This is the AAR for the final day of my solitaire replay of Aspern-Essling. Full detail of the replay including details of each phase, die rolls, etc has been posted to grognard.com
TURN 13: Morning May 23rd (Morale: French 4, Austrian 3)
Charles awoke early and saw that the enemy had retreated away from Raasdorf. He ordered the left wing of his army forward towards Essling. He also saw that the French had fell back from Breitenlee and ordered the II Corps to seize it immediately. The remainder of the right wing was to advance and join II Corps to assault the French beyond the town as soon as it was occupied. Due to confusion in orders, the II Corps commander assumed he was to wait until the forces on either flank began to advance. Thus, the morning frittered away without any action from the Austrian right wing other than the rallied Reserve I cavalry advancing along the river road to Jedlersdorf.
Napoleon saw the support coming from the rallied portions of Lannes 2nd Corps plus the wayward remainder of the 3rd Corps arriving across the Danube. With the bulk of the Austrian army finally closing in a coordinated manner and intelligence that the Austrians were gearing up for a major assault from a captured officer, Napoleon chose to continue to fall back to the fortifications of Aspern and Essling and towards his advancing supports.
TURN 14: Mid-Day May 23rd (Morale: French 5, Austrian 4)
Charles personally moved over to the right wing to get the assault moving before the French reinforcements could arrive. The Advanced Guard, IVa and II Corps all moved directly against the French before Aspern. In a deft move, Charles brought the strong I corps, which had been threatening Essling, over to the right to assault the French 4b Corps in the center. The Grenadiers, IVb and Reserve 2 Cavalry remained out of command range of Charles and stayed back guarding the left wing of the army. Reserve I cavalry continued its advance up the river road to threaten the left of the French line.
The French Reserve Cavalry attempted to break up the rhythm of the Austrian attack by charging the Austrian IVa Corps. The Austrians formed squares and held their ground engaging the French cavalry. In the meantime, the Advance Guard took advantage of the tangled melee to slam into the flank of the French Cavalry. This forced the French to withdraw towards Aspern followed closely by the Austrian Advance Guard.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Austrian attack went according to plan. The I Corps, personally exhorted by Charles pushed 4b into the swamps beyond Aspern. This situation left 2b almost surrounded facing an assault by the Austrian II Corps. The French narrowly escaped through Aspern and continued on to the swamps along the Danube.
Pressed into the cramped area near the bridgehead, Napoleon was limited in available counterattack options. He ordered a portion of Lannes Corps to advance to Stadlau to try and relieve pressure on the left flank and the hard-pressed Reserve Cavalry. Although not preferred, the Guards Infantry was caught up into contact with the I Corps. Napoleon regretted not retreating them into the bridgehead. However, he couldn’t have known that the flood waters would rise, damaging the pontoons again, and stranding his much-needed reinforcements on the opposite bank of the Danube!
The counterattacks started out well for the French with the Guards Infantry and 4c routing the I Corps outside of Aspern. Even though routed, the Austrian commander halted the retreat quickly and overall Austrian morale was not impacted. However, the rest of the assault miscarried badly. 2b was forced to withdraw in the face of stiff resistance of the Austrian Advanced Guard. Meanwhile, the Reserve Cavalry committed reserves in a desperate attempt to push back the Austrian II Corps. Seeing their support on the left fall back prematurely, the Cavalry panicked and routed towards the bridgehead. There they found the pontoons damaged and broke. Their cries of all being lost spread quickly through the army and morale plummeted.
TURN 15: Afternoon May 23rd (Morale: French 1, Austrian 5 )
Smelling blood Charles called on all his units to force march to the attack. However, the forces were exhausted and moved forward cautiously. Nevertheless, Charles aligned his forces to continue the push to seize Aspern. The Advance Guard, although outnumbered was able to force the French 2b Corps to retreat. Forced to retreat across the line of fire of the Austrian IVa, 2b broke. This reduces the French morale to 0 and the Austrians won the battle.
This was an interesting game that illustrated the dramatic swings of fortune that can happen in Aspern-Essling. The first day was slow paced with the French frustrated by issues with the pontoon bridge and the Austrians slow to activate and concentrate. Morale was fairly even by the end of the day with the French expending morale with forced marches. Even though the denied the Austrians the +2 morale recovery over night by holding the Marchfeld towns, they could not recover morale due to the damaged bridges.
The second day brought a lot of action. The Austrians concentrated a portion of their army in the morning and were assaulting the outskirts of Aspern by mid day. In a dramatic swing of fortune the French repaired the bridges and assisted by a timely charge of the reserve cavalry were able to rout the two most powerful Corps in the Austrian army. The French attempted to press their advantage during the afternoon but although enjoying some success in the center the Austrian flanks held admirably. At dusk, Napoleon was able to seize the key Marchfeld towns and things looked good although he was worried about the delay in reinforcements. However, a strong coordinated attack by Charles that evening with his rallied Corps changed the momentum for good.
The morning of the third day saw Napoleon retreating toward the fortified towns while bringing up his rallied troops and reinforcements. Morale was dangerously low for both sides. Charles pressed the attack outside of Aspern in the midday and afternoon. With the pontoons damaged and French units routing and then breaking when realizing they couldn’t cross, the situation quickly deteriorated for the French and the suffered a decisive loss when their morale went to 0.
One heck of an ending for the game. Like many of my test games the French can get hemmed in with their backs to the Danube and nowhere to move after bad combat results.
Thanks so much for sharing a great AAR game session