To continue the Gospic 1809 story line, WR and his son Daniel played out the 25/28mm napoleonic scenario at GAMEX this past Memorial Day week. Standard 8×6′ table, some unusual terrain features, a cast of Austrian battalion units uncommon for any tabletop battlefield and, like the Klagenfurt 1809 scenario, a use for the WR’s French train column miniatures.
The historical campaign background material for the Battle of Gospic 1809 can be read here: Battle of Gospic 1809
WR’s scenario notes (.doc) file for Gospic (Bilaj) 1809 scenario: Gospic 1809 Scenario Notes
The scenario map to understand the tabletop details and distances. Scenario map is scaled like all the other WR scenario maps; one map square is 12 inches or 600 tabletop yards (50 yds to inch ground scale). The following map photo shows the scenario starting positions, or map squares, for each command or small detachment. The Battle of Gospic is not a large napoleonic battle in the scale of the times, but for the combatants, the fighting was just as sustained and bloody.
Turn 0900 (scenario start time): Opening turn with the French having first Movement phase (side 1). Electing to start the lead division in battle mode vs. strategic march mode, the French were ready for a fight. Seeing the Austrians crossing the Licca river, Daniel, playing the French army, turned his leading division (2nd Division Clauzel, March orders) towards the Austrian main body, led by his small voltiguer and chasseur a’ cheval detachments. Meanwhile, the other small voltiguer detachment (A), along with the army converged sappers, headed for the Barlete ford and damaged bridge.
Austrian movements, under the hand of WR, continued the Licca river crossing for Oberst Rebrovic’s command and brought forward the local militia (really a brunch of hill bandits) to secure the Barlete crossing, backed by the sabers of Hohenzollern Chevaulegers. All Austrian commands are following Engage orders.
Note: The Barlete bridge is damaged but repairable. At the same bridge location is a passible river ford. See the scenario special event cards for bridge repair rules.
Turn 0920: Approaching the Austrian deployment, Division Clauzel (2nd) continues in battalion columns while one legere battalion forms open order formation while changing from March orders to Engage during the Command phase. The advance chasseurs a’ cheval form a screen to watch the Austrians. Austrian movements are more linear… a screen of grenzer skirmishers (Licca grenzer regulars) backed by a couple of grenz reserve battalions in line. The other Licca Grenzer regular battalion deploys atop the central rocky outcrop after a hard climb. During small arms firing, the Licca Grenzers score a lucky hit on French chasseur a’ cheval miniature. Daniel has lost one-third of his tabletop cavalry.
Note: For the Austrians, the majority of their army is reserve grenz, land composite grenz, landwehr, or local militia battalions. Only the two Licca Grenzer battalions are considered “regular” infantry in name and training. The rest have limited training, can only detach limited skirmishers to their frontage, and no square or battalion masse formations. The French are mostly all veteran infantry with long service. Thankfully, the French have only one small cavalry unit of converged chasseurs.
Up at Barlete bridge, the voltiguer detachment (A) realize the bridge is uncrossable, unless the ford is used, till some bridging material is located. They exchange musketry with the “hillbilly” across the Jadova river while the sapper detachment makes lumber planks from the nearby buildings.
Note: the Barlete bridge and shallow ford occupy the same tabletop space. One or the other can be used during unit movement and crossing capacity observed.
Turn 0940: Daniel goes bold. Advancing his infantry and deploying more legere skirmishers, the attached foot battery unlimbered. Boldly, he orders the converged chasseurs (3rd and 24th sqns.) to close ranks from their open order formation. The Licca Grenzer opportunity shot (formation change in minimum fire zone) misses. Once completed, they trot forward to cavalry charge the grenzer skirmishers to their front. Daniel’s thoughts…. poor quality infantry, lets shake them up a bit before the French veterans have all the fun. In the French rear, the 1st Division under GD Montrichard arrives, in strategic march mode, where Clauzel’s division started the scenario.
As the chasseur trumpet sounds dies away, the Austrian Licca Grenzer skirmishers have bolted for the rear. So much for one of the “regular” battalion in this army mutters WR. The Licca Reserve grenz battalion directly behind has morale disorder in their ranks but holds their ground. Not looking good for the Austrians at this moment. Finishing their deployments at half speed (in charge zone), the French Shock phase comes into play. Time to test these “grenz reserve” battalions thinks Daniel, showing a broad smile.
Note: Now… what is a reserve grenz battalion? WR understanding is these are the third grenz battalion raised in each Grenzer recruiting zone or district for 1809 campaign. Normally the Grenzer regiments have two active field service battalions and the third or reserve battalion remains behind performing border watch duties against those pesky Ottoman cross border raids and banditry. But for the Dalmatia campaign, these reserve battalions were placed into active service along with several “composite Land (Grenz) battalions, a form of grenzer landwehr “fourth” battalion in most Grenzer districts. These landwehr battalions are formed from company sized detachments, from different grenzer district landwehr formations, hence “composite” in their battalion title. To sort this all out… read the opening paragraphs from the linked material below as WR needs a stiff drink.
The Austrian Imperial-Royal Army (Kaiserliche-Königliche Heer) 1805 – 1809: THE AUSTRIAN MILITÄR GRENZE REGULAR HUNGARIAN and MILITARY BORDER REGIMENTS “GRENZ-REGIMENTS” 1805 – 1809. The Grenz Regiments
Well, that was interesting thinks WR. Daniel’s tongue is still flapping about some die roll as he watches his shot up chasseur cavalry heading towards the rear. Beaten by a grenz “reserve” battalion no less… thinks battle may be no walkover for the French infantry veterans. WR jokes about the “composite Landwehr grenz battalions” to tease Daniel after placing several brown coated battalions of them into his battle line.
Note: Few if any wargamers have reserve grenzer battalions or worse, a composite land grenz battalion painted. WR is the same. So for this scenario’s photos his regular and reserve grenzers are in white coats, except for the Banal reserve battalions in brown (they arrive later), the other red-brown coats are the composite land grenz battalions, the local landwehr or bandits are SYW grenz, and red coats for the Dalmatian volunteers. On the French side, their Dalmatian Pandours look the part using SYW era pandour miniatures. WR thinks his painted pandour miniatures are seeing their first tabletop action.
Turn 1000: One hour completed. French 1st Division under GD Montrichard quickly advance across the open terrain retaining their strategic columns march mode heading for Barlete bridge. Daniel’s plan is to force the Barlete bridge over the Jadova river before the two Banal reserve (brown coat) battalions can arrive and contest the crossing. Meanwhile, his 2nd Division under GD Clauzel is forcing back the Austrian bridgehead skirmishers and starts to deploy assault battalion columns for the next turn. Just then, GD Marmont and his headquarters staff arrives at the French map entrance point. Behind Marmont, with hour delay, are the slow-moving train columns with Dalmatian Pandours flank protection.
Turn 1020: As the artillery opens fire on opposite targets, the French send a column, led by the 8th Legere, to assault the central rocky outcrop defended by the other “regular” Licca Grenz battalion. Another column seeks to dislodge the string of grenz skirmishers protecting the austrian linear formations. Other French line battalions form linear formation, to pressure the Austrian skirmishers with controlled musketry volleys, a waste of musket shot but keeps attention directed at them and their movements.
Austrian response, as the smoke clouds start to obscure the ground, was increase their own skirmisher screen and prepare for the retirement of the forward position. The Grenzer skirmishers, forced by the advancing French open ground column, retire behind their formed rearward ranks. Up on the rocky outcrop, the men of Licca Grenzer are over enthusiastic seeing the advancing 8th Legere column. But for musketry, the seasoned shots drop dozens of Frenchmen on the rocky outcrop. Even GD Clauzel feels his coat being shot with new “button holes” and stone chips, but survives untouched. The “unknown Major” commanding Oberst Rebrovic’s command (Rebrovic ranks as the “senior divisional” commander for this scenario) rides up the rocky outcrop (properly walked up without horse) and showed great bravery defending the summit. The French are repulsed and steam down and away from the jeering Licca fighting men.
Note: Over enthusiastic (or poor unit cohesion) morale test result has a red “-1 dice marker placed besides the unit, as seen in the photo below (a natural “0” rolled on d10). Morale test result for “well-disciplined or controlled” is marked with the green +1 dice marker (natural “1” rolled on d10). The -1 or +1 CMR unit adjustment only applies during the Shock phase and is designed to mix up easy player predictions from the shock table.. a throw a monkey wrench into the calculations.
Turn 1040: French motto… “try once, fail, then try again.” French martial pride and blood is up. Another French column is formed of several line battalions and launched up the bloody rock outcrop slope. The men of Licca region rally in their ranks and start the same process of deadly musketry on another column of advancing dense French ranks, several of which fall drying or wounded under the sound of battle and drums. Down in the flat lands the French line battalions pressure the Austrian skirmishers and linear battle line. The crafty converged voltiguer companies aim at the exposed grenzer 3 pdr. artillery crew. With equal deadly marksmanship, they drop several gunners and force the abandonment of the sole Austrian battery…. if a 3 pdr. battery could be considered artillery. At Barlete bridge, the leading battalions of GD Montrichard arrive, panting from the quick march across the open fields. They need to spend a stationary turn changing from strategic march mode into a form of battle along with change of orders. While they catch breath, the sniping war continues across the Jadova river at the bridge, cover for the crafty French sappers which have produced planking for replacing the missing boards.
Turn 1100 hours: First, the last column of French reinforcements… the military train companies with their guarding Dalmatian Pandour. All the French forces are now on the Gospic battlefield while only the Banal Reserve Grenz battalions expected for the Austrians, arriving this turn on the northern table edge. Every hour the Austrian side rolls one d6, if a five or six rolled, then possible flank detachment arrives several hours later. So far… Austrian bad luck, including this game hour turn.
French turn is mostly changing Montrichard’s 1st Division into battle mode (all units stationary for turn) while the sniping battle continues across the bridge. Hauptmann Hraovsky orders forward the Hollenzollern Chevaulegers to back up the landwehr defending the bridge, who see the growing mass of Frenchmen across the Jadova river.
Turn 1120: Another French attempt on the rocky height held by the wild men of Licca Grenz. Two French battalion, one shot up from a previous assault, storm up the rocks, passing fallen and wounded French soldiers along the way. another legere battalion crests the rocks to form linear formation on the left front of Licca. Point blank range musketry exchanged, the Licca battalion, even with another “overly enthusiastic” Shock phase morale roll, are forced to retire from their fallen countrymen atop the rise. Both sides had their leadership involved, pushing and leading men up and down the swirling battle. French have taken the rocky outcrop, in the process having three veteran battalions reduced, two to half strength.
Out in the flat ground the rest of the French infantry pressure the Austrian reserve grenz and worse the composite Land grenz battalions. One or two battalions are special targets of the French 8 pdr. battery, tearing holes in their ranks. The austrian line cannot stand this pounding for long.
Turn 1140: The Austrian crisis is at hand, on two fronts no less. Up at Barlete bridge the French start their movements towards the bridge seizure. The converged voltiguer detachment cross the repaired bridge span skirmishing closer to the local militia. Several columns march closer to the bridge end while their foot battery unlimbered to cover the roadway. Little Hauptmann Hraovsky can do to slow the French progress. He looks over his right shoulder for the Banal Reserve grenz battalions. Will they arrive in time to stall the French attack or will the local militia have the job.
Following in the path of 1st Division Montrichard, the military train companies and baggage go cross-country. GD Marmont and his staff HQ / ADC’s ride along while the two Dalmatian Pandour battalions guard the open flank against interlopers.
Note: Normally military train and baggage, excepting ammunition trains, cannot travel cross-country. They must remain on roadway or just off the road stationary to allow troop passage. For this scenario, GD Marmont obviously was prepared for his trains to travel cross-country to reach Barlete and beyond.
At the Licca river crossing, Oberst Rebrovic’s command and bridgehead perimeter is shrinking. Several reserve grenz battalions have suffered losses from the French artillery battery, overall the command has reached 20% loss level. Both sides maintain a skirmisher line to deflect their opposite number. French mass several battalions to assault the village building of Bilaj, currently garrisoned by a composite Land grenzer battalion.
Turn 1200 (noon): Three hours into the scenario and the Austrian hourly reinforcement roll is failed again (need five or six on d6). Doubtful if they will every arrive in time now for this battle as their marching period is three hours to arrive. French prepare then launch their infantry column at the Bilaj village, defended poorly by a composite Land grenzer battalion. Doubtful those “rookies” will hold Bilaj, Oberst Rebrovic prepares another defensive position atop the last rocky outcrop behind Bilaj. He asks the battered Lucca Grenzer to make another hilltop stand while the rest of his command prepares to recross the river under French aggression.
French linear musketry inflicts Austrian skirmisher losses, the screen fails their morale test and collapses. The retiring skirmishers rejoin their parent formations standing now naked before the French 8 pdr. artillery battery and formed battalions.
At Barlette, the fist French infantry column storms over the narrow bridge, pushing through the French skirmishers retiring back to their side of river. Arriving before the Austrians, the column charges against the local militia “bandit skirmishers.” The local skirmishers see the charging French, promptly scatter back to their formed ranks standing behind them. Musketry roars out and the French suffer no loss…. the panic volley sails over the Frenchmen heads. The drummers sound the charge again….. Hauptmann Kraovsky knows what will happen next.
Turn 1220: Austrian line tries to hold against the French threats. French artillery fires canister into the Austrian line. Musketry roars out, both sides suffer losses but as the smoke thins a bit, the Austrians are fleeing the battle, running across the stone bridge seeking safety. One reserve grenz and a composite Land grenz battalion have routed leaving a huge hole in the Austrian front line. Oberst Rebrovic quickly rides ahead of the routing infantry, seeking to rally them once across the Licca river, leaving our “unknown Major” the job of organizing a retreat before the French advances.
The French Barlete column smashes into the local militia or hill bandits defending their bridge. After receiving another volley, this time the French dense ranks suffer loss, the French bayonets carve a path into the dissolving militia. In no time the militia flight stampedes past the stationary Hollenzollern Chevaulegers. Once the smoke and guts of battle dissipates, the French see the stationary Hollenzollern Chevaulegers preparing to charge. Quickly leveling the column front rank muskets, the volley rings out and impacts the chevaulegers for loss. Morale holds…. their charge to glory awaits them.
Turn 1240: Before the French can move, the Hohenzollern Chevauleger charge is sounded. Grim determination on both sides, as the leading French battalion calmly forms a “square” on the bridge, in reality they form a dense hedgehog of bayonets across the bridge ranks deep.
Charging forth, the narrow bridge opening forces the charging Hollenzollern Chevaulegers to change formation, during the charge movement, into a narrow cavalry column, thus causing immediate morale disorder in the cavalry ranks. Impacting the square front, the result is quick and deadly. Both Hohenzollern miniatures are stuck down (R result – rout) from the shock table for no additional French loss.
As the French are fighting to clear the dead Hollenzollern fallen on the bridge, the Banal Reserve grenzer battalions march up behind the low rocky rise. Hauptman Hraovsky directs them to prepare to receive the French next advance while the local village people continue to rout away.
The “unknown Major” directs the remaining Austrian battalions to head towards their only escape route…. the Licca river bridge. The Licca Reserve grenzer routs after receiving musketry during a formation change under fire, another battalion, the Oqulin Reserve grenzer, stand as rear guard and under the cannon barrels of the French artillery. Heroic and cowardly actions reflect in the Austrians movements towards the bridge.
Turn 1300: Seeing the Austrian battalions trying to disengage and retire towards the bridge, the French infantry surges forward. The lone rear guard, the Ogulin Reserve grenz battalion is engulfed by French infantry musketry and soon forced to surrender, The other French battalions form columns to assault and bayonet Austrian exposed backs. Confused with enemy all around them, the Ottocac Reserve grenz tries to rally under difficult conditions. French GD Clauzel orders more battalions forward, “lets finish this battle” for the victory.
At Barlete, the leading French line battalion, clearing the Austrian dead from its front, marches quickly to occupy the building across the river. The next battalion, a legere unit, forms open ordr formation and darts forward to occupy terrain on the low-rise and cover future French crossings. French 8 pdr. battery unlimbered to shell any Austrian formation they can see. For the Austrians, their counter move is deploy one of the Banal Reserve battalion in line to block the open ground exit from the bridge. Another Banal battalion stands in reserve behind the low-rise, protected from the French battery raking the exposed Banal linear battalion. Too late… the French have their crossing point and with the battalion in the building will soon expand with fresh battalions.
Turn 1320: At Licca crossing, the mobile French foot 8 pdr. battery rolls up to the riverbank and unlimbered. First salvos cut deep holes in the Austrian battalion column still crossing on the bridge. Austrian 6 pdr. positional fires back and a nearby French column, inflicting equal treatment on the dense French infantry.
In Novoselo, total confusion reigns. Several battalion keep running down the road north towards Gospic. Oberst Rebrovic’s main command has reached 40% command loss level. Several building have battalions assigned to defend them, but the morales tests are starting to cause additional morale disorder, especially with the command at 40% loss (-2 CMR) and poor quality infantry to start with.
While Austrian battalions rout through the town of Noveselo, the French send skirmishers to engage the occupied building of Novoselo (hidden are Dalmatian volunteers) from across the Licca river. French 8 pdr. foot battery fires bombardment into the staggered ranks of grenz held by the unknown Major. In reply, the Austrian 6 pdr. positional gunners shell the French battalions across the river. With these losses, even the veteran French 2nd Division reaches their own 20% command loss level.
Back at Barlete, the Banal Reserve battalion blocking the bridge exit is broken by a column sortie into their flank while faced by massed French musketry. The end game in sight, Hauptmann Hraovsky sees the wall writing and orders his unengaged Banal Reserve battalion yo retire back along their previous march.
Turn 1340: As Oberst Rebrovic packs up his headquarter “wagon” and collects his small staff and ADC, he orders the retirement of his command. French cross river activity prepares them to assault across the bridge but seeing the Austrian confusion and broken units, Daniel thinks waiting a turn or two will simply clear away any Austrian defense.
At Barlete the Austrian battalions either march or rout away. No resistance is given or shown by the reduced command of Hauptmann Hraovsky. French battalion columns march forward chasing the Austrians along the secondary roadway (dashed chalk line), followed by additional battalion as the military train arrives at Barlete.
Turn 1400: After seeing the rearguard Austrian battalion retire, after the Austrian 6 pdr. positional battery limbers up and retires on roadway, the French voltiguer detachment (B) rushes across the Licca bridge. Quickly followed by several French line battalions, to secure a French lodgment on the opposite river bank. Scenario is over…. seeing both Austrian commands have stopped any form of rearguard effort to delay the French.
Summary: Mark the game as a French Major victory. Daniel had control of both bridge, the Austrians were in no condition to remain on the battlefield anywhere near a French unit and the French hadn’t suffered 40% loss level in either infantry division. Well played Daniel. As for WR’s play…. questionable. Should have pulled back quicker on the Licca River crossing and then firmly held the bridge against all French assaults. We had the French fully commit the 1st Division against the Licca bridgehead. Pull back then and let them think about assaulting over the Licca bridge. Once one division is committed, it takes too much time to redirect that division back towards the Barlete bridge with Austrians nearby. On the Barlete front or sector, WR almost had the French in for a real fight… the Banal Reserve grenz arrived one turn late to plug the bridge exit point. Also receiving no possible detachment from the possible optional reinforcement rolls didn’t help the cause, or disturb the French. So… how to win the scenario?
First, control the number of Austrian battalions crossing the Licca river. Decide early on how many over the river and at risk of the French veteran attack. Fewer may be better and easy to return back over the bridge. Timing is everything…. pull the French in, then retire. Or you must chase the French across the open ground if they send both divisions towards Barlete… seek to attack the military trains which arrive later. That will turn the French around for sure. At Barlete, use the local militia and cavalry to delay the French advance. the Chevaulegers maybe can threaten a charge if south of the Jadova river against the division sent towards Barlete. Force it out of strategic march mode will slow it considerably, giving time for the Banal Reserve grenz battalions to arrive and defend the bridge. Trying to delay the French only for a turn or two. Then it is a game to delay the French from exiting the northern table edge exit point with one of their divisional commands. The rocky hillock ground slows the formed rank formations to basically half speed. It is tight… but a possible plan, especially if the Ploca detachment arrives on the French flank near Barlete.
Cheers from the warren and GAMEX convention floor.
P.S. Next WR attended convention is GateWay in September then after that convention, the local HMGS-PSW regional convention month-end: September 30th and October 1st, being paired with the International Plastic Modeler Society (IPMS) Orange show. WR’s HMGS-PSW convention plan is for two scenarios; a FOW 20mm scenario set May 1945 post war Americans vs. Russians face off. A technology race across the tabletop with “technical” teams backed by their nearby armored forces, with dead-hard Nazi scattered or lurking about, and the unusual models or miniatures from the “haven’t used these yet” collections. Then a simpler, slow-paced, 28mm napoleonic 1806 scenario for the historical Battle of Saalfeld on sunday. WR has a lot to do for these future conventions, paint brush and construction… the whip crack is heard. HMPS-PSW Convention flyer below for details: