|Austrians of the 4th column marching to the battle|
Today we played the entire battle of Aspern-Essling using Norm's excellent "EAGLES AT QUATRE BRAS" rules, and when you're done reading this, you'll wonder how we fit all of that Napoleonic goodness on a single 6x4 table.
|French arrayed in battle lines (taken after the battle!)|
We played this battle using the reinforcement schedule and unit roster from the Volley & Bayonet "Austria Stands Alone" campaign supplement. I had spent quite a few weeks in preparation for the game, including putting the roster and unit quality table together, building terrain including the villages of both Aspern and Essling, modeling the world-famous Essling Granary, and the Aspern Church which Alex mused looked like the Munster's house from the old TV show.
|The French initial positions. Aspern is in the foreground and the Danube is clearly visible behind.|
|Hiller's Colum enters the table|
Units from Hiller's column shake out from the road to Stadtlau and fan out to assault Aspern. No shooting or combat on the first turn.
|Baden-Hochburg troops garrisoning Aspern Church and Cemetery which would be the scene of brutal fighting.|
Hiller's troops continue to fan out to assault Aspern while the French heavy Cavalry to the tune of Pire's Hussars and heavy Cuirassier Brigade Fouler leave the bridgehead position to assault the oncoming Austrians on the Marchfeld! Ken's Cuirassier are now trapped in a pocket, unable to retreat and taking heavy casualties from assailing Austrian brigades. GdD LaSalle accompanies them.
|French Cuirassier trapped|
|Disordered Austrian brigades on the Marchfeld|
|The gang playing through the first column's attacks. Ken commanded the French while Dave and Alex commanded the Austrians|
Hiller's column reaches Aspern and shakes out to attack with the light troops assaulting the Aspern Church cemetery and structure. Ken's Cuirassier are keeping the Austrians from mounting a direct assault on Aspern village itself.
2:49pm The Second Austrian Column arrives.
More fighting in front of Aspern as the Cavalry escape and Pire's Hussars expand the fight almost the to the very muzzle of the gun battery!
|Keeping a Hungarian unit in square, GdD LaSalle urges the Cavalry on!|
|Ken brings up even more Cavalry and expands the bridgehead, taking the fight to the enemy.|
|II Corps Artillery, on scene, are pounding far-away targets!|
|Troops in Essling and the Granary (left)|
|Note the troops of the second column arriving top-center. The French will throw cavalry in their way in the hopes of slowing the Austrian tide.|
|Austrian units deploy around Aspern as the second and first columns merge for the assault. Interestingly, the battle for Aspern is being decided well to the north of Aspern in a see-saw cavalry engagement.|
|Note the Grenzers top-right in line formation assaulting the church. They'd eventually push the Baden troops back. The Badeners gave a solid accounting of themselves and withdraw without any heavy casualties yet.|
|The Austrians step up their assaults on Aspern and the Aspern Church|
|French holding but taking heavy casualties now in Aspern village|
|Success! The Grenzers overrun Aspern church and push the Baden troops back finally!|
|Situation in Aspern at the end of the 2pm hour Badeners are lower left of picture as Austrians have a toe-hold. The French lights holding Aspern will be kicked out soon.|
Pressure from the first and second column is relentless as fresh Austrian brigades are sent into the attack. Renewed assaults against Aspern continue while the cavalry fight on the plains to the north.
|Ken's efforts to try and expand the bridgehead north of Aspern with Cavalry|
Austrian infantry flood down from the north and fan out across the Marchfeld as more Austrian guns line the hills ringing Aspern. While historically those guns proved so troublesome that Napoleon ordered an assault against the guns, this is different since the see-saw fighting with the first and second column, the Marchfeld is now crowded with Austrian infantry brigades and marauding French cavalry brigades.
|Manuevering troops towards the battle|
|An Austrian Battery goes out of ammo!|
|Cavalry fighting between Austrian light horse and French heavy horse|
|Ken pushes as much Cavalry as he can forward!|
|The Austrian Reserve Column arrives to the north! The Austrians begin planning to assault Essling now. Aspern is barely holding.|
|Under Pressure in Aspern|
|The 4th Column arrives on the field! Look at all these troops!|
Dave and Alex waste no time in expanding the fight to the east, towards Essling and the flanks. I have another heavy cavalry division coming on at the same time and a fight will be brewing near the Gardens, an objective, soon to the east and southeast.
|General Liechtenstein bringing up the Austrian heavy horse!|
|More Austrians coming onto the table!|
|Austrian plan is to drive a wedge between Aspern and Essling. You can see that plan materializing here.|
|3 sixes and the Austrian horse retire. This turn would see relentless cavalry attacks in the center as the Austrians try to chip away at the French positions.|
|The Austrians even assault the unit Napoleon is accompanying! (I would move him away next turn!) the unit is hit but Napoleon is okay!|
It's worth mentioning also that here we started to "figure out" EAQB and what Norm is wanting you to do. The looks on my group's faces were priceless as they tried to set up flanking maneuvers, using cavalry correctly by forcing infantry into square and possibly disorder, then pounding them with extra artillery dice or infantry combat dice! I dont think a single person in my group was displeased with the results so far.
|Aspern falls! All of my units around Aspern are disordered and I dont have any fresh troops to mount a counterattack at this time! I'm stuck!|
|Alex and Dave plotting next moves!|
|French artillery hammering away at the oncoming wave of Austrians|
|Speaking of which|
With Aspern comfortably in Austrian hands, the fighting is beginning to shift to the center and East. Alex and Dave know they have to hold the Granary in addition to scoring casualties of which mine are mounting now and I'm getting close to the initial casualty BP.
|looking south the Austrians have formed a new line and are pushing a wedge in between Aspern and Essling. A quick, violent thrust by French assault columns staves off total disaster at the middle of the 5pm hour.|
|Badeners in line break the Hungarian unit to their front. Napoleon was very pleased with their performance today.|
|Grenadiers push into the woods next to the Granary|
|Essling falls to the Austrians!|
|Dave and Alex shift their cavalry to their left (French right) to get around the French positions and cut off their reinforcements.|
|The Austrians overrun Essling but the French are in good position to take it back|
|Badeners still shooting well!|
|French Cavalry spar with Austrian heavy horse outside the Gardens.|
|Freshly based Hesse Darmstadt troops arrive!|
|I move up French cavalry in the hopes of forcing Austrian infantry into squares. Then I can hit them with infantry!|
|Behind the granary, Cavalry and artillery units alike are reorganizing after hard fighting. There is a massive cavalry battle going on in the fields east of the gardens, on the road to Gross Enzersdorf|
The generals are exhausted by now. We pull cards for the turn and it advances to 1 minute shy of 6pm. Lannes' Corps will have to wait and the Austrians force the french out of the Granary with a disorder result (single hit). Advancing into the Granary I am at 32 heavy casualties and each unit will have to roll. Instead we call the game. The Austrians hold the Granary and Aspern. Essling was retaken.
|Huge swirling cavalry battle east of Essling!|
|Hard fighting south of Aspern on the road to the Lobau Bridgehead.|
|Austrian General Bellagarde - the only general officer killed during today's battle|
|A pensive Alex discusses next moves|
|Rallying Cuirassier behind the granary complex!|
|The gang minus Brian (Alex, me, Ken, Dave) who left before this picture was taken. Another successful Christmas Mega Game down! Bring on 2020!|
Man what a battle this was! Everyone was pretty worn-out by battle's end but all in all a great day of Napoleonic gaming where we fit the whole battle of Aspern Essling on my modest 6x4 table! Granted, it was getting crowded but it was a great spectacle none-the-less. I definitely learned a lot today and it was fun getting reacquainted with Norm's rules which I enjoyed very much when I first played them. Some of my key takeaways follow:
I need more (lots more) Austrian cavalry in all shapes and sizes from light horse up to heavy.
I realized how much I enjoy playing games on hex grids and games that are simple to learn. One of my main goals for 2020, at least in terms of Napoleonic gaming, will be playing more Commands and Colors Napoleonics, and playing more of Norm's EAGLES AT QUATRE BRAS game (perhaps using CCN scenarios which I feel go together nicely).
I want to spend more time gaming and less time with the rules and I definitely want to play games that give me a decision quickly.
After the exhilaration and accomplishment of putting on a truly MASSIVE game like this, I'm left feeling a little....lost now? What next? I'm actually not sure where to go from here. More to ponder.
Look for an end of year recap coming up on 2019's gaming soon! I hope you enjoyed this battle report - it was a real blast to play!