Sunday, December 31, 2023

Eckmuhl Campaign (3)


The previous instalment of this narrative ended with the tremendous clashes east of the Abens river and about Teugen. The Army Corps of Marshals Lannes and Lefebvre, were pushing eastwards from Arnhofen, along the along with half of Marshal Davout's III Corps under General Gudin. Immediately opposing this large force were the Corps of Hohenzollern-Hechingen (III) and Archduke Ludwig (V), keeping safe Rosenberg's IV Corps holding at Teugen. Marshal Davout himself was directing the counterattacks with the half of his corps that remained under his command. Though tenuous, his contact with the rest of Grande Armee was being kept open by his garrison at Regensburg - then under assault from Bellegarde's I Corps.
Day 5:
As the battles raged about Arnhofen and Teugen, Napoleon himself was accompanying General Vandamme's Wurttembergers.  Having reached the banks of the Abens River, the question was weather to cross it at Siegenburg, or turn southwards towards Au and Freising to join the action to force the Isar.
Napoleon to self: 'Continue east or head south?'

Battle of Teugen: three army corps the side, though the French 
III Corps is the equivalent of two.

Perhaps the battles to the east decided him.  Between them, Lannes and Lebebvre drove Ludwig with heavy loss back down the Pfaffenhausen road, but Hohenzollern held. From the east, Davout stormed into Teugen, retook the place, and shovelled Rosenberg's corps south towards Lanquaid. This left Hohenzollern's corps perilously placed - almost surrounded by three times their numbers. How was their escape to be effected?

Teugen changes hands a second time

Far to the south at Freising, Hiller's VI Corps was in full retreat towards Landshut, whilst General Oudinot made good his hold upon Freising and the western end of the river bridge. Marshal Massena's Corps was behind him on the Pfaffenhofen road. Coming down the Moosburg road, Prince Liechtenstein was marching along the north bank of the Isar. His objective: to retake Freising and secure the river crossing there. In view of what was facing him: a tall order, indeed.
VI Corps retreat from Freising

Day 6:
In view of their successes at the end of the day, the French high command became too complacent. For in the morning that followed, the Austrians seized the initiative and bade fair to reverse the results of the day before. Bellegarde finally burst through the Regensburg garrison, and surged across the river. Now Marshal Davout was in real peril, practically surrounded by enemies, and his communication with the rest of his command and the Grand Armee as a whole completely cut off. 
Bellegarde's I Corps carries Regensburg, and cuts
off Marshal Davout from the main French Army.

Austrian III Corps's breakout battle at Teugen

The Austrian's early attacks by III and IV Corps proved more than the Iron Marshal could withstand. Although IV Corps was repulsed, and drew off southward, III Corps broke into Teugen village and decisively drove the French eastwards, and away from their friends. Much reduced in numbers, the French retired eastwards, across the front of the none too distant Austrian I Corps. They were also reduced by Marshal Davout, seriously wounded and out of the campaign.
A third time, Teugen changes hands.  Marshal Davout seriously 
wounded in the battle.

This success, and the retreats of IV and V Corps had brought the Austrians out of a parlous strategic situation, and threw Marshal Davout's demi-Corps, now under the command of General St-Hilaire, into one that might have seemed well-nigh hopeless. But there were powerful French forces not too far away on the other side of the enemies in between. The complication was the addition of Bellegarde's corps to the foes arrayed against them.  Now there were four Austrian facing three French army corps.

Austrians have taken Teugen and extricated 
themselves from a dangerous situation.

At least, there ought to have been four Austrian corps. But Ludwig's V Corps had taken very heavy casualties, and had retreated a far south as Pfaffenhausen. The Austrians around Teugen would have to do without V Corps for at least a day.

Events were not going in French favour to the south, either. Prince Liechtenstein was preparing to ttack  across the river from Moosburg, just as Hiller was pulling back along the Landshut road. There Hiller ran into Feldmarschallleutnant Kienmayer's II Reserve Corps coming the other way. 

The traffic jam that ensued - a real 'edge of the world' problem the way I set up the table - meant that both formations fetched up back around Landshut, in order to resolve the tangle. Prince Liechtenstein was on his own.

Recovering their aplomb, and before Bellegarde was in a position to prevent it, III and VII Corps surrounded Hohenzollern's Corps at Teugen, the main attacks coming in from the west side. However, the approach marches taking most of the day to keep the corps closed up, the initial attacks were probes only. The main attacks had to wait upon the morrow.

At the same time, Marshal Lannes moved up his command, seized Langquaid, and readied himself to attack Rosenberg also the following morning.

Big battles imminent around Teugen and Langquaid, matters were reaching a head at Freising. 

Before Liechtenstein could launch his attack upon the town, Marshal Massena had brought his corps alongside Oudinot's into Freising, whilst the latter brought his own command north of the town alongside the Ammen river bank. The Emperor Napoleon was with Vandamme's command at Au, barely a day's march distant, although the orphaned cavalry of VI Corps determined to have some say in whether, or how quickly, Napoleon could bring the Wurttembergers forward.
The battles between Massena and Oudinot against Prince Liechtenstein were soon decided. Defeated by double their numbers, the Austrian grenadiers and cuirassiers fell back upon Moosburg. But both French corps knew from their losses they had been in a deadly fight.

So matters stand at the end of Day 6 (24 April), the issue still very much in doubt around Teugen and Langquaid, further large scale battles imminent. Nor is the French hold upon Freising yet fully secure, leaving aside the matter of advancing further upon the vital town of Landshut. Oh, yes, and there's that little isolated Division of cavalry from VI Corps, hanging about Au: they too will have their own contribution to make to the history of this campaign.

To be continued...

Saturday, December 30, 2023

A Reminder for Me...

A recent Bob Cordery posting concerning the use to be made of a spare piece of pasting board reminded me of something I've been walking on for well over a year, now.  

I have an interesting piece of carpet I picked up off the street a few years ago. Somebody has dumped it.  But the thing seemed to be in reasonable condition, so I did the civic-minded carpetatarian thing, and rescued it.  You know: before it rained. Or something.

What made it interesting...?

Salvaged carpet for war games?

Coloured a sort of  'sea green', the thing got trimmed off to 28"x70" (72cm x 180cm). It's lying on my bedroom floor (goes fairly well with the walls) as the most convenient (least inconvenient) storage location.

I've been thinking of cutting the thing in half to make, when reoriented, a 35" x 56" (90cm x 144cm) game surface. Conveniently,  I have some off cuts from this carpet, plus others of a rather lighter hue, that can form elevated ground. 

Off cuts for elevated ground.  The paler items I have had
 much longer, from some other source.

Were the playing surface divided into 6cm squares - the exactly right size for my Chromatic Wars armies - that would make a field of 15 x 24 squares.  The question is, though: do I really need yet another playing surface?  I seem to have plenty as it is...

An old hotel quilt thingy - great for deserts or possibly 
winterish - square grid. Salvaged from an earthquake site 
(over a year after the earthquake that wreck the hotel).


Memoir '44 game board - great for my mediaevals
and for Sengoku battles as well

An alternate Sengoku board... Made from ceiling tile
(I think). The grid cells are a whisker smaller than 
the Memoir '44.

10x10 square grid, used for the First Blacklands War.
Plywood surface that was intended for earthquake repairs.

A quilt I bought in 1976.  In 47 years it has 
faded some... Ungridded

Ungridded blanket I picket up somewhere about 40 years ago,
 specifically for its colour, to be used for War Gaming...

Artificial lawn - ungridded.  Good size for One Hour Wargames.

Probably my favorite: my hex board...
Another, larger, piece of plywood. Very versatile.

I didn't fully realise before I began this inventory just how many war games surfaces I have available. All this probably explains why, after two or three years, I never got around to doing anything with this piece of carpet.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Eckmuhl Campaign (2)

The action in the campaign was so convoluted and complicated, that I'm not sure my memory is altogether able, despite so many pictures, to recall the events with 100% accuracy. Which just goes to show that the narrative of the Duke of Wellington's proverbial ball is a complex undertaking. Having said that, no doubt the histories of Baron Jomini and Major-general Marbot will follow much the same storyline as here inscribed. Note that in the following, Austrian commanders and formations are given in italics.

Day One - 19 April 1809
Napoleon's arrival at Ingolstadt late 18th April came not a moment too soon. Early the following morning, the Austrians seized the initiative, the III Corps, followed by Archduke Charles accompanying the V Corps, moved upon Feking, at that moment occupied by part of General Morand's wing of the French III Corps.  
At the same time, I Corps arrived upon the north bank of the Danube opposite Regensburg. There, Marshal Davout had had the foresight to place about a brigade of infantry (2 figures) into the fortified city. If Bellegarde wanted to cross into the place, he would have to fight for it.
As the three Austrian army corps pushed northward, French columns to the west were marching upon the line of the Abens River. By quick marching, Marshal Lefebvre's VIIth had almost reached the river brdge, but were unable to effect the crossing before Hohenzollern-Hechingen had passed and were assailing Morand's command at Feking. 

To the south, meanwhile, Oudinot's II and Massena's IV Corps were in full march towards the vital point, Freising, the nearest crossing of the Isar river.  This was a race, for Freising had been left with no garrison. Originally earmarked for the march north from Pfaffenhausen, Hiller's VI Corps had turned about at Moosburg, and were making all haste to reach the place first.

Hiller barely made it (a fortuitous initiative dice 'win' for Austria - the initiative was to continue switching from one side to the other during the course of the whole campaign). On the march, the light cavalry had to be left on the north bank of the Isar tributary, the Ammer stream. This circumstance was to leave them out of the subsequent action, and to have further consequence later on. Hurrying up, Oudinot declined to launch a quick attack 'off the march', preparing a full scale attack for the following day. Wresting the initiative following day, Oudinot's attack found Hiller without his light horse. 

Having detached a small garrison at Regenburg, Marshal Davout might have marched to join the other wing of his army corps at Feking. Reckoning, however, that Morand could probably hold open the lines of communication westwards, he instead directed his troops immediately to hand to the village of Teugen, reaching the place at the end of the 20th April.  

He was just in time. Rosenburg's IV Corps, up from Lanquaid and already close by, was preparing an attack. It was going to be a busy day for the whole of III Corps, attacked by two enemy corps (III and IV) with a third (V) in support.

This was not to mention Bellegarde's command, just then commencing its first trans-riverine assault upon Regensburg. The first probes received a quick rebuff, but it could be only a matter of time before the garrison would be overcome.

For its attack upon Feking, Hohenzollern had split his corps in two, one attacking up the road, the horse taking a flanking route (I'll be honest; I have no recollection why I did this.  Maybe it was to tie up the trailing half of Morand's command). 

The following pics tell the tale of Hohenzollern's first attack. Totting up the figures and arms engaged, both sides rolled ten dice. Matching pairs eliminated - the crossed dice in the photo - the remainder indicated the losses. 
Blue first: the French eliminated 2 Austrian foot, and both gunners.  The third '1' is redundant.  
Orange next: three French infantry eliminated, and two horse. The three '6's also indicate that General Morand is at hazard....

... and here were the rolls for his fate. The '6' renders him hors de combat - dead, seriously wounded or taken prisoner. 

Overall, this was a defeat for Morand, but if the following picture doesn't lie, it seems that a quick counterattack during the French half of the turn recovered the village.  

Bellegarde continued to batter away at Regensburg, but by evening of the 20th, half the garrison was still grimly hanging on.

Day three, 21st April, was a successful one for the Austrians. Rosenburg's powerful attack drove Marshal Davout out of Teugen - the first of many changes of hands throughout this campaign - and a renewed Austrian attack again took Feking. Following III Corps, the archdukes, Charles and Ludwig, brought V Corps up to Arnhofen before Lefebvre could bring his men across the Abens. Davout's whole III Corps was now cut off from the rest of La Grande Armée.

For the whole three days, Davout's Corps, split into three parts counting the Regensburg garrison, had been in battle with three Austrian corps (I, III, and IV, with a fourth (V) in the offing.  But six French and Allied corps were making the best speed they could to redress the balance. General Oudinot was about to attack VI Corps at Freising, and Massena was not far distant on the other side of the Ammen River with IV Corps. Lefebvre was also ready to force the River Abens in the face of V Corps, and Marshal Lannes was not far behindhand, approaching Siegenburg.

All the same, as evening drew in on 21 April, the strategic situation was looking rather more rosy for Archduke Charles, than it was for Napoleon.

Day 4: 22 April
This day, it was the French who opened the ball.  Before Hiller could call in his light cavalry, still on the road from Moosburg on the far side of the Ammen, Oudinot threw his entire II Corps into the attack at Freising. It was at once successful, the French broke into the town, and Hiller beat a hasty retreat across the Isar, towards Landshut. Realising too late the threat to that vital point, Prince Liechtenstein directed his I Reserve Corps - made up of elite grenadiers and cuirassiers - thereto. They were still over a day's march distant when Freising fell to Oudinot's corps.

Matters were drawing to a head, too, throughout the day around Teugen. Recapturing Feking for the second time, General Gudin, having replaced the unlucky Morand, followed up III Corps as it withdrew. Lefebvre forced V Corps were forced back to the southeast out of Arnhofen. The three Austrian army corps formed a compact triangle in and west of Teugen.

They were facing a lot of pressure from the French. Marshal Lefebvre had at last forced the crossing at Arnhofen, and Marshal Lannes, with his Provisional corps, also crossed the river at Siegenburg. Altogether, Lannes, VII Corps and elements of III Corps were facing III and V Corps. To the east of Teugen, Marshal Davout was preparing his own counterattack against IV Corps...

To be continued...