After two action-packed sessions, the battle reaches its final blows.
For recaps of how the game arrived at this juncture, please visit,
Solferino: Contact and
Solferino: Assault on San Cassiano
As the battle resumes, the Austrians still control much of the high ground around San Cassiano. San Cassiano remains firmly in Austrian hands. MacMahon is seen shifting more resources toward San Cassiano.
|Situation on Austrian Right|
Wherein the previous session the French showed great resolve and committed great resources in taking San Cassiano, the start of Session #3 suggested a change in French strategy. Rather than continue to pound at San Cassiano with little effect, French movements suggest that containing and bypassing San Cassiano may be the new order for the day.
Rather than stick to the earlier French objective of taking both San Cassiano and Cavriana on the path toward victory, MacMahon seemingly switched the goal from taking vital ground to destroying the Austrian's will to fight. With two Austrian brigades already broken, only one more enemy brigade wrecked would secure victory. The difficulty is that the French must wreck one Austrian brigade before wrecking two of its own. As seen from the rosters in Session #2, this task may be easier said than done! Let's pick up the action.
Maintaining pressure against the Austrian right, the French launch attacks toward the Austrian second line of defenses along the ridge protecting Cavriana. The problem for the French is that these attacks must cross open ground covered by enemy artillery. If a foothold can be gained on this secondary ridgeline, Austrian units deployed to the west could find themselves trapped. With Stankovic's Division wrecked, Clam-Gallas will use this depleted formation as a speed bump to delay French aggressions as he prepares a defense in-depth.
|French attack the heights!|
|Heavy fighting for the high ground.|
|Austrian defense in-depth.|
The initial French attacks from the plain below are repulsed with heavy casualties to all as the attackers are blasted by canister. French moving from the west bypass San Cassiano and secure a vital foothold on the heights. Not only do the French gain a foothold on the crucial heights to the east of San Cassiano but in close combat, an Austrian battery and infantry battalion are destroyed in the fight. The French look well-positioned to press on with the attack.
|You win some; you lose some.|
|The western most ridge is in French hands.|
Spirits are high among the victorious French but that jubilation is short-lived. Out on the plain, two French battalions are destroyed by concentrated artillery fire.
|Austrian plays its hand on the plain.|
Undaunted, the French press on with MacMahon and Gault pushing the Austrians back to the second ridgeline. Wrecked, Stankovic's Division is melting away under unrelenting French pressure.
In the attack upon the second ridgeline, MacMahon and Gault's coordinated efforts see the Austrian line waver. The Austrian right is showing signs of collapse. All is not easy for the French, though. Far from it!
|MacMahon leads the attack!|
In a series of cavalry attacks and counterattacks, Mensdorff's cavalry division overpower Desvaux's remaining cavalry. In the back and forth action, casualties mount and Desvaux' division breaks! In the confusion, Desvaux is killed.
With Desvaux' formation wrecked, the next army to suffer a brigade failure must retire in defeat. Which army will blink first?
|Attacks against the Austrian left and right.|
Seeing the Austrians fall back from repeated French attacks against the Austrian right, French hopes for victory are high. Those hopes are dashed when the French take the high ground overlooking Cavriana. Looking down onto Cavriana, the French are met with the unpleasant sight of seeing Montenouvo's Division preparing to defend the village in strength.
|Desvaux is killed.|
|Montenuovo defends Cavriana|
Processing the positioning of the Austrians around Cavriana, the French redouble their efforts to wreck the Austrian army. An overwhelming attack against an isolated battery supported by grenz sees the destruction of both guns and grenz. Still, not enough to force an Austrian capitulation. Even though the attacks are successful, these efforts further weaken the attackers.
|as the French press on.|
|Isolated enemy are attacked|
The French assaults have carried them too close to the enemy gun lines. With little cover and weakened from the day's fighting, the pounding from the Austrian guns is enough to break General Lefevre's Brigade. MacMahon has seen that his Corps is spent and taking Cavriana let alone San Cassiano is too great a task. The battle is over.
|The French within reach of Cavriana|
|while San Cassiano continues to hold out.|
Yes, that is correct. After three long sessions of fighting on this field, the battle is over.
|No place to hide out on the plain.|
The Austrian's score a victory by not only hanging on to both San Cassiano and Cavriana but also breaking the French army.
Congratulations to the Austrian commanders and well-played by all!
The rosters show the final dispositions of each formation. Red losses are from Session #1, blue losses are from Session #2, and green losses are from the final Session #3.
Was the final tally close? It sure was!
For the Austrians, both Bruner and Mensdorff's formations were only one hit away from breaking. Pazsthory's Brigade was only two hits away from wrecking. A slight change in the order of play or concentration on another front may have changed the outcome of battle completely.
This was a very near run thing!
For me, this was a great gaming experience. One that I will remember for a very long time. When memories fade, I can return to these pages to relive the event!
I encourage the players to voice their thoughts on the game. Seeing battle from player perspective detailing the evolution of their plans and strategies over the course of the battle would make interesting reading. Lee has already given his impressions at, Battle of Solferino
. I may even tackle my thoughts on the battle and an analysis of play.
Thank you to all of the Rejects (French: Richard, Ray, David, Surjit; Austrian: Lee, Steve, John) who participated in this long, three session battle. I reckon we put in about 12 hours of gaming, all remotely. Hopefully, they enjoyed this exercise as much as I and will be back for more.