Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Battle of Raab, June 14 1809 - and Ellis Con, Danielson, CT

Eugene de Beauharnais, the Viceroy of Italy, Napoleon's stepson and commander of the French Army of Italy, was tasked with defeating the Austrian Erzherzog Johann in Hungary and dispersing the Hungarian Insurrectio, the feudal militia anachronism of the Kingdom of Hungary, which took the place of the Landwehr raised in the German speaking districts of the Austrian Empire. If successful, this would both prevent Johann from intervening in the decisive battle on the Danube that Napoleon had planned for since his repulse at Aspern-Essling in May. After his embarrassing defeat at the hands of Erzherzog Johann at the opening of the campaign in April 1809, Eugene had come back with a string of unbroken successes - first the pivotal Battle on the Piave, then Tarvis, then St Michael. His army was now composed chiefly of confident men who might fairly be considered veterans, while that of Johann's army contained a large percentage (about 30%) of Landwehr and untested Insurrectio troops. The two armies were roughly equal in numbers at approximately  40,000 men, although in characteristic Austrian fashion Johann weakened his battle line by detaching some 7,000 men to his extreme flanks, effectively removing them from the coming battle. Still the Austrians held a fairly strong position behind the marshy banked Pancza brook, buttressed by the walled stone strongpoint formed by the Kismegyer Farm, and the Szabadhegy heights beyond.

I've re-fought Rab several times over the years with various rules, and it is always a "close run thing". The most recent iteration was at Ellis Con in November 2009, a small but worthwhile all genres gaming convention held at the H. H. Ellis Technical High School in Danielson, CT, located in the far Eastern part of the state. The pictures below are from that battle, fought using Brent Oman's Field of Battle rules by Piquet. The majority of the players were members of the Ellis Simulations club, which sponsors the convention; none of them were familiar with the rules at all, but they all picked them up readily and were a lot of fun to play with. The pictures are from that game. Unfortunately, it was not until *after* this battle that I painted my own Hungarian Isurrectio troops, so they will not appear here.

Eugene and his French/Italian army has advanced upon the stream under heavy Austrian fire. Note, the blue "tie-died" shirts are the Simulation Club's official garb; to the right in the cap is Greg, wearing the classy Navy Blue polo shirt that is the official "uniform" of the Hartford Area Historical  Gaming Society (HAHGS). 

The elegant embroidered patch logo of the Society, designed by Thomas, is shown above.

Working out the results of combat along the brook....  the convention is held in a high ceiling aircraft hangar at the school, one of the original roles of the school being to train aircraft engine technicians, particularly for aerospace giant Pratt and Whitney, based in the Hartford area and now part of  United Technologies. 

The French Cavalry on the right wing has finally found the ford, and is starting their crossing; the Austrian/Hungarian players seem quite unconcerned, however.

The walled Kismegyer farm is seen in the Center ground, now under heavy assault.

Close up of the French assault on the Farm, which is really the linchpin of the Austrian position. In the actual battle, the garrison performed heroically and held the French off until near the end of the battle. I cam almost imagine them on the ramparts mooning the enemy and shouting  "Kiss my Hungarian A*#, you Froggies!"

French and Austrian cavalry engage in melee along the road to the fortress of Raab itself. 

Italian infantry exchange fire with the defenders, who are mostly Landwehr with a stiffening of Grenz and Regulars. The battle ended with the Austrians pushed back all along the line, the Insurrectio cavalry ultimately being all but destroyed in combat with the more experienced French cavalry, and running out of Morale points. Raab formed a worthy addition to two other famous French triumphs that fell on the 14th of June - Marengo in 1800, and Friedland in 1807.  Principal Sources:  John H. Gill, "1809: Thunder on the Danube", Volume III; and Robert M. Epstein, "Prince Eugene at War: 1809".

These are a few shots of another Napoleonic battle, but this time 1811 in the Peninsula. Greg ran this version of the Battle of Albuera at Ellis Con 2010, using Shako 2 rules.

British infantry form square: this time they managed to avoid destruction by the Vistula Legion lancers, as happened historically during a sudden downpour.

Ellis Con 2011 will be held from 9AM to 9PM on Saturday, November 19th. If you live (or go to school)  in Connecticut, Rhode Island, or Eastern Massachusetts, it is well worth the trip to attend. There is no preregistration, and admission is $10. Inexpensive food is available on site. The Time Machine Hobby store in Manchester, CT usually attends as a vendor, and there is a used games auction in the evening. More information is available on the Ellis Simulation Club's page (scroll down to "Ellis Con XXIII").  We will be running a big Borodino game there this year, centered on the assault upon the Great Redoubt (about half of the massive scenario we have planned for Historicon 2012). I hope to see some of you there!



  1. Great looking game, I love the club badge too!!!

  2. As Ray says Peter a great looking game,
    Will be keeping an eye out for Borodino.

  3. Great looking game Peter! ... One of these days.. (more likely 'months')... I'll post a Battle Report!.. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Well done. Sounds like FOB was a hit.

    Greg C.

  5. Thanks, Ray and Paul!

    Steve - look forward to seeing you put your new troops on the table for a game... and good luck with the loft conversion project!

    Greg - I like FoB a lot for games in general, but it works exceedingly well for convention games and new players, as the rules are easy to pick up and usually keep the players in the action one way or another.


  6. Nice report. We've played Raab twice, one victory to each side.

  7. Thanks, Mike. Same here - it is a pretty well balanced action given the strong Austrian position but many green troops. Eugene earned his victory there, and probably handled his independent command as well or better than the average Marshal, after an initial rocky start at Sacile.