Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Engagement at Graz: June 26, 1809

In June 1809, the French under GD Broussier had a half-hearted siege of the city and fortress of Graz in Styria under way. The approach of a relief army from Croatia under FML Ignaz Gyulai, caused Broussier to abandon the siege. Marshal Marmont and the Army of Dalmatia then approached form the South on the opposite side of the Mur, and Broussier returned to the city and launched an attack, driving Gyulai back. Broussier then received orderes from Marmont to march South down the West side of the valley of the river Mur.  He detached 2 battalions of the 84e Ligne to the East bank to "chase off  the 150 Hussars and as many Croats"  that the French believed were all that was left in the vicinity of Graz, plus 3 companies of Leger to hold the bridge at Gosting, North of the city. As it turned out, Gyulai was much closer to Graz than the French realized, setting the stage for this interesting engagement, which is detailed in John Gill's "1809: Thunder on the Danube, Volume III". As I've mentioned previously, if you have a strong interest in this campaign, you absolutely *must* have these wonderful books!

Barry and I fought out this scenario last weekend,  which is #18 in my Blunders on the Danube scenario book. Incidentally, I received confirmation that the book has been sent to the printer, and availability is anticipated for July, and with a revised second edition of Field of Battle itself. Barry graciously took command of the Austrians, whose force consists largely of second line troops and untried units of the newly raised Hungarian Insurrectio. If nothing else, the game presented the opportunity to field a number of recently painted units, including all of the Insurrectio, 8 French Ligne and 2 Legere. Wargamers know that for some reason, newly painted troops seldom perform well in their first appearance on the tabletop! We used the Field of Battle rules from Piquet, by Brent Oman, incorporating several of the rules changes from the 2nd edition.

Broussier's Division at the start of the action, now counter marching back towards Graz from the South.

Ignaz Gyulai and the Austrians; Splenyi's Division in the lead, with Kalnassy's Division behind them. Munkassy's Division is on the far side of the Mur, which is crossable only at the bridges, and (for the Austrians only) at the city of Graz.

A closer view of the Austrian set up; this picture, one of several in this post taken by Barry with his camera, shows the color of my table covering in much more accurate hues than mine ever do! Note the blue coated infantry of the Hungarian Insurrectio.

The fortified city of Graz, with the 84e Ligne's 2 battalions and a section 3# "pop guns", stationed at the St. Leonhard suburb on the far side of the river. All of the hills/mountains are impassable.

Broussier advances towards Graz and the bridge at Gosting.

The Austrians have their own advance going, and their 4th Division has now arrived on the East bank of the Mur, under Gavassini.  Barry rolled very well for Gyulai, who came out rated an uncharacteristically Austrian D12 for his Leadership die; most of the Austrian sub commanders were more typical LD 8 ratings, however.

Aided by hot Initiative  rolls (Rolling his D12 against my D10, Barry never lost an initiative roll the entire game), the Austrians are advancing with unwonted alacrity!

View of the Austrian advance from the French perspective!

Overview of the battlefield at this point; the 84e are starting to get nervous as hordes of Asutrians start to appear near Graz!

The French Initiative sees the early arrival of Marmont with Clausel's Division (this division could enter anywhere between the 1st and 6th French Move Card, with the 3rd probably being about the average result). I have left a limbered artillery battery in the lead of the advance... perhaps not the best choice, but there should be plenty of time to get it unlimbered and into action when the time comes, right?

Umm, maybe not!  Barry proceeded to win TEN impetus, and his lead Division's commander unit rolled "Three segments with Fancy Biz" when they turned a "MOVE ONE COMMAND" card.  Oops! The command passes right through Graz and onto the West side of the valley.

Close up of the Charge of the Austrian Hussars upon the limbered French Artillery. Even Insurrectio Hussars can probably win this one! The Legere unit behind them in March Column won't fare much better if they get charged by the aggressive Austrian Horse, either!

As expected, the Austrian Cavalry sabers the crew and runs off the limber horses, at no cost to themselves. The Austrian Cavalry battery and supporting infantry are also in position to block the French advance! However, the Austrians have used their 10 impetus, and now the initiative passes to the French!

Barring an untimely LULL card, the French will have a lot of actions before the Asutrians can make much adjustment. The Legere unit in the lead has used a MANEUVER card to deploy into line (as have most of the rest of the Division), and fire at the Hussars. The one UI loss they inflicted with their fire is indicated by the single rock marker.

On a MOVE card, the Legere have pulled back and fresh French infantry move forward to blast the Hussars and avenge their comrades of the Artillery, while a French attack column charges a unit of Insurrectio.

Overview of the Battlefield at this juncture.

The Austrian Cavalry battery has fired and inflicted one UI loss on a French battalion in line, and forced it back, "Out of Command". Note the rock and the swine markers. Meanwhile, the unit of Insurrectio in line has defeated the French Column attack, the end result after exchanging fire and both units crossing bayonets being both down 1 UI and Out of Command (note the rocks and assorted fowl markers).

With another French MOVE card, though, the combination of waves of fire from the units in line, and close attacks by columns upon the now unloaded artillery and Insurrectio, has shattered almost all of Spenyi's Division. Note all the "smoke" hovering over the battlefield!

With Barry winning another chunk of impetus on the next Initiative roll, Munkassy's Division is threatening the flank of Brousier's Division; Clausel's Division (in overcoats) is positioned to mitigate the threat.

A charge by one unit of Insurrectio succeeds in hitting a French battalion in the rear and routing it, but another is completely dispersed following and exchange of fire with two fresh French battalions. Two units of Grenz exchange fire with two units of French line; in the end the poor defense dice (D4) of the Grenz make the difference, and one of the units is routed.

On their initiative, the French sweep away the rest of Munkassy's Division. The Austrians are out of Morale chips, while the French still have many remaining. The 84e appears safe, having yet to even need to fire a shot!

The city of Graz is filled with the routed units of Splenyi's Division; only the unit of Insurrectio in the gateway is still in good order. With no chance remaining to destroy the isolated 84e Ligne, the Austrians concede and allow the regiment to escape unmolested. The French cannot dally to enjoy their success, as Marmont has just received a dispatch from the Emperor, calling upon him to march with all haste to the Danube, where his troops will participate in the Battle of Wagram in barely a week's time.

Scenario notes: The French are significantly outnumbered, but the bulk of the Austrian troops are of poor quality, as are their leaders. The French are veterans and competently lead. The Austrian player has the option to detach 2 units of Grenz from Gavasini's Division to attempt a mountain track around the Ruckerlberg and onto the table behind St Leonard, as happened historically. It would probably have been better if the Austrians had been a bit less aggressive and sent Splenyi's Division ahead to block the bridge at Gosting, and used Kalnassy's Division, which has the best troops, to attack the 84e. Still, as it is said, no plan survives contact with the enemy! In any event, almost all of the newly painted troops got into the fight, and didn't do that badly for once.

Good gaming,



  1. Hi Peter

    Can you give any indication of the changes to FOB in version II ?


  2. Hi Garry,

    I have asked Brent for permission to say more about FoB2 prior to its official release (or do it himself, i.e., on his own blog). Otherwise it will have to wait until it is actually in print. There have doubtless been some changes since the last version I saw a few months ago anyway.


  3. Hi

    Brent has put some info on the Yahoo group am really interested in the new points and scenario generating systems


  4. Gary,

    Got the OK from Brent, so I'll post something here in a few days about FoB1 and FoB2; as chance would have it, I know nothing about the scenario generating system, as I know that was finalized after the draft I have. Theater of War, which is Brent's work, has an interesting scenario generator; I don't know if the one in FoB2 is anything like that or not!

  5. Hi Peter

    Look forward to reading about changes
    I have TOW and have used scn/terrain generator also the simpler version in CmdPk. But one can never have too much of a good thing and Brent is great at streamlining and refining good ideas/concepts


  6. Nice post. At Brent's house we call "Three segments with Fancy Biz" a "Triple Magic Move".

    Greg C

  7. Gary,

    Just posted a big Field of Battle piece, including the 2nd edition changes as I understand them.


    Thanks! I like the "tripple magic" moniker; Adam (IIRC) from the LA group calls it "Fancy Pants", LOL!