My last match played at NWA last Saturday saw me in command of a division of the Emperor's Finest, in the guise of General Jean Frog, against the Kowardly Kaiserliks commanded by Herzogs Graf Jim and Prinz Pete E. I was ably seconded by that other French general of repute Marshal Andrew S. As none of us had a table covering, we set up the terrain on bare boards after which Robin helpfully offered us the use of his mats. D'oh! We decided we weren't inclined to set up again, and carried on regardless. Apologies then for the rough looking table top!
It was another basic encounter battle during which the 2 sides approached each other over the terrain and tried to force the ascendancy over the other. The terrain setup was decidedly rural with 3 cultivated fields and a couple of built-up areas in between and the usual sprinkling of hills and woods. As you will see, the fields on the right of my dispositions became a magnet for me and Jim to fight over. In the centre they were the line for me to hold, although if I'd stayed behind them then Jim may not have been so tempted to do what he did. That's jumping the gun on the story, so I'll start from the start instead!
As Andrew had set up 2 8lber foot batteries in the centre, I deployed my artillery on my right flank with my Italian Guard dragoons (on debut!) and the Chasseurs a Cheval to protect them. I deployed my infantry in a nice, neat checker-board pattern with the Italian Guard Grenadiers and Chasseurs in reserve. As the French won the initiative, we advanced on a broad front to the centre of the table. I didn't quite have enough movement to occupy the closest BUA on the first turn, so stopped short, out of range, in case Jim managed to take it. I conformed my line on Andrew's in the centre and deployed my horse artillery on the hill on the right flank, although appalling dice rolling allowed Jim's cavalry to escape any harm.
In Jim's first turn he occupied the nearest BUA and sent his Grenzers forward in skirmish order. I countered by unforming a battalion of legere infantry and occupied the nearer BUA, while I put another battalion in line behind the BUA in support. I held the majority of my forces behind the fields in the hope that Jim would have to move through them and rack up disorders before reaching me. I fired the horse guns again while the foot guns moved up parallel to them and unlimbered. Of course, the horse guns hit nothing again! My Italian Guard dragoons were deployed in line behind the horse guns as I expected action from Jim's hussars in front, as they outnumbered me. I still had the Chasseurs in support, while Jim's Chevaux-leger were in reserve behind his infantry.
My legere infantry that I had unformed then deployed into skirmish order to take on the Grenzers. As both sides were of a similar rating, the combat was fairly inconclusive, so even though I wasn't able to get rid of the Grenzers, they were not able to disorder the rest of my infantry. I'd unlimbered the foot artillery too far back, so, under the cover of another legere battalion in line, I limbered the artillery and moved it forward. I was hoping to create a nice cross fire for anyhting in the 2 batteries' path, but with my dice luck, I wasn't going to hold my breath!
Jim then decided to force the issue and charged his hussars at my horse battery. I counter-charged with the Italian Guard dragoons, resulting in a draw with both sides taking casualties. This left me more or less where I started from, ie. behind the guns, who then opened up on the hussars, finally hitting something! Huzzah! Unfortunately, the Austrian guns also had their eye in and took one of my dragoons as well. As my foot guns had advanced, I needed to push my infantry into the field to protect the guns' flank from the threatening masses of Hungarian infantry. I pushed the covering line to the left to uncover the battery and moved another legere battalion in column into the field. My Italian Guard battalions moved up to the wall surrounding the field in support.
Jim next tried an offensive action in the centre and charged 2 of his massive Hungarian battalions at the French-held BUA, but luckily his morale rating was fairly low as conscripts, and his die roll was pretty poor, which caused them to halt their charge before they contacted. Fire from the BUA also knocked a couple of figures off each battalion adding to their failure. If he'd had a general attached, the general's bonus could have squeaked him over the line, but it was not to be (luckily for the French!)
Jim then moved his Cheaveaux-leger forward, which I was not looking forward to. Initaially, I put the 3rd legere battalion into square behind my foot guns to provide a bolt-hole for the gunners and to secure the infantry's right flank, while I hoped and prayed he wouldn't come on in a combined arms attack, which could have been devastating. Instead, he went for a brigade charge against the artillery with the cheveaux leger and hussars. As only one of my cavalry units could counter charge, I sent the dragoons in again, not expecting them to survive. The horse artillery failed their attempt to limber and flee, and as the enemy cavalry were light cavalry, my chasseurs couldn't choose to flee, so I was expecting all three units to be destroyed. Imagine my surprise when I rolled extremely well and Jim rolled extremely poorly, resulting in another draw! Again the artillery gave a parting shot to rub in the fact that they still existed.
Jim's next offensive move was to mask his cavalry and guns by moving up his German infantry on his left flank, around the field that was currently occupied by the skirmishers and the infantry of both sides. I almost breathed a sigh of relief, because I had a sinking feeling that he was going to put me in square with his cavalry and pound me with the artillery, then finish me off with the infantry when I was good and weak. The infantry attack I could cope with! I moved the Guard Grenadiers into a position where they could counter any threat, and they duly saw off the charge that followed. The legere infantry in line in the field wwere brought back into column to deal with the threat, but as they fairly were advanced in front of the right flank, they couldn't get much support and were charged in their turn. Jim's good dice rolling was matched by my own boor rolling which saw the legere routing to the rear. This time, the Guard Grenadiers couldn't resist the following charge due again to poor rolling and the added disadvantage of having a friendly unit routing close by. Although the grenadiers yielded, they did so only grudgingly. Jim's charge only brought his troops so far and left them exposed in the flank, presenting the horse gunners an artilleryman's dream; a nice juicy exposed flank shot. They duly took the shot and sent the battalion flying as a broken rabble!
The immediate danger now gone, my foot gunners re-manned their battery and together with the horse battery pounded the remaining infantry column, which had now bunched up into closed column formation to counter the cavalry threat. A perfect job for a gunner!
The remaining Hungarian battalion in the field was then approached by the Guard Chasseurs who fired at them in the hope of sending them reeling back with the added penalties of breaking units. It was not to be as these Hungarians were made of sterner stuff and only retired grudingly.
I'd swapped my cavalry positions so that my horse guns were now protected by the more numerous, but inferior chasseurs, while the battered Guard dragoons were parked on the extreme right flank with the corps commander attached, just in case. Jim thought that he had to be able to break them now they were down to so few and charged them again with his hussars. I counter-charged expecting that he was right, but again my doughty Italians fought a creditable draw and even though they lost another figure (now down to 5 from 8; the often fatal 30% casualty penalty) they survived the resulting morale test with flying colours.
Jim's attempts at breaking that flank being thwarted, he next focussed on the centre were my division and Andrew's met. I had parked the brigade there in l'ordre mixte in the field to the left of the BUA, hoping that the added firepower of the line would counter any Austro-Hungarian attack. The column anchoring the right of the formation had copped a lot of casualties from Jim's artillery, so, unsurprisingly, he charged them with a whole massive brigade that contacted the weakened column first, smashing them, and continuing to roll up the rest of the French bigade. Luckily his farthest battalion ran out of movement to break into Andrew's flank, but it was touch and go for a while. Again Jim's successful attack couldn't be exploited as he was now left exposed in the middle of the French army. I maneuvered 2 columns in sequence to move into close range of his flanks and fire, sending both succeful Hungarian hordes reeling. The last one was left stranded in front of Andrew's guns and hussars and copped some nasty artillery fire before his hussars joined the fray. Unexpectedly, Andrew didn't charge, but opened fire on the Hungarians with carbine fire. These ersatz infantrymen finally broke the Hungarians and sent them reeling.
I'd brought out the battalion which had been occupying the BUA in order to be ready to exploit the Austrians' misfortune, but Jim had other ideas; he charged into them with another Hungarian battalion, but due to the number of friendly units retreating or retiring, plus the lack of an attached general, his attack bounced off my counter-attack and stopped his forward movement.
In the filed on the right, I formed the Guard Chasseurs into line and advanced on the waiting Hungarians, who fired and missed, before launching a devastating fusilade on them. The usual damage from line fire is usually more effective than from a column, but the Italian Guards (even though they're rated as grenadiers, not guards) inflicted an automatic 2 casulaties with a 30% chance of a 3rd. I rolled a 2, so Jim had to take the 3rd as well (my dice were coming to the party when they were truly needed!).
Jim decided he'd had enough and withdrew to regroup his forces, and as Pete was feeling the rough end of the pineapple given to him by Andrew, the day was declared a French victory.
|Italian Guard dragoons on debut|
|The Chasseurs a Cheval with the legere infantry and foot artillery in the background|
|Jim's Austrian hussars. Huzzah!|
|Legere and foot artilley. Zvezda's beutiful handiwork.|
|Jim's Grenzer's and Hungarians. All Jim's figures are Front Rank painted by Tim|
|Andrew S.'s Front Rank French infantry|
|Andrew S.'s Front Rank French Hussars painted as the 7th|
|More of Jim's Hungarians, hungry for action (groooan!)|
|The French first move #1: My troops|
|The French first move #2: Andrew's troops|
|The field on the right already looking like it's going to be a focus for both sides|
|The legere battalion unforming in preparation for skirmish deployment|
|My newest French infantry battalion also cops the 1st casualty|
|Jim's hussars shape up for the first cavalry combat of the day.|
|1 French battalion occupies the BUA with another 2 in support|
|Grenzers and legere go at it while the foot artillery deploys behind the infantry line|
|The French brigade behind the central field, trying to hide behind the standing crops.|
|CRAAASH! The dragoons and hussars go toe-to-toe for the 1st time...|
|...and for the 1st (but not last!) time end up where they started|
|The Guard units move up in support|
|The Hungarians cross the wall to enter the field, while the skirmish combat continues.|
|While the foot gun battery focuses on the hussars, the supporting infantry go into square as the Chevaux-leger are spotted in the distance.|
|Another angle of the threatening Austrian cavalry movement. I feared that Jim would bring all 3 arms into play and overwhelm me with superior numbers|
|The combat in the fields continues. 'Mein lufferly wheat ist ge-stuffed!' cries poor farmer Hans|
|Back to Budapest, you buggers!|
|Jim shapes up for the attempt on the French held BUA|
|In they come, but...|
|....there they go!|
|Chvaux leger fan out into line.|
|The foot guns and leger square wait in anticipation.|
|The cavalry await the onslaught|
|The Austrian cavalry brigade charges and the gallant Italians counter-charge, expecting to end up as mere dog-food...|
|...but miraculously survive! The horse gunners and chasseurs breath again!|
|Supporting artillery fire takes some of the attackers while the Guard grenadiers counter-charge...|
|...sending the Austrians back to their starting point.|
|The legere from the field flee after a successful Hungarian charge!|
|Another charge forces the Guard grenadiers reluctantly back...|
|...while further Hungarian advances leave them in control of the field. But not for long; look at the nice juicy flank!|
|The foot gunners re-man their battery to join in the fun, while the Austrians flee in the far background|
|The Guard Chasseurs jump the fence to give the remaining Hungarians what-for!|
|The hussars and dragoons go at it again|
|Slightly diminished, but still on the field!|
|Jim's brigade charge goes in forcing the right hand battalion to retire...|
|...before continuing on to the line...|
|...who are force to retreat!|
|The danger posed to Andrew's batteries by Jim's audacious charge!|
|The field is almost cleared of formed French troops!|
|The charge carries on to the remaining column...|
|...which can't stand and flees!|
|The French take their revenge! First one battalion fires on a flank...|
|...then the other.|
|The quiet, empty field.|
|Both Hungarian battalions fleeing for the hills!|
|The massed firepower of the Guard Chasseurs almost knocks the head off the column|
|A target-rich environment for the guns!|
|Jim's last attempt at offensive action...|
|...ends in a draw!|
|Andrew's hussars fire on the Hungarians to their front, bringing the battle to a close|