In Tuesday's post, I mentioned an upcoming Franco-Austrian battle and the discovery that the 1859 collection could muster no Guard Voltigeurs. Well, 36 figures were pulled from The Lead Pile and pushed into the painting queue. After three days of work, three battalions of the 1st Guard Voltigeurs will be present under arms for Monday's fight. Figures are Old Glory 15s from 19th Century Miniatures. Knowing that more guardsmen will be needed in future contests, an order from 19th Century Miniatures is hopefully winging its way to my mailbox soon. No dispatch email yet so the custom order must still be in work.
The shortage of guardsmen was not the only disovery when preparing for the upcoming game. Having primarily focused on the Sardinians and smaller French involvement, I was woefully short on French commanders. Luckily, French command figures are not in short supply in inventory. Fifteen mounted officers were pulled out of The Lead Pile and shoved into the painting queue. Work still progresses on these officers. These commanders should be ready for their debut by game day.
Returning to Monday's upcoming game with the Rejects, the table has been set, troops deployed, and Battle Briefings distributed. The battle will be fought on a hex grid using my version of Fields of Honor. I hosted the Rejects back in May with a recreation of the Battle of San Martino. Coming back for another go, we explore the fighting in the center of the Solferino battle. With seven players, lots of figures, and not a lot of maneuver space for finesse this ought to be a real donnybrook.
To set the stage, the Battle of Solferino is a large battle. It was the largest European battle since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. With the battle’s size and scope, fighting at the battalion level requires breaking the battle down into sectors. Monday's action will focus on the Center Sector.
The Austrians, having planned to advance against the French and Sardinians to the west were surprised when the Allies jumped into action and stole a march on the Austrian Army. Having been caught off-balance, the Austrian 2nd Army primarily took up a defensive attitude around Solferino and San Cassiano. The Austrian 1st Army, with more maneuver room on the Medole Plain attempted to take the offensive. Even though the French were initially outnumbered on the plain, uncoordinated attacks by the Austrians allowed the French to fight the enemy to a standstill.
The primary avenue of attack for the French was along the spine of the Solferino Heights. As the French 1st Corps attacked along the spine to the north (North Sector) and the French 4th Corp battled the Austrian 1st Army in the south (South Sector), MacMahon’s 2nd Corps remained idle, sandwiched between these to battles (Center Sector). If he turned north to aid in the attack against Solferino, he risked being flanked by the Austrian 1st Army in the South Sector. If he turned against the Austrian 1st Army to the south, he risked being attacked in the flank by the Austrian I Corps.
Finally, about noon, with reinforcements arriving on the battlefield, MacMahon and the French 2nd Corps began moving off to engage the enemy at San Cassiano and Cavriana. MacMahon needed to engage the Austrians in the Center Sector so that I Corps could neither reinforce the battle raging on the Solferino Heights in the north nor the battle on the Medole Plain around Guidizzolo in the south.
The French goal in the Center Sector is to pin the Austrian I Corps and prevent it from reinforcing either North or South Sectors. Defeating this Corps in detail will strengthen the odds of taking the difficult heights to the north. Speed is of the essence!
The Austrian goal in the Center Sector is to hold the center while pinning the French 2nd Corps allowing the 1st Army in the south to overpower the French forces opposing it. If successful, the French can be defeated in detail as the 1st Army defeats each weaker French Corps in sequence as it fights its way north.
With the Rejects requesting more fog of war in this battle, the photo of the battlefield below is all that I can provide at this time.