Friday, March 10, 2017

Battle of Montebello 1859 - Game 2

With the Montebello solo game under my belt and the Risorgimento 1859 rules refreshed in my memory, A Friday Night At The Fights was planned with Jake on FEB 24.  After some pre-game planning, Jake chose to command the French forces under Forey.

As is often the situation when I am playing and not relegated to umpiring, note taking drops to a minimum and photos are not always snapped at the optimal point.  Given those caveats, below is a recounting of the Montebello battle  
Deployments at 2:30pm.
Schaffgotsche has pushed up to the ditch protecting Genestrello
 and Cascina Nuova.  Cascina Nuova is defended by one battalion
 of the 74th while the bridge west of Genestrello is defended
 by two battalions of the 84th and guns.  Sonnaz' Aosta regiment
 protects the Allies' northern flank from Hesse's wing.
Forey snaps into action and Beuret's brigade descends upon
 Genestrello. The 84th takes fire from the jagers deployed
 in Genestrello.  While the Austrian fire is telling on the 84th,
 it stands firm.
Baum's two battalions of IR40 close on the 74th in Cascina Nuova.
The Austrian attack is short-lived as lively French fire puts 
Baum's brigade to flight.  Austrian infantry advance out of 
Montebello to reinforce Austrian positions north of Genestrello.
The Austrian goal is to deny Forey an easy crossing of the small
While Cascina Nuova did not fall in the initial assault as planned, 
Schaffgotsche makes a credible defense of Genestrello.
Forey's guns along the main road begin to find their range against
the Austrian lead battalion.
Birds-eye view of the battle with Beuret's brigade collapsing
 in on Genestrello as Schaffgotsche strengthens its defense. 
Beuret assaults Generstrello led by the 17th Chasseurs a Pied
With the elite 17th Chasseurs a pied leading the assault, the
 poorly motivated Austrians abandon Genestrello and
head towards a second line of defense.  In the clash, one
 of the Austrian battalions breaks and scampers to the rear.
Having lost Genestrello, the Austrians prepare to hold Montebello.
While the Austrian wing under Urban is reeling in the south
along the Main Road, Hesse is making progress against
the Sardinian cavalry screen in the north.
As Forey bears down on Montebello, Austrian defenders swing
out south of the town to prevent a second French flanking maneuver.
In the north, Hesse applies more pressure to the French left.
Blanchard is forced to divert infantry from the drive on
 Montebello to shore up his northern flank.
Having cleared Genestrello, Forey consolidates his gains
 and readies for a push towards Montebello.
Forey's cavalry and infantry drive a wedge between Hesse
 and Schaffgotsche.  There will be no succor from Hesse. 
Has Forey over extended his command?
Hesse continues pressing on against the Sardinian cavalry
 and threatens to capture Calcabobbio.  Multiple cavalry clashes
 in the open ground between the two streams leaves horsemen
 on both sides exhausted.
Hesse's Austrians press Blanchard's French near Calcabobbio.
As the French line slowly gives ground in the north,
Hesse's Austrians consider the possibility of regaining control 
of the vital railroad and bridge.
With Hesse closing in on Blanchard and Montebello tentatively
 under Austrian control, the battle was concluded with a 
declaration of an Allied Minor Victory.  Could the Austrian
have stemmed the French tide and counterattacked to 
eke out a draw?  We will never know. 
There we have it!  An evening's action ending in a minor Allied victory.  Commanding the Austrians, perhaps, that is as good as can be expected.  With inferior troops and abysmal leadership, French command was able to repeatedly strike first with the most.  French infantry battalions operating in coordination and led by good leaders is a sight to behold.  The Austrians, under Stadion, held the advantage in number of commanders but all were either average or poor.  Certainly no match for the French command.

French superior leadership and the soldiers' elan won the day as French infantry time and again pressed their advantage to control the situation.  While the larger Austrian battalions can seemingly take more punishment, their inferiority to their French counterparts made them seem more brittle.  Of course, I am speaking from the Austrian perspective.  My French adversary has a differing opinion.

The game was a very close affair with a number of high tension points across the front.  French Brigadier Blanchard forging a salient between the two Austrian wings and capturing the railroad bridge north of Montebello was thought to be a bridge too far.  Yet it fell to the French with little opposition.

Montebello offers a tactical challenge to both players and an enjoyable puzzle to solve.  As the Austrian player, I have not cracked the code on defeating the French.  My opponent feels the same way regarding his player with the French.  A Game 3 is set to test amended operational plans.  Game rules survived play with a live opponent.  Only a few modifications to be implemented for Game 3.  For Jake's thoughts on Montebello Games 2 and Games 3, see Thoughts on Montebello.  With a couple of slight rules' tweaks slated for Game 3, we will see how both armies respond to repeated trials.  

Game 2 resulted in a near historical outcome with Stadion controlling the Coppa River line and Foyer too fatigued to pursue.  When refighting a historical battle, one hopes for a plausible result.  Even better when the outcome mirrors the historical event and that outcome fits well within the historical narrative.  What will transpire in Game 3?   


  1. Looks like the scenario is a winner, even if it's hard for either side to score a major victory!

    1. Montebello has turned into a much more interesting situation than perceived at first glance. Much subtlety.

  2. Good to see this game getting its first face-to-face outing. Looks like everything is really working well to get 'the right' outcome. I enjoyed Jake's (over on his blog) 'Concept of Operation' charts, great gaming.

    1. Very good to get the game into opposition hands rather than remain confined to solo play. An opponent stresses both the system and the situation. Both positives! Besides, Jake is pretty good bloke!

  3. Wonderful looking game Jonathan!


  4. Excellent report. I wasn't aware of Jake's blog; another plus! Your terrain tiles are super as well and add much to the effect.

    1. Thank you! Pleased you enjoyed it.
      Jake will be happy to have you drop by his blog.

  5. Excellent summary. One correction, however, I did not make the bridge in our first attempt. This game was a slugfest, and the French offensive felt like a right hook into a pillow. I could not break the Austrian brigade in the south which allowed Hesse to disrupt my flank and interject himself into my planning cycle. At games end, the French Salient was a mess and I could not penetrate the IV line North of Montebello without first turning to deal with Hesse. It was a near run thing called far too early on account of my need to get up early the following morning. By Jon's scenario it was a minor victory, but it was at best a draw.

    1. Thank you! Could not have happened without your participation. This was a fun and tense scrap all throughout the game. I agree that much was left to be decided when we called the game on time but a minor victory was yours. Congratulations!

      On the correction, the bridge to which I was referring was the implicit railway bridge across the ditch just north on Montebello, You had an infantry battalion cross over to the east bank near the end of the game.

    2. My mistake, I was treating those as ditches and focusing on the Coppa river! I would argue that the main Bridge may have been one bridge too far.

  6. Let me also take a moment to commend Jon's custom rules. They are simple enough to fit on a 2-sided 5x8 card, but designed so I did not find myself worrying about maximizing my modifiers. I was able to focus on fire and movement, and work at the operational level. In short they felt 'right.' The Austrian regiments felt large and unwieldy and the command system actually allowed for the differences Jon remarked on.

    1. That is very high praise, indeed, Jake!
      Very much appreciated!

  7. A splendid and huge looking game!

  8. This is a wonderful looking game Jonathan. I am being drawn nearer and nearer to this period.

    1. Thank you, Mark! It is a colorful and interesting period of warfare.

  9. It would be remiss if I did not point out how our dice skewed to the extremes in this go around. My artillery consistently refused to do anything and I think Jon rolled boxcars (a bad thing for this game) at least four times to rally a regiment. It was bad enough that we both consigned those dice to the sidelines for the follow-up engagement.

    1. Yeah, our dice rolling was abysmal in this game. My troops frequently decided to cut and run more often than they ought. At least we balanced each other out. Looking back over the notes from this game, we actually decided this match was a draw as you suspected. The next game in the Montebello series resulted in a minor Allied victory.

  10. Excellent finish to the game, It's so hard re-fighting actual battles. 9 times out of 10, they were one sided affairs and are a real pain to fight for one side anyway??

    1. Thanks, Ray! Refighting historical battles is where my primary interests lay. Even if they might be one sided, I learn something about the decisions made.