Monday 30 January 2017

Battle for the Linth Valley, Nefels-Mollis , 1 October 1799

This week's game with John 'The Red' was an attempt to refight the Russian victory in the Linth Valley as they continued their 'strategic withdrawal' north to link up with the Austrians. Earlier in the day the Russians had broken into the valley at the village of Netstal and driven the French off, only to encounter them again in the late afternoon. This was a relatively small game, as I was able to recreate both armies in their entirety (well almost) without having to scale the number of units down, so General Prince Pyotr Bagration's force consisted of two battalions of Jager, four of combined grenadiers and six of musketeers, supported by three sections of ex-Piedmontese 2pdr mountain guns and several sotnias of mounted and dismounted Cossacks. The French were under the command of General de Brigade Honore Theodore Gazan. Deployed in and around the settlement were four battalions of infantry and two sections of 8pdr guns. Marching to support them were a battalion of combined grenadiers, a regiment of chasseurs a cheval, two sections of 4pdr horse artillery and four more battalions of infantry. The question was, would the numerically superior Russians be able to break through the French on the table before they were reinforced? Back in 1799 they did, and also drove off the reinforcing troops. In 2017 it proved to be somewhat different!

The river was impassable except at the bridge between the two villages and the little streams were steep-sided and only passable by infantry; cavalry and guns had to cross using the fords. The thickly-wooded hills were steep and reduced movement to a quarter for close order troops and a half for skirmishers. John chose to be the French, and deployed his troops to cover both roads entering the valley.

 The French. One battalion and a gun on the eastern side of the river, with two battalions and the other gun on the western side. One battalion was held in reserve.
 The Leading Russian units arrive; two battalions of the 7th Jager covering the advance of two battalions of the Rosenberg (Moscow) Grenadier Regiment. In support is a section of mountain guns.
 General Lomonosov's four combined grenadier battalions are next to arrive, with two more sections of mountain guns in support. Out of sight (beyond the trees in the distance) on the eastern road are all the Cossacks.
 French chasseurs a chervil and horse artillery appear at the north end of the valley.
 Russian grenadiers push the French back from the stream while jager occupy the farm to their left. 
 The leading elements of a further six battalions of Russians arrive on the western road. That was my mistake. I will explain later.
 The ex-Piedmontese mountain guns deploy ready to bombard (lol!) the French over the river.
 The Russians stacking up nicely ready to assault the French position.
 Four more battalions of French en route to join their comrades.
 The French horse artillery deployed alongside the 8pdr section where they could enfilade the Russian columns with impunity.
 The battle at about turn 8. The French reinforcements have all arrived and the Russian advance is starting to run out of steam in the face of determined resistance.
 The situation is livened up somewhat by a furious bayonet charge by the Rosenberg (Moscow) Grenadiers. The French closing fire was ineffective and although they held their own for the first round of melee they had to take a break test and routed. Hurrah!!!

 The Russians then continued forward and assaulted the village which was held by a slightly battered battalion of infantry. The Russians were on a roll and again forced the French to take a break test, and again they routed, leaving the village in the hands of the twice victorious if now slightly dented grenadiers.
The Russians made several attacks but each was driven back. This was the final attempt, which like the others, failed miserably. Beset by artillery in their flanks the Russian columns were decimated. I therefore conceded defeat, er, accepted a minor setback, for the Russians.

My mistake of course was not employing infantry on the eastern side of the river. My Cossacks could make no headway against the single French battalion facing them as they were holding the only crossing point where the road spanned the impassable (to cavalry) stream. My reserve division of six musketeer battalions would have made short work of the French and would then have been able to head for the bridge over the Linth, diverting French reinforcements in the process. That would have forced the French on the western side of the river to retreat or face being cut off. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I knew from turn 2 that my best chance of winning the game had been lost. 

Historically the Russian rearguard had routed the pursuing French at Muotatal (see earlier post), while Bagration had been mauling with Molitor and Gazan's troops along the length of the Linth valley, eventually pushing them aside. There would be more clashes with the French before Suvarov's army reached safety, and I intend to play them all out over the next few weeks, as well as the one or two that I've missed but can do now I have some Austrians.

I'm still happy to use Black Powder for this project, in the absence of anything better really. We managed around 16 turns which is pretty good as we were playing for about 4 hours. Good game.


  1. Another good looking game Colin.

  2. Once again a beautiful, atmospheric and colorful report, what a tremendous looking game Colin!

  3. Another small and interesting battle to note for my own project planning.

  4. Always a joy to see your FRW collections in action. Grand AAR supported by fine photos. Really like the alpine bases on the figures too.


  5. Bonjour

    Another grand game hosted by Colin, the scenery is truely epic, helped by turning the heating down for that Alpine atmosphere.

    The initial clash, which saw the first Grenadier attack on my forward battalion at the stream, seemed to indicate a Russian steamroller was on its way. My closing fire was ineffective but the Russian bayonets most definitely were, driving back my shaken troops. However this initial success was not immediately followed up, allowing the French to recover thier nerve, push up the cannon and drive off the Grenadiers. The large numbers of Russian units seemed to impede the launch of a massed assault. My reinforcements marched to the sound of the guns and the horse artillery commander spotted his chance and galloped up in true style to lay down an accurate rain of ball upon the stalled Russians. The Russian Prince showed his mettle by personally leading (a follow me order) a second assault with the Moscow Grenadiers which although initially checked proved too much for my Leger, who were swept away and thier supports retreated. The whole French position was tettering but Gen Gazan rallied his men and the final brigade of reinforcements marched to support. The line stablised and the final Russian assaults were crushed by fiece artillery fire and a gallant defence. Vive la France

    Monsieur Jean le Rouge, ADC to General Gazan

    Ps we then had to withdrawn over night, on receipt of news of the earlier Russian success. Merde!