Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Battle of Tarvis May 1809; a Shako scenario

This week's scenario is from the 1809 campaign by Eugene's Army of Italy.  Following the success at the Piave, Eugene's troops are pushing the Austrian forces back through the mountains.  Archduke John is desperately trying to unite his scattered troops and has detailed VIII corps under FML Albert Gyulai to hold the Tarvis position.  West of the town the narrow valley is blocked by the Malborghetto Fort which is garrisoned by Grenzers.  Confident that the pursuing Italians and French will be delayed by the fort, Gyulai has taken up a position in some earthwork sjust to the east of the Schlitza river.  He has two brigades of infantry; Von Gajoli with 5 line battalions and Marziani with two landwehr battalions and a grenzer battalion.  His cavalry consists of a single unit of uhlans which is stationed by the road east by the Weissenbach river.  This road is his line of communications with Archduke John.  Von Gajoli's troops are holding the earthworks facing the Schlitza and are bolstered by a battery of artillery.  Marziani was originally held in reserve by the Wallerweissenberg, but yesterday afternoon Italian infantry were seen advancing from the south and Gyulai moved Marziani to protect his flank.  The landwehr and grenzer are now holding the village of Klein Kruth and and the works to the east.  Italian troops also appeared at Tarvis, locals had shown them tracks through the hills which bypassed the Malborghetto fort.  Fortunately, only infantry have been able to use the tracks, but Gyulai is still outnumbered 2:1, though he has artillery and cavalry.
A messenger has been sent to Archduke John requesting reinforcements, but so far only an order to hold the position has been received.   The rivers are fordable for infantry and cavalry but not artillery.

The two Italian divisions are Bonfanti (6 battalions) and Fontanelli (8 battalions).  Barguay d'Hilliers, the commander has orders from Eugene to attack and pin the Austrians in place whilst the main force attempts to capture the Malborghetto fort and allow cavalry and artillery to come to his aid.

Marziani's position
A dice roll determined that Steve would command the Austrians and I would have the Italians.  I decided to try and stretch the defence by an attack all along the line and hope to create a gap I could then exploit.  As Fontanelli's men advanced they came under accurate fire from the Austrian battery, the 3rd Croat regiment in particular taking heavy casualties.  In the centre the Irish Legion charged across the bridge and ignoring the volley from the 3rd battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment surged over the earthworks.  The Austrians were pushed back in disorder but fortunately for Gyulai he had another battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment in support and this counter-charged, forcing the Irish back over the works.

Bonfanti ordered his battalions to advance in echelon, with his principal attack being against the most easterly earthwork whilst a second attack was directed against Klein Kruth.  The village was held by the Salzburg militia who performed heroically; driving back the Italian infantry three times before finally having to give ground.  Bonfanti's main attack was disrupted by the fire of some battalion guns placed between the earthwork and Klein Kruth.  These were eventually overrun, but only after inflicting heavy casualties on the Italian infantry

The Irish Legion attack
Fontanelli had ordered some of his skirmishers to try and subdue the crews of the Austrian guns and slowly but surely the Italian light troops picked off the hard-working Austrian gunners,  A more pressing concern for Fontanelli was his left flank.  The infantry were forming up to attack the redoubt on the end of the Austrian line when the Austrian uhlans intervened.  With no artillery of cavalry to counter this threat, the Italian infantry were forced into square.  Although this protected the remainder of the Italian line, it did make those units juicy targets for the volleys from the redoubt and the Austrian skirmishers.  Losses rose steadily but the Italians stood firm.

An Austrian counter-attack
Having secured the village of Klein Kruth, Bonfanti urged his men forward again.  The Chasteler regiment on the right of Von Gajoli's line was overwhelmed as three battalions attacked it.  The Grenzer defending the eastern earthworks were forced back as the Ist Italian Light Infantry charged forward.  Marziani struggled to form a new line to protect the flank.

Bonfanti's division advances
From the heights of the Wallerweissenberg, Gyulai was delighted to see the leading elements of Frimonts corps approaching the battlefield along the northern road towards Tarvis.  Less welcome was the sight of Sahuc's Light Cavalry division approaching the town from the west, the Malborghetto fort must have fallen.  Renewed attacks by Fontanelli had forced Gyulai to fall back from the earthworks, but he still had sufficient force to form a line.  Frimont's appearance had diverted the Italian reinforcements northwards so there was a chance that Gyulai could withdraw east before a pursuit could be organised.

Here we ended the game.  Gyulai's force had lost over half it's strength and withdrew.  Barguay d'Hilliers had also suffered heavy losses.  Although no units had been removed, fully half had only one strength point remaining.  A couple of effective volleys could have imposed divisional tests on both Fontanelli and Bonfanti.  The reinforcements arrived too late to make a decisive impact on the battle, but they consisted of

Frimont       4 line battalions and 1 grenzer battalion


Sahuc         3 regiments of Chasseurs a Cheval

Desaix        5 line battalions

The mechanism we used for the arrival of the reinforcements was

Austrians to accumulate 20 points by rolling a d6 at the end of each move

French  at the end of each move each commander rolls a d6, French need to win for fort to fall
Turn 1 and 2  Austrians get +1 modifier
Turn 3 and 4  straight roll
Turn 5 and 6  French get +1 modifier
Turn 7 fort falls

When fort falls, French commander rolls a d average and that is the number of moves before reinforcements arrive.

In our game the reinforcements both arrived after 5 game turns, which is quite soon, but with the losses suffered by the original troops, much longer and both sides would have had divisional morale tests.

The length of the Austrian position meant that there were gaps for the Italians to exploit, and we felt that the redoubts were too restrictive for the Austrians.  Some thought will be put in to try and create some special rules to cover them.

We did run the scenario again, swapping commands and the Italians achieved a decisive victory.  This was aided in no small part by the destruction of the Austrian uhlans when I ordered them to charge. The Italian infantry formed a hasty square and the fate of the light cavalry was sealed


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Battle of Montgomery September 1644: an ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

Our most recent game was this ECW battle. Background to the battle can be found here and a version for the "Warr without an enemie" rules developed by the Wyre Forest Gamers has been posted.  Steve set up the scenario on his table and the troops used were


Commander - Sir John Meldrum
3 units of foot;  Brereton, Booth and Mainwaring
3 units of horse; Fairfax, Lancashire Horse (Shuttleworth) and Myddleton

The Parliamentary army was deployed with it's back to the river Camlad, which is fordable, but with difficulty.  There is a bridge on their right and beyond that an area of boggy ground.  Meldrum has deployed with the regiments of Fairfax and Shuttleworth (Fairfax being the brigade commander), on his left, the infantry, commanded by Lothian in the centre and Brereton on his right.


Commander - Sir John Byron

4 units of foot: Broughton, Erneley, Woodhouse, Ellis
1 unit of dismounted dragoons

3 units of horse: Trevor, Vaughan, Tyldsley

General view of the battlefield
Byron has brought the majority of his besieging army out of the works to oppose the relieving force. All the cavalry is deployed on the Royalist right under the command of Colonel Trevor.  The foot, commanded by Major General Sir Michael Erneley has the regiments of Broughton, Erneley and Woodhouse in the front line with Ellis in reserve.  The dragoons are on the left flank close to an enclosure.  All the foot regiments are on a ridge overlooking the Parliamentary position.

To balance the scenario, two of the Parliamentarian foot regiments are rated as veteran and all have a 2:1 ratio of muskets to pikes, whilst the Royalists are mostly trained and have a proportion of 3:2 musket to pike.  All Royalist cavalry are rated as trained and are gallopers.  The Parliamentarian cavalry units are smaller, but better quality and are horse.

The Royalist army on the ridge
I took the part of Lord Byron and resolved resolved to make a general advance with may centre and drive the Parliamentary foot back into the river.  Trevor was also to attack, disperse the enemy cavalry and then turn to assist the infantry attack. To counter the thereat from Myddleton's horse Ellis and the dragoons are to move towards the left to protect the flank of the main line as it advances.

The first couple of moves went according to plan, with a co-ordinated general advance, the problems started when Trevor's leading regiment charged home against Fairfax's regiment.  Despite the impetus advantage and support, Vaughan,s were soundly beaten and when they fell back they disorderd Tyldsley's who were in support.  This was the first of three unsuccessful charges against Fairfax's regiment, which took casualties, but always seemed to do just enough to hold their ground.  When Fairfax's were eventually forced to fall back by Trevor's own regiment, their 'sweeping advance' attacking the Lancashire Horse was rebuffed, leaving all the cavalry shaken and requiring time to recover.

Fairfax stands firm

On the Royalist left, Byron personally led forward Ellis's regiment and the dragoons.  The two became separated and Myddleton seized the opportunity to charge the dragoons, sensing an easy victory.  He was to be disappointed.  A volley from the dragoons was sufficient to stop the horse and then Ellis arrived in the nick of time to fire a volley into the enemy's flank, routing them.  The main Royalist infantry line was now safe from a flank attack, but it had other problems.

Erneley's rout
The musketry fire from the Parliamentary foot was taking a heavy toll on the advancing Royalists, Erneley's own regiment in particular was wavering as it was swept by volleys.  Erneley galloped over to rally them, but was himself felled by a musket ball.  His second-in-command managed to rally the regiment, but the advance had stalled.  Another volley routed Erneley's regiment and they fled from the field.  Woodhouse's now suffered the attentions of both Booth's and Mainwaring's.  Losses mounted and when the regiment began to edge backwards, Lloyd, (Erneley's replacement,) moved to rally them, only to be shot like his predecessor.  This proved too much for Woodhouse's who routed, leaving a gaping hole in the Royalist line.

The Lancashire Horse triumph
Just when it seemed that it couldn't get any worse, a unit of Parliamentary cavalry (Brereton's), which had been foraging appeared on the Royalist right flank.  Trevor's units struggled to meet this new threat, but first Tyldsley's and then  Vaughan's were routed and Parliamentary victory was assured.

Although the report may make the game sound one-sided, Steve (as Parliamentary commander), assured me that there were points at which he felt that the Royalists may win.  This was proved when we played the scenario again. Although Trevor once again failed to drive off Fairfax, Lothian's infantry proved unable to stop Erneley's advance and were driven back into the Camlad in disorder and routed.  Myddleton's horse again being unable to aid their infantry as they were driven off by the fire of Ellis and the dragoons.  In a third game, the Royalist foot managed to drive off one Parliamentary regiment, but two of their own were routed by musketry fire, leaving the two wings of the Royalist army separated.  The return of the foraging cavalry again swung the balance in favour of the Parliamentarians and the Royalists had to retreat.

The second and third games were played two weeks later and I hosted them, so I adjusted unit sizes to accommodate the smaller table.  Here are some photos from the games (under different lighting conditions).

Fairfax's brigade await the assault

Meldrum with Myddleton's Horse
Mainwaring's repel Vaughan's Horse

Brereton's Foot, with their backs to the Camlad
Ellis's stand firm against Myddleton's Horse