1813 French & Allies vs. Austrians: Battle of Center Hill

Recently, WR travelled south from the warren for two different 25mm napoleonic games. Joined by WR’s son Daniel, we both played 1813 French at Bob’s Redondo Beach gaming garage.

1st game: 1813 French with Dutch-Belgian allies vs. the Austrians. Game pictures with commentary to follow but first the French game plan.

Game set up had the wooden block deployment system in play. After reviewing the block dispositions for both sides, the crafty French players (Bob, Daniel and WR) elected to sweep left around the exposed Austrian right flank while containing the Austrian left with the Dutch-Belgians (DB). Meanwhile we are avoiding the Austrian center hill position. What a plan!

French & DB allies had: 3 French and 2 Dutch-Belgian infantry divisions, French dragoon and light cavalry divisions plus a Dutch-Belgian cavalry division. Austrians as we found out during the game deployed: Austrian mixed reserve division, 4-5 infantry divisions, 2 light divisions and a very rare artillery command. Both sides had several “dummy command” wooden blocks at deployment.

Austrians (Dave B. and Rob) went with a typical Austrian deployment…..clump together in the table center, with some left flank extension, and await the French attack. Looks good on the map….have you sent the letter to Vienna yet for approval?

Block system details can be found under the Napoleonic game rules, video & files tab found in the WR header or these links: Tabletop Block Movement Primer; WR block article linkNapoleonic Game Primer.

1813 French (right) vs. Austrians (left). Starting deployment with wooden blocks for commands (divisions or brigades).

Terrain is simple. low hill, small average woods, occasional building (villages) or farmstead, a stream with a first time determination random roll (upon touching) for disorder level. Otherwise, open, flat and typical Bob terrain….:-) Bob, being an ancients player, tends to deploy terrain like for an ancients game….nice open flat ground.

Opening block movement by both sides. French push forward on their sweep the Austrian flank manuever.

French light cavalry division is deployed from wooden block as Austrian light cavalry looks on.

Note: As the wooden blocks approach into effective range and sighting, the actual miniatures represented by the wooden block are deployed to the table top. Till this moment, your opponent has had limited information as to the size, scope, and type of command. A “command” in our game rules represent a variety of forces. Depending on the game scale  level (divisional or corp/army), a “command” could be a single unit (battalion for example), a regiment, a brigade or a division. It could be representative of a “dummy command” which has no units attached…just to sow information confusion and tactical advantage. Most games, like this battle, the blocks represent brigade and divisional size commands since there is Corps or higher HQ utilized.

French massed infantry deploy besides the stream as Austrians occupy the farmstead.

The miniatures are deployed on the Austrian left flank. Seems Dutch-Belgian (DB) cavalry is facing off against an Austrian light Division as an Austrian infantry division (9 battalions plus artillery) positions itself by the tower. Austrians deploy their grand battery on the center hill. Glad we are not assaulting that position….would be messy.

Austrian left flank view with arriving Dutch-Belgian cavalry. Austrian grand battery at right on hill.

Overall view with front lines now deployed. French masses look good…will they fight?

Early action on the Austrian left flank (DB flank). As Dave plans his actions, Bob has marched his DB cavalry forward against the Austrian left light division position. DB infantry division approaches the bridge (deployed and still in block mode).

Dutch-Belgian cavalry advance against the Austrian light division.

Center table action. Daniel, hands firmly on the table in control, looks over the center left french position. Dad….I have to take the farmstead with all those Austrians? This is different from Xbox gaming with consoles.

French left or Austrian right flanks. Austrians prepare for the advancing French columns.

French far left and the grand sweeping march…..French light cavalry seek to push back the Austrian cavalry to allow the French infantry masses freedom of march. CHARGE!

They are off!. French cavalry sound their trumpeters and charge seeking to push back the Austrian cavalry formations.

After several charge and Austrian counter-charges, the field is in French control. Viva la hussars!

Win some, lose some, the French hussars retain the field as the advancing French infantry look on.

French march into position for the 1st farmstead assault attempt. Artillery batteries are deploying. Skirmisher screen to the front.

French infantry skirmishers push forward as their massed columns cross the stream.

Disaster….1st attempt fails in true 1813 style….French infantry routing. Austrians march to form up a counter stoke near the base of the hill as the Austrian artillery lines up their bombardment.

First French assault on the farmstead fails….French infantry retiring-routing across the stream.

Picture for the true Frenchmen….massed columns.

Massed French columns march around the Austrian right flank.

As the Austrian counterattack near the hill marches forward, French rally and contest the near farmstead walls. Austrian grand battery is bombarding the long range and distant DB infantry behind the stream position.

After the 1st farmstead attempt failed, French infantry line the walls to engage the Austrians. Meanwhile, the Austrian counterattack near the bridge is moving forward.

Daniel playing the part…cool, collected, what the he*l am I doing?… Dad reminded me to keep reserves on hand….good, the French dragoons are in position. Time to rally the broken battalions and return to the front lines.

Daniel’s reaction to the Austrian counterattack…no problem Dad… I have reserve in position.

Austrian left or the French right flank….After some cavalry swirling melee, the Austrian left light division is still holding their positions. Time to bring up the DB infantry divisions.

Austrian left flanks sees masses of Dutch-Belgian infantry approaching.

Austrian column counterattack in center. This localized affair soon petered out, leaving Daniel a chance to reorganize and return to assault the farmstead position.

Austrian counterattack forces its way forward on the right while French artillery bombards the farmstead.

French far left sweep still march on. Austrian rearguard action slow the advance with timed charges and repositioning kavallerie batteries.

French columns advance.

Bob’s Nassauers try to assault the tower position. A linchpin position on the Austrian left center. Assault fails….but it was close.

Bob’s Nassauers assault the tower position.

French center to left flank view. Farmstead is occupying a major French effort. Corps commander arrived near bridge to rally the shaken French battalions as the Austrian counter attack expends itself on the road.

Austrian counter attack repulsed, the French infantry rallies and resumes their advance on the farmstead. Clear template is the artillery minimum range zone (4″) and angle of firing (22′).

French sweeping flank starts to meets a stiffer Austrian defense. Additional Austrian commands are arriving in the sector.

French left sweeping advance continues…but Austrian masses are seen approaching.

Bob’s DB’s slowly push the Austrian left flank back. Both sides cavalry are depleted so it will be the infantry on each side to win this sector.

Dutch-Belgian infantry division crosses the stream slowly pushing the Austrian far left flank back.

Daniel storms into the farmstead with French columns. Another French commander is hit. Three French divisional commanders were wounded during the battle.

With the Austrian counter attack repulsed, French infantry columns storm the farmstead.

Austrians look to defend the tower position against Bob’s DB’s.

Fighting around the tower position. Austrian lines await the advancing Dutch-Belgian infantry.

Austrian cavalry reinforcements arrive on their right flank. Reserve cavalry (kuirassiers and heavy dragoons) along with several grenadier battalions. The easy flanking march has ended and tough fighting lies ahead. Austrian kuirassier cavalry prepares to charge against the French conscript squares.

Well, the massed Austrians reveal themselves as an Austrian Grenadier and heavy cavalry command…French form squares as the Austrian cavalry prepares to charge.

Austrians sense the battle is a losing cause….so they start retiring their grand battery in the center. Both flanks are still engaged by French or DB infantry / cavalry actions. Daniel orders forward the reserve French dragoon division for possible opportunities on the center hill.

Center battlefield, the massed Austrian artillery battery prepares to retire, Daniel brings forward is French dragoon division. Dutch-Belgians approach the tower position in distance.

French columns almost clean out the farmstead leaving the Austrians just holding the buildings. Go Daniel!

Battle in the farmstead. Austrians contest the position as French limbered artillery advance besides the wall (batteries are facing away from Austrians).

General overall view of the battle. Both Austrian flanks are under pressure. The only reserve infantry is positioned on the center hill (block). The other two blocks are baggage train and a dummy command from our scouting reports.

General view of tabletop action. 1st Austrian cavalry charge was repulsed by the conscript infantry in squares. Austrian LOC is off the road exit center table.

With the deployment of all the Austrian reserve commands, The French grand sweep march is stopped. Hard to push forward against grenadiers and kuirasiers with French 1813 conscripts and a battered light cavalry division. Fighting dissolves into musketry and artillery bombardments as WR reorganizes the assault.

Forming a strong front, the Austrian reserve division contains the advancing French left flank for the moment.

Center position is quiet as the French dragoons await order to charge the hill with DB infantry support.

Daniel’s French dragoon division awaits orders to cross the stream and charge up the hill.

After another turn, the Austrians decide the battle is a losing cause and start to retire from the battlefield. Their left flank is being pushed back by the DB infantry masses. Their center grand battery has retired to safety and the right flank holds firm with their reserve command of grenadiers and kuirasiers. With retiring steps, the Austrians withdraw from the battlefield….rear guards in place as the French push slowly forward. Battle ends with a French victory.

Players for the game were: Austrians Dave and Rob. French commanded by WR and Daniel. Dutch-Belgians fielded by Bob. Tables and terrain provided by Bob in his gaming garage. Miniatures from the collections of Rob (Austrians), Dave (Austrians), Dutch-Belgians (Bob) and French (WR). Thanks again Bob for an interest afternoon.

The 2nd game AAR despatches are in transit to the emperor’s Imperial headquarters

WR war correspondent

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