January 16, 2013

Eckmuhl Redux–Part III

Upplagd av Minondas

As promised in previous post, I’m now posting the final part of after action report for assault at Lachling villages. The narrative of this post resumes after L. decided to “quit the field”. Thus, all events described in this post were controlled/caused by yours truly.

Before I continue with the tale of what turned out to be a mammoth of a game , a short recapitulation of situation on the table seems suitable. After twelve game rounds, Unterlachling was safely in French hands, while the massive Austrian garrison of Oberlachling was about to be assaulted by a slightly weaker French brigade. Furthermore, an inconclusive low level skirmish was going on for a couple of rounds on the high ground behind the villages.

Those who pay attention will upon examination of pictures below discover that two of Austrian units – those pesky Cheval Legeres on left French flank and light artillery battery on the other edge of the battlefield have mysteriously disappeared from the field. The reason for those somewhat peculiar disappearances is quite simple – upon rereading the rules I’ve discovered a rather important rule saying any unit suffering over 50 percent casualties is to be immediately removed from the table. L. and I completely missed this rather significant rule, but fortunately I could apply it to relevant units without any problems.

Assault on Oberlachling

At the time L. and I called it the day, the focus of our attention was at Oberlachling, where two French battalions were finally ready to storm the village. In his last action of the game L. prepared for the blow by increasing the garrison of the village to maximum allowed number. It was now held by two line battalions. Defenders in the village were also supported by yet another battalion deployed on the outskirts of the settlement. This extremely strong position was now to be frontally assaulted by two French battalions.

Eckmuhl_Part3001_011613French assault is launched…

During the couple of days that passed between the end of “second session” and the time when I picked up the dice to continue the game on my own, I came to the realisation that the French assault with forces available at that moment will probably end in a bloody repulse. Thus, my first action on the evening I resumed the game was an attempt to recall the assault order. I failed and two French columns charged forward against my better judgement. They were met by crushing point blank salvo from Austrians hiding in the houses, which was enough to stop one of the French battalions (falter result on pre-charge morale check) in its tracks. In the melee that followed, the French were to my great surprise almost successful in ejecting the enemy from the village, but there were simply to many defenders. After suffering over 25 percent casualties, the attackers were obliged to retreat, which they managed to do in good order.

Eckmuhl_Part3002_011613…and is repulsed!

French battalion that stalled in front of the village suffered much worse fate. Unable to move, it was hammered by Austrian fire in following round and promptly routed. They were however not quick enough and after upon taking additional casualties reached the dispersal point and were removed from the field.

Austrians didn’t have it all their way though. In following rounds, the battalion supporting the defenders of the village came under murderous fire from French artillery battery and skirmishers from right flank brigade. They were sent to support the doomed attack on the village, but arrived to late. Now though, they had their chance to take their pound of flesh. For a while I hoped (of course only while I had French general’s bicorne on my head) that the Austrians would break after taking huge casualties. However, due to a rather inventive rules interpretation, I managed to get the exposed unit out of harms way and hide them inside the village just before they reached their dispersal point.
 

Eckmuhl_Part3003_011613French payback!

Net result of the assault on Oberlachling – one ruined French brigade and one Austrian battalion reduced to less than 70 percent of its strength.

Meanwhile, somewhere not far away…

…French light brigade, after forcing opposing artillery battery to retire from the field, slowly advanced toward the main Austrian defensive line which was hiding in the woods covering the heights behind Unterlachling. Deployed in open order, the French were a much harder target to hit than Austrians deployed in massive, but unwieldy lines. Austrian casualties soon started to mount, causing the struck battalion to retreat in panic. For a moment it looked as if French would simply roll up the Austrian flank one battalion at a time.

Eckmuhl_Part3004_011613French light infantry playing hide and seek with the Austrians

This hope/fear was however short-lived – next Austrian battalion that the French encountered delivered a devastating salvo into their opponents, causing one of French units to disperse due to reaching excessive casualties (yes, the dispersion point has been reached). Pressing on with a single battalion, itself already significantly reduced in strength, was pointless. Thus, I had no choice but to recall the remnants of the light brigade back to Unterlachling in following round.

Re-evaluation and decisive actions

Once the action on the high ground behind the villages petered out, I realised that French were in trouble. True, Unterlachling was taken and held in strength, but the brigade holding the left flank was shot to pieces and was by now to weak to accomplish its objective even with help of still fresh Bavarian reinforcements. All those troops now could do was to hold their position and hope that the Austrians didn’t counter-attack.

Of course this was exactly what I decided to do once I exchanged French bicorne for Austrian general’s casket. Task to crush the French brigade was given to the brigade which held the central part of the high ground and which was completely fresh. Its battalions were to move as quickly as possible to the right of Oberlachling and once reaching that position, to decide the day by smashing the enemy in front of them.

Taking the decision wasn’t a problem. Getting the huge Austrian battalions to move was a different matter. It took a lot of time for them to change formation and arrive to their assigned jump-off positions. This allowed for the French to prepare for the onslaught. Artillery was placed in flanking position, lines were straightened out… Nor was it all. Seeing that significant part of Austrian forces holding the heights was now abandoning their positions, I decided for one last desperate French gamble – high ground behind Unterlachling was to be attacked yet again!

Eckmuhl_Part3005_011613Austrians getting into jump-off position

Eckmuhl_Part3006_011613French forming for yet one more attack on the high ground behind the villages

Thus, the final act of this game consisted of two almost simultaneous assaults on opposing ends of the battlefield. French attack turned almost into a disaster, as two of the three battalions initially refused to charge the Austrian line. Second battalion of 57:th actually failed twice in a row, thus gaining the distinction of failing all three of its charge morale tests in the game – so much for its elite status! Fortunately, its sibling battalion upheld the regimental reputation and swiftly broke its opponents, thus buying time for the rest of French force to recover and dislodge the remaining Austrians from their positions. Both Austrian battalions that broke in this action failed to recover in their subsequent morale check, thus making this desperate assault a complete success!

Eckmuhl_Part3007_011613Vive le Emperor!

Austrian assault offered its own set of surprises, although of different variety. As the brigade dedicated to the task moved forward, I  decided to reinforce it by an additional battalion from the brigade holding the Oberlachling. Following the rules of General de Brigade, to be able to do this I had to create a new brigade, out of necessity commanded by the CinC himself. The problem was that Austrian CinC wasn’t the sharpest tool in the toolbox and completely out of position. Sorting things out took therefore some time, but finally everybody was ready and Austrian columns started to move toward the enemy.

Eckmuhl_Part3008_011613Austrian CinC General Davidovich explains intricacies of chain of command according to General de Brigade to one of his brigade commander

Eckmuhl_Part3010_011613Austrian assault finally on its way with Davidovich leading rightmost batalion in person!

At first sight, Austrian force consisting of three huge line battalions and smaller Carl Erzhog militia unit seemed unstoppable. Bavarians holding extreme left flank of French line took were shot to pieces after putting up short, but spirited resistance. Next, the French battalion previously mauled by Austrian cavalry simply dissolved just before being charged. And then, just as it seemed that the French line would simply fall apart, things started to go wrong for the Austrians. A failed charge morale check for one of the battalions in the middle of Austrian line separated the unit under command of Austrian CinC from the rest of his forces. This unfortunate unit now came under wittering fire from the front as well as from the rear. Extreme French luck with dice not only did turn this unlucky unit into an uncontrollable mob, it also made Austrian CinC to panic, ride off in wrong direction and become captured by somewhat perplexed French infantrymen.

Eckmuhl_Part3011_011613French defence line crumbles…

Eckmuhl_Part3012_011613…and bites back!

Under other circumstances this event could have decided the entire engagement, but not this time though. Neither the unexpected rout of one of Austrian battalions nor loss of their CinC managed to affect the remaining units in noticeable way, which realigned their line and commenced with what can only be described as mopping up of French remnants still present nearby.

Eckmuhl_Part3014_011613

Eckmuhl_Part3015_011613

Situation at the end of the game

All good things…

By that time I’ve played over thirty rounds and was nearing a whooping total of twenty hours playing time. French side had a strong grip on Unterlachling and controlled for the moment the high ground behind the villages. However, the Austrians wiped out one of French brigades and it was easy to see that given time, they had enough troops to win everything they lost by weight of numbers alone. I put the French general’s bicorne on my head and with deep sigh gave orders for general withdrawal. Assault on Lachling villages failed for a second time.

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