Date: August 26, 2010.
We played with our wargame group the Battle of Sacile 16th of April 1809.
The intention was to try the game out for the Wargame convention Crisis 2010 in Antwerp, the biggest wargame event on the continent. We will present it as a demonstration/participation game. Al figures are from Geert Van Papeghem, and most of them are Hät.
The actual battle was fought in the secondary theater of the 1809 campaign in Northern Italy. The French army of Italy, a combined force of French and Italian units led by Eugène de Beauharnais, underestimating the opponents strength, was defeated by an Austrian army commanded by Archduke John of Austria. John failed to follow up his victory, taking a rest, the French Italian force recovered. Due to the events in the Danube theater, John was force to retreat into Austria. The army of Italy was present in the major battle at Wagram, where John failed to be present due to lax behavior, his army setting into motion, more then 24 hours after receiving the order to join the battle. This double failure makes him one of the key responsibles of the Austrian defeat in Wagram and the 1809 campaign.
Alex took the French left flank with 2 divisions, Siegfried the center, also 2 French divisions, and Geert took the right flank with the Italian division and light cavalry division. Ronny had the Austrian IX armeekorps on the right, Adrien the VIII armeekorps center and left flank, and I the Advance Guard (advanced center) and the cavalry division on the extreme left.
The French had more infantry units, but a number of the Austrian units had 10 figures instead of the standard 8. The Austrian artillery was poor with only light artillery, the French divisions all had medium batteries, and one heavy battery. The Austrian advantage was the larger number of cavalry units. The French took the offensive, the Austrian defense starting around the bridge of Fontana Fredda, by the advance guard. As the setup took more time then expected, the encounter started without discussing a battle plan.
Alex started with an aggressive move in march column of his 2nd division towards Fontana-Fredda, trying to take the bridge as fast as possible. However, the advance guard stood firm and chased back the attackers with musketry, one unit being destroyed in the process. The French batteries and the skirmishes now started decimating the advance guard with telling fire, the village of Fontana_Freda by now occupied by Grenz Infantry of the VIII corps.
The Italian division was trying to take a hill by skirmishing, defended by a unit of Grenz infantry, supported by two Line units. Part of the French skirmish line in the center was charged by the VIII corps chevauxleger, half of the Skirmish unit being destroyed, the other halve escaping. The breakthrough charge encountered a massive group of French battle columns, resulting in the destruction of the chevauxleger unit. A shocking result for Adrien.
A renewed assault in the center was the end of the advance guard, the general taken prisoner while leading a desperate counter attack. The 2nd division now fought within the Fontana-Fredda buildings, the first division fighting with the IX corps. Siegfried carefully advanced with his units in battle column closely behind a screen of skirmishes. To close, as his columns were targeted by the Austrian lines, and an ensuing musketry battle the French couldn't win. Geert with the Italian was persistent in trying to use the skirmishes to take the hill, his line infantry unused behind. Two cavalry charges/countercharges resulted in losses being slightly advantageous for the French, however, these losses was something I could take, and the French didn't.
The 2nd Division, was exhausted and hadn't been able to take the bridge or the town, the first division also wearing down, it was time for the IX corps to start a counter offensive.
Siegrfried force was by now also decimated, and a last timid attack was driven of with close range gunnery and musketry. Ronny started a slow but unstoppable advance and Alex command started to collapse, a hasty retread the only possible option left to save the army of Italy from destruction.
The French went into the offensive without a battle plan and uncoordinated leading into disaster. They didn't used their superiority in artillery, Alex was too aggressive, while the others were very careful. Geert learned skirmishers are not useful for contesting a position, and Siegfried will remember battle columns aren't useful for close support of skirmishes, but should be used in a hammer-blow move, after wearing down enemy lines with artillery and skirmishing.
Many thanks to Mr. Donvil.
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