It was clear fresh morning as L’General-de-Division surveyed the ground – he looked remarkably like L’Empereur himself, even down to his stature and dress – there was a stationary mass of white across the rolling fields, Austrians by the gods, and he meant to teach them the superiority of French esprit de corps and steel! His men were ready, his sub-commanders Michel Ney, Joachim Murat, and Eugéne de Beauharnais were ready, the horses and cannons were ready – but first he needed a plan… Before he could muse over the days prospects a courier came breathlessly galloping up, his ADC soon came to tell him the news, it was not good – “the Austrians have collected the entire region’s supply of garlic!” “What!” exclaimed the General, “no garlic for our foraging troops – this will not do, not at all…”
“There is an option” the ADC volunteered, ”the Austrian force now before us L’Empereur, err, I mean L’General-de-Division, is a covering force – of the last wagon of Garlic for 200 miles! Our spy has given his life to bring us this vital information, but they enemy force may move off at any time…” ”Sacrebleu” exclaimed the general – “we must move fast and we cannot await the arrival of Eugéne – sound the stand too – time is of the essence and the garlic must not elude us”!
The General cast his plan, he sent his trusted Ney off to the left, Ney would launch the main assault – approaching the Austrians rapidly in column of march to take them by surprise, from the centre left, his 5 battalions would sweep up the Austrian right and storm into their rear to secure the vital wagon of garlic! L’General estimated Ney would be opposed by just 2 enemy battalions with support from a centrally located artillery battery. In the centre Murat would leave one battalion to cover the rough ground, while taking his remaining 2 battalions to the right, to demonstrate and feint there on the more obvious approach route, and hopefully pin down the much larger (5 battalion) portion of the Austrian force. The Divisional Artillery would support Murat, firing from high ground to hopefully enfilade any Austrian forces that tried to move to their right to oppose Ney…
The French artillery opened up, commencing the engagement, and immediately placing destructive round shot through 2 Austrian Battalions, before the latter even realised the battle was joined! Ney’s troops moved off reliably enough, rapidly marching across the rolling countryside, Ney himself was in no particular rush, they would get there when they got there… And if they were good enough they might even win! Murat however was all energy, his troops marched off aggressively and with purpose and he was already hatching cunning ploys to entrap the plodding wary Austrians… “Ha, ils ne seront que les abeilles de mon miel, il s’écria“ he exclaimed (Ha, they shall be but bees to my honey). The Austrian battery barked out fire at Murat’s men – the left hand battalion caught in column took casualties – but the Austrian foot stood and maintained their position.
The French battery barked again – more Austrian casualties, albeit not as dramatic as the prior barrage. As they neared halfway to the Austrian positions, Ney’s men gradually shook out their march columns, moving into their allotted places to be ready deploy into attack columns; they were making good progress and the Austrians had not as yet made any effort to respond – cela allait être trop facile thought Ney to himself (this was going to be too easy). Murat’s left hand battalion was soon at the rough terrain around the road, preparing to deploy to support Ney’s flank – L’General personally overseeing it’s deployment. On the French right Murat’s other 2 battalions also began to fan out in preparation for transition into their attack formations… The Austrian artillery fired again at Murat’s left most battalion, causing more casualties, before re-aligning themselves to begin engaging Ney’s men – things were finally beginning to stir in the Austrian command… Some of the Infantry even began to move, on the left the 4 forward battalions advanced to face Murat’s men and cover the wagon of garlic, and L’General with Murat’s left-most battalion in the centre, could now see that object of their endeavours clearly, it being but a mere thousand or two yards away, while the Austrian battalion on the extreme left rear, wheeled off to its right and headed as if towards the centre of the Austrian line, perhaps planning to reinforce the opposition to Ney…!
The French artillery poured another volley of round shot into the Austrians, more casualties were inflicted – but with such huge battalions who could tell what effect they were having…! The French troops rapidly deployed into their attack columns, moving forward, preparing to sweep away these stoic Austrians, but ce que le! What is this, the Austrians are mere midgets – how can we fight such men mused L’General? And where is Eugéne? There should be sign of him soon…? The Austrian artillery barked out at Ney’s advancing columns, followed by very ineffective Austrian musketry, with little effect on the French. However the Austrians now conducted a general advance – closing on the French and threatening la baïonnette. On their left the Austrian Infantry stormed into the rough ground opposite Murat’s right-most battalion, who had previously deployed into line. The French artillery fired again, this time failing to harm the Austrians, but they had the mark, and would continue to score decisive hits for hte remainder of the morning, while along the line many of the French battalions opened up musketry, but much of their fire went high due to the short stature of the Austrians, and as the leading battalions in Ney’s Brigade went in with la baïonnette they too faced these strange short men! The Austrians replied with volleys all along their front, “ils tirent mes hommes dans les rotules” exclaimed L’General (they are shooting my men in the kneecaps)! With even greater daring these pint sized soldiers threw back the valiant Frenchmen, and followed up with la baïonnette themselves! Even more daring (or foolish – who knows) a second battalion came storming into rough ground in its haste to get at the French! “Sie haben nicht den Knoblauch” was their rallying cry (you shall not have the garlic)!
The French artillery resumed its decisive firing; it had a clear field of fire right into the heart of the Austrian positions, and was steadily demolishing a couple of the battalions deployed there. Musketry rippled all along the French lines, but to little effect, however Murat was dancing the tune of a magician, pulling off great acts of bravery and energy and inspiring his men on the right to totally dominate his opposition, despite being outnumbered 2:1 in men! In the centre of the French line his left-most battalion deployed into line to be ready to pour musketry into the Austrian counterpart trying to make its way through the rough. But the Austrians began to reurn fire with even more effective musketry – who were these halfling marksmen pondered L’General. And so it was, to and fro, each side pushing the other back only for them to return and push the other back… The two Austrian battalions got themselves hopelessly tangled up in the areas of rough terrain, taking constant casualties, firing ineffectually, and generally milling around in confusion – but elsewhere, despite being outnumbered by Ney they staunchly held their ground throwing back Ney and all too promptly sending 2 of his battalions fleeing the field! They were determined little midgets! At one stage L’General couldn’t help from clapping his hands together in excitement, some of Ney’s men had formed Le Ordre Mixte, sigh, the sight was as wonderful as a beautiful woman to L’General! But where was Eugéne!
Unknown to L’General, Eugéne was miles away, half drunk, marching in the wrong direction, and lacking his sword! Things had started badly in the morning when he woke up, he had developed an unexpected rash and his companion from the night before had vanished, and she seemed to have taken his purse as well! Having some poil du chien (i.e. a nice big flagon of wine) he had stumbled out to his ADC and in mounting his horse had fallen out of the saddle and twisted his ankle, also ripping his pantalons in the process. Having finally got back on his horse and given his Brigade the order to march it was only about an hour later he realised he was going in completely the wrong direction, when his ADC pointed out they had just passed the previous days lunch bivouac! Force-marching back to the starting point he was then horrified to realise he had misplaced his sword – and by now the sound of L’General’s artillery in the distance was clear, and after deliberating for another 30 minutes about the fate of his sword and whether to return for it, Eugéne finally moved off, sans sword, towards the sound of the guns, a mere 2+ hours later than expected…
Back on the field of battle the Austrians were grinding away at the French, they were tricky little devils, barely armpit high to a 5th generation runt, but they were getting plenty of Frenchmen in the unprotecteds with la baïonnette! L’General was not impressed… but thankfully the French Battery kept up the remorseless pounding of the Austrians in the centre, and Murat was pulling off wonder s on the right. Finally Eugéne arrived on the field, with his Regiments of Carabiniers & Cuirassiers, and the Horse Battery – L’General moved to meet him, personally taking command of the Cuirassiers and Horse Guns to quickly support Ney, before his rapidly shrinking Brigade was overwhelmed, since his faith in Eugéne was currently seriously depleted… By now the Austrians had redeployed more troops to the their centre-right, effectively enhancing the protection afforded the vital wagon of garlic, and allowing their artillery battery to move down off the high ground in support… Elsewhere the horribly tangled up battalions in the rough were slowly extracting themselves and they had so far had but 1 battalion leave the field while L’General’s Division was close to losing its third! Even as the French Heavy Cavalry rushed to hopefully decide the battle a swarm of Austrian Hussars appeared on the French left, the Austrian reserve Light Cavalry Brigade had also finally appeared – Ney was really facing the wolves now – “oh, if only I had given Murat the command of the main assault this day” lamented L’General!
With Austrian artillery deployed directly in front of him at canister range, outnumbered 3:2 by Austrian Infantry directly opposite his battalions, and facing 4 fresh Austrian Hussar Regiments, Ney put a brave but uninspiring face on things and sent his battalions back again into the assault repeatedly – but alas they could not get the vital last breakthrough to punch through the line! Eugéne was first to get the Heavy Cavalry into action – the Carabiniers surged forward, alas Eugéne ordered the rear squadron forward first causing chaos, then fell off his horse (again), and finally just about had the Regiment plough through one of Murat’s Infantry formations – by the time it reached the Austrian line the little midgets were just about laughing themselves silly, and Murat could only shake his head in disgust – might as well have a lemming in command he thought! Needless to say the Carabiniers milled about and were then thrown back, to the disgust of the Regiment’s Commander. The Cuirassiers meanwhile, under L’General, were carefully threading their way into the centre of the line, hoping to deliver a decisive charge to overrun the Austrian Guns and break the supporting Infantry battalion…
By now the Austrian Hussars were swarming everywhere – and while 1 Regiment got lost in some sort of order, counter order, disorder chaos running backwards and forwards along the rear of the Austrian position, the other 3 moved in decisively around Ney’s open right flank, supported by the Austrian Horse Battery. “There are Austrian Hussars behind me” exclaimed Ney (albeit rather blandly)! L’General rapidly deployed the last reserve, the Horse Battery to try and enfilade them, while the Divisional Foot Battery finally moved down off the high ground to also come to Ney’s support… Another round of desperate French charges were beaten back by the Austrian midgets, including another totally bungled Carabinier effort by Eugéne; and now the Hussars were everywhere – charging the Horse Battery, and along with the Austrian Infantry also Ney’s last surviving infantry. The Carabiniers had failed their second charge attempt due to outright uninspired & incompetent leadership by Eugéne, while the Horse Battery got off one volley of canister before being run down by the Austrian Hussars in a fit of idiocy, when L’General failed to have them move from their exposed position when thrreatened by the charge! Elsewhere another of Ney’s battalions broke and suddenly the entire French left was streaming back in disorder, only Murat’s 3 battalions withdrawing in something resembling any form of order… The garlic was gone; L’Grand Armée’s morale shoudl surely be seriously compromised! “Que Sera, Sera” exclaimed L’General as he galloped off after his men, to start trying to rally his Division – “let this never be known, beaten by a bunch of midgets…” he mused to himself.
The French Division
L’General (looking remarkably like L’Empereur – John Moher)
1st Infantry Brigade
5 Bataillons d’infanterie de ligne (all small)
2nd Infantry Brigade
3 Bataillons d’infanterie de ligne (all small)
3rd (Reserve) Heavy Cavalry Brigade
1 Carabinier Regiment (large)
1 Cuirassier Regiment (large)
1 Brigade Horse Battery (3/Medium)
1 Divisional Foot Battery (4/Medium)
The Austrian Division
Der General (Jeff Kent)
1st Infantry Brigade
Brigadekommandeur Durchschnittliche (0/Average)
7 Line Infanteriebataillone (5 large / 2 small)*
1 Brigade Foot Battery (4/Medium)
2nd (Reserve) Light Cavalry Regiment
Brigadekommandeur Ausdruckslos-höflich (0/Average)
4 Husaren-Regimenter (small)
1 Brigade Horse Battery (3/Medium)
* The game convenor & umpire (Campbell Millar) inadvertently deployed 1 large Austrian Infantry Battalion too many during set up (should have been 4 & 2 battalions) – so the Austrians had an extra unplanned reinforcement over the rule books list. “Play-balancing” he calls it apparently (post game)…
The Figures & Terrain
Are all from the collection of Campbell Millar; the French were principally old-style (true) 25mm metal Hinchliffe and Minifigs figures, except the Medium Foot Battery which was 1/72nd plastic Zvezda figures. The Austrians were largely 1/72nd plastic Italeri figures, but filled out with a few Zvezda, Hat, and Strelets (so hence the Austrian ‘midgets’ in the narrative above). Terrain was mostly from my collection barring the road & the 2 card houses in the ‘town’ which were from Campbell’s.
About The Game
The game was played at the Auckland Wargaming Club as an introduction to Lasalle, organised and umpired by Campbell (Cam) Millar, and for the benefit of Jeff Kent and Myself, who were both Lasalle novices. And while a little fast and loose with some of the more obscure bits of the rules it was an enjoyable game and presented plenty of exciting and tense moments, and opportunities for dramatic victory or defeat for both sides… Cam’s troops (i.e. figures) did sterling service, and the little plastic chaps certainly held their own against the giant metal Frenchmen! We played the scenario as all or nothing (i.e. Any result except the French capturing the wagon of garlic or the Austrian Division collapsing, was an Austrian victory). Both sides spent the bulk of the latter part of the game sitting near needing to test for breaking – basically the overrunning of the French Horse Battery being the critical thing that tipped the French Division over, and as the game was into it’s first ‘extra’ turn (it was Turn 17) it was already well past the 50% probability for the French to break (which they did) when they tested… A great game and look forward to playing more Lasalle very soon, as my 28mm Quatre Bras & Waterloo armies come online…
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