Been several months since WR’s last trip south to Bob’s garage for a 25/28mm napoleonic game. The scenario setup was 850 points per player, grouped into two team sides, the classic Bob scenario design, only the even points per player level has dropped from 1250 to 850 now since several players have recently expressed a desire for smaller battle format. The contestant nations were Austrians for one side and a group of Franco-Germanic states to oppose them; Saxony, Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt, the Confederation of the Rhine (CotR), and some French to poke the germans into action.
Team Austria was played by Paul (CinC), Andy, Dave, Ty, and Frank. The 4,250 allocated points were used by Paul to create the Austrian team roster, adding a free reserve Kuirassier division and infantry division (roughly 1,000 points in total) to the Austrian reserve command pool.
Team Franco-Germanic (FG) was played by Rob (CinC), Bob, Dan, WR, and originally Andy, before his transfer to the Kaiserliks team. Same 4,250 points divided by 5 (850) allocated to each player, who roster their own individual commands, with Dan rostering double French points (for Andy and himself). Same reserve commands setup for the Franco-Germanic side. A French cuirassier division and extra French line infantry division for approximately 1,000 points. Total even 5,250 points on each side.
Deployment set up again was a Bob classic line them up and go forward deployment. No hidden commands, no flanking movements, no forward deployment areas, no slow command restrictions, no officer effectiveness rating, no surprises for the players to contend with. The only change was Paul, the Austrian CinC, was delayed by “honey can you do this.. and that…before you leave for the game requests” for a family event that day. So the Austrian deployment was missing several commands in the central deployment position. Naturally, the Franco-Germanic (FG) team took full advantage of the Austrian position for a game shortened victory. A few photographs below convey the tabletop flow during the shorten scenario game.
For this scenario action, WR played the left flank of the FG army. His two infantry commands (divisions) were Hesse-Darmstadt and CotR. Hesse-Darmstadt division had three Hesse brigades, two positional 6lb batteries, and the lone Hesse-Darmstadt chevau-leger regiment. The other division was made up from Confereation of the Rhine units. Saxe-Weimar, Frankfort a’Main, a Nassau battalion, Wurzburg regiment (2 btns.) and Anhalt battalion. One small Wurzburg positional battery and two cavalry groups. The Wurzburg dragoons and combined Nassau-Anhalt-Frankfort cavalry detachments formed into a cavalry “converged” regiment.
WR orders from CinC Rob…. hold the flank with reduced force, prevent the Austrians flanking the army and hold while the FG army crushes the Austrian left.
Back to that battalion masse vs. charging cavalry situation. The Austrian cavalry declares their charges and pass the required morale tests. After passing their receiving test, WR’s CotR cavalry closes ranks and rides to face off against the forward trotting Austrian uhlan cavalry. WR positions his “backhand” cavalry movement (at half speed for being in a charge zone) to charge the Austrian horse and, if successful in first melee, angle charge straight ahead into the front of the two exposed Austrian battalion masse infantry columns.
Here lies the difference in Version 1.0 battalion masse rules (used by Bob) and WR’s updated and streamlined Version 2.0 battalion masse vs. cavalry rules:
Version 1.0: Austrian infantry, if in proper battalion masse formation (3 ranks of miniatures and in proper column), receive a +20& morale adjustment to receive a cavalry charge (% based morale system). If passed, the Austrian player in their Movement Phase following the Declared Cavalry Charge Phase must change formation into a proper square formation during their Movement Phase just before the Austrian Shock Phase following (when the cavalry charge movement and results are performed) to receive the +5 shock combat square defensive bonus vs. cavalry. Failure to change the battalion miniatures into a square formation (ranks outward looking) gives no square bonus – WR notes).
Version 2.0: Austrian infantry, if in proper battalion masse formation (3 ranks of miniatures in proper column), receive a +2 morale adjustment to receive a cavalry charge (d10 morale system). If passed, the Austrian player can move his battalion masse column formation (1/2 speed in charge zone) or remain stationary in place on the tabletop. No formation change into a square formation required, the frontal facing of the battalion is automatically assumed to have a square like defense and receives the +5 square vs. cavalry modifier on the forthcoming shock combat calculations. No time is wasted moving the miniatures. A battalion masse formation is simply a column of companies closing down to remove any gaps between the companies and having the outside soldiers face outwards. Impacts on the column side or rear facings are not a square defensive stance and no +5 shock combat adjust given.
Here’s the problem… If a counter-charging enemy cavalry unit impacts a stationary Austrian battalion in battalion masse formation under Version 1.0 (Bob’s), it never has the chance to change the miniature formation into a square and as such, cannot receive the +5 square defensive shock table adjustment per Bob. End result in many cases is the battalion is treated just like an exposed column and run down, with possible cavalry ride through (overrun) damage applied. Version 2.0 doesn’t care about a formation change. If the battalion is in battalion masse formation and passes their receiving morale test, then the frontal battalion facing is a square for defense.
Foretold is exactly what happened on the tabletop. WR’s CotR cavalry broken through the charging Austrian uhlans and shattered both Austrian battalions caught out of square formation on the “backhanded” charge. Differs from the historical record… the Austrian battalions columns didn’t form square when charged by French cavalry at Aspen-Essling, nor Wagram, or several other 1809, or 1813-14 battles even, unless specifically ordered by senior commanders into square. They just closed the ranked companies forward against the stationary frontal (1st) company and then faced outwards the bayonet wall. Except for the frontal company, the sides had limited firepower control, unlike a four-sided square which has a directed firepower control by the Austrian company and battalion officers. The result should have been bounced CotR cavalry in both cases.
Should be noted that the late period Prussians (1813+) and the Russians, when fighting only the Ottoman massed cavalry, used a similar battalion masse column formation from their tactical drill manuals.
At this point the Austrian team elected to retire from the battlefield after only eight turns of play (three hours game time). The late arrival of the Austrian central commands created the hole and the battle for the hill tower wasn’t going their way. Losses were mounting, their right flank was struck facing WR’s weaker but strong artillery position and their left was marching or retiring fast from the larger French force before them. Scenario ended at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. Some players went home for an early family reunion while other stayed for a game of the classic War of the Roses AH Kingmaker.