Monday, 25 April 2016

Battle of Austerlitz AAR: 2 Dec 1805

Looking NE up the battlefield, Pratzen Heights between the players. Note more or less unused rear (E) table.

Sunday, down to Liphook for the Liphook Historical Wargames Society's refight of Austerlitz. With the Bicentenary refights ending last year the club is now revisiting old favourites, so this year its Austerlitz and hopefully Jena or Auerstedt. Trevor puts a lot of effort into organising these events and building the huge terrain (they are 25mm, 1mm=1yd scale), and the scope of the games is always superb. For this game we had about 7-8 a side, so people were pretty busy, and I found myself as Napoleon.

Napoleon, me, commanding forward from near Pratzen

From the Players Brief it looked like the intention was to do a proper refight of Austerlitz, with the allies trying to extricate themselves once the French fell on their rear. However the allies had other plans, and from turn 1 had southward moving columns moving as slowly as possible, and a large force (Miloradovich and Kollowrat?) moving directly over the Prazten heights for the French arrival point (we only started with Legrange's Division on the table down on the Goldbach). Given this in reality Napoleon is likely to have not deployed forward and either defend the Goldbach, or move back to fight another day at a better location, given that he was heavily outnumbered, but this being a wargame we had to stay and fight. So what followed was not so much a refight of Austerlitz as an unbalanced wargame over the Austerlitz ground.

Cavalry face off in the southern sector

The game was one of two halves. For most o fthe first half all the action was in the South as the Allies gradually forced us out of village after village, and Davout's small reinforcements were not enough to hold the retreat. However Davout's cavalry dominanace actually meant that we ended up holding all the open ground in the South, with the Allies just holed up in the villages (which unfortunately is where the victory points were). It was then more or less stalemate for the rest of the game. In the North the French fell back on Pratzan (but still held the Heights - or at least its trig-point!) in the face of the Allied advance, waiting for Bernadotte and the Guard.

The battle for the villages

In the second half the focus switched to the North. Bernadotte went forward between Pratzen and Blasowitz into a line of about 6 Allied gun batteries. The left flank was open though so the Guard and other Cavalry started a flanking action and took out most of the Allied cavalry in the North. Soult was reinforced by the Guard and Duroc's Grenadier Division which fought to hold the Heights, and drive a wedge between the Allied forces around the Heights and those facing Bernadotte. Through this gap one of Vandamme's gallant Brigade's made a bee-line for the Stare Vinohrady trig-point, worth 20 victory points. The game ended with the Pratzen spot-high contested, and Bernadotte still slogging his way through the Allied guns, but cavalry from Davout heading North to disrupt a renewed Allied attack on the Heights from the South.

The Russian guns that met arriving French

Not the most rewarding of Liphook games, but offset but a wonderfully expansive table - even if the fighting was reduced to 3 pockets, and almost stealing victory from the jaws of defeat - we lost only 30-40. Will be interesting to see what the casualty figures are like.

The fight on the Prazten Heights, Prazten village in distance to NW

Bernadotte's heroic assault on the Russian gun lines

ENDEX - Looking SW down the table, Heights mid-table

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