A the last HMGS-PSW convention WR ran his Battle of Dego April 1796 scenario for the convention attendees. A small scenario covering both the April 14th and 15th battles over the same Italian hill slope ground. WR wrote up this scenario back in January 2013 but, for various reasons, has been delayed several times from actually testing his handiwork.
The cast of characters: Bob as French Generals Massena, GD Meynier and GB La Salcette while Fred as GD La Harpe and the later arriving GD Stengel. Austro-Sardinian forces, under command of Colonel Avogadro and FML Argenteau, played by Daniel and John atop the Dego ridge position.
Scenario opening mid-afternoon (1400 hours, April 14th) view of the tabletop. French republican demi-brigade infantry are arriving along the right side and bottom of the picture. The Austro-Sardinian infantry man the hilltop entrenchment positions behind the steep hill slope vineyards.
The Battle of Dego April 1786 scenario maps below are to assist the reader’s eye with commentary named locations, initial battalion deployments and arrival of reinforcements. For the scenario writeup please read my Battle of Dego April 1796 scenario notes. Game scale: 1:100 miniature ratio, 50 yds to the tabletop inch, 20 minute turns. A complete photograph slideshow is attached at end of this blog post.
Link to WR’s previously posted historical battle commentary: Battle of Dego April 1796.
Game scenario: Dego April 1796 Scenario notes (.doc)
Another starting scenario view below from the opposite table end. Note the French start the scenario with a small brigade command (General La Salcette) across the stream and pushing towards the vacant Austro-Sardinian left flank (bottom right of picture below).
WR’s terrain flocked tape measures are “seen” adjacent to the dice. I tend to “lose” them during the game play, since they blend with the tabletop terrain.
1400 Hours April 14th: French open the scenario game with quick movements towards the Austro-Sardinian position. GD Harpe’s demi-brigade infantry rush towards the bridge at Dego after failing to locate any shallow river crossing point (6D dice roll). GD Meynier’s infantry start climbing the steep hillside and attempt to march eastwards around the Austro-Sardinian hill position. La Salcette’s brigade wheels left towards the Austro-Sardinian left flank redoubt instead of marching deep behind the Austro-Sardinian position (historically). The defending Austro-Sardinian redoubt emplaced artillery loosen a few cannonballs at the French. GD Massena sets up his headquarters base in Dego village.
French team Bob (yellow hat) and Fred march their french republican miniatures. Seated Daniel as Sardinian Colonel Avogadro looks on.
1420 Hours: French continue their advances. Open order French skirmishers climb the hillside vineyards and La Harpe’s demi-brigade infantry cross the bridge near Dego. Austro-Sardinians loosen more redoubt 6lb cannonballs at the French with limited effect.
1440 Hours: Having climbing the steep hillside, the French form columns and assault the leftmost defended Austrian redoubt with GB La Salcette’s and GD Meynier’s demi-brigade infantry.
GD La Harpe’s infantry finally locate the shallow river ford and quickly cross to the Austro-Sardinian Bromida river side with two battalions.
The Bromida river fording ability is rolled at start of each French Movement phase. If a 5+ is rolled (6D), the fording ability is discovered and any two French units can start to use the ford per turn.
Surprise! The Austro-Sardinian player’s use their “heroic unit” event card for the redoubt defenders. Firing a crushing volley (2 miniatures lost), the attacking Frenchmen suffer morale disorder and soon retire or rout away from the defended redoubt. The brave Austrian IR#42 Pellgrini battalion remain holding their post. GD Meynier was serious wounded by the Austrian defenders during the brief redoubt rampart melee.
1500 Hours: French dragoon and chasseur a’ cheval cavalry arrives under GD Stengel. They follow the advance of GD La Harpe’s infantry marching towards Plano while skirmishing with the Austro-Sardinian defenders atop the hill. The French cavalry basically followed historical events and did nothing all day.
After the disaster attacking the Austrian redoubt, the right flank French demi-brigade infantry are a bit reluctant to rally and resume their advance (20% losses). A lone French battalion (under La Salcette) contests the Austrian held redoubt position. General Meynier was seriously wounded in the assault and is carried from the field.
1520 Hours: As the battle rages on the hill slopes near Dego, the Austrian southbound “Spigno column” is marching along the poor roadway till surprised by a French DB legere battalion at Ca’ Sodano. The leading Austrian IR#4 battalion receives volley fire, and struggles to maintain their ranks (road march formation doesn’t help). The following Sardinian Monferrato battalion is helpless to help at this moment.
Unit’s in road march are automatically placed in morale disorder during their movement. If the Austrian IR #4 battalion had disordered (morale failure) from the French volley, they would have immediately routed and caused a morale test on the following Sardinian Monferrato battalion. Morale disorder is shown by turning one miniature around in the battalion formation. Per scenario note the Austrian had to remain in road march formation for their first two game turns of marching.
General view on the Dego hilltop position at 1520 hours. The GD Meynier’s demi-brigade infantry have mostly marched around the vineyard and reform on the Austrian left flank redoubt (bottom of picture). GB La Salcette’s infantry have marched northward (out of picture at right) to support the French DB Legere battalion engaging the southbound Austrian reinforcement columns. At top of picture GD La Harpe’s battalions are hidden by terrain as Fred maneuvers his battalions against the hilltop position.
1540 Hours: Held in place by the French DB legere battalion, the “Spigno column” deploys out of road march formation under fire as the newly arriving Austrian “Pareto column” road marches up behind them.
Deploying from road march formation requires all the command’s units to remain stationary in place. If under minimum range firepower, the formation change (from road march to battle formation) grants the French player a free “doubled” volley into the hapless Austrian battalion ranks. The Austrian #4 IR battalion suffers additional losses but passes a miracle morale check.
GD La Harpe’s demi-brigade infantry form their column and assault the Sardinian La Marina battalion and redoubt 6lb (3 cannon) defenders near Plano (red tiled roof).
The redoubt emplaced 6lb cannon are represented by small cannon model and crew miniature stationed in each redoubt and the earthwork trench position. Each redoubt had three 6lb cannon with crew.
On the Austro-Sardinian half of the 1540 hour turn, a counterattacking Austrian battalion (IR# 50 Stain) column assaults the French column in the flank. As the Austrians march forward, the cowardly Sardinian La Marina battalion in redoubt fled before the French shock combat assault. The redoubt cannon crew was killed by the French infantry. At this point the Austro-Sardinian hilltop defender’s have reached 20% losses as Sardinian Colonel Avogardo attempts to rally the fleeing La Marina battalion survivors.
1600 Hours: GD La Harpe’s infantry sieze the redoubt and turn to face the approaching Austrian counterattack column. GD La Harpe joins his defending Frenchmen.
Our game sequence of play (SOP) assumes as the French assaulted the redoubt, the Austrian infantry column was marching towards the French column’s position. As the Austrians closed in, the French infantry elected to redeploy their following battalion into linear formation (suffered a “doubled head of column volley”) from the Austrians as a penalty for changing formation within an enemy minimum fire zone. A basic tenant of the SOP gives the receiving player a chance to react (facing and/or formation changes then movement) before the assaulting (shock) player performs his actual shock combat but they suffers a penalty firepower if done within a minimum range fire zone. The complete SOP is linked here: Sequence of Play Standup
On the northern road the Austrian reinforcement columns finally deploy out into battle columns or linear formations. The French DB legere battalion takes the opportunity to march away from the growing Austrian mass of infantry.
1620 Hours: Back near Plano (red tiled roof) and Magliani the Sardinian defense is slowly failing apart. French skirmishers are passing around the Sardinian positions and the right flank redoubt has fallen. The Gyulai freikorps detachment screens the Sardinian battalion La Marina hasty defense of the Magliani redoubt. Still GD Harpe’s Division has suffered some losses and just reached the 20% loss level.
1640 hours: While the Sardinian right flank crumbles, on the opposite end of the hill position the French GD Meynier and some GB La Salcette’s demi-brigade infantry press forward and seize the now vacant left flank redoubt. Even some French chasseurs ‘a cheval make a belated appearance but remained as onlookers.
1700 Hours: French are closing in on the surrounded and final Austro-Sardinian positions around Costa (blue tiled roof).
On the northern road columns of Austrian reinforcement, under FML Argenteau, arrive too late to support Colonel Avogadro at the Dego position. They end the game near the Ca’ Sodano position on April 14th basically untouched except for the destroyed IR #4 battalion.
Historically GB Salcette’s infantry routed this small command of Austrian and Sardinian infantry.
1720 Hours: The end is near…. the white flag is waved before the final French advance.
The French still had some time to march quickly and engage the Austrian commands under FML Argenteau near Ca’ Sodano but were delayed by the surrender of Colonel Avogadro’s forces. They just assumed that FML Argenteau and his Austrians would withdraw during the night back just like the recent April 1796 battles of Voltri and Montenotte. So they encamped at nightfall around the Dego hilltop positions and celebrated their republican victory without food and wine. The cold rains started during the night and dawn awoke with the French infantry disorganized and dispirited from their evening ordeal.
The April 14th scenario basically followed the historical battle. The French destroyed the Austro-Sardinian forces starting on the Dego hilltop position. Sending GB Salcette’s infantry directly against the Dego position caused the Dego position to fall quicker except for the unlucky 1st assault on the left flank redoubt. Historically GB Salcette’s infantry marched deep behind the Austro-Sardinian position and surprised/destroyed the reinforcement columns, under FML Argenteau, nearby Ca’ Sodano. Thus all the Austro-Sardinian infantry was routing from the battlefield or surrendered in position. The scenario result was a draw rated victory because the Austrian reinforcement columns were still present near Ca’ Sodano at scenario end.
April 15, 1796 scenario AAR
The dawn of April 15th found the sleepy French holding a rough line along the Austro-Sardinian former Dego positon. Cold, wet and hungry from the night rainstorm, they started the morning chores under fog and rain. As the hidden sun started it’s climb into the morning sky, the French outposts were startled to see formed Austrian battalions advancing upon their overnight bivouac. Colonel Vukassovich’s late arriving Austrian column had joined forces with the remaining battalions of FML Argenteau near Ca’Sodano and commenced their surprise attack.
0700 Hours April 15th: The Austrian approach march caught the French army somewhat unprepared and jittery from the long rainy night. Seeing the Austrian approaching lines, several battalions started to seek flight towards Dego. Others valiantly held their ground.
The Austrian battalions march towards the French positions. Skirmisher fire echoes in the gloom of fog and rain. The detached Austrian hussar squadrons realized riding down a narrow path, lined with French sharpshooters, is not a good tactical idea so they about faced and retire towards the woods path exit.
The fog reduced battlefield (tabletop) visibility while the rain reduced musketry effect by 50% during the morning battle. Movement was reduced by 25% till the rain ending on the noon turn. The Austrian players also had a special event card about “French rain-soaked muskets” to play on any firing phase to discomfort the French players even more….
0720 Hours: As the Austrian battalions reach the first French position, their volleys cause losses and test the French morale. The majority of French pass their tests, unlike their historically counterparts who broke and fled south of Dego. One key loss was the French battery crew fled before the eyes of the general.
We leave the artillery cannon based model on the battlefield if the crew have just ran off. The artillery crew may rally and return to re-crew the overran battery but cannot thereafter move the battery till nightfall. If the artillery crew is killed in action, the battery model base is removed from the tabletop. Enemy infantry cannot man an abandoned enemy battery unless they have artillery specialist abilities or special scenario notes.
For French morale, they had a special scenario adjustment (additional -2 CMR) applied for the first six game turns (0700 to 0840 turns). Starting with the 0900 hour turn they resumed normal morale tests. The scenario notes attachment link covers all the scenario deployment, victory conditions and special event rules.
0740 Hours: Austrians press the bayonet to the stubborn French defense. French battalions slowly arrive from their unopposed left flank, filling open gaps from breaking French battalions.
0800 Hours: While the disordered Austrian hussars retire from the wood path, French skirmishers are seen swarming through the woods and start to apply pressure on the open Austrian right flank adjacent to the woods.
0820 Hours: The French defense around the redoubt collapses, sending several shattered French battalions running towards Dego and out of the battle. Austrian battalions keep to their ranks and pace themselves forward into the French defense near Costa. Only near the woods are French defenders holding up Austrian forward progress as FML Argenteau looks on in the dreary fog and rain.
0840 Hours: The Austrian leading battalions, along with a token Sardinian battalion Monferrato from yesterday’s battle, advance towards the next hasty French position near Costa. French skirmishers start to line the woods edge causing several supportive Austrian battalions to be committed against this growing right flank threat. The next French position quickly falls to an unknown Hungarian (IR #19?) battalion’s flank assault over the former Sardinian trench work position.
0900 Hours: Having cleared still another French position, the Austrian fusiliers reform their lines to face the last French defenders. General Massena rides up and exhorts his weary infantry to hold their position as the flanking French infantry in the woods increase their pressure on the Austrian right flank battalions. French morale seems to be restored just in time (scenario note for 0900 hour turn).
Pressure is indeed mounting on the Austrian right flank as several close order French battalion form up and volley fire into the Austrian ranks. There are just too few Austrians to face both directions; advance on the French near Costa, and defend against the growing French strength on their wooded right flank.
0920 Hours: The battle degrades into a musketry firefight which the weaker Austrian commands cannot hope to match volleys with the more numerous French. Reaching 20%+ losses, the Austrians will start to give ground with their rear units first while hoping to give as good with the linear French formations.
0940 Hours: The end is sudden. Several Austrian battalions reach their breaking point and just rout away in the Austrian center. The surviving battalions turn and march away, suffering additional losses from rearward French musketry. Many French battalions have suffered losses themselves and just hold their ground. Any pursuit is limited to minor skirmisher actions as the brave Colonel Vukassovich and FML Argenteau led the Austrian army from the Dego battlefield.
Scenario review…… This scenario didn’t happen the historical way. The French passed their early scenario (and reduced -2 CMR) morale checks without a care in the world. They should have broken, fled down the vineyard hillside, and returned maybe for the noon counterattack. But no… they were just stubborn and forced the smaller Austrian fusiliers to root them out of every position. Finally the Austrians just ran out of steam…and fusiliers…. leading to the eventual French minor victory by chasing off the remaining Austrian infantry. Game play/set up lasted about 8 hours for both scenarios played at the convention, with 5 hours for the first scenario, and 3 hours for the smaller second scenario.
WR wishes to give a glorious thanks for all who played his scenarios. Bob, Fred, John and his son Daniel. Now that Dego April 1796 has been play tested, scenario notes adjusted, and review completed, I plan to finally start my much delayed scenario series detailing several April/May 1796 actions of the Sardinian army under FML Colli.
Rules link: Napoleonic rules & video ver2.0.
Galley slideshow for April 14th Dego scenario:
Galley slideshow for April 15th Dego scenario:
Cheers from the warren….