Friday 23 December 2022

Xmas special: The Innsbruck Incident (1809)

Mark's Christmas games are a much-loved fixture in the OWS calendar. As they are so popular, and as our group has grown significantly this year, he had to accommodate ten of us around a 12' table and create personal briefings for all of us, each with distinct and not necessarily compatible objectives. He excelled himself and choreographed it perfectly.

The setting was the Tyrolean Rebellion of 1809: specifically, the Second Battle of Bergisel (near Innsbruck) on 29 May. Briefly, Napoleon gave the Tyrol to Bavaria after defeating Austria in 1806. The Tyrolese were not happy and when the Fifth Coalition resumed war in 1809, they revolted.

I found myself in the role of Generallieutenant Graf Bernhard Erasmus von Deroy, commanding 3rd Bavarian Division, charged with repelling the rebel attack on Innsbruck with the aid of my loyal lieutenants Vincenti (Mike), Seydewitz (Bruce) and Siebein (John). The hills were alive with rebel Landsturm, Schützen and irregulars, backed up by a few Austrian regulars. Mike covered our eastern flank against Crispin's Schützen; John had to fend off Luke and Ben's irregulars arriving from the west; Bruce and I were confronted by the enemy main body approaching from the south over the Bergisel (Dave T, Phil and Nick with a bit of everything, including artillery and even some cavalry).

It was non-stop fighting on all fronts from the off and rocked along so fast that I can't really tell you what was going on outside my central sector. There was more fog of war than in our regular BBB games: we didn't know how many game turns we had to hold on for, the ref sprung surprises on us all (ammunition shortages, armistice proposals, etc), and it was punctuated with Xmas crackers being pulled to decide such things as Tyrolese falling log traps or Bavarian cavalry rallying. Four photos briefly tell the story:

Looking west along the valley of the Inn! Bavarian main body clustered around Innsbruck in the centre; flank guards top right and bottom of pic; rebels about to swarm over the mountains from the south (left).

How things looked from where I was sitting on Turn 1. My three small triangular Bavarian units in echelon above Husslhof, backed up by Seydewitz's cavalry, are all that stands between the rebel masses on the mountaintops and Innsbruck (off bottom of pic), not to mention our precious ammo wagons.

A closer look at the foe. White-coated Austrian regulars top left; Schuetzen lower left; and 1000s of irregulars clustered in prayer around Father Haspinger's cross. 6mm figures by Baccus. The scythemen with the Tyrolese flags are a mix of WEC13 Armed Peasants and YG1 Yodelling Goatherds.

Endex. Hard to tell, but the only Bavarians left on this central sector are two of my infantry units holed up in Husslhof and Wilten and a lonely battery by the wagons, which have just been overrun by Tyrolese Landsturm. The mob at bottom centre are more rebels who snuck round into our rear, probably to the dismay of the good burghers of Innsbruck. Not sure how this added up to a Bavarian victory - credit to Mike on our left (out of pic), methinks.

At game end, Mark totted up victory points for us according to our individual objectives. I think I got a respectable 3VP, but our most successful Bavarian was Mike with 4VP, and our Bavarian players' combined total was enough for a Bavarian win. However, the winning individual player was Phil, who I think was the Capuchin priest, Father Joachim Haspinger, and who earned 5 VPs for repeated charges by his zealous congregation. But who cares who won? It was splendid good fun and a perfect way to round off what has been a really good year wargames-wise, not only in terms of quantity and quality of games, but also - most importantly - because our happy band is growing and thriving. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all, and here's to more of the same in 2023!


Previous Christmas specials: 

Jaithak (Gurkha War, 1814)
Khoosh-Ab (1857)
Amoaful (1874)
Java (1811)
Caucasus (1845)
The first one Mark ran was Magdala (1868) but sadly I don't have a record of that.


  1. What an excellent game and from a little known period for sure. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Xmas too Chris!

    1. Thanks, Steve - I hope you all had as good a Xmas as I did!


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