Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Solferino - Medole 1859 using Bloody Big Battles

I have wanted to do the battle of Solferino for sometime but never had suitable rules or enough figures. With the Bloody Big Battles (BBB) rules  and the scenario book Blood Big European Battles I finally had the opportunity to play it - well most of it.

Solferino was the biggest and final battle of the 1859 Second Italian War of Independence fought by the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia against the Austrian Empire. See Wiki for more details
The BBB scenario covers the whole battle on an 8x4 foot table. The Sardinian army against Austrian VIII Corps around San Martino in the north,  Austrian 1st Army against French 4th Corps at Medole in the south and French 1st, 2nd & 3rd Corps plus the Imperial Guard against  Austrian 2nd Army in the centre at Solferino.

As I don't have any Sardinians (yet) I decided to fight the centre and southern part of the battle, the French vs Austrians bit. The scenario map has the River Redone as impassible for most of it's length which splits the battlefield quite nicely into almost 6x4 feet. Hence the title Solferino-Medole.

Solferino is that rare example of a real life encounter battle so most troops start off the table.

Shaun and Steve took the French forces whilst Andy, Mike and Dave took the Austrians. I umpired.
Looking south at the start of the game. Austrian troops are deployed in Castello and in front of Guidizzolo whilst French troops form up before Barche di Castigilione
The battlefield looking north. The objectives are Guidizzolo, Castello and Cavriana

Austrian IX Korps advance past Guidizzolo
Austrian V Korps deployed in Castello
French 1st Corps before Barche di Castiglione
The French advance toward Castello and the Austrians advance to meet them

French 1st & 2nd Corps assault Barche and le Grole 
The first of many useless cavalry charges.
The Austrian 1st Army forms a defensive line on Quagliara and Rebecco
French 4th Corps advances to Medole
Fighting continues in front of Castello 
French 4th Corps faces a solid Austrian line
The Imperial Guard Grenadier division supports 1st Corps
Austrian 2nd Army receives reinforcements
Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard in action
French 3rd & 4th Corps prepare to assault Austrian 1st Army
Halfway through the game from the Austrian side - looking good
Halfway through the game from the French side - looking like a polo mint
The French take Castello but get bogged down  trying to pass it
French 4th Corps assaults Austrian 1st Army and fails
Final Position - French hold Castello
Final Position - Austrians hold Cavriana
Final Position - Austrians hold Guidizzolo

At the end of the French turn 8 they conceded the game. Two of the objectives, Guidizzolo and Cavriana, were still in Austrian hands and the French hold on Castello was starting to look dodgy with Austrian 2nd Army about to go on the offensive. In Austrian terms it was a glorious victory. 

Before the game I would have put money on the French, all Veterans, stomping over the Austrians, all passive and mainly  Raw and Fragile. However the Austrians managed to get their armies into a solid defensive formation with an excellent gun line and hold off most if not quite all French assaults.

The Imperial Guard did not live up to their image - getting bounced by one of the better Austrian units and then failing to become un-disordered. Again barely any casualties on either side although it was starting to tell on the Austrian units that were raw, passive and fragile as they become spent after losing 1 base.

An excellent scenario that can be played again and again (and will be because I want to play next time). I need to paint more Austrians and get the Sardinians together so we can do the whole battle. 

Game Info

The rules can be purchased from Caliver Books
There is a Groups.io group for the rules here where the author answers queries
The 10mm Figures are all Pendraken
The 6mm Buildings are mainly by TimeCast


  1. Really good to see - well done!

    Bloody Big BATTLES!

  2. Sorry I missed it as i was sunning myself in Venice ... so was with you in spirit

  3. What a nice looking game...even if Frenchies didn't win!

  4. Excellent account and photos. I think these historical scenarios are also very interesting because you can compare the results with other players.

  5. Crikey, well done the Austrians! What size bases are you using btw?

  6. In this refight everything was based 40x30mm with 10 figs per base. This helped the Austrians as they could form a solid defensive line.

    Now that I've seen the BBB Light everything is being rebased to 6 figs on a 25x25mm base. It's a pain rebasing but on the bright side for every 3 old-style bases I get 5 BBB bases. Today I am also putting £1 in the painting kitty every time I type the word base.

    1. Ah yes, I now realise this is the battle report from, errr, some time ago :)

      I’m tempted to rebase the Italians I have who are six to a FoW sized 30mm by 25mm (I think) base...

      Do six figures look ok on a 25mm square? I’d have thought they looked cramped but that might be my inner northerner wanting to get 50% more bases for nowt ;)

  7. I think 6 10mm figs to a 25mm square look ok - not too cramped for 19th Century warfare. All of my 10mm RJW are 4 figs based on 30x15mm. IMO upto 30mm wide is fine for BBB especially if refighting historical battles.

    Have a look at the Magenta blog as this has the figures on the 25mm square bases. http://twomarshals.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/magenta-1859-using-bloody-big-battles.html

    1. Hmm, if I did rebase I'd be aiming for less figures on each just to stretch it. Wider hasn't made any difference in play that we've found, just means measuring angle of move/fire is more awkward. I should have paid more attention when I saw your game last WMMS - I thought they were four figs or two for a skirmish base!