Tussle in Republican Italy AAR

As mentioned in the previous blog posting, WR travelled to Santa Monica CA for the monthly HMGS-PSW Aero Hobbies game day held each 1st Sunday of the month. WR had scheduled himself for a small Franco-Austrian republican wars battle featuring Dan’s early Imperial French at a young age… i.e. playing rabid republicans on the tabletop vs. the stately marching Habsburgs. With vineyards on the tabletop, the local buildings (village) surely have wine barrels in storage. Lots of wine barrels in fact, worthy of their defense from the wine loving Frenchmen.

Republican French came to the Po wine reception party with two small infantry divisional commands and two smaller cavalry brigade commands, played by Andy and Dan (1800 points worth roster). Each French infantry division marched on with two demi-brigades of 3 battalions each, a demi-brigade of Legere with 2 battalions (bi-brigade?), two small converged grenadier battalions, and their divisional attached foot 8 pdr. battery. The right flank cavalry command or brigade had two hussar and one chasseur a’cheval regiment with attached horse battery. Covering the left flank were three dragoon regiments. Lastly the French dragged on a reserve 12 pdr. battery attached with their column headquarters (not a Corps or Army HQ… so a Column HQ this time). All these fun-loving, wine seeking, sun-baked 28mm Frenchmen were painted by Dan and from his miniature collection.

Advancing Austrians, marching to save the wine grape crop from stained French hands, were commanded by the team duo WR and Daniel (1800 points). WR rosters two Austrian infantry commands… call them main battle-line infantry commands as “divisions” were not really a staple of the Austrian command system yet. Each had three double battalion regiments of fusiliers with attached battalion artillery, and one grenzer regiment. All told eight battalions and a positional 6 pdr. battery in their infantry commands. Holding their left flank was the advance guard command with two freikorps battalions and the La Tour Chevauleger regiment, looking sharp in their classic green coats. Backing up the Austrian center was their reserve command consisting of four grenadier battalions and a strong unnamed kuirassier regiment. Austrian headquarters brought two 12 pdr. reserve positional batteries to entertain the French with lively sounds. All the early Austrians from WR’s painted 25/28mm republican wars collection, including the tabletop terrain.

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Opening set up. Austrians in foreground and French in distance. Clearly the Austrian and French OOB can be determined. Vineyards, small village, shallow stream, low rises, and grain fields complete the 6×4 foot tabletop.

Terrain covered the small 6×4 tabletop. Vineyards caused movement reduction (2″ column, 4″ if linear) and no cavalry or artillery. No direction vineyard marching restrictions applied, other than unit movement reduction, but in really it is hard to cross the vine rows. Two Class II buildings and low stone bridge over the 2″ movement cost brook (non-disordering terrain) while the tall grain fields restricted visibility to 6″ if sighted across unless on heights. The low hills or rises blocked LOS otherwise had no movement effects.

Opening scenario movements. French quickly marched forward and entered the village with their right hand division while their light cavalry brigade covered the open flank. The left flank infantry marched into the near center vineyard, while skirmishing below the low-rise and covering the advance of the left flank dragoon brigade. Austrian response was a bit slower… they are Austrians after all. Seeing the French infantry enter the village, they stopped short of the village buildings while their advance guard La Tour Chevauleger skirmished against the French advance over the left low-rise.

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Austrian right and French left flanks. Skirmishing light troops while the main infantry battalions advance into position.

Note: During the Austrian miniature deployment, WR noted he had forgotten to bring his Freikorps battalions for the scenario. Hasty replacement by his pioneer units for one battalion, the other covered by a smaller converged Croatian sharpshooter battalion which rarely gets to play on the tabletop. Here’s their chance for miniature glory.. 

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French right infantry enters the village while French hussars lurk behind the low-rise. Austrian La Tour chevauleger and “phony” Freikorps troops cover the Austrian battalion squares.

Game continues with the French edging forward to cover the leading edge of the center vineyard. Seeing the strong Austrian center forces before them, they hold their ground, unsure if forward advance will cause harm to their “tailored” blue coats… from the “1795” uniform allotment wagon no doubt. The ever cautious Austrians, forming their neat linear formations, deployed battalion cannon, and kuirassiers performing ridership demonstration, watch the French for first false movement.

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French pause their advance, lining the distant vineyard edge while the Austrian kuirassier watch.

Skirmisher musketry continues between the front units. Austrian freikorps and grenz vs. the French legere chasseurs and detached fusiliers willing to trade shots at 100 yards. The Austrian border grenzers love this action, time-honored traditions against the Ottomans, so the French quickly suffer losses in their open ranks.

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Two can play the skirmish battle. Austrian grenz engage their French chasseur counterparts while their white coat fusilier lines watch.French dragoons seen trotting forward.

After suffering the fire of the French artillery, the Austrians welcome the sounds of their heavy “brass band section”… the 12 pdr. reserve positional batteries. Feeling the sudden air displacement around their blue tailored bodies, the French infantry move forward in aggressive manner. The French right hand infantry division mass up and present a bold front while their two hussar regiments prepare to charge the open ranks of the La Tour Chevauleger. Not to be out done, the French Chasseur a’cheval regiment lines up real pretty… on the low-rise, and promptly feels the Austrian bombardment, losing half their number in short order. Dumb chasseurs mutter the nearby hussars… real dumb position parading like peacocks. The French 12 pdr. battery unlimbered on the village roadway and sends round shot into the Austrian ranks beyond the village. Smart French infantry stay indoors as the shot sails down main street. Skirmisher firing continues as trumpeters sound a French dragoon charge out on their left flank… all tabletop eyes seek the sound and promising close quarters action.

Turning the story line to the Austrian right, Andy was being aggressive after asking headquarters for the order change marker (to Attack). Finally the ADC’s rode in waiving the red-letter note…. Attack!… For France Attack! Andy changed out his Engage (yellow order marker) for the Attack red marker, placing under his dragoon brigadier miniature. Dragoons rode forward, crossing the low-rise and seek to charge home on the exposed Austrian fusilier battalions and open order grenzers positioned in the open fields. Crafty WR, sensing the mood change of Andy, formed up his defense by unlimbering his positional 6 pdr. battery. Round shot pitched startled dragoons to the ground. Adding to the leading dragoon regiment’s confusion was the battalion cannon firing canister into their ranks. It was too much as the point dragoon regiment which fell into morale disorder, canceling their charge declaration. Opps… they blocked the second regiment too. Austrians grinning as they pounded the dragoons with additional Austrian “gifts of iron and lead.”

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As the Austrian positional 12 pdr. batteries play their tunes, the French change to aggressive stance as their own 12 pdr. fires down main street.

The French hussars charge on the right flank chasing away the La Tour Chevauleger screen in quick order. Seeing the open exposed flank to the advancing French light cavalry, Daniel commanded several battalions to form squares. With the massed French infantry under Dan’s command ready to advance he needs help… and help quickly. Joint Austrian command… i.e. Austrian headquarters discuss the situation and send forth (put in post) their letter recommending the Austrian reserve, especially the kuirassier regiment fondly parading about, to ride quickly to the left flank’s rescue. To follow quickly will be the four grenadier battalion seeking glory in French bayoneted bodies.

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General overview of the battle. French infantry looking aggressive in their lines and columns. Austrian reserve (kuirassiers) ride to their left flank followed by the grenadiers.

Dan assaults the low-rise on right and partially clears with several French columns of infantry. This exposes the naked Austrian battalion squares to his mobile 4 pdr. horse battery’s fire and also the Austrian 12 pdr’s. left flank. His two hussar regiments rally up and charge again the disordered La Tour Chevaulegers, sending them further towards the Austrian rear. Looks a bit grim for the left flank Austrians at this moment, awaiting the arrival of the Austrian reserve kuirassiers. On the French left, Andy recovers from his dragoon failure and toys with any Austrian limited advance. Safe in their central vineyard position, the French infantry watch as the Austrians take time to form a “proper” linear battle line in true SYW fashion…. latest thing in Austrian military training manuals. Steady, slow advance, battalion cannon firing away, couple of flanking squares to keep the French dragoons “honest”… if there is such a thing as an honest French dragoon… they look a bit shady in green coats.

In the Austrian center, the four grenadier battalions form up close columns along the roadway…. can we play now?… speak the Hungarian grenadiers… pretty please?

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Both sides batter their front line opponents while the Austrian reserve grenadiers form up along the roadway. Austrian CinC watches and times his orders.

Sensing Austrian will to fight stiffing, Dan and Andy decide to act fast in true French fashion… they are the latest military fashion of Europe aren’t they? Both form up their massed infantry battalion columns and advance on the Austrian front linear formations. The battle roar increases and both sides feel the climax may be coming. Drums pounding off beat… march of many poorly shod feet echoes in the Italian fields. Andy sends in his two converged grenadier battalions to break open the Austrian front lines. The waiting Austrians, after reading the latest English drill books on winning the battlefield from Viennamazon book sellers, unleash a wicked volley into the surprised French masses. French bearskins drop like bowling pins for the Austrian score box.

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Andy’s grand assault just before the Austrians put down their English drill manuals and unleash a wicked musketry volley. French grenadiers are the first to receive the Austrian gift of lead.

Feeling heavy in lead filled bodies, the French grenadiers stop, look, and duck out for the rear, leaving bearskin trophies on the position. Austrian fusiliers high-five each other and wonder what is special about those funny looking animal fur hats while wearing their “cute with the ladies” lightweight kasket caps. While this is going on,,,, another French battalion chases away the Austrian positional 6 pdr. battery but two further French columnar assaults end up in bloody ruin when seeking entrance into the Austrian held vineyard. Successful Austrian defense of the wine crop as Andy’s French infantry run back into their vineyard to recover breath. Still, the ever-present crack French artillery inflict Austrian losses to finish the action on this sector for the moment.

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Andy’s assault ends with partial success. One lone French column stands about as their buddies scatter for the rear vineyard after suffering losses before the Austrian musketry.

Dan’s assault went better. French infantry flanked the Austrian 12 pdr. position, forcing both batteries to limber up and hightail it towards the Austrian supportive infantry, french musket balls hissing past. Several Austrian squares and small columns tried to hold up the French infantry advance. They inflicted French musketry losses but the French cleared again the low-rise for good and forced back the Austrian left flank.

Still the Austrians had fighting in them. One Hungarian grenadier battalion assaulted the French held building. Smelling opened wine barrels and drunken Frenchmen, the defense quickly was short order facing the Hungarian bayonets. Another Hungarian led grenadier column marched forward to assault the other French building while the Austrian kuirassier regiment now has arrived. The French hussars, seeing those big horses and big straight edge swordsmen both grinning, fought to a bloodied stalemate, but took a wise course and quickly bounded back behind the French infantry battalions when the second half of the kuirassier regiment rode up. French infantry formed hasty squares after seeing the Austrian kuirassier-hussar battle, no doubt feeling the ground effect of the large Austrian kuirassier regiment too, both sides faced off with neither blinking…. except that third man on the left file… take his name lieutenant!

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After effect of Dan’s assaults and combats on the Austrian left flank while grenadiers storm into the wine cellars. Kuirassiers off picture left while reformed La Tour Chevauleger hold the Austrian lines.

Both sides are a bit battered. Dan’s command and the Austrian left flank show the effects of battle scaring their ranks. Austrian grenadiers, especially Hungarians are roaming the streets of the village, sending the French 12 pdr. battery rearward to seek protection from the Italian mafia. Andy’s French are counting noses and missing bearskins in their vineyard while seeing the parade ground marching and precision drill team movements of the Austrian right flank battalions. Nice, straight, linear battalions, square formation at line end to kept the French dragoons at bay. Battalion cannon salvos to keep any foolhardy French skirmishers at distance on the open terrain. Maria Theresa would be proud.

Having played 13 turns in this small engagement so far, Andy reports his ability to contain the Austrian linear advance is limited to French high command. Time to march off before the French soil their blue and green coats with more blood, or red wine, against the Hapsburg army today. Daniel reports to Austrian headquarters that his command needs some TLC before partaking in any general advance. The Hungarian and German reserve grenadiers say…. let’s go forward! Those Frenchies are soft.

Slowly during the next two turns the French disengage and leave the battlefield using the vineyards as cover from quick Austrian advance. Having some intact Austrian cavalry (1/2 regiments each of the La Tour and kuirassier), the Austrian pursuit in limited by determined French battalion squares. The wine crop and cellars are saved for now. The real battle between the Austrian wine tax collectors and the Italian grape growers “association” can take place under peaceful Italian skies.

Thanks all to Dan, Andy and Daniel for enjoyable game on a sunday afternoon. Till next time when the republicans sally forth to invade the monarchy governments of Europe. The scenario forces and scenario notes are below if interested.

French Republican OOB:

Column Headquarters: CinC with attached 12 pdr. battery (8 cannon, CMR 7)

1st Division: Two Demi-brigades of three battalion each (3×9 DB, CMR 6) plus reduced DB Legere (2×9 CMR 7), and 2 converged grenadier battalions (2×6, CMR 8). Attached 8 pdr. battery (8 cannon, CMR 7).

2nd Division: Same as 1st Division above in organization.

Light Cavalry Brigade: Two hussar regiments (2×4, CMR 8), Chasseur a’cheval regiment (1×4, CMR 7), and attached 4 pdr. horse battery (6 cannon, CMR 8).

Dragoon Brigade: Three dragoon regiments (3×4, CMR 7).

Austrian OOB:

Austrian Headquarters: CinC with two attached 12 pdr. positional batteries (6 cannon each, CMR 7).

Advance Guard command: Freikorps with two battalions (2×8, CMR 6) and Chevauleger regiment (1×10, CMR 7).

Main Right Command: Three I.R. of two battalions each (2×9, CMR 6)*, Grenz regiment of two battalions (2×9, CMR 6), and attached 6 pdr. positional battery (6 cannon, CMR 7). * One of the three I.R. can be Hungarian.

Main Left Command: Same as command above in organization.

Reserve Command: Four small grenadier battalions (4×6, CMR 8) and Kuirassier regiment (1×10, CMR 8).

Victory conditions basically was clear entirely the village to control the local wine supply. Control of the three vineyards of secondary nature. Each army LOC off at the roadway exit points.

Cheers from this warren wine reporter. Next WR stop is Anaheim CA with 28mm WWII Bolt Action gaming.

WR

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