Friday 13 January 2017

Magenta 1859 using Bloody Big Battles

Back in 2005 I started painting up some Pendraken 1859 Austrian Infantry. The aim was to refight the battle of Magenta in 2009 on the 150th anniversary of the battle. I finally got round to refighting it the other night - some 12 years after I started the project. I've never been good with deadlines.
Magenta is one of my favourite battles - Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard storming the bridges of the Naviglio Grande canal right from the start of the battle, fighting on two fronts, a confused and disordered Austrian army that sort of get's it's act together and puts up a reasonable defense and it's all fought in close terrain so artillery does not dominate the battlefield.
For rules I was originally going to use Future War Commander, think two very very low-tech armies, then Bruce Weigle's 1859, then WRG horse, Foot and Guns before deciding to use Bloody Big Battles (BBB) because the European Scenario books includes Magenta and it's a great set of rules.
For the refight Dave commanded the French forces attacking the canal from the west, Shaun commanded the French attacking from the north, Mike commanded the Austrians I & II Korps deployed on the table and I commanded the Austrian reinforcements
The French view of the objectives - Ponte Nuovo, bottom left, Ponte Vecchio, top right and Magenta, top centre.
The Austrian view of the objectives. In the scenario Magenta is classed as a town and all other built-up areas are villages.
Looking north along the Naviglio Grande canal from Cassinetta diLugagnano. I still have a bit of work to do on the bridges.
Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard advance from the west towards Ponte Nuovo. All of the French and most of the Austrians were armed with rifled muskets. The Austrians marked with smoke have smooth-bore muskets.
At the northern end of the table the Voltigeurs  of the Imperial Guard prepare to storm Casate held by a very weak Austrian brigade supported by .artillery and a rocket battery
The Austrians are outnumbered and spread out to start with but gradually they receive reinforcements. throughout the game. The 1st Division of III Korps advances through Robecco
The Grenadiers prepare to assault across the Ponte Nuovo bridges held by 2nd Div II Korps. This is a tough nut to crack as the French suffer a -1 penalty for assaulting a BUA and a -2 penalty for assaulting across bridges. however they are classed as aggressive so get a +1 bonus.
The Austrian view of Ponte Nuovo. The division and it's supporting battery  performed very well during the game. 
Having taken Casate the Voltigeurs and II Corps advance south in the hope of exploiting the huge gap between Marcallo on the left and Ponte Nuovo on the right. A single Austrian battery bars their way.
As the French push south their comrades from the west assault Boffalora. The bridge was partially blown up by the Austrians but by laying planks across the arch the French managed to get infantry across it 
This print shows the bridge at Boffalora being crossed by Grenadiers in the face of opposition from Jaegers
A photograph of the bridge at Boffalora taken after the battle showing the destroyed arch
More Austrian reinforcements arrive passing through Magenta to bolster the centre
The French Grenadiers assault the defenders of Ponte Nuovo. This assault ended badly for the French with the Grenadiers being pushed back across the canal. The Austrian artillery, firing canister, caused quite a bit of damaged.
There is some success for the French as they force the Austrians back from the Boffalora bridge. The two Austrian units form the angle of the western and northern fronts.
The Ponte Nuovo - Marcallo - Magenta triangle. At Ponte Nuovo the French Grenadiers are on the verge of destruction - they are spent (red token) low on ammo (green token) and disordered (yellow token). Meanwhile the French troops from the north boldly advance towards Magenta only to find the gap filled by Austrian reinforcements.
Ponte Vecchio, bottom right, looks safe for the Austrians but the gap between Ponte nuovo and Magenta has reopened after a bloody fight at Marcallo almost destroys the Austrian reinforcements.

At the end of turn 6 (of a 9 turn game) we had to call it a day as the pub wanted to close. We had played for just over two hours so really we need 3.5 hours to get all the turns in. 
The final positions. Four fresh Austrian brigades are to the east of Magenta aiming to form a holding line in front of the town. The French forces west of the canal are being gradually destroyed by the defenders of Ponte Nuovo and Ponte Vecchio. However the northern French have several options - take Ponte Nuovo from the rear or push onto Magenta and then mop up. 

An excellent scenario with many options for both sides. 

Ponte Nuovo is very tough to crack for the French but it was on the actual day. At one point Napoleon even considered calling a general retreat after the Grenadiers were repulsed from the bridge.

The French forces from the north have the option of pushing either for the bridges in order to take the pressure off their comrades or for Magenta to stop the Austrian reinforcements forming a battle line.

The Austrians have to decide whether to defend the bridges or hold the north until reinforcements arrive. They also have to choose where their reinforcements will eventually be deployed.

Well worth waiting 12 years for. I am going to run it out at the club this week as well and I'm hoping to put it on at the BBB Bash Day in Oxford on 18th February

All of the figures are from Pendraken's excellent 10mm ranges and the buildings are mostly Timecast.

Finally I find that setting up the terrain for BBB scenarios can be a lengthy process so I got Chas at QRF/TSS to make me tiles for the battlefield which means setup and deployment only takes about 30 minutes. Chas did an excellent job at a very reasonable price.

Update 03/06/2020

Having played Magenta  about 15 times I think the  scenario needs tweaking otherwise French have little chance of achieving even a draw

1. All BUAs are treated as villages except Magenta which remains a town

2. The open ground to the east of the canal still reduces visibility but does not provide cover

3. Change the 1x6 base French Guard Grenadier unit to  2x4 base French Guard Grenadier units to give them more flexibility