Sunday, May 9, 2010

Storm over Bavaria

On Saturday May 8th, at the Levee Café in Hastings, MN five members of the Centurions gaming group meet to refight the Battles in Bavaria during the “Storm over Bavaria” April 19-23, 1809. I would like to thank Fitz, Joe, Chris and Noel for an incredibly enjoyable game.

Austrian III Corps, IV Corps, V Corps, IR Corps and IIR Reserve Corps, slightly more the 1000 figures representing approximate 90,000 Men squared off against Oudinot’s II Corps (partially commanded by Lannes), French III Corps, Two independent Divisions, the Bavarian Army (VII Corps) and the Württemberg Army (VIII Corps), slightly less than 1000 figures representing 90,000 Men. The Austrians had great number of Infantry, but fewer Cavalry, and was on equal footing for Artillery.
For those keeping track at home, the Austrian Organization made one tiny-tiny mistake, we doubled up V Corps. So the Austrians had III, V, V, IR and IIR as an organization Louis (4) activation was going to sort of haunt the Austrians throughout the game. However for clarity purposes I will be call command of Austrian command of Joe IV Corps, which it was supposed to be.

The battle was played on three tables. The two outer tables were 18’ x 30” wide and the central table was 18’ x 6’ giving a total playing space of dang near 200 square feet. The outer tables which were separated physically from the inner table by 3’ were considered directly connected for game purposes.

The game started on the morning of April 19th with Austrian III Corps moving into position near Hausen. Davout’s III Corps was in position, a defensive position, near Teugen. For game purposes each of the Corps rolled a D10 to determine when they marched on. A Score of equal or below the turn number allowed you to march on. While Oudinot’s II Corp marched on on turn one, most of the rest of the forces were closer to turn 8.

April 19th was a boring day as Troops marched into position across the board. It was interesting given free will (and for the most part not a lot of knowledge on the specific campaign) how the players tended to follow the historic precedent. Had we actually had a bigger tabletop (something at some point I would love to try) I think we would have ended up with actual historic battles, not approximations.

We did movement during the night, turns represented 2 hours, all command radius were cut in half and activation numbers reduced by 1 and units could move no closer than 12”.

The Austrian players discovered a small whole in their plan. It took so long to move Austrian III Corps into place, two turns at night, that moving V Corps from their planned river crossing was out of the question mathematically. The problem with the low activation numbers and the decision to focus on the Austrian Center was tactically sound but a strategic mistake. In retrospect as the Austrian player the biggest single error I made.

April 20th, using the weather rules opened with down pouring rain. V Corps attempted to take the river crossing south and west of Hausen. We knew at 9PM turn that it was a bad idea, and yes it was. The Cavalry attempted to open a hole in the French Line was repulsed and what little bridgehead we had was gone. The decision was made to leave a brigade plus the shattered Advance Guard Division to hold the far side of the bridgehead and move the rest of the V Corps east to another bridge head.

The Austrian II Reserve Corps sat waiting for the time to move against the French Reserve Division holding the second bridge head. They waited most of the day trading fire but never able to disorder the French Legere brigade that held the bridge. Late in the day the First Grenadier Battalion went forward in an ALL-OUT attack and was defeated, the second Grenadier Battalion took the bridge later in the same turn.

On the other wing the Austrian IV Corps battled with the Bavarian Army. An early charge of the Bavarian Light Cavalry Brigade seemed to open a hole in the Austrian Line, but in their exuberance the Bavarian Light Cavalry ended up a mile away from the battle (failed control roll with no target to their front).
Later the Austrian Light Cavalry Charged the center of the Bavarian Army, breaking two brigades and opening a good sized whole before swinging around and taking two Bavarian 12# batteries from the rear. By the end of the Day the Bavarians were strung out and the Austrian IV Corps was attempting to reorient itself to attack the flank of Davout’s III Corps.

In the Center Oudinot’s stripped down II Corps and Davout’s III Corps made a slow plodding move against the Austrians. In a well coordinated attack the Cavalry from Oudinot’s II Corps charged home, forcing the Austrians to square before bouncing home. The French Attack in the next turn caught three Austrian Brigades in Square. Across the line the French Attack was successful, four Austrian Brigades Routed as well as their light Cavalry Brigade in the center. The Center Collapsed.
Charles attempted reorganize the line but it was too late. The Austrians were forced to retreat, the initiative Charles had in the campaign gone.

We called the game a minor French Victory, while they were able to defeat the Austrian Forces, the Austrians retreated in good order with realitivily minor losses (two to three thousand) most of which would be reconstituted in the coming days.