1809 in Germany
The Bavarian Spring & Aspern-Essling Campaigns
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That's why the maps are provided in scale miles, orders of battle provide the number of battalions, and why we offer an online conversion page so you can be guided on converting unit Combat Ratings to other popular Napoleonic games.
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The War of the 5th Coalition was big but it was also small. In 1809, Austria stood largely alone in her opposition of Napoleonic France. The battles fought often only need a handful of players, but may include large bodies of troops, over sprawling terrain.
Can the French turn back the waves of white-clad Austrians from the hills of Bavaria? Will Charles box-in Davout's III Corps before Napoleon can extricate him?
Will the gamble at Aspern-Essling work? Does the bridge hold? How long can Lannes and Massena maintain their position without additional support? Does the bridge hold? Can Bessèires's cavalry break out from the salient and give Napoleon the time and space he needs? What about the bridge?!?!
This gives historical battles historical context, some battles will be more important to you than your opponent and vice versa.
We're trying to block the road, but they don't seem to care, should we be worried? Just because you know your victory condition, doesn't mean you know your opponent's. Each Army receives their own:
Between the rolling hills, the steep valleys, and the dense pine forests, I can't see anything, are we even sure we're in Bavaria?
Where is the enemy army? Heck, where is our Army?
While you must make your plans from the best information you have, better not to assume it is all correct, or even that it is all present. You and your opponent are almost certainly receiving entirely different briefings to start from, about the exact same situation.
Forget step three, you don't need step three, there is no step three…
Because The First Battle Lost includes all the uniform images you need to paint all the Units of all the Armies involved in the campaign.
The First Battle Lost is our fourth Napoleonic Campaign Guide.
So if you haven't checked out Master of the World, 1812 in Russia, Roll up that Map, 1805 in Germany, or We shall meet in Vienna, 1813 in Germany you should be sure to do so.
And yes, there are more coming, in the same format:
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|Teugen-Hausen||Four||Advanced||8.5 by 3 scale miles||Davout's III Corps vs Charles's Hauptarmee||Davout tries to fight his way home to La Grande Armée.|
|Abensberg||Two to Three||Beginner||8 by 3 scale miles||Lefebvre's VII Corps
vs Ludwig's V Korps
|Lefebvre attacks Charles's flank to aid Davout's escape.|
|Laichling||Five||Intermediate||8 by 3 scale miles||The Austrian Hauptarmee
vs Davout's III Corps
|Charles and Davout jockey for position as both call for reinforcements and support.|
|Lanshut||Four||Advanced||5 by 3 scale miles||Hiller's Left Wing
vs La Grande Armée
|Napoleon pursues Hiller to force him across the Isar and recapture Landshut.|
|Eckmühl||Eight||Expert||8 by 3 scale miles||Charles's Hauptarmee vs La Grande Armée||Charles attempts to destroy Davout as Napoleon attempts to destroy Charles.|
|Ratisbon||Four to Five||Intermediate||3 by 3 scale miles||La Grande Armée vs the Austrian Hauptarmee||Charles attempts to escape across the Danube into Bohemia.|
|Neumarkt-Sankt Veit||Four||Beginner||5 by 3 scale miles||Hiller's Army Wing vs Bessières Pursuit||The hunter becomes the hunted as Hiller about faces his retreat.|
|Ebelsberg||Five to Six||Intermediate||3 by 4 scale miles||Massena's IV Corps
vs Hiller's Army Wing
|The French press Hiller at the Traun River.|
|Linz-Urfahr||Two to Three||Beginner||3 by 5 scale miles||Kolowrat's III Korps
vs Vandamme's VIII Corps
|The Austrians attempt to take the battle against the French line-of-communications.|
|Aspern-Essling||Five to Ten||Expert||3 by 4.5 scale miles||La Grande Armée
vs the Austrian Hauptarmee
|Napoleon attempts a river crossing in the face of Charles's Army, with only a single bridge across the Danube to support his gamble.|
Davout had consolidated his III Corps d’armée to Regensburg following a series of skirmishes at Hirschau, Amberg, and Ursensollen. The Austrians had crossed the Isar River en force on 16 April at Landshut and Deroy’s Bavarian Division had fallen back ahead of them. The following day Klenau’s advanced elements brushed against Davout at Regensburg.
The III Corps began its march on 19 April, after Davout gave orders to move south, Regensburg was garrisoned, and the bulk of the III Corps d’armée marched. Charles directed two Austrian Korps, the III and IV, to block the French escape at Dünzling and Teugen, passing through Hausen.
Faced by French aggression along his western frontage, Archduke Charles attempted to consolidate the Hauptarmee to the east, under the hopes of setting up behind the Groß Laber. Unfortunately for the Austrians, ill coordination exposed practical flaws: The III ArmeeKorps, having just advanced upon Hausen, was now directed to fallback eastward, opening a temporary hole between the two wings of the Austrian Hauptarmee and exposing the northern flank of the left wing. This occurred as Archduke Louis, commanding the northern flank of the V Corps, was struck by Lefebvre’s VII Corps from the front.
With pressure against Landshut and the Austrian rear, but the crossing at Regensberg open, the question became if Charles would take renewed offensive action against Davout or if he would direct the Hauptarmee to retire towards safety.
Davout was obviously concerned about the former course of action, as he remained isolated from the bulk of La Grande Armée. Napoleon seemed to presume the Austrians were in flight, or near so, and was thus unworried as to the dispositions of the III Corps d’armée, or even of Archduke Charles.
The action at Laichling would serve as a prelude to Eckmühl, with both Davout and Charles using the day to fight for position.
From the opening move of the campaign, Landshut was the central key for both Armies. The Hauptarmee crossed en masse there as it drove forward on Davout before Teugen-Hausen, and Napoleon was determined to control it. The move against Landshut was as important to the French as the the Austrian effort against Regensburg was to Charles. If Napoleon could take Landshut, and Davout’s garrison could hold onto Regensburg, the Austrian Hauptarmee would be trapped between La Grande Armée and major rivers, without a plausible route to safety. Hiller’s, now detached, wing of the Austrian Army was covering Landshut as Charles jockeyed for position with Davout west of Eckmühl.
The action at Laichling framed the Elchingen battlefield.
21 April had been a busy day. Landshut fell to the French, but Regensberg fell to the Austrians. Napoleon was at the disadvantage of not knowing that Davout’s garrison at Regensberg had capitulated, thus, on 22 April, he acted under the understanding that the Austrian Army was not only on its heels, but had no safe road out of harms way. Neither of these points were true.
Charles, on the other hand, had options. The strong French movement against Landshut, cut-off the eastern line communications, support, and potentially of retreat. However, with Regensberg now secured, there was an option for Charles to fallback to the north, away from the threat to his existing line of communications and towards his new one. The fall of Regensberg had also freed up two ArmeeKorps: that of Bellegarde’s I Korps and Kollowrat’s II Korps. With these additional Forces, and a safe line of retreat secured to the north through Regensberg, Charles decided there was no cause to abandon his initial intention of destroying Davout’s isolated corps.
Davout, perhaps better informed than the Emperor, as he was aware Regensberg had fallen, and that Charles would not pickup his Army and go home, was in for a fight. The Duke of Elchingen was to demonstrate that exercising loyalty required both skill and faith.
Following the end of the Austrian offensive with the defeat at Eckmühl, the French pursued the Hauptarmee north. Charles, concerned about having only one crossing point over the Danube, promptly ordered the construction of a pontoon bridge. Unfortunately, the coordination of the crossing was about as poor as other events during the campaign and logjams of men and material were common. While preparations to defend the town were well considered, they were ill timed, two of the three gates into the city were barricaded immediately, the only one left open being the James Gate on the east side of the town. Thus, when the pontoon bridge backed up, Forces were required to march across the entire frontage of Regensberg to avail themselves of an entrance to the town so they might use its bridge.
The outnumbered Austrian cavalry put up a valiant fight for several hours, keeping the French heavy cavalry divisions at bay until sometime around noon, when French infantry began arriving. The Austrians on the southern bank managed to get across the river, while the French probed the town’s defenses. The fight for Regensburg was about to begin.
After being beaten out of Landshut, 21 April, Hiller’s wing of the Hauptarmee fell back and away ahead of a French pursuit led by Bessières. Unfortunately, Hiller was under the impression that Charles was on the offensive, and so recommitted himself to the attack.
Hiller’s course reversal caught his French pursuers off-guard, requiring Bessières to rush additional Formations forward. Vastly outnumbered, Wrede’s Bavarian division, through a combination of strong coordination with French cavalry, and the slow build of the Austrian attack as it marched to the field from a variety of angles, held for several hours before beginning a slow withdrawal.
Still separated from the Austrian Hauptarmee, but now aware that the offensive sought by Archduke Charles had reversed itself, Hiller took over the role of rear guard. Napoleon keen to take advantage of the situation, with the bulk of the Hauptarmee across the Danube, falling back into Bohemia to reorganize, there were plenty of resources with which to strike at Hiller's remaining wing. Hiller, strangely, did not think the pursuit by the French would come to much, and expected no serious fighting around Ebelsberg or his crossing of the Traun River. This in direct contradiction to the experience of 1805 and this campaign to-date.
This time Massena took up the job of pursuer and pressed Hiller at Ebelsberg. Massena’s action was energetic, as French subordinates were encouraged to rush the action as much as possible and drive-in the point of contact. From the initial contact forward, Hiller appeared entirely unprepared for the day’s fighting, which was defined by a lack of coordination and poor communication amongst the Austrian chain-of-command. While the French demonstrated a high level of personal initiative in taking advantage of all opportunities, the Austrians seemed to ignore even those most clearly available.
Kolowrat was under orders to strike upon the French line-of-communications in the Danube Valley. He chose to overpower the crossing point between Urfahr and Linz. Vandamme was focused on holding the crossing point on the Danube to ensure smooth operations for the French Army during the campaign. Neither the Austrian nor French positions were particularly good. The Austrians had to move through poor terrain, defiles, woods, and hills to reach the French defenders, but while the French benefitted from open ground across which to move their Formations, the area was narrow and reduced further by the marshes around the Danube.
Having taken Vienna, the campaign nevertheless continued. Uprisings throughout the occupation areas continued, requiring the dispersing of La Grande Armée to cover the territory. Knowing the practical rebellion would continue until the Habsburg Monarchy agreed to peace. To affect that, Napoleon determined to destroy the Austrian Hauptarmee, now reorganized somewhere north of the Danube, some distance away in Moravia. Charles had actually moved the Army close to the Danube, within miles of Vienna, and was determined to oppose the French crossing.
Often referred to as ‘Napoleon’s first defeat’, the fierce battle at Aspern-Essling was one of the greatest failed gambles of Napoleon’s career. The events turned on determination of French arms, and a single bridge, flung across a swollen river.
The French Army and all of its Allies.
The Austrian Army of 1809.