The Battle of Voltri 1796 scenario was featured previously several years ago on WR. A personal favorite of WR, this scenario provides a new player training opportunity since the number of battalions, cavalry regiments (only one) and artillery batteries (again only one) present on the tabletop is limited. By limiting the number of units, the players learn formation changes and unit marching about the tabletop, perform the firepower and morale test mechanics without the drama of massed formations, and understand the sequence of play. All told, counting for both the French and Austrian combatants, there are fifteen battalions, one cavalry regiment, and one mixed small artillery battery. Typically during our warren games a single player would have double or triple that amount of infantry battalions, cavalry regiments, and artillery batteries to command, multiplied by several players on the same side vs. a similar forces set up on the opposite team. Still, WR’s small-scale scenarios seem to have a wild side of their own and the Voltri 1796 replay kept up that trend.
Scenario starts with the Austrian column under GM Pittoni arriving outside the small seaside village of Pegli. The Austrian force consists of: Meszaros Uhlans (1×6 miniatures), IR 13 Reisky (2×7+RA), IR 16 Terzi (1×7+RA), IR 39 Nadasdy (1×7), Grenz Szluiner (1×6), a small four cannon mixed battery, and the column train. The other Austrian column, descending from the mountains southward towards Mele under GM Vukassovich, has IR 56 Wenzel Colloredo (2×7+RA), IR 19 Alvinczi [hun] (1×7), IR 45 Lattermann (1×7+RA), and Grenz Carlstadter (1×6).
For the French they are positioned into two widely separate groups. The 75th DB de Ligne stationed at Pegli (3×10+RA) under GB Laubespin, and GB Lannes with 51st DB de Ligne (2×10), with a converged grenadier battalion (1×5) at Mele. Their divisional commander, GD Cervoni stationed himself in the town of Voltri with the divisional train. Should note that all the French DB battalions are stationary on turn one except for their skirmishers (see scenario notes). Voltri 1796 Scenario notes
Note: The “RA” refers to battalion or regimental cannon attached to that infantry regiment. No cannon miniature is used on the tabletop, just an extra artillerymen positioned with the battalion as a marker. Battalion guns increases the battalion firepower percentage shot by additional +20% when in linear or square formation, assuming the battalion is in good morale standing, and more importantly, increases the battalion’s minimum fire zone out to 4″ from standard musket 2″.
After a brief how to play the game, reading the charts, and unit movements, both new players started their first napoleonic game. Paul J. for the Austrians, and Jordan for the French side. WR gave a run down on the scenario, including the need for Austrian “speed” of march (so un-Austrian) while the French need to pick their battles to slow the Austrians down and inflict loss. While this scenario was played, the nearby noisy Bolt Action table was warming up their dice.
Paul J. played the Austrian uhlans with the aim to break past the French battalion in square. Just by a narrow gap, the Austrian Meszaros uhlans rode around the solid French 75th DB infantry formation and headed down the roadway towards Voltri. Meanwhile, after beating off the first Austrian infantry assault while controlling Pegli, the second Austrian infantry assault finally wrested control from the French as skirmishers traded shots.
Seeing the Meszaros uhlans ride into the distance towards Voltri, the French 75th DB infantry conduct a fighting retreat before the Austrian infantry. Skirmisher action aplenty. One French battalion completely formed open order (quicker movement while in broken terrain) and rushed up into the rocky ground on the steep hillside.
Finally the Austrian Vukassovich column descends from the mountains and shows up before the ready French formations of GB Lannes. French grand skirmisher formation vs. the forming Austrian linear line of GM Vukassovich’s column.
The French 51st DB skirmishers advance under the watchful eye of GB Lannes. The Austrian counter play was to march up with their linear battalions, trade a volley or two but assault the French skirmishers with two compact battalion columns. Normally, the battalion columns just force back the French open order skirmishers…. but not today. They elected to “play hero” and hold their weak position with an excellent low morale test. Then the Austrian column crushed the French scattered formation with loss, but not before suffering from the French defensive firepower. The other nearby French open order 51st DB battalion promptly saw the result and bolted for the rear with GB Lannes cursing every French soldier he rode past. Following up the unexpected victory, the Austrian advance continued forward (southward) with a detachment of IR 19 Alvinczy battalion to complete the required reconnaissance of Acquasanta village.
So far the Austrian advance is proceeding forward with both independent columns. A struggle to force the narrow coastal rocky ground hillside position from French control starts. The weight of numbers soon tells, forcing the rearguard French 75th DB battalion back towards their supportive sister battalion at Pra village. Meanwhile, off camera, the Austrian uhlans are chasing the solitary French ammunition train back into Voltri, then up the northern fork narrow roadway towards Mele. GD Cervoni and his headquarter ride fast northward, leaving a trail of half emptied wine bottles in their path. To complete the comedy… one of the 75th DB battalions from the Pra position is detailed to chase the Austrian Meszaros uhlans back towards Voltri. In recap… French divisional general and his wined staff headquarters flee, chased by their own military train looking over their shoulders at the hard riding uhlans, who are being chased by French infantry. WR couldn’t make this story line up.
Just as GD Cervoni arrives at Mele, riding up the low-rise, he sees GB Lannes trying to rally up his dispirited battalions. Both rally up…. GB Lannes loud language even the Austrians heard. Seeing the rallying French infantry before them, the Austrians close the distance and exchange long-range volleys, making the French afternoon long and hot.
Military trains cannot out run a column of fast riding Austrian uhlans. Civilian teamsters have no agreed upon transportation contact cause for dealing with charging Austrian uhlans… except run for the nearest anywhere. Uhlans approach and charge. Seeing the pointy lances, the civilian teamsters cut the traces and ride hard for their lives. They run 10″ on the tabletop… the cavalry charge movement is 14″. The result wasn’t pretty before the survivors surrendered.
Now we have the situation of GD Cervoni seeing GB Lannes’s infantry, under Austrian pressure before him, and Austrian uhlans approaching from his rear (via Voltri). The French 51st DB infantry run for the protection of Mele, especially the built up area represented by the building miniature. While skirmishers try to slow the advance of Vukassovich’s infantry, the other 2nd/51st DB battalion tries to form a front against the disordered (by the charge against the train unit) uhlans.
Back near Mele the French adopt a “surrounded” mentality. Thoughts of a western action spring to mind with the French holding out in their building circled by the white coated Austrians. The difference is the Austrian “indians” have muskets…. and small battalion cannon to bombard the French. With the Meszaros uhlans reformed and holding south outside Mele, the French 2nd/51st DB battalion, stationed the Mele building, turns about to contest the advance of the enterprising Austrians as the skirmishing grenzers and other reduced Austrian fusilier battalions line the stone wall, deploying their attached battalion cannon. Quickly the French losses mount, reaching command 20% loss and dip in morale.
On the main coastal road the 75th DB French slowly retire into the Pra position. With skirmishers exchanging shots, the French player spotted an opportunity to counterattack. The Austrian columns approach without skirmisher forward protection, Seeing this, the French launch a sharp counterattack by placing one close order 75th DB battalion in linear formation and engages the Austrian column head with musketry. Austrian losses quickly mount.
At Mele, the Austrian Meszaros uhlans form a column and declare a charge against the rear exposed 2nd/51st DB battalion, which just recently volleyed into the Austrian battalion alongside the brook. Thrown into morale disorder by the declared charge, the French are defeated by the weakened Austrian battalion’s bayonets. Per the retirement rules, the French infantry, with GB Lannes attached, flee within the assault arc (45′) of the assaulting Austrian’s frontal facing. This places them outside the charge arc of the charging uhlans, which are left with a charge into thin air. Normally if a unit is surrounded by musketry there is a morale test for possible surrender. But no mention about being in a charge zone. A weird situation and result… if the uhlans had been further back when they declared their charge, their charge angle would have place the fleeing French infantry within their scope of charging…. with the result being a sure French overrun and surrender. While this is going on outside of Mele, the exchange of musketry and small 3lb round shot (battalion attached cannon) continues. Both sides are taking a pounding leading to both commands reaching 20% loss level (-1 CMR) hereon.
Stung by the French counterattack along the coastal road, the Austrian infantry reforms from their losses and surges into the French ranks. They overthrow the French 75th DB defense and send them into retreat. Grenz and French skirmishers continue their pop shots at each other.
Back and forth the battle rages at two locations. Mele and Pra villages see all the hot musketry and small cannon fire. At Mele, the “disordered by flubbed charge” uhlans struggle to ride away from the Mele village zone. To add to their discomfort, GB Lannes rallied his 2nd/51st DB battalion again, and by forming a ragged disordered line behind the uhlans, fired into their ranks (to little effect). In Mele itself, the Austrian infantry line the perimeter stone walls, firing volleys into the densely packed French infantry in the Mele building environs.
Coastal road battle shows the French still having plenty of fight in them. The rallied 75th DB battalion returns to engage in more musketry. Austrian infantry trade volleys, leading to the rising causality count for both sides.
Finally the uhlans break free and cross the shallow mountain brook to reform on the opposite side. Joined by the IR 19 Alvinczy battalion, returning from their side trip to Acquasanta, the Austrian infantry continue to fire their volleys over the stone walls into Mele. General of Brigade Jean Lannes is hit, soon to die of a mortal wound. His infantry still hold tightly around the building perimeter position but not for long. Starting to look grim for the French Mele village position.
The coastal 75th DB is hard pressed to hold. Just too many Austrian battalions, granted they are reduced in strength, but still outnumber the French. One 75th DB battalion cracks and flees for the last time, leaving only one 75th DB battalion, with their regimental standard and GB Laubespin, holding in Pra village. The Austrians close in for the final battle. The last remaining 75th DB battalion is too far away in Voltri town to assist from chasing the Meszaros uhlans earlier. They will be the sole surviving French unit at scenario end.
Battle royal at Mele finally ends. The 51st DB battalion holding Mele proper took one too many hits, the battalion finally broke as GD Cervoni was wounded. their brave divisional officer couldn’t stop the sudden rush southwards. The last French battalion, 2nd/51st DB, formerly personally commanded by GB Lannes, occupied the shot marked building position for a moment. Half a turn later their morale cracked with no senior leadership left to support their morale test. They fled southwards chasing the other 51st DB battalion, rapidly dissolving across the Italian countryside. Soon the Meszaros uhlans will chase down the fleeing Frenchmen. The battered Austrians, themselves suffering almost 30% loss, occupied the former French Mele position.
With the fall of the Mele position, the defending French 75th DB battalion tries to escape Pra village towards Voltri. Their weak hearted attempt collapses and soon drum rolls for surrender are heard as the Austrian mixed cannon battery is unlimbered into position. Like Vukassovich’s column, GM Pittoni’s column suffered almost 30% losses in the hard-fought action along the coastal road. French losses are nearly total. Only the sole 75th DB battalion in Voltri remains to contest the Austrian end game advances. They will be quickly evicted from Voltri by the fresh IR 19 Alvinczi battalion finishing off the scenario.
Both Paul J and Jordan seemed to grasp the rules and mechanics towards the end. They ran their own morale tests, firepower determinations and basic unit movements. A successful run for a napoleonic training historical scenario. For the Austrians, a hard-fought and contested win over the French. Thanks to both Paul and Jordan for attending WR’s Warren game day. Next gaming day may be soon…. thinking July 23rd or 24th for a small group gathering.