Friday, 4 January 2019

Battle of Caldiero 1805 - Battle Report

The Battle of Caldiero. 2800 28mm figures on a 16'x6' table, good company,  warm weather and beer,  and a day of glorious wargaming in the grand Napoleonic style. Here's the report!



Scenario

I used Michael Hopper's scenario from his book "Rise of Eagles", changing only a few details. Firstly I used slightly fewer but larger units of infantry, in order to keep the battalion and brigade frontages and troop densities correct (i.e. my battalions are 24 figures with 8" frontage in line, whereas the scenario specifies infantry with 6" line frontage). Cavalry units represent 400-500 men, infantry 600-800. Each side has about 50'000 men.  Unlike later, according to the scenario Austrian battalions were not bigger than the French ones at this time. The formations listed below are Brigades or Divisions. 

Secondly, the scenario length was reduced to 9 turns rather than 12, and reinforcements were to come on proportionately earlier. This is because I was using faster play rules with more time and action each turn. 

After some discussion we rated all Austrian generals as competent (second highest rating) on the Austrian side, (though I thought about making some cautious), and all French were strategists (highest possible rating, possible levels for commanders in rules used is Incompetent, Cautious, Competent, Strategist). The French Cuirassiers were rated as veteran, all other cavalry on both sides as regular. French horse and heavy artillery was also rated as veteran. The Austrian Grenadiers (17 units of them!) were all veteran as were French units noted as being veteran in list below. Reflecting early Austrian inflexibility their veteran units couldn't change formation and move in the same turn in this early period according to the scenario book, but French ones could.  A further rule to reflect linear tactics from early Austrians (such as all units in a Brigade having to be in same formation as per GDA) wasn't used, but they were all in line anyway excepting a couple of Grenadier units near the end.

For the Austrians Paul was Archduke Charles (Austrian left wing) and myself Simbschen (Austrian right wing), while Ion was Massena (French right wing) and Andrew Molitor (French left wing).

Figures

As described in the previous Austrian and French deployment posts, these 28mm figures are mostly later period (1809 onwards) so shakos rather than raupenhelms and bicornes for the infantry! The main issue I had was a lack of Grenadiers, so Hungarians and Grenzers were honorary Grenadiers for this game. Blue trousers or a bearskin means veteran! Also two of the Light Cavalry on each side were Hussars rather than Chasseurs/Chevaulegers, though these are both identically rated light cavalry types in this scenario, so a cosmetic difference. Guard Chasseurs were also used for one of the Chasseur units in Espagne's division, rated as regular rather than veteran - heresy I know!

Rules

I decided to use some homebrew fast play rules that I've been playing around with for this one, which turned out to be a good choice I think. Game was large with close to 3000 figures on the table, but over in 5-6 hours. I'll also post a copy of the rules soon for any interested.

Austrian Army (See Austrian Deployment)

Right wing -  Simbschen (right to left):
Kottulinski: 6 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery
Michalowich: 6 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery (3 line infantry arriving turn 5)
Soudain: 6 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery 
Croll: 6 Grenadiers, 1 Heavy Artillery (Hungarians representing Grenadiers)

Left wing - Archduke Charles (right to left):
O'Reilly: 4 Hussars
Wetzel: 6 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery
Kalnassy: 6 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery, 2 Lancers
Colloredo: 4 Grenadiers, 1 Heavy Artillery (Grenzers representing Grenadiers)

Reserves (center and left wing)
Lorraine: 4 Dragoons (Turn 1 onwards)
Lipper: 3 Grenadiers (Turn 5 onwards)
Hohenlohe: 4 Grenadiers, 2 Hussars (Turn 7 onwards)

French Army (See French Deployment)

Left Wing - Molitor (left to right)
Launay: 6 Line, 3 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery
Valory: 6 Line, 2 Skirmisher, 1 Dragoon
Lenchantin: 4 Line, 1 Hussar, 2 Skirmisher, 1 Veteran Horse artillery

Reserves (Turn 1 behind Valory): Espagne: 4 Chasseurs 1 Veteran Horse artillery
Reserves (Turn 1 behind Lencahntin): Valentin: 3 Veteran Line

Right wing - Massena (left to right) 
Compere: 3 Veteran Light, 2 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Veteran Heavy Artillery, 1 Sapper
Camus: 3 Veteran Light, 2 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Sapper
Goulos: 4 Line, 1 Hussar, 2 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery

Reserves (Turn 1 behind Camus and Golous): Lacour: 2 Dragoon
Reserves (Turn 1 behind Compere): Solignac: 2 Veteran Light, 2 Veteran Line, 2 Line, 1 Dragoon, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery

Reserves (Turn 1 anywhere between Valory and Goulos)
Lacour: 2 Cuirassier, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery


The Game

Here's the setup the night before...


And the morning, the French start their attack!


The French begin pounding Caldiero with fire, disordering the garrison. And the Austrians immediately start moving their Lancers and Hussars to reinforce their left wing.



The French attack draws closer...

Historically the French held back on their left wing, but there is none of this here, up the slope come the French assault columns! The Austrian artillery wreaks havoc on the advancing French and their left most column is the first unit to break and be removed.

Panning across to the left.




Charles and staff watch from just behind Caldiero.

Another French battalion disintegrates under canister fire as it attempts to assault the position battery in the Austrian centre.

And two more French assault columns manage to charge the first Austrian line. Austrian Grenadiers deliver a close volley and break the first column but suffer some disorder. To their right neither side gains an immediate advantage but both units are mauled and combat ineffective by the end of the fight. 

The first cavalry charge is launched on the French right, with Dragoons charging Austrian infantry which form square and repel them. The French begin their assault on Caldiero but fail to take any of it in the initial assaults despite some imposing Sappers leading the way.

Austrian Uhlans force back the French Skirmish line, and the Austrian Dragoon Division arrives to bolster the Austrian left. The first half of Caldiero is taken by the French, though their casualties are mounting.

On the right, the first Austrian line has disintegrated from repeated assaults and no chance to relieve them, but a second and third line are ready to reinforce.

Canister fire has been raking down the French in swathes here, but a column of French infantry manages to come up over the rise to their right and assaults the guns before an Austrian battalion charges their flank and sees them off.

Another Dragoon charge on the French left, dramatically riding down the Austrian position battery which mistimes its canister fire, and then charging on and breaking a Grenadier square against all the odds! (About a one in a hundred games event, as compared to the far more likely demise of Dragoons trying this - so not something to rely on!)

The French continue their attack on the Austrian right, but Valory's Division has broken, the first French formation to break.

The French player is well refreshed and full of confidence though so the attack continues!

Austrian Uhlans catch a French unit in line and ride them down before being repelled by a square as they charge on. Meanwhile the French heavy cavalry is moving to mount a coordinated attack on this flank. 

The Austrian right, French Dragoons charge up the hill and and are repelled by a square, but the disordered Austrian artillery to their right is overrun by Chasseurs and lost.

And French reserve Grenadiers overrun the Austrian position battery here too. These Austrian guns had caused much carnage and destroyed two battalions with canister but are now lost.

More French Grenadiers smash through the Austrian defenders on the road, while combined French battery fire suppresses the Austrian artillery here.

On the Austrian left, four French heavy cavalry units charge the Austrian Hussars.  One French Dragoon unit is lost, and the other heavies spent for now, but the Austrian Hussars are badly mauled and their Division quits the field.  The first Austrian Division lost.

Combat everywhere, and the Austrians still just holding on in Caldiero!



Charles anxiously surveys the scene with French breakthroughs either side of his position!

The Austrians have just lost four cavalry units this turn, but they have another six on this flank and two more in reserve! And the French infantry brigade of Goulous here finally takes too many casualties and breaks, making it two French formations down.

The French right flank cavalry takes a breather, but keeps the isolated Grenadiers on the Austrian left pinned in square and targets for the French horse artillery. Unable to stand this fire, Colloredo's Grenadier formation is finally broken, though the remaining Grenadiers staunchly refuse to retreat. Two Austrian formations broken.

As Simbschen, I am alarmed to see the French seem to be breaking through the Austrian centre, though they are paying dearly for every pace of ground.

Plentiful Chasseurs keep the Austrians on their hill and cautious on my right.

On the Austrian left their cavalry is at least pinning French infantry in square vs the Austrian guns!

French Hussars manage to run down the disordered Austrian artillery battery in the centre, and then a line infantry unit. Just behind them Caldiero finally falls to the French after two more Austrian units are forced out, and Kalnassy's formation breaks! Three Austrian formations down.

 French Horse artillery has raced up and unlimbered in the centre too...

And Wetzels formation now breaks under fire with all remaining units fleeing. The  road is open for the French, and the Austrians have now lost four formations.

But at last the Austrian Grenadier reserves arrive! Lippers formation first, but hesitantly and not moving quickly enough to try and retake Caldiero!

Austrian Dragoons take revenge on French Hussars before being seen off by a square, but the French Horse Artillery nearby is also lost in another charge, and so Lechantins formation is lost. Three French formations down.

On the right remaining Austrian artillery finally takes its toll and Launay's division breaks. Four French formations broken.


But French volley fire in the centre finally breaks Croll's Grenadiers too, so that is now five Austrian formations lost...

...and the battle is over! French hold Caldiero and have broken more formations than they lost (5-4) so a major French victory!

Left of the field.


The centre.

And the right.

 Defence in depth on the Austrian right but not where it mattered!

The mutually shattered centres...

Plentiful Grenadiers and cavalry for the Austrians, but not hitting fast enough.

A look at the Austrian left flank at end of the game.



Caldiero, full of French in the end!

The Austrian staff decide dusk is time for a tactical withdrawal!



Losses

Casualties - Austrians...



French casualties... mainly from Launay and Valory.



Conclusion

A great game! The French managed to wreak havoc on the Austrian formations, while largely preserving their own strength (except for their left flank infantry!). With the Austrian Grenadier reinforcements the alternative French victory objectives (clearing the central road or second level hill on the Austrian right), seem incredibly difficult to take, so holding Caldiero and aiming to win the battle of attrition was the right idea I think.

Thanks to Paul, Ion and Andrew, and to readers for having a look at this post! :)

33 comments:

  1. Mark, this is wargaming in fine style! Beautiful troops and lots of them. Kudos to the cavalry commander for leading his troops into a 1 in 100 square-breaking ride.

    Well done, Mark!

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    1. Thank you Jonathan, yes very nice to have them on the big table. Square going down not the way you want to lose infantry but happens sometimes! :)

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  2. Very, very impressive! I love the look of the large battlefield and mass amounts of troops!

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  3. Looks great, most impressive lines of battle and splendid mass effect!

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  4. A wonderful game, Mark! Sumptuously! My congratulations!

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  5. Mark, what are your roads made of?

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    1. They are latex, made by this company:
      https://miniatureworldmaker.com.au/products/id-6572/productlist/

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  6. Hi Mark -
    The Bulletin's 'lies' will, of course, mention the exploits of 14th Light Infantry for seeing off Austrian cavalry though disordered, and for 24th Dragoons for its exploit of riding down a gun battery and following up by breaking a square of Grenadiers. Further highlights from my perspective: the prolonged fight for Caldiero town, and the big cavalry fight late in the day. It did the Austrian Light Division no good, but my dragoons and cuirassiers knew they'd been in a fight! But 'Archduke Charles's' all arms defence proved very hard to break down.

    Thanks, Mark for a splendid battle and a thoroughly enjoyable day. I'll write up the French version, though it will be pretty brief. I discover I took 85 photos (how did that happen?!), though I've ditched a good half dozen as not good enough to keep.

    Cheers,
    Ion

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    1. Thanks for your involvement Ion, jolly good stuff and i look forward to the bulletin :)

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  7. Great looking game Mark - shame the Austrian reserves were too late in arriving to save the day! I always think Napoleonic Austrians look terrific in their preponderance of white....and their flags are wonderful too!

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    1. Thanks Ross and yes I think the Austrians are a fine looking army with all the white!

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  8. Well, that was a beautiful an epic game, and a tale well told. Really a treat! I look forward to reading about your rules!

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  9. A spectacular looking game, and I'll bet that square being broken was quite a moment and something to remember. Terrific stuff.

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    1. Cheers, and indeed it was thanks Lawrence :)

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  10. What a fabulous game! Those massed cavalry regiments are a sight to behold. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Lovely! thanks very much for posting.

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  12. Awesome looking game and a close run battle! Splendid!
    Best Iain

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  13. A fantastic looking game...
    It’s nice to see so many toys on the table...

    All the best. Aly

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  14. Oh, wow, speechless - now to file my whine - where is the invite list so I can drool over all the eye candy up close?!

    The game looks fantastic.

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    1. THE Michael Hopper I presume! Thank you so much for dropping by, and for the scenario books of course! :) You are certainly welcome to visit the fields of glory should you ever venture this far south!

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  15. Wonderful looking game Mark.
    I would be keen to see a copy of the rules, and I am close to being able to host some games at the new Games room.
    We need to catch up soon.

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    1. Thanks Chris. Coincidentally I was just checking out your most recent Bavarian/Saxon vid, great stuff. Keen to catchup soon too.
      Will post a copy of rules used here soonish.

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  16. Wonderful write-up of a super looking game Mark. I appreciate the background to the game, beautiful photos and, as mentioned by many, masses of troops.
    Lovely stuff,
    James

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