|The Italian infantry brigade. |
The only unit to come out of this with their heads held high.
This is the first of two battle reports featuring my French troops against the Russians of Paul C., the first of which I made some abysmal errors and paid the price.
As always, the ridge-line in between the two forces attracted us both, but being closer to Paul meant that he reached it first while my brigade was caught mid-transit over a series of hedges with the resulting disorders weighing them down. I'd also sent my strong artillery contingent that way, planning to set them on top of the ridge, but they found themselves in an awkward position at the bottom of the ridge without a clear target and with friendly infantry about to block their field of fire anyway!
Once Paul set up his dreaded 12 pounder battery, I gave up all hope of ejecting him form the ridge and decided the more open left flank was the place to try an attack, using the occupied village as the hinge between the two flanks of my division. While Bill partnered me with his French division against Vana's Austrians, Garry commanded the Allied cavalry and was playing the role of lurking death well. My planned move out on the left flank had to be done very carefully as Russian dragoons in large numbers, horse artillery and infantry all lurked waiting to pounce on any mistake I made.
While focusing on the left, I completely took my eye off the ball when I moved my right hand brigade back behind the hedges and left the guns high and dry. Not only did I commit a cardinal sin of removing support for my artillery in the face of the enemy, I also left my infantry columns in a staggered line. This made the task of rolling up the whole brigade so much more easy!
My artillery, left like a shag on a rock, became the target of Paul's converged grenadier regiment. Probably unwisely, my gunners opted to stand to their guns and go down fighting, but they couldn't take enough of the front line to prevent the inevitable mauling. They broke and ran, abandoning their guns! Paul understandably took the breakthrough move, careering over the hedges and into the first of my disordered battalions, who stood and fired at the onrushing mass. With the breaking artillery, being outnumbered 3-1 and a fatally large overlap, the results were inevitable. First one and then another battalion in the way of the wall of Russian green fled to the rear, as broken rabbles! The Russian charge petered out just short of the third and remaining French battalion.
Thankfully, Bill had moved a battery and some supporting cavalry to enfilade Paul's wrecking crew and after a couple of volleys into their flanks, first one and then a second Russian infantry battalion were heading heading to the rear. Huzzah! (thanks Bill!). However, Garry had some Austrian cuirassiers lurking in the gap, so I was reluctant to try to exploit Paul's discomfort with my Italian dragoons. Especially since the cuirassiers and dragoons had had an inconclusive encounter already.
Anyhoo, that was just a pause in Paul's green steam-roller advance; the poor single battalion leftover from the previous charge did its best to remain while the reserve desperately tried to shift from the flank in time to lend some support, but it was all in vain; it was given the bum's' rush.
After that, the inevitable was only a matter of time. Garry's cavalry and artillery on my left flank, coupled with a small detachment of infantry had kept my advance pinned. Now Paul's reserves started to advance not only on that flank, but behind his victorious converged grenadiers. My Italian infantry had their work cut out to cover the French retreat without turning into a rout! The only battalions Paul lost were due to Bill's intervention, not my own, so I couldn't even console myself with giving him a bloody nose in the process (oh, the shame...)
|My Franco-Italian infantry|
|I had high hopes for my artillery, but I cocked up where I placed them, so they hardly came into play before they were swept off the field|
|My small hussar unit and horse-gun battery|
|The enemy! Garry's dragoons and horse guns on my left flank.|
|Paul's Russian infantry (boo-hiss!)|
|Garry's Austrian cavalry in the centre|
|Things start off ok. I've secured the village, cavalry protecting the flank, reserves ready to go where needed. However, the artillery is stuck behind the infantry on the right flank, a help to neither man nor beast.|
|Infantry and artillery scramble through the hedges, incurring disorders for no purpose.|
|To the left of the village, the Italians wade through the crops to see if there's an opportunity to exploit.|
|On their way to seize the ridge, my infantry sees the ridge sprout Russian grenadiers|
|Behind the grenadiers are the &^%$$!! 12 pounders, which will unlimber in the gap between the grenadiers and the village, causing carnage at close range!|
|After pulling back behind the hedges, the Mean Green Fighting Machine roars down the slope into everything in its path! The red marker indicates the breakthrough move after smashing the battery.|
|RUN AWAY! Two batteries and two battalions head for the hills!|
|The remaining battalion requires a clean change of underwear....|
|...then another Russian battalion flee after a judicious application of roundshot to the flank!|
|My reserves decide it's time to back into the woods in order to attempt stem the rout on the right flank.|
|Bill's forces focus on the gaping hole to their left, while my dragoons recover after an inconclusive clash with Garry's cuirassiers|
|My remaining battalion are shown the door!|
|The bums' rush!|
|RUN AWAY! #2|
|After a sterling performance, Paul's grenadiers are left out on a limb. Can I exploit their isolated position?|
|Paul's supports advance to cover his extended grenadiers. The Italians try to stem the tide!|
|Things look grim for the remaining grenadiers.|
|Bill's cavalry back up my Italian dragoons.|
|My infantry on the grenadiers' flank blaze away to little effect!|
|My reserves come up through the woods to try to anchor the Italian line.|
|The village is re-occupied to offer a defensive anchor point, but those damned 12 pounders are at point blank range!|
|They also have a potential flank shot on the Italian line. |
Uncommitted reserves advancing behind the artillery ensures my fate is all but guaranteed!