Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Battle of Jedlinsk 1809 - Battlereports

While the massive actions of the Napoleonic wars hold much appeal, there were many more smaller actions. These can often be as interesting as the larger wargames and are also far more manageable to collect forces for and play!

One of these battles was Jedlinsk in 1809, which was the only serious defeat of Poland by Austria in the 1809 war. For wargaming purposes, the two forces in this battle have a good mix of arms, though the Austrians have a definite advantage. The area of the battle is also reasonably constrained with the Austrians attacking down a valley towards a river crossing. It makes it a good subject to test out different rulesets and tactics, even if the battle is not particularly balanced.

I tried this battle out several times in solo games as I had spare time across a few evenings, with both 321 Fast Play Napoleonic rules, and General D'Armee rules. Read on to see how this went!


I used the Jedlinsk scenario from Michael Hopper's excellent "The Roads to Vienna" book (see here), with some minor amendments. The main change was reducing the area of the battle down from an 8x6 or 6x6 foot table to a 6x4 foot table. Apart from just not wanting to set up a larger table, I also had several scenario specific reasons for doing this. Firstly, I removed the option to attack around the valley to the Polish right flank (the Polish left flank is secured by the Radomka river). This was to try and give the Poles more of a fighting chance versus the Austrians who will have to just batter their way through the Polish defence in depth up the valley, which I believe is what the Austrians ended up doing historically. Secondly, I judged that if the Poles are pushed out of Jedlinsk (on their base edge in my setup) they will have lost anyway as then Austrian reinforcements from a flank attack could come over the bridge, as was the original but frustrated Austrian plan (the Poles held the bridge successfully from this attack across the river).

I divided both sides forces into 3 Brigades, as the Michael Hopper book doesn't specify how the respective Divisions were divided in this battle, and details are perhaps not known in any case. But I imagine something like the following was not unlikely.

Polish - CinC Zajaczek (428 points)
  • Brigade 1: 4 Recruit Line, 1 Regular Foot Artillery Battery, 1 Regular Skirmisher
  • Brigade 2: 4 Recruit Line, 1 Regular Foot Artillery Battery, 1 Regular Skirmisher
  • Brigade 3: 3 Recruit Uhlans

Austrian - CinC Mondet (598 points)
  • Brigade 1: 2 Large Regular line, 1 Regular Light (Grenz), 1 Recruit Line, 2 Regular Heavy Batteries, 1 Regular Skirmisher 
  • Brigade 2: 4 Large Recruit Line, 1 Foot Battery
  • Brigade 3: 3 Regular Light Cavalry (2 Hussars, 1 Chevauleger)

Rather obviously, neither of these armies is first rate quality! The best troops are the artillery, and the Austrian regular infantry and cavalry. Recruits are motivated but only partially trained recruits on the part of the the Poles, and unenthusiastic conscripts of non-Austrian ethnicity and sympathies on the part of the Austrians. I did consider making the Austrian troops 'Raw' which would have dropped total points of their force to 520, but that is probably too harsh. Raw rating in my rules also seems to correspond to the equivalent of 'Raw' rating in the Hopper book - i.e untrained, militia, civilians etc, which is worse than these troops should be.

The Polish defenders are thus significantly underpointed, almost 3-2, (598-428 in my rules and likely similar in others). The Austrians have superiority in artillery in particular, and cavalry quality, as well as a slight numerical advantage. The Hopper book recommends giving the Poles an extra bonus representing their patriotic fervour which was evident throughout the war. I chose the option to have them reroll attacks or break tests that would result in a unit breaking. This might mean their force is closer to 500 points.

Jelinsk - 321 rules refight

321 Fastplay Napoleonic Rules for the first refight. Here's the battlefield, with village areas labelled. There is a large hill in the centre, the  impassable Radomka river to the left with the bridge to Jedlinsk. The hedges up the road represent a narrow stream and ditch which counts as rough terrain to cross.

The Austrian Regular infantry attack towards the Polish left and village of Brod.

Poles advance a unit into Brod to defend it.

Austrian artillery advancing in the centre.

And on the Austrian right their cavalry leads the way.

Austrians attack Brod but are thrown back after causing heavy losses to the Poles. The Poles relieve the defenders with a fresh unit.

On the Polish right, their infantry forms square as the Austrian cavalry advances past them, ignoring their attempts to learn musketry...

After some initial reluctance and holding, the Polish Cavalry launches itself forwards to meet the Austrians...

...but is driven back in confusion.

The Austrian Hussars are also exhausted after charging on though, and fall back without being able to finish off any Uhlan unit.

The Polish artillery cause some minor difficulties for the Austrians, but the Austrian guns manage to reach their position and unlimber.

As the Austrian heavy guns open up one of the Polish batteries is silenced. Three other Polish units take some disorder as anxiety creeps through the ranks...

The Austrian artillery ready to start wrecking things.

A significant success for the Poles however, as the last fresh unit of Polish Uhlans manages to break an an Austrian Hussar unit...

...and throw back the second Austrian Hussars as well!

The white tide keeps coming. An Austrian mass crashes into and over the Polish square, though taking heavy casualties themselves.

The Poles are falling back in confusion, just a skirmish screen and the defenders at Brod still returning fire. The remaining Polish battery has been forced to withdraw, and bravely sets up in a new position.

The Austrians attack Brod for about the fourth time, forced to use their small unit of Recruits in this attempt. The recruits are up to the task versus the weakened defenders. The garrison breaks, causing two more disordered Polish units to do the same.

Lastly, the Chevaulegers break the heroic Polish Uhlans, and the Polish force collapses. All over end of turn 5.

Jelinsk - General D'Armee rules refight 

Well that didn't go well for the Poles. Next was a refight with the General D'Armee Rules. Force lists as above. The Polish were recruits but I gave them the standard 12 rather than 10 hit points to represent their improved morale compared to the Austrian recruits, and I also treated all their Discipline Tests and Brigade Falter Tests as if they were Average. (Note there is an optional 'enthusiastic recruit' grade in the General D'Armee rulebook on page 97 but I didn't think this was good enough in this instance!)

Things start off in excellent fashion for the Poles this time,  with a double six for the opening artillery fire doing three casualties and unforming an approaching Austrian limbered heavy battery.

As the Austrians draw closer damage becomes rather more modest though...

Similar dispositions.

The Cavalry move to oppose each other, and the Polish right flank infantry form square.

The Austrian flank brigades are both hesitant turn 3. The artillery starts unlimbering, with one heavy battery being a turn delayed after the first turn trouble it experienced.

The Polish Uhlans charge the hesitating Austrian Cavalry, figuring odds won't get any better than this. First Uhlan unit rolls a double 1 versus 8 for the Austrians...

Reroll due to support is a 6 though (down to 5 because Recruit), and so a melee occurs, with the Austrians driving back the Uhlans with heavy casualties on both sides after a two round reinforced melee. (Question? Do Uhlans get lances in second round in GDA? And do reinforcing units from the rear get this? Couldn't find anything saying they do not while playing, but for this game assumed they would not, same as my own rules).

The other Uhlan unit routs the Palatinal Hussars and follows up into the Austrian infantry, which holds and forces the Uhlans back in retreat.

The Palatinal Hussars are not in a good way though, routing behind the gun line and dispersing next turn! (In the actual battle, a corporal of this regiment jumped his horse into a Polish square, leading to the demise of himself and his horse, but the breach enabled the square to be captured. Not the sort of reckless tactic to rely upon...)

On the Polish left flank, the Poles have stubbornly thrown back two charges with musketry, but the large Austrian unit finally smashes through and takes the village of Brod.

Austrian cavalry's turn to charge and they drive the Polish Uhlans back.

And Austrian infantry also routs the Polish line.

The Polish militia in Plaskow throws back the oncoming Austrian hordes, temporarily... (French National Guard figures getting another workout, and I imagine this is also what most of the Poles in this battle would have actually looked like!!)

Here's a pic of these Polish militia I took near start of battle, every man and his dog must defend Poland!

As in the first game, a Polish battery is silenced again. The faltering right flank infantry retreats and abandons Plaskow.

The Austrians have taken not inconsiderable casualties but the Poles have had the worst of it.

The Chevaulegers still fresh, gallop forward and finish off the Uhlans.

On the left flank a last desperate Polish charge tries to retake Brod and panic the Austrian Brigade, hoping for a miracle... but instead lurches to a halt.  Turn 7 and the Polish position is hopeless. Game over with similar result...


I replayed the scenario another two times using the 321 rules, both times with similar results to the first attempts - the Poles breaking in slightly different but equally painful ways. In one game the Poles managed to fight the Austrian cavalry to a halt (breaking/dispersing two units for a loss of only one of their own), and almost broke the Austrian Brigade with the four large Recruit units, but then the Austrian artillery put an end to things again.

A very tough fight for the Poles, and not surprising given the historical situation. Their commander Zajaczek would have been wise to avoid battle I think. To give them a chance, increasing the Polish "fervour" even further somehow (depending on rules you are using), or making some of the Austrian units even more reluctant would seem necessary. Of course it isn't necessary to make a game balanced in this way to have it worth playing, just getting a sense of the historical situation is interesting enough for myself anyway.


  1. Thanks for the write up and photos. The two rules sets seem to give a similar result.

    I liked your comment on using the Paris militia unit, you are most likely correct.

    1. Many thanks! Yes similar results with the rules (even which units broke in these two games!), and yes the Poles would have been severely lacking in gear at this stage I think.

  2. Your austrian artillery looks like russians

    1. Possibly you are looking at the Polish artillery which to the untrained eye are indeed similar to Russians - green coats!
      The Austrian artillery looks excellent.

    2. Yes Jeremy has it right, the Polish Artillery Uniform is pretty close to the Russian one!
      Russian Artillery:

  3. So that's where these books come from!!!
    Interesting batrep with some new ideas for the grading of troops in GdA which I will explore further maybe.
    Really fine looking game on an attractive table with your beautiful collection, more please!
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks Jeremy, yes nice to play with a few of them again!

  4. Great looking games, Mark! Your Poles really look fab and seeing your collection out on the table is a real treat for me.

    I agree wholeheartedly that "it isn't necessary to make a game balanced in this way to have it worth playing, just getting a sense of the historical situation is interesting enough for myself anyway." I derive great pleasure from refighting historical battles to hopefully gain some insight into the situation faced by our historical counterparts.

    1. Thanks Jonathan, your own blog was no small contributor to my commitment to do some refights like this, so glad you liked it!

  5. Glorious table, troops,,and photos. Any conclusions on the rules (granted that you wrote your own for your reasons!)?

    1. Cheers Peter, I do have some rules reviews in processes, and some general comments on rules, will have to get them finished! :)

  6. Very interesting report and great game! Mark, and in 1812 what are the quality of the Polish troops? I see that the Polish Lancers are recruits, did they stay the same? Or have there been changes? Is there any such information in the rules?

    1. Thanks Dmitry, by 1812, the quality of the Polish should be much better I think. As good or better than many of the French units! No such information in the General D-Armee rules, this was from separate scenario books by Michael Hopper.

  7. Very enjoyable post, and really nice to see a mix of 28's with a 6x4 table. thanks for all the work that went into that.

  8. A nice run-through with the different sets of rules, and it was especially good seeing your Poles in action.

  9. Hi Mark,
    One thing I often think about is the fact that these "large" Austrian battalions were often well below strength. When you look at the numbers for the Danube and, from memory,the Italian campaign they are often no bigger than the French battalions, or at least no bigger than the theoretical strength of the French battalions. This is often even true for the Hungarian battalions that were supposed to be about 120 men stronger. I would expect that this would be true in the Polish theatre too. If you reduced the Austrian battalions to average strength instead of large, that would mean the forces were more closely balanced, which might be an interesting thing to consider.

  10. It could mean allowing the Austrian some tactical options that you denied them in your scenanrio.

    John Edmundson

  11. Cheers John, yes that's also an interesting idea. I think the numbers in the Hopper book already take account of the fact that some many units were below strength in this campaign, i.e. the average sized Austrian unit in this battle and many other such cases in other battles. Not sure on what decisions those are based, but you're right it could be an interesting hypothetical to try out smaller units, perhaps with the bigger area as you say.

  12. Great looking game, super looking troops, the militia are particularly good, just been reading Thunder on the Danube and I'd say it seems to match up, don't think there was much chance of the Poles winning the battle in reality but it's made a good pair of games with historical results!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, glad you're familiar with it, and that's a great trilogy, ejoy! :)

  13. Great game, Mark! It's always nice to see reports of your battles!