Tuesday 28 September 2021

Risorgimento 1859, well sort of….

This Saturday I offered yet another different period for us to game. I decided I’d do something never done before here at the Burrow, so decided I would put my Franco-Prussian War French against my Austrians-Prussian War Austrian and set up a fictional encounter between the French and Austrians somewhere in Northern Italy. I do have the figures for some Piedmontese troops but they’re way down the painting queue at present. Now before any button counters step in, I am perfectly aware that the uniforms for the Austrians are wrong as they should not be wearing their greatcoats, but that really doesn’t matter. If anyone thinks it does I’m sorry for you.

I worked out the Black Powder stats and characteristics for each army, allowing for ponderous Austrians with mainly rifled muskets but smoothbore artillery, and ensuring the French elan and superior artillery was reflected somehow. The French infantry mostly have rifled muskets again with some smoothbore muskets. Some of the Austrians were less than enthusiastic battalions of Italian-raised troops.

Both armies will be entering battlefield divided into two or three commands, the objective being for the French to secure the ground to anchor their main army’s flank while it manoeuvres around the Austrians. The Austrians need to deny the French their objective and by doing so will be able to strike the main French army in the flank.
Nigel, Shaun and Dave were the Austrians and Conrad, Paul and Neil the French.

Nigel's Austrian division on their right flank advances onto the table, eight infantry battalions, a cavalry regiment and a battery of guns. 

Facing Nigel across the table was Neil with a 'corps' of French - eight battalions (including some Zouaves and Turcos) and two batteries
Shaun's command on the Austrian left marched up the road towards the monastery. 
After a slight delay the Austrian  cavalry division and reserve artillery under Dave arrived, in the worst possible place in the centre of the table. Dave's cavalry advanced, nimbly avoiding a French horse artillery battery that devastated the leading cuirassier regiment as it cantered past!

The other end of the table. Paul's French kept failing their command rolls and Shaun was able to occupy the monastery and form a line to wait for the French to throw some better dice!

An Austrian eye view of the French attack opposite their right flank.

Nigel's Austrians deployed into line to wait for the expected French assault.

Meanwhile Paul's French on the opposite flank were still unable to move. He was a '9' commander so you can guess how hard it was to not move!
The French right was making painfully slow progress.

Conrad launched his cavalry at the shattered Austrian cuirassiers but  was  unable to destroy them. Both sides withdrew shaken.

On the French right Paul got some of his troops moving and tried to intercept the long column of Austrians marching along the road in support of their men in the monastery.
Paul's  infantry closed with Shaun's Austrians who had plenty of time to reply to meet them.
The French assault ground to a halt, but I'm getting ahead of myself....

The only 'Italian' troops on the table were two battalions of Piedmontese Bersaglieri, who were content to trade fire with the Austrians in the monastery.

Back on the French left Austrian firing was ineffective as can be seen with the above dice scores!

The French columns made it into contact and had mixed fortunes.  Only the Turcos were able to push the enemy back, and eventually, despite having several shaken battalions, the Austrians drove the equally shaken French back! 

The Austrian cavalry finally decided not to ignore them and overran the troublesome French artillery.

Dave then switched his cavalry over to the other side of the village and  attacked Conrad's French cavalry. His cuirassiers defeated the French hussars.

Austrian hussars locked in combat with Chasseurs d'Afrique.

The Austrian hussars were forced to retreat and the French carried out a sweeping advance (I didn't give them the choice) right in front of a battery of Austrian artillery. No surprise that the Chasseurs were hit hard by canister and destroyed.

The Turcos pushed deeper into the Austrian line.

Neil's attack was floundering.
Ultimately the Turcos were shaken and completely isolated, yet they were able to  withdraw in the face of the Austrian counter attack

Nigel's counter attack finally broke Neil's French 'corps' the survivors of which were forced to withdraw.

The French reserve mad an appearance in the shape of a brigade of cuirassiers and one of the Imperial Guard. The latter never got into action but the cuirassiers destroyed the remaining Austrian cavalry, culminating with a glorious charge deep into the enemy lines. They even made it back safely.


The Imperial Guard did what they did best and sat it out behind a wood.

So ended the game, with the bloody French repulse on one flank, the slow advance on the other and the loss of most of their cavalry signalling an Austrian victory. It was actually quite a close run thing, and it was good to see everyone playing the period rather than the rules. It was an enjoyable game with some very colourful troops, and if nothing else it'll be an incentive to paint up my Piedmontese division. I've only had them in a box for a dozen or so years!


  1. A lovely game Colin. Ive always been fascinated by the Italian Unification but would want to lead Garabaldi's red shirts,but how would you classify them? They were clearly decent irregular's with a decent morale but how do you take into account they were amateurs? I look forward to seeing them on the table next week. [Just joking]

    1. Fielding Redshirts would mean buying Neapolitan and Papal troops which is really not going to happen!

    2. That's an order in tomorrow then?😉

    3. Splendid game in a period I know less than nothing about!

  2. Fantastic photo report Colin, it reminds me of the games in Donald Featherstone's wargaming books but in colour.

    Willz Harley.

  3. Lovely very nostalgic like tiberius above takes me back to my youth reading Don F s exploits in this field

  4. Most spectacular, I thought exactly the same has The Tiberian General re. DF.

  5. Great looking game - looks like a lot of fun was had.


  6. Great looking game Colin , like others a period I sadly know little about 🤔