Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Battle of Rivoli, 1797, AAR#1

So a couple of days ago my friend Tom sent me the following;

Reminder that this Wed is a re-fight of the Rivoli scenario.   (A second chance to play the scenario I promised a while ago had reappeared, I immediately jumped!)

Based on the last game, the French units will remain unconsolidated (stay in small battalions), the terrain will be adjusted to incorporate the Adige River bend, the deployment of two Austrian batteries on the other side of the Adige river (reflecting actual deployment), the separation between the arrival of the Austrian 4th col in the river bottom and the arrival of the Massena reinforcements is now three turns rather than the next turn. The Austrians will be able to deploy three 3-lb guns (one per col) to reflect the mule-packed mountain guns hauled over Mt Baldo. We will see if that helps the Austrians (who Steve gets to play this time!)


Title:  Battle of Rivoli
Start Time: 11:30 am
Host: Tom Garnett
Rules: Carnage and Glory (Computer assisted)
Scale: 28 mm
Number of Players: 6                                                                         
Table Size: 10’ x 6’

Event Description:
The Battle of Rivoli (14-15 January 1797) was a key victory in the French campaign in Italy against Austria. Napoleon Bonaparte's 23,000 Frenchmen defeated an attack of 28,000 Austrians under Feldzeugmeister Jozsef Alvinczi, ending Austria's fourth and final attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. Rivoli further demonstrated Napoleon's brilliance and led to French occupation of northern Italy.  We will re-fight the initial three hours of combat (12 Turns) where the French barely held back the Austrian assault.


Prelude:

Alvinczi's plan was to overwhelm Barthélemy Joubert in the mountains east of Lake Garda with the concentration 28,000 men in five separate columns, and thereby gain access to the open country north of Mantua where Austrian superior numbers would be able to defeat Bonaparte's smaller Army of Italy. Alvinczi attacked Joubert's 10,000 men on 12 January. However Joubert held him off and was subsequently joined by Louis-Alexandre Berthier and, at 2am on the 14th of January, by Bonaparte, who brought up elements of André Masséna's division to support Joubert's efforts to form a defensive line on favorable ground just north of Rivoli on the Trambasore Heights. The battle would be a contest between Alvinczi's efforts to concentrate his dispersed columns versus the arrival of French reinforcements.


The Battle of Rivoli (14–15 January 1797)
was a key victory in the French campaign in Italy against Austria. Napoleon Bonaparte's 23,000 Frenchmen defeated an attack of 28,000 Austrians under Feldzeugmeister Jozsef Alvinczi, ending Austria's fourth and final attempt to relieve the Siege of Mantua. Rivoli further demonstrated Napoleon's brilliance and led to French occupation of northern Italy.



Battle of Rivoli
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli.jpg
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, by Philippoteaux (Galerie des Batailles, Palace of Versailles)
Date14–15 January 1797
LocationRivoli Veronese, present-day Italy
ResultDecisive French victory
Belligerents
France First French RepublicHoly Roman Empire Austria
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon BonaparteJozsef Alvinczi
Peter Quasdanovich
Strength
23,00028,000
Casualties and losses
3,200-5,00012,000-14,000
Rivoli 1797 Campaign Order of Battle:

France:

Austria:

Key:

  • FM: Feldmarschall, army commander
  • FZM: Feldzeugmeister, army or corps commander
  • FML: Feldmarschal-Leutnant, corps or division commander
  • GM: General-major, brigade commander
  • OB: Oberst or colonel
  • bns: infantry battalions
  • coys: light infantry companies
  • sqns: cavalry squadrons

Battle:

The morning of the 14th saw fierce fighting along the Trambasore Heights, as another Austrian column under Prince Heinrich of Reuss-Plauen attempted to turn the French right via the Rivoli gorge. By 11:00 things looked very bad for Bonaparte: Austrian
dragoons had forced their way through the gorge, word arrived that another Austrian column under Colonel Franz Lusignan was cutting off his retreat south of Rivoli, and Alvinczi was on the Trambasore Heights urging his victorious battalions forward, though they were unformed by combat and rough terrain.

By a series of actions, the French managed to take advantage of this crucial mistake. Bonaparte, Joubert, and
Louis Alexandre Berthier put together a well co-ordinated combined arms attack. A battery of 15 guns blasted the dragoons, while two columns of infantry, one for the gorge and one for the Trambasore Heights were led forward supported by cavalry under Charles Leclerc and Antoine Lasalle. The packed masses in the gorge fled when their own dragoons were driven them over in panic. And likewise the dispersed infantry on the Heights were unable to hold once French cavalry got in their midst. Lastly, Gabriel Rey's division and Claude Victor's brigade arrived and broke Lusignan's southern column with the loss of 3,000 prisoners.

Results:

The next day Joubert led a successful pursuit of Alvinczi, all but destroying his columns, the remnants of which fled north up the
Adige River valley in confusion. The Battle of Rivoli was Bonaparte's greatest victory at the time. The French lost 2,200 killed and wounded and 1,000 captured, while the Austrians suffered 4,000 killed and wounded, plus 8,000 men and 8 guns captured. One authority gives the French 5,000 and the Austrians 14,000 total losses. Mantua surrendered on 2 February. In March, Bonaparte launched an offensive to the east.

Initial layout (French = Left / Austrians = Right) Joubert's troops.

A little bit better angle of the layout and troops for the initial part of the fight!

A view from the French side (Right Flank) and of Tom's great wargaming room.

And a view of our Left Flank (My troops)!

And the overall view from the Austrian perspective!


A view of Tom's great Austrian troops!

Ibid.

And another!

My forces initial setup plan!

And then my old friend Murphy showed up once again and I had to cover our rear with my cavalry right from the get go "Damn".

The Austrians Right Flank and my opponent Steve's initial set up!

The Austrian Left Flank (Tom's troops).

The Austrian guns show up across the river in our rear Right Flank. Will these be an important factor? "God I hope not"?

It's a good thing I did place my cavalry to the rear as here comes the Wargame God we must all bow down to "Murphy". Austrians on the Right Flank and threatening our rear already!!!! We just started.

And what they look like once Murphy wears off!

The Austrians advance into our positions and the fun begins. Units rapidly become fatigued and disordered! The French hold the hills so far. Holding the high grounds supposed to be a good thing Right???

And a scene of the action on the Right flank!

The scene on my Left Flank is becoming tense.

The Austrian 3lb Mountain guns come into range (Highly maneuverable) will they play an important role here too???

The Austrians come up. Will they be successful?


To Be Continued......