Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aspern-Essling 2011

Last weekend saw the Napoleonics contingent of the club migrate eastwards to Drouin for the 5th annual January extravaganza at Tim's place in Drouin. Three days of battle during the day and good food (and drink!)and company during the evening make for a very happy Rosbif! It was a lot of fun and I can't thank Tim and Jill enough for their hospitalty.

This year was a refight of Aspern-Essling, starting from the original dispositions and then letting the battle develop from there. Day one saw the Austrians enter the field piecemeal with columns 1 and 2 entering from the northwest while the French cavalry screen fell back. Column 3, commanded by yours truly, and the cavalry reserve entered the board mid-morning, while columns 4 and 5 didn't enter the board til later in the day. The French could easily cope with the threat to Aspern from Columns 1 and 2 with 2 divisions. The advance on the centre by Column 3 was met with a torrent of horseflesh, which, at one stage, gave their opposites in the cavalry reserve a very bloody nose by wiping out the horse guns and catching the supporting squadrons behind flat-footed and smashing at least 2. The infantry formed square and hunkered down.

Austrian commanders became a bit spooked by the dike and what lay behind, so by the end of day one, the Austrian 2IC, Tim, had to give a pep-talk to get the attack renewed for the next day as most people seemed to be going into a defensive frame of mind. An overnight cease-fire was declared during which all buildings in the villages remained in the hands of those who occupied them, but all forces in the centre pulled back to starting positions to rest and redeploy. On Tim's suggestion, the Archduke Charles, also called Charles, formed a Grand Battery that stretched 1.5m across the table, virtually covering the space between the 2 villages.

From behind this giant sledgehammer, we reformed for the attack while awaiting the arrival of the grenadier reserve, while the attacks on the villages resumed. The plan was that columns 4 and 5 would so threaten the French right flank that they'd have to weaken the centre (During this phase Archduke Charles attached himself to an attack in Essling and managed to get himself killed!). Column 3 and the grenadiers advanced while trying to suppress counter attacks and silence the (smaller) French Grand Battery on the dike. The progress was slow but steady, but any success looked temporary as the area between the dike and the Danube was crowded with Frenchmen, while Austrian reserves were being chewed up. The crisis came with a counter-attack on the grenadiers to the east of Column 3 and west of Essling that broke several battalions and looked like it was to be followed up by a horde of French line infantry. Unfortunately the attacks by column 5 were not enough to distract nearly enough French from the growing Austrian central attack.

The battlefield 

 The dike (all my own work!)

 The Austrians (or some of them); Macolm, Jim, Tim & Garry

 French cavalry NW of Aspern

 Vanguard of Column 1

 We mean business!

 Teeny-tiny battalion of Vienna Volunteers

 Vengeance for Vienna!

Columns 1 & 2 wind their way onto the field

 Column 3 fans out north of the dike

 One of the first attcks on Aspern by Column 2

 Skirmishing south of Aspern near the Gemeinde Au

 Here comes the heavy cavalry!


3rd Column infantry and artillery prepare to meet cavalry covered by 2nd Column cavalry

 3rd Column bogged down short of the dike by the end of day 1

 Aspern church safely in Austrian hands. Huzzah!

 5th Column advancing via Gross Enzendorf with the rest of the field beyond.

The Grand Battery at daybreak day 2 seen from the Aspern end.

From the Essling end.

Eat iron, Frenchies!
 The French view.

 Heroes of Austria.

 Wheel to wheel guns.

 5th column advance to the outskirts of Essling.

 French infantry on the flank of Essling approach screened by heavy cavalry; LOTS of heavy cavalry.

 Safely skirting Essling.

 The crisis of day 2; I'd put squares infront of the guns, per Tim's suggestion, much to the consternation of the other Austrians. However, Andrew B (aka Napoleon) admitted later that this move had confounded his expectations of how I'd face this threat and effectively frustrated his breakthrough plan. Wounding one of his generals in the ensuing charge didn't help his plans, either!

 Middle Guard Fusilier-Grenadiers at Essling.

 Andrew S.'s troops from Column 4.

 Blankenstein Hussars at Essling.

 Lots o' landwehr

Another of Andrew S.'s attacks on Essling goes in.
 Grenzers of Jim's 5th Column.

 Square up!

 Hungaraians in square while Austrian cuirassiers deal with the threat in the distance.

 The never-ending supply of French cuirassiers.

 General D'Espagne survived this version of the battle, although General Rapp didn't.

 Carabiniers supporting infantry NW of Essling.

 The Austrian threat they faced.

 The growing maelstrom around Essling.

French infantry advance in closed column supported by Carabiniers.

 5th Column head into attack around the Long Garden south of Essling.

 All set for the general advance from behind the Grand Battery.

 What? You mean none of the French wore kilts?! 
Quinny shows his usual loyalties while slumming it playing French.

 The Imperial Guard hold the right flank south of Essling.

 Austrians looking pensive, though Archduke Charle with his back to camera shows his disdain for the French threat!

  Andrew S. says "What, is that all you've got?!"

 Austrians behind the Grand battery waiting for the Grenadier reserve before attacking the dike.

 5th Column regroups behind artillery before trying to dispute the Long Garden again.

 Andrew S. prepares an attack on the Granary. A more imposing version of it started the game in the same position, but its footprint was too large for the table, hence the shed next to the dice.

 Elements of 3rd Column make way for the Grenadiers.

 The Weber division of 3rd Column goes forth to conquer or die! (Mostly die.)

 I'm coming with you, boys!

 The white mass trudges on into the teeth of the French guns.

 The Austrians consider the position.

 Broken units fleeing cause a traffic jam for the following Brady division of 3rd Column.

 3rd Column attacks on a narrow front to avoid artillery to the front.

 The table fills up. Around 1600 figures were used!

 The French reserves move up.

 Austrian reserves wait in closed column.

 Archduke Charles attached to an attacking column in Essling moments before taking a bullet.

 Aerial view of developing scrimmage around Aspern and the dike to the east.

 Andrew S.'s columns march to the attack at Essling.

 The push and pull continues in the Long Garden.

 French infantry spent time in square, too.

 3rd column make it over the dike after finally dealing with the artillery to the front, with the help of the Grenadiers to the left. Alas, the Grenadiers further to the left were not faring so well and were being mauled by Guard troops and the supporting line infantry.

 The situation at the end of the weekend.


  1. Wow! That looks like a brilliant way to spend a weekend, and certainly a big temptation to think about painting all those boxes of Austrians in the cupboard. What rules did you use, and what sort of unit scale does each base represent?

  2. Superb layout, figures and report Rosbif,
    Thoroughly enjoyed the read and pictures. Very inspiring to anyone into Naps.

  3. Thanks fellas,

    Yes, it's the highlight of the wargaming year for us grognards of the club!

    The scale is 1/60, though we're going to up the sccale for Wagram next year to 1/120 to cope with the numbers, although we're going to basically use the same tabletops with minor alterations to accomodate the shift to the north.

    We use a club set of rules called Cold Steel that are a highly modified version of Empire; not quite as complicated as Empire, but with enough detail left to represent most eventualities. By no means perfect, but everyone in the club enjoys them. They're going through the 8th version soon, with yours truly editing them.

  4. Any chance of seeing a copy? I'm looking for a set of rules of about that scale. I can't get into grand tactical where each base represents a brigade or so - loses all the atmosphere.

  5. M. Rosbif the pictures certainly capture the essence of the large scale of the game and your report is a teasing taste of the "official"battle report from you and Quinny.


  6. That is a true BIG game! The pictures are impressive. Thanks for sharing

  7. Wow. Wisharts and I have finally caught up with you Rosbif! We are very impressed. Talk soon, love Soeur de le Rosbif.

  8. Fantastic!

    I used to wargame extensively, and Aspern Essling was one I always wanted to do, only to suffer the cold water of French/British oriented gamers (bastards!!). In the end I raised enough Austrian/Russian/German (of all types!) to have some decent battles, but nothing like that.

    Are you in the UK, perchance?


    1. Cheers Si!

      This was a cracker of a game, better than this year's Wagram which was a bit of an anti-climax in comparison; the Austrians never really had a chance.

      Unfortunately, no, I'm not in the UK, but if you ever come to Australia (Melbourne in particular!) let me know!


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