1. GL Duc de Atriaco (Dep.) : 2 x Cuir., 1 x Drag. 2. GL Macdonald (Dash.) : 2 x Guards (large) 3. GL Ramirez (Dep.) : 3 x inf., 1 x light artillery 4. MdC Gravina (Dep.) : 3 x inf. 5. GL Mariani (Dep.) : 2 x inf. (Walloon) 6. MdC Torre (Dep.) : 2 x Drag.
Armée alliée Feldmarschal Graf Traun (Dash.)
1 Pestalluzi (Dep.) ? 2 x Cuir. (österr. u. sardische Kav.) 2 independent : 1xlight inf., 1xmed. artillery 3 GL Aspremont (Dash.) wounded on a 8-12: 3 x inf. (Sard.) 4 Colloredo (Dep.): 3 x inf. (Austrian) 5 FML Pyersberg (Dep.) : 2 x Cuir, 1 x Hus. (small)
6 FML Ciceri (Dep.) ? : 1 x Cuir., 1 x Drag.
Terrain: River - fordable with infantry (except the bridge at the road) Campo Santo - light cover
Limit 6 turns
Victoryconditions: Spanish major victory: destroy Austrian army Spanish minor victory: take the Austrian initial positions at the center Austrian major victory: destroy the Spanish army Or take both bridges (A & B) when at least 2 Spanish brigades are at the wrong side of the river
Reed Browning's account about the battle is short but clear.
Traun and Gages didn't wanted battle. But both got problems with their queens. Elisabetta Farnese ordered de Gages to cross the Parano or he would loose his command over the small Spanish army (13.000 men). Traun on his side got instructions to give battle to de Gages army, although Traun prefered to maneuver. The commander of the Savoy troops in Traun's army (11.000 only) was eager to fight and finally Traun had to recognize that most of his generals voted for the attack, although they were outnumbered.
Gages crossed the Panaro but didn't continued his advance. Indeed he stayed at Campo Santo, where Traun decided to attack him. FM Traun shifted his army to the left. That gave Gages the theoretical chance to outflank him on his right, but in return he hoped to have the superiority in numbers at his left wing.
The battle itself was a bit strange. The Austrians always had a fine reputation for their cavalry. However at this battle the Spanish cavalry (although maybe outnumbered by their opponents) could beat the Allies at both wings. Afterwards the Spanish cavalry didn't attacked the Allied infantry but followed the retreating Austrian and Savoy cavalry as the Römer's wing did at Mollwitz. Without their cavalry the Spanish foot came into Trouble - maybe now Traun's plan worked. The Spanish abandoned the field at nightfall and many of the retreating Spanish became prisoners.
In contrast to Nafziger's OOB which put Aspermont at the center of the Allied army, Reed Browning mentioned that he commanded the successfull allied left wing until he was mortaly wounded.
Besides I'm reading Porges' view of the battle too. Although the battle was very small in size regarding the strengh of the armies, the impact was very important. De Gages army lost 30 % of his strengh and some weeks later he had 6.000 men only to retreat at Rimini. The British could stop every reinforcements. At the other hand France noticed that Spain's wish to fight was seriously and Louis XV decided to send troops to Italy to reinforce the Spanish plans.
Es marschierten drei Regimenter wohl über den Rhein...
Porges'/Rebrachta's account explains the battle better.
Traun waited for the heavy artillery from Mirandola. Traun decided to send light troops including 100 hussars at the Spanish left wing to demonstrate. The deployement of the Allied army was very time consuming. One reason was the difficult terrain cut by small streams etc.. To split his Forces brought the result that Traun had 1.300 cavalry only because a large part of his cavalry was used for demonstration. Traun's plan didn't worked really because it was to difficult to move the whole army under the eyes of the enemy over the trenches.
Gages had fortified his left wing with a barrier occupied by grenadiers. Traun's movement was discovered by Gages early enough to change his own deployement*. Porges/Rebrachta mention that Gages had to include the aspect that the guards had the right to get the position of honour at the right of the battleline. De Gages formed his army in an arc around the village of Campo Santo. It's interesting that even the small allied force at de Gages' left could oblige him to this not really comfortable position. Rebrachta/Porges noticed that the Spanish army had a very thin line and to break through the line was not too difficult even for a outnumbered force like Traun's army. Porges/Rebrachta mention a serious fighting of the light troops of both sides at the Banks of the Panaro river, where the heavy fortress-guns of the Allies arrived**.
The small allied detachements of the demonstration-force*** moved forward too and begun a heavy firefight with De Gages' left wing.
The outflanking maneuver of Peyersberg's cavalry-wing was very daring. He wanted to get his troops to the Panaro as fast as possible. But the Spanish generals Sayve and Astrico noticed the whole Thing and attacked the allied horse, which were to cumbersome to react. Ciceri's second line of the allied cavalry wanted to help Peyersberg. But the Spanish suspected that and send a unit of infantry, which could fire a devastating volley into Ciceri's horse. All of the allied leaders of the left wing were wounded except St. Pierre who rallied only a small number of riders. Traun's whole plan was crushed in minutes****. The Spanish cavalry didn't pursue the enemy but fall back on their positions. De Gages just didn't send any orders at Sayve and Astrico to attack the allied infantry in the flank. Porges/Rebrachta assume that maybe the commanders of the Spanish cavalry thought that they had done enough for the battle and to charge formed infantry was too dangerous. It's interesting that the allied reserves fixed bayonets to face the feared Spanish thread of a cavalrycharge*****.
The heavy allied artilleryfire now decided the further fighting. The Spanish could not stay in front of Austrian canister and charged the artillery with cold steal. Many brigades joined in the massive attack although the Austrian volleys were very effective. Especially the Irish foreign soldiers in Spanish pay distinguished themself in this bloody fighting. Some Piemont-units fled when Aspremont was shot. But the Spanish didn't use the success, maybe because of the sunset. De Gages missed the chance to send the second line and reinforcements to Macdonalds relief. Now it was the Moment for Leutrum - one of the finest generals of Piemont of all time - to notice that the Spanish horse didn't charge. He ordered his troops to give up the defensive position and attack Macdonald's exhausted infantry. Macdonald saw no chance to defend his position and ordered the retreat.
De Gages' left wing noticed that Macdonald was in real trouble and some batallions of the Walloons-guards moved at the right. But the darkness of the night caused a bloody misunderstanding and some Spanish infantry shot at the guards. A heavy firefight started, MdC Jauche of the guards was killed and the Spanish lost 200 men shot by their own men.
Now Traun realized that it was too late to achieve much and returned in his initial positions.
De Gages never wanted battle and therefore he never reacted determined. After the battle he still just wanted to retreat to Bologna. Porges/Rebrachta emphasized the bravery of both sides. The battle was more a Spanish success although the Spanish didn't use it because de Gages gave no orders to extend Sayve's and Macdonald's success.
The Spanish losses were significant. I think that the canisterfire and the heavy Austrian volleys caused the extreme Spanish losses. On the other hand, the Allies lost 2 of their most important and experienced leaders: Aspermont and Peyersberg.
* That is a typical example for the fact that to outflank an enemy with such a movement as Traun's is only possible if the terrain hide the plan. It's interesting that even a experienced leader like Traun didn't noticed this problem when he first saw the landscape or maybe he thought that de Gages was a fool(?).
** The question is: do you want do place the light troops and artillery there in your scenario or give the gamer the chance to move them as he wish? In my scenario I just placed the artillery and light troops near the road from Mirandola to give the Austrian player the chance to move These most important troops as he prefers. Besides I didn't included Spanish light troops because they were not a big proportion of the army. Perhaps if you play with 15mm figures or smaller ones and reflect more units of both sides on the table, you might include all those light troops and detachements too.
*** Not included in my map.
**** I'm really surprised how Traun could create such a stupid plan at all. It seams to me that he didn't calculated with Spanish reactions. Even when he noticed that all his advance and deployement was too slowly, he didn't change the plan.
***** I just thought that bayonets were always fixed in battle.
Es marschierten drei Regimenter wohl über den Rhein...
In my opinion Traun maybe calculated that all Spanish leaders would stay defensive and just observe the Austrian movements as De Gages did who showed no inclination to attack.
It's easy to blame de Gages. The historians did it long ago. But we should have in mind the restrictions of warfare in this period. Delbrück noticed it and wrote a lot regarding Frederick's restrictions. Frederick had large armies compared with Gages' force. Gages had orders to invade Northern Italy but with 13,000 soldiers and this number would be reduced extremely if he would split units to occupy forts on his way. The line of supply to Naples was far to long even if he would stay at the Panaro-position. Maybe he had the chance to beat the Allies more decisively. But therefor he had to advance in the territory and this advance would lead him in great risks to loose his whole army. He lost more than halve of his army nevertheless when he retreated to Bologna and later. However those who blamed him therefore had ordered him to attack with a small force and without much chance of success.
Traun didn't attack de Gages before because he just noticed De Gages troubles with an army short of supply, short of horses, short of guns - but full of dozens of generals and bombarded by senseless letters from Madrid.
The brave fighting of the Spanish at the climax of the battle when Macdonald attacked the Austrian regiments Deutschmeister and Roth clarified that it was not the fault of the Spanish soldiers that the success was limited.
Thank you for your battle description, it is very explanatory of the general's thoughts but also of the warfare of the period. You use a very methodical approach to study history! The more I learn about this battle the more I'd like to play it the sooner possible! Cheers!