By smacdowall, Oct 1 2020 03:19PM
Taking advantage of what may be a breif window of non-lockdown opportunity, I recently marched with my contingent of French to link up in person with the Imperial army to help stop an Ottoman advance on Austria.
This was the first face to face game I have played since the lockdown. To comply with the Corvid rules we had three players and an umpire appropriately socially distanced around the table with the other players ‘Zooming in’ remotely. The purchase of handy phone clips that could be attached to small tripods greatly improved our ability to provide the remote players with a decent view of the battlefield.
We Imperial/French players were confronted with a bridgehead of entrenched Ottoman infantry on our side of the River Raab. They were screened by hordes of Tartar light cavalry backed up by heavy Sipahis. Many more Turks, including a huge artillery train, were following up on the enemy side of the river.
We needed to attack the Turks before they could break out of their small bridgehead. If we could prevent them from doing this, then their vastly superior numbers would be of little use. We had to push our men through four gaps in the woods and then deploy in relatively close range of the Ottoman cavalry screen.
We decided to push forward with foot first in order to force back the enemy screen and to create enough room to bring our artillery up and for our horse to charge through.
On our left, the French foot and artillery deployed and our cavalry made ready to charge out on both flanks of the foot.
Although our cavalry looked splendid, it did not go according to plan. The French cavalry were soundly defeated, leaving the infantry isolated and without flank support.
Our right flank was quite open and we could see Janissaries marching towards that flank on the other side of the river. We assumed, therefore, that this was where the enemy intended to break through. We attacked here with our largest Imperial contingent, driving back the Ottoman cavalry with a combination of our own cavalry supported by artillery fire.
The umpire told us that there had been torrential rain overnight. What we had not appreciated was that the river was no longer fordable and so there was no chance of the enemy Janissaries getting across the river on our right. Therefore we continued to push the Hapsburg foot up towards the river rather than turning in to attack the bridgehead — which is what we should have done.
In the centre, the Markgraf von Baden’s contingent had difficulty in creating enough space to bring the cavalry up, thanks in no small part to successful charges by the Turkish Sipahis against the lead units of German foot.
When we were able to finally bring our horse into action in the centre, it looked as if victory was assured. We had managed to pin the enemy cavalry with our infantry to the front as our cavalry charged in on their flank.
Once again it did not go according to plan and our men were forced to retire, thanks in no small part to the intervention of a 'mad mullah' who was encouraging the failthful to ever greater deeds of arms.
Initially we had thought to avoid assaulting the enemy trenches but by now we had realised that the torrential rain had not only made the river unfordable but it had also washed away much of the enemy entrenchments. Our best chance of victory, therefore was to attack the thin line of Ottoman foot holding the washed out trenches. Had we been able to make a coordinated attack then this may have worked. An attack by a single Imperial regiment was not enough.
Bereft of cavalry support the French foot closed up and attempted to storm the trenches on the left. A timely Ottoman cavalry attack on the flank drove off one regiment, making an assault impossible.
The game ended with an outcome not too dissimilar to the historical battle of St Gotthard in 1664 but with much less success on our side. The Ottomans had indeed been prevented from breaking out but that was more down to the weather than any tactical brilliance on our part. Had we realised sooner that the enemy could not cross the river then we could have brought our right flank in on the entrenchments in a coordinated attack with the centre and possibly swept the field.