As part of our now somewhat epic 3 year project, half a dozen seasoned Wagram Project wargamers met up at the Hall of Heroes to play another practice game. However this time the battlefield bore no resemblance to the Marchfeld near the Danube. In fact the terrain bore little resemblance to any traditional Napoleonic wargame - woods everywhere - what was going on?
|The Austrian Team plots strategy - L-R: Alejandro, whose commentary you will read below, Mark, and Vic|
As you can see from the map in the Osprey Campaign book 'Eckmuhl' the terrain over which the protagonist fought this battle was covered with woods. However they were light enough that they did not prove impenetrable to formed troops. Indeed the combat ensued in the usual way, in column and line, with actually quite a fluid and dynamic battle ensuing. For this reason I have always been interested in this battle, which lends itself to the table-top as relatively few troops were involved, yet it could easily have been a pretty decisive victory for the Austrians and started off the 1809 campaign on quite a different footing. Its one drawback is the small numbers of cavalry involved, which we all know is the only way to add tone to what would otherwise be and unseemly brawl!
The premise of Teugn-Hausen is fascinating. We tend to view the 1809 campaign through the prism of Aspern-Essling and Wagram - with the Austrians being defensive and their best possible outcome being a tenacious defensive draw or at best a pyrrhic victory. But in the early part of the war, which, lets face it, they started with their invasion of Bavaria, they were on the offensive. And at Teugn-Hausen, with a little more luck, and a little less French mobility, they might well have caught and isolated Davout's corps, left isolated as it was at the start of the campaign. So for this scenario, the crossroads above is the objective. If the French can hold it and keep the road open, Davout's Corps can march down it and reach the rest of the army. If the Austrians seize it, III Corps goes in the bag!
The French team consisted of Bryan, left, and Terry, right, commanding Sainte-Hilaire and Friant's divisions respectively...
each with a brigade screen of 2 bns of Léger out front. These 2 bold gentlemen lost no time in pushing forward as far and as fast as they could...
But enough of the French perspective - from this point on this battle will be recounted from the perspective of one of the Austrian commanders. The Austrian team was led by Mark, as Archduke Charles and so the overall commander. Below was my command - the Avant Garde Brigade of skirmishers, horse artillery and the only cavalry on table, the Archduke Ferdinand Hussars.
Vic commanded Biebers large brigade, nearest the camera below. (Kayser's Brigade, run by Mark, started the game halfway up the table). Alejandro, the author of this account, ran the brigade adjacent to the road...
From a Brigadier’s point of view I was given the command of Lichtenstein’s brigade which consisted of 5 battalions (800 men each) of line infantry plus one battery of 6pdrs, then later I was given a two extra Position batteries of 12pdrs each detached from the Army Reserve.
Orders: My orders were very simple, - move as quickly as possible to the forest to the front. From there, try to form a battle formation and advance toward the crossing road and cut the French advance.
I tried to execute my orders as quickly as possible, we could see a whole friendly Division in front of us, we started to follow it. Finally we got to the edge of the forest without any inconvenience and in a very short space of time considering Austrian command ratings.
As soon as we started to go into the forest, our advance slowed down considerably, the Division in front of us was hardly moving and we got stuck behind it. I was given free choice by the General to go to the right or left ﬂank, I decided to move to the left ﬂank.
This decision was taken after we realised that there were a whole Avant-Garde brigade of friendly skirmishers in front of us. They would slow down the enemy and would allow us to deploy in a relative calm.
We found a way to move rather quickly to the left ﬂank, considering how difﬁcult was to move through the forest.
We formed a defensive formation, and deployed all our batteries in front of the infantry to allow us to deliver as much ﬁre power as possible.
The intention was to soften the enemy by disordering and destroying their morale, and then, with my fresh troops charge the enemy. This objective was accomplished by my batteries and the skirmish brigade...
but just when we got ready to attack, we received reports that our centre was being out ﬂanked and it was crumbling...
so we needed to withdraw. The French were left in command of the cross roads and so won the game.
Suggestions: I think we need to plan for the length of time of the game and the size of the table, for this game we needed an extra hour. Also, I think the scenario would benefit from the use of bounce through rules in Albion Triumphant.
(Response by Sparker - yes absolutely we should have played a couple more moves, or started the game with the Austrians further up the table - I just got wowed by the size of the table the Hall of Heroes laid on for us and wanted to use it all! Re bounce through, agreed that its realistic, but I think in a large game it take too long to administer.)
In conclusion I really enjoyed the game. I think the special rules and values for the Austrians give reasonable command of the troops - the fact that they are “superbly drilled” helps us not to get frustrated with game playability. Also, the forest rules were good, you felt that you were in difﬁcult terrain, but the troops could still move.