Saturday, October 30, 2021

Snappy Nappy, "Many Roads to Mantua" - The Battle of Rivoli

For the Battle of Rivoli, we are fortunate to have several "eye-witness" accounts. These come from French General Joubert (Dick), Austrian General Vukassovich/Reuss (Brian), with a cameo from French General Rey (Mark). Heavily involved as well was Austrian General Ocksay/Koblos (Sean). 

As Joubert at Rivoli, I was faced with covering the Village of Rivoli and two roads following opposite sides of the Adige River. Of necessity, this required that I reluctantly divide my force onto both sides of the river.

Situation at Trente after the first synchronized move -  Vukassovich, followed by Ocksay (Sean, left) are headed towards Rivoli, whilst Lusignan (Russ - right)  is on the march towards Bassano.

"As Vukassovich/Reuss, my orders were to proceed southbound from Trente, along with my compatriot Koblos/Ockskay (Sean). My forces led the column.

                We passed through Rovereto and Ala without incident." 

The narrow Alpine roads resulted in a back up at Trente. 

"After building a pontoon bridge south of Rivoli, I had deployed several battalions to the eastern side."

Vukassovich/Reuss's Division strung out along to the main road, which  proceeds South from Ala to Verona, passing by Rivoli.

Ocksay/Koblos waits near Trente for Vukassovich to progress far enough to allow his Division to follow. 

Vukassovich/Reuss's men prepare to enter the Deployment Zone leading to Table R; note the 2 artillery batteries at the head of the force. 

Ocksay/Koblos's Division is exiting Table T towards Ala on Table A. 

Joubert's dispositions before the storm breaks. 

Map for Table R

Traffic Jam in the Alps!  Vukassovich/Reuss's lead forces have marched onto the Rivoli table. 
A command in March Column takes up a LOT of space along a road! 

Two commands take up even more space!

"Approaching Rivoli, we encountered the French. The notable fact was that the major road ran from north to south along the east edge of the board, with the major river just to the west of the road. This gave a very narrow front for my upcoming troops (about 7 or 8 inches wide). My cavalry and horse artillery entered first, followed by my line, my foot artillery, and my grenzer."

The Long White Line.

 "The Austrian Corps under Reuss/Vukassovich first appeared East of the Adige. The narrow frontage made maneuver nearly impossible and the threat of the enemy's cavalry held my infantry at bay while his artillery deployed and forced me to retire." 

All of Vukassovich/Reuss has transited to Table R. Here we see the entire Division of Ocksay/Koblos awaiting its turn. 

 "Fortunately for us, Joubert had not known where we would be arriving. He had most of his troops to the west, near Rivoli. His artillery was initially too far to cause harm, and he had only a few troops east of the river. I was able to hurt them in detail, especially due to his lack of artillery support."

Seeing the logjam in front of him, Oksay/Koblos obtains orders from Alvincy to redirect his Division along the road to Verona. 

"I deployed my two batteries on the west bank of the Adige and eventually managed to attain flanking fire on the Austrians, causing some confusion and disorder. "

Ocksay/Koblos exits troops towards Verona. These promptly encounter Rey's Divisionh on Table V (See "The Lusignan Lunge".)

"Realizing his problems, he brought his artillery forward, causing some harm to me, but I was able to drive them back."

Having bounced back from Table V, Ocksay/Koblos returns to the main highway, a bit have space having opened up for him along the East bank of the Adige. 

"Where do you think those roads lead to?" I asked General Ocksay. This resulted in a tricky bridging operation to pass over the Adige (the troops could also just have retraced their steps back to Ala and over the existing bridge their; with no enemy forces on Table A, it would have taken little time to accomplish). 

"All of my were crowded into a small area, so I used my pioneers to construct a bridge across the river. About the time the bridge was completed , my compatriot General Ocksay arrived on the board. He had used to bridge, and a minor road, to cross to the other side of the river. Even there, he faced a narrow front, due to rough terrain just to the west."

"However, return fire and incredibly poor morale tests caused my batteries to leave the battle, greatly diminishing my ability to organize an effective defense. At about this time, Ocksay's Austrian force arrived along the western road along the Adige. "

"Naturally, this created great consternation among my troops."


The Battle rages on near Rivoli. The Osteria Gap is thinly held. 

 "My troops were making slow progress when more French reinforcements arrived." 

As the remainder of Oksay's troops await their chance to join the battle near Rivoli, Bonaparte's elite Guides a Cheval, under the command of Capitaine Murat (part of Rey's Division), appear from Verona!

The road through the Osteria Gorge is open!

"The timely arrival of Rey with half of his Corps at first relieved some of the pressure as I gradually withdrew my troops from the east to the west side of the Adige to strengthen the defense of Rivoli and the western road to Mantua."

"I, General de Division Rey, with half of my Division, go to help Joubert, who is being slammed."

The French Battery defending the Gorge is severely demoralized. 

Charges and Counter charges!

  I stabilize the front. I send dispatches to General Bonaparte - "I have them stalled;  either use my reserves to help Massena or send them to me!"

 "At about that time, I received orders from my Commander: 'All forces attack, break through or perish!'. "

The Guides hack down the hapless Pontooniers at the tail end of Ocksay's column. Their death buys time for the rearmost regiment, a unit of stolid Hungarians, to form square, thus making further charges by the Guides a risky undertaking!

Fierce fighting near Rivoli!

Rey's men make their presence felt; it is but a half a Division, though. 

Alpine standoff!

The White Menace creeps ever forwards. 

General Rey ponders his tactics. 

The standoff continues. Note that the Austrian Supply line passes through Ala, on the right. If that village is lost, and remains in French hands at the time of the hourly Supply check, ALL of Vukassovich and Ocksay's troops will have to take a single Morale check, and will not be able to advance any more than an additional 6" until Supply is restored. 

General Rey and his boys. 

The butcher's bill actually favors the French at this point in the day; Not that the French Artillery losses have been severe, however.  

General Rey to Bonaparte:  "Send me the rest of my men now, or use them to crush Lusignan!"

"Obedient to my orders, I threw my forces forward."

More bad luck for the French Artillery, as a battery is forced back, Shaken (not stirred).
"Send me the remainder of my troops now", writes Rey to Bonaparte. 

Becoming bored with the standoff, the Guides head back towards Verona, allowing the Ocksay's  Rearguard to resume their march towards Rivoli. 

"Regretably, Rey's force was soundly thrashed by Reuss/Vulassovich's relentless assaults." 

Rivoli itself is threatened, and with it the road to Mantua, where Wurmser's starving men remain under siege. 

"Let each go their separate ways..."

Rey to General Bonaparte:  "Send me the rest of my troops NOW". 

Vukassovich pushes the attack, assisted by Ocksay. "Mon General, my troops?"

"Mon General, the Austrians had two batteries when I arrived... I had one.  They had two regiments of cavalry... I had one. I was holding my own until his lancers broke a square  (each side rolls a d10 in combat.  I rolled a 2 and he rolled a 10!)  That was enough to make my infantry test their morale.  They failed, and broke out of square to fall back.  A second infantry unit received a charge in line, failed to form square, and was beaten... but not broken.  That ended that!"

Table A is empty again. The Austrian supply line is potentially exposed!

"The French had been weakened by my artillery, and my cavalry and infantry, in spite of some losses, forced the French <i.e., Rey> from the field."

"The remaining quarter of my Division finally reaches me... just in time to cover my withdrawal, leaving Joubert to fort up as best he can."

"Rey was forced to withdraw to Verona, leaving me to face the onslaught of the two Austrian Corps alone, and cut off from further support."

Rey forms his survivors up to grimly contest the village of Rivoli. 

 "We were able to capture a French bridge near the south end of the board, and began crossing to cut the supplies to the French at Rivoli."

Responding to an Alpine Grouse whispering in his ear, Alvincy orders Ocksay to garrison Ala and thus preserve the Austrian supply line from interruption. 

"Haven't we been down this road a few times before? I can't see well in these cursed snow squalls!"

Situation late in the day; the road on the bottom left leads to Mantua!

"Alas, during a valiant charge with my Hussars, I fell badly wounded, leaving my brave troops without command."

"Joubert led his cavalry in a charge against mine. It was a difficult fight, but it proved disastrous for the French, because Joubert was seriously wounded and removed from the field."

 "Shortly thereafter, my compatriot, General Ocksay, led his own cavalry against a different French cavalry force. As if to be totally even-handed, the fates decided that Ocksay should also be wounded and removed from the battle."

Ala is safely garrisoned. 

"As the Austrians finally gained control of the two roads, the battle mercifully ended, but with Rivoli still in French control."

"By that time, the sun was setting, the French at Rivoli were cut off, and a road to Mantua was opening."

And there she lies, the Crown Jewel of the Quadrilateral... Mantua!

Despite the disappointing outcome in my area of command. I learned a great deal that will improve my performance in future campaigns. My opponents were gracious and formidable. 

I had a GREAT time and I am very grateful to Peter for his prodigious efforts in creating this amazing gaming experience. I look forward to future campaigns!

- Dick Hammer (Joubert)