“Croissant!” the gallopping ADC shouted. “Name’s Cruchon,” Capt. Cruchon wearily replied. The arrogant staff officer in his fancy uniform didn’t even bat an eyelid. “Get your men moving! Générale Delabréjaude wants you to secure a bridge over the Laber!” Cruchon got out a map and the ADC pointed his sword at it, making a huge tear where “Polstermühle” was written. Without another word, he made his horse rear and gallopped away. “I see we had a visit from young Lt. Profiterole,” Merlot chuckled as he walked over. Cruchon sighted. “Looks like it’s going to be another hot day in Bavaria.”
As the French column hastened towards the bridge, Cruchon sent Merlot’s skirmishers into the woods to his left and Bouffard’s Chasseurs à Cheval ahead along the road. Merlot soon reported a heavy column of Austrians on the northern road, screened by what looked like Jäger.
It now became a race towards the bridge. The French column was a bit faster, but the Austrians were preceded by their Hussars, who seemed eager for a fight and headed directly at the French column.
When Bouffard saw this, he immediately counter-charged, hitting the hussars hard. The fierce melee resulted in the Austrian cavalry fleeing back behind their infantry.
The Austrian commander could be heard to shout at his men to hurry up: “Vorwärts, my children, to the bridge!” When Cruchon saw the column approaching, he immediately formed line with his three groups. For a moment, he thought about opening fire, but he knew that while the enemy column would certainly take casualties, it might just continue their march and make it over the bridge. “Then charge it is,” he murmured and gave the command to lower bayonets. His groups crashed into the head of the Austrian line. The Austrians fought stubbornly until sheer exhaustion made both sides fall back. Brave Cruchon, however, lay unconsciously in the mud, having been hit by a musket butt.
For a couple of minutes, the soldiers of the French line were baffled. What now? Their Capitaine was down and the rest of the Austrian column was continuing their march towards the bridge. A part was already on the bridge when Bouffard’s cavalry charged them in the flank. “This is how you do it!”, the brave cavalier shouted.
When his horsemen came cantering back in disorder, having been repulsed by the Austrians, the foot soldiers burst out laughing. But now the spell was broken and the line rushed forward on their own account. Another fierce melee followed. The Austrians fought tenaciously and both sides started to accumulate casualties. Fortunately, at that moment, Lt. Fougasse, Cruchon’s second-in-command, arrived with a fresh group. He immediately dressed the ranks and had the men open fire. Austrian Major von Eynhuf did the same and a short firefight erupted at almost point blank range. Both sides were close to exhaustion. When Fougasse got word that the French skirmishers in the woods were broken and Jäger might be threatening his rear, he knew a decision had to be forced. Remembering his drill manual, he ordered the pas de charge and his line moved forward in splendid order, breaking the last of the Austrian line and securing a French victory.
When Cruchon came to, he was pleasantly surprised. “Well done, Fougasse!,” he said, clapping the proud Lieutenant on the shoulders. “One group of Austrians managed to escape over the bridge,” Fougasse said with chagrin. “Never mind! We got the rest and the bridge. Let’s celebrate our victory!” Cruchon let his gaze wander over his exhausted men. “But where is Merlot?” An exhausted skirmisher timidly came up: “The Jäger got him, Capitaine. There was nothing we could do.” “Zut alors! Check the prisoners. Where are those damned Jäger?”
But the Jäger were not to be found. The crafty woodsmen seemed to have slipped through the lines and taken not only Merlot, but also Major von Eynhuf with them, as the Austrian commander was also not among the POWs.
A couple of hours later, the rest of the French column came up. When artillery wagons got stuck in the mud and Cruchon’s men were labouring to get them moving again, Lt. Profiterole dashed up to the Capitaine. “Cruchade!” he shouted. “Hurry up! The Générale has a special assignement for you!” Cruchon looked into the sneering face. “Va te faire foutre,” he murmured. “What was that?” “I said, give the general my regards, I’m at his service.”
This was a hard scenario for the Austrians. They had to cross the bridge with at least four intact groups and then destroy it by spending actions. However, it might have gone differently when the initial cavalry clash had resulted in an Austrian victory. For a change, I played very aggressively, which paid off in the end, although my Force Morale was also pretty low by then.
Most importantly, however, the game was fun and the story keeps developing. Cruchon finally got some Honour Points, but his old comrade Merlot is a prisoner (again). And Cruchon seems to have caught his superiour’s eyes, as he got a special assignment.
For Sigur’s view of the game, visit his blog, where all his AARs may be found.