Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Battle of Elchingen with Neil Thomas Napoleonic Wargaming

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.

Ney, every accustomed to receiving bad news, is informed that another Austrian division is approaching from the west.

Austrian reinforcements arrive from the Ulm Road.

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. 

French units behind the lead elements in line form assault columns to attempt an assault on the heights.  The French have reinforcements on the way, and Ney hopes to use Loison's troops to pin the Austrians while his flanking force rolls up Unter Elchingen, the Abbey, and Ober-Elchingen.

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!

While the fight on the floodplain in the valley in front of Ober Elchingen is not going "to plan" the fight on the Austrian left flank at Unter Elchingen is heating up considerably.  The village is being hammered by close range French artillery and horse artillery, and no less than 3 brigades are waiting to move into the assault.  They'll have to wait until the odds are more in their favor.  Meanwhile the Austrians wonder if their Kamaraden will move to their aid?  They have problems of their own at the moment on the Austrian right in front of Ober Elchingen!

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!


  1. Well, I enjoyed that on many levels:). A great looking game, plenty of action with things nicely in the balance. Fingers crossed for the Austrians. I have those rules but have never given them a run out on the table, but maybe this might push me to giving them a go. I'm certainly looking forward to the next instalment of this game.

    1. Thank you, Steve. The NT Nap rules are a welcome change of pace for me and give me everything im looking for in a game. I highly recommend them, especially if you already own the book it's a no brained :). The French here are going to need to make their move quickly before the Austrian reinforcements get into position. Stay tuned!

  2. Very nice indeed. I've also taken to just recording the hits and stand losses rather than taking bases off, it just looks better I think than units shrinking away to nothing. That is quite a big battle, is it a published scenario or did you design it yourself?

    1. Thanks, Martin. I think the units reduced to a single remaining stand just look silly even with the 10mm troops so I'm keeping all of the stands on the table.

      For the scenario I'm using Greg Wagman's "Age of Eagles" scenario with a few more units on the table. (The site is "free Napoleonic scenarios" or something like that. It's a Weebly site) It ported over nicely, especially the reinforcement schedule and the map. He has a Teugen-Hausen scenario which I'm keen to play next.

      I still want to put the NT ACW rules on the table too. Hopefully coming soon

    2. I agree about the decision toward no base removal.

    3. Cheers Jonathan. Having a single 30mm square base just didn't pass muster as "the remnants of a regiment"

  3. Steve, your 10mm Napoleonic armies sure look great in en masse, don't they? Enjoyable battle report.

    1. Thanks Jon I am super proud of them and I think they look incredibly convincing and evocative of a Napoleonic fighting formation! Thank you and be sure to tune in to part 2. Not sure Ney will pull it off this time but we'll see.

  4. The mat and the trees look great! Good to see NT getting an outing and shows you don’t need a complex set of rules to recreate a historical battle.

    1. Thanks Jeffers! Yeah this has been a great game so far and I've been having a blast. Mission accomplished!

  5. Looks great; Elchingen is an interesting battle; the initial phase is very heavy on maneuver for a change, and then the lads really get stuck in, with both sides having weaknesses to their positions.

    1. Funny - that is exactly what happened here. Lots of decisions at the beginning of the battle - then with the limited maneuver area you had better hope your decisions were the right ones!