Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Battle of Sacile, April 16 1809

    Prince Eugene de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, has been placed in command of all the French and Italian troops in the Northern Italian theater at the start of the 1809 campaign. Eager to impress his imperial step-father, and contrary to his written instructions for the campaign, he unwisely attacks the Austrian Army of Italy under Erzherzog Johann before his own army has completed concentrating. With the swift-flowing River Licenza to his back, and only one bridge over it for retreat in the event of a defeat, even his unskilled opponent, Erzherzog Johann (Archduke John), can see the opportunity to inflict a sharp defeat upon the hated French!

Long view of the setup

Herman commands Grenier's Infantry and Sahuc's Cavalry Divisions.

Jim begins the advance with Broucier's Division, stationed on the French far left flank.

"Up one for Point Blank range, Down 1 for firing from Column, Up one for firing at Column, that's a net Up One - roll a D12!"

Marziani's strong Division has been pounding Seras' troops on the far French right.

Intense fighting around the church at Porcia.

Grenier's Infantry press forwards!

Fontanelli's Italians advance as well.

Grenier (near) and Broussier (far) descend upon the refused Austrian right flank.

Frimont's Hungarians and Grenz have repulsed the first attack with heavy losses!

Battery, FIRE!

There seems to be no stopping Marziani's steamroller attack; if they get much further, they'll over run the French battery.

Whitecoats everywhere on the French right...

but Serras manages to form one last thin defensive line.

Fontanelli's Italians have routed one Austrian Hussar unit, but the other has charged one of their columns and destroyed it!

The Austrian right faces threats from two different directions.

As Broussier's division reaches engagement range, the Austrian Right is heavily pressed.

The hinge point of the Austrian right is pierced!

Overview of the battlefield at the point where the deck has been played through and shuffled - and BOTH armies are at Zero Morale Points!

View of the Austrian Reserves headed to bolster their Right.

No question those reserves are needed, and soon!

Austrian Hussars routing from Italian Infantry firepower!

At the height of his success, General Marziani is struck down by a stray musket. ball!

    At this point, the game was incredibly tense,as each side desperately sought to inflict losses on the enemy, so that when the dreaded Army Morale Cards were turned, they would have Morale points, and their opponent would not. The side with the Morale points shifted back and forth with the cards, but when Marziani's untimely death placed his entire large Division Out of Command, the Austrian tide ebbed, and the French slowly gained the advantage. When the Austrians finally turned an Army Morale check card, they failed their roll - game over! IIRC, the French had no more than 1-2 Morale points themselves at that point, so it could easily have still gone the other way. 

    This action was played out on Saturday night at Historicon, July 2010, in Valley Forge, PA, using Field of Battle rules by Brent Oman. The excellent photos used here were all courtesy of Gabriel, who commanded the Italian Division for the winning cause. There were five players a side, and the game was very tense and exciting!  At least half the players were new to the rules, but all caught on very quickly, and were great sports. Rather to my surprise, midway through the game we were informed that it had won a GM award for Best of Time slot. Once again, the judges commented that points in its favor were that it was a big, good looking game, with several teens playing... but they were amazed to see a Napoleonic game where all the players seemed to be having a good time, and most were smiling an joking! All I can say is that we had a great crew of players, and I enjoyed myself at least as much as a GM as they did !

Only six weeks until Historicon 2012... back to painting the last of the Russians!



  1. very nice game, looks like everyone had fun. Lots of great battles in the 1809 campaign.

    1. Absoluetely; that's part of why it's my favorite. You've certainly been there for qite a few of them, and I'm not done yet! :-)

  2. What a great looking game! My club enjoys playing the 1809 battles too, but we certainly don't come close to the size and scope of your games! Looking forward to the next report!

    1. Thanks, James. This one, along with Wagram, was my favorite, I think. Gabriel's great photos certainly don't hurt, either!

  3. Superb looking game as always and on a big table too.

    Good luck with latest Historicon outing


    1. Thanks, Garry! Looking forward to HCOn 2012 in 6 weeks... lot to do bewteen now and then still!

  4. Peter,

    Great game from your past. Your Sacile action ran better than my recent effort since a typo (since corrected) on the victory conditions gave the French victory. Your excellent game made the French/Italians work for the victory. Bravo!

    Almost have Ligny worked out. Best of luck with Borodino.

    Michael aka WR

    1. Michael,

      Considering the Austrians actually won this one pretty convincingly, and with Archduke John, "arguably one of the worst commanders in military history" at the helm (perhaps a bit over harsh)it certainly shouldn't be an easy win for them. Had the cards and dice playedout just slightly differently, it would have been the Kaiserlicks who won the palm!

      Mostly, I was just happy have the game play out so well, and have all involved have a good time in so doing.

      I can't wait to steal, err, see your Ligny scenario for our 1815 project! :-)

  5. Interesting change to history. You've got me relooking at the scenario in the "Blunders" book. It would be nice to paint some Italians, they looked good on the table. :o)

    1. Sacile is a pretty balanced scenario.

      A Division or so of Italians is very useful, both for the battles of Eugene's Army of Italy in 1809 (Sacile, The Piave, Tarvis, St Michael, Raab, and of course Wagram) and for 1812 (Borodino, Maloyaroslavets), 1813, as well as the Peninsula. I have probably gotten more use out of my Italians than any other minor state except the Bavarians.