Monday, May 6, 2013

Battle of San Martino 1859 BatRep 1000 - 1100

When we last left our antagonists,the battle for the heights hung in the balance.  Lippert  (Austria) maintained a hold on the high ground above San Martino but just barely.  Sardinians were applying pressure against Lippert.  Whomever maintained initiative likely would have the upper hand.

To recap, the initial battle dispositions can be found here while the account of the 0800-1000 battle phase is found here.

1000 In an attempt to stop the panic from spreading throughout IR59, Benedek catches up to the routing IR59/1 as it flees back towards Pozzolengo.  Benedek's presence was all that was needed to halt and rally the battalion.

Lang's Austrian division is the next to activate.  Activating before Mollard  allows the Austrians to consolidate their gains on the heights before receiving Sardinian counterattacks.
Austrians consolidate gains
Suffering from casualties and weakened effectiveness, IR59/3 falls back through IR59/2 as Lippert rides over to rally the battalion.  With Lippert's encouragement, IR59/3 rallies.  Lippert's horse battery moves up to Ortaglia and unlimbers near the road between the Ortaglia farm and Contracania.   
Austrian guns deploy
On the Austrian left, Reichlin's horse artillery moves up to the heights overlooking Contracania and unlimbers. IR18/4 and IR19/4 fire into Contracania from medium rifled musket range causing some casualties to 10/1 Bers.  The 9th Jagers advance down from the slopes to outflank the Sardinians holed up in the Contracania farm complex.
Austrian guns deploy
On the Austrian right, Philipovic launches an attack along the Pozzolengo road east of San Martino.  Leading the attack are IR17/Grenadiers supported by IR17/1.  As the Austrians close, the target of the assault (11/1) breaks and routs scattering one half mile to the north.  
Attack out of the vineyard
The 5th KJ take up positions in the treeline north of Ortaglia as it probes to the north.
Jagers probe
With no sign of Mollard's second brigade (Pinerolo) and the quick stabilization of the Austrian positions on the heights above San Martino, the Cuneo brigade redeploys seeking a less aggressive posture.  The 8th IR takes up a position west of and parallel to the road opposite the Roccolo farm to counter the jagers outflanking of Contracania.  The 7th IR withdraws from its exposed position on the heights back down the slope to take positions between Roccolo farm and San Martino.  The 8 Bers continues to hold on amongst the buildings of San Martino.
Sardinians form a line
Cucchiari's brigade, Casale, arrives on the battlefield and advances down the road leading to Pozzolengo.  Cucchiari joins 11/1 to rally the broken battalion.
Casale arrives
Casale arrives - close up
Berger's second brigade (Kuhn) reaches Pozzolengo led by four squadrons of the 1st Hussar Regiment.
1st Hussar Regiment
Kuhn's brigade
1030 Reichlin's horse artillery fires into Contracania to soften the defenders prior to a direct assault.  Artillery fire is ineffective.  Reichlin personally leads the assault on the walled compound taking IR18/4 in the front line with IR27/4 in support.
Reichlin attacks
Being on the side of the farm in direct view of the oncoming Austrians, 10/1 Bers fails to stand and evades, disrupted, back down the slope.  Sensing the danger, 10/2 Bers redeploys to cover southeastern approaches and fires relentlessly into the approaching Austrians.  IR18/4 takes heavy casualties but the assault continues towards Contracania.  Casualties mount on both sides as the assault devolves into a close range firefight with neither foe yielding.
Firefight at Contracania
On the Austrian right, Philipovic's artillery, deployed on the road to Pozzolengo, fires into San Martino.  Taking casualties from the artillery bombardment, the 8/2 Bers abandons San Martino and falls back to the north.  With half of the San Martino defenders in retreat, the 5th KJ erupts from the cover of the treeline and attacks downhill.  
Kaiser's Jagers assault San Martino
Fire from 8/1 Bers in San Martino is ineffective in stopping the KJ.  In the following clash, 8/1 Bers is thrown out of the town and falls back, disrupted.  Victorious, the 5th KJ garrisons the collection of buildings.  IR17 forms up to the east of San Martino to support the 5th KJ while IR59/grenadiers advance into the treeline south of Ortaglia formerly occupied by the 5th KJ.
Kaiser's Jagers storm San Martino
Once near San Martino, Casale infantry regiments deploy astride the Pozzolengo Road with the 11th IR deploying on the west and 12th IR on the east.  The 12th forms up north of the vineyard and preparations are begun for an assault to retake San Martino.  Both batteries unlimber on the road and prepare for action.
Casale deploys
Mollard activates and remains vigilant to the arrival of Pinerolo's brigade.  Still no sign of the brigade.  With 10/1 Bers ejected from Contracania and 10/2 Bers desperately fighting off the Austrians on the southwestern corner of the complex, 8/4 IR slips into the walled farm in an attempt to keep this key objective in Sardinian hands.

In the continuing firefight, the additional firepower of 8/4 IR tips the balance towards the defenders.  Taking moderate casualties, the Austrians fall back about 300 yards.  Benedek sees the repulse and hurries over to 18/4 to aid in rallying the wavering unit.
Reichlin repulsed from Contracania
Kuhn's brigade continues its march towards Porticello.
Kuhn marches to San Martino
To relieve the growing pressure against Contracania, the remainder of 8th IR attacks the 9th Jagers to the northwest of the farm.  Not wishing to face formed infantry in the open, the 9th Jagers fall back disrupted.  The 7th IR advances cautiously up the lower slopes of the hill.
7th IR counterattacks Jagers
Postscript:  Thus far, the rules are holding up well to this exercise.  To me, the results being produced are reasonable and fit into my perceptions of the combat during this period.  A couple of minor modifications have been added and notes are being recorded to revisit later.

After the starch has been knocked out of a fresh unit, it never regains that level of effectiveness.  Given that, fresh troops and reserves become very important to keep a drive alive or to hold a key battlefield objective.  Good leadership is important to rally defeated units and step into the fray at the right moment to turn the tide.

Small, well-armed infantry can make a stand in built up areas and pushing them out of towns requires a combined arms approach.  Even then, the outcome is far from certain as we saw in the firefight at Contracania.  In the next hour, we get to see how artillery fares against an infantry assault. 

Cavalry has not been tested in the battle yet.  While both combatants have deployed their cavalry in opposition, neither is willing to launch the first thrust in fear of losing that threat.  We will have to wait and see who flinches first.   


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ray! It has been an interesting game too.

  2. Great looking game, Jonathan. So far, the Austrians are not to be denied. If I was to play this, I'd want to be in charge of the artillery. ;-)

    1. Thanks, Monty! As Austrian commander, you'll be in luck soon. Corps artillery reserve should be arriving soon. Sardinians still have two more brigades to bring onto the battlefield.

  3. Very nice batrep!! I do like your Austrian troops, and battlefield is looking so nice...


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