von Peter himself has recently returned from a short no work to be seen or thought of sojourn in the winterless north of New Zealand. Yes, von Peter himself has been on holiday. Base camp was established in Kerikeri from which day long ‘campaigns’ were launched into the surrounding hinterland. Holiday pictures to follow in a later post you lucky Dear readers!
Before taking himself off on holiday a call to arms from the Hapsburg dynasty needed answering. The military talents of von Peter himself were required – stocks of available military talent being at a particularly low ebb – for a rematch of day two of the 1809 Apsern-Essling battle. Garage Gaming Terry and some of his Garage Gaming associates had organised a multiplayer rematch of said battle and von Peter himself and more critically his 28mm Austrians were in demand. Hurrah for Archduke Charles and his righteous ambition to throw off the unwanted shackles of French tyranny … … … and their bizarre insistence of adding garlic to absolutely everything! It’s just not the Austrian way. 😃
After the seemingly inevitable late withdrawals were withdrawn seven players remained to fight the fight with one extra substituting in near the end. The venue was kindly provided by the Wellington Warlords during one of their regular Saturday club days and Black Powder ruled the proceedings.
The forces of von Peter himself hug the edge and corner of the table field of battle. Their job – retake Essling. High command decided(?) on an indirect approach. The table behind holds the Austrian reserves and should be considered contiguous with the main table. That gap between tables can do funny things to general’s minds.
The defending French in and around Essling
von Peter himself was given the honour of commanding the Austrian left flank presumably with the aim of recapturing Essling. On the main table there was a huge central gap / hole between the forces reporting to von Peter himself and the next Austrians in the line. There is absolutely no truth to the various rumours that the Austrian high command were keen to keep the rest of the army away from the influence of von Peter himself or that the rest of the army had naturally removed itself from that portion commanded by the same von Peter himself! The French were destined to pour into this hole in one of their typical preemptive uncontrolled and undignified strikes. Where did the gentlemanly way of war go?! A back table held the Austrian reserves who were not to be held in reserve for very long lest the central hole filling French got into the flanks and rear of the main Austrian lines.
A look down the main table with the Austrians arrayed on the right showing the central hole in the Austrian deployment. This empty area was not to remain empty for long. Aspern is at the far end of the table. Our 1:1 scale models for this photograph are Brian, John and Terry. Thank you gentlemen. The sun streaming through the windows into the dark room was somewhat of an annoyance to this photographer. It’s almost as bad as the sun of Austerlitz. Mutter mutter!
The Austrian right flank and opposing French pre the nastiness of simulated warfare. The village is Aspern.
Special scenario rules and ‘stuff’:
Because they had recently been ousted from Aspern and Essling by the early morning whatever happened to gentlemanly warfare French attacks the left and right flanks of the Austrian host – those deployed along the short board edges – were prohibited from any forward movement in their first turn. This represented their reorganising after their forced evictions.
Garage Gaming Terry kept mysteriously turning cards during the game. They had something to do with the bridge(s) over the Danube in the French rear. What their effect might have been and whether anything came of the them during the game von Peter himself cannot say! 😃
The Granary in Essling was considered effectively impervious to attack … so it could not be attacked. In compensation it had restricted offensive capabilities – it could only issue one dice of fire out of each side.
Generally there were more Austrians than French but the French had much better Command & Control. In Black Powder terms for many of the French the maximum triple move was the expected result. Not so for the Austrians. In compensation the larger Austrian line battalions could absorb and dish out more hurt than their average French opponent.
The more astute of The dear readers may spot the occasional Russian unit in the photographs. These are really Austrians. Similarly some Saxon battalions are really Austrian grenadiers and Nassau battalions are really from Hesse Darmstadt batting for the French.
Time to let some pictures tell a story …
The situation from the edge of Essling looking towards Aspern at the end of turn 2(?). Did von Peter himself mention that the French were to quickly attempt to exploit the hole in the Austrian deployment. Infantry plus lots of French cavalry including their heavies. Part of the central Austrian command have advanced in a sort of double echelon formation trying to protect their flanks(?) while more of them are attacking the church in Aspern. Much like the troops of von Peter himself the Austrians coming in from the far short side of the table are having trouble moving forward. Obviously more reorganising required after their mornings eviction.
A view of Aspern from the Austrian main lines. The eagle eyed viewer will notice that it is an Austrian standard in the churchyard. Hurrah! Not for long however as the French would soon retake the church. Not for long however! The church was to change hands several times but in the end it would be the Austrians as sitting tenants.
Late mid game around Essling. The impertinent French are being pushed back having previously been much closer to the road. The Austrian battalion at the corner of the hedged in orchard / woods / gardens is about to charge said hedged in orchard / woods / gardens. Three consecutive rounds of close combat would see the Austrians bested by the French but the weee Hapsburgs held their position. The fourth round would see the French take a beating and disintegrate. In a mistaken application of the rules the Austrian battalion also performed a Break Test and disintegrated. If only von Peter himself knew then what von Peter himself knows now. The Austrian battalion immediately behind is shaken (has 4 casualty markers) and disordered (has a misaligned stand) and is totally disinterested in listening to any commands that may be issued to it. The Austrian battalion in the middle of the photo with the white flag will fail it’s order to charge the disordered (one stand misaligned remember) French battalion to its front. The Austrian battalion with the yellow flag next to the cavalry and artillery will not have an order issued due to the prior failed order and will continue to sit in front of the French artillery. Time to move on!
At the same stage as the prior photograph but on the alternate Essling front. von Peter himself seemed to have perpetual command failings here. Either he failed command / order attempts or his troops were disorganised as the result of French firepower and hence not amenable to receiving orders … or von Peter himself just plain missed opportunities while wandering around the table being sociable as a real gentleman of breeding should. For example in this photograph the Austrian battalion in column behind the two battalions in line is disorganised – remember the misaligned stand? It was part of intended bayonet attack but having been disordered it isn’t listening to any command to bayonet the enemy … or do anything! As an alternative a firing line has been set up to hopefully soften up the pesky Frenchmen. A third battalion of white coated Austrians has gotten itself left behind earlier due to a failed order and has not yet had a chance to catch up. It’s not all gloom, doom and incompetence though. The Grenz battalion dressed in brown and in skirmish formation in the left foreground of the photograph is about to advance closer to the French Battery and eventually destroy the battery with their fire. At the far end of the Austrian line 2 batteries of artillery have taken a section of Essling under continual and accurate fire. This would eventually result in there being no (living!) Frenchmen being in occupancy … and no immediately available Austrian battalion to occupy it!!!! Such are the wonders of 1809 Austrian staff work!
The end of game photographs from Aspern around to Essling …
The wooded area on the French side of Aspern is / was apparently called the Gemeinde Au and at the battle’s beginning was teeming with vermin … le petite Emperor’s vermin! 🐭 Not that von Peter himself is in anyway biased you understand! 😃 Here we see that the Gemeinde Au has been cleansed with good honest Austrians now in charge. Now what was that about not being biased?! 😎
Aspern is still a town in dispute with both sides claiming sectors with the church in a firmly pro Hapsburg state of mind. There appear to be ample Austrians in the vicinity. Not so much for the French if this and the prior photograph are reviewed.
A view centre of the battle. Through these Austrian eyes there seems to be a dearth of French compared to Austrians here as well.
The somewhat chaotic scene around Essling. With the last turn called some squadrons of the Austrian Hessen-Homburg Hussars have given in to their frustrations at sitting idle for most of the game and have attempted to charge the French battalion in line between the woods – now containing two battalions of Frenchmen – and the Danube. Of course they did not muster enough moves to get there. The Austrian battalion to the hussar’s rear is disordered as is the right hand battalion in line and the left most of the two batteries – yes it’s those misaligned stands again! 💀 The French battalion in line and the column behind the woods – both with white standards – may have been of the Young Guard. With the superior French command represented by higher commander ratings the French could reasonably reliably get triple moves for their commands. So depending on how the fight was looking brigades of Young Guard &/or cuirassiers would appear magically and just as soon depart as their services were required elsewhere. Meanwhile Austrian commanders were left jumping up and down in fury at their impotence as command rolls were failed. Much like that fateful day back in 1809 if one is to believe what one reads about the Austrian command.
Of course mere photographs only tell a portion of the tale. How battered individual brigades and divisions were and how much fight was left in them is an imponderable to The dear reader … much as it was to some of the Austrian commanders! What can be said – and it is the firm belief of von Peter himself that the Austrian commanders were unanimous in this – is that the though the French still held the majority of Aspern & Essling their army was rapidly becoming a battered wreck that would need to cede the battlefield lest it risk a complete and comprehensive destruction. And le petite Emperor would not like that one little bit. Not at all. He was already drawing up plans involving those troops for the follow up battle for which he appears to be favouring the name “Wagram”.
If this report has sparked any sort of interest then The dear reader should head on over to head organiser Garage Gaming Terry’s report. Lots more pictures and details are to be found over there.
Don’t forget to ‘click’ on the photographs for larger and clearer images.
Until we meet again …
von Peter himself