|The only thing missing is some brandy or sherry...|
I had a go recently at setting up and playing through a proper Napoleonic battle from 1805 - Elchingen! This battle has almost everything you'd want in a Napoleonic engagement - desperate reserve arrivals, nail biting defensive efforts, and harrowing attacks up the slope through shot and shell!
After perusing numerous, numerous, numerous rules sets, I finally settled on "the old, comfortable shoe". One of my favorite Napoleonic rules sets by none other than Mr Neil Thomas himself - "Napoleonic Wargaming."
Not far from Ulm, Ney is tasked with securing a bridgehead over the Danube. This battle would earn Ney fame as the "Duke of Elchingen". Would the French be able to repeat their success?
Ney is facing the better part of 2 x Divisions of troops occupying key terrain. The stage is set for a classic hasty attack against the Austrians. While I'm not through the battle yet, all reserves are on the table and the French attacks against the Austrian left have begun. THis game is being played on my new felt mat that i've been slowly working on, along with my "pinned trees". How will the table hold up?
Let's get to the action!
|Loison's Division of Ney's VI Corps approaching the bridge.|
|Meanwhile the Austrians are comfortably occupying the high ground in Ober and Unter Elchingen. THe famous monastery is on the heights, naturally occupied by an Austrian Regiment!|
|A 10mm tall Ney urges the column on over the lazy Danube|
|Meanwhile, Riesch attaches to the Regiment in Ober Elchingen to bolster the defense. The battery of guns will help too...|
|Loison's Divisional units awaiting their turn to cross|
|Once across, Loison's men form lines to protect the rest of the column moving over. Ney spies movement and notices Austrian units start to maneuver towards the bridge (upper left)|
|Backed by a unit of heavy horse cuirassiers, the Austrians confidently move towards the French bridgehead.|
|The Austrian guns open fire from Elchingen! The green dice are hits. The red dice will be "permanent hits" or stand losses. Every 4 hits on a green dice equals a stand loss. INstead of removing stands, I'm adding a red dice to track hits.|
So far the battle has been mostly maneuver with the French hustling to get their men across and the Austrians attempting to get their units into position to deal out the most amount of damage to the crossing troops.
|Napoleonic Traffic Jam!|
|This is what Napoleonic gaming is all about. Massed ranks of bayonets!|
|The Austrians have bayonets of their own, and are quickly approaching the battlefield - from the opposite direction of where the French reserves are coming on.|
Speaking of the French reserves, they're quickly approaching the battlefield now, and headed straight towards Unter-Elchingen on the Austrian left, which was left guarded by a single regiment!
|The Austrians in Unter Elchingen! The French are coming up the hill!|
The French are coming on in assault columns covering the distance quickly and bringing their artillery and cavalry with them. The dragoons and hussars speed up the hill past Unter Elchingen while their horse artillery, along with the approaching divisional artillery of the reserve division, start pounding Elchingen immediately!
|Heavy fighting at the bridgehead now as the Austrians get stuck in (finally). The red die is a "Stand loss". This French unit will only shoot with 3 dice now.|
|Zoomed out a bit, you'll notice the French are trying to assault the heights with assault columns but have rear guard units slugging it out with 2 Austrian regiments. Hard fighting indeed!|
|The red die is 4 x hits. The green die is 3 more hits. This unit is ready to lose another stand!|
|Artillery preparing to unlimber in front of Unter Elchingen meanwhile horse artillery sets up on the hill off camera to the right. Unter Elchingen is doomed!|
|A division's worth of troops readying to assault Unter Elchingen!|
|Oncoming tide of French assaulting Unter Elchingen|
|Cant forget the French Cavalry either! Hussars and Dragoons surge over the ridge! The Austrians are racing the Hohenzollern Cuirassier to meet them!|
The battle is reaching a critical point, although we're not there yet. Austrian reinforcements will begin feeding into the battle in the valley in front of Ober Elchingen. Or they'll rush to form a defensive line from the French division approaching from the east. Critical decisions to be made for the Austrians! Their lone cavalry unit is racing to meet the sudden appearance of dragoons and hussars on the ridge. And I'll say they had better hurry, because the hard-marching French reinforcement division is hammering away at Unter Elchingen on the Austrian left with artillery and musketry and is preparing to storm the village!
|Hohenzollern Cuirassiers riding by the Monastery - cheered on by Austrian troops!|
|Ney commanding a rear guard - who knew? Austrians trying to chip away at the French Bridgehead. If you look at the top-center of the pic - you notice the Austrian reinforcements marching on.|
|French and Austrian heavy cavalry about to clash behind the Elchingen road!|
|Unter Elchingen is being hammered by artillery and musketry as the French prepare to take it by form|
|The Austrians take 4 hits so far in Unter Elchingen|
So far, the battle has not yet reached its climax but it's getting there. The Austrians, with an entire Division of troops converging on the center of the battlefield above Ober Elchingen are headed out to meet the French arriving from the east, while the French reserves from the east are hammering Unter Elchingen. The French will still need to capture Ober Elchingen. Meanwhile, the Austrians in the valley are proving stubborn and the French are having a difficult time in getting them brushed aside to continue their advance upon the objective! This game has been outstanding so far and it's nice to just be playing a wargame and not fiddling with a complicated system or trying to remember how to play. The Neil Thomas stable of rules just come back to you and just work, hence my old shoe analogy.
The gaming mat has proven very good as evidenced by the cool pictures but I think it needs more fields spray painted onto it, more fences and scatter terrain. I'm still working on ACW buildings and will be making Napoleonic-era buildings as well to enhance the looks of the battlefields even more.
This has been ton of fun playing this game and I hope to get some more games on the table as the spring continues. Stay tuned for part 2!