Forum Replies Created
20/12/2020 at 22:31 in reply to: All I want for Christmas – Napoleonic miniatures-wise #14858309/12/2020 at 16:34 in reply to: All I want for Christmas – Napoleonic miniatures-wise #148074
Not exactly related, but a little related, could you drop me an e-mail when you have opportunity Jonathan? [email protected]14/05/2020 at 17:45 in reply to: Gareth Glover’s analysis of the Guard’s final attack #136396
Completely agreed. One would think it is logical to look at the entry requirements for the different regiments over the course of the period and look at that as a point of consistency, if I recall correctly, the men who made up the 3rd and 4th regiments in 1815 were largely men who either had been in ‘Middle Guard’ regiments previously, or while being ‘new’ met the same/similar requirements to what the ‘Middle Guard’ regiments had previously required.
The whole thing seems to be a story of ‘what is in a name?’ But people really do get stuck on it.
Back in the day we called this “designer’s disease”. The game designer would play the game as intended, while other players would exploit the rules as written. This often led to rude awakenings.
Not sure I follow you, the “bad things” that happened weren’t attributable to “oh you can use that rule to do XYZ?!?!?” they were due to us making the same common strategic mistakes that new or average players make: Like rushing in, or not covering your flank.
The Bandit06/12/2019 at 05:29 in reply to: Jonathan Gingerich's Napoleonic Page Question – Vasilchikov-1 #127683
Sorry I was unable to provide what you wished for these two brothers, as I did not understand the original question to be addressing ‘succession protocol’. Perhaps Jonathan can shed more light?
Nah you’re fine, you are likely correct. Vasilchikov-1 was second-in-line to command the 12th Division and the 12th Division commander – Kolyubakin – was wounded at Saltanovka, so it makes sense that Vasilchikov-1 takes over as indicated on Jonathan’s OB. The tripping point is that Jonathan also has Vasilchikov-1 commanding his own 3rd Brigade. The logical thing is that the 12th Division commander is wounded, so his next-in-line (Vasilchikov-1) takes over and then the 3rd Brigade is vacant so the next-in-line for the 3rd Brigade takes over who happens to be Vasilchikov-2.
In the meantime I did find that Mikaberidze comes to the same conclusion, so I suspect you are correct.
The Bandit05/12/2019 at 14:27 in reply to: Jonathan Gingerich's Napoleonic Page Question – Vasilchikov-1 #127644
Thanks on both counts. My suspicion is:
12th Division’s commander listed as “Major General Illarion Vasilchikov I”, and the 3rd Brigade IV Cavalry Corps commander as “Colonel Dmitry Vasilchikov II”.
this is correct, but it could also be guessed since Vasilchikov-2 was the next in line for the 3rd Brigade and Vasilchikov-1 was the next in line for the 12th Division and I was curious if anything would indicate the normal succession order wasn’t followed.
Admirals by Jeff Knudsen, the War Artisan. Excellent set. I’m not entirely sure if it meets your criteria of “no grid”, but it is likely unlike any other system you will consider. It plays fast, it is taught quickly, and it maintains focus on its player perspective: That of a fleet admiral.
jeffers – I’ve got a copy of that and will see when I have time if I can find anything there.
Jemima Fawr – Thank you! And what you found about the Austrian flags actually begs a question: If it was generally placed with the 1st Company on the march, did people then presume it stayed with the 1st Company when forming other formations other than a march column? Thus leading to a false assumption that it was always placed to the right? Or is this immaterial and something else drives the idea?
Darkest Star Games – Thank you!
And for all, here is the Russian Yekaterioslav Cuirassier Regiment (after being dull seal coated, i.e. actually finished):
Jonathan – No idea, this was the first I’d heard of it and while it isn’t insane, when asked for a source he directed us to “a few English language works” and an 1808 publication that no on is likely to have access to. I find the topic interesting so I’d like to find out more about it, but it seems odd that it is so unheard of.
jeffers – Really? Armies on the Danube? Wonder where they pulled it from, have to take a look at that.
Thaddeus Blanchette – Honestly, it is acrylic paint (very dark brown) mixed into plaster/joint compound, like the stuff you’d use on dry wall in your house. Mix it well until it looks like a chocolate milkshake color, smear it onto the base, let it dry. Once dry it will be *drastically* lighter, so run a dark wash over it, even a black wash will likely be fine (that is what we use), then dab some glue on and flock as desired.
The Bandit21/08/2019 at 15:47 in reply to: Have you ever been so disappointed by a product change… #120349
Yes, though more commonly where I’ve gotten stuck is a product simply goes out of production. Not a whole product line, but for instance, every miniature I painted for a couple decades used the same flesh tone, which then up and disappeared, so all of a sudden I need a different one. Or the darkest brown I used as a wash, up and gone from all the retail chains I had once purchased it from, etc…
That is a stunning-looking game.
Thank you! It was very easy to put together, everything we used is off the shelf.
Welcome to Napoleonics! (And to ESR!)
Highland regiments I am aware of:
42nd Royal Highlanders ‘Black Watch’
79th Cameron Highlanders
89th Gordon Highlanders
92nd Gordon Highlanders
Not all of these kept their kilts and many lost theirs before the end of the period. For that I’ll have to dig more.
Not being involved with the playing of this game (it was run in France and the game host posted this to the ESR Napoleonics Yahoo Group), I was surprised that Gazan did so well. My suspicion is the dice just fell that way. The columns coming out of the mountains are expected to be fatigued and disorganized as they were historically (and this is variable in the scenario so they could arrive in better, worse, or equal shape to history), but the main attack made in the morning frontally against Gazan by Miloradovich can be expected to inflict some significant damage, all of Miloradovich’s troops are rated approximately equally to Gazan’s and they are approximately the same number of Units. However, a lot of this scenario depends on how it is presented to players through.
The scenario indicates the mountain passes should be of concern, if the French player takes heed of that, then his lead infantry element (Graindorge) is all he has to fight Miloradovich, as holding the rest of Gazan’s 2nd Division in reserve to cover the mountains and react to a threat is reasonable. However, if the French player either chooses to ignore the mountains or their potential threat is not conveyed strongly enough to the player… then it becomes a fairly equal fight between all of Gazan and all of Miloradovich. One would still expect Gazan to take some lumps in that exchange, though some of that comes down to dice.
The biggest issue in the scenario is timing. The scenario is staged to begin at 8AM, but the first Russians through the mountains don’t arrive until noon, and the next until around 3PM, of course, neither side knows the timing. If the Russian leaps in with Miloradovich, it is very risky, 4 hours is a long time to fight without support. If the Russian player goes the cautious route, of just pinning Moriter’s lead element in place and waiting for Russian flags to appear from the mountain passes, they improve their chance of a victory significantly. Meanwhile, if the French were to get sucked into coming forward against Miloradovich when the first Russian column arrives from the mountains, it is possible the French lose an entire Formation by being attacked in the rear.
A challenge with Dürenstein and ESR is that it is a small scenario – which makes players jump towards trying to run it tactically, however, the Russian player is Kutusov not Miloradovich or Strik, so really one needs to focus on the grand tactical level and coordinating the different elements, rather than looking for a tactical advantage during the combat. And the Russians do have an expectation of when their columns will be arriving, the timing is wrong, but it could still lead the player towards a winning strategy.
Jonathan, I’ve got a collection of perhaps 4,000-5,000 plates, largely but not entirely digital. Most are very poorly labeled and organized so citation of them isn’t very practical. That said, I’ll try to find time to locate any useful examples. In any case, good to know. I was surprised (because you are a bit of a completist – which I appreciate) that plume color was not noted on your site (or I looked past it several times which is possible, you have a lot of dense information there).
Thanks Jonathan, that is useful – I was actually just looking at your facings page. Unrelated question for you: I’ve seen depictions of Russian hussars (troopers) in the latter half of the period (1811 forward) with both black plumes and white plumes – most commonly no plume at all. Predominantly wargamers seem to depict theirs with white plumes. Any clarity you can add from your research?
I am finally here, thanks to Nordic Weasel endlessly pestering me… Kidding. I’m a G+ refugee looking for a home and Ivan pointed out that TWW doesn’t suck.
Welcome! TWW indeed does not suck!
I’m sure Mike will be along in not too long to address your quandary.
Possibly Michael Hopper eliminated the Danube crossing element of the scenario, as well as ignoring Mack’s orders, in order to create a more straightforward attack/defence affair?
I’ve never talked to Michael about this scenario, but my assumption would be that starting it as he does was likely an obvious way to prevent potential major swings in game play based on the French getting across the Danube or not. The Austrians obviously knew they were crossing, they had troops engaged against him and Ney committed his artillery reserve to support the crossing. So there was an option for the Austrians to come down from the Elchingen area and push against the bridgehead, but if one allows for that, their scenario (as ours does), does become dependent on the intel given to the Austrian player being a guiding force in their decision making.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by Bandit. Reason: typo
This is a strikingly odd scenario for Elchingen in that it begins after the first half of Ney’s corps has crossed the Danube and doesn’t include the Danube in the terrain (to be clear – the Whirlwind isn’t doing anything wrong, this is exactly how the scenario is written, it just strikes me as weird). In the historical event, Ney’s lead division (Loison) has to force his way across the Danube. The bridges (there are two) are defended by an Austrian detachment and the second of the two has been significantly damaged and requires repair to cross.
One of the big problems the historical events cause is: Why don’t the Austrians just move forward en masse? The historical answer is that there is another, unguarded, crossing point about 6-7 miles east at Leipheim. Both the Austrians (Riesch) and the French (Ney), know that Günzburg has fallen to the French and therefore the Leipheim bridge is available to the French. Therefore the Austrians have to be concerned that a French force could be moving on them from the east. Yet, Riesch’s “orders” from Mack, among other bizarre ramblings, tell him the French are actually in retreat and that Napoleon’s government in France is collapsing. On top of all that Riesch isn’t actually told what he is supposed to be doing at Elchingen. Oppose a French river crossing from the south? Don’t know. Orders don’t say. Prepare to hold against a French attack from the east on the north bank of the Danube? Don’t know. Orders don’t say. Prepare to pursue a retreating French army that has been winning? Yeah… strangely enough the orders sorta indicate that. It is just nuts.
For fun, here are Mack’s orders (we included them in our scenario from Roll up that Map, 1805 in Germany, for fun and staging of the scenario):
Ulm, 13 October 1805, in the evening
Bonaparte stays with the main column headed for Weissenhorn. He has done so because of the great difficulty in crossing the terrain on his way to the Iller which he intends to cross.
A glance at the map shows that it would be nonsense to rush forward after Wiessenhorn because you would have to go back after Günzburg and that the Danube presents yet another detour to cross. This way from Günzburg is also difficult to travel due to the nature of the terrain.
What we ought to do then, is to attack him first at Weissenhorn or at least on the day where he attempts to cross the Iller. Perhaps if by tomorrow he still has not crossed, then it presents a great chance, if he has not first taken the turn at Memmingen, that the column from which there is attempting to cross by the left bank of the Iller should be left behind. This would present a favorable opportunity to eliminate or annihilate this part, and if we fail to do so, he would probably think us foolish for not trying.
The column advancing against Memmingen and the one on the left bank of the Danube are watching over this line of retreat. At least we must consider about taking the trouble to block this route of retreat and make it more difficult for him to reach the Rhine. Perhaps by then something will have happened to prevent him from crossing, especially since a Revolution has broken out.
So, a trouble in designing a scenario for this battle is addressing the bridges on the Danube. Giving the Austrians cause not to just push forward on the river crossing point, and as part of that, address the strange orders and dispositions of the Austrian command – and to do this without hamstringing the players so they are forced to do dumb things. It is a tough one.
How did you like it? You were able to pull out an Austrian win…
Historically Günzburg is a bit of a mess for the French. The main assault column to hit the central bridge to Günzburg fails outright, they get bogged down by the Austrian defenders and it goes nowhere. The assault against the Leipheim bridge doesn’t happen because the elite detachment sent to it becomes lost in the marshes and eventually turns around. Had the 59eme Ligne not shot across the bridge between Günzburg and Reisensburg, *and* the Austrian Kaunitz Infantry not broken and run, it is very possible the engagement is effectively a tie going to the Austrians for a successful rebuff of Mahler’s division.
So, consider that in the historical engagement, two of three French assaults fail and the third falls on extremely good luck.
No, I didn’t. Did you have a stab at some scenario-specific rules for it?
Our ESR Campaign Guide, Roll up that Map, 1805 in Germany, provided special rules that caused random movement – both speed and potentially direction – for any Units that entered the marshes. Because Mahler was quite unaware of the Austrian disposition, we also allowed for the Austrians to be placed on the tabletop, only once the French had come within artillery range. The fourth bridge opposite Reisensburg was not contested in the historical engagement. It is unclear if Mahler knew it was there or not but also curiously, d’Aspre assigned no troops to cover it. The historical battle turned on the French getting a foothold between Günzburg and Reisensburg with Labassée’s command: the 59eme Ligne. The engagement is a good one to demonstrate that most actions end when someone’s position becomes untenable, not when the last soldier falls. Once the French were across east of Günzburg, the Austrians attempted to throw them back with cavalry but the poor quality of the Kaunitz Infantry (leading them to break in advance of the French), meant that when their cavalry charge failed there was really nothing to reallocate right and the Austrians began to withdraw.
How’d you like the game?
The Bandit08/12/2018 at 01:09 in reply to: Battle of Wertingen 1805 – A Polemos AAR from a Rise of Eagles' Scenario #105321
Except that Austrian cavalry were generally rated as superior to French in the earlier part of the Napoleonic Wars, and were in larger units.
I’d completely agree that Austrian cavalry were, in many cases, better cavalry, at least in the case of their küirassiers. The chevaulégèrs were likely better than their French dragoon counterparts, but when there are 200 chevaulégèrs and 1600 dragoons, it really doesn’t matter. And there is reason for this, the Austrians rarely trained or drilled in cavalry formations larger than the regiment, and commonly that level itself was relatively rare amongst the largest cavalry regiments which focused on squadron and battalion level drill. Meanwhile the French were up on the channel coast drilling by division and even corps. This means that once the campaign begins, one side does not have the means to operate large bodies of cavalry in coordination, while the other does. Thus, each move towards their strength and operate based on how they know how to.
Which goes to the other part, while Austrian cavalry regiments were huge compared to their French counterparts, during the 1805 campaign you won’t find any Austrian cavalry operating in as large of formations as their French counterparts. Austrian cavalry regiments might run upwards of 1,000 horsemen, but they were rarely all assigned to the same parent body. Even in 1809, 1812, and 1813-1814, it is very common to see a regiment of hussars, dragoons, or chevaulégèrs split up, operating with two or three different parent formations, a squadron here, a couple squadrons there. In 1805 this is even done with küirassiers, which is how Auffenberg ends up with 200 küirassiers attached to his infantry column.
Meanwhile, French regiments are *drastically* smaller, but generally don’t only operate intact, but also in conjunction with substantially larger parent formations of the same troop type. Hence what we see at Wertingen.
Really, it is all a bit reminiscent of ‘National Characteristics’ as per Quarrie.
Here I’m with Jack, I’m not sure what the “it” is referring to.
The Bandit07/12/2018 at 17:53 in reply to: Battle of Wertingen 1805 – A Polemos AAR from a Rise of Eagles' Scenario #105294
All I can do is echo your sentiment on morale; we all had to know that “troops test morale at 50%” is sheer lunacy. I don’t want to let you down, but there’s literally nothing I can add, you are clearly the expert here! I’m James Carville:
Ha! That is incredibly kind.
I do believe this drives a design conundrum as we have to make things playable, not just accurate, and that becomes a balancing act of what to track – no one wants a notebook full of stats they have to track for each unit. We also want to make sure there are variables to prevent high predictability of results by players – no one wants to know exactly when any given unit will break.
The trick is how to accomplish these things together, and it can be difficult. Its methods and difficulties also vary by the scope of game being designed. You could play Wertingen with a tactical system or with a grand tactical system. It is, relative to the other, easier to design a mechanic to accomplish these goals in a grand tactical system where you are more focused on macro results. With the more granular tactical system, you are likely to find some of those more macro mechanics less satisfying, thus, you may need more micro mechanics to address them and provide a satisfying game.
The Bandit07/12/2018 at 06:04 in reply to: Battle of Wertingen 1805 – A Polemos AAR from a Rise of Eagles' Scenario #105247
Whirlwind and Jack,
Thank you, glad you find it useful/interesting.
What is your explanation for why the artillery fire didn’t work as (wargame) advertised?
Putting a fine point on it: I think this has everything to do with the expectations of players, and the notion that we incorrectly model casualties.
I think we overplay how powerful artillery is against a dense body of troops, and perhaps it is necessary to broaden the conversation to how we address losses vs the relative impact of casualties in a given battle. In *many* wargame systems, losses only have a very dire impact on morale when they hit 25, 30 or even 50%, whereas historically in real combat examples, 10% losses to a given unit is very significant.
Taking Wertingen as the example, just since it is the battle that started this, Austrian *killed and wounded* are supposedly around 400 (captured are estimated at over 2,500).
400 is not many. The total Austrian force present is believed to be approximately 5,500, including 400 cavalry and ~100 artillery. So the total losses to the Austrians were approximately 7%. That is less than losing a single Austrian battalion. We can safely assume that some of the 400 killed and wounded occur after the Austrians break, which means they broke having taken *less than 7% casualties*. Which causes a question: What wargamer is willing to accept that their troops will run when they have taken such low losses? Some, but few.
The reality is that exhaustion; physical, mental, emotional exhaustion is what plays the pivotal role in the Austrian defeat.
So where do these 400 casualties come from? I suspect, mostly from the French artillery fire. The dragoons conduct several charges against the infantry, but some of these won’t close, some that close won’t inflict many losses, etc… Thus, I believe the conclusion that the majority of the 400 killed and wounded are caused by 1) the French artillery fire and 2) during the breaking of the Austrians, is reasonable.
We know that the French artillery came into action between 10AM and noon, then continued firing on the Austrians until at least 4PM when Murat and Lannes arrive. The French artillery fire is not described as intense, so if we assume they are maintaining a ‘paced’ bombardment, that is one round per tube every 3-5 minutes. There’d also be breaks in there when the dragoons charged and perhaps some other pauses. If the French were firing constantly without a break for (we’ll assume) five hours, they’d be expelling about 400 rounds of ammunition. The Austrians are about the best artillery target you can have: stationary, dense, on lower ground than the firing platform, and not responding in a practically threatening way. Even if we assume that the estimated French ammunition expenditure is 4x too high, that means that ~100 French rounds killed and wounded less than ~400 Austrians.
There are a lot of assumptions in all of this, and I hope it is clear that I am trying to work with reasonable assumptions for the purpose of illustrating a more general notion and not trying to conclude something exact. With that said, let’s unpack this a bit:
Killing 400 Austrians with 100 French rounds of fire. That actually sounds pretty effective. ~4 men hit per round fired. We know this number is high because not all the Austrians are killed or wounded by artillery fire, and we don’t know how many French artillery rounds are fired, but sticking with it for illustration:
I’ll pick on Empire because I know it decently well, it has 30 minute tactical turns, a figure represents 60 men. So, imagine a game where in 10 turns you score hits on 6 figures with your artillery, and you make several cavalry charges – all of which are repulsed. I think that if any of us played that game, and then the defender broke up and routed when enemy infantry showed up behind them – not inflicting any more losses to speak of (because we’ve already assumed all the losses are accounted for by the 6 figures taken by artillery fire) – we’d be floored by the results.
I do actually know some gamers who’d say that makes sense, but they are not in the mainstream by any stretch. I think what this indicates is that it is exhaustion, of several varieties, not actual killed and wounded that make the difference. But, starting in the ~1970s, we have been largely fixated on “hits”, and will pay some lip service to “hits” representing more than “just” killed and wounded, however, I would challenge that in many systems this is simply a justification of the design after the fact, rather than the intended model. In the last ~5 years, we have seen more systems that move away from this and design to a broader notion of “effectiveness”, and I happen to think that is good.
With all that said, to answer your question directly: I think many wargames have artillery firing on a square causing massive casualties because “hits” is the only tool in the toolbox of many game systems to represent reduced effectiveness, thus, when a square gets hit, we have to represent damage, let’s apply more hits. I believe this to be a bad model, specifically because a square – as is easy to illustrate with examples like Wertingen, but also many others – is unlikely to break from only ranged fire, a large part of the square’s benefit is its intrinsic morale bonus. “Sure, you’re a terrific target for enemy fire, but you feel great about it!” This becomes very difficult to model in a traditional, “score hits to cause casualties” design, and the result is we have gotten many inaccurate representations of this “square vs artillery” scenario, in my opinion. The most common output of these traditional designs is higher casualty rates in wargames than in historical actions. Because of these inflated casualty rates, we can’t accept relatively low casualties causing morale catastrophes. Thus, we deflate the impact of casualties on morale, and this is where you get many systems where losses have minimal impact on morale until you reach strangely high, double-digit percentage losses. In effect, “hits” being our only tool has driven a bunch of other strange design methods in a feedback loop. The result is the system of high casualties drive morale failures does not model these situations effectively, so on the wargames table, it is pretty easy to find a game where you can rout enemy infantry in square by throwing enough canon balls at them, despite it being difficult to find historical examples of this.
The Bandit06/12/2018 at 06:49 in reply to: Battle of Wertingen 1805 – A Polemos AAR from a Rise of Eagles' Scenario #105170
Wertingen is an interesting scenario.
Rating the Austrian infantry for it is difficult. The bulk of them are grenadier battalions, however, each battalion contains a high percentage of non-grenadiers, many of them had also been run out of Hohenreichen earlier that morning. I don’t recall the distance between Hohenreichen and Wertingen, but it isn’t just a mile or two. The French dragoons dismounted and charged Hohenreichen to break through the ad-hoc defenses of the Austrians there. This itself is a bit strange, I’ve never walked in knee high stiff riding boots, but as I understand it, running in them is… difficult.
So, how should the Austrian grenadiers be rated? It is hard to say. Once they form up at Wertingen they fight first east of town and get pushed back to where your game started on the slopes of the hill to the west. Once they reform west of town the dragoons have effectively tired themselves out and start bombarding them with their 8-pdrs. Honestly, it is one of the only engagements where you have an example of “cavalry force infantry into square and then guns come up to blast them” that we all talk about happening constantly, it would seem that historically, it really happens infrequently, but here it did happen. Now, here is the interesting part, in your average wargame – the infantry would get blown apart this way, however, historically, the Austrians mostly hold against the artillery fire. Auffenberg orders the 3-pdr battalion guns to form a battery and fire back on the French guns, despite the fact that the French guns are at the extreme range of the Austrian canon, and up hill from them, making them a terrible target. My general understanding is that Auffenberg ordered the guns to fire knowing they’d be ineffective, because it would stiffen his infantry. Better than being bombarded with no reply right?
The really bad news comes for the Austrians when Oudinot’s grenadier division arrives nearly behind them. They can’t freely maneuver because the dragoons have rested (and Fauconet’s light cavalry have come up), they can’t out shoot the French artillery, and now they are outflanked by the fresh French infantry which effectively cut their route of retreat. And lastly, they must have been outright exhausted.
What I find most interesting is the performance of the French dragoons. Exelmans shows up with effectively two divisions of dragoons to confront ten battalions of infantry. As I understand the action, the dragoons are committed in subgroups – as is supposedly the usual method. A brigade goes, a division goes. It is not until the final moment that everyone goes. This illustrates what interests me: The need to rotate what cavalry is fighting is important. The initial contact at Wertingen is made a bit before 10AM. Before that the dragoons marched to Hohenreichen, fought at Hohenreichen, and then marched to Wertingen. The Austrian infantry don’t break until around 5PM. Anyone who keeps horses will tell you that no horse is running full out more than a couple times during that period.
This also illustrates that the whole “make infantry go square and blast em with guns” notion is not as accurate as often portrayed on the tabletop. If it was, the Austrians would not have lasted until 5PM.
For the most part I deal in high-level games, not tactical ones, and thus the net effects, and thereby the way I consider the issues is subject to that disposition. With that said…
We know some concrete and macro level facts about the three armies going into the campaign:
• The Austrians were under an active reorganization that had not completed. It impacted a very broad swath of how the army was organized, commanded, and functioned even at a tactical level. There was also a political aspect that was at odds with any of these changes being completed coherently or within time for the campaign. The Austrians maintained a fairly static class system within the military ranks.
• The French had been encamped on the channel coast for approximately two years, drilling in – for the period – oddly large organizational systems. And, we know that the number of veterans in this army was proportionally high. The French utilized a system of appointment, this meant a comparatively low ranking officer could be appointed to be in charge of a larger operation, effectively, holding authority above their rank.
• The Russians were seemingly status-quo.
With these as a premise we can look at the way the campaign played out and Wertingen is not a bad example, timely since you just played a scenario for it. This should allow us to see if the premises we have appear useful or not.
Wertingen is a curious battle. The battle doesn’t actually start at Wertingen but at Hohenreichen where the French dragoons contact encamped Austrian infantry. The French successfully flush the Austrians who retreated upon Wertingen where the rest of their force was. The French cavalry massed opposite Wertingen, after a series of charges, pushed the Austrians to the high ground behind Wertingen where they couldn’t make much further progress. The French dragoons had horse artillery and committed it on ground higher than the Austrians. The Austrian infantry had 3-pdr battalion guns on lower ground. Murat and Lannes arrived with Oudinot’s elite division, nearly behind the Austrian position.
So, what happened in the background and how do our premises play into this?
• The instructions from Mack to Auffenberg were relatively vague based on the general assignment of running a reconnaissance-in-force to determine if reports of the French crossing the Danube were accurate. Despite sending Auffenberg on a mission to determine the accuracy of this, Mack had discouraged Auffenberg from believing the premise, i.e. “Go take a bunch of our scant resources and look over there for something you won’t find.”
• Auffenberg’s Austrian command includes six battalions of grenadiers. The Austrian grenadiers were in a bad way due to the reorganization. One of Mack’s ideas for changing the army was that grenadier battalions would no longer be formed from grenadier companies of different regiments (each Austrian infantry regiment included two companies of grenadiers, thus a regiment did not have enough grenadiers to form a battalion (of six companies), Mack’s solution was that each grenadier battalion would be only four companies and only two of those companies would be grenadiers.
• The Austrians continued the practice of including small parcels of cavalry with their infantry columns and the only artillery included were battalion guns that generally did not operate as a battery.
Facing Auffenberg on the ground was Exelmans, who was a comparatively low ranking officer serving on Murat’s staff as an ADC. Under Exelmans’ command were two divisions of French dragoons. Exelmans’ appointment as the mission commander gave him authority over generals of division and allowed him to maintain control over the battlefield as more forces arrived. The French dragoon divisions each had a half battery of 8-pdr horse artillery.
Exelmans was leading a substantial forward element that outclassed Auffenberg in two ways: artillery support and cavalry. Auffenberg had a small detachments of each küirassiers – which could not be expected to scout and were too few in number to combat the French cavalry, and chevaulégèrs – two few to scout the area sufficiently and again, not able to fight the masses of French dragoons. The Austrian artillery was smaller caliber, not organized as a battery, and fewer in number.
Auffenberg was effectively operating alone. Mack was in Ulm, there were no other supporting elements ordered to coordinate with Auffenberg, and Mack had no intentions of sending any support. Compare this to the French command method Auffenberg was fighting against: Exelmans was running the forward French elements, but the region was not run by Exelmans. Murat and Lannes were coordinating forces behind Exelmans. When Exelmans pushed the Austrians out of Hohenreichen and fighting moved towards Wertingen, Mack remained stationary at Ulm, but Murat and Lannes pivoted their advance to Wertingen dynamically. Auffenberg declined initial reports of the fighting at Hohenreichen on the basis that they were not reported by a sufficiently high ranking officer. This meant that Auffenberg wasn’t prepared for the French advance on Wertingen despite having opportunity.
When Lannes arrived with Oudinot’s infantry division, they were showing up behind the Austrian left flank. Oudinot’s infantry division was made up of converged elites that had been formed prior to crossing into Germany.
The French and Austrian methods are pretty starkly contrasted here. The French are using significantly larger bodies of troops, in drastically greater coordination, and responding both to organizational needs and mission needs dynamically. Meanwhile, the Austrians are doing none of these things in this instance. The Austrians are also organized with proportionally less supporting arms. Conversely, the French are bringing up the main arm: infantry, secondarily as the finishing blow, while they used cavalry to set the battle’s location through maneuver, and artillery to support the cavalry in pinning the enemy.
In short, in this campaign, but especially in this instance, the French are playing a drastically wider game than the Austrians.
My general disposition is that the French would have a small edge in troop quality overall due to the training vs the reorganization, but the larger issues that decided the matter were clearly related to organizational structure, allotment of resources, and dynamic methods.
. We ran several games so we’ll be posting more over the coming weeks. Cheers, The Bandit
I’m looking forward to them. BTW talking about your game’s appearance: the autumnal trees in the forest. This is something I never do because, I think, living for decades in a land of evergreens, it doesn’t occur to me. Do you have some sort of criteria for adding such foliage or do you go by the usually reliable, “it looks right”? donald
Funny enough, the trees you see in this game that look to be autumnal are actually spring trees (they do look like fall colors in the photos but in person you can tell). For convention learning games we tend to go by a “looks right” standard. This was basically a “somewhere during the Bavarian Spring of 1809” so spring trees were… sorta correct in that they were spring, though Bavaria should have a lot more pines than the mix on this table.
But, to answer what I think you’re asking, when we run historical scenarios rather than effectively ad-hoc games, yes, we try to use spring trees in spring and fall trees in fall, etc…
Thanks for this. I think when you’re talking at this level of tactics, you’re really doing justice to the period. (Personal opinion). Game looks great too. donald
Thank you, that is kind, very glad you enjoy seeing the after action reports. We ran several games so we’ll be posting more over the coming weeks.
In our ESR Campaign Guides, sometimes victory conditions change midway through a battle – or players have an opportunity to change them. For instance, at 1st Kulm in 1813, on the first day the French goal is to breakthrough the Russian rearguard to continue pursuit of the Allied army. On the second day their goal was to escape alive. Similarly, in 1814 there are several battles where the information the commander received during the battle changed their goal, and so we provide for those.
Some players love it because it puts them in the moment. Others hate it because they want to know what is going on from the start.