Thursday, 7 April 2022

Battle of Cuneo ( Madonna Dell' Olmo ) Piedmont 26th - 30th September 1744.

 This article is of my own perspective on the events of this battle. Any mistakes are my own.  

In this ongoing war in Italy, the Spanish and French Governments realised that they needed to take out the Sardinian Kingdom in order to secure northern Italy for the Spanish Crown. The politics in France were convoluted, however the French Crown was at this point in the war, commited to helping Spain.


Acting on the advice of the mountain warfare expert, General *Pierre Bourcet, the French army under the Prince of Conti had split into nine columns and moved east through the valleys of the Alps bypassing Piedmontese strong points, then successfully regrouping to storm the Citadel of Demonte. The Spanish army under General  the  Maquis of La Mina had moved from Genoa to link up at Cuneo.

( * Napoleon also sought the advice of this General prior to his invasion of Italy. )

The Prince of Conti had a plan to take the fortress which was a key part of the defence of Piedmont. This combined Franco-Spanish  army was 50,000 strong. The Prince's plan involved in splitting the army into three parts. The first part was to dig the siege lines. The second part was east of Cuneo to stop any Piedmontese forces interfering with the siege. The third part was to be the field army


Meanwhile Charles Emmanual 3rd, King of Piedmont-Sardinia was not sitting idle. This Monarch and his First Minister, the Marquis D'Ormea were absolute masters of the Machiavellian politics of the 18th century. The King was also very much involved with his army on a par with Frederick of Prussia though not so draconian!!..

While the French and Spanish Generals, themselves no novices in the 18th century art of war, were starting their attack, the King had devised a plan of his own. He did have 3,000 Grenzer light infantry and a Regiment of Hussars sent by the Empress of Austria, however his plan was entirely dependant on his own army in which he had complete confidence. 

I thought at this point it might be worth giving some information on this army, as the Italian theatre is often overshadowed by the events further north and east. The Piedmontese army at this time was an Infantry army much like the Dutch, Danish and the other Italian States. There were only four regiments of Dragoons and two  of Horse. There were no Light Cavalry so , during this war the Piedmontese relied on the Austrian Hussars.


The bulk of the army were the Infantry. There were 32 Regiments, totalling 58 battalions. Of the Regiments, there were 8 National, 10 Provincial, 3 Italian, 3 German, and 7 Swiss.

There were also the Vaudois which were a regular Militia of up to 10 Battalions. Finally there was a peasant militia ( another 10,000 )that  the King could call on if required. The army had a well trained Artillery Corps of 1,500 men to service the Guns and to instruct other staff. In addition there was a very respected Corp of Engineers attached to the Artillery.

( I obtained this information from " The war of the Austrian Succession, A Wargamers Guide Part 8 uniforms of the Italian States" by  Stephen Manley ).

Within Cuneo was a garrison of 3,200 men commanded by General Leutrum who, although into his eighties led a spirited defence!!.

As the siege of Cuneo commenced, the King moved his army from Saluzzo, South toward their opponents. As the two armies moved into position to the West of Cuneo, the Piedmontese placed abattis on broken ground to defend their right flank from being overwhelmed.. Battle commenced when the Austrian Grenz charged toward the village of Madonna Dell'Olmo ----..


THE SPANISH ARMY;

23,000 Infantry ( including artillery )= 23 points x 2 = 46 points.

2,000 = Cavalry = 2 points x 2 = 4 points.

1 General   ( La Mina ) @  1 point.

2 stands of Spanish Guard @ 4 points = 8 points.

2 stands of Irish Infantry @ 3 points = 6 points.

2 stands of Walloon Infantry @ 3 points = 6 points.

5 stands of Spanish Infantry @ 3 points = 15 points.

1 stand of Spanish Light Infantry  @  1 point.

2 stands of Cavalry  @  2 points = 4 points.

3 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 3 points.

THE FRENCH ARMY;

21,000 Infantry ( including artillery ) = 21 points x 2 = 42 points.

4,000 Cavalry = 4 points x 2 = 8 points.

1 General ( Conti )  @ 1 point.

2 stands of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points = 8 points.

9 stands of Line Infantry @ 3 points = 27 points.

2 stands of Heavy Artillery @ 2 points = 4 points.

2 stands of Light Infantry @ 1 point = 2 points.

4 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 4 points.

Note; I have no information on the composition of the French and Spanish forces in the battle, so the above list is my best guess.

THE PIEDMONTESE ARMY;

1 General ( King Charles)  @  3 points.

1 General ( Castagnole )     @ 1 point.

1 stand of Cavalry  @ 2 points.

2 stands  of Dragoon Cavalry @ 1point. = 2puts.

1 stand of Austrian Hussars @ 1 point.

1 stand of Guard Infantry @  4 points.

1 stand of Grenadier Infantry @ 4 points.

2 stands of Vaudois Militia @  2 points = 4 points.

4 stands of Light Artillery @ 1 point = 4 points.

( I've added the Engineers to the Artillery ).

1 stand of Austrian Grenz Light Infantry @ 1 point.

8 stands of Line Infantry  @ 3 points = 24 points.

GARRISON OF CUNEO;

3,200 = 3.2 points x 2 = 6points r/d.

1 General ( Leutrum )  @ 2 points.

2 stands of Garrison Artillery@ 1 point = 2 points.

2 Stands of Infantry @ 1 point  = 2 points



Notes,

* The rivers cannot be crossed by any troops except at the bridges.

*Any stands entering the rough ground cannot move further that turn and suffers a minus 2 on a Die roll if engaged in close combat.

* For the purposes of fire and close combat the abbatis counts as a trench for the Piedmontese to defend, as do the gabions for the Spanish.

* The Piedmontese move and fire first every Game-Turn. The Piedmontese retain the initiative Point for the entire game.

* The Piedmontese win any tied results.

* The garrison of Cuneo cannot sally out during the battle although the garrison can fire at any enemy targets.

The Winner:

This is tricky! because the Piedmontese lost so that their militia had time to play havoc with the enemy supply lines. Therefore. The Piedmontese must attempt to stay on the field for 8 Game-Turns. If they do, they win

If the Piedmontese retreat before 8 Game-Turns are complete, they have lost.

Historical Note.

As stated above, this was the the Kings plan. To keep the Spanish and French focused on his army while the Piedmontese Militia wrecked havoc on the enemy supply lines and magazines. This was exactly what happened.

Spanish and French jubilation gradually turned  to depression in the days following the battle. La Mina and Conti realised that without supplies their position was untenable. As the autumnal rains set in the army retreated back to France.

Credits;

The figures are mostly Miniature Figurines with some Peter Pig and Essex Miniatures.

The abattis is from Irregular Miniatures.

The gabions are made by Last Man Last Bullet Miniatures.

The tent models are from Peter Pig.

The citadel and house are scratch built.

The trees are from various manufacturers.

Most of the hill sections are made from cork tiles. There are some made by Brian at Essex Miniatures.

The river and road are made from thin card.


The battle was fought on  the  3 foot by 2 foot table. ( 90cm x 60 cm ).

FOOTNOTE:

I managed to fight this battle solo. After 8 Game-Turns the Piedmontese won the battle.

However, it was a near run thing!. This was the situation at the end of Game-Turn eight.


These Modenese were glad to sit out this battle.