Our third game of ESR Napoleonics was our second game in the Game Hall. Hohenlohe would move against Lannes, while Hiller used part of his korps to tie up Vandamme; the rest to threaten Lannes’s second division. The French decided Lannes should hold a line beginning on his left at the base of a hill, running behind a town, and around the back of a large wood. Vandamme would setup about a mile and a half west of Lannes on a hill above a ruined church. This strangely defensive posture by the French did not last.
This action resulted in an indecisive French victory after 3.5 hours of play, representing 4 hours of battle.
As Vandamme pulled his first brigade away from Lannes, the intrepid Hiller sent Vincent’s 3rd Hussars into the mile wide gap between the two French corps to disrupt Demont. Across the battlefield, Hohenlohe; seeing that Lannes was not moving upon the heights; directed Ulm’s division to crest the ridge. Chafing at the passive posture the French plan called for, this was the excuse Lannes needed to commit St. Sulpice’s Cuirassier Division. The partially deployed division of Ulm, led by a small regiment of chevaulégères, was beaten decisively and retreated back to the stream Lindenau’s Grenadier Division was still crossing. The French heavies were themselves winded and disordered from the fight, and held on the ridge to recoup their fatigue.
Vincent saw the terrible disposition of Demont’s infantry: at the base of a hill, behind a town, with their flank and back to woods, partially deployed; and only a poor road as a clear route of egress. Vincent ordered the 3rd Hussars to charge down the hill into Demont’s infantry. The fighting was desperate, three battalions of Demont’s division were routed, but it was also costly. Both the French and Austrians retreated, but while Demont rallied nearly his entire division back immediately, Vincent was only able to find a fifth of his horsemen still combat ready. Unfortunately for the Austrians, no supporting elements were poised to exploit the pyric success of the hussars. Vandamme decided now was the time to press and moved off the hill and into the Austrian avantgarde, though he lost a battery in the counter-attack by the 3rd Uhlans, ultimately the Austrians were swept back. Radetzky’s division deployed to provide a backstop, but the action was over for today. The Austrians having received the lesser success of each gamble, and seeing the two French corps now linking up, admitted defeat.