We got together with some of the folks from No Dice, No Glory to put ESR through its paces over the course of a 2.5 hour action between two opposing corps.
The game was run on a 5×7′ Killing Fields Terrain Classic Grassland Game Mat using Forces from French Corps d’armée and Austrian ArmeeKorps Core Box Sets, the French added the Heavy Cavalerie Division Attachment Pack while the Austrians took the Light Kavallerie Brigade Attachment Pack. Terrain was NOCH trees and Battlescale buildings.
Bernadotte marched proudly onto the field from the northeast only to get word back from Pajol’s light cavalry that an Austrian Force was approaching from the south. Initial reports of contact were with the 3rd Chevaulégèrs, attached to Ulm’s Division of Hiller’s ArmeeKorps. Pajol deployed forward to deny the Austrians the crossroads but held off engaging. Meanwhile, Bernadotte, ever decisive, gave no further orders.
The 3rd Chevaulégèrs dropped out of the march column immediately to screen the infantry from the French cavalry. Over the next hour or so, Ulm would deploy his entire division. Whether by confidence or foolishness, Bernadotte simply allowed events to play out, concentrating on a low, sprawling hill north of the main road. Hiller will similarly occupy a dominant ridge line south of the main road, effectively forming a longer parallel line to that of the French.
Finally noticing the opportunity Bernadotte orders the balance of his command to attack the southern ridge. Thareau’s Division struck southward, deploying as it marched, with Saint Sulpice’s cavalry supporting on its left. Bernadotte was late in launching the assault and Radetzky was fully deployed along the ridge with Vincent’s elite hussars covering his right. Vincent saw his chance to best the French heavy horse and charged headlong into the French cuirassiers, only partially deployed.
As the cavalry scrum worked itself out, Thareau’s second assault made headway and Radetzky’s Division began to retreat. Unfortunately, the victory was costly and Thareau’s Division itself broke. This would have been the moment to commit Saint Sulpice’s Cuirassier Division, but Vincent’s 3rd Hussars had picked the opportune moment to strike. Both cavalry Formations were neutralized by the fight, too fatigued to contribute further, but by hitting the French cuirassiers when they were only partially deployed, the Austrian had tempered both their greater numbers and prowess.
Hiller, who had been meaning to send Ulm’s Division against Bernadotte’s right nearly an hour ago, was caught up managing the fight on Radetzky’s front, and so it was only after a prolonged, and ineffectual bombardment that Ulm slowly advanced. He pushed Pajol back initially before the gallant French chasseurs made a good show in a foolhardy charge against the fresh Austrians. But by now it was clear with Vincent’s hussars out of action and Radetzky’s Division exhausted, the best Hiller could obtain was a draw and he ordered Ulm to back off. Bernadotte, who had blown at least two opportunities to sweep the Austrians by swift action, wrote the Emperor that he had obtained a great victory against all odds, simply by holding his position, and at the cost of a great number of Thareau’s men, and cuirassiers.