The Battle of Bad Sausagehausen

map of Bad Sausagehausen

Austria, 1809 General Frontenapie wearily emerged from the roadside brush, slowly cinching his belt.  Damn that innkeeper!   swore the Frenchman.   Last night the General had hosted a party for all his senior officers in the local Austrian Inn.   And this morning his entire staff were all stricken with the runs.

Coincidence?   Or had that blasted little bag of bratwurst slipped some powerful emetics into their beer?   General Frontenapie knew the answer...and he would make the Austrians pay for their countryman's insolence.

Just then his bowels rumbled in a most unpleasant (and familiar) fashion.   Frontenapie hastily ran back into the bushes, undoing his belt.   Merde!

Granted only enough time to entrench one unit across the river, the Austrian commander, Count von Schlepentoss, elected to place his finest regiment of Jagers in Bad Sausagehausen to hold off the French long enough to allow his reinforcements to march over the bridge and deploy into the town.   The cavalry was simply to hold the French horse at bay.   On the northern hill the Austrian 6#'s took up a position to guard that particular flank as well.

Expecting heavy losses General Frontenapie deployed his first two regiments into line with the last regiment of foot in battalion attack columns as a reserve.   His cavalry was tasked with forcing the ford and possibly threatening the Austrian reinforcements.   The one French battery of 8#'s was expected to support either the attack on the town or the cavalry's flank march.   The positioning of the Austrian battery was a trifle surprising, but very welcome.   The river was uncrossable, except at the ford or the bridge and it would be possible to approach the town from the south.   The town would therefore mask the guns, rendering the Austrian cannon useless until they could be limbered and moved.   General Frontenapie, veteran of many battles, quickly saw this and deployed his troops accordingly.

"Yes, yes, that's it.  Bring those, er, cannonballs over here," ordered Colonel Kleinwagen, commander of the Austrian battery, which was just setting atop a hill.  He had pressured his cousin back in Vienna - a highly placed aide to Archduke Charles himself - to get him an army posting.  Not that Kleinwagen was filled with any martial spirit; he just felt that the Austrian uniforms were quite dashing and, given a somewhat generous cut of fabric, clothe his figure most handsomely.  Admittedly it wasn't a Colonelcy in the splendidly dressed Hussars but it would do.  Especially with the French returning.  Being a Hussar would be positively dangerous.

An aide interrupted his musings.   "Yes? Yes?   Don't just stand there clearing your throat!   Out with it man!" shouted Kleinwagen.

"I've just read the dispatch from the General sir.   He, aah, ordered us to deploy here," pointing to the hill on the map.

"Yes? And?"

The aide didn't say a word.   He silently turned the map around.   "That way, sir, is south," and pointed to the other hill.

In spite of the long march to the bridge, the French troops quickly shook out into line and advanced towards Bad Sausagehausen.  To their right, the cavalry splashed across the shallows of the ford.  Their Austrian counterparts merely sat in their saddles, letting the French horse form up on the far side of the river.  Napoleon's veteran cavalrymen had expected a contested crossing and a stiff fight.  What were the Austrians up to?

In the town itself, volleys of French muskets began crashing against the stone walls and houses.   Although well protected, the sheer volume of three battalions fire began taking its toll among the single battalion of Jagers.  Goaded into action finally, the Austrians returned fire.  Their first volley was deadly.  The advancing blue line wavered, corpses dropping throughout, but the advance, driven by the hammering drums in the background, continued.

As the Jagers continued to bravely hold their ground, behind them the long columns of marching Austrian reinforcements had ground to a halt on the far side of the river.  An officer's wagon had broken an axle on the bridge, impeding traffic and all attempts to move it.   The ordinary soldiers took advantage of the opportunity and began sitting down by the roadside.

On the same side of the river as the reinforcements, the Austrian horse also inexplicably sat immobile.   By this time all three troops of French cavalry were formed.  The order was given and the French charged in a single huge mass.   The impact was tremendous - even squatting in the brush, General Frontenapie heard the crash of sabre on sabre.

Find out the results of the mighty French charge!

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