Saturday, May 26, 2018

Battle of the three Emperors - AUSTERLITZ

It was a joy to be able to bring to the table and make use of the miniature collection of Kelly Jones in the Austerlitz scenario that Kelly and I had designed in 2004.

The crew of players for the battlefield May 20, 2018

A total of seven players were assembled, with five to take on the Russo-Austrian Allied commands and my son Alex to team up with me to run the Soult and Davout 1-2 punch on the French right wing.

Overview of the table, from the south end, Castle Sokolnitz seen on the left ... Pratzen plateau on the right

the morning fog of December 2, 1805 was simulated with the batting stuffing laid out in irregular shapes

The only exposed French formations were ringing the western highlands

Pratzen plateau was loaded with Russians

The grand scale gets to be better seen when the players hands show the size of the 15mm miniatures

The turns all started with a 'burn off' die roll for the morning fog 'lifting' which - when present would only allow 6" visibility and any combat would suffer from 'blunder combat' penalties



The fog burned off faster than in the first run of this game in 2004, such that by 09h00 the south half of the valley was visible.

now the south half of the field was visible, Telnitz seen at the bottom of the image - to the left bottom are the arriving columns of Davout and III Corps

The nasty French 'surprise'!  Davout and III Corps arrive in the south to put up a fight for Telnitz and Sokolnitz

Russian columns were not deterred

the batting used for fog had clung to the French eagle on this command cadre stand making for an interesting image

different angle on the troops holding the river line
Now the shooting started by 10h00 the fog was almost completely gone.

Only a small corridor of fog remained on the north end of the field, while around Telnitz there were raging fights and the Russians had attempted a storming of Sokolnitz!

View looking south along the center of the Allied lines


A hole had opened in the center of the Allied lines ... leading directly to the unprotected Headquarters of Tsar Alexander and Emperor Francis.  A French cavalry force did not miss this golden opportunity!

More Allied cavalry was in trouble in the south as the independent Dragoons strike deep out from French lines

the field center, with the huge hole open for the French cavalry assault on Allied HQ

Russian columns had crossed the Goldbach north of Castle Sokolnitz and were preparing to prevent any interference with their further assault of the fortification (which had briefly been set on fire)

Allied center of field formations with Russians leading and Austrians to the rear.

French Cavalry strike out from north of Kobelnitz into Russians advancing from Pratzen

Russian formations in disarray after failing to penetrate Sokolnitz

French Cavalry hammer into the Allied advance guard making ready guns to fire

Russian cavalry in rout condition is overrun by French cavalry on the extreme south end of the field
A lull comes over the Allied half of the field as the news that Tsar Alexander and the Austrian Emperor had last been seen to have been OVERRUN by French Cavalry.  No one knew where any of the senior Allied commanders were!  A novice Russian officer one Brigadier Meatballatov was going to have to take charge.

the control board at 10h30, score Allies:0 :: French: 6
By 11h00 Meatballatov was now attempting to get a handle on what was going on with the Allied situation.

Tsar's 'tag' and some measuring devices (in clear plastic) for maneuver and artllery

French (bottom) face Russians (top) on the north flank of the battlefield

French Lines at second level of north hills in the foreground, Pratzen and the Stare Vinorady (yellow and red lichen) in the distance
I was informed later in this stage of the game that during the 10h00 move for the Allies a Russian commander failed to make his command roll and the whole Russian Infantry formation did not move, this put them behind the others and effectively blocked the faster moving Austrian columns that were set to come onto the table that turn and following turn.


Marshal Bernadotte's I Corps moves to the far north (left) of the French lines.  The battle in the north is finished at this point - yet the Allies just cannot fathom that their plans are going so badly ...
With 11h30 Kutuzov was to take back command of the Allied efforts, having been found and brought to the remains of the Allied HQ.

Field at 11h30, all the fog is gone and now the desperate situation for the Allies was being made clear

Russians were forced to make squares behind their attacking forces at Sokolnitz as French cavalry were marauding all over the region

Kobelnitz was another garrisoned town that would be a problem for Allied attack

The north of the field had barely been dented by the Allied attacks and now they were reaching a 'fatigue' number value

Not getting it all their own way though some French formations, mainly of Lannes V Corps were taking casualties

The massive 5' by 9' table comes into better view when seen with the Allied players making moves

reaching a full 2+ feet across the table starts to become a challenge as the Allied advance grinds forward

We then had a delay as a few players were going to have to depart.

So some awards were in order:

MOST COSSACK and 3rd Place Allied

2nd Place Allied

First 1st Place Allied

Most likely to be captured officer!  (He was the Tsar!)

We then resumed to finish off the tale for the day.

French Cavalry continued to linger in the Allied rear, seen here at the south end of Pratzen

Austrian Cavalry were making ready to sweep the south clear, when the Fatigue levels of the nearby left wing simply collapsed, this cavalry would be called upon to keep the French from any effective pursuit

Russian formations routing and falling back near the Allied HQ (center left of image white horse)

The struggle at Puntowitz as Allied artillery were in position to damage the French they would not be able to keep their positions as the right and left wings on either side of them were melting away due to fatigue

French with Lapanz Markt behind them

Jirschikowitz now garrisoned by Russian Guardsmen, who would have to be sacrificed in a rear guard action as the left and right wings were hitting fatigue levels and withdrawing

Bridge on the post road to Brun, now totally controlled by French forces

Bernadotte and Lannes were ready to sweep the Post road clear and Bagration would have to withdraw having now reached the fatigue number for his formations

marker board final tally, Allies: 3 :: French:10 (with perhaps 12 more in disorder) as the listed units are the removed ones from the table.

Final result was without a doubt a French Victory.

Special thanks to Nate Stevenson, coach and history teacher at NDSS for arranging the use of the portable classroom spaces.

Epilogue, the Allied plans:

This was the general plan of the Allies as constructed from historical sources.
The changes that the Tsar player had made were to move the Guard up earlier and thus cut off the 2nd column of Bagration to arrive later than originally (I think this worked to the Allies favor in the end as they were able to keep the French from using Murat as a total executioner of the whole of the left wing of the Allied army as happened historically and I (as Murat) could not get out into the open ground because these formations were 'behind' where they would have been historically.

The other change to the plan was to make Lichtenstien an independent command that would have freedom to 'react' to the field situation as he saw fit.  This put the last arriving reserves commander into the great position of being really able to save the day for the Pratzen plateau as that was the right place to move, again not at all like he historically arrived coming in along the congested Post Road from Olmutz and getting tangled up with the retreating and routing elements of Bagration's command.

GREAT DAY EVERYONE THANK YOU!

2 comments:

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

Looks like a great event. I have fond/embarassed memories of a very successful/disastrous 15mm Austerlitz game we ran at Dalhousie University more than 30+ years go. My brilliant/stupid idea was to put all of the handful of experienced players on the French side with the best as Napoleon while all the least experienced players were put on the Allied side with individual orders/objectives NO ONE in over all command. It worked like a charm with players getting in each other's way and launching uncoordinated attacks which only had some success due to overwhelming numbers.

When Soult attacked only one player recognized the danger and reacted while trying to convince the rest to do the same. The resulting rout was almost as convincing as the real thing but by the time we called the game and started to explain the idea of recreating the original historical situation where smaller numbers with better coordination and leadership beat larger, uncoordinated numbers, we had lost 1/2 the players who had wandered off convinced that they had been set up as a way of making fun of the newbees. Even those who did stay weren't terribly impressed and we got 0 recruits.

In retrospect it did seem like a dumb idea and I've never again tried the experiment with new players though I have been known to disguise and mislead experienced, known, players about the real scenario.

Codsticker said...

It was a great day David- I really enjoyed it. Thank you for organising it.