Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Boat... or A Bridge (and a Pontoon and Boat Assault) Too Far!

Saturday's meeting saw an extravaganza organised by our resident Sultan of Scenarios, John R. A river crossing of the mighty river Rhine in 1813, where the French were attempting to cross and the Austrians to thwart the crossing.. I never got to ask him if it was an historical event or not, and as my area of expertise is more the Peninsula, I am still none the wiser. The OB and commander suggested it belonged more to the period of 1809, as Lannes was well and truly dead in 1813, but the French were firmly in control of the Rhine at that stage.Whatever the history of the event, it was a cracker of game that saw the Austrians triumph over the French, forcing them back to their side of the river.

Your humble correspondent took the French command and devised a cunning plan, but like all cunning plans, it didn't survive first contact with the enemy! Andrew S. was my opposing commander and ably assisted by Tim, Jim and Garry, they managed to concentrate their forces to counter our every attempt at establishing a bridgehead.My fellow French commanders were Robin and Darren who gallantly followed my orders despite their lack of success, and when I finally managed to construct the pontoon, I found myself in exactly the same position they found themselves in; facing overwhelming numbers and unable to bring enough pressure to bear to reinforce the bridgeheads. The target of the town of Asterstein didn't look in much danger for the majority of the day.

My cunning plan was for Robin to force a crossing over the existing bridge to the north with the cavalry division and then follow the cavalry up with the strongest elite division, the 3rd, which had such tough nuts as the terrible 57th among their number. Meanwhile, to the south, Darren was tasked with crossing the river by boat with the 2nd division. I was in charge of the 1st and the Reserve Divisions, and the reserve artillery. I stripped all the horse batteries from the 3 divisions and sent them to assist the cavalry and all the heavy 8-lber foot artillery to assist the reserve artillery in creating a grand battery to cover the building of the pontoon bridge.

Robin manfully tried to get his cavalry across again and again, but again and again was thwarted by Austrian cavalry. Darren was most successful in getting troops across, but without support he was soon on the back foot and eventually forced back across the river. His one chance of success in charging 2 French battalions at an isolated Austrian battalion failed due to disorders coupled with a bad die roll. His lack of success in establishing the southern bridgehead also doomed Jenko's efforts at linking up with his Baden regiment to failure, too. After suffering a loss from long-range artillery fire from the fort's 20-lbers, Jenko moved into the vineyards and was promptly surrounded by Austrians. After being forced to retreat in the aftermath of a combat, he was placed in the open, allowing Garry to charge the flank of the isolated Badeners. Thanks for coming, Jenko!

Meanwhile, my pontoon bridge was coming along and managed to survive a couple of brushes with the fire ships the Austrians kept floating down the river. It looked as though Robin would be foiled in his attempts to cross the existing bridge, not only by the Austrian cavalry, but by the imminent collapse of the bridge; it had one damage point left by the end of the game!

As the pontoon bridge was taking so long and Darren's efforts were not being rewarded with success, I took up his suggestion that some of the boats should be sent upriver to get more troops across elsewhere. It was a good idea that may have worked if I'd done it earlier, but by the time I got the first units of the Reserve Division across, my efforts in getting the 1st Division across had been easily batted away by Tim.

My only success was in the artillery duel as the pontoon bridge was being erected. The Austrian battery was targeting my engineers, knocking 2 out of the 4 figures down (I was worried I'd run out of engineers before the bridge was finished!). They survived their morale test and carried on. The answering fire from my massed batteries, even at extreme range was a devastating riposte; 1 battery lost 30% of its guns and was sent packing after a morale test failure, and a second was sent running after I killed the attached general! Huzzah! High-5s all round!

At one stage our illustrious umpire informed us that a massive blast was heard without giving any more details. A message was received some time later informing us that a guerrilla raid had blown up the Austrians' ammunition supply. I was later told after the game that the Austrian battery that the Reserve Division was facing after landing had only 1 shot left! If the game had lasted a couple more turns, maybe...

Next time, I'll make sure to spread out the boat landings, divide the cavalry forces amongst the divisions and to give each crossing point artillery support. It can't fail...

(Thanks to John for planning and running the scenario and for the use of some of the photos seen below)

The mighty Rhine River north to south, with Herzog Garry, General de Division Robin, John (aka. the Sultan of Scenarios) and my erstwhile counterpart, Erzherzog Andrew.

Asterstein, the French objective, on the far bank of the river.

The southern end featuring the fort with its massive guns!

The cavalry reserve lining up to take the bridge as ordered.

The Austrians doing their best to stop them

Darren's 2nd Division waiting to embark on their fateful journey.

The Austrians waiting to stop them.

The kowardly Kaiserliks float the first of their dastardly fireboats downstream...

...and it misses!

Robin's first attempt to seize a bridgehead...

...is met...

...and repulsed by the Austrian chevaux-leger.

2nd Div. embark.

The boats make their landing ready to unload their cargoes.

The first French boots stand on the eastern bank. Huzzah!

The rest of 2nd Div. awaits their turn.

The pontoon bridge starts at a cracking pace while the 12 lbers get ready to cover the construction.

2 batteries flank the bridge, keeping the Austrians at a distance (though not far enough as it turned out!).

The first fireboat approaches the pontoon! Luckily, it passed under without causing any damage. Phew!

The first fireboat hits the bridge while Robin's cavalry attempts to get across again

The 3rd Div. backlog cooling their heels waiting to get across!

Robin tries again, this time with LOTS of cavalry...

...but is repulsed again, this time disordering all the units behind!

The engineers suffer their 1st casualty...


...but the offending battery is quickly silenced!

My deadly artillery strikes again! The hand of God (Andrew S.) removes the panic stricken gunners after their general is bowled over by a 12lb volley

Darren's first wave on the beach in nice, neat rows (not for long, though!)

Jenko's Badeners enter the field (luckily John threw the best result for the entry point: as far from the fort as possible!)

Garry's fortress guns still managed an extreme range shot that knocked a figure off the fresh Badeners.
The Badeners quickly surrounded.

Guns' eye view of the battlefield

The busy battlefield from the north. Relaxed-looking Austrian generals, Jim and Garry, while opposite them a worried- looking Darren ponders what to do next.

The French team; concentration personified! Furthest to nearest; Darren, your humble correspondent & Robin

The French team in action while Erzherzog Andrew does something devious as the rest of the Kaiserliks look on approvingly!

Jim's guns approach to to the marshy river bank to give Darren's 2nd Div what-for!

Jim sends in a Hungarian battalion against a much reduced leger battalion who, on a hiding to nothing, counter-charge!


The rot sets in and Darren's bridgehead crumbles under the pressure.

Fleeing units desperately re-embark to paddle to safety on the west bank.

Darren's best chance of the day: the charge against the lone Austrian battalion that, if successful, would have driven into the limbered artillery behind.

The resulting standoff just added extra pips to his disorder dice. No coming back from that!

The Austrian cavalry added the coup de gras, while another fireboat drifts past.

The pontoon bridge finally completed! Huzzah! 1st Div. rushes across.

Robin's cavalry try one last time.

This time they get across and can deploy into line

The first units of the Reserve Division embark to try and put pressure on the defense while the rest of 1st Division try to get off the bridge.

The boats cross, but the current has washed them right in front of the Austrian guns (which only had 1 shot left, unknown to me)!

Darren's battered remains of 2nd Div. reach the west bank of the Rhine.

The charge that broke my attempt to get across. Retreat units moving through those still on the bridge, adding fatal disorders.

1st Div. pull back off the bridge to reorder and try again. The hussars arrive to try to force the Austrian infantry back, but too late; time had run out!

Robin's last throw of the dice; Let the infantry do the job!

 Austrian Cheavaux-leger think differently!


  1. Great report. What an interesting scenario, I love the fireboats!

  2. Hi
    It seems like you had a funny and interesting game! The designers and referees made a great job

  3. Wow! What a fun and original game!. My congratulaions to the umpire

  4. Fantastic!! Great photos and a damn good read too, very enjoyable, I felt like I was playing the game as well!

  5. Very enjoyable report! I'd agree, more reminiscent of Aspern Esling and Wagram than 1813, but whatever. I seem to recall a good opposed river crossing scenario in C.S. Grant's scenario book.

    I like the (presumably scratch built) bridges and boats!


  6. Just love the idea behind the game and great battle report.

  7. Very nice report !!! Congrats Rosbif


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