Friday, 26 April 2019

Battle of Abensberg (north) 210: 20th April 1809–20th April 2019

John planned and hosted this game, the first in the shed at his new abode in suburban Spearwood, of a semi-historical game based on the northern section of Abensberg. The withdrawal of history became a fighting rearguard action in this scenario from Michael Hopper's Eagles Over Bavaria 1809. This book had been the basis of a game of Abbach that we played last year, chez-moi. As with that game, General d'Armée were John's rules of choice, making it my second game using them.

I went French, naturellement, comprising Friant's division under the command of Davout, while John took Rosenberg's IV Armeekorps.

The scenario was fairly evenly balanced, although the French advantages of better command and generally better quality troops probably out-weighed the Austrians slightly greater numbers and big advantage in guns.

I decided to use the cunning 'the whole line will attack' tactic. Yes, dear reader, I went into the game with, at best, a partially developed plan. This was compounded, in the early turns, by some bad dice.

 The skirmish lines exchanged pleasantries.

An example of some of my early useless dice rolls. Ones are rarely good, as was the case with these dice for skirmisher fire. Trying to use poor luck to excuse a lack of planning; surely the last bastion of a scoundrel?!

Bad decision no. 1.
I decided to 'have a go' and so sent Barbanegre's brigade headlong at the Austrian defenders in the village, hoping to get lucky.

 I didn't, the defenders fired well and the attack stalled.

 In the centre, Grandeau's brigade moved slowly through the woods.

Bad decision no. 2
Why not repeat the same rash attack with Grandeau's brigade? Trouble was that I assumed they'd make it easily, did not measure (as allowed) and they stopped short, unformed, right in the teeth of the Austrian line and cross-fire from the guns!

 Meanwhile, back at the village, Barbanegre's men attacked again,...
... and were once again repulsed; this time retreating back past the wood.

 This allowed some sneaky Austrian skirmishers to take a shot.

Help was at hand with the arrival of Montbrun's mixed command of light cavalry and infanterie légère.

 The Austrians moved in reinforcements to meet the coming threat.

Back in the centre, Grandeau's men had suffered too much, one battalion was broken, causing the brigade to 'falter...
... retreating back to the safety of the woods (failed command roll).

Finally, a better decision.
On the French right, Gilly's léger brought three battalions against one of Grenz.
The Austrians fired ineffectively (producing a 'fire discipline' result).

 The French charged in with élan and the Grenz were broken.

Gilly mustered his men for a charge against the second battalion of Grenz, but the loss of their brothers-in-arms had caused them to falter and they retreated (having failed the command roll).

 An eagle's eye view of the battlefield, Austrians at top with that 'jolly' village on the left.
The same view from ground level showing the French left (above) and right (below). Note the cuirassiers in the foreground, heading to the right to assist Gilly's léger. A third stupid decision, to compound my earlier ones. I had originally intended them for a hammer-blow in the centre; see that lovely Austrian line ripe for charging?!

 Time to take that d@mned village! In went one of Montbrun's léger, ...

... joined by their supporting battalion. A certain victory!

What? Retreat? Ahhhh! This was rapidly becoming my La Haie Sainte.

A photo looking down the line from the Austrian left. Mid-sized and larger Napoleonic games just look so good, don't they?!

Here comes the cavalry! With only three turns left, will they make it?

Action on the right; the Austrian infantry took advantage of Gilly's isolated infantry in square,...
 ... breaking a battalion.

 And on the right; in once more went Barbanegre's stout fellows,...

... and out they stayed, yet again!

Montbrun's 5th hussars charged an Austrian square. I selected the stronger of the two in the front of the line, so they retired after an inconclusive mêlée.

VICTORY! The village finally fell to Montbrun's léger. Actually, it was worth nothing in terms of victory points, but if felt as though I had won the whole bloomin' war.

Back on the French right, the Austrians were preparing to attack one of Gilly's remaining battalions--his (Gilly's) brigade having passed the roll on the falter table, when...
 ... along came their armoured mates on big 'orses!

While the village did not represent any victory points, its capture was not entirely a waste of time as it opened up the Austrian right flank.

In went the 11th chasseurs à cheval (heavily disguised as the 16th), breaking the square weakened by the 5th hussars and subsequent skirmisher fire.

Bad decision no. 4
Last one for the game, but just when things were looking up, I decided to send Grandeau's weakened brigade to attack the Austrian centre. They were repulsed with heavily loss.

The cuirassiers were in! One regiment against the recently rallied Grenz (above) and the other taking on the supporting chevau-léger (below).

 Grenz defeated.

 Cavalry mêlée indecisive; both sides retreated.

Back on the French left, the victorious 11th chasseurs charged and broke an Austrian battalion in line that failed to form square.

Their flanks, particularly the right, were under significant pressure, but the Austrian centre was strong and supported by as-yet unengaged troops.

The scheduled 12 turns reached, we called it a draw. Losses were about equal and the battlefield situation similarly so. The Austrians would probably have withdrawn, the French cavalry could pursue, but the 'poor bloody infantry' were just that. 

A huge, public thank you to John for planning and hosting the game. It was beaut that we managed to coincide with the 210th anniversary of the real battle, as was part of his plan.

General d'Armée came out of it with honours intact too. We were both rusty as we'd not used them since September last year, but John's more detailed reading and use of them solo combined with my single use and subsequent read through, meant that we were able to resolve queries quickly, easily and satisfactorily. This was helped by the fact that we both played the game in the 'right' spirit and that the mechanics, once understood and accepted, worked largely according to our expectations.

I'll happily be part of another game using them in the not-too-distant.


  1. "Grenz defeated" - their absence in the photo presumably means that are reduced to a red smear on the grass? Lovely unit of cuirassiers I should add. Great report with some nice photos, there are some real gems in your collection.
    Glad you had fun with GdA, they are an amazing rule set for these big battles.
    Best wishes,

  2. Thanks Jeremy.
    Yeah, it went to the mêlée with the Grenz and they received the worst result, i.e. 'disperse'!
    The figures in this game were all John's fine painting.
    Those lovely cuirassier figures are from Zvezda. They are beautiful 1/72nd specimens.
    I look forward to using General d'Armee with a multi-corps game, as you have done.

  3. Great game an narrative; this phase of the 1809 campaign is especially interesting.

    1. As is the next phase to Aspern-Essling, the Wagram phase (not to mention the Polish, Tyrol, Wesphalian and Italian fronts), hey Peter?! ;)

  4. Wonderful, wonderful report James and a great set of photos as well. Very much enjoying GdA and as yourselves, need to play far more games of it!

    1. Thanks Carlo. All the credit for the game goes to John. I merely had to get to his place, enact my silly plans, have fun doing so and then blog about it!
      I look forward to seeing some Napoleonics on your 'whiff of grapeshot' blog; it has been too long...

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Dimitry for dropping by and making comment, большое спасибо вам.