The Battle of Santo Malanca
Taking advantage of cold weather but low snow levels the Austrians under Kollorfeldt launched a column with the objective of seizing the import town of Santo Malanca. However Kollorfeldt, presuming his opponent was unable to fight in the wintery conditions gives little thought to scouting or screening his flanks and allows his Croats to bring up the rear.
Unbeknownst to him, Campari’s General Avvio has not only managed to locate the Austrian column but is about to launch an attack on his line of March…….
With the town a little way up the valley, Kollorfeldt was sure that he would be able to seize it and it’s important bridge and settle down somewhere warm in time for supper. His reverie was disturbed when a trooper from the Dragoon regiment providing the advance guard rode up and told him the way was blocked by red coated infantry. He had little time to think before the sound of artillery came from his right flank and he knew he had blundered into a trap.
Kollorfeldt ordered his first two infantry units forward, together with the dragoons. He would lead an attempt to burst the through the blocking force. Order were sent to General Gummstiefel to turn the rearmost elements of the column to face the flank attack and to send the Croats round their flank to force them to disengage.
The dragoon’s cantered up in the powdery snow and drew their swords their change was short, and already they could see that their own flank was in danger from Avvio’s cavalry. As they closed with their foe a strong volley of musketry rolled out and cleared many of the brave men from their saddles. The charge closed, but the horses wouldn’t press home against the line of steel. They recoiled and a second charge went in. More musketry and more saddles cleared. Madness perhaps, but success would clear they way for the infantry and open the road ahead for the column.
Kollorfeldt cursed as he watched the dragoons fail to batter through the enemy infantry. As a young ensign he had charged with Eugene and against the Turks – cavalry was unstoppable then. He turned and ordered his men to deploy into line. He would have to shoot his way clear.
At the rear Gummstiefel was in trouble. The Croats advance had forced the artillery to draw back but Kollorfeldt’s movement to the front had split the column in two and now he was flanked by Campari re was little he could but try and find space to fight so he ordered his regiment about and started to retire. He called for a messenger to pass a note to the Kollorfeldt – but he had scarcely time to dictate his message when the man when down in a hail of lead. A quarter of the regiment lay dead around him – Gummstiefel prayed for nightfall.
Kollorfeldt’s advance had ground to a halt and now it was clear there was little he could do. All around him his men lay dying, cut down by the sabres of attacking cavalry or shot by heavy volleys of musketry. How would he survive the disgrace of this defeat? In the last rays of the winter sun he saw his chance – he ordered his staff to draw their swords and together they spurred their horses forward, galloping clear of the carnage the small band cut through the Campari ring and away form the battle. Someone had to bring the news to imperial headquarters – Gummstiefel was clearly to blame for losing contact with the rest of the column and had dragged the whole lot to destruction….yes..that would do….
A scenario based on one from Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames and in turn based on Salamanca. Alistairs’s Austrians had two choices, stand and fight it out or try to cut their way clear. Andy’s Campari army managed to defeat them in detail once the colon had broken up, but it could have been different had Alistairs dragoons cut their way through or Andy’s cavalry ran out of space then they galloped into the the gap between two Austrian regiments! A nice simple game, but a tough one.
Words & photos by Stuart