Saturday, June 1, 2013

Battle of San Martino 1859 BatRep 1200 - 1230

This is the last installment of the refight for the San Martino heights battle.  Although I set out the terrain for the entire battle, this replay only focused on the heated action over San Martino.  Even with that more narrow focus, my collection was stretched to the max.  Time to paint more figures.  Now to pick up the action... 

1200 Lang activates his division.  Reichlin rides over to IR19/4 in attempt to stop the rout.  He succeeds in restoring order into the battalion near Donnino.  IR27/4 remains disrupted from its earlier repulsed attack.  While IR19/4 and 27/4 attempt to sort themselves out, IR9/4 with support from IR18/4 assault two battalions of the 8th Infantry Regiment northwest of Contracania.  Outnumbered and outgunned, the 8th falls back to Monata Farm.
Austrians flank Contracania
In a bold move to clear the lower heights of Sardinians, Lippert leads an attack by the IR59/Grenadiers supported by IR59/1 against two battalions of the 7th Infantry Regiment.  Not able to stop the attack through firepower alone, the 7th is disrupted by the Austrian pressure to close.  Stubbornly clinging to the lower heights, the Sardinians force a stalemate but casualties are heavy on both sides as the firefight rages.  Both combatants reinforce the main battle line with their supports.
Lippert attacks
Lippert attacks
To screen the Austrian main attack, IR59/2 moves off the heights and interjects itself between San Martino and the ongoing firefight.  At Contracania, the 9th Jaegers fire into the complex forcing half of the 10 Bers to break and head towards the relative safety of Monata farm.  Remaining alone in the Contracania outpost is 10/1 Bers.        

On the Austrian right, Philipovic's infantry fire ineffectively into the Sardinians to his front.  Sardinian return fire is more effective with IR17/2 taking casualties.  5/1 Kaiser Jaegers fire out of San Martino into 12/2 IR at close range.  12/2 suffers casualties and becomes disrupted by the fire.  The battalion falls back to rally without success.
Overview at noon
Cucchiari's division activates with Acqui Brigade approaching San Martino along the Pozzolengo road.  12/1 and 12/2 move to the west of San Martino to counter IR59/2's advance.
Acqui BDE arrives
Acqui BDE arrives
Mollard activates and 8/1 and 8/4 recover from disruption. Arnaldi joins into the fray with the 7th IR to bolster the Sardinians resolve in the continuing firefight.  Mollard rides back to the 10/2 Bers to rally the broken unit.  Unable to stop the flight, Mollard is swept up in the rout as the Bersaglieri continues fleeing another 1,000 yards.

8/2 and 8/3 move up to plug the gap in the line left by the withdrawal of 8/1 and 8/4.  7/1 and 7/4 move up to the Roccolo farm.
Heated action in the center
In the continuing firefight sandwiched Contracania and Ortaglia,  IR59/Grenadiers suffer more casualties and reach the breaking point.  
Battle hangs in the balance
The grenadiers rout to the south about one-half mile.  Similarly, having been routed through by the grenadiers, IR59/1 falls back about a half mile.  As the Austrian center collapses, adjoining formations begin to sense the danger.  Both IR11/3 and the already shaken IR59/3 rout and stream towards the north while other nearby units become disrupted by the building panic.
Austrian collapse
At this point Benedek, seeing the disintegration of his center, orders his Corps to fall back to the river and make preparations for a defense. 

Wow!  What a sudden end to the game.  A series of poor die rolls by the Austrians saw their center collapse.  Given the disparity between the Sardinians' smoothbore muskets and the Austrians' rifled muskets, Lippert might have been prudent to remain on the heights and blast away at the approaching Sardinians.  Risking a frontal attack at close range negated the Austrian advantage in small arms.  Once the heights were secure, perhaps defending the high ground would have been a better tactic.

In the full battle, the Austrians must also be aware of the Sardinian columns coming from the west with thoughts of turning the San Martino position via Madonna della Scoperta.

By noon, two of Lang's three brigades were down to about 70% combat effective (CE) each.  With that reduction in CE, a defense is a better choice than an offense.  On the Sardinian side, Mollard's Cuneo Brigade and Cucchiari's Casale Brigade saw the most action.  By noon, Cuneo was fighting at 67% CE and Casale was at 81% CE.
Fallen combatants remain on the battlefield
This represents the first playtest and the QRS survived the initial battle with very few modifications.  A number of notes were jotted down during play and questions that arose were quickly adjudicated and documented.  I will perform a post-mortem on the game notes and make clarifications and changes as needed.  Game mechanisms are not very complex and play will likely be much faster in a multi-player outing rather than solitaire.

Time to put the troops away and get back to painting.  Perhaps I'll leave the battle set up and give Maurice a test over this very same ground?


  1. An excellent batrep on a rarely seen period!! More please!!

    1. This short-lived campaign is an oft overlooked period, isn't it? Lots to find of interest if you pull back the curtain.

  2. Bravo, a very colorful and detailed AAR. Your troops looked splendid throughout. I thought the Austrians had it in the bag but the fresh reserves seemed to be decisive.

    When I'm a part of a large gunpowder era game, its easy to forget the importance of a reserve. ;-)

    1. Had the Austrians been less aggressive and not rolled so poorly, they could have held the heights. This day, that was not to be.

      In some rules systems, maintaining a reserve is important; in others, not so much. In this game, reserves can be decisive. At the time Reichlin's brigade was repulsed on the Austrian left, I wished the Sardinians had cavalry on that flank. Horse in good order against wavering infantry could have eliminated most of Reichlin's command.

      Thanks for the comments!

  3. Very nice batrep Jonathan! A great period, and some wonderful units...very nice last pic too!

    1. Thanks, Phil! Standing in the Ossuary was a bit eerie with all of the skulls lining the walls. Even more macabre was walking down into the basement where the arm and leg bones are stacked like cord wood.


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