The gaming group met today at Jon's house for a refight of Raab, a battle wherein Eugene's French army tried to keep John's Austrian army from joining Archduke Charles on the Danube. Jon provided the figures and the table, and we used his modified version of Republique as our rules.
John occupied a good defensive position and awaited the French attack. This view down the table is from the Austrian left. On their far left, the Austrian cavalry guarded a ford across the river. Most of the Austrian cavalry were of poor quality. The French would have to find the ford, get their superior cavalry across the stream, and roll up the Austrian left. In the center, the Austrians had an infantry corps occupying two villages on high ground. The French had an infantry corps of better quality in position to attack. On the Austrian right, another infantry corps with an attached cavalry division guarded the army's flank. The French had a huge division of Italians on their left. The Austrians also had a powerful reserve corps stationed between the center and the right.
The stream which flows through the center of the board was a significant obstacle. Any infantry unit crossing the stream automatically became disorganized (indicated by a white pom-pom). Cavalry and artillery could only cross at the single bridge on the Austrian right.
Here is the core position that the Austrians had to defend. The two villages were defensive strong points. You can see the Austrian reserve corps at the bottom right.
Austin commanded the French cavalry corps. Don commanded the French infantry.
Jon had his box of tokens ready to denote loss of men or cohesion.
Austin's French cavalry took three turns to find the ford. While his scouts searched, he moved his guns up to break up the Austrian cavalry.
Don Moves into the Attack
Don wasted no time, moving his infantry up to the river line.
Scott R. commanded the Austrian cavalry corps and the infantry holding the towns in the center.
Don Crosses the River
In the center, Don moved his French infantry against Scott R.'s raw Austrian infantry. Don accumulated white puffs by crossing the river, but he soon rallied them off.
At the same time, Don moved his Italians in position to hit the Austrian right. I commanded this Austrian corps and the Austrian reserve.
With a strong force in position, Don looked for a likely target for his attack.
Don massed his infantry in the center and struck the inexperienced Austrian brigades holding the hill. By stacking up his brigades, Don was able to get combat modifiers for supporting his lead units.
I moved my cavalry division from the army's extreme right to menace Don's Italians' flank, forcing his flank brigade to form square. I moved an infantry division to hit his vulnerable infantry.
My attack succeeded in throwing Don's left back across the stream, but I didn't cause many casualties.
In the meantime, Don's French infantry had pushed the Austrian center out of its first position and captured one of the towns. Scott R.'s infantry were losing men and cohesion.
The Italians on the French left had trouble rallying off their disorder from crossing the stream. I changed the Austrian corps' orders to attack and moved to push the whole Italian division back across the stream.
I also changed the orders for the reserve corps, ordering them to recapture the center defensive lines that the French had siezed. With a grenz battalion in the lead, the Austrians counterattacked.
After three turns, Austin's scouts had found the ford. He moved his heavy cavalry forward, and Scott R. attacked the French column as it crossed the stream.
Having seen the Italians back to their starting point, the Austrians resumed their position defending the army's right. The Italian division spent the rest of the game trying to rally off its disorder puffs.
Don's attack had made great progress in the center. The French held three of the four town squares. Scott R.'s Austrian corps had lost three of its five units, and one of the remaining brigades was irretrievably broken and running for the rear. The Austrian reserve corps was slowly pushing the French back, but without causing many casualties.
The cavalry fight on the left disolved into a chaotic, whirling series of melees. Each side fed their cavalry into the fight in small packets, rarely in full division strength. Austin had to funnel all his horse through that one bottleneck at the ford, but even so it was amazing that Scott R. was able to keep his outclassed cavalry in the fight.
At last, Scott R. was able to make a concerted attack on the disorganized French. As Scott R.'s irregular cavalry broke the lead French brigades, panic beset the French force. Austin had to retreat, losing several regiments whose retreat was blocked by the rocky stream.
The Austrian reserve corps managed to make two division strength attacks against the reeling French infantry. The elite Austrian grenadiers spearheaded one attack, while that same Grenz regiment spearheaded the other. Both attacks were successful enough to trigger French divisional panic. With the French high command injured and removed from the fight, the French regiments had trouble rallying off their disorder. The Austrians managed to retake their initial position and force the French back across the river.
The game took about four and a half hours to complete (or six hours with a break for hamburgers). It was a very close fight everywhere but the Austrian right, and the whole battle came down to a few lucky die rolls. The crippling of the French command structure in the center really helped the Austrians to retake the towns, and the almost unbelievable success of the Autrian irregular cavalry on the right meant that the leaderless French infantry lacked cavalry support.
With our recent ECW game, that makes for two nail biters in a row!