Thoughts on Modelling 1809 Austrians for Black Powder

I am now fully committed to a lengthy relationship with the 1809 Franco-Austrian war. Figures are being painted and books avidly read.

One thing that I want to get right is the modelling of the Austrian army of 1809 for Black Powder (the chosen rule set). So here is some of my thinking.

Austrian commanders seem to have a major trait of avoidance of risk. They will obey their orders, even when the orders are daft. This is because obeying orders, and failing exposed them to less personal risk then disobeying and succeeding.

Austrian commanders were unused to handling large bodies of troops. The corps system was totally new and there had been effectively no peacetime manoeuvres with formations of Divisional or Corps size prior to the Austrian invasion of Bavaria on April 10th. So bodies of troops moved slowly and commanders could not coordinate attacks by formations larger than regiments. Whilst the Austrians threw in individual cavalry regiments the French were handling them in coordinated divisions.

For Black Powder most Austrian commanders will rate as 6 or 7. Some (Hohenzollern, Lichtenstein, Nordmann) will get an 8, Karl and Radetzky get 9's. I am working on a comprehensive list of generals with Black Powder ratings.

But low ratings wont simulate the strict adherence to orders or the lack of ability in coordinating larger formations. To cover this I will use the Low Decisiveness and Low Independence rules from Page 95 of the rule book. These rules will apply to any 6 or 7 rated Austrian commanders. I will assume that the 8's and 9's are above this sort of behaviour.

Low Decisiveness means that the commander has to re-roll any triple moves (unlikely with a 6/7 but will happen) and abide by the re-roll. I am using this to reflect poor handling of large bodies of troops. I thought of applying a -1 dice penalty for brigade orders to more than two units, but felt that this might be too harsh. The Low decisiveness option should effectively eliminate triple moves for these commanders, which I hope will have the desired effect.

Low Independence means that if the commander issues his orders before the C-in-C he will suffer a minus one dice penalty. If he blunders he will take two blunder tests and choose which to take. If the C-in-C has this rating he drops one command level. I like the effect of this rule in modelling a strict adherence to hierarchy and orders. It will also have a nice side-effect. If the C-in-C is Karl and he blunders and the orders phase ends prior to subordinates giving orders, then it will simulate Karl having an epileptic fit.

Austrian Line infantry units appear to be fairly ordinary. They are brave, they try hard and they are a bit out of date. So I am rating them as bog-standard. They have the form square rule (probably Battalion Mass really). They cannot form up as skirmishers; I don't believe that they formed whole line battalions into skirmish formation. I am not allowing them to form "mixed" formation. If I allow French line and leger units to do this it will differentiate them in combat.

Some Austrian line units will be large. This will depend upon the unit and the order of battle. As I develop scenarios I will include large units as appropriate.

Austrian Grenadiers were Elite troops. I am going to give them "Elite" with the ability to negate disorder on a 4+, and "Reliable" which gives them a +1 when they are given an order.

Austrian Jagers were pretty good although I think rather poorly trained. I am making them Skirmishers (they will only fight as skirmishers). I am giving them "Sharpshooter" (re-roll one shooting dice) to reflect the rifles with which a proportion were armed. I am not, however, going to give them the range benefit of rifles.

Grenz were not what they had been in the Seven Years War. I may need to experiment with them a little. They need to be headstrong and a little fragile. The "Freshly-Raised" rule may reflect this. This rule requires the unit to test the first time it shoots or engages in hand-to-hand combat, with unpredictable results. Initially I will use this rule. I will allow the Grenz to form as skirmishers. I am going to make them Marauders (no negative effects for being distant from a commander) to reflect their independent nature.

The various volunteer units seem to be a mixed bunch. Freshly raised seems like a good option. Some will be treated as skirmish only units.

Landwehr: Most of them ran away before the battles, so not too many about. I am planning to be harsh with them. They will get "Unreliable" (No move on equal command roll) and "Wavering" (break test on taking a casualty). I could have used "Untested" instead but that works on randomising their Stamina (ability to absorb casualties) which could create a really good unit, and we don't want that to happen.

The Cavalry were pretty good when handled as squadrons and regiments. The problems came when they tried to operate in larger formations. I am going to treat all of the Austrian cavalry as standard Napoleonic troops as laid out on page 127 of the rule book. Light cavalry regiments could be large, so I will field them as such when required.

Cuirassiers only wore breastplates, not back-plates. Some accounts say that this was a disadvantage when facing French Cuirassiers. I am going to ignore this for now.

Position and field batteries are fairly standard. I will allocate a proportion of lighter guns to reflect the use of 3 pounders.

The cavalry artillery is a problem. They are sort of half way between foot artillery and horse artillery. I plan to give them horse artillery movement without the ability to limber, move and unlimber with a single order.

This covers commanders and the common troop types. I am starting to work on some scenarios and the best ways to play the battles as solo games. I will post what I come up with here.


Sparker said…
Valuable stuff, thank you. Have you given any thought to the firepower rating for the Kaiserlichs? For example I give British 1st Line Bn's and extra 1 or 2 from the standard 3 to reflect their '4 rounds a minute' ability? I don't know enought about the Austrian army, but suspect their gunpowder, skill at arms training and weaponry might have been better than the French?
Getback said…
I think that there may have been differences, but not much. The French musket was (according to Nosworthy) better than the Brown Bess so quite possibly better than the Austrian weapon.

In the early part of the war the weather was awful so both sides would have had wet powder and wet, rusting guns.

The French had more combat experience.

So I am leaving things as standard.
Getback said…
On the same point. In our games we give the British "first fire". This gives them an extra dice for their first volley. We find that this encourages them to hold fire behind a hill, blast away at close range and then charge. :-)
will you only be doing them in 6mm and are you just playing solo now my rehearsals have finished i may be available for the odd game.
Getback said…
Nigel. 6mm till the 28mm Austrian plastics come out.

Up for a game soon :-)

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