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.

Continue reading

Napoleonic Training day

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, WR opened the warren for a bit of napoleonic gaming, specifically for playing a training scenario for understanding the group rules and French army organization as the primary scenario objectives. Since the scenario would be a French vs. any French ally tabletop battle, the WR painted 25/28mm napoleonic collection yielded an obvious match up…. France vs. Northern Italians.

img_0255

Scenario map. Typical european terrain, with some open ground, low hills, a woods, a few buildings, and low walls or hedges. Scale is 12″ for each square for 6′ x 4′ tabletop area.

Forces involved: WR designed the scenario to use forces with similar organization battalion or cavalry regimental structure. So, French vs. Northern Italian “revolt” with a timeline of 1810-11 became the choice since both armies have basically the same battalion structure and cavalry regiments… except for French two cuirassier regiments and two converged grenadier battalions, WR used his Italian guard cavalry and infantry.

French organized their single corps with four commands. Two infantry divisions, each with one legere, two line regiments, and 8 pdr. foot battery. Each infantry regiment had three battalions of six miniatures. The cavalry division had four cavalry regiments; two chasseurs a’ cheval and two dragoon regiments (five miniatures each), with attached 4 pdr. horse battery. Lastly, the French reserve division had two converged grenadier battalions (2×6), two cuirassier regiments (2×5) and 6 pdr. foot battery. Attached to the corps headquarters was a 12 pdr. positional foot battery and corps ammunition train.

The Italian single corps organization matched the French commands in number and size. The only difference was in the Italian reserve command. Italian reserve division had a battalion of Italian guard grenadier, a battalion of guard chasseurs, the guard dragoons, and lastly the Italian Guard di Honor converged squadrons formed into a regiment. Artillery and corps headquarters remained the same as the French. For the numbers summary; both sides had 159 miniatures organized as 31 combative units, army MFP morale level at 105, and nearly balanced at 1590 points.

Scenario rosters (.xls):  France Roster,  Italian Roster

Opening deployments (1000 hours): French 1st Infantry Division deploys to the road left side, the sister French 2nd Division deployed between the road and farm with the French corps HQ deployed near the road. The cavalry division, having limited open space near the infantry, formed up on their right flank. Being Side One for the sequence of play (SOP), the French 1st Division marched forward to control the low hill, sending a legere regiment, in battalion columns, towards the left flank medium woods. The central 2nd Division, marched forward in massed formation, not proper narrow battalion columns, so their movement rate was restricted to linear. Holding back a bit, the French right flank cavalry division trotted forward to the roadway, placing chasseur a’ cheval skirmishers in front.

Note: For infantry column movement rate, the battalion is required to be in a “proper” column formation. Simple rule…. have more battalion unit miniatures in the rear ranks compared to the front rank. So a six miniature French battalion would have two miniatures in front and the other four miniatures in following formation close order ranks (a two by three block of miniatures). If three miniatures are in the battalion’s front rank, the other three are formed as the second rank… this is a massed formation, i.e. more than one rank of miniatures for firepower targeting, but moves at the slower linear formation rates (French class A movement, 9″ vs. 7″).

img_0256

General view of scenario after the eager French 1st movement phase completed.

img_0257

The French side surges forward towards their Italian opponents. Note the French 2nd Infantry Division is massed formations and not using “proper columns” compared to 1st Division at left.

Northern Italians  basically the same Corp’s organization and structure as their French opponents, so the Italian deployment sort of matched the French. Italian cavalry on their left, opposite the French cavalry division. The 1st Italian Infantry Division before the central village, and the remaining 2nd Italian Infantry Division covering the Italian right flank. One little wrinkle… The Italian players detached one Italian chasseur a’ cheval regiment from their cavalry division on left and placed with their right hand infantry division.

img_0258

The Italian view awaiting  their first movement as the French complete the 1st movement phase.

Continue reading

Battle of Raszyn 1809

When Austria declared war on France April 10, 1809, Austrian military strategy called for three independent offensives into adjacent French or French allied territories. Their main army moving into Bavaria under command of Archduke Karl, and two smaller wings advancing into northern Italy (under Archduke Johann) and the recently created Grand Duchy of Warsaw territory tasked to Erzherzog Ferdinand d’Este. Removing the prospect of an independent Poland (aka Duchy of Warsaw) was a cornerstone of Austrian political and military policy after the establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, a result of the Tilsit peace conference ending the recent France vs. Russia and Prussia war.

During the short time from Duchy’s foundation and the outbreak of war, the Duchy of Warsaw (DOW) army grew rapidly to cover the expanding demands of Emperor Napoleon. By early 1809, just before the opening of hostilities in April, the DOW regular army stood at twelve infantry regiments (two large battalions each with a third one forming), six cavalry regiments and six raised artillery batteries. Limited in size with little military training, additional local fortress and garrison detachments dotted the Duchy’s territory supporting the newly created DOW army with policing duties. With 37,000 men overall to defend the Duchy of Warsaw, Prince Poniatowski should have sufficient forces to defend the Duchy from the near term Austrian invasion except Napoleon ordered 20,000 of them to other battle theaters as far away as Spain, and locally to garrison Danzig and other Prussian fortresses. This left Poniatowski with a small force of just 15,000 Poles, and a small Saxon brigade, to check a major Austrian advance on Warsaw. Some of the larger detachments from the Duchy’s army are:

5th Infantry regiment [2 btns.] at Kustrin. 10th Infantry regiment [2 btns.] at Danzig and Stettin, 11th Infantry Regiment at Danzig [2 btns.], 4th Chassuers a’ cheval at Stettin, Kustein, Glogau and Stralsund. For Czestochowa garrison the newly raised III battalion [5th Regt.] and 3rd Uhlan detachment with artillery. For French service in Spain, the entire 4th, 7th, and 9th infantry regiments [6 battalions], with a foot 6lb battery, plus the Vistula legion formed from Polish and ex-prisoners of war during 1808.

Stationed in Warsaw, the small Saxon brigade consisted of 1 1/2 converged grenadier battalions, 1st btn. Oebschelwitz I.R., two squadrons of Saxon Hussars, and two batteries of positional 6lb [2×6 cannon] along with two attached battalion cannon (I.R. Oebschelwtz). The converged grenadier battalion came from  I.R. Konig and Dyherrn grenadier companies. The smaller grenadier two company detachment solely from the Rechten I.R.

raszyn_2

Old postcard photo of church in Raszyn dated 1909, the 100th year anniversary of the battle.

Faced with the task of defending Warsaw and holding the Duchy, Prince Poniatowski mobilized his reduced forces near Warsaw and upon the declaration of war, slowly moved south from Warsaw to defend the excellent marshy stream position near Raszyn. DOW cavalry already positioned ahead and near the Austrian border under GB Rozniecki screened and harassed the slow Austrian cavalry led advance from their army collection point at Odrzygol.

Parade review of the Austrian VII Korps just before it crossed the Polish border shows the following units and organization (per Gil’s Thunder on the Danube Vol III pages 335-7):

VII Korps Main Body: GdK Erzherzog Ferdinand d’Este

7th Pioneer Division (two companies), and various train companies but no bridging or siege artillery trains.

Advance Guard: GM Mohr

I.R. 48 Vukassovich [3 btns 2170], 1st Btn. /1st Siebenburger-Wallach Grenz Nr.16 [1125], 1st Btn. /2nd Siebenburger-Wallach Grenz Nr.17 [1180], Kaiser Hussars Nr.1 [6 sgn. 780], Kavalry battery. 3lb Brigade battery

Division: FML von Monder

Brigade: GM von Pflacher

I.R. 34 Davidovich [3 btns 2450], I.R. 37 Weidenfeld [3 btns 2070], 6lb Brigade battery

Brigade: GM von Trautenberg

I.R. 24 Strauch [3 btns 3290], I.R. 63 Baillet [3 btns 2820], 6lb Brigade battery

Brigade: GM von Civilart

I.R. 30 De Ligne [3 btns 3170], I.R. 41 Kottulinsky [3 btns 3380], 6lb Brigade battery

Division: FML von Schauroth

Brigade: GM von Speth

Somariva Kuirassiers [6 sqn 750], Lothringen Kuirassiers [6 sqn 760], Kavalry battery

Brigade: GM von Geringer

Palatinal Hussars Nr.12 [8 sqn 1020], Szekler Hussars Nr.11 [8 sqn 1130] at Krakow, late to their campaign regimental formation, rode north to join VII Korps at Warsaw after the Raszyn battle.

Artillery Reserve:

2x 12lb Positional batteries, 2x 6lb Positional batteries plus the military train.

In summary: 21,700 infantry, 3,320 cavalry, and 66 cannon and crews at start of campaign.

Ferdinand d’Este detached two squadrons of Kaiser Hussars Nr.1 in March to cover the vast territory of East Galicia as a mobile force in addition to the various small detachments and garrisons dotting the Province of East Galicia under FML Furst Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen. These forces are outlined in Gil’s book, page 336., which also mentions the later (post Raszyn) reinforcements joining VII Korps during the Polish campaign. During the northern pre-campaign march to Odrzgol, Ferdinand d’Este detached an additional small brigade under GM von Branowaczky consisting of the Szekler Grenzer Nr.14 (1st btn.), Szekler Grenzer Nr.15 (1st btn.), Kaiser Chevauleger No.1 (8 sq.), and a 3lb Brigade battery with two extra-attached howitzers to besiege or blockade the small Polish fortress of Czestochowa when the campaign commenced.

Raszyn theater map

Opening campaign movements. This map and others from the excellent internet site Napoleonistyka covering Raszyn 1809 battle. Austrians in red, Polish forces in dark blue.

After collection the components of VII Korps near the small hamlet of Odrzgol on the Austrian border, Erzherzog Ferdinand d’Este set in motion the main Austrian advance towards the Polish border near the riverine town of Nowe Miasto on April 15th. Before this northern march to Odrzgol, GM von Branowaczky and his brigade had already left the main body to prepare for their besiege or blockade the Polish Czestochowa fortress and two squadrons of Kaiser hussars under Major Hoditz were sent across the Vistula River to Okuniew near Praga to observe Polish activity. Ferdinand d’Este quickly learned from Hoditz’s hussars that, with the exception of garrison in Praga and few small detachments, there were no strong Polish forces on Austrian right flank (East Galicia). On Ferdinand d’Este’s left flank, two additional scouting squadrons of Kaiser Hussars, under Major Josef Gatterburg, penetrated as far as Rawa (southwest of Raszyn), reporting limited contract with Polish forces.

Pilica River by Foto Kaz

Pilica River near Newo Miasto crossing in late winter. Photo by Foto Kaz on Panoramio.

Continue reading

Battle of Raszyn 1809 AAR

Well this seems to be a first for the WR. Normally WR decides to write-up a specific battle or mini-campaign, then proceed to composing the scenario notes (.doc) files after performing research to detail out the historical approach march of both armies, why they ended up on the same battlefield, and compares the research material for differences or conflicts etc.., especially in the units present and location on the battlefield. After all the steps and proofing the scenario notes…. play test the scenario for critical terrain to miniatures interaction, debug for issues which arise from having future gamers maneuver the tabletop miniatures, especially on the victory conditions. Then post a WR blog article on the site, followed then by AAR posting of the scenario played out.

This time, since the decision period for which historical battle scenario to play was reduced to one week, the whole process had to be compressed. One advantage WR had been he played a “Raszyn like” scenario several years ago so the feel and pace of the tabletop action was known. WR also remembered the players did a “power left march” and attacked Raszyn directly along with Michalowice. Jaworow never saw an Austrian miniature for the entire scenario. Dawidy saw the two grenzer battalions… they crossed the river and just sat in village for the victory conditions. The Mrowa (Ranka) stream slowed them down… but wasn’t a great terrain issue… and the Austrian artillery had a grand time with the smaller Saxon-Polish units. Wasn’t exactly what happened back in April 1809. So with that in mind the scenario notes file was completed the morning of truth (gamers arrival). Normally the gamers have an advance copy of the scenario notes and any discussion of the battle. For the historical scenario tabletop terrain map, the process was fairly easy… WR used Gill’s “Thunder on the Danube volume III” map (pages 13 & 15), and the internet drawn map source under “napoleonistyka” by Zbynia Olszewski, comparing both to a period drawn map WR had in his map files. More information on the scenario design, issues, conflicting data, and sources / links to be provided on next blog post.

To the scenario play test and AAR first this time…. then WR will post the Raszyn historical background material on next posting. Update: Battle of Raszyn 1809 historical background now posted.

IMG_0469

Opening scene for the scenario. GB Rozniecki cavalry brigade in foreground, DOW infantry brigades in Falenty and villages along the Mrowa (Rawka) stream at left. Austrians enter at right on temporary table extension.

IMG_0470

Opening scene on Austrian left. GM Geringer’s brigade enters. The GM Speth kuirassier brigade will arrive at right from table edge. GB Rozniecki DOW cavalry (3rd and 6th Uhlans) before them.

IMG_0471

GM Mohr’s Austrian advance guard starts scenario spilt apart. The majority on the Janczewice to Falenty to Raszyn road while the two S. Wallach grenz battalions enter near Podolszynie (right).

The Raszyn 1809 scenario tabletop map below is drawn at 600 yds. (12″ tabletop) to the map square inch. Terrain features and their effect on gameplay is discussed in the Raszyn 1809 scenario notes (.doc file) at end. To play out the cavalry approach encounters between GB Rozniecki’s uhlan cavalry brigade and the advancing Austrian cavalry (GM Mohr advance guard, GM Geringer detachment, and the arriving kuirassier brigade of GM Speth), WR used an extra foot table extension to increase the tabletop width to seven feet. Once the Polish cavalry is pushed further in on to the tabletop (back towards Janki and Falenty), the table edge extension is removed.

The scenario play testers: Dan and Paul for team Duchy… aka the Poles. Should be noted Paul has Polish heritage in his blood. For Team White coats… aka the Austrians, Andy, Daniel, and Luis marched on to the tabletop (with the miniatures that is). WR had the opportunity to watch and record the scenario battle for posterity…. and make corrective notes for the final version of the Raszyn 1809 scenario notes (.doc) file (found at end of this blog article if interested). Scenario play went well, considering the compressed time frame to generate written material and research.

Note: Since WR had the opportunity to take photos of the interplay tabletop action, WR will describe the game play rules involved shown in the photographs as italicized notes. This scenario, being a smaller scenario and open ground provides clear examples of the game system and interaction of the units and sequence of play.

IMG_0469

Raszyn 1809 scenario map showing the terrain, map grid and village names. Note the yellow line denoting the table edge extension. Each map square is 12″ by 12″ or 600 yards. (50 yds./inch).

IMG_0466

Raszyn 1809 scenario map with the command counters placed per their starting map grid coordinates. See scenario notes .doc file for  command rosters and scenario design.

Continue reading

Battle of Wertingen 1805 AAR

Almost one year ago WR wrote up his article on the Battle of Wertingen and included his short comments, tabletop map, and scenario design notes. WR’s primary objective was to create a sort of training scenario for a battlefield situation of cavalry vs. infantry with limited artillery for both sides. Training type historical scenarios are a pet favorite of WR, seeking tactical key game concepts, rule mechanics and over time, speed the team player sequence of play interaction and tabletop play.

Wertingen 1805 is a small tabletop scenario compared to the larger scenarios written by WR. The Austrians basically are a division of infantry (nine battalions), with two small cavalry units (squadrons) and no field artillery batteries. French have five full divisions…. four cavalry and one elite grenadier division, all equipped with one artillery battery. A totally unfair or unbalanced scenario on paper. WR loves the unbalanced scenario and the challenge to develop. Play forces the weaker player to pay close attention to the fine points of play, tabletop tactics, and the victory conditions especially. Those scenario victory conditions typically even the tabletop field so to speak and, if written well, direct the players towards the historical outcome and yardstick the tabletop results to the actual historical result.

WR’s initial post on Wertingen 1805 and historical commentary: Wertingen 1805. The scenario notes for playing Wertingen 1805 (.doc): Wertingen 1805 Scenario Notes

IMG_7126

Scenario opening positions. FML Auffenberg’s infantry battalions face off the arriving French 3rd Dragoon Division cavalry of GD Beaumont. Two French mixed horse batteries deploy on opposite height. Block in upper left corner is arriving 5th Corps light cavalry under GD Fauconnet.

Key scenario rule for Wertingen 1805. The Austrian units cannot perform any retrograde movement if under a French charge zone. Charge zones are 22′ arcs of the basic movement of 12″-16″, depending on cavalry type, but for this scenario the charge zone Austrian movement restriction extends universally for 18″. Under the normal scenario or game rules, all units have reduced movement (1/2 rate) in a declared charge zone, in any direction the owning player chooses, but for this unique scenario no Austrian retrograde movement is permitted if covered by a charge zone.

IMG_7127

Opening situation with the two sides facing off. Austrian battalion squares backed by two weak cavalry units and French dragoons in linear formations.

French tactics are basic in nature. Charge their individual dragoon regiments one or two at a time to pin the Austrian battalion squares in place till the infantry arrive. Keep dragoon regiments available to maintain a rolling charging routine across the frontage of the Austrian square line. Use the horse artillery to batter isolated squares and, if weakened, charge home and crush the hapless morale disordered battalion with a dragoon regiment. When planning their charges, keep in mind to use the “pump fake” tactic of only charging the minimum distance requirement of 4″ or engage in melee combat, otherwise pull up short, and remain outside the minimum fire zone of the battalion cannon embedded within some of the squares (4″ minimum fire zone range).  Properly done the Austrians shouldn’t be able to move their battalions till the infantry division arrives later in the scenario. Upon their near arrival the Austrian battalions are released and will run for their exit point. Good timing is everything.

Austrian tactics in scenario are tough. Maybe use a battalion or two to advance and break up the French dragoon charge planning. Try to place the French cavalry into a minimum fire zone of the battalion muskets (2″) or their attached battalion cannon (4″). This may lock up and cause loss on the dragoon regiment, and hopefully give ability for the rear battalions to make a retrograde movement (if not under the French charge zone). Once a battalion has two retrograde movements there is a good chance that battalion can continue their movements, free of French zonal charges, till they exit the battlefield. The two small Austrian cavalry units are the best chance to plan a disengaging Movement Phase if they can delay charge the advancing French infantry. Another tactic is use the one Austrian chevau-leger unit to screen off the French artillery for a turn or two.

Scenario is designed to teach players about charging, the charge zone, the cavalry movement during a charge, square movement, and the interaction of cavalry vs. square (avoid engagement if possible in most situations) but pin in place for the firepower of infantry and especially artillery. Lastly the effect of battalion (regimental) artillery and the increased minimum fire zone of infantry from 2″ to 4″ range.

With the two player teams assembled and the scenario explained, time to start the scenario narrative outlining how the miniature tabletop action played out last weekend.

Turn One: After a short team player conference, team French started maneuvering their 3rd Dragoon Division into position below the Austrian held hill slope. Their two-horse batteries opened fire on the exposed Austrian battalion squares causes quick loss. Cycling through the sequence of play (SOP), the French artillery just finished the Mutual Artillery Fire Phase leading to the French Cavalry Charge Declaration Phase on the Austrian half of the game turn.

Sequence of play chart with the two eight step half turn sequences. French are Side 1 column, Austrians Side 2 column.

Sequence of Play clip

Sequence of Play clip

The first of many charges declared by the French cavalry during this scenario…. Charge declared, successful morale test to charge taken, and trot forward the minimum 4″ distance and pull up or charge home…. here the French dragoon regiment pulled up their charge.

IMG_7129

French dragoon regiment, after the French artillery bombardment phase, calls their charge to “pin” the Austrian battalion in place and prevent retirement movement.

IMG_7130

End of Turn One shows the two sides. Note the French dragoon regiment pulled up short since the charge plan was just to keep the Austrians in place during their movement phase.

Continue reading

Battle of Klagenfurt 1809

The same day Napoleon entered Vienna, as the French Danube army under Napoleon and the Army of Italy under Eugene marched east, the Austrian Tyrol strategic position changed following the dramatic Bavarian success at Worgl (May 13th). FML Chasteler’s regular army reserve was shattered, the Tyrol mountainous region threatened more than ever and from different directions, and the Tyrol capital Innsbruck abandoned. The Bavarians completely cleared Napoleon’s line of communications Danube River basin issues within the course of a week after their victory at Worgl. FML Chasteler’s ability to remain in the Tyrol was questionable, especially after the Army of Inner Austria’s defeat at Tarvis (May 17th) and quick retreat towards Graz. The debacle and loss at Worgl marked renewed bitter recriminations between the Tyrolian insurgents and Habsburg regulars while the cycle of ferocious inhumanity of unchecked guerilla warfare, Bavarians burning and looting villages while Tyrolians murdered isolated soldiers continued.

Battle of Worgl 1809 painting by Peter von Hess.

Battle of Worgl 1809 painting by Peter von Hess.

FML Chasteler, disheartened and unsure after his defeat at Worgl, along with the constant abuse suffered from the hands of the erstwhile Tyrolian allies, fled to the Brenner Pass region. FML Chasteler, a veteran of many engagements and wounded on many occasions in Habsburg service, but now for several days lost his composure, sending out contradictory orders to his baffled General Buol commanding his rearguard position below Innsbruck. Orders from Archduke Johann helped little, he was on his own, and with little information regarding current European and military events outside of the Tyrol region. Oscillation between dejection and elation ensued, with FML Chasteler even assigning temporary command to General Buol as his battalions marched and counter marched the mountainous countryside roads. Finally, FML Chasteler firmly resumed command on May 21st and decided to leave the Tyrol region with the bulk of his remaining regular and landwehr corps.

Situation map at time of the Battle of Worgl May 13, 1809

Situation map at time of Battle of Worgl May 13, 1809. Berg Isel is just south of Innsbruck.

The Bavarian division under General Wrede, after occupying Innsbruck along with the forces of Bavarian General Deroy, were ordered out of the Tyrol by Napoleon and General Lefebrve. Napoleon instructed Lefebrve to return to Salzburg with Wrede’s division, to defeat and pursue the roaming forces of FML Jellacic since, in his view, the Tyrol had been completely submitted to Bavarian control. Lefebrve and Wrede’s forces left the Tyrol region for Salzburg, eventuality marching to control the French army’s line of communications along the Danube River, leaving General Deroy alone at Innsbruck. The Tyrolians, under command of Andreas Hofer and others, quickly thought otherwise.

General Deroy, isolated and vulnerable in Innsbruck, soon had the renewed Tyrolian insurgent revolt “coming down the mountain sides”. The battles of Second and Third Berg Isel followed, both ferocious and costly, neither side gaining a decisive advantage, even with the Tyrolians outnumbering the Bavarians two to one. Deroy’s situation was hopeless. Surrounded in the centre of a hostile land at the end of a mountainous unguarded supply line, he had no choice but retreat. By the last days of May his Bavarian division had slipped back to Kufstein fortress. The Tyrol again was generally free from Bavarian occupation.

Kufstein fortress from the river view. Besieged by the Tyrolian insurgents and small detachments of Chasteler's corps.

Kufstein fortress from the river view. Besieged by the Tyrolian insurgents and small detachments of Chasteler’s regular corps at various times during 1809 Tyrol revolt. Photo by Lugge.

While the Tyrolians, with some help from the few regulars left under General Buol, engaged then chasing the Bavarians under Deroy out of Tyrol, the Austrian regulars and landwehr under FML Chasteler marched mountainous roads east, attempting to join forces with Archduke Johann and the Army of Inner Austria. As Chasteler marched, his leading elements came into contact with the Italians under GD Rusca. Rusca, charged with protecting the Army of Italy’s line of communications and observing Chasteler’s Tyrol command, had marched along the southern mountain valleys of northern Italy and into Inner Austria. He reached Spittal on the 23rd of May, where he sent the Istrian battalion westward to Sachsenburg. Outside Sachsenburg skirmishing flared on the 24th and 25th of May as the lead elements of FML Chasteler’s army arrived slowly after march delays caused from destroyed bridges.

The destroyed bridges were the result of detachment GM Schmidt and his interaction with a small force of Italians (two weak battalions) under Colonel Moroni. Colonel Moroni had marched the 2nd Dalmatian battalion along with four companies of the 3rd Italian Legere from Osoppo, northward across the Plocken Pass towards GM Schmidt in Oberdrauburg. GM Schmidt, true to his later behavior at Klagenfurt, panicked from the wild rumors as given fact, destroyed all the local bridges between Oberdrauburg and Sachsenburg as a precaution. Common sense soon returned but the damage delayed FML Chasteler’s eastward march towards Spittal, finally entering that town on June 2nd. As for the force under Colonel Moroni, oblivious to his effect on local Habsburg morale, it reached Villiach on May 29th, and pressed on to join the Army of Italy near Raab mid June. GD Rusca was sorry to see those potential reinforcements depart the Drava river valley.

Northeast Klagenfurt city view by Valvasor.

Northeast Klagenfurt city view by Valvasor.

Klagenfurt fortess in 1649 clearly shows the walled city.

Old print of Klagenfurt fortress 1649 clearly shows the walled city.

GD Rusca, learning that FML Chasteler was approaching Spittal, retired first towards Villiach on June 1st then on to Klagenfurt on June 4th. Arriving at Klagenfurt, he spent June 5th bolstering the old city wall defenses and collected local grain and food stuff in preparation of a possible siege. Writing to GD Marmont requesting support, he planned an active defense at Klagenfurt, knowing full well that Marmont was too far away to arrive before Chasteler’s small army encamped outside the walls of Klagenfurt. As for FML Chasteler’s motives, he simply wanted to escape past Klagenfurt and rejoin Archduke Johann and the Army of Inner Austria.

Klagenfurt map circa 1735 showing the street layout, fortress walls, city gates, and moat around the city.

Klagenfurt map circa 1735 showing the street layout, fortress walls, city gates, and moat around the city. Few buildings outside the fortress walls at this period unlike the 1809 battlefield.

Continue reading

Battle of Raab June 1809

Eugene de Beauharnais, the Viceroy of Italy and commander of the French Army of Italy, finally chased down the Austrian Army of Inner Austria positioned before Raab. The Army of Inner Austria, commanded by Archduke Johann, had been fighting a series of small rearguard engagements since leaving the territory of northern Italy. After detaching several small commands and IX Korps (FML Ignaz Gyulai), fought several divisional sized engagements during his retreat march, Archduke Johann finally joined with Archduke Joseph (the Palatine of Hungary) at Raab with the newly raised feudal Hungarian Insurrectio army.

Following the Austrians closely during the last few days in June, Eugene’s mixture of confident French, Italians, and some recent joining Baden regiments, chased away by sharp cavalry combat the weak Austrian advance guard defending the Casnak heights. Losing these defensive heights, and seeing the French cavalry deploying below the Szabadhegy heights, quickly forced Archduke Johnan to deploy his troops behind the Pandzsa stream, a natural marshy stream bed flowing across the hasty Austrian defensive linear position. Nightfall of June 13th ended the day’s skirmish fighting, leaving both sides to organize their soldiers for next morning grand battle on June 14th.

Pandzsa sream now channelled. Its banks was mashy ground during the Battle of Raab.

Pandzsa stream now channelled. Its banks was marshy ground during the Battle of Raab.

The Army of Inner Austria wasn’t a normal Austrian army… large percentage of the army were newly raised Hungarian insurrection units of infantry and cavalry. Add in the large portion of Austrian landwehr, raised and collected during the Army of Inner Austria’s retreat march across Austria, meant a shortage of training troops throughout the Austrian defensive front. Planning and organization changes of command were discussed all during the night by the senior Austrian staff. At early morning light. Austrian units were found shifting position based upon the “agreed evening plan” between the Austrian Archdukes and their secondary commanders, who awaited the French advance near the small chapel on Szabadhegy heights. The Austrians held a strong position behind the marshy banked Pandzsa stream, buttressed by the walled stone strongpoint formed by the Kismegyer farm, the Raab riverbank on the right flank, and the Szabadhegy heights beyond.

Chapel atop the Szabadhegy height from which the Archdukes witnessed the battle till late afternoon.

Chapel atop the Szabadhegy height from which the Archdukes witnessed the battle till late afternoon. Photo by Antal Julanr.

The two armies were roughly equal in numbers at approximately 40,000 men, although in characteristic Austrian fashion Johann had weakened his battle line by detaching some 6-7,000 men to his extreme off scenario table flanks, the entrenchment position across the Raab River, and garrisoned Raab fortress with several depleted regular Austrian line battalions, therefore effectively removing them all from the coming battle. Johann also left his two reserve 12lb positional batteries behind Szabadhegy heights during the battle for reasons unknown.

Scene print of the Battle of Raab 1809.

Old scene print of the Battle of Raab 1809.

Archduke Johann drew up his army behind the Pandzsa stream, facing generally west. The Pandzsa ran roughly from south to north across his front, emptying into the Raab River to the north. In the vicinity of the battlefield, the Raab River ran from west to east, protecting John’s north flank. The fortress of Raab (now called Győr) was on the south side of the Danube River a short distance to the northeast. Johann hoped the wide marshy banks of the Pandzsa going southward would discourage a French cavalry envelopment from that direction. The enclosed and stoutly built Kismegyer walled farm stood on the east bank of the Pandzsa. Just east and behind Kismegyer farm rose Szabadhegy heights. On the heights’ north side lay Szabadhegy village adding to the Austrian positional defense.

Strongpoint Kismegyer farm. Does look like the granary building at Essling.

Strongpoint Kismegyer farm. Does look like the granary building at Essling. Photo by Szijarto Emo.

Continue reading