casualties. However, overnight, the Austrians decided that in view of the shortage of ammunition it would be best to fall back. So they destroyed the bridge and retreated to Gospic.