Perhaps The dear reader has heard of the Battle of Wagram. Garage Gaming Terry has and it has long been his dream to refight the battle with massed gaming pieces shaped and pigmented so as to present themselves as replicas of the men of that era.
For the less learned of the readership the Battle of Wagram was fought between Napoleon’s French and Allied Army and the Austrians under Archduke Charles over the two days of 5 & 6 July, 1809. On the second day of the battle fearing the deteriorating situation the Austrians withdrew their army.
To counteract the French (slight) superiority in numbers, their advantage in command and control and slight advantage in the quality of their units (on average) Garage Gaming Terry had devised some evil schemes to make the game a little more interesting. Chief amongst these was the probability that in the refight Archduke John would put in an appearance with some(?) of his troops to give that French Emperor another element in the battle to process and deal with. Likewise elements of the Austrian V Corps were likely to arrive in contradiction to the occurrences back in 1809.
Somewhere along the line one of the Garage Gamers – Paul W – announced that he would make custom terrain for the battle. This was of course quite crazy. The sheer size of the table, the long hours of thankless work, the cost of the materials, the storage and the transportation. The man’s obviously a certifiable lunatic but as the pictures show he delivered. A first for von Peter himself – playing on custom built terrain for the battle. Luxury.
Above: Paul W’s custom built terrain prior to being sullied by the presence of the two armies. Photo care of John H.
Once again von Peter himself was summoned forth to don the white and red – and black and gold and green plume and … … … – of an Austrian general’s uniform. GdK Freidrich Hohenzollern commander of the II Army Corps was the part to be played. Closer inspection of his command revealed …
- an Advanced Guard Brigade lead by Siegenthal of
- 8th Jäger battalion (which was promptly substituted with a battalion of Grenzer as von Peter himself has pigmented Grenzer but his jagers remain unpigmented)
- a battalion of Archduke Charles Legion (Landwehr)
- Vincent Chevaulagers (which were promptly substituted for by von Peter’s Hessen-Homburg Hussars)
- an Infantry Division lead by FML Thomas Brady
- 5 large line battalions
- 2 landwehr battalions
- 2 batteries
- an Infantry Division lead by FML Josef Ulm
- 5 large line battalions
- 1 landwehr battalion
- 2 batteries
Hohenzollern’s job – hold the escarpment behind the Russbach Stream and associated swampiness from the town of Wagram on the right flank to just past the village of Baumersdorf on the left flank where a junction was made with the Rosenberg’s IV Army Corps who were holding the village of Markgrafneusiedl against Davout. Ominously Oudinot’s troops could be seen across the stream opposite II Corps.
Scenes from before the storm
Some images taken just prior to the first shots being fired. The sharp eyed may notice the occasional Prussian battery or battalion. The needs of the game were vast and the local resources not quite up to those needs despite some valiant efforts with paint brushes.
Above: the join between the right wing of Rosenburg’s IV Corps – Paul G – and Hohenzollerns’s II Corps – von Peter himself. As is his way von Peter himself has managed to deploy his troops and left a battery out of the line. That will be his pudgy hand rearranging the troops to make room for the second base to complete the battery. The one base battery – soon to be two! – marks the left most unit of the II Corps. Oudinots French in the distance. The building on the left is the tower on the outskirts of Markgrafneusiedl. The buildings by the pudgy hand represent the village of Baumersdorf. This was initially garrisoned by a battalion of Archduke Charles Legion (Landwehr) from the Advanced Guard. Photo care of John H.
Above: Perhaps more of Oudinot’s French – who can tell … they all look the same! 😇 Whatever their fit in the French Army’s orbit they are under the masterful command of Alan H. The buildings to the left represent Wagram. The Austrians across the stream on the escarpment from the battery on the road to the right are von Peter’s charges. There was a rule in place to keep clutter off the table. Some idiot has broken the rule. In the idiot’s defence the game has not yet started. Photo care of John H.
Above: Nansouty’s French Cuirassiers way around opposite the Austrian right flank. These were destined to cause a few challenges for the Austrian command. Photo care of John H.
Above: The extreme left of the Austrian line as the game commenced. The French of Davout (and Montbrun’s cavalry?) posture aggressively against Rosenburgs IV Corps. More of Davout’s troops through the tree line. The burning buildings are those of Markgrafneusiedl. Photo care of John H.
Above: immediately to the Austrian right of Wagram the table looked something like this. Wagram on the left of the picture and Aderklaa on the right. Keith G. held Wagram for the Austrians and most of the Austrians in shot are his to command. von Peter himself strongly suspects that some of the Austrians to the right may be part of Ray H’s Austrian command who were to attack Aderklaa in the game. The mass of French facing Wagram are the play things of Alan H while John H defends Aderklaa and hinterland. Photo care of John H.
Above: Moving a bit further to the right of the Austrian deployment. That’s Wagram (again!) upper left with Aderklaa to the right. Those Austrian grenadiers and heavy cavalry are part of Ray H’s command. Photo care of John H.
Above: An expanded overview of the prior image. Ray H’s Austrian grenadiers and cavalry nicely on show. John H’s opposing French garrison the burning Aderklaa and the immediate supports don’t look up to the job of holding it … but the French had a cunning plan. The Austrian battalion partially in picture bottom right on the other side of the wall are possibly the beginnings of Brian T’s Austrian force. Top right are Russell B’s French being an assortment of guard, cuirassiers, infantry and cavalry. French bully boys to the last man … errr, figure. 😇 Photo care of John H.
Above: An overview looking down the Russbach Stream. Wagram is represented by the nearest set of buildings. Paul has perhaps eaten something that is a little too hot! Photo care of John H.
Ready, set, let the killing and maiming begin
The clock was set to 10am, 6 July, 1809 – day two of the historic battle. Generals start your armies please. 😃
Though probably the least busy of the players – see why below – von Peter himself has a limited knowledge of the detailed events elsewhere on the table. He’s also idle. So there is not going to be a detailed blow by blow recapitulation of the game. Just a few photos of the general action and a few more focussing on the glory of Hohenzollern’s Austrian II Corps actions … remembering of course that von Peter himself was wearing Hohenzollern’s uniform for the day! 😇
So why was von Peter himself probably the least busy of the players? The French devised a cunning plan to give themselves an unexpected jump on, and an advantage over, the Austrians in the central sector around Aderklaa. Immediately the game started instead of attacking across the Russbach Stream as the history books dictated Oudinot sent the brigades of his second line towards the gap between Wagram and Aderklaa. So a quick quarter turn to the right and a “march” from them and they were departing Hohenzollern’s front.
“The cowards” and “read your history books” loudly proclaimed Hohenzollern to all that cared to listen while he silently thanked his lucky stars at this fortuitous turn of events. Hohenzollern’s finely tuned military brain creaked and complained as it calculated that he should sit still for a turn or two to ensure that those redeploying French troops had indeed left the scene before getting a little aggressive. Unfortunately at that same moment the Austrian suprissimo Archduke Charles – aka Garage Gaming Terry – rode past with some reinforcements for the soon to be hard pressed Rosenburg. Two quick instructions to poor Hohenzollern …
- I’m appropriating two of your battalions from your left to assist Rosenburg
- attack across the Russbach … now!
Not much later the interfering Archduke Ludwig appeared and made off with two more of Hohenzollern’s battalions from his right flank this time and headed off in the direction of Wagram with them. Double d’oh!
The few photos of the action …
Above: Brian T’s Austrians are attacking the village Breitenlee which is burning. John H’s defending French look to be outmatched … but there’s a lot more French coming down the pike. Garage Gaming Terry’s Austrians hold the extreme right of the Austrian line and there’s a whole bunch of hurt coming his way down that pike. Photo care of John H.
Above: Davout takes big bites out of Rosenberg’s defensive position. Markgrafneusiedl may be burning but it’s now burning in French hands. Photo care of John H.
Above: Rosenburg – Paul G – feeling the pressure of a well organised attack from Davout. Better quality troops, better command and control and even the dice are making a mockery of the Austrian defensive position. This photo just had to be published as it captures Paul looking like a bewildered man truly suffering under the repeated hammer blows of the cruelly uncaring fates. 😃 The French on the right facing away from the main Austrian position have turned to face the ahistorically arriving Archduke John … who didn’t achieve much this time around either really. Photo care of John H.
Above: The beginnings of the glory of Hohenzollern. The Grenzer have crossed the Russbach Stream and the landwehr gather in a threatening manner. The round command stand at the bottom is Archduke Charles on his return trip to the centre having delivered reinforcements to Rosenberg The square command stand represents the heroic Hohenzollern himself. Photo care of vPh.
Above: Action around Wagram. Continuing with their cunning plan the French do not attack Wagram itself put poor troops into the area to the right – from the Austrian perspective – of the village. The edge of this action can be seen on the right of this image. Photo care of John H.
Above: Hohenzollern’s Landwehr have stormed across the Russbach Stream and it’s bayonet – or pitchfork?! 😃 – time. The central landwehr battalion has pushed back it’s opponents and it’s neighbours are striving mightily. The whitecoated Austrians are proving to be not that keen to move down off the escarpment to assist their lesser trained comrades. Fuzzy picture care of vPh.
Above: the same scene as the prior image zoomed in and from the French perspective. The Grenzer in the upper right are attracting all sorts of fire and will soon be recovering back behind the buildings of Baumersdorf. Photo from vPh.
Above: Two battalions of landwehr still exist on the French side of the Russbach Stream … and finally here come some of the boys in white. Hurrah! Another fuzzy survivor from vPh’s photographic efforts.
Above: End of game. Paul G acknowledges the efforts of Hohenzollern’s troops in crossing the Russbach Stream and securing a French free enclave. The Grenzer can be seen reorganising behind Baumersdorf. To the right a division or two of French line that same Russbach Stream. They failed their command roll to cross four turns in a row. Being in line rather than column wouldn’t have helped. And in the interest of full disclosure those two battalions of landwehr at the back of the table aren’t really there. They are rightly to be found recently appended to the casualty lists. Photo care of John H.
Above: Heroes of the Hapsburgs and all around fine upstanding fellows. Left to right Brian, Raymond, Keith, Garage Gaming Terry, von Peter himself, Paul G. Photo care of John H.
Above: Wannabe Napoleons. Left to right Russell, John, Alan, Daniel, Paul W. Photo care of John H.
But there’s more! In effect this one day game was the dress rehearsal to the real reenactment yet to be had. This will take place over the two days – 5 & 6 August 2017 – of the Call to Arms convention in Wellington, New Zealand. Paul W will be adding 3 more boards for the game; reinforcements will not be rushed in as quickly; and a few tweaks may be made. So if you’re in the vicinity please feel free to drop in for a look and a chat.
von Peter himself is indebted to John H for providing much of the photographic images of the game. Many photos were taken by von Peter himself on the day but his camera settings were incorrectly set for posed, tripod mounted, delayed shutter, long exposure photography not the shaky hand held photography as practiced on the day. The totally predictable result – many blurred and unusable photographs. And as if that was not enough the lighting setting was not quite as it should have been either. What an idiot! Few of von Peter’s photographs escaped the cutting room floor. So a big thank you John for saving the day … … … even if you did masquerade as an evil Frenchman on the day!! 😃
BTW John’s grandfather’s adventures in WWI serving in the 15th Battery, New Zealand Field Artillery are presented on the blog Walk March, Diary of a New Zealand Artilleryman, 1917-1919. New entries are being released on the 100th anniversary of the original diary entry. von Peter himself has read through the blog to date and will keep an eye on the proceedings of Gunner Godfrey Lincoln Lee’s war.
Since we’re in Idiot’s corner … it is highly likely that von Peter himself has butchered some of the history, geography, players, game play or anything really. Should Garage Gaming Terry raise an alert to any of the larger faux pas then von Peter himself may fix it and note the changes.
And for those with an interest … the adjudicating rules were Black Powder with some minor local amendments. The game was hosted by the Wellington Warlords Wargaming Club during one of their regular club days on the 1st July 2017. And if anybody really cares a quick summing up of victory points adjudged the game an honourable draw. Of course the hobby was the real winner on the day! 👍
Don’t forget to click on the images for larger and clearer versions of the same.
Until we meet again …
von Peter himself