Once again Tom Garnett and Keith Rocco hosted a game of Marengo. This was Tom's 7th scenario of the battle of Marengo "First Battle of the Consular Guard" June 14, 300pm. These guys have put together a string of excellent games. I remain very pleased with how the games are run and the pleasant atmosphere that is created .
The Austrians initial plan was to consolidate its troops from the varied entry points and then advance eastward through the center of the field. I was given command of Brigade Gottesheim with 6 to 8 squadrons of dragoons. In the Carnage and Glory rules, my command was divided into 3 command elements. These were named 573, 574, and 575. The Austrians essentially had 2 divisions and an advanced guard.
The French won the initiative, but gave it to the Austrians. I advanced on turn one in an effort to uncover the tree line to the north. This tree line was against a water obstacle and appeared to have battalions of French infantry hiding behind it. This would be a major obstacle to the advance of 2 brigades of Austrians. By pushing forward, I was able to see around and down the tree line so that no suprises would be present. This helped my teammates push forward faster. Fortunately, no enemy troops were positioned behind the trees and "creek". I divided my forces a small bit to force an isolated french battery to make some difficult decisions and have some of my command outside of their arc of fire. So at this point in the game, I have advanced 1/3 of the way across the board to cover the advance of my trailing infantry command. I tried to be cautious, but it turned out that I wasn't cautious enough.
The French cavalry arrived on board during their part of the turn. GDP Duvigneau's command was commanded by Chris Maine who ran them out to support the battery.
Subsequently, the French once again won the initiative. Chris aggressively (and it turned out appropriately) charged with 2 of his commands. I had ordered countercharges and so met his troops at the gallop. Interestingly, 2 pass throughs (aka draws) occurred. Unfortunately for me, one of my commands (2 of my dragoon squadrons) retired to the board edge as a result. This left both the French and Austrian cavalry commands back to back on the center of the board. It also uncovered by supporting infantry behind me.
On turn 3 Chris then carried his charge forward and struck the Austrian infantry. He had 6e and 8e dragoons carry this out. The French hit the front ranks of the Austrian line and drove back one battalion and crippled another. The French cavalry were severely depleted in both manpower and fatigue and were ineffective for the rest of the game. Bluntly, thr French cavalry did not need to be effective anymore as they essentially won the game by turn 3.
I had very limited choices myself. I had the battery in front of me and one more French cavalry command adjacent to it. Behind me was the chaos that Chris was inflicting with his dragoons. I ordered charges for a second straight turn. The 2 commands of my dragoons pushed forward and simultaneously met the charging chassurs and hit the isolated battery. The commands named "573" hit the French chausseurs and the battery on the right was overrun by the "575". These charges were not difficult decisions to make as I was isolated and threatened by these commands to my front. My cavalry was able to create a draw against the chausseurs and overran the battery.
By turn 4, I was effectively done. The combination of the fatigue created by the charges and the losses created with the charges and cannister had destroyed my commands willingness to fight. My Brigade was forced to retreat due to brigade morale issues. I watched the rest of the game as an observer and performing mandatory movements toward my own board edge. It looked like very little entertainment was left. But in the middle of the turn, as the French dragoons were retreating toward their lines after roughing up the Austrian infantry, the dragoons took a pot shot from the 12lb position guns in the center of the Austrian line. As part of the casualties, any attached officer was wounded. Just like that, Napoleon died from canister which struck him in the head. The general was attempting to rally these retreating dragoons in what should have been a harmless event.
Additional morale issues cleaned out lots of troops for both sides on turn 4. This morale collapse included my command as it received mandatory retreat orders.
Turn 5 saw the French set up a line in the wheat field. The Austrian and French had a stand up fight in the middle of the field. Evidence of the brittleness of the Austrians continues as line troops start to retreat/rout without taking siginificant casualties. My last unit retreated off the board.
Turn 6 saw the the Austrian attack peter out as the morale fell below the acceptable threshold. The consular guard initiated a charge in the center of the table. Brigade Frimont had to repulse the French dragoons, but was not able to do so. Part of the cavalry fell back and the 1st kaiser fought to a draw/pass through. Unfortunately this was not good enough. Now the rest of the infantry in the center of the line was threatened by the French cavalry.
At turn 7, the Austrians decided to consolidate their position. By this time, the game was fairly obviously decided and so the Austrians decided to try to form up and try to inflict casualties. Unfortunately morale issues kept the Austrians from doing this well.
Turn 8 saw everyone trying to fire without increasing fatigue except the French consular cavalry who charged the center again and collapsed the Austrian center. The Austrians felt at this point that their only way to win the game was to increase the importance of Napoleon dying. Despite our protests that the death of Napoleon was stragegically of great importance, the game gave the victory to the French.
This was another good game with great people. The French did well with their game plan. Chris made an excellent decision to charge into the mass of advancing infantry. His command was ruined, but he effectively won it for the French. The charge by the cavalry was able to not only force the Austrians to deploy and keep them from getting to the board edge, but it also created huge fatigue and morale issues. In fact it created one of those miserable gaming experiences that no one wants to ever put up with. One of my teammates gaming days could be summerized in the following paragraph.
Dave entered on game two while a charge was going on in front of him. He was struck by this charge on turn 3 and was unable to repulse the cavalry. One of these battalions routed of the board. On Turn 4 he resumed his march but had to march through rough terrain and so continued to accumulate fatigue. As a result, on game turn 6 he was told his morale had collapsed and he could not move closer to the enemy. He had 2 turns of one of his battalions firing, but this was the limit of his participation. Not a great way to spend your day.
The Austrian command lost 2000 men. My "575" dragoons (squad iii) took home battle honors for its draw in a charge and subsequently overrunning the French battery. All of this is hollow, as essentially one charge dictated the game. Chris made the tactical choice of the game and won it with the associated ripples. Well played my man.