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Wargamer of the times in Northern Los Angeles, CA

Battle of Gospic 1809 AAR

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

Opening situation has GD Clauzel’s division entering lower right in columns. Ahead of them is the small voltiguer / sapper detachment heading for the Barlete bridge. At left, the leading units of Oberst Rebrovic’s command crossing the Licca river bridge. Village of Bilag center left in photo.

Closer view of GD Clauzel’s division. 8th Legere, 23rd Ligne, 11th Ligne, and attached 81st Ligne regiments with foot battery. Voltiguer detachments A & B at left with chasseurs and up ahead.

Oberst Rebrovic’s battalion columns crossing the Licca river bridge at Novoselo, heading towards Bilaj village and French off photo upper right corner. The first rocky outcrop is seen.

Alone and wondering what the day will bring, the local “militia or townsfolk” are joined by Hauptmann Hraovsky and the Hohenzollern Chevauleger detachment near Barlete bridge.

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.

Scenario map without the positions of the commands. Clearly shows the Barlete bridge / ford Jadova river crossing, the Novoselo Licca river crossing, and the three rocky outcrops near Bilaj.

Commands and their map square scenario starting positions laid out. French have arriving reinforcements at G2 map edge. the Austrian detachments are possible reinforcements.

Sequence of Play clip

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Battle of Gospic 1809

So far the campaign of 1809 has proven popular with the napoleonic rabbit. With notable exception to the larger battles fought during the main Daube theater of operations… Archduke Charles (Karl) vs. the main French army under Emperor Napoleon, WR has created smaller historical battle scenarios for invasion of Duchy of Warsaw (Poland), the plains of Hungary, rivers and towns in Kingdom of Italy or Inner Austria, and the latest scenario project, the southern Dalmatia campaign. Battles like Sacile, Raab, Klagenfurt, Raszyn, are now joined with the May 21st – 22nd Battle of Gospic (or Bilaj).

When the campaign started April 1809, the main forces outside the Danube river basin were the Franco-Italian army under Eugène de Beauharnais and the Austrian army under General der Kavallerie Archduke Johann of Austria, facing off for control of northern Italy. Southeast of these two combative armies, General of Division Marmont commanded a French corps in Dalmatia ever since the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg, which awarded the former Austrian provinces of Istria and Dalmatia to the French Kingdom of Italy. Marmont had administered the region for the benefit of France and the Kingdom of Italy. Since Marmont’s soldiers have been under arms since the days of the Camp de Boulogne (the old II Corps), had missed the major battles of the War of the Fourth Coalition, the Emperor Napoleon considered the corps largely experienced / veteran and fully capable in their duties controlling Dalmatia and influencing events throughout the region.

Marmont’s Army of Dalmatia, consisted of two active infantry divisions under command of GD Montrichard and GD Clauzel. Montrichand’s 1st Division consisted of GB Soye’s brigade (18th Legere and 5th Line) and GB De Launay’s brigade (79th and 81st Line). GD Clausel’s 2nd Division comprised the brigades of GB Delzons (8th Legere and 23rd Line) and GB Bachelu (11th Line). The 11th Line had three battalions, while the all other regiments only had two battalions each.The divisional artillery included the 3rd and 9th companies of the 8th Foot Artillery Regiment, with six cannon each. The complete French April 1809 order of battle (per Gill’s Thunder on the Danube Vol III p366):

1st Division (GD Montrichard):

Brigade GB Soyes with 5th Ligne (2 btn., 1622 men), 18th Legere (2, 1417)

Brigade GB De Launay with 79th Ligne (2, 1575), 81st Ligne (2, 1366)

2nd division (GD Clauzel):

Brigade GB Delzons with 8th Legere (2 btn., 1495), 23rd Ligne (2, 1424)

Brigade GB Deviau) with 11th Ligne (3, 2094)

Cavalry detachment of 3rd Chasseurs and 24th Chasseurs (292 men)

Artillery of 12 cannon, reported in some notes as 6 pdrs. But for YR1809 would 6 pdrs have made it to distant Dalmatia or the common 8 pdrs still be in use? WR is unsure and if 6 pdr., would they be former Austrian cannon? WR also noted that Marmont’s corps had many other artillery batteries according to the OOB’s found but no mention of them noted at any of the battles or skirmishes (above the two known batteries above). Gil’s book makes no mention of these batteries. Maybe they became fortress crews and the cannon placed into garrison pending future need…. or left in Northern Italy since they couldn’t be shipped over to Dalmatia due to the RN activities offshore.

Corps Artillery Reserve: General of Brigade Louis Tirlet (56 guns).

  • 10th company of the 7th Foot Artillery Regiment (six 12-pound cannons)
  • 2nd company of the 2nd Foot Artillery Regiment (six 12-pound cannons and two 5½-inch howitzers)
  • 7th, 8th, 9th, 14th, and 15th companies of the 1st Italian Artillery Regiment (six 6-pound cannons each)
  • 14th and 15th companies of the 2nd Foot Artillery Regiment (six 6-pound cannons each)

Additional garrison forces in Dalmatia in Zara, Cattaro, and Ragusa: 60th Ligne (2, 1700), 4th btn./Dalmatian regiment (330), 1st btn./3rd Italian Legere (512), four battalions of National guards (4, 2000) and two battalions of Dalmatian Pandours (2, 1000).

To oppose Marmont and French military activities and occupation in Dalmatia, Archduke John detached the General-Major Stoichevich’s brigade from its original place in FML Ignaz Gyulai‘s IX Armeekorps. On 15 May, GM Stoichevich commanded about 8,100 troops, including roughly 7,740 infantry, 120 cavalry, and 240 artillerists. With the few exceptions, the Austrian enlarged brigade consisted of most newly raised, lacking in training and equipment, and officered with second-rate officers. Many of the grenzer soldiers under Stoichevich’s command came from the active region of Dalmatian military operations. GM Stoichevich himself commanded grenzer for most of his military life. Their homesteads and families were never far from their collective minds during military operations and accounts for the wide-spread desertion late in the short campaign. Again the Austrian order of battle per Gils excellent Thunder on the Danube book Vol III p365):

Regulars: Licca Grenz Infantry #1 (2 btn.,2550 men), Hohenzollern Chevaulegers #2 (110). Also somewhat under command was the 4th Garrison battalion (480) at times.

Reservist* and landwehr battalions: Licca Reserve Grenz (1270), Ottocac Reserve Grenz (1290), Ogulin Reserve Grenz (1295), Szulin Reserve Grenz (1375), Banal Reserve Grenz arrived May 9th (2, 2500), Composite Land Grenz (landwehr) btns. (3, 3000), Dalmatian Freikorps (?) plus a detachment of mounted Serezaner (200). These “reserve” grenz battalions are the third battalion for the organized grenz regiments. The composite Land grenz battalions are converged company sized “landwehr” detachments from several grenzer border districts, typically the landwehr is the fourth battalion of the grenz regiments.

Artillery: 6 pdr. positional battery (6 cannon) and Grenz 3lb brigade battery (8).

The campaign opened with unconventional assistance for the French. The French consul in Bosnia instigated raids from Ottoman territory to distract and cause alarm in the grenzer ranks. As mentioned the bulk of the Austrian grenzer battalions under GM Stoichevich were raised in the neighboring grenz districts to Bosnia. So having Ottoman bandits raid over the Bosnia border, pillaging and burning with abandon, caused alarm in the Austrian leadership and the common ranks. In peace times, the armed grenzer would have been on hand to prevent these raids, so starting early on in this campaign, GM Stoichevich had to detach several companies to reinforce the border defenses while sapping at the collective morale of the common ranks.

Topography of the region, along with climate, set the pace and direction of military operations. Mountainous land, with valleys, forests, limited river crossings, all constrained the armies and their movement. Other locations had bleak stunned bush rock or craggy outcrops to contend with while marching the stony ground or driving laden wagons. Looking at any map, the terrain dictated where the fighting would occur. The Licca valley where GM Stoichevich concentrated his command at Gracac was separated from French held Dalmatia by the Velebit mountain range. Although there were several passes across this steep rocky range, they were hardly suitable for military marches by large forces. The principal access for either side therefore became the rugged but passable gap formed by the Zrmanja River defile northwest of Krin. With both armies staging their major supply magazines… the French at Krin and Zara, the Austrians their forward magazines at Gospic and Gracac, the curtain rises for the southern 1809 campaign.

Maps are hard to find and come by for this region but are needed to follow the military movements. One of the best located while searching the internet is this Wikipedia 1810 map for the Illyrian Provinces formed after the 1809 campaign. The Illyrian Provinces included the former Austrian coastal territories and the region of Dalmatia. Illyrian Provinces map 1810

Enlarged portion and area of campaign for 1809 from the Illyrian Provinces 1810 map file. Town spelling is different but understandable.

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Troina 1943 FOW AAR

Last Memorial Day weekend Daniel and WR staged their Battle of Troina Flames of War (FOW) 20mm scenario at the Los Angeles regional GAMEX convention. With two player teams of three players each, the scenario opens with the Germans assaulting the Monte Basilio ridge held by a U.S. 26th Regiment battalion. Later in the scenario, about midpoint, the American 39th Regiment arrives to assault the German held flank south of the dry Troina riverbed. So, on the same FOW table, each side has attack and each has defend missions to content with.

Historical background material for Troina 1943 previously posted to WR link: Troina 1943

Complete Troina 1943 scenario notes (.doc) file: Troina 1943 Scenario notes

The full Troina table display. German assault left foreground and their defensive zone upper left. Americans defend Monte Basilio right foreground and attack later from upper right entrance.

Opening Set up: German assaulting command is placed, using alternating platoon placement method, in conjunction with the American Monte Basilio defenders. The German team players kept all the Italian platoons off-board at start, thus only placed the three panzergrenadier platoons (two on left, one on right), their MG platoon, the 5cm Pak38 A/T cannon, and Senior HQ team, along the opposite hill ridge. The Troina dry riverbed separated the two forces. For the American team, they elected to retain some support platoons off-board and avoid the German preliminary bombardment effects. Starting on the scenario tabletop was, front to rear, a rifle platoon manning the downslope front positions, then their A&P platoon in line near the central building. Between them they placed the A/T 57mm platoon, not realizing the “No HE” rule was in effect. Finally another rifle platoon was positioned around the hilltop woods. Held in reserve was one rifle platoon, a weapons platoon, and the machine gun platoon. German objectives, one placed by team America, dot the Monte Basilio position. One in lower corner of the hillside, the other placed high on the hill near the woods. Overhead the off-board “on call” 155mm Long Tom battery has their AOP L-4 Grasshopper plane buzzing overhead.

Americans atop Monte Basilio ridge across the dry Troina river bed. The hillside has been bombarded in recent days. German will assault from near foreground positions, Italians off-board.

The German southern Troina river position is placed on the tabletop. As seen in the photo below, the StuG III F/8 are placed in their special “StuG” pits covering the open ground. One panzergrenadier platoon on the hill at left and their second platoon stung from the StuG III position back towards the nebelwerfer RL battery concealed in the woods. Minefield and three barbwire sections emplaced in steep hill woods or flat open terrain. Both American objectives (one placed by the German players) on the tabletop, one near the front lines or “StuG” pits, the other behind the left rear hill. The Ponte di Failla bridge is the fifth objective (marker underneath). Off board is the German 10.5cm field battery with entire tabletop observers. Later in the scenario, the other half of the American forces (39th Regiment) will appear in front of the southern Troina river German defensive position.

German defensive positions on south bank of Troina riverbed. StuG III F/8 assault guns in their modified tank pits while nebelwerfer battery, a bit dense in placement, lines the near woods.

American 26th battalion sits in their foxholes before the preliminary bombardment and German first movements. Front line rifle platoon, then 57mm A/T, then A&P platoon. then another rifle platoon in woods at left.

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WR visits Gamex

This past weekend WR traveled to Gamex 2017 at the Los Angeles Hilton near LAX with Daniel. Daniel had his own Flames of War 20mm scenario to GM with WR’s assistance, then on sunday WR and Daniel had a go with WR’s new 25/28mm napoleonic scenario for the Battle of Gospic (or Bilaj) 1809. More on these two scenario games in future WR posts. While at the convention, WR took quiet moments to walk, with his old camera in hand, visiting the nearby hall and tables covered with other miniature events. So… a quick report.

The main miniature gaming room with view of the general layout and tables. LAX Hilton hotel. The Battle for Troina 1943 table at far right, car wars next, then the Bolt Action group.

Another view of the miniatures hall and at left the start of the board games. White Oak swamp tables in view.

As mentioned, Daniel staged his Battle of Troina 1843 FOW 20mm scenario. WR will future post the Troina AAR and photos but for now here are three camera clicks of the table. Should note that all Italicized text below is from the GM’s game description in GAMEX convention PEL since WR isn’t always sure what the scenario storyline is about.

Battle for Troina Sicily 1943 Flames of War (20mm scale) GM: Daniel and Michael Verity. Battle of Troina (31 July to 6 August 1943), during the Sicilian invasion campaign. Forces of the U.S. II Corps, 1st Big Red Division, 26th Infantry Regt, engaged in fierce fighting around the town of Troina against the German 15th PzGren Division, 115th PzGren Regiment’s defense. Scenario focused upon the engagements on Monte Basilio northeast of Torina.

The entire Troina 1943 20mm FOW scenario board at start. German at left across the dry river bed while the American await the preliminary bombardment rolls.

Mid game, the German panzergrenadier teams are advance under fire across the dry riverbed.

American had off-board 155mm Long Tom battery with AOP flying overhead. Here the Nebelwerfer RL are targeted with bombardment.

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Battle of Troina – Sicily 1943

After General Patton’s “end run” across the Island of Sicily, taking the western half and the old city of Palermo on the run, his II Corps headed eastward entering the mountainous northern half of the island. Quickly the pace of advance was reduced to a slow ridge line, or river line, or old hilltop town clearing process. Skillful German rearguard actions, holding the key terrain features, maximized German-Italian efforts to delay both the American and British advancing armies as preparations continued for the cross strait Messina final evacuation to mainland Italy.

The Battle for Troina was a week-long bitter struggle to seize control of the old Sicilian hilltop town and nearby “mountain” terrain. Being somewhat central on the endgame Allied frontal map lines of Sicily, with the Americans battling along the northern coastal road at San Fratello, and the British around the flanks of volcanic Mt. Enta to the southeast, the town of Troina was seen by both sides as a linchpin or hinge to stall or finish the Sicilian island campaign.

Linchpin or hinge on the military maps, the American 1st “Big Red” Division wanted the town and access to the eastern narrow highway SS120 beyond towards Cesaro and eventually Messina itself. The German 15th Panzergrenadier Division, their hilltop town and nearby low mountains having a view of the American advance, planned the defense with deadly precision. The Americans didn’t disappoint them, their August 1st first probing frontal attack was quickly rebuffed when launched by the 39th Regiment (transferred in from US 9th Division to support the 1st Division).

II Corps advance prior to the Battle of Troina. Map from the US Army history WWII MTO.

Troina as viewed from the American general approach during WWII. Lots of open hilly ground overlooked by the German defenders. (US Army photo)

The American viewpoint towards Troina and the 39th Regiment (attached 1st Div.) tried a direct August 1st assault up that slope. Compare modern-day Troina view with previous historical photo.

Historical WWII picture of Troina looking westwards. Another axis of American attack (16th Regt.) approached from that direction with little success before German retreat.

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Battle of Raab AAR Pt II

Continuing with the second part of WR’s Battle of Raab 1809 Part II AAR. To read the Raab 1809 Part I, please click on this link: Battle of Raab 1809 AAR Pt I. For the prior WR background article on the battle click this link: Battle of Raab 1809.

1420 hours: After the Hungarian lunch served on the warren patio, the Franco-Italian-Baden players set to work mounting several divisional assaults along the Pandzsa stream defense while slowly winning the open plain southern cavalry fight. Dense columns of French infantry cross the Pandzsa and impact the defending Austrian formations, consisting mostly of weak landwehr or large Insurrection battalions.

Note: Mentioned in first article part, the miniature ratio is 1:90 for this scenario or one miniature represents ninety men. WR’s historical scenarios have a floating miniature ratio commonly between 1:80 and 1:100. Basic units are battalions of infantry (4 to 10 miniatures), regiments of cavalry (3 to 12), and batteries of artillery (cannon on base with crew miniature, width of base determines number of cannon). Infantry, and to a limit degree cavalry, can deploy individual miniatures as skirmishers before their parent units. Screening in our rules is a big thing….and the lack of ready available Austrian skirmishers later in the scenario created Austrian difficulties.

GD Pachrod’s division (by bridge), joined by GD Seras’ division (at right), cross the Pandzsa and assault the first Austrian line. Pachrod’s infantry hit first… will the landwehr / Insurrection hold?

GD Seras crosses Pandzsa north of Kismegyer farm. GD Durette’s battalions cross and turn into the farm’s defense. Musketry rings out and losses mount. Two French 8 pdr. batteries support.

Austrian insurrection battalion (in blue coats) engage in musketry against the approaching French columns. Another isurrection battalion is morale disordered from French batteries.

Scenario tabletop map without map counters.

On the open southern plain, the French light cavalry has earned a firm lodgment against the best efforts of FML Mecsery and his left flank cavalry. Like the infantry up north on the Szabadhegy heights, the majority of the Austrian cavalry regiment are insurrection hussars. More French dragoon regiments (Grouchy’s division) cross the Pandzsa stream and join the weary light cavalry of GD Montburn.

More French dragoon regiment have crossed the Pandzsa and form up alongside the tired light cavalry of GD Montburn. Austrian defenders appear weak in number as several have routed away.

Under the Austrian 12 pdr. batteries, leading 22nd Legere battalion is pounded hard with heavy loss. Hungarian IR #62 two small battalion (2×4) defend the Kismegyer loopholed walls.

Northern sector sees the daring 25th Chasseurs a’ cheval reforming on the exposed flank of the Szala Insurrection hussars. Pinned in place, the disordered Szala hussars cannot face both direction against the threatening French cavalry while being shelled by the French horse battery across the Pandzsa.

Disordered and shelled by French horse battery, the Szala Insurrection Hussars cannot face two directions and counter the reforming 25th Chasseurs a’ cheval on their flank.

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Battle of Raab 1809 AAR Pt I

Back in August 2015 WR wrote up his 1809 napoleonic scenario on the Battle of Raab, featuring Viceroy Eugene and his Armee d’Italie vs. Archduke Johann & Joseph and their Insurrection army of Hungary. Planning for this scenario last year, WR painted up ten Insurrection battalions (10×10) and ten Insurrection hussar regiments (10×8) required for playing Raab, mostly from old Brunswick casting. Definably not the typical napoleonic unit fielded or painted for the tabletop and really a “one use” collection of miniatures for playing historical battles. So with miniatures painted, banners affixed, and based, it is time to play out the Battle of Raab 1809.

Joined by five local gamers, the player side teams are formed. Team Franco-Italian-Baden played by Dan, Andy, and Luis. Team Austria to be commanded by John, Rob, and Daniel. WR positioned himself as the GM with spare pair of hands. Early in the scenario proceedings, Rob had to exit the field and Luis never showed for reasons unknown. Daniel was pulled for race car prep duty by his brother….. thus four final gamers nobly carried out the duties of miniature commanding. Dan and Andy on the Franco-Italian-Baden team and John and WR for team Austria, Special mention must be made for the culinary team Raquel for finishing the Hungarian stew, setting out the gamer snacks, and various drinks for mid game meal.

After a brief player orientation for the scenario and command / miniature identification, the scenario commenced about 10am and played into the early evening hours, finishing eighteen turn of lively action and rendering a decision. WR has broken this AAR into two parts due to the shear length and photos. Part I to cover the tabletop action up till 1420 hours scenario time, and the second part will be posted to WR, for the balance of the scenario, next week.

Scenario design and historical background material posted to WR at Raab 1809 and the Raab 1809 Scenario notes (,doc).

Austrian army HQ and trains, with Archduke Johann & Joseph themselves, near the chapel on Szabadhegy height. Wooden blocks denote the starting tabletop commands for scenario.

Starting positions viewed from SE. Pandzsa stream runs the center table line. Viceroy Eugene’s HQ at far left near farmstead.

Franco-Italian-Baden army from the SW tabletop edge. The Austrians behind the Pandzsa stream and on Szabadhegy heights clearly seen. Raab fortress is off left upper corner.

Wooden block tabletop use is covered in this earlier WR blog posting: Wooden blocks

Tabletop terrain is flat in most areas with two hills or heights on the Austrian side. The heights of Szabadhegy is a low rise overlooking the lower open plain, with a smaller hillock towards Raab. Local farms and fields dot the tabletop, single buildings and symbolic fields. The village of Szabadhegy and Kismegyer farm have special Austrian rules for retaining control. The entrenched camp and Raab fortress are just off the northern map corner. Lastly, the two streams which cause movement difficulties for the French curve across the tabletop. Both are terrain disordering for close order formations and for cavalry the Pandzsa has special crossing rules.

Scenario tabletop map without map counters. Each map square is 12″x12″ on the tabletop.

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