Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Battle of Montebello 1859 - Game 3

Having experienced a close result in Game 2, Jake and I held another Friday Night At The Fights on March 3 to give Montebello 1859 another go.  With a draw in Game 2 and each player having a renewed interest in tackling the problems faced by both commanders, the game was reset and player commands remained as in Game 2.  That is, Jake commanded the French and I commanded the Austrians.  To see Jake's revised plan for approaching the task at hand, please see Operation Design Montebello Part Deux.

On to the game!
Initial deployments and troop concentrations
Rather than attacking Cascina Nuova, Baum pulls back
 to defend the northern approaches to Montebello.
Two squadrons of 12th Hussars come forward to lend support.
One battalion of 74th Line advances from Cascina Nuova to
 harass the Austrian hussars.
French small arms fire drives the Austrians back from the 
Genestrello bridge.  Forey is operating under a more 
 aggressive plan than in prior games.
While the jaegers in Genestrello dish out punishment to the 74th,
Beuret's brigade breaks out from Genestrello bottleneck to drive

off Austrian support.
Is the French plan to contain and then bypass Genestrello?
With Sardinian cavalry swarming to the north of Montebello,
 Austrian infantry form a barrier to contain the aggressive Allied
Rather than fight deployed Austrian rifled muskets, the
 Sardinians make a dash for the railway bridge!  A bold move
 that drives the Austrian covering force back across the railway
 bridge in disarray.
Sardinian light horse seize the railway bridge over the Coppa!
In a hammer and anvil approach, Hesse advances to press
 Blanchard's brigade against Baum's forces in the fields north
  of Montebello.  Attacks against Calcabobbio go in.
The noose tightens?
Flush with success, Sardinian cavalry push on, taking both
 the main bridge at Casteggio as well as Castegggio itself!
Even with Sardinian cavalry running amok in the Austrian
 rear, Hesse continues to press Blanchard.
Preparing the defense of Montebello
Paumgarten reacts to push back the impetuous Sardinian cavalry.
Spillberger marches on the railway bridge while Gaal confronts
the Sardinians on the eastern approaches to Casteggio.
Sardinian cavalry pushed back across the Coppa.
In the north, French retake Calcabobbio
Situation when action called as an Allied Minor Victory.
Blanchard's brigade holding Hesse in check.
As commander of the Austrian forces, this scrap was a real nail-biter.  Austrian casualties were heavy and while The White Menace bent, it never broke.  French battle plan to strike deep into the Austrian rear while simply cordoning and bypassing Genestrello and Montebello paid dividends exposing the Austrians to a few near embarrassing moments.  With Austrian reserves nearby, the impudent Sardinian cavalry could not hold their gains without infantry support.  In the end, both Genestrello and Montebello fell to French aggressions and Forey claimed a minor victory on points.

With two FtF battles in the books within one week, the rules are surviving contact nicely.  As Austrian commander, I forgot to include the large battalion modifier during fire but that may not have made much difference in overall play.   A few tweaks will be put in place prior to the next game but most remain as is.  Next game?  Yes, we plan to fight Montebello one more time with commands reversed.  I bet Jake will not forget Austrian large battalion modifiers!  One tweak to the scenario: Austrians may activate all three wings once enemy forces have crossed the Coppa.  In the prior games, Austrians could only activate two of their three wings on any given turn.

Can I better Jake's result as French commander?  We will see.


  1. This is a superb series, Jonathan.

    1. Glad you are enjoying it, Mark! At least one more game to go once we can get it on the schedule.

  2. Fascinating report and look forward to the replay.

    1. Thank you so much, Peter. I look forward to a shot with the French, myself!

  3. That additional Austrian activation might become quite telling.

    1. That is what makes me nervous; just as I am about to take command of the French!

  4. Sounds like the rules are developing nicely. Looking forward to more. By the way, I have taken to referring to the Austrians as The White Menace, too!

    1. The rules are coming along nicely, Ed! Given that Jake was willing to play them more than once is a positive (and encouraging) commendation.

      As for "The White Menace," Austria has always held a soft spot whether Napoleonics, SYW, or Franco-Austrian War.

  5. Lovely looking setup and seems like a good see saw fun game.
    Best Iain

    1. Thank you, Iain for the comment. It is a challenging situation for both players making for an interesting game.

  6. Good write-up and an enjoyable game. A major victory is indeed challenging. I think I did a sizable amount of damage to the Austrians this time around, and still felt no closer to holding a salient across the Coppa. In three efforts it looks like the Austrians or 0-2-1

    It makes our next game a greater puzzle. You have to figure out how to achieve a French Major Victory, and I need to figure out if the Austrians can achieve even a minor one.

    1. Game 3 was very enjoyable despite the body count for the Austrians tapping out higher than expected.

      Reading historical accounts of Montebello, Stadion was neither expecting nor driving for a victory against the French. He was tasked with drawing the French from Voghera but not being destroyed in the process. Falling back to the Coppa line and holding it by battle's end, guarantees he does no worse than a minor allied victory. The challenges faced by both commanders seems about right.

      If it is possible for an Austrian minor victory, you will be the one to push the envelope towards that goal.

    2. Or be thoroughly crushed by the French juggernaut and hand over the first Major Victory....

  7. Sounds great, intense...and bloody, poor Austrians! A great report on a fantastic terrain!

    1. Yes, Austrians took a pounding in this battle, holding on for dear life.

      Glad you enjoyed the report, Phil!

  8. I agree, great series. I suspect that had the French employed this approach in real life, the Austrians may have been more than a bit spooked and inclined to withdraw rather than risk being cut off!

    1. Thanks, Peter!

      "Spooked" is a good description. I would like to think my historical counterpart, when faced with the same situation, would have done as I. That is, bring up Paumgarten's reserves and push the impudent Sardinians back across the Coppa!

  9. A great series of games and fabulous figures. I have a thing for mid19thC wargaming but have yet to dip my toe into the waters of the Risorgimento!

    1. Very pleased you are enjoying the Montebello replays. The games have been good fun, for sure. I have learned a bit about the historical situation as well.

      I have been following your 1799 Suvorov campaigning with great interest. One day, my 1799 project will get onto the gaming table.