Battle of Wertingen 1805 AAR

Almost one year ago WR wrote up his article on the Battle of Wertingen and included his short comments, tabletop map, and scenario design notes. WR’s primary objective was to create a sort of training scenario for a battlefield situation of cavalry vs. infantry with limited artillery for both sides. Training type historical scenarios are a pet favorite of WR, seeking tactical key game concepts, rule mechanics and over time, speed the team player sequence of play interaction and tabletop play.

Wertingen 1805 is a small tabletop scenario compared to the larger scenarios written by WR. The Austrians basically are a division of infantry (nine battalions), with two small cavalry units (squadrons) and no field artillery batteries. French have five full divisions…. four cavalry and one elite grenadier division, all equipped with one artillery battery. A totally unfair or unbalanced scenario on paper. WR loves the unbalanced scenario and the challenge to develop. Play forces the weaker player to pay close attention to the fine points of play, tabletop tactics, and the victory conditions especially. Those scenario victory conditions typically even the tabletop field so to speak and, if written well, direct the players towards the historical outcome and yardstick the tabletop results to the actual historical result.

WR’s initial post on Wertingen 1805 and historical commentary: Wertingen 1805. The scenario notes for playing Wertingen 1805 (.doc): Wertingen 1805 Scenario Notes

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Scenario opening positions. FML Auffenberg’s infantry battalions face off the arriving French 3rd Dragoon Division cavalry of GD Beaumont. Two French mixed horse batteries deploy on opposite height. Block in upper left corner is arriving 5th Corps light cavalry under GD Fauconnet.

Key scenario rule for Wertingen 1805. The Austrian units cannot perform any retrograde movement if under a French charge zone. Charge zones are 22′ arcs of the basic movement of 12″-16″, depending on cavalry type, but for this scenario the charge zone Austrian movement restriction extends universally for 18″. Under the normal scenario or game rules, all units have reduced movement (1/2 rate) in a declared charge zone, in any direction the owning player chooses, but for this unique scenario no Austrian retrograde movement is permitted if covered by a charge zone.

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Opening situation with the two sides facing off. Austrian battalion squares backed by two weak cavalry units and French dragoons in linear formations.

French tactics are basic in nature. Charge their individual dragoon regiments one or two at a time to pin the Austrian battalion squares in place till the infantry arrive. Keep dragoon regiments available to maintain a rolling charging routine across the frontage of the Austrian square line. Use the horse artillery to batter isolated squares and, if weakened, charge home and crush the hapless morale disordered battalion with a dragoon regiment. When planning their charges, keep in mind to use the “pump fake” tactic of only charging the minimum distance requirement of 4″ or engage in melee combat, otherwise pull up short, and remain outside the minimum fire zone of the battalion cannon embedded within some of the squares (4″ minimum fire zone range).  Properly done the Austrians shouldn’t be able to move their battalions till the infantry division arrives later in the scenario. Upon their near arrival the Austrian battalions are released and will run for their exit point. Good timing is everything.

Austrian tactics in scenario are tough. Maybe use a battalion or two to advance and break up the French dragoon charge planning. Try to place the French cavalry into a minimum fire zone of the battalion muskets (2″) or their attached battalion cannon (4″). This may lock up and cause loss on the dragoon regiment, and hopefully give ability for the rear battalions to make a retrograde movement (if not under the French charge zone). Once a battalion has two retrograde movements there is a good chance that battalion can continue their movements, free of French zonal charges, till they exit the battlefield. The two small Austrian cavalry units are the best chance to plan a disengaging Movement Phase if they can delay charge the advancing French infantry. Another tactic is use the one Austrian chevau-leger unit to screen off the French artillery for a turn or two.

Scenario is designed to teach players about charging, the charge zone, the cavalry movement during a charge, square movement, and the interaction of cavalry vs. square (avoid engagement if possible in most situations) but pin in place for the firepower of infantry and especially artillery. Lastly the effect of battalion (regimental) artillery and the increased minimum fire zone of infantry from 2″ to 4″ range.

With the two player teams assembled and the scenario explained, time to start the scenario narrative outlining how the miniature tabletop action played out last weekend.

Turn One: After a short team player conference, team French started maneuvering their 3rd Dragoon Division into position below the Austrian held hill slope. Their two-horse batteries opened fire on the exposed Austrian battalion squares causes quick loss. Cycling through the sequence of play (SOP), the French artillery just finished the Mutual Artillery Fire Phase leading to the French Cavalry Charge Declaration Phase on the Austrian half of the game turn.

Sequence of play chart with the two eight step half turn sequences. French are Side 1 column, Austrians Side 2 column.

Sequence of Play clip

Sequence of Play clip

The first of many charges declared by the French cavalry during this scenario…. Charge declared, successful morale test to charge taken, and trot forward the minimum 4″ distance and pull up or charge home…. here the French dragoon regiment pulled up their charge.

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French dragoon regiment, after the French artillery bombardment phase, calls their charge to “pin” the Austrian battalion in place and prevent retirement movement.

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End of Turn One shows the two sides. Note the French dragoon regiment pulled up short since the charge plan was just to keep the Austrians in place during their movement phase.

Turn Two: French dragoons maneuver again into their charge positions. A bit too close this time to declare their charge up the slope. Chance for the defending Austrian squares to inflict firepower loss on the charging French dragoons. The French team players haven’t grasped the concept yet that all they need to do is cover the Austrians with their 18″ charge zone (special scenario rule), thus preventing any Austrian battalion square retrograde movement. They can charge from a greater distance and still pin the Austrian battalions in place. True to the historical battle, French dragoons surge around the Austrian squares, get repulsed, and retire back down the slope leaving one miniature prostrate before the Austrian bayonets.

Note: Charge zone for the French dragoons is 12″ basic movement plus 6″ extended charge distance. If a cavalry unit uses the extended range portion for charge movement they suffer -2 CMR shock combat adjustment and automatically lose one miniature from the cavalry unit at end of the Shock Phase.

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Too close this time. The French dragoon regiment impacts the Austrian square, get repulsed, and retires back down the slope. French Hussar regiment, in open order formation, looks on.

The French artillery dealt out death again to the stationary Austrian battalions – all scenario long till they used up their ammunition allotments. Many French batteries are mixed weight (12 pdr., 8 pdr., or 4 pdr.) during this period and the horse batteries commonly used 8 pdr cannon. At Wertingen the French attached half-sized horse batteries (3 cannon each) to each Reserve Cavalry division, not the latter larger battery norm of 6 cannon per horse battery.

Note: WR uses an artillery ammunition allotment system for artillery. Primarily based upon historical ammunition loads carried by each artillery battery type, number of trains, and nationality. For four reasons; 1) to prevent players just firing away for low odds % firepower and wasting game time, 2) historically the crew grew tired and worn quickly manhandling the heavy cannon back and forth in position, reducing the rate of fire, 3) force the players to establish reserve batteries, and 4) retire the batteries from the front lines to reload the empty caissons. There is a system to recall and reload the artillery batteries from the Corps or Army train miniatures. Batteries which completely use their ammunition allotment still can remain in position and fire their cannon but at a very reduced effectiveness (1/4 or 25%), plus suffer a reduced morale standing (-1 CMR), and risk a large MFP point loss if the battery is taken by enemy action.

Artillery Ammo Chart

Mixed weight artillery batteries fire using the 8 pdr. battery firing chart lines.

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The French dragoons cleared away, the French horse batteries (3 mixed cannon each) drop more Austrian miniatures.

Austrians catch a break while the French dragoons ride towards the Austrian open right flank. Some of their right flank battalions are not covered by a French charge zone this Austrian Movement Phase so they are able to perform a full square retrograde move. Column retrograde movement could have been used but with all this French cavalry riding about square formation is best to avoid receiving declared charge morale tests.

Note: Battalions in square are not required to take or pass a receiving declared charge morale test. Units not in actual square formation are required to pass their receiving charge test. the number of receiving charge testing is limited by the number of charging miniatures… 5 cavalry miniatures can cause up to 5 individual battalion tests if not in good order square formation when testing, all within the charge zone arc.

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The open battlefield. The French cavalry is riding towards the Austrian right flank or retiring from their previous charges to rally up. The French hussars of 5th Division Corps cavalry in foreground.

Turn Three: Realizing their mistake, the French dragoon regiments resume their regimental charges extending the 18″ charge zone to pin the Austrian battalion squares in place. Still, one French dragoon regiment came too close, engaged a defending grenadier square in shock combat, was warmly repulsed, and in the process suffered defensive firepower miniature loss.

Note: The Austrians had no regular artillery batteries but did have four battalion (regimental) cannon markers. Three of the Grenadier battalions had attached battalion cannon and one for the IR #55 Reiss-Greitz. These battalion cannon increase the battalion’s musketry % by 20%. For example; if the square had a 19% base firepower add 20% for a base 39% firepower percentage. In final shock combat the defender’s firepower % is doubled, so that 39% becomes 78%. Battalion cannon also increase the infantry battalion’s minimum fire zone from 2″ to 4″… just like a normal artillery battery. The battalion cannon themselves can fire out to 8″ with the base 20% effectiveness.

Attached battalion or regimental artillery is marked by a sole representative artilleryman miniature with the battalion.

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The French dragoons repulsed with loss by the Austrian grenadier square with battalion cannon. Note the battalion cannon attached gunner marker behind the battalion in square.

Another French dragoon charged but decided to pull up short. Problem ensuing was the French dragoons stopped within the battalion artillery minimum fire zone of 4″. This prevented the French cavalry from rallying up and pinned that cavalry in place unless they suffered doubled firepower performing a facing or formation change within a minimum fire zone. Oops…. part of the training hopefully learned from this playing this scenario. Try to avoid ending the charge within a minimum fire zone so the cavalry can retire half speed next Movement Phase without suffering facing / formation minimum range zone firepower.

Note: Units cannot rally up (Rally Phase) from morale disorder or rout if within a formed infantry unit (2″) or artillery minimum fire zone (4″). Any facing or formation changes performed while under the minimum fire zone allows the enemy infantry or artillery to fire a double % firepower shot into the maneuvering unit.

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Turn Three ends with another French dragoon regiment in trouble. Their charge pull up ended within the Austrian minimum fire zone.

Turn Four: The French 5th Corp Light Cavalry Division under GD Fauconnet, instead of assisting the French dragoons facing the Austrian squares, took a ride along the Danube flood plain road and exited the scenario tabletop. They counted as one of the required two French cavalry divisions for exiting the scenario tabletop but their early exit prevented their availability for pinning charges. French horse artillery fire broke one of the battered Austrian fusilier battalions. The French dragoon regiment are a bit scattered about, one routing, two rallying up and one another foolhardy charge into the Austrian grenadier square. Turn four ends with the French unable to mount sufficient pinning charges against the Austrian infantry, which promptly performs a little more retrograde movement retaining their square formations.

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GD Fauconnet led his hussars along the Danube flood plain road and exits the tabletop.

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Austrian fusilier battalion of IR #55 routs from the endured artillery bombardments.

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Another Austrian battalion of IR #55, battered by artillery fire, holds their square formation under French regimental dragoon charge,causing French loss. The squared grenadiers look on.

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Another French charge repulsed by the Austrian grenadier square. Lucky this time with no firepower loss by the battalion cannon and muskets.

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Turn Four ends with a lack of French cavalry for charge pinning the Austrian infantry. The Austrian infantry did a little retrograde movement, still in square formations.

Turn Five: Sort of a silence on the battlefield from French trumpeters sounding their charges. Their horse batteries still send shot and shell into the packed Austrian ranks but no French dragoon charges. The Austrians send their rear line of squares marching towards the rear exit. One or two grenadier battalions hold their positions to hold back the French cavalry from their advanced forward position. The Austrian chevau-legers form an open order picket screen facing the French horse artillery for the moment.

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With no French charges, the Austrian battalions quickly retrograde movement. Note the spacing now between the Austrian forward battalions and their rear battalions.

Turn Six: Another limited French charge turn. Only on the French left does the dragoons charge and pin the right flank Austrian grenadier squares. The Austrian left flank units march again towards the rear exit. The French team still didn’t properly organize their charge and rally / recover regimental cycling, causing the lack of available cavalry regiments to charge across the Austrian frontage. The lack of the 5th Corps Light Division of hussars clearly shows up at this juncture of the scenario. They instead rode along the Danube flood plain road and exit the tabletop. Still, the Austrian infantry battalions have a long tabletop distance to march for their exit salvation.

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Not much different from turn five but the Austrian battalion infantry moved again towards their exit salvation.

Turn Seven and Eight: The tired French 3rd Dragoon Division distance charged and pinned the Austrian right flank grenadier squares. The Austrian left flank had freedom of movement without French zonal charges. One fusilier battalion even formed column, covered by a nearby grenadier square. The 1st French Dragoon Division (GD Klein) arrived on turn seven and quickly battle mode marched along the left flank towards the stationary Austrian grenadier squares. Another six fresh dragoon regiment plus another half horse battery joining the French side.

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Turn Eight shows the reduced 3rd French Dragoon Division following the retiring Austrians while the newly arrived 1st Dragoon Division rides forward along the right hand roadway (block).

Turn Nine: With the near arrival of the 1st French Dragoon Division, the French 3rd French Dragoon Division renewed their pinning cavalry charges in narrow frontage charges. Several of the Austrian battalions by now had marched beyond the reach of the 18″ declared charge zone, enlarging the buffer distance from the forward Austrians grenadiers battalions in square.

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The gap widens between the Austrian forward and rear line battalions. Several Austrian grenadier battalions now acting as rearguard bulwarks.

Turn Ten: The forward dragoon regiments of French 1st Dragoon Division launch their initial charges. Right flank Austrian grenadier battalion squares scoff at the dragoon pinning charges but suffer with the artillery round shot salvos. On the other flank the regrouped French 3rd Dragoon Division work their way around the Austrian left flank. The Austrian response is quick. The Austrian Erzherzog Albert kuirassier squadron wheeled out from their rear position and charged into the surprised dragoons, sending the dragoons in flight towards their supports.

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As some Austrian battalions retire across the Aulfach stream, the rearguard Austrian grenadier squares are pinned in place by French charges. The Austrian kuirassier squadron surprised the French dragoons and sent them in flight to their support.

Turn Eleven: While the majority of the Austrian infantry position themselves across the Aulfach stream, the three rearguard grenadier squares are pinned in position by recurring dragoon charges. French dragoons surge forward, covering their horse battery bombarding the compact grenadiers. Seeing an opportunity again, the Austrian kuirassiers wheel about again and prepare to countercharge the charging French dragoons. The French, having first opportunity of shock combat in the Shock Phase, elect to charge forward and avoid the Austrian kuirassier counter-charge in their flank.

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Classic counter stroke. The French dragoons declare their charge. Seeing the charge preparation and trotting forward, the Austrian kuirassiers wheel about again and line up their countercharge.

Impacting the Austrian Latour chevau-leger squadron, the dragoons scatter the Austrian troopers. Next the Austrian side has their opportunity… only counter-charging cavalry… so the kuirassier thunder directly forward into the exposed French horse battery.

Note: In Charge vs. Counter-charge world of Shock Phase combat, the side which didn’t just move has first opportunity to move a charging cavalry unit or engage with shocking (assaulting) infantry. They nominate their choice for any single shock combat on the tabletop. The shock combat routine is completed between that group of combatants. Then the “option” transfers to the other side who can perform their counter-charging cavalry movement…. complete that shock action routine…. then flip-flop back and forth till all shock (assault) combat is completed.

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The French dragoons charge into the Austrian chevau-leger squadron before then and win. The Austrian kuirassier, seeing the charging French dragoons charging across their front, are eligible (trigger) their counter-charge.

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Winning the fight with the chevau-legers, the French dragoons see the kuirassiers charge into the exposed French horse battery behind them, forcing its surrender to the victorious Austrian horsemen.

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Scenario battlefield after eleven turns completed. Majority of the Austrian infantry are near the Aulfach stream except for the rearguard grenadiers. The victorious kuirassiers reform.

Turns Twelve and Thirteen: The balance of the Austrian infantry except the grenadier rearguard have left the battlefield. These battalions cannot move due to the continuous French declared charging… sound the trumpets… trot forward and rein in outside of effective musketry range…. thereby pinning the Austrian grenadier squares in place. The French team have this cavalry tactic down cold now. Only the Austrian kuirassiers are having a good afternoon it seems. Charged by another French dragoon regiment, they reformed and wheeled about again to charge down the exposed open flank of the several French dragoon regiments… sending them all towards the French rear lines.

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Austrian kuirassier doing sterling service. Charged again, they wheeled about. Seeing the exposed flanks of several french dragoon regiments….

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They charged forward, catching each French dragoon regiment flank and sending them again towards the French rear area.

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Thirteen turns done with just the rearguard grenadier squares and the battered kuirassiers remaining for the Austrians.

Turn Fourteen and Fifteen: French dragoon revenge. Several regiments charge into the stationary and hapless kuirassiers and, being surrounded, are forced to surrender to the surging green coated dragoons. Meanwhile the pinned Austrian grenadiers know the French have reinforcements arriving. A long column forming Oudinot’s Grenadier Division  are road marching along the Danube River flood plain roadway and the 1st Heavy Cavalry Division of cuirassiers and carabiners arrive. Both Marshal’s Murat and Lannes headquarters arrive to see the final Austrian surrender / defeat.

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End is near for the Austrian kuirassiers lower left. The remaining squared grenadiers know their fate is short-lived.

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With kuirassiers surrendered, only the two reduced Austrian grenadier squares remain.

Turns Sixteen and Seventeen: French spot charges to pin the two Austrian grenadier squares in place. The French position themselves near the pinned Austrian grenadiers while waiting for Oudinot’s Grenadier Division to arrive with their 12 pdr battery of 5th Corps (Lannes). Turns Sixteen to Eighteen go really fast on the tabletop since there is no Austrian movement or firing.

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The two Marshal’s HQ blocks are near by. Oudinot’s Grenadiers just behind them, passing though the steep hill-slope woods. Two French dragoon divisions cover the Austrian grenadier squares.

Turn Eighteen: The scenario is called as the French 5th Corps 12 pdr battery unlimbered near the stationary Austrian grenadier squares. Terms of immediate surrender are agreed upon as the cannon barrels are swabbed out.

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Scenario end with the unlimbered French 12 pdr battery ready to bombard the Austrian grenadier squares. White flags and surrender terms agreed upon.

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Final positions. French 3rd Dragoon Division in foreground, the 1st Dragoon Division at right. Oudinot’s Grenadier Division at left (block), Marshals Murat and Lannes headquarters with the 12 pdr battery and behind them the arriving 1st Heavy Cavalry Division of cuirassiers and carabiners.

Scenario result: The scenario basically played the historical line with the exception that the Austrian battalions were able to retrograde movement more than their historical counterparts. Oudinot’s grenadiers historically entered the fighting for the brief endgame of the afternoon battle. The 1st Heavy Cavalry Division arrived but saw no action historically or during our scenario play.

Austrians suffered 58% loss in miniatures. About par for the historical outcome but a few more surrendered units would have been closer to the historical mark. Actual Austrian losses were 3800 out of 5000 or 78% (130 killed, 850 wounded, 2900 prisoner). The French 3rd Dragoon Division had 30% loss in our scenario play. The other French divisions suffered minimal miniature losses for about 5% total French miniature loss. Historical losses in comparison were 319 in total (2%). Scenario result was a French minor victory. If they had caused 60% miniature loss on the Austrians, the victory would have been the historical French major victory level.

All the players commented that the scenario trained them with the cavalry charge rules, the timing and distance cavalry calculations, cavalry vs. squares shock combat, and, being a small scenario, the sequence of play understanding and tabletop play was fast.

Cheers from the warren.

WR

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4 thoughts on “Battle of Wertingen 1805 AAR

    • Thank Phil. Enjoyed reading your recent Austrian action report too.

      Yes… Austrian losses were heavy in our scenario. Could have been worse if another battalion or two forced to surrender. Historical losses were 3880 out of 5000 (130 killed , 850 wounded and 2900 pow) or 78%. French total losses were about 320.

      Interest scenario. Great for learning our cavalry charge rules, cavalry vs. squares, square formation movement restrictions and, being a small scenario the sequence of play steps.

      Phil, I added the historical loss information to the blog article for clarification. Thx for pointing out I omitted that data.

      Next up should be Klagenfurt 1809 if I can complete my generic fortress model.

      Michael aka WR

    • Training it was Peter. Young gamers with lots of cavalry… sharp swords and big horses. Just a few scattered Austrians in their squares. Easy meat till they found out infantry in squares… “grinning, present, fire their volley”.. causing cavalry miniature removal. Quickly figured out the “charge home” tactic wasn’t working against the squared formations with battalion cannon. Changed over to “distance charge and pin in place”, then unlimber artillery the out of musket range. Saves the horse flesh and removes Austrians instead. WR has found out new gamers figure out linear and column formations quickly… advance to open order formations, but defensive tactics against cavalry seem harder to explain.

      M aka WR

      On to Klagenfurt 1809 next month? My fortress curtain walls completed with brickwork. Just have the fortress gates to complete then that 1809 scenario can be scheduled.

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