The Battle of Castiglione 1796: A Scenario for ‘Napoleon’s Battles’

Well it’s holiday time again and once again there’s sickness in the family, so it’s been binned.  God does like his little jokes…  Anyway, there are two positives to take from this:

1.  It’s Mrs Fawr, not me.

2.  I can go to club this week… 🙂

As my French and Austrian Napoleonics are all still sitting in the car from last time (I regard it as more of a mobile shed than a car…), I thought I’d dig out a small historical scenario for the Battle of Castiglione I wrote 25 years ago as an AB Figures demo game to go next to the AB Figures trade-stand at shows and show off the models.  It was originally written ‘In The Grand Manner’ at 1:20 ratio for Dave Brown’s General de Brigade rules, but was a quick job to convert it to Napoleon’s Battles.

The main source for this scenario was Bernhard Voykowitsch’s excellent book ‘Castiglione 1796‘.

[Edited to add: The Fates are fickle and my mate Andy couldn’t make it, so I did a random SYW game instead!  But here’s the scenario anyway.  We’ll no doubt play it sometime soon…]

As mentioned many times before, Napoleon’s Battles is a ‘grand tactical’ game scaled at roughly 1:100 ratio, where the smallest tactical unit is the brigade.  This scenario would therefore be easily convertible to similarly-scaled games such as Age of Eagles.

Historical Background

The Battle of Castiglione, 5th August 1796
La Bataille de Castiglione, 18ème Thermidor An IV

Bonaparte Takes Command: Napoléon’s First Italian Campaign

Napoléon Bonaparte

In the Spring of 1796, the young French Republic’s demoralised and dispirited Army of Italy received a new commanding general.  There was nothing particularly special about this young Corsican, though he had made something of a name for himself at the Siege of Toulouse and had firmly established his political loyalty in crushing the royalist coup of 13ème Véndemaire.  The army possessed many opportunistic leaders who had risen meteorically through the ranks, given the power-vacuum that had been created by the Revolution; men such as Masséna, Joubert, Augerau and Dessaix; all accomplished commanders (and in some cases, even more accomplished looters).  The new general’s name? Napoléon Bonaparte.

The situation for Napoléon in Italy was serious.  The French had established a bridgehead in north-western Italy, centred on the coastal city-state of Genoa, but were surrounded by enemies; Austria to the north and east, Piedmont to the west and the British Royal Navy at sea.

In April of that year, a large Austrian force under Field Marshal Beaulieu was detected, marching on Genoa.  Napoléon struck first; he quickly defeated the Austrian force linking Beaulieu with Piedmont and then crushed the Piedmontese army at Vico-Mondovi (21st April), thus knocking them out of the war.  With his rear secure, Napoléon turned his attention back to Beaulieu.  Constantly out-manoeuvring and out-fighting his opponent in a series of engagements, including Fombio (8th May) and Lodi (10th May), Napoléon pushed the Austrians right back into Lombardy and secured the city (but not the citadel) of Milan on 12th May.

Despite having been ‘liberated’ by the forces of Liberté, Fraternité & Égalité, the Italians seem to have preferred the oppression of L’Ancien Régime to the looting and depredations of the starving French soldiers.  A large-scale uprising soon erupted in the French rear, centred on the city of Pavia.  Napoléon wasted no time in putting down this insurrection in a most brutal fashion.  Despite this and political intrigues generated by the ruling Directory in Paris, Napoléon soon managed to resume the offensive and succeeded in defeating Beaulieu once again at Borghetto (30th May).  This all proved too much for Beaulieu who, with his regiments either trapped inside the fortress of Mantua or broken and fleeing north into the Tyrol, decided to resign.


As peace briefly settled once more over northern Italy, Napoléon rested and reinforced his Army of Italy with units from the Army of the Alps.  Following the string of victories, his troops, though still perpetually hungry, had regained their confidence and had finally found a commander they could trust and respect.  With the surrender of the Citadel of Milan in July, Napoléon was able to use captured siege artillery to invest the Austrian fortress of Mantua.  Mantua was to become the focus for the campaigns to come.

However, the Austrian army was not destroyed.  Beaulieu had been replaced by Field Marshal Dagobert Siegmund Count von Wurmser, a native of Strassbourg and formerly commander of the Austrian Army of the Upper Rhine.  Although old (70), he was experienced, successful and well versed in the arts of war, having served with the French army during the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War before transferring to Austrian service in 1762.  He had confidence in his troops and they in him.  He was determined to put a stop to the young Corsican’s victories.

Wurmser Attempts To Relieve Mantua

(Napoléon’s Second Italian Campaign And The Battle Of Castiglione)

Wurmser (as a younger man)

Wurmser’s main column, about 24,000 strong, advanced south from Trent toward Verona, joining the remnants of Beaulieu’s force between Trent and Lake Garda.  A second column, some 18,000 strong, advanced to the west of Lake Garda, commanded by General Peter Quosdanovich, with 5,000 more advancing down the Brenta valley on Wurmser’s left under General Meszaros.

To meet the Austrian advance, Napoléon reluctantly had to order the lifting of the siege of Mantua on 31st July; the French withdrawal was so urgent that the siege train was abandoned, some guns being spiked but most captured, with the loss in all of some 179 pieces of ordnance.  Wurmser’s obvious aim was to unite his army with that of Quosdanovich at the southern end of Lake Garda, to bring overwhelming numbers to bear against the French; but he was so concerned with the fate of Mantua that he delayed until he was certain that the siege had been lifted, which gave Napoléon time to move between his enemies, holding back one whilst concentrating upon the other.


Masséna fell back before Wurmser, while Meszaros’ small column recaptured Verona and rejoined Wurmser’s main army.  Quosdanovich advanced south on the right of Lake Garda, capturing Napoléon’s base at Brescia and thus threatening Napoléon’s lines of communication with Milan, so it was against this column that the most urgent action was needed.  Leaving Sérurier with some 9,000 men to watch the Austrians in Mantua, Napoléon marched west with his main body, leaving Augerau to fight a delaying action against Wurmser.  Augerau abandoned the defensive line of the River Mincio, upon which Mantua stands, but held up Wurmser’s advance around Castiglione.

On 3rd August Napoléon’s concentration against Quosdanovich stopped the advance of the Austrian column around Lonato, enabling him to turn against the main threat of Wurmser; so nearly had the Austrian attempts to unite their forces succeeded that the two prongs were separated by only about five miles.


Leaving sufficient forces to repel Quosdanovich (who after further action on 5th August began to retire the way he had come), Napoléon took Masséna’s force toward Castiglione, where Augerau and the Irish cavalry general Charles Kilmaine were still just holding Wurmser.  Intending to bring up reserves so that his army numbered 30,000 (against Wurmser’s 25,000), Napoléon hoped to decisively defeat Wurmser’s army and then re-invest the fortress of Mantua.

It is at this point that our scenario begins.  Wurmser has arrayed his army some distance to the east of Castiglione, near the village of Solferino (which was to gain fame in its own right as the scene for the titanic battle in 1859 between the forces of Piedmont/France and Austria).  The line has been bolstered by the construction of two small fortified batteries; one on the extreme left flank and one in the right.  Napoléon has arrayed his army opposite the Austrians and has begun skirmishing across the front, while his grenadiers have been sent to the right flank in preparation for an assault on the southernmost Austrian redoubt.

Scenario Length

The scenario will last for 20 turns.  The French have the initiative.

Victory Conditions

Either side will win a Great Victory if they can break the opposing army.

Either side will win a tactical victory if they have possession of the two redoubts and the village of Solferino by the end of Turn 20.

Any other result is a draw (or possibly an argument).

Austrian Briefing

The strategic situation remains extremely poor.  The French have defeated the northern columns of your army, leaving only your column to protect the fortress of Mantua.  However, you did force the French to raise their siege, though the tactical reverses of the last few days mean that it’s only a matter of time before you are forced to retreat, thereby leaving the French free to re-invest the fortress.

It is therefore imperative that you delay the French here for as long as possible, thereby allowing the garrison of Mantua to replenish its stocks of artillery, ammunition and food.


Feldmarschall Dagobert Siegmund Graf von Wurmser Commanding
[6 Free Rolls]

Right Flank Guard – Generalmajor Anton Schübirz von Chobinin 3”G(7)+1 [1F]
Schübirz’ Brigade (Grenzer Detachment)     20 AsGRZ [12D]
Schübirz’ Brigade (Cavalry Detachment – Elements, UR 1 & HR 2)     8 AsLC [4D]

Right Wing – Feldmarschalleutnant Paul, Baron Davidovich 3”A(7)+0 [2F]
Spiegel’s Brigade (IRs 4 & 45)     20 AsLN [10D]
Liptay’s Brigade (IRs 8, 13 & 40)     28 AsLN [14D]
Mittrowsky’s Brigade #1 (IRs 10 & 27)     16 AsLN [8D]
Mittrowsky’s Brigade #2 (IRs 11 & 25)     16 AsLN [8D]

Left Wing – Feldmarschalleutnant Karl Phillip, Freiherr Sebottendorf 3”A(5)+0 [2F]
Gummer’s Brigade (IRs 19 & 21)     16 AsLN [8D]
Piaczek’s Brigade (HR 2 & HR 4, plus elements UR 1)     20 AsLC [10D]

Weidenfeld’s Reserve Brigade – Oberst Weidenfeld 3”A(5)+0 [1F]
Elements, IRs 23, 24 & 27     28 AsLN [14D]
12pdr Half-Battery    ½As12#

Army Artillery Reserve
12pdr Position Battery     As12#
12pdr Position Battery     As12#
12pdr Position Battery     As12#
6pdr Cavalry Battery     As6#

Austrian Notes


1. Two of the reserve 12pdr Position Batteries are placed within the two redoubts (they may pivot up to 45 degrees within the redoubts). The remaining 12pdr Position Battery and the 6pdr Cavalry Battery may be attached to any formation.

2. Piaczek’s cavalry was actually deployed in small penny-packets between infantry battalions right along the line. Piaczek’s brigade may therefore be split into two regiment-sized units: 2nd ‘Erdödy’ Hussars (12 figures) & 4th ‘EH Josef’ Hussars (8 figures). The strength of the single squadron of Uhlans is factored in.

3. Piaczek’s cavalry may be deployed anywhere within the Austrian deployment area between the two redoubts and not limited to the location shown on the map.

4. Weidenfeld’s brigade is marching to the sound of the guns and will arrive at Pont X, in march column formation.

5. Schübirz’s Grenzer Detachment may adopt Brigade Skirmish formation. Note that French light infantry do not have such an ability at this time.

Austrian Briefing Map

French Briefing


Your strategic intention, having defeated the Austrian columns descending from the north, is to defeat this main Austrian column, thereby leaving your army free to re-invest the fortress of Mantua.

Your tactical intention is to occupy Austrian attention along their front and right flank by means of feigned retreats by Augerau’s and Masséna’s divisions.  Augerau has already made a slight retrograde movement and Masséna has retreated northward.  This has resulted in some Austrian forces pushing out on their right.

With Austrian attention now fixed, Augerau has now stopped his withdrawal and Masséna is returning. to the field  Fiorella’s division, marching up from Mantua, will soon fall upon the Austrian rear.  When Wurmser detaches forces to deal with this attack, his front might be sufficiently weakened for you to break it (the key location in your opinion, being the Monte Medolano Redoubt).


Général de Division Naploléon Bonaparte Commanding
[7 Free Rolls]

(Left) Division of Général de Division André Masséna 5”E(8)+2D [3F]
Victor-Perrin’s Brigade (4ème Demi-Brigade de Légère)     16 FrLT [8D]
Pijon’s Brigade (18ème Demi-Brigade de Légère)     16 FrLT [8D]
Rampon’s Brigade #1 (18ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne)     28 FrLN [14D]
Rampon’s Brigade #2 (32ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne)     28 FrLN [14D]
Divisional Cavalry (15ème Dragons & 25ème Chasseurs à Cheval)     6 FrLC [4D]

(Right) Division of Général de Division Charles Pierre Francois Augerau 4”G(8)+1 [2F]
4ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne (Leclerc’s Brigade)     24 FrLN [12D]
45ème/69ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne (Pelletier’s Brigade)     16 FrLN [8D]
17ème Demi-Brigade de Légère/51ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne (Robert’s Brigade)     24 FrLT [12D]
Divisional Cavalry (various)     12 FrLC [7D]

(Flanking) Division of Général de Brigade Pascal Fiorella 3”A(4)+0 [1F]
12ème Demi-Brigade de Légère (Serviez’s Brigade)     16 FrLT [8D]
19ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne (Charton’s Brigade)     16 FrLN [8D]
12pdr Foot Battery     Fr12#

(Reinforcement) Division Of Général de Division Hyacinthe Despinois 3”A(5)+0 [1F]
5ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne (Bertin’s Brigade)     16 FrLN [8D]

(Reserve) Division of Général de Division Charles Edward Kilmaine 3”G(7)+1 [2F]
Beaumont’s Cavalry Brigade     12 FrLC [7D]
Verdier’s Grenadier Brigade     12 FrGN [5D]
Marmont’s 8pdr Horse Battery     Fr8#
Dommartin’s 8pdr Horse Battery     Fr8#

French Notes


1.  Masséna’s Division has performed a feigned retreat to the north, though will return to the battlefield on Turn 2.  All units will appear on the table edge within 6 inches of Point C, in any formation.

2.  Fiorella’s Division is marching on the Austrian rear and will appear on the edge of the table within six inches of Point B, in any formation.  Fiorella is in acting command of the division, vice Général de Division Sérurier, who is ill.

3.  Despinois, with only one of his brigades, is marching to the sound of the guns and will arrive at Point A, in march column formation.

4.  The 11ème Demi-Brigade de Ligne is split between Rampon’s and Victor-Perrin’s brigades and is factored into those brigade strengths.

5.  Augerau’s divisional cavalry contingent consists of the 22ème Chasseurs à Cheval, 20ème Dragons, 1er Hussards & Guides de l’Armée d’Italie.

6.  Beaumont’s cavalry brigade consists of the 10ème Chasseurs à Cheval, 5ème Dragons & 7ème bis Hussards.

French Briefing Map

Terrain Notes


– Redoubt #1 has a cover/combat modifier of +2.
– Redoubt #2 is only partly-built, so only has a cover/combat modifier of +1.  However, the steep slope will increase the combat modifier to +2.
– Each redoubt may only accommodate a single battery unit.
– Batteries within redoubts may change facing by up to 45 degrees. They may also increase their arc of fire to 45 degrees, but pay a -2 penalty for doing so.
– Units may be attached to the redoubts, but do not gain any defensive cover or combat benefit (the batteries may however, benefit from being attached to a large infantry brigade, for example).


– Except for Monte Medolano, they provide a +1 defensive modifier in combat.
– Despite its grand title, Monte Medolano is merely a very low ridge on the plain, only 5m or so in height. It’s enough to provide overhead fire and to conceal troops, but not enough to give a +1 combat benefit.
– The slopes of the Solferino ridge are rocky and covered with walls, olive trees, vineyards, etc. They therefore class as Rough Terrain. However, troops may move at full speed if in march column formation and on a road.


– Are fordable, counting as 1 inch of rough terrain unless the unit is in march column and on a road.
– There is a -2 combat modifier for fording during a charge.


– Count as Rough Terrain and block line of sight.
– Visibility is reduced to 2 inches for units within the woods.


– Provide a +2 combat modifier to the defender and increase their Disorder number by 1.

Unit Labels

Umpire’s Notes


Keep the players in the dark regarding reinforcement arrival times.  Bonaparte was expecting an imminent attack in the Austrian rear, but it took a long time for that to develop, so keep him guessing.  Also only allow each player to see their own briefing map.

Use the Variable Entry Times rule (see below) in order to additionally make things a little less predictable.

Turn 2:  Masséna’s Division arrives, having reversed its feigned retreat.  The division may be deployed in any formation and will march onto the table within 6 inches of Point C.  Roll twice on Turn 1 for Masséna’s early arrival (first roll needing 1, second roll needing 1-3).

Turn 5:  Wurmser receives a report from the commander of the detachment of the Stabsdragoner Regiment, who are guarding the army’s baggage train.  His dragoons have repulsed a reconnaissance by French dragoons at the village of Guidizzolo and have spotted an enemy force of at least two infantry brigades approaching Guidizzolo on the Mantua (southern) road.  The Stabsdragoner detachment have escorted the baggage train to a place of safety.

Turn 7:  Fiorella’s Division arrives at Point B and will march onto table in any formation, up to 6 inches either side of Point B.

Turn 10:  Despinois’ Division arrives at Point A in March Column formation.

Turn 15:  Weidenfeld’s Detachment arrives at Point X in March Column formation.

Turn 20:  Game ends after the Austrian turn.

Variable Entry Times (roll a D10)

Two turns before scheduled arrival turn: Arrive on roll of 1.

One turn before scheduled arrival turn: Arrive on roll of 1-3

On scheduled arrival turn: Arrive on roll of 1-6.

After scheduled arrival turn: Arrive on roll of 1-8.

The newly-arrived formations will automatically count as being in command during their arrival turn and may therefore move a full move on to table.

This entry was posted in Eighteenth Century, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleon's Battles Scenarios, Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Battle of Castiglione 1796: A Scenario for ‘Napoleon’s Battles’

  1. Steve+Johnson says:

    A fine scenario there with plenty of info, which is great. Something I might try with friends when we can meet up some time in the New Year.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Steve! Yes, I think it’ll be one to do in the short-term. I’ll probably set it up on our January Big Game Saturday, as in retrospect it’s probably a little too ‘involved’ for a club-night game, with all those late-arriving reinforcements.

  2. Anton Verster says:

    Awesome little scenario, should work well for an introductory game for new players. I’m assuming the combat modifier for FrLC should be -1g. Please keep creating these and putting out battle reports, very inspiring. Regards Anton.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Hi Anton,

      You’re most welcome and I’m glad you like it! We still haven’t got around to playing it yet, as I thought it might be better played over a day rather than a club-night.

      Oh, well-spotted! Yes, it should be -1g for French LC from 1792-1804. I’ll amend that now. Cheers! 🙂


    • jemima_fawr says:

      All amended now! Thanks again for spotting that one! 🙂

  3. Albert says:

    I can’t wait to test this out. Looks well done

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Albert! If you do play it, let me know how it goes, as we still haven’t got around to playing it. It looks like a very tough challenge for the Austrians.

  4. Albert says:

    I played Austrians against the French in my club. AspernnEssling was the best. Austrians have to be able to regroup the routed units and get them back into action.

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Yes, one of the key strengths of Napoleon’s Battles is the generalship. You have to very carefully decide what it you want your generals to be doing, as they can’t simultaneously be rallying, manoeuvring and attacking all at the same time. 🙂

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