Masséna’s Counter-Attack at Wagram, 6th July 1809 (A Scenario for ‘Napoleon’s Battles’)

Yesterday was going to be my annual Christmas Game Day at the Carmarthen Old Guard, which this year was to be a Napoleonic game focusing on Marshal Masséna’s counter-attack at the Battle of Wagram, during Napoleon’s Danube Campaign of 1809.  Sadly my oppo Andy has come down with the flu and we’ve therefore had to postpone it 🙁 .  But no matter, this ‘day off’ gives me the ideal opportunity to write up the scenario on the blog… 🙂

This scenario is written for Napoleon’s Battles rules, where each unit represents a brigade or large regiment.  The ruleset Age of Eagles is also set at this scale, so the scenario could be easily converted over (though for Age of Eagles you’ll need to add light and medium foot batteries to both sides – see the notes at the end of the orders of battle below).

Historical Background

Napoleon at Wagram

The Battle of Wagram was the largest battle of the 1809 Danube Campaign, fought over 5th and 6th July 1809 and pitting the bulk of Napoleon’s Army of Germany against the core of Archduke Charles‘ ‘Imperial & Royal’ Austrian Army.  Prior to Wagram, Napoleon’s Army of Germany had first turned back Archduke Charles’ invasion of Bavaria and had then pursued it down the valley of the Danube, capturing Vienna in the process.  Prince Eugène’s Army of Italy had done likewise, driving Archduke John’s Austrian Army from Italy and then pursuing it deep into Hungary.

Archduke Charles

However, despite successive tactical defeats, Archduke Charles’ Army was still largely intact and was concentrated across the Danube from Vienna.  Napoleon’s first attempt to establish a bridgehead across the Danube on 21st & 22nd May was a failure; the Battle of Aspern-Essling was Napoleon’s very first battlefield defeat and cost the life of one of his very best subordinates, Marshal Jean Lannes.  The defeat was due in no small part to the failure to reinforce the bridgehead and this failure was caused by a very rickety string of bridges that the Austrians smashed repeatedly by floating everything they could find, including the kitchen sink down the Danube.

Napoleon’s army crosses from Lobau to the Marchfeld on 5th July 1809

Napoleon’s second attempt to establish a bridgehead north of the Danube was going to be a far less hasty assault and his engineers spent the next six weeks building far stronger bridges, booms and breakwaters to catch floating debris, as well as a ring of fortifications and heavy artillery on the island of Lobau, which would once again be used as the launch-pad for the assault, just as it had been during the Battle of Aspern-Essling.  The Austrians had also been busy, building a string of redoubts around the villages of Aspern, Essling and Gross-Enzersdorf, where Napoleon had made his first assault.

At last, at the start of July, all was ready.  Prince Eugène’s Army of Italy was ordered to reinforce the Emperor’s own army at Vienna and the island of Lobau was stuffed with troops.  Covered by numerous heavy guns, several bridges were built on the eastern side of Lobau, well to the east of the Austrian defence line, and the first assault troops crossed onto the north bank during the night of 4th July.

Klenau

With his line of fortifications outflanked, Archduke Charles decided not to fight on the flat, valley-floor plain of the Marchfeld, where the French cavalry would have the advantage.  Instead he withdrew the bulk of his army north to a low escarpment along the north bank of the Russback stream, east of the village of Deutsch-Wagram.  The Austrian 6. Korps under Klenau was ordered to withdraw to the west and with luck, outflank the French as the advanced north to meet the main Austrian position.

The French army spent 5th July completing their crossing and advancing to contact, with Nordmann’s Austrian Avantgarde Korps withdrawing slowly in front of them.  A few French attacks developed during the evening against the main Austrian position as the army became generally engaged across the front, though the Austrians were too strong to be dislodged from the Wagram Plateau.

Masséna

Archduke Charles now planned to envelop the French left flank during the very early hours of the morning, using Kolowrat’s 3. Korps, reinforced by the elite troops of Liechtenstein’s Reserve Korps and with the exposed flank covered by Klenau’s 6. Korps, which would drive wide around the French left flank and push deep into the French rear – perhaps even cutting them off from their bridges.  This would be accompanied by further night-attacks by Rosenberg’s 4. Korps on the French right flank to keep them off balance.

The results of the attack were mixed; Rosenberg’s night-attacks on the French right flank were easily beaten off by Davout’s 3e Corps veterans, though the Saxons of Bernadotte’s 9e Corps panicked and ran from the key village of Aderklaa, which protected the French left flank.  Napoleon ordered Marshal André Masséna’s 4e Corps forward to re-take Aderklaa.

Carra Saint-Cyr

The battle for Aderklaa was brutal and the divisions of Carra St Cyr and Molitor suffered heavy casualties against determined resistance by the Austrian grenadiers of Liechtenstein’s Reserve Corps.  However, the French could not hold on to Aderklaa and by 1000hrs a further crisis was unfolding on the extreme French left flank: Kolowrat’s Austrian 3. Korps had arrived in the vicinity of Breitenlee to threaten Masséna’s left flank and Klenau’s 6. Korps had driven Boudet’s division from Aspern and Essling, to retake the Austrian redoubts!  The French heavy guns on Lobau stopped any further advance by Klenau, but the threat could not be ignored and Napoleon needed to throw back this Austrian advance.  But who to send…?

Kolowrat

Despite the heavy losses already suffered by his Corps, Masséna was the only man for the job.  He was the only man Napoleon judged to be capable of extracting his corps from action in one sector and then moving it under fire to attack in another sector.  In order to facilitate this move, Napoleon ordered his aide-de-camp, General Jacques Lauriston to form a grand battery of 84 guns (formed from the Imperial Guard and Army of Italy) and to pour a crushing weight of fire onto Kolowrat’s 3. Korps and Liechtenstein’s Grenadiers, in order to prevent them from interfering with Massena’s march.

Legrand

Marshal Bessières, commanding the French Reserve Cavalry Corps, was also ordered to support the move; he sent Nansouty’s Division (one brigade of Carabiniers and two of Cuirassiers) to attack Vukassovich, while St Sulpice’s Division (two brigades of Cuirassiers) was sent south to support Massena.  Durutte’s French Infantry Division and Wrede’s Bavarian Division were also sent to support Massena’s attack.

By 1200hrs and within 90 minutes of the order being given, Legrand’s Division was within range of Essling and was launching its attack on Vincent’s somewhat over-extended Austrian division.  It is at this point that our scenario begins.

The battlefield. Each square represents 12 inches on the table (see Terrain Notes below).

French Briefing

You are to defeat the Austrian flanking attack against our army, with the intention of retaking Aspern & Essling, thus securing our lines of communication and then exploiting that success to drive back the Austrian right wing as far as the line Breitenlee – Kagran.

Total Defeat – If your army’s morale is broken or if you fail to capture any of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Defeat – If you only hold one the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Draw – If you hold two of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Victory – If you hold all three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Total Victory – If the enemy’s morale is broken or if you hold Breitenfeld and there are no undisordered Austrian units forward of the line Breitenfeld – Kagran.

4ème Corps d’Armée – Maréchal Massena

11”E(10)+2D
[Army Morale 14M]
[4th Corps Fatigue 8F]
[6 Free Rolls]

1er Division – Général de Division Legrand                                             4”E(7)+1
Ledru’s Brigade                                                                                                           28 FrLT [11D]
Baden 1. Infanterie-Regiment ‘Grossherzog’ (Neuenstein’s Brigade)             16 BdLN [6D]
Baden 2. Infanterie-Regiment ‘Erbgrossherzog’ (Neuenstein’s Brigade)       16 BdLN [6D]
Baden Reitende-Batterie                                                                                           Bd6#
4/2ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                        Fr6#

2ème Division – Général de Division Carra St Cyr                                3”G(6)+1D
Cosson’s Brigade*                                                                                                        16 FrLT [6D]
Dalesme’s Brigade*                                                                                                     28 FrLN [11D]
2/2ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                         Fr6#

Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent – Generalmajor Schinner                 3”A(5)+0
Garder’s Brigade (Leib-Garde Regiment)*                                                             16 HsGD [5D]
Colpe’s Brigade (Leib Regiment)*                                                                            16 HsLN [6D]

3rd Division – Général de Division Molitor                                               5”E(7)+1
Leguay’s Brigade*                                                                                                         24 FrLN [10D]
Viviez’s Brigade*                                                                                                           20 FrLN [8D]
1/4ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                           Fr6#

4ème Division – Général de Division Boudet                                            3”G(6)+1
Fririon’s Brigade                                                                                                           16 FrLT [6D]
Valory’s Brigade                                                                                                            20 FrLN [8D]

4ème Corps Artillery
3/5ème Artillerie à Pied                                                                                              Fr12#

Division de Cavalerie Légère – Général de Division Lasalle              4”E(8)+2
Piré’s Brigade                                                                                                                12 FrLC [5D]
Bruyère’s Brigade                                                                                                         12 FrLC [5D]
Marulaz’s Brigade (23rd Chasseurs & Bavarian, Hessian & Baden cavalry)   20 BdLC [8D]

6ème Corps d’Armée (Elements)

2ème Division – Général de Division Durutte                                          3”G(6)+1 [2F]
Valentin’s Brigade                                                                                                        24 FrLT [10D]
Dessaix’s Brigade                                                                                                         16 FrLN [6D]

7ème Corps d’Armée (Elements)

2ème Division – Generalleutnant von Wrede                                           3”A(7)+0 [3F]
Minucci’s Bavarian Brigade                                                                                       28 BvLN [14D]
Becker’s Bavarian Brigade                                                                                         20 BvLN [10D]
Preysing’s Bavarian Cavalry Brigade                                                                       12 BvLC [5D]
Bavarian Leichte-Batterie ‘Caspers’ (Mounted Artillery)                                    Bv6#
Bavarian Schwere-Fuss-Batterie ‘Dobl’                                                                   Bv12#

Corps de Cavalerie (Elements)

2ème Division de Cavalerie Lourde – Général de Division St Sulpice      3”A(6)+1 [2F]
Fiteau’s Brigade                                                                                                            12 FrHC [4D]
Guiton’s Brigade                                                                                                           12 FrHC [4D]
3/5ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                         Fr8#

Molitor

French Order of Battle Notes

1.  Masséna was wounded at Aspern-Essling and as a result was forced to conduct command of this battle from his carriage (which was described as a very conspicuous white phaeton, drawn by white horses).  This carriage moves as a wagon unit with an 18” movement range.  There is a Risk To General on a roll of 1-4 instead of the usual 1-3.

2.  Napoleon’s effects on the army are that he increases the Dispersal rating of all units by one grade and increases the Fatigue rating of all formations by one.  Although he does not appear in this scenario, the Emperor is very close by (at Raasdorf) and these affects are therefore applied.

3.  Each of the brigades in St Cyr’s and Molitor’s Divisions, as well as Schinner’s Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent (marked with a ‘*’), have suffered casualties during the morning assaults on Aderklaa.  Roll 1 D4 for every four bases (rounded up) in the unit and remove the rolled number of figures at the start of the scenario.  So Cosson, Garder & Colpe each roll 1 D4, while Dalesme, Leguay and Viviez each roll 2 D4.

4.  Boudet’s Division lost its organic artillery during the morning’s retreat from Aspern.

5.  Marulaz’s 4th Corps Cavalry Brigade was placed under the command of Lasalle’s Independent Light Cavalry Division for this action.  Lasalle had been semi-permanently assigned to 4th Corps for some time, so counts as part of that corps for the purposes of fatigue calculation.

Durutte

6.  The French Army Morale Level is 14.

7.  Masséna has 6 Free Roll Markers.

8.  Durutte’s Division will be released for manoeuvre at 1300hrs (Turn 5).

9.  Wrede’s Bavarian Division will be released at 1400hrs (Turn 7).

10.  Boudet’s Division has retreated off-table before the start of the game, falling back in the face of Klenau’s advance, to entrenchments in the Lobau Bridgehead.  Boudet’s Division will re-appear (in march column formation) on one of the three roads exiting the southern edge of the table between Aspern and Essling, two turns after those two villages have been fully recaptured by French forces.

Lasalle at Wagram

11.  Schinner’s Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent was actually attached to St Cyr’s Division, though was a very large brigade that during the battle was often given independent tasks.  I’ve therefore split it off as a separate formation.  If you prefer, you can remove Schinner and have the Hessians as part of St Cyr’s Division.

12.  If Lasalle’s Light Cavalry Division is dispersed or becomes permanently fatigued, Lasalle (if he is still alive) may be given a single Cuirassier Brigade from St Sulpice’s Division (Guiton’s or Fiteau’s) and may lead it as a small division (Lasalle was actually killed during this engagement, while temporarily leading a brigade of cuirassiers).

13.  The 4th Corps reserve 12pdr battery may be commanded by any 4th Corps infantry commander (Molitor, St Cyr, Legrand or Schinner).

French Deployment

1.  The deployment shown on the map is only approximate.  All brigade units shown may have their exact positions shifted by up to 6 inches, though divisions may not move closer to the enemy.

2.  Lasalle’s Light Cavalry Division is facing roughly westward, with its brigades in line or column formation.

3.  Masséna’s infantry brigades (i.e. those belonging to Molitor, St Cyr, Legrand and Schinner) are all facing roughly south, one behind the other, in either column or march column formation.

4.  Durutte’s brigades are deployed in column, facing west.

5.  Wrede’s brigades are deployed in column, facing roughly north.

6.  St Sulpice’s brigades are deployed in column or march column, facing roughly south.

7.  Commanders may be placed anywhere on the table, but no closer to the enemy that their furthest-forward brigade unit.

8.  All French and allied artillery starts the game limbered and deployed anywhere within the command-span of their respective commander, but no closer to the enemy than the furthest-forward brigade unit.

Austrian Briefing

You are to defeat the French counter-attack against our flanking attack, with the intention of continuing our attack, thus cutting the French lines of communication with the Lobau Bridgehead.

Total Defeat – If your army’s morale is broken or if you lose Breitenfeld and have no undisordered units forward of the line Breitenfeld – Kagran.

Defeat – If you lose the villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Draw – If you hold one of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Victory – If you hold two of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Total Victory – If the enemy’s morale is broken or if you hold all three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

6. Korps – FML Klenau

8”G(10)+1
[Army Morale 8M]
[6th Corps Fatigue 4F]
[5 Free Rolls]

Division FML Hohenfeld                                                                                  4”G(8)+1D
Infantry Regiments 14 ‘Klebek’ & 59 ‘Jordis’ (Adler’s Brigade)                      20 AsLN [8D]
Moravian & Lower Austrian Landwehr (Adler’s Brigade)                                20 AsLW [12D]

Division FML Kottulinsky                                                                                4”A(5)+1
Hungarian Infantry Regiment 39 ‘Duka’ (Hoffmeister’s Brigade)                 16 AsLN [6D]
Hungarian Infantry Regiment 60 ‘Gyulai’ (Hoffmeister’s Brigade)               16 AsLN [6D]
Hungarian IRs 31 ‘Benjowsky’ & 51 ‘Splenyi’ (Splenyi’s Brigade)                   28 AsLN [11D]

Division FML Vincent                                                                                        4”A(5)+0
Mariassy’s Brigade (Vienna & Moravian Freiwilligen)                                      24 AsFKI [10D]
Vécsey’s Brigade (Grenze Infantry Regiments 6 & 7)                                        20 AsGRZ [10D]
Wallmoden’s Brigade (HRs 7 ‘Liechtenstein’ & 8 ‘Kienmayer’)                      16 AsLC [6D]
Cavalry Battery                                                                                                          As6#

6. Korps Artillery
Position Battery                                                                                                         As12#

Elements, 3. Korps

Division FML St Julien                                                                                     3”P(4)+0 [3F]
IRs 1 ‘Kaiser’ & 23 ‘Würzburg’ (Lilienberg’s Brigade)                                      24 AsLN [10D]
Infantry Regiment 12 ‘Menfredini’ (Lilienberg’s Brigade)                              20 AsLN [8D]
Infantry Regiments 20 ‘Kaunitz’ & 28 ‘Württemberg’ (Bieber’s Brigade)   28 AsLN [11D]
Wratislaw’s Bohemian Landwehr Brigade                                                         16 AsLW [10D]
Uhlan Regiment 2 ‘Schwarzenberg’ (Schneller’s Brigade)                              12 AsLC [5D]
Cavalry Battery                                                                                                         As6#
Position Battery                                                                                                        As12#

Austrian Order of Battle Notes

1.  For the purposes of this scenario, Klenau acts as an army commander, commanding St Julien’s Division of 3. Korps in addition to his own 6. Korps.

2.  The entire Austrian army was in very good spirits following their victory at Aspern-Essling. Their Dispersal rating has therefore improved by one grade.

3.  The Austrian Army Morale Level is 8.

4.  Klenau has 5 Free Rolls Markers.

5.  The 6. Korps reserve 12pdr battery may be commanded by any 6. Korps divisional commander (Hohenfeld, Kottulinsky or Vincent).

Austrian Deployment

1.  The deployment shown on the map is only approximate. All brigade units shown may have their exact positions shifted by up to 6 inches, though divisions may not move closer to the enemy.

2.  At the start of the game, Vincent must deploy at least one infantry brigade within Essling village.

3.  At the start of the game, St Julien must deploy at least one infantry brigade within Breitenlee village.

4.  Commanders may be placed anywhere on the table, but no closer to the enemy that their furthest-forward brigade unit.

5. All Austrian artillery starts the game limbered or unlimbered as desired and deployed anywhere within the command-span of their respective commander, but no closer to the enemy than the furthest-forward brigade unit.

Terrain Notes

The terrain of the Marchfeld is mostly wide, open and flat farmland, dotted with solidly-build villages, criss-crossed with roads and very little else.

The villages each have a +3 defensive modifier.  Aspern and Stadlau may each hold two brigade units.  All other villages may accommodate one brigade unit.

There are a few small woods around the southern villages and along the banks of the Danube branches.

The redoubts (marked as brown ‘V’-shapes) around Aspern and Essling may be occupied by one brigade unit and/or two batteries and have a defensive modifier of +3.  However, they are only defensible against attacks from the south, so largely only serve as decoration in this scenario and may be happily ignored if your terrain collection lacks sufficient field defences.

Game Information

The game starts with the French 1230hrs turn and ends with the Austrian 1930hrs turn (20 turns total).

 

Game Unit Labels

French Unit Labels

Austrian Unit Labels

Note For Players of Age of Eagles

Although I’ve never played AoE, it is set at the same command-level as Napoleon’s Battles, so it should be relatively easy to convert the orders of battle across to AoE. However, Napoleon’s Battles only includes separate artillery batteries to represent horse artillery and heavy foot artillery, so players of AoW will need to know how many more guns to add. Here’s what was present in terms of light foot artillery (note that most sources differ on exactly who had what, but this is my best stab, based on Bowden and Gill):

French & Allied Light Foot Artillery

Legrand’s Division
3/5e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)
Baden Fuss-Batterie (6pdr)

Carra St Cyr’s Division
7/5e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)
Hessen-Darmstadt Fuss-Batterie (6pdr)

Molitor’s Division
21/1er Artillerie à Pied (4pdr)
8/2e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)

Boudet’s Division
1/7e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr) (wiped out during the morning)

Durutte’s Division
Unidentified 6pdr Battery

Wrede’s Division
Fuss-Batterie ‘Berchem’ (6pdr)
Fuss-Batterie ‘Dorn’ (6pdr)

Austrian Light Foot Artillery

Hohenfeld’s Division
Adler’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)

Kottulinsky’s Division
Hoffmeister’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Splenyi’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)

Vincent’s Division
Mariassy’s Brigade Battery (3pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr) (Bowden instead says a second 3pdr Brigade Battery)

6. Korps Artillery Reserve
Position Battery (6pdr) (Gill does not include the 12pdr Position Battery listed by Bowden – both list this 6pdr battery)

St Julien’s Division
Lilienberg’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Bieber’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)

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9 Responses to Masséna’s Counter-Attack at Wagram, 6th July 1809 (A Scenario for ‘Napoleon’s Battles’)

  1. jemima_fawr says:

    Edited to add additional artillery for players of Age of Eagles.

  2. Rhys says:

    Interesting read Mark, hope to join you for some Naps soon!

  3. Noel says:

    Superb research. I have 1/300 Austrians and French, so I really appreciated seeing this!

  4. Vincent says:

    Very good! A minor quibble: Aspern-Essling was the first time the Emperor Napoleon was defeated on the field of battle, but General Bonaparte was defeated twice in Italy, once at Caldiero and another one shortly before (name escapes me at the moment). Needless to say, he recovered from both and thrashed the Austrians.
    I may try translating this scenario to Bloody Big Battles.

  5. Vincent says:

    When does the scenario end? Also, I note some confusion in the French victory conditions (draw and loss look the same) while the Austrian conditions are clear. That said, this has the look of a fine little scenario for BBB.

    As for “first defeats”, I note that Kolin is always listed as Frederick’s first defeat. First battlefield defeat, true. But he was caught poorly deployed and chased from Bohemia during the War of the Austrian Succession. No major battle was fought but his losses were around 40%. He admitted that Traun, the Austrian chief of staff, had schooled him.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Well spotted! That is of course a complete failure to edit… 😉

      I think my brain was turning to mush by that point after too much Christmas cheer…

      Should be fixed now. The French and Austrian victory conditions should be the exact opposite of each other, but it’s late… 😉

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