The Battle of Hafeneinfahrt 1809

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The Battle of Hafeneinfahrt 1809

Postby RMD » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:26 pm

After 25 years of loyal service, my 1st Edition of Avalon Hill's 'Napoleon's Battles' finally disintegrated into a fine dust last month, so I thought that it might finally be time to get the 4th Edition, which was published last year.

If you’re unfamiliar with the set, they’re designed for ‘grand tactical’ battles of one or more corps per side. Each unit on the table represents a brigade (or large regiment) of roughly 1,000 to 3,000 men and each model gun represents a horse battery or heavy foot battery. Rulesets at a similar command level include ‘Age of Eagles’ and ‘Blucher’.

Thankfully, very little has actually changed between the 1st and 4th Editions. By a spooky coincidence, most of the changes bear a close resemblance to our ‘house rules’ adopted over the last 25 years, so we’re very happy. One slight criticism I have is that the book doesn’t include the individual general ‘character stats’ that were included with the 1st Edition and supplements, though they are fully available via a search engine on their website and the list has been greatly expanded and amended.

Martin and I decided to do a small game to try out the new edition. We actually used a fictitious training scenario from the 1st Edition: ‘Austrians At Bay 1809’, which we could easily complete in about three hours. In this scenario, an Austrian corps is making a stand at a reasonably defensive position, with a central ridge and flanks anchored on villages and woodland. A French force of similar size moves to attack.

Orders of battle:

French Corps – Maréchal Petit

1st Division – Général de Division Petomaine:
13th Légère (24 figures)
8th de Ligne (16 figures)

2nd Division – Général de Division La Trine:
30th de Ligne (20 figures)
37th de Ligne (20 figures)

3rd Division – Général de Division Soixanteneuf:
17th de Ligne (24 figures)
67th de Ligne (16 figures)

Cavalry Division – Général de Division Déjàvu:
Colbert’s Brigade (16 figures)
Marulaz’s Brigade (12 figures)

Reserve Artillery:
12pdr Foot Battery
6pdr Horse Battery

Austrian Corps – Feldmarschal, Graf von Tümpen

Avant-Garde Division – Feldmarschalleutnant Wienerschnitzel
Grenz Infantry Regiment 13 ‘Wallach-Illyrian’ (24 figures)
Chevauxleger Regiment 1 ‘Kaiser Franz’ (16 figures)
Vienna Freikorps (16 figures)
6pdr Cavalry Battery

1st Division – Feldmarschalleutnant Pumpernickel
Infantry Regiment 2 ‘Hiller’ (24 figures)
Infantry Regiment 32 ‘Esterhàzy’ (24 figures)
Hussar Regiment 3 ‘Erzherzog Ferdinand Carl d’Este’ (12 figures)

2nd Division – Feldmarshalleutnant Knockwurst
Infantry Regiment 3 ‘Erzherzog Karl’ (16 figures)
Infantry Regiment 4 ‘Hoch und Deutschmeister’ (16 figures)
Infantry Regiment 8 ‘Erzherzog Ludwig’ (24 figures)

Artillery Reserve:
12pdr Position Battery
12pdr Position Battery


Marshal Petit deploys his corps, intending to lead the attack with his left flank. Petomaine’s division, including the strong 13th Légère, is deployed on the left, ready to lead the attack.

However, anticipating the French focal point, the wily Von Tümpen deploys Wienerschnitzel’s Avant-Garde Division right. These light troops and cavalry would cause problems for the French attack.

With the 1st Chevauxlegers deployed in the open ground on the flank, the woodland is stuffed with skirmishing Grenze and the Cavalry Battery, with the Freikorps on their left.

Pumpernickel’s Hungarian Division, with one of the 12pdr Position Batteries under command, occupies the high ground in the centre.

Knockwurst’s Division holds the left flank, anchored on a fortified village, with the remaining 12pdr Position Battert attached and one regiment (IR 4) in reserve.

As the artillery opens up, the French left flank moves forward. An early charge by the Austrian 3rd Hussars is soon repulsed by Colbert’s cavalry.

The threat of Austrian cavalry causes Petomaine to adopt a cautious approach; he masses his two brigades into a ‘divisional square’, which lumbers ponderously toward the objective. The Austrian gunners can’t believe their luck and Petomaine’s advance is slowed to a crawl as the 13th Légère come under fire.

Following their inconclusive charge, the 3rd Hussars withdraw to the safety of Austrian lines. The Freikorps move forward to plug the gap, while the Grenze rally to form a more solid formation in the face of the approaching mass of Frenchmen.

Another view of the approaching French army. Note that the black-edged markers indicate 1-3 casualties. Whole bases are removed once 4 casualties are caused. The markers edged light blue indicate a disordered unit.

In the centre, the French artillery causes consistent damage on the defending Hungarians, slowly whittling them down. However, Von Tümpen now makes a masterful move. The French intentions are already very clear, leaving the Austrians free to withdraw the bulk of Knockwurst’s division and move it over to reinforce the right centre-right.

However, the French infantry are impatient and don’t wait to see the outcome of the bombardment before launching their attack. Austrian 12pdrs now cause damage to La Trine’s flanking division.

As Soixanteneuf’s division approaches the Austrian centre, Pumpernickel launches the 3rd Hussars once again into the French columns. Ignoring fire from the French horse battery, the 3rd Hussars charge on into the 17th de Ligne, who are quickly routed. Soixanteneuf himself narrowly escapes capture, though is forced to retire for one turn to have his wounds tended. However, the hussars get a rush of blood to the sabre and launch a ragged charge into Colbert’s cavalry. The French cavalry defeat them with ease and the accumulated casualties result in the dispersal of the gallant Austrian horsemen. Unlike the Austrians, Colbert manages to maintain control and the French cavalry reform their ranks.

Unseen by the camera, the French artillery continues to hammer the Hungarians on the ridge and cracks begin to emerge. Even though his flank was meant to be ‘refused’, La Trine decides to take advantage of the bombardment and launches the 30th de Ligne up the ridge. However, the 30th march into a firestorm and are quickly destroyed. Austrian despondency at the loss of the hussars is now evaporated and they start to believe they can win!

On the French left, Marulaz’s cavalry has had a successful clash with the Austrian Chevauxlegers, who have been routed. Petomaine’s division now sees an opportunity to emerge from the divisional square and resume the advance on the woods.

However, Knockwurst’s division is now inserted into the centre, along with a vital 12pdr battery.

Having returned from the field ambulance, Soixanteneuf attempts to rally the routed 17th, with little effect. Routing units are indicated by pink-edged markers.

With 50% of the division now dispersed, La Trine’s division is now classed as ‘Fatigued’ and may not advance on the enemy. However, he is close enough to give the Austrians a very hard time, thanks to his attached 12pdrs.

Petomaine’s division launches a determined assault on Wienerschnitzel’s Avant-Garde Division, though runs into a storm of shot from the two Austrian batteries and the Grenze. Both brigades are disordered and fail to press the attack home. Déjàvu’s cavalry can only sit and watch.

The yellow-edged markers are ‘Cavalry React’ markers – these are placed on cavalry units that are under command but opt not to move during their turn. Cavalry on ‘React’ may then be moved after fire/combat is resolved or in reaction to the enemy’s moves.

The one bright spot of the French day occurs when Soixanteneuf, having rallied the 17th, leads the 67th forward and throws them into the disordered and depleted Hungarians of IR 2. The Hungarians are routed and Soixanteneuf finally achieves the crest of the ridge!

The other Hungarian regiment, IR 32 meanwhile, is suffering heavy casualties from the French 12pdrs and is forced to withdraw from the crest. The French artillery quickly turn their attention to the Austrian 12pdrs and soon silence the irritating battery. The Austrian centre and left is now fully pulling back from the ridge. Could the pendulum of battle be swinging back to the French after all?

Alas it is not to be. The 67th quickly come under fire from Knockwurst’s recently-arrived IR 3 and are disordered. They are now also dangerously close to dispersal.

On the left flank, the end is clear for the French as the 13th Légère break under the concentrated fire of the 13th Grenze and the cavalry battery. The 8th de Ligne meanwhile, are close to breaking thanks to the newly-arrived Austrian 12pdrs. With the dispersal of the 13th, Petomaine’s division is ‘Fatigued’ and no longer capable of offensive action. Petit decides to cut his losses and withdraw from the action while he still can, screened by his relatively intact cavalry.
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