|Fierce fighting on the Rivoli Plateau|
|Alvintzi attacks Joubert|
|Initial battle plans|
The Austrians have launched another relief effort for Mantua. Three attempts have failed before. This one should be no different. Alvintzi needs to break out of the Adige Valley into order to bring his superior numbers to bear. The only way to break out of the valley is to attack on the Rivoli Plateau.
Joubert was posted to the north of Rivoli and while fighting hard, has been pushed back to Rivoli and takes up positions along the Trombolare Heights. Reinforcements are on the way and will continue arriving throughout the morning. Holding the Osteria Gorge is critical. If the Gorge can be held, the large Austrian columns confined to the valley will offer no assistance to the Austrians on the plateau. If the four Austrian columns on the heights can be defeated before reinforced from the valley below, the battle will be won. The goal is the destruction of the Austrian army before it can break out and relieve Mantua.
Napoleon faces several problems. They are:
- Joubert’s position could be flanked on the west allowing the Austrians to break out towards Lake Garda.
- Joubert is initially outnumbered and spread thinly across the front but his troops are hard fighters and he has support from artillery and cavalry.
- If the Osteria Gorge can be forced then both flanks could be in jeopardy and the Rivoli position could become untenable.
- While the Osteria Gorge position may hold, the Adige could be bridged in a few places below Rivoli.
French Command Rating: Efficient
French Maneuver Doctrine: Impulse
French Reinforcement Schedule:
0900 Massena, Brune, 32nd Line, 29th Line arrive on road from Verona to Rivoli.1000 Massena’s two batteries arrive on road from Verona to Rivoli.1030 Monnier, 18th Line, 75th Line arrive on road from Verona to Rivoli.1400 Rey, 58th Line arrive on road from Verona to Rivoli.1530 8th Dragoons, 15th Dragoons, Rey’s batteries arrive on road from Verona to Rivoli.
With plans to relieve Mantua (fourth time’s a charm!), Alvintzi has set off down the Adige Valley with thoughts of breaking out into the more open territory in which his superiority in numbers can weigh heavily against the weaker French.
Alvintzi faces several problems. Almost too many obstacles, really. They are:
- To break out toward Verona and Mantua, his army must overcome Joubert’s division blocking his approach.
- The Adige River is unfordable and the nearest crossing is several miles to the north.
- Climbing out of the Adige Valley in order to make an attack against Joubert in the mountains requires that his cavalry and artillery be left behind.
- To access the Rivoli Plateau directly from the Adige Valley requires his army to pass through the Osteria Gorge. This is a narrow defile and easily defended. Reuss must overcome this obstacle to unleash his large column out onto the plateau.
- Until the Osteria Gorge can be taken, communication between Alvintzi on the plateau and his troops in the valley is nearly impossible. Therefore taking the gorge defile is key to the entire operation.
- His four columns on the plateau have been moving and fighting through most of the night and early morning. Austrian punches have not been as nimble as French counter-punches.
- Vukassovich’s column on the east bank of the Adige River is prevented from moving south through another defile by French troops. No possibility of overcoming the defenders guarding this defile. Vukassovich does carry along a pontoon train that can be used to bridge the Adige in a few places.
Austrian Command Rating: Functional
Austrian Maneuver Doctrine: Linear
Sudden Death (Assessed at end of each turn):
- Austrians win the battle and play stops immediately if all units from two columns have exited the southern board via either Rivoli-to-Verona or Affi-to-Verona roads. To count, each column must still maintain half of its units neither eliminated nor Demoralized.
- French win the battle and play stops immediately if at least three Austrian columns have been destroyed. To count as destroyed, all of the column’s units must be either eliminated, Shaken, or Demoralized.
2 VPs for each enemy unit eliminated.1 VP for each enemy unit demoralized.3 VPs (Austria only) for controlling Rivoli-Verona road exit.3 VPs (Austria only) for controlling Rivoli.5 VPs (Austria only) for controlling Affi.5 VPs (Austria only) for controlling Zuanne.
At the end of fighting, the situation looked like,
As seen in the battle photo above, the French nearly destroyed two Austrian columns in the north while the Austrians nearly completed their double envelopment of the French. The Austrians had a chance at snagging a Sudden Death victory by exiting Lusignan and Liptay off-table at Affi but chose to maintain their double envelopment and help spring Reuss from the gorge bottleneck.
The Austrian column under Reuss, having battled hard all day to break through the Rivoli Gorge, finally succeeded. The arrival of fresh troops for the French saw these Austrian gains onto the Rivoli plateau short-lived. As daylight faded, Reuss' Austrians suffered reverses and their foothold upon the plateau became untenable.
In the north around Lubiana, the end of the day saw Koblos and Oksay retreating in disarray. Based upon Alvintzi's earlier instructions and plan of battle, Koblos and Oksay withdrew back to the north to preserve the army. Much of Lebley and Vial's commands were equally battered and in no condition to pursue vigorously (or effectively!).The Austrians performed better than their historical counterparts but based on casualties suffered, I lean toward declaring a minor French tactical victory since the Austrians were unable to successfully break out onto the plain below Rivoli. My long term plan is to collate all of the correspondence and combat results into a more detailed battle report at some point. Perhaps this will include a series of posts highlighting portions of the battle? The mounds of dispatches to sift through are daunting and much of the action will need to be condensed unless I plan on writing a book on this battle. By the time I re-examine all of the data and tally casualty returns, the final result may edge back toward a draw. It really is that close.
I know I asked a lot from the players in this venture and appreciate their diligence in feeding in their orders and dispatches. This battle has waged for over two months now and I am very grateful to all whom participated. The decisions made by the generals produced much enjoyment for me and generated an interesting narrative. Not something I could have experienced on my own. I was surprised many times and tried to follow the intent and spirit of each order. It is fair to say that this undertaking would not have been the same without their generous and helpful contributions. Some of the dispatches were very entertaining. Some were very methodical. All were greatly appreciated as the players' participation added greatly to the battle refight.
I sincerely thank all participants for making this a very enjoyable game. I hope players found this enjoyable as well and this exercise provided some insight into the historical battle, itself. All are worthy commanders. Each turn, with limited information, they assessed the situation and made some profound and insightful inferences. Chapeau to you all!